By S. L. Goldberg
Brokers and Lives deals 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 knowing 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 debts of literature provided by way of ethical philosophers resembling Iris Murdoch, Bernard Williams, Martha Nussbaum and Richard Rorty.
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Additional info for Agents and Lives
It was rather that 'his want of imagination, small experience of human feelings, and ignorance of the filiation and connexion of feelings with one another', made him all too rarely see the relevant 'moral influences'. In those judgments, Mill's use of the term 'moral' clearly shifts towards a large sense, and it does so even more in yet another key passage of the essay, where Bentham's error is now said to have consisted in 'overlooking' the 'moral part of man's nature, in the strict sense of the term [my italics] - the desire of perfection, or the feeling of an approving or of an accusing conscience', and in but faintly recognizing as 'a fact in human nature, the pursuit of any other ideal end for its own sake' [my italics].
It is an idea that is likely to strike us nowadays as not so much moral as moralistic. 'perpetually occupied') also moves between the large sense and the smaller one, though with less confusion of the two. In the smaller sense, Johnson speaks of' the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong', of'the principles of moral truth', and of the 'virtues' such as justice, all of which he distinguishes from plainly non-moral scientific knowledge on 14 Agents and lives the one hand, but also, on the other hand, from 'axioms of prudence', 'opinions', and 'excellencies' such as prudence.
In the... sense... 15 Mill's essay on Bentham is itself a piece of'moral' criticism in just this large sense of the word. It aims to characterize and assess Bentham's moral significance as a thinker; and in order to do this, Mill traces the 'filiations and connexions' between every aspect of Bentham's activity as a moral being that seems relevant: his theories, his perceptions, his feelings, his sensibilities, his sense of'right' and 'wrong', and his fundamental lack of human (or as we say, moral) imagination.