By S. L. Goldberg
Brokers and Lives bargains a brand new and significant rethinking of the normal ''humanist'' view of literature. That tradition's valuation of literature for its ''moral import'' is prolonged in a much broader, extra advanced, open and exploratory figuring out of these phrases. Goldberg's argument levels throughout literature because the Renaissance, concentrating on examples from George Eliot's novels and Pope's poetry. An appendix assesses the connection of his argument to fresh bills of literature provided by way of ethical philosophers equivalent to Iris Murdoch, Bernard Williams, Martha Nussbaum and Richard Rorty.
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Extra resources for Agents and Lives
Moreover, the drama in each case is so deeply moving, indeed tragic, partly in its bringing us to realize that the ' gifts and excellences' of the hero (as also with other characters in the drama) are not just ' mingled' with wickedness or weaknesses in a merely unlucky, Perpetually moralists 29 contingent way. Nor do we ever seriously suppose that such human qualities are just an 'aesthetic' means used by Shakespeare for ' producing his peculiar effects \ Of course Sidgwick is right in implying that Macbeth's wickedness or Antony's weaknesses could not be ' abstracted' from the drama; but this is not because abstracting them would 'impair the aesthetic effect', whatever that means, but because it would completely nullify the very substance of the drama.
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.
As Johnson puts it here, it would seem that our entire life as 'moralists', all of our 'intercourse with intellectual nature', is (or ought to be) dominated and shaped by the observance of moral right and wrong. Indeed, the value both of literature and of education can be virtually reduced to their specifically moral function: of informing and encouraging ' right' thought and conduct. e. in the large sense of'moral') is also right 'morally' (in the smaller sense). ' This does not represent the whole of Johnson's conception either of human life or of literature, any more than it represents the whole of him as himself a moral being, a 'perpetual moralist'.
Agents and Lives by S. L. Goldberg