Significant proportion devoted to discussion of questions normally addressed in discursive philosophy
Novel of ideas
Philosophical fiction refers to works of fiction in which a significant proportion of the work is devoted to a discussion of the sort of questions normally addressed in discursive philosophy. These might include the function and role of society, the purpose of life, ethics or morals, the role of art in human lives, and the role of experience or reason in the development of knowledge. Philosophical fiction works would include the so-called novel of ideas, including a significant proportion of science fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, and Bildungsroman. The modus operandi seems to be to use a normal story to simply explain difficult and/or dark parts of human life.
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There is no universally acceptable definition of philosophical fiction, but certain works would be of key importance in its history.
A borderline case is that of Plato's Socratic dialogues; while possibly based on real events, it is widely accepted that with a few exceptions (the most likely being the Apology), the dialogues were entirely Plato's creation. On the other hand, the "plot" of these dialogues consist of men discussing philosophical matters, so the degree to which they fall into what moderns would recognize as "fiction" is rather unclear.