The Party of Humanity: Writing Moral Psychology in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Johns Hopkins University Press (2000)
What is the relationship between the self and society? Where do moral judgments come from? As Blakey Vermeule demonstrates in The Party of Humanity, such questions about sociability and moral philosophy were central to eighteenth-century writers and artists. Vermeule focuses on a group of aesthetically complicated moral texts: Alexander Pope's character sketches and Dunciad , Samuel Johnson's Life of Savage, and David Hume's self-consciously theatrical writings on pride and his autobiographical writings on religious melancholia. These writers and their characters confronted familiar social dilemmas--sexual desire, gender identity, family relations, cheating, ambition, status, rivalry, and shame--and responded by developing a practical ethics about their own behavior at the same time that they refined their moral judgments of others. The Party of Humanity frames its discussion about emotions, social conflict, and aesthetics within two broad theories: the emerging field of evolutionary psychology and Kantian moral philosophy. By studying how eighteenth-century Britons experienced the demands of their social identities, Vermeule argues, we can better understand the most salient problems facing moral philosophy today--the issue of self-interest and the question of how moral norms are shaped by social agendas.
Keywords English literature History and criticism  Psychology History  Ethics History  Psychology Moral and ethical aspects  Self (Philosophy) in literature  Moral development in literature  Ethics, Modern  Psychology in literature  Psychology Philosophy  Ethics in literature
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Call number PR448.P75.V47 2000
ISBN(s) 0801864593
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