J. M. Coetzee and Ethics: Philosophical Perspectives on Literature

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Anton Leist, Peter Singer
Columbia University Press, Jun 11, 2010 - Philosophy - 408 pages
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In 2003, South African writer J. M. Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his riveting portrayals of racial repression, sexual politics, the guises of reason, and the hypocrisy of human beings toward animals and nature. Coetzee was credited with being "a scrupulous doubter, ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of western civilization." The film of his novel Disgrace, starring John Malkovich, brought his challenging ideas to a new audience.

Anton Leist and Peter Singer have assembled an outstanding group of contributors who probe deeply into Coetzee's extensive and extraordinary corpus. They explore his approach to ethical theory and philosophy and pay particular attention to his representation of the human-animal relationship. They also confront Coetzee's depiction of the elementary conditions of life, the origins of morality, the recognition of value in others, the sexual dynamics between men and women, the normality of suppression, and the possibility of equality in postcolonial society. With its wide-ranging consideration of philosophical issues, especially in relation to fiction, this volume stands alone in its extraordinary exchange of ethical and literary inquiry.

 

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Contents

Introduction
COETZEES PARADOXICAL OEUVRE
THIS COLLECTION
1
THE POLITICAL ACTUALITY OF POWER AND COETZEES FIRST THREE NOVELS
DUSKLANDS
IN THE HEART OF THE COUNTRY
WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS
DISSOLVING ONESELF OUTSIDE SOCIETY
THROUGH TORTURE TO UNDERSTANDING
ANTIREASON AS JOY
CONCLUSION
10
THE LIMITS OF REASON
THE LESSONS OF LOVE
11

2
DESIRE AND THE DARK SIDE OF THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA
GOD AND THE DOGMAN
CONCLUSION
3
4
COLLECTIVE IDENTITY AS A BASIS OF COLLECTIVE SHAME
THE COLLECTIVE AS IRREDUCIBLE BEARER OF GUILT OR SHAME
A POSSIBLE BASIS FOR COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY AND COLLECTIVE SHAME
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO AVOID COLLECTIVELY IMPOSED GUILT OR SHAME?
5
6
BEING A BAT
POETICS IN ACTION
CRITIQUE
CONCLUSION
7
THE LIVES OF ANIMALS
A REPORT TO AN ACADEMY
THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
ETHICS AND WRITING
8
THE SCAPEGOAT AND THE SACRIFICE
CRITICISM
CONCLUSION
9
A READING OF DISGRACE
FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON COETZEE AND ETHICS
CONCLUSION
12
RECOGNITION AND GRACE KOJČVE BLANCHOT
ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND DISGRACE CAVELL
THE ETHICS OF COETZEES LATER WORK
13
STYLE
THE LAW AND THE EXCEPTION
TRUTH AND LOVE TOGETHER AT LAST
14
THE LIVES OF ANIMALS AND CONTENT
THE RELATION AMONG FORM REFLECTION AND CONTENT
TWO FURTHER THOUGHTS
15
BELIEF AS SUCH
COETZEE AT THE GATE
16
COETZEE AND NIETZSCHE
DESIRE IN COETZEE AND NIETZSCHE
LEARNING FROM STORYTELLING
FEEDING THE HUNGRY OR EXCITING DESIRE TO OVERFLOW?
Contributors
Index
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Anton Leist is professor of philosophy at the Ethics-Center of the University of Zurich. His books include A Question of Life, Good Action, Ethics of Social Relationships, and Action in Context.

Peter Singer is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, One World, and The Life You Can Save.

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