Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 April 2022
The introduction outlines some important differences in approaches to literature and ethics. It goes on to situate the following work in relation to those differences. For example, we may be concerned principally with the literature (e.g., how to evaluate literary works morally) or the ethics (e.g., how to think in more nuanced ways about ethical problems in real life); this volume is concerned principally with the latter. More significantly, the study of ethics may be descriptive or normative. In other words, it may address what constitutes ethical thought or it may advocate a particular version of ethics. The book is divided into two parts. The first part treats descriptive ethics, seeking to isolate cross-cultural and transhistorical patterns in the relation between ethical attitudes, on the one hand, and structures of storytelling, on the other. The second part takes up normative ethics, focusing on an aspect of emotional response that is important in both ethics and literature – empathy.