Download Agents and Lives by S. L. Goldberg PDF

By S. L. Goldberg

ISBN-10: 0521112443

ISBN-13: 9780521112444

Brokers and Lives bargains a brand new and critical rethinking of the conventional ''humanist'' view of literature. That tradition's valuation of literature for its ''moral import'' is prolonged in a much wider, extra advanced, 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 fresh debts of literature provided by way of ethical philosophers similar to Iris Murdoch, Bernard Williams, Martha Nussbaum and Richard Rorty.

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2 In other words, life-moral ideals cannot be formulated as a set of regulatory rules, which anyone need only accept and follow. This would betray their very point as ideals oHife, which for most people includes much more than accepting and following rules. Sometimes life-moral ideals or norms are formulated in that way, however, but generally for a particular group or caste that chooses to live a special kind of life: monks, for instance, or Samurai, priests, English gentlemen, Brahmins, courtly lovers, and so on.

Since there are no agreed names for these two kinds of moral thinking, I shall take a couple from Arnold himself, and in particular from his famous calculation that 'conduct is threefourths of life'. Sometimes he meant by this that conduct is not more than three-fourths of life, and that human perfection requires 75 per cent of righteousness plus 25 per cent of sweetness and light derived from Culture. At other times, he meant that the figure was not less than three-fourths, and that ' the sense of life, of being truly alive,...

I use the term ' lives' in both a lateral sense - the whole span of a life through time; and a vertical sense - the whole depth of a life as it is lived at a particular time. I do not mean exactly the distinction Hare draws ' between two distinct grounds on which we can commend or condemn actions, one of which is connected with the interests of other people, and the other with ideals of human excellence', but both of which are properly called 'moral'. 25 It is not just ' grounds' ofjudgment that I have in mind; it is rather different basic conceptions of a moral being - differences that are psychological as well as social, for instance, and extend to the very nature, scope and even point of the moral judgments we might make, as well as to their grounds.

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