Why do Americans, and so often, American writers, profess moral sentiments and yet write so little in the traditionally "moralistic" genres of maxim and fable? What is the relation between "moral" concerns and literary theory? Can any sort of morality survive the supposed nihilism of deconstruction? Jefferson Humphries undertakes a discussion of questions like these through a comparative reading of the ways in which moral issues surface in French and American literature. Humphries takes issue with the "amoral" view of (...) deconstruction espoused by many of its detractors, arguing that the debate between the theory's advocates and opponents comes down to two opposing literary and moral traditions. While the American tradition views morality as a rigid system capable of being enforced by injunctions along the lines of "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not," the French tradition conceives of morality as a function of a relentless and unsentimental pursuit of truth, and finally, an admission that "truth" is not a static thing, but rather an ongoing process of rigorous thought. (shrink)
The Jamesian mode of writing, it has been claimed, actively works against an understanding of the way truth, history and power circulate in his texts. In this collection of essays, leading scholars of James analyse the strategies James used to address these crucial issues. Enacting History in Henry James claims that, because the type of knowledge available in James's fiction is never of a cognitive kind, the reader can never know 'truth' in any verifiable sense. James's writing instead (...) promises an experiential type of knowledge, one that is attained by participating in the power games and moral dramas that unfold within the text. This collection argues that reading James ultimately requires not just an emotional responsiveness, but also an ethical assumption of responsibility for the act of reading. By placing James's work in a fresh theoretical context, this book throws new light on this most enigmatic of writers. (shrink)
Isolation in the back-country: George Chamier, G.B. Lancaster, Katherine Mansfield, John Mulgan, and Graham Billing -- Outsiders and misfits in fragmented social milieux: William Satchell, Vincent Pyke, John A. Lee, Robin Hyde, Frank Sargeson, and others -- The lonely and the alone in the fiction of Janet Frame -- Maurice Gee and postmodern isolation -- Women, isolation, and history: Fiona Kidman, Noel Hilliard, and Patricia Grace -- Cultural deracination and isolation: Witi Ihimaera, Keri Hulme, and Alan Duff.
Lucretius' didactic poem De rerum natura ('On the Nature of Things') is an impassioned and visionary presentation of the materialist philosophy of Epicurus, and one of the most powerful poetic texts of antiquity. After its rediscovery in 1417 it became a controversial and seminal work in successive phases of literary history, the history of science, and the Enlightenment. In this Cambridge Companion experts in the history of literature, philosophy and science discuss the poem in its ancient (...) contexts and in its reception both as a literary text and as a vehicle for progressive ideas. The Companion is designed both as an accessible handbook for the general reader who wishes to learn about Lucretius, and as a series of stimulating essays for students of classical antiquity and its reception. It is completely accessible to the reader who has only read Lucretius in translation. (shrink)
Immortality has long preoccupied everyone from alchemists to science fiction writers. In this intriguing investigation, Stephen Clark contends that the genre of science fiction writing enables the investigation of philosophical questions about immortality without the constraints of academic philosophy. He shows how fantasy accounts of phenomena such as resurrection, outer body experience, reincarnation or life extending medicines can be related to philosophy in interesting ways. Reading Western myths such as that of vampire, he examines the ways fear and hopes of (...) immortality are an intrinsic part of Western culture and philosophy. As one of the first works to suggest the use of science fiction in the study of philosophy, Clark creates a ground for intellectual, philosophical and experimental inquiry. (shrink)
Why do people respond emotionally to works of fiction they know are make-believe? Boruah tackles this question, which is fundamental aesthetics and literary studies, from a totally new perspective. Bringing together the various answers that have been offered by philosophers from Aristotle to Roger Scruton, he shows that while some philosophers have denied any rational basis to our emotional responses to fiction, others have argued that the emotions evoked by fiction are not real emotions at all. In response to this, (...) Boruah contends that fictional emotions are rational because they are based on the same sorts of beliefs that we form about real situations and real people. He illustrates this argument with literary examples ranging from Shakespeare to Tolstoy. (shrink)
This book argues for the ethical relevancy of contemporary fiction at the beginning of the 21st century. The writers discussed in Contemporary Fiction and the Ethics of Modern Culture pay close attention to the concrete realities of the everyday world, such as the feelings of isolation created in urban environments; the roles played by sports, drugs, advertising, and the media; and the widespread use of computer, telecommunication, and entertainment technologies. Through reading novels by such writers as David Foster Wallace, Richard (...) Powers, and Irvine Welsh, this book looks at how these works seek to transform the ways that readers live in the world. This book should appeal to scholars of contemporary literature, persons interested in cultural studies, critics interested in ethics, scholars of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, students of contemporary literature, and general readers of contemporary literature. (shrink)
Philosophy Through Science Fiction offers a fun, challenging, and accessible way in to the issues of philosophy through the genre of science fiction. Tackling problems such as the possibility of time travel, or what makes someone the same person over time, the authors take a four-pronged approach to each issue, providing a clear and concise introduction to each subject amd a science fiction story that exemplifies a feature of the philosophical discussion ú historical and contemporary philosophical texts that investigate the (...) issue with rigor, and ú glossary, plot profiles of pertinent science fiction stories and films, and questions for further reflection. Philosophy Through Science Fiction includes stories from contemporary science fiction writers including Greg Egan and Mike Resnick, as well as from classic authors like Philip K. Dick and Robert Heinlein. Philosophy readings include historical pieces Rene Descartes and David Hume, and include contemporary pieces by John Searle and Mary Midgley. (shrink)
The Philosopher at the End of the Universe demonstrates how anyone can grasp the basic concepts of philosophy while still holding a bucket of popcorn. Mark Rowlands makes philosophy utterly relevant to our everyday lives and reveals its most potent messages using nothing more than a little humor and the plotlines of some of the most spectacular, expensive, high-octane films on the planet. Learn about: The Nature of Reality from The Matrix , Good and Evil from Star Wars , Morality (...) from Aliens , Personal Identity from Total Recall , The Mind-Body dilemma from Terminator , Free Will from Minority Report , Death and the Meaning of Life from Blade Runner , and much more. A search for knowledge about ourselves and the world around us with a star-studded cast that includes: Tom Cruise, Plato, Harrison Ford, Immanuel Kant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigourney Weaver, Rene? Descartes, and Keanu Reeves. Rowlands anchors his discussions in easily understood everyday terms and relates them in a manner easy to identify with. Interspersed with a ready joke or two, he wonderfully explains why those SciFi movies we love so much are much deeper than they appear to be on the surface. Mark Rowlands's entertaining and stimulating guide is perfect for anyone searching for knowledge of the world around us. If Keanu can understand Descartes surely everyone can. (shrink)
Bringing together poststructuralist ethical theory with late Victorian debates about the morality of literature, this book reconsiders the ways in which novels engender an ethical orientation or response in their readers, explaining how the ...
This book offers the first full-length study of philosophical dialogue during the English Enlightenment. It explains why important philosophers - Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Berkeley and Hume - and innumerable minor translators, imitators and critics wrote in and about dialogue during the eighteenth century; and why, after Hume, philosophical dialogue either falls out of use or undergoes radical transformation. Philosophical Dialogue in the British Enlightenment describes the extended, heavily coded, and often belligerent debate about the nature and proper management of dialogue; and (...) it shows how the writing of philosophical fictions relates to the rise of the novel and the emergence of philosophical aesthetics. Novelists such as Fielding, Sterne, Johnson and Austen are placed in a philosophical context, and philosophers of the empiricist tradition in the context of English literary history. (shrink)
Sleepy Hollow : fearful pleasures and the nightmare of history -- Lacan and the beyond of language : from art to ethics -- Brown's Wieland and the ethical circumscription of death -- Heideggerian ethics : the voice of art and the call to being -- Levinas: art and the transcendence of solitude -- Endings : ethics, enigma, and address in The marble faun -- Riven : Badiou's ethical subject and the event of art as trauma.
Time travelers and battles between people and machines provoke old philosophical questions: Can the past really be changed? How do we differentiate ourselves from machines? Can machines have an inner life? Brown (philosophy & critical thinking, LaGuardia Community Coll.) and Decker (philosophy, Eastern Washington Univ.; coeditor, Star Wars and Philosophy ) collect 19 essays by primarily young academics who pursue these questions with entertaining verve and philosophical skill. The Terminator story is about something well intentioned—a defense project—going wrong, but none (...) of the essays here presses this issue to a clear conclusion (readers whose interest is aroused would do well to read Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen's Moral Machines , concerned with actual machines and ones that might soon exist). Among the book's bright spots are contributions from Harry Chotiner and Jennifer Culver that show us something about how the movies work and explore the feminist issues posed by placing Sarah Connor at the center of the story. One essayist, Phillip Seng, addresses the philosophical trouble at the heart of the tale: telling good from evil in politics is hard. This book will earn a place in libraries by presenting serious issues in a way that attracts readers.—Leslie Armour, Dominican Univ. Coll., Ottawa, Ont. (shrink)
Lucretius' account of the origin of life, the origin of species, and human prehistory (first century BC) is the longest and most detailed account extant from the ancient world. It is a mechanistic theory that does away with the need for any divine design, and has been seen as a forerunner of Darwin's theory of evolution. This commentary seeks to locate Lucretius in both the ancient and modern contexts. The recent revival of creationism makes this study particularly relevant to contemporary (...) debate, and indeed, many of the central questions posed by creationists are those Lucretius attempts to answer. (shrink)
The employment of mythological language and imagery by an Epicurean poet - an adherent of a system not only materialist, but overtly hostile to myth and poetry - is highly paradoxical. This apparent contradiction has often been ascribed to a conflict in the poet between reason and intellect, or to a desire to enliven his philosophical material with mythological digressions. This book attempts to provide a more positive assessment of Lucretius' aims and methodology by considering the poet's attitude to myth, (...) and the role which it plays in the De Rerum Natura, against the background of earlier and contemporary views. The author suggests that Lucretius was not only aware of the tension between his two roles as philosopher and poet, but attempted to resolve it by developing his own, Epicurean poetic, together with a bold and innovative theory of the origins and meaning of myth. (shrink)
This book is the first detailed study of the plays of Sophocles through examination of a single ethical principle--the traditional Greek popular moral code of "helping friends and harming enemies." Five of the extant plays are discussed in detail from both a dramatic and an ethical standpoint, and the author concludes that ethical themes are not only integral to each drama, but are subjected to an implicit critique through the tragic consequences to which they give rise. Greek scholars and students (...) of Greek drama and Greek thought will welcome this book, which is presented in such a way as to be accessible to specialists and nonspecialists alike. No knowledge of Greek is required. (shrink)