Shadows of Ethics: Criticism and the Just Society

Shadows of Ethics: Criticism and the Just Society

By: Geoffrey Galt Harpham (author)Hardback

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In this volume Geoffrey Galt Harpham argues for a deeply original view of the relations among ethics, literary study, and critical theory. In thirteen lucid, provocative and often witty essays, Harpham rejects both the optimism of those who see ethics as a way of solving problems about values or principles and the pessimism of those who regard ethics as primarily a cover story for politics. Ethics, he claims, has been seen by its most powerful theorists as a discourse of "shadows," a characteristic disturbance of thought in the presence of the other, a source of doubts rather than certainty. At the same time, however, ethics includes an element of violence, even blindness and "fundamentalism," a crushing drive to clarity and resolution. Contemporary thinkers, Harpham argues, have been unwilling to accept this account of ethics and the obligations it would impose, and have, as a consequence, cultivated social and intellectual marginality as the only site of virtue, the only position in which critical intelligence is at home. They have, he contends, failed to "imagine the center," to take up the true intellectual and worldly challenge of ethics. Tracking these issues and energies in debates about enlightenment, the politics of the aesthetic, the nature of rationality, and the worldly contexts of theory, Harpham demonstrates in compelling detail the ubiquity and true difficulty of ethics. Shadows of Ethics also revives a neglected genre, the intellectual portrait, with extended meditations on Jacques Derrida, Martha Nussbaum, Fredric Jameson, Geoffrey Hartman, and Noam Chomsky. The book will interest literary critics, philosophers, cultural critics, and all those interested in the ethical character of intellectual work.

About Author

Geoffrey Galt Harpham is Professor of English at Tulane University. His books include Getting It Right: Language, Literature, and Ethics; The Ascetic Imperative in Culture and Criticism; and One of Us: The Mastery of Joseph Conrad.


Preface and Acknowledgments ix 1 The Inertial Paradox: Thoughts Anterior to an Ethics of Literature 1 2 Ethics and Literary Study 18 3 Ethics and the Double Standard of Criticism 38 4 Derrida and the Ethics of Criticism 50 5 So ... What Is Englightenment? An Inquisition into Modernity 67 6 Of Rats and Men; or, Reason in Our Time 99 7 Aesthetics and the Fundamentals of Modernity 120 8 History and the Limits of Interpretation 145 9 Late Jameson 16 10 Chomsky and the Rest of Us 180 11 Once Again: Geoffrey Hartman on Culture 203 12 Philosophy Looking for Love 220 13 Conclusion: Imagining the Center 243 References 265 Index 277

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780822323006
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 304
  • ID: 9780822323006
  • ISBN10: 0822323001

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