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This chapter summarises the core ideas in Neema Parvini’s book Shakespeare’s Moral Compass (2018). It draws on the work of Jonathan Haidt and the idea that humans are ‘pre-wired’ to have certain moral tastes which conform to six foundations: care / harm, fairness / cheating, loyalty / betrayal, authority / subversion, sanctity / degradation, liberty / oppression. It argues that Shakespeare had an intuitive and dynamic understanding of these moral foundations as manifested in his plays. His ethics are always situated and experiential and seldom doctrinaire. Nonetheless, there are definite moral instructions that come through strongly and distinctly in the works that still have much to teach us in the 2020s and beyond.
Presumably not long after his arrival in Rome, Raphael drew a figure of Lucretia (Figure 7.1).1 The drawing is a telling example of the transformation of her reception. After 1500, the Roman heroine of freedom and chastity became a pin-up model.2 Raphael skillfully anticipates the requirements of the genre. Her torn attire follows the curves of her body, and a dysfunctional fold underscores her genitalia. Her hair is tied but slightly disheveled. The theatrical gesture of the left arm conveniently reveals her bare breast. The dagger in her right-hand changes into an overt phallic reference from a mortal instrument. Lucretia has just been raped and her suicide is imminent, yet the painter opts for a voyeuristic presentation of her body. The narrative context and physical signs of violence are retained inasmuch as they support this sanitized scenario.
This chapter explores a specialized use of the word "free" in Shakespeare's works. It does not deny that Shakespeare often uses term in political and legal senses. What it shows is that Shakespeare also often uses the term to denote a quality of mind or soul, and that this quality can be thought of as a virtue when it is acted upon. The quality is shown to be related to generosity -- or partly constituted by it -- but also to include an element of other-directedness and the possession of what might be called an unarmed ego. The chapter argues that while the term occurs in this sense throughout the Shakespearean corpus, the term is most clearly defined and focused on in one of the great comedies, Twelfth Night. The play is shown to be built around the concept. The chapter then turns to how the term -- that is, the quality -- functions in tragedy. It is shown, in Hamlet, and especially in Othello, to function explicitly as a liability to the protagonist. But this is not seen as undermining its status as a virtue, merely as defining one of the differences between a comic and a tragic world.
Heir to a shared Indo-European eudaimonist thoughtworld, Shakespeare’s Hamlet dramatizes the interplay of Buddhist, Skeptic, and Stoic philosophies at the affective-cognitive interface indispensable for virtue in action. Hamlet’s search for appropriate response — in the role of “scourge and minister” thrust upon him to redress regicide — requires equanimity, and equanimity, as the play suggests, ultimately requires other-focused compassion to counteract affective-cognitive affliction: the emptying of self-engrossed mental proliferation prepares the mind for virtuous action. Our ability in Greco-Buddhist wisdom traditions to stand firm by judgment and detachment from destructive emotions and mental disturbances is encapsulated in Hamlet’s famous line in banter with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: “There’s nothing either good / or bad but thinking makes it so” (2.2.244-45). This key idea from Buddhist, Skeptic, and Stoic philosophies compresses therapy for emotional control through skepticism, or suspension of judgment. This equanimity in Buddhist-Stoic spiritual practices, moreover, interacts closely with two primary virtues: compassion and wisdom. Throughout most of the play, Hamlet’s quandary is exacerbated by his overactive ruminations until finally in Act 5, his feelings of compassion toward another, Laertes, relieves and releases Hamlet from his psychohumoral affliction and lends him the emotional equanimity and mental clarity to take virtuous action.
Aided by Kant’s account, in “The Analytic of the Sublime,” of how “respect” is accessed, these pages show that effectively endless series of specific representations in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as King Lear open a moment of suspension, or space of “negativity,” within which that which Theseus terms “noble respect,” or France calls “inflamed respect,” can emerge. This route to respect may at first seem purely negative, yet its resulting humiliations of self-conceit release the good will of respect that is latent in the human. In these plays the attainment to respect is achieved in a reciprocal “amendment” or “art of known and feeling sorrows” that transpires most fully between spectator and play. Puck — standing amended beyond his play — envisions that which will “ere long . . . restore” these “amends.” He speaks as a minor prophet of a theatrical redemption that is outside time and in liminal space, even sweeping aside the play that was.
Kant’s Rechtslehre is concerned with the freedom that is to coexist with the freedom of choice of others in accordance with a universal law. I argue that this freedom is not to be directly equated with freedom of choice: it is instead the independence that is a condition of genuine free choice because it ensures that one is not constrained to act in accordance with the choices of others. Kant’s distinction between active and passive citizenship, however, is incompatible with this notion of independence because property rights of a certain type make it possible for some citizens to dominate other citizens, who cannot, therefore, be classed as genuinely independent. Thus the concept of property is central to the question of how right can secure the freedom of citizens. I show that Kant understands this concept in terms of a relation between persons with respect to things, rather than in terms of only a relation between a person and a thing. I argue that although Kant appears to argue in favour of private property, he does not sufficiently justify this form of property by demonstrating that other forms of property would be less compatible with the freedom that right is to secure and guarantee.
This chapter explores the spectacles of gladiators, bare-knuckle boxing, and the early theater. Wild, violent bodies were banned in Rome and America: the gladiator excluded from civic participation and protections; boxing matches banned through much of the nineteenth century. Both bodies were marked by wounds, but even more by a brashness and ruggedness that was contrary to standards of elite decorum. These bodies were the object of elite condemnation as uncivilized, uneducated, and unrefined. And these bodies were the object of the gaze, put on display to perform to the expectations of the audience. The problem is that boundaries of exclusion prove to be permeable. And these boundaries prove to be permeable because the lawless, uncivilized bodies replay the role of violence in constituting a founding identity. The conquest of wild, lawless nature in the name of civilization required a type of body, one that could act with similar violent wildness. To the chagrin of certain elites, the taboo body comes to be valorized, grafted and grafting itself onto the rugged origins embedded in the founding ideal.
I begin with an account of the fundamental aims of Hegel’s ‘science of right’ so as to show how his account of property faces two key challenges: justifying the concept of property and any specific form of it, on the one hand, and integrating property into the system of right, which includes subordinating it to any higher moments of right, on the other. I then turn to Hegel’s argument for private property. I distinguish between two interpretations of his argument: the ‘embodiment’ interpretation and the ‘recognition’ interpretation. I identify serious problems with the first interpretation and then argue for a version of the second one that entails the type of triadic model of the concept of property developed by Fichte and already implicit in Kant’s Rechtslehre. I show that this triadic model, and thus Hegel’s full argument for private property, becomes explicit only at the stage of contract. Next, I discuss how Hegel seeks to integrate private property into ethical life, and I argue that the idea of ethical life is, in fact, more compatible with some form of common or collective property because this form of property is more expressive of this idea.
Marx adopts a triadic model of the concept of property and emphasizes how this concept assumes different historical forms, including private property. I seek to explain why Marx must be thought to commit himself to the complete abolition of private property by beginning with how he speaks of property, equality and freedom as forming a constellation of concepts within capitalist society. This approach enables me to show how, for Marx, private property functions within a social world structured by contractual relations established between allegedly free and equal rights-bearing persons, whose self-conception and relations to one another are determined by an abstract exchange value that finds legal and political expression in a purely formal notion of equality. I argue that there are two key elements in Marx’s critique of private property. The first concerns how individuals are unable to relate to themselves and to others as genuine individuals in an economic and social system governed by exchange value. The second concerns how a system of exchange governed by this form of value dominates individuals and is thus incompatible with ‘free’ individuality.
This chapter begins with Fichte’s early theory of property as presented in his defence of the French Revolution from 1793. My intention is to show how tensions within this theory of property can be explained in terms of an unsuccessful attempt to establish a necessary connection between the right to property and labour. In the later Foundations of Natural Right, Fichte’s attempt to explain the connection between the right to property and labour leads him to reject his earlier dyadic (person–thing) model of the concept of property. A triadic (person–thing–person) model is instead shown to follow from Fichte’s understanding of the concept of right and the role of recognition in his theory of right. The connection between the right to property and labour is explained in terms of how each person’s property rights must enable him or her to live from his or her labour. This will be shown to demand forms of property other than private property in relation to certain activities and the resources required by them. Fichte nevertheless speaks of ‘absolute property’ and thereby suggests the possibility of some role for private property within the rational state.
This chapter describes Roberto Bolaño’s life and work in the context of the Cold War. In Latin America, that conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union often had the character of an internal civil war. Many of the region’s most prominent writers, who by and large belonged to the political left, spoke about Cold War politics as a continuation of U.S. imperialism in the region. But there were also deep divisions on the left. Some writers were pro-Soviet, while others were anti-Stalinist. After the Cuban Revolution, it too became a fault line. Born in 1953, Bolaño began his literary career at a time in the early 1970s when these political and literary paths seemed increasingly exhausted. As a young provocateur, he mocked the pretensions of both Communists and anti-Communists. His works often feature the invented lives of writers, but not in the heroic or redemptive roles they are sometimes mythologized as playing. Bolaño’s major output, published in the 1990s and 2000s, looks back on the Cold War with a sense of loss: the losses of accumulated violence, and the lost dreams of political justice that could not come to pass.
This review article discusses MacLean’s study of the ideas of a group of economists and their embracing by an oligarchy of business groups to implement a Neoliberal agenda and its implications for American democracy. It mainly focuses on the Nobel Prize winning economist James McGill Buchanan and the industrialist Charles Koch. Business groups provided funds to Buchanan and others to train right-minded people in the precepts of Neoliberalism, established think tanks and institutes to disseminate their views, and ‘directed’ and/or provided advice and draft legislation for Republican politicians at both the state and federal level. Inspiration for how to achieve this Neoliberal ‘revolution’ can be found in Lenin’s 1902 What is to be Done?. The Neoliberal attack on government and statism is consistent with Orwell’s notion of doublethink. It constitutes a weakening of those parts of the state which are inimical to the interests of a wealthy oligarchy, the federal government and agencies/government departments who are viewed as imposing costs (taxes) on and interfering with (regulating) the actions of the oligarchy, and strengthening other parts such as state governments, the judiciary, at both the state (especially) and federal level and police forces to protect and advance their interests.
This chapter tackles two principal problems with connecting the formulas to a real world: their often difficult or incorrect (by classical standards) Latin, and the late Roman and early Merovingian legal language that has led to them being labeled as antiquarian fossils. The chapter argues that the idiosyncratic Latin of the formulas in fact communicated essential content in regions where the spoken languages were evolving into Romance, as well as (with the help of glosses and occasional vernacular words) where they were Germanic. The obsolete (or obsolescent) legal language reflects a legal culture in the eighth and ninth centuries in which – especially in western areas with strong Roman roots – references to Roman law and procedure still meant something. Roman legal language gave some documents an imprimatur of authority. Descriptions of antique procedures bore a recognizable relationship (though not necessarily an exact correspondence) to how those transactions were actually carried out. In short, the legal and formulaic inheritance of Rome in the western regions of the Carolingian world contributed to a normative framework that lent authority and legitimacy both to documents and to the legal procedures that they recorded.
The formulas describe unfree men and women with terms that are fluid and overlapping, and that encompass everything from what we would call chattel slavery to loose patronage. The unfree most often appear as the passive objects of the power and interests of their betters. They are not a closed group, however. Free people submitted themselves to servitude either voluntarily or by force of circumstance, in exchange for money or to make amends for some wrong. Unfree were freed or bought their own freedom. The unfree also display a significant amount of agency. They ran away. They sought help against their own lords from other powerful people. Sometimes they stole things, including marriage partners. They contested their status, often with success. Some even owned other unfree. In short, the formulas tell us that status at the interface between free and unfree was fluid, and that while they spent much of their lives as the passive objects of power, the unfree in this world had the capacity to act in their own interests, were fully aware of how power flowed, and could work the social and political system to their own advantage.
From the Georgia Sea Islands to Jamaica to Brazil, enslaved African Muslims precariously re-established textual traditions and networks by writing letters in Arabic and transcribing sacred texts from memory. Bearing witness to their rich and cosmopolitan educational backgrounds, African Muslims in the New World used Arabic literacy to subjectively and objectively overthrow the chains of slavery. They narrated as well as propelled their itinerant diasporic histories through literary and epistolary models, from Scheherazade to al-Hariri, studied in the markets and madrasas of Africa and the Ottoman Empire. Edward Wilmot Blyden, born in the West Indies but resident for the majority of his life in Liberia, engaged deeply with the Islamic culture of the Sahel. He provided extensive documentation about Islam in West Africa, attuned to the ways it was woven together with the Islamic world of the Ottoman Empire and Indian Ocean world. His research and travels frame how future researchers, scholars, and activists would perceive the cosmopolitanism of African Muslims such as Job ben Solomon, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, and Nicholas Said among many others, and how they sought to re-member their narrative, familial, and sacred ties to Arabic and Islam.
Manja Kisner stresses Schopenhauer’s continuity with Fichte and Schelling through Fichte’s concept of the intelligible subject as a nexus of ethical drives that tend toward an ethical world order. Schopenhauer rejected so much of this concept that we often miss the positive influences. Kisner points to the fact that Fichte was discussing agency in terms of drives, and responding to the problem of illicitly positing a causal relationship between the intelligible and empirical registers. Schopenhauer disagrees with Fichte’s idea that the intelligible world is a sort of moral destination, his moral fatalism. Kisner sees WWR as a reply to Fichte on this account. Schelling furthers the development toward Schopenhauer, however, by abandoning moral fatalism, and seeing the possibility of moral as well as immoral action, as contingent (not fatalistic) and rooted in an irrational, amoral ground. Schopenhauer can be seen as continuing and radicalizing it. He accepted Schelling’s notion of an amoral ground of being, but viewed it as an occasion for a negative rather than a positive morality. Freedom comes not from grounding oneself in the will and acting rationally, but from resisting the will altogether. Still, this theoretical move presupposes the philosophical tools developed by Schopenhauer’s contemporaries.
The theme of property is directly relevant to some of the most divisive social and political issues today, such as wealth inequality and the question of whether governments should limit it by introducing measures that restrict the right to property. Yet what is property? And when seeking to answer this question, do we tend to identify the concept with just one dominant historical form of property? In this book, David James reconstructs the theories of property developed by four key figures in classical German philosophy - Kant, Fichte, Hegel and Marx. He argues that although their theories of property are different, the concept of social recognition plays a crucial role in all of them, and assesses these philosophers' arguments for the specific forms of property they claim should exist in a society that is genuinely committed to the idea of freedom.
This essay focuses on Nellie Campobello and Juan Rulfo to study how the Mexican Revolution by midcentury produced a singular aesthetic form in the guise of the unique short story or narrative sketch. This process involves a violent segmentation of the common, together with a no less forceful production of the singular. While Campobello and Rulfo tap into the resources of collective storytelling, they subject these oral materials to a process of aestheticization whose fundamental values lay in an image of self-standing beauty, or singularity, rather than community. Literature, even when its topic is the aftermath of the revolution, thus seems to run counter to the latter's ideals of collectivization. The chain of oral storytellers is typically interrupted with the appropriation of orality on behalf of an individual author with a unique signature. Based on the examples of Campobello and Rulfo, we might even ask whether there ever was such a thing as a novel of the Mexican revolution to begin with: not only because their sketches and short stories hardly can be considered novels but also because theirs amounts to a narrative of the counter-revolution.
At the beginning of the debate over free will, freedom is nowhere to be found. In the Hellenistic period, the question of human autonomy is not one of freedom (eleutheria) but instead, given the nature of the universe, what is “up to us” (eph’emin) and thus left to our choice (prohairesis). It is Cicero and the Epicurean poet Lucretius who first turn the debate into one specifically over man’s freedom from fate. But Cicero’s idea of the will’s libertas – its opportunity to conquer vice and win honor – is very different from that of Lucretius in De rerum natura, a text Cicero read and may even have edited. De fato, one of the last in his corpus, returns to the question of a libera voluntas explicitly to refute the Epicurean doctrine of the swerve (clinamen) and their abandonment of civic duty. For Cicero, free will is the locus of public virtue, the justification of “praise and honors,” and the power to strengthen ourselves against natural vice. Cicero’s letters reveal, in turn, that this technical treatise on fate has decidedly political stakes for the Roman Republic.
The influence of Wittgenstein on Wallace has become a truism in the scholarship. This chapter explores the contribution of the philosopher and logician to Wallace’s fiction writing, focusing on the logical questions that are most directly present in the fiction. More particularly, the chapter offers a provocative look at Wallace’s philosophical entanglement with Richard Taylor and ideas of fatalism. Imagining an alternate world in which Wallace was a philosopher by profession instead of an author, the chapter traces the development of his argument against Taylor’s proposition by way of logic, one of the key philosophical features of his writing, and traces a path from here to the interest in Wittgenstein and language games that dominated his fiction. In imagining this alternative world, the chapter invites the reader to think through exactly the ideas of choice, contingency, language and logic that animate argument it discusses.