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Reading: “Ontology and Metaphysics: The Fantastical Object in Borges’ Fictions.”


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Research Article

“Ontology and Metaphysics: The Fantastical Object in Borges’ Fictions.”


Shlomy Mualem


The following essay explores the issues of idealism, ontology, and the fantastical in the work of Jorge Luis Borges. Borges’ fascination with philosophical idealism began when he was introduced to philosophy as a child by his father, the thinker within this school who most influenced him being, as he admits, George Berkeley. Examining Borges’ attitude towards Berkeley’s radical idealism, the discussion focuses on its ontological dimension, demonstrating how Berkeley engages in a reductivist move in which ontology—in its Greek, Parmenidean sense—is replaced by epistemological processes in light of the dictum esse est percipi (“to be is to be perceived”). Within this framework, the question of the ontological status of the fantastical object in the Borgesian text is investigated, idealistic and fantastical objects being analyzed and compared in his short story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” In a more general sense this comparison demonstrates that, considered from an ontological perspective, literary fantastical objects are not in fact idealistic objects but more closely resemble the paradoxical objects in Meinong’s theory, thus constituting what Todorov calls the “hesitation experienced by a person [reader] who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event.”

How to Cite: Mualem, S., 2017. “Ontology and Metaphysics: The Fantastical Object in Borges’ Fictions.”. Latin American Literary Review, 44(87), pp.34–44. DOI:
Published on 26 Apr 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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