Moral & Philosophical Criticism. EH 4301. Moral Criticism.
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“The best poetry has a power of forming, sustaining, and delighting us, as nothing else can. … More and more mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us. Without poetry, our science will appear incomplete; and most of what now passes with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry.”
Fuller (like Babbitt and More) sees standards and restraints as essential for moral action.
Condemns much of modern fiction for rejecting these guides in the name of compassion.
“Compassion must be based on a large and generous view of life and a distinct set of values” (34).
The compassion found in many modern novels is “a teary slobbering over the criminal and degraded, the refusal to assign any share of responsibility to them, and a vindictive lashing out against the rest of the world” (35-37)
The Moral Imagination: Essays on Literature and Ethics (1986)
“literary works usually embody moral problems and reflect moral attitudes, sometimes even moral theories. There is no good reason for criticism to tiptoe around one of the major reasons that literary works endure” (xi).
“Aristotle’s Sister: A Poetics of Abandonment” (1983)
In addition to winning critical attention for many neglected works by women writers, feminist criticism has sparked a reevaluation of many works traditionally granted high, secure places in the canon.
“Something peculiar has been happening lately to the classics; some of them now seem less heroic, and some of them less funny. Those ‘irrelevant’ scenes of cruelty to women… have changed their character.” (79)