What is the moral, spiritual, and educative function of philosophy and literature in modern lives? Such a large question is rarely posed by philosophers or literary theorists these days, but one philosopher who has put it at the top of his agenda is Richard Rorty. His general answer is that both literature and philosophy serve distinct ends: the private end of personal fulfilment through the redescription of experiences and the possibility of self-creation, and the public end of expanded (...) horizons of moral imagination and spheres of solidarity. In what follows I will take a closer look at Rorty’s proposal. I begin by situating it as a contribution to philosophical discussions of the ‘problems of modernity’. Second, I draw attention to an important but sometimes neglected thought that underscores Rorty’s proposal: the alliance of philosophy and literature in making sense of modern lives. With this background in place, in the third section I consider the distinctive version of the private/public split that Rorty invokes, which can be regarded as his version of worldmaking in modernity. I argue that Rorty’s version of the distinction has more going for it than some critics have been prepared to grant, and that it at least provides a basis for further reflection on the important question it helps to answer. (shrink)
This volume brings together Nussbaum's published papers on the relationship between literature and philosophy, especially moral philosophy. The papers, many of them previously inaccessible to non-specialist readers, explore such fundamental issues as the relationship between style and content in the exploration of ethical issues; the nature of ethical attention and ethical knowledge and their relationship to written forms and styles; and the role of the emotions in deliberation and self-knowledge. Nussbaum investigates and defends a conception of ethical understanding which (...) involves emotional as well as intellectual activity, and which gives a certain type of priority to the perception of particular people and situations rather than to abstract rules. She argues that this ethical conception cannot be completely and appropriately stated without turning to forms of writing usually considered literary rather than philosophical. It is consequently necessary to broaden our conception of moral philosophy in order to include these forms. Featuring two new essays and revised versions of several previously published essays, this collection attempts to articulate the relationship, within such a broader ethical inquiry, between literary and more abstractly theoretical elements. (shrink)
Now in its fourth edition, Louis P. Pojman and Lewis Vaughn's acclaimed The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature brings together an extensive and varied collection of eighty-five classical and contemporary readings on ethical theory and practice. Integrating literature with philosophy in an innovative way, the book uses literary works to enliven and make concrete the ethical theory or applied issues addressed. Literary works by Angelou, Camus, Hawthorne, Huxley, Ibsen, Le Guin, Melville, Orwell, Styron, Tolstoy, (...) and many others lead students into such philosophical concepts and issues as relativism; utilitarianism; virtue ethics; the meaning of life; freedom and autonomy; sex, love, and marriage; animal rights; and terrorism. These topics are developed further through readings by philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Singer, Sartre, Nagel, and Thomson. This unique anthology emphasizes the personal dimension of ethics, which is often ignored or minimized in ethics texts. It also incorporates chapter introductions, study questions, suggestions for further reading, and biographical sketches of the writers. The fourth edition features five new readings--by James Rachels, Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Levin, John Corvino, and Stephen Nathanson--and a new appendix on how to write a philosophy paper. A new Companion Website features resources for both students and instructors including reading summaries; true/false, multiple-choice, and essay questions; and PowerPoint slides. Ideal for introductory ethics courses, The Moral Life, Fourth Edition, also provides an engaging gateway into personal and social ethics for general readers. (shrink)
Recent philosophical discussion about the relation between fiction and reality pays little attention to our moral involvement with literature. Frank Palmer's purpose is to investigate how our appreciation of literary works calls upon and develops our capacity for moral understanding. He explores a wide range of philosophical questions about the relation of art to morality, and challenges theories that he regards as incompatible with a humane view of literary art. Palmer considers, in particular, the extent to which the values (...) and moral concepts involved in our understanding of human beings can be said to enter into our understanding of, and response to, fictional characters. The scope of his discussion encompasses literary aesthetics, ethics, and epistemology, and he makes extensive reference to literary examples. (shrink)
Featuring new selections chosen by coeditor Lewis Vaughn, the third edition of Louis P. Pojman's The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature brings together an extensive and varied collection of ninety-one classical and contemporary readings on ethical theory and practice. Integrating literature with philosophy in an innovative way, the book uses literary works to enliven and make concrete the ethical theory or applied issues addressed in each chapter. Literary works by Camus, Hawthorne, Hugo, Huxley, Ibsen, (...) Le Guin, Melville, Orwell, Styron, Tolstoy, and many others lead students into such philosophical concepts and issues as relativism; utilitarianism; virtue ethics; the meaning of life; freedom and autonomy; sex, love, and marriage; animal rights; and terrorism. Once introduced, these topics are developed further through readings by philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Nozick, Singer, and Sartre. This unique anthology emphasizes the personal dimension of ethics, which is often ignored or minimized in ethics texts. It also incorporates chapter introductions, study questions, suggestions for further reading, and biographical sketches of the writers. The third edition brings the collection up-to-date, adding selections by Jane English, William Frankena, Don Marquis, John Stuart Mill, Mary Midgley, Thomas Nagel, Judith Jarvis Thomson, and J.O. Urmson. It also features a new chapter on euthanasia with essays by Dan W. Brock, J. Gay-Williams, and James Rachels. Ideal for introductory ethics courses, The Moral Life, Third Edition, also provides an engaging gateway into personal and social ethics for general readers. (shrink)
Is it possible for postmodernism to offer viable, coherent accounts of ethics? Or are our social and intellectual worlds too fragmented for any broad consensus about the moral life? These issues have emerged as some of the most contentious in literary and philosophical studies. In Renegotiating Ethics in Literature, Philosophy, and Theory a distinguished international gathering of philosophers and literary scholars address the reconceptualisations involved in this 'turn towards ethics'. An important feature of this has been a renewed interest (...) in the literary text as a focus for the exploration of ethical issues. Exponents of this trend include Charles Taylor, Bernard Williams, Iris Murdoch, Cora Diamond, Richard Rorty and Martha Nussbaum, the latter a contributor and a key figure in this volume. This book assesses the significance of this development for ethical and literary theory and attempts to articulate an alternative postmodern account of ethics which does not rely on earlier appeals to universal truths. (shrink)
Recently, a number of Anglo-American philosophers of very different sorts--pragmatists, metaphysicians, philosophers of language, philosophers of law, moral philosophers--have taken a reflective rather than merely recreational interest in literature. Does this literary turn mean that philosophy is coming to an end or merely down to earth? In this collection of essays, one of the most insightful of contemporary literary theorists investigates the intersection of literature and philosophy, analyzing the emerging preferences for practice over theory, particulars over universals, events (...) over structures, inhabitants over spectators, an ethics of responsibility over a morality of rules, and a desire for intimacy with the world instead of simply a disengaged knowledge of it. (shrink)
The "only pretension, of which I am tenacious," wrote Hazlitt, "is that of being a metaphysician"; but his metaphysics, and particularly what this book identifies as his power principle, has until now been neglected. This exciting book studies Hazlitt's development of the power principle as a counter to the pleasure principle of the Utilitarians, and examines the revelation of power in his philosophy of discourse, his account of imaginative structure, his theory of genius, and his moral theory.
Introduction: the literary function -- Being constructivist -- Rethinking the performative in pragmatics -- The literary function and the cartographic turn: performative philosophy -- The literary function and society, I: affirmation of immanent aesthetics -- The literary function and society, II: community and subjectification -- The reader and the event of fiction -- Conclusion: degrees of freedom.
These essays showcase the value of the narrative arts in investigating complex conflicts of value in moral and political life, and explore the philosophical problem of moral dilemmas as expressed in ancient drama, classic and contemporary ...
This book combines contemporary ethical theory, literary interpretation, and historical narrative to defend a view of the humanities as a source of moral guidance. Peter Levine argues that moral philosophers should interpret narratives and literary critics should adopt moral positions. His new analysis of Dante’s story of Paolo and Francesca sheds new light on the moral advantages and pitfalls of narratives versus ethical theories and principles.
The promise of language in the depths of hell: Primo Levi's Canto of Ulysses and Inferno -- The difference between difference and otherness: Il milione of Marco Polo and Calvino's Le città invisibili -- Traces of the Confucian/Mencian other: ethical moments in Sima Qian's Records of the historian -- War and the Hellenic splendor of knowing: Euripides, Hölderlin, Celan -- The saying, the said, and the betrayal of mercy in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice -- Nom de dieu, quelle race: the (...) saying, the said, and the betrayal of charity in Mongo Beti's Le pauvre Christ de Bomba -- Transcendent divinity and human responsibility in Mahfouz: "zaabalawi" and children of our alley -- That you might have my witness in your poem: Valéry, the symbolist tradition, and Edgar Bowers' later blank verse. (shrink)
Nous examinons ici la lecture par Maurice Merleau-Ponty, dans son essai « Le Roman et la Métaphysique », de L’Invitée de Simone de Beauvoir. Nous montrons que pour comprendre en quoi il s’agit ici non seulement de métaphysique, mais encore de morale, il est nécessaire de spécifier en quel sens « Le Roman et la Métaphysique » met en scène des matériaux théoriques qui sont mis en place dans d’autres écrits, en particulier dans l’essai « Le Métaphysique dans l’Homme ». (...) Les personnages du roman, couples et trio, se mettent alors à incarner certes une métaphysique de l’intersubjectivité qui se tend jusqu’à la rupture, mais encore du faire être et de la conscience. -/- In this paper, I discuss Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s reading of L’Invitée by Simone de Beauvoir, in his essay “The Novel and Metaphysics”. I demonstrate that in order to understand why the question here is not only metaphysics but also morals, it is necessary to specify in what sense “The Novel and Metaphysics” stages theoretical materials that are introduced in other writings, in particular “The Metaphysics in Man”. The characters of the novel, couples and trio, come then to incarnate indeed a metaphysics addressing an inter-subjectivity that is straining itself until its rupture, but also of making be (faire être), and consciousness. (shrink)
Ideally, good sports literature illuminates the subtle moral contours of sports reality. We ask in this paper how modern Icelandic literature describes sport-related ethical issues and attitudes. Our findings indicate that, in stark contrast to the rampant egocentrism, individual vice and misconduct blighting Icelandic sports reality, modern Icelandic prose literature typically either ignores this reality or refers to sports as if they were in full harmony with idealised ancient virtues and morals. Our conclusion is that this (...) discrepancy admits of four possible interpretations: that (1) theories about the individualism and egocentricity of modernity do not apply in Iceland and in Icelandic sports; (2) the writers are seriously self-deceived; (3) the writers write their books for the deliberate purpose of deceiving the public; (4) the writers write their books for the deliberate purpose of preaching. Our answer is that, while there may be reason to foreground (4), the explanation lies in a combination of those four factors. (shrink)
A compelling exploration of the convergence of Jane Austen’s literary themes and characters with David Hume’s views on morality and human nature. Argues that the normative perspectives endorsed in Jane Austen's novels are best characterized in terms of a Humean approach, and that the merits of Hume's account of ethical, aesthetic and epistemic virtue are vividly illustrated by Austen's writing. Illustrates how Hume and Austen complement one another, each providing a lens that allows us to expand and elaborate on the (...) ideas of the other Proposes that literature may serve as a thought experiment, articulating hypothetical cases which allow the reader to test her moral intuitions Contributes to ongoing debates on the philosophy of literature, ethics, and emotion. (shrink)
_Ressentiment_—the hateful desire for revenge—plays a pivotal role in Nietzsche’s _On the Genealogy of Morals_. _Ressentiment _explains the formation of bad conscience, guilt, asceticism, and, most importantly, it motivates the "slave revolt" that gives rise to Western morality’s values. _Ressentiment_, however, has not enjoyed a thorough treatment in the secondary literature. This book brings it sharply into focus and provides the first detailed examination of Nietzsche’s psychology of _ressentiment_. Unlike other books on the _Genealogy_, it uses _ressentiment_ as a (...) key to the _Genealogy_ and focuses on the intriguing relationship between _ressentiment_ and justice. It shows how _ressentiment_, despite its blindness to justice, gives rise to moral justice—the central target of Nietzsche’s critique. This critique notwithstanding, the _Genealogy_ shows Nietzsche’s enduring commitment to the virtue of _non-moral_ justice: a commitment that grounds his provocative view that moral justice spells the ‘end of justice’. The result provides a novel view of Nietzsche's moral psychology in the _Genealogy_, his critique of morality, and his views on justice. (shrink)
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)
About HumeDavid Hume is one of the greatest of philosophers. Today he probably ranks highest of all British philosophers in terms of influence and philosophical standing. His philosophical work ranges across morals, the mind, metaphysics, epistemology, and aesthetics; he had broad interests not only in philosophy as it is now conceived but in history, politics, economics, religion, and the arts. He was a master of English prose. The Clarendon Hume Edition General Editors: Professor T. L. Beauchamp, Georgetown University, USA, (...) Professor D. F. Norton, McGill University, Canada, and Professor M. A. Stewart, University of Lancaster, EnglandThe Clarendon Hume will include all of his works except his History of England and minor historical writings; it will be the only thorough critical edition, and will provide a far more extensive scholarly treatment than any previous editions. This edition offers authoritative annotation, bibliographical information, and indexes, and draws upon the major advances in textual scholarship that have been made since the publication of earlier editions--advances both in the understanding of editorial principle and practice and in knowledge of the history of Hume's own texts. The Edition will comprise: Volumes 1 and 2: A Treatise of Human Nature, edited by D. F. Norton Volume 3: An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, edited by T. L. Beauchamp Volume 4: An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, edited by T. L. Beauchamp Volume 5: The Natural History of Religion and the Dissertation on the PassionsVolumes 6 and 7: EssaysVolume 8: Dialogues concerning Natural Religion and other posthumous publications, edited by M. A. Stewart About this workAn Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals was Hume's third great philosophical work, first published in 1751. Hume's aim in this elegant and lucid work was to present in an accessible way his theory of the foundation of morality in human nature, which had developed significantly since he first addressed the subject in the Treatise of Human Nature. He discusses moral psychology; freedom, necessity, and causation; practical reasoning; justice; virtues and other moral qualities. He considered this Enquiry to be 'of all my writings, historical, philosophical, or literary, incomparably the best'. About this volumeThe authoritative version of the text, based upon the 1772 edition that was seen through the press by Hume himself, is presented here accurately and clearly. The editor's introduction sets the work in its historical context; the annotation and glossary provide information about Hume's sources, allusions, citations, and meanings, to help readers towards a full understanding of the text. A biographical appendix identifies the many people mentioned by Hume in the Enquiry. Bibliographies list the works cited by Hume and a selection of the secondary literature. Hume's original index is reproduced, together with a new general index by the editor. (shrink)
Alison Denham examines the ways in which our engagement with literary art, and metaphorical discourse in particular, informs our moral beliefs. She considers to what extent moral and metaphorical discourses are capable of truth or falsehood, warrant or justification, and how it is that we understand these discourses. This vital new study offers a fresh view of the nature of the moral and the metaphorical, and the relations between art and morality.
Skirting the Ethical offers highly original readings of six works, each noted for its politico-ethical stance. The first four (Sophocles' Antigone , Plato's Symposium and Republic and Hamann's "Aesthetica in nuce") have a recognized and honored place in the canon. The last two, Sebald's The Emigrants and Jane Campion's film The Piano , are exemplary for our contemporary scene. Nevertheless, the straightforward assumptions about justice, divine and state power, the good, and identity politics that every reader or viewer inevitably comes (...) upon are disrupted when one takes into account the role of language: both the way in which language is talked about and the way in which it performs. What emerges is a non-prescriptive ethics of another order that offers a resistance to power and simplistic conceptualizations of truth, an emancipation from the "must-be" that implies an ever-to-be-renewed renegotiation—a responsability that has much to do with the act of critique or interpretation. (shrink)
Rhetorical ethos and dramatic theory -- Syntax, style, and ethos -- The worth of words -- Memory and ethos -- Shaw, ethos, and rhetorical wit -- Athol Fugard's dramatic rhetoric -- Rhetoric and silence in Holocaust drama.