Read e-book online Agents and Lives PDF

By S. L. Goldberg

ISBN-10: 0521112443

ISBN-13: 9780521112444

ISBN-10: 0521394686

ISBN-13: 9780521394680

Brokers and Lives bargains a brand new and critical rethinking of the normal ''humanist'' view of literature. That tradition's valuation of literature for its ''moral import'' is prolonged in a much wider, extra complicated, open and exploratory realizing of these phrases. Goldberg's argument levels throughout literature because the Renaissance, targeting examples from George Eliot's novels and Pope's poetry. An appendix assesses the connection of his argument to contemporary bills of literature provided by way of ethical philosophers equivalent to Iris Murdoch, Bernard Williams, Martha Nussbaum and Richard Rorty.

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Or it may suggest something like Dilthey's Lebensphilosophie, or a particular doctrine about seeking ' Life', or some large amorphous 'philosophy of life'. I do not mean any of these. Nor do I mean a quasi-Lawrentian conduct-morality that enjoins us to do what 'makes for life' or 'vitality'-as if it were self-evident that an ideal human 'life' or 'vitality' is what the moralist says it is, and as if we might choose instead to do what anyone can see makes for death. By a life-morality I mean a person's (or a society's) operative norms or ideals of 'human nature' or of human 'perfection' or 'a good life' or 'well-being'.

But why on earth not? — especially since we do not see such destinies as Macbeth's or Antony's as merely 'aesthetically ordered'. Presumably, to 30 Agents and lives think of real people in terms of' destinies' and ' tragic flaws' is not really moral thinking; and neither it is - unless, that is, one understands 'moral' in a large sense. Indeed, unless it has a large sense, it is difficult to understand why we, as moral beings, should be interested in understanding human lives in this socalled 'aesthetic' way in the drama.

In the narrow sense, a morality is a system of a particular sort of constraints on conduct - ones whose central task is to protect the interests of persons other than the agent and which present themselves to an agent as checks on his natural inclinations or spontaneous tendencies to act. In this narrow sense, moral considerations would be considerations from some limited range, and would not necessarily include everything that a man allowed to determine what he did. As against a morality in this 'narrow' sense, a morality in a ' broad' sense would be a general, all-inclusive theory of conduct: the morality to which someone subscribed would be whatever body of principles he allowed ultimately to guide or determine his choices of action...

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Agents and Lives by S. L. Goldberg

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