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Updated Up To 23/01/2018
Volume 5, Number 1 (January 2007) : 33--49
Jorge Luis Borges’s "Funes the Memorious"
A Philosophical Narrative
Edmond Wright
Rubric A: Narrative as a Way of Thinking



Paul de Man believed that he had dismissed Jorge Luis Borges’ stories in calling them “contes philosophiques.”  However, this appellation only works as disparagement if one considers philosophical stories to be frivolous puzzles. There is a puzzle in Borges’ story “Funes the Memorious,” but it is of the utmost relevance not only to general philosophy but to the philosophy of language and, ultimately, that of ethics. Borges’ central character, Ireneo Funes, does not match his name, being the reverse of peaceful in mind, the reason being that he is gifted or, better, afflicted with the ability to remember all that he has ever sensed in infinitely intricate detail. The effect is to deny him our own humbler ability to classify his experiences usefully, either for himself or, more importantly, for others. The story brings his affliction subtly into focus, astonishing us with its autistic grandeur, but, in so doing, also lays bare the dialogic nerve of human communication.


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