Let's try this out. Literalism's not commonly described as a philosophy, but I think it could be and in fact, I think it's mine. Check me on this. The Oxford Dictionary of American English defines literalism as:
n. the interpretation of words in their most usual or basic sense, without allowing for metaphor or exaggeration. 2. literal or nonidealistic interpretation in literature or art.
Sorry, I couldn't find my American Heritage. Had to settle for the ol' built-in Oxford American - but the above seems a solid, perfectly serviceable definition to me.
What, then, is a philosophy? In its most usual or basic sense, I believe a philosophy is a system that lays out how one should best approach reality, or how one should best live life.
Literalism as a philosophy, then, is simply to adopt a literalist attitude towards not so much a word, nor art, nor literature, but towards life itself. As a strategy, the Literalist chooses to not "read in" to people's actions and words, but rather to first and foremost accept them at face value. To proceed as if people mean to communicate clearly - to proceed as if people are sincere, and mean you to know they are sincere. Certainly, it is a fundamental requirement of Literalism to question, where there is doubt as to the literal meaning! But it is no part of Literalism to ask a straight question, get a straight answer and then deny it is possible the answer is true.
To adopt Literalism as your preferred system for engaging in reality, for living life, you assume clarity is the goal, and not duplicity. You make a decision to interpret the words and actions of others using the most usual, most straightforward, most basic sense. I mean basic here like Lloyd fucking Dobler basic. Literalism is not naivete. It is a willful decision to risk one's trust, for so long as enough doubt remains to make trust possible. To make the choice not to assume and project all manner of ulterior, nefarious motives on the words and actions of others - even after being hurt.
How is this your best approach, exactly? Because these projections and assumptions of maliciousness are things you can hardly be certain of anyway. They rarely end up settling on the real culprit prior to the damage done. They usually, finally take the form of bitter cynicism, skepticism and doubts about humanity in general. Such vague and vaguely directed doubt and mistrust can not help or protect you. It will almost certainly deprive you of the beautiful renewal of human connection, far more than it ever saves you from hurt. The Literalist is well aware that some people are dirtbags, but as a Literalist, I choose to accept the person in front of me as, in principle at least, not a dirtbag. And I act on that principle: best efforts, good faith, unless and until it's clear that the principle has in fact been violated. Not by suspicion, not by doubt, not by distrust, but by actual dirtbaggery.
How is this my best approach, again? Because if instead I assume in principle that you could be or most likely are a dirtbag, and I found my approach to you on that, the amount of real protection this affords me is negligible. But what I miss out on is the size of the entire universe behind your eyes, which only you've seen and which only you can describe, and which I will never now get to know.
Anybody who thinks that last part was metaphor or exaggeration...step off. Who'd you think you're talking to, here.