Double Vision: Moral Philosophy and Shakespearean Drama

Princeton University Press
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Hamlet tells Horatio that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in his philosophy. In Double Vision, philosopher and literary critic Tzachi Zamir argues that there are more things in Hamlet than are dreamt of--or at least conceded--by most philosophers. Making an original and persuasive case for the philosophical value of literature, Zamir suggests that certain important philosophical insights can be gained only through literature. But such insights cannot be reached if literature is deployed merely as an aesthetic sugaring of a conceptual pill. Philosophical knowledge is not opposed to, but is consonant with, the literariness of literature. By focusing on the experience of reading literature as literature and not philosophy, Zamir sets a theoretical framework for a philosophically oriented literary criticism that will appeal both to philosophers and literary critics.

Double Vision is concerned with the philosophical understanding induced by the aesthetic experience of literature. Literary works can function as credible philosophical arguments--not ones in which claims are conclusively demonstrated, but in which claims are made plausible. Such claims, Zamir argues, are embedded within an experiential structure that is itself a crucial dimension of knowing. Developing an account of literature's relation to knowledge, morality, and rhetoric, and advancing philosophical-literary readings of Richard III, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, and King Lear, Zamir shows how his approach can open up familiar texts in surprising and rewarding ways.

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About the author

Tzachi Zamir holds a doctorate in philosophy and is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published a number of essays on the relations between philosophy and literature.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Mar 8, 2011
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781400827435
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Shakespeare
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Tzachi Zamir
Many people think that animal liberation would require a fundamental transformation of basic beliefs. We would have to give up "speciesism" and start viewing animals as our equals, with rights and moral status. And we would have to apply these beliefs in an all-or-nothing way. But in Ethics and the Beast, Tzachi Zamir makes the radical argument that animal liberation doesn't require such radical arguments--and that liberation could be accomplished in a flexible and pragmatic way. By making a case for liberation that is based primarily on common moral intuitions and beliefs, and that therefore could attract wide understanding and support, Zamir attempts to change the terms of the liberation debate.

Without defending it, Ethics and the Beast claims that speciesism is fully compatible with liberation. Even if we believe that we should favor humans when there is a pressing human need at stake, Zamir argues, that does not mean that we should allow marginal human interests to trump the life-or-death interests of animals. As minimalist as it sounds, this position generates a robust liberation program, including commitments not to eat animals, subject them to factory farming, or use them in medical research. Zamir also applies his arguments to some questions that tend to be overlooked in the liberation debate, such as whether using animals can be distinguished from exploiting them, whether liberationists should be moral vegetarians or vegans, and whether using animals for therapeutic purposes is morally blameless.

Tzachi Zamir
Paradise Lost has never received a substantial, book-length reading by a philosopher. This, however should surprise no one, for Milton himself despised philosophers. He associated philosophy with deceit in his theological writings, and made philosophizing into one of the activities of fallen angels in hell. Yet, in this book, philosopher and literary critic Tzachi Zamir argues that Milton's disdain for their vocation should not prevent philosophers from turning an inquisitive eye to Paradise Lost. Because Milton's greatest poem conducts a multilayered examination of puzzles that intrigue philosophers, instead of neatly breaking from philosophy, it maintains a penetrating rapport with it. Paradise Lost sets forth bold claims regarding the meaning of genuine knowledge, or acting meaningfully, or taking in the world fully, or successfully withdrawing from inner deadness. Other topics touched upon by Milton involve some of the most central issues within the philosophy of religion: the relationship between reason and belief, the uniqueness of religious poetry, the meaning of gratitude, and the special role of the imagination in faith. This tension-disparaging philosophy on the one hand, but taking up much of what philosophers hope to understand on the other-turns Milton's poem into an exceptionally potent work for a philosopher of literature. Ascent is a philosophical reading of the poem that attempts to keep audible Milton's anti-philosophy stance. The picture of interdisciplinarity that emerges is, accordingly, neither one of a happy percolation among fields ('philosophy', 'literature'), nor one of rigid boundaries. Overlap and partial agreement clash against contestation and rivalry. It is these conflicting currents which Ascent aims to capture, if not to reconcile.
Tzachi Zamir
Paradise Lost has never received a substantial, book-length reading by a philosopher. This, however should surprise no one, for Milton himself despised philosophers. He associated philosophy with deceit in his theological writings, and made philosophizing into one of the activities of fallen angels in hell. Yet, in this book, philosopher and literary critic Tzachi Zamir argues that Milton's disdain for their vocation should not prevent philosophers from turning an inquisitive eye to Paradise Lost. Because Milton's greatest poem conducts a multilayered examination of puzzles that intrigue philosophers, instead of neatly breaking from philosophy, it maintains a penetrating rapport with it. Paradise Lost sets forth bold claims regarding the meaning of genuine knowledge, or acting meaningfully, or taking in the world fully, or successfully withdrawing from inner deadness. Other topics touched upon by Milton involve some of the most central issues within the philosophy of religion: the relationship between reason and belief, the uniqueness of religious poetry, the meaning of gratitude, and the special role of the imagination in faith. This tension-disparaging philosophy on the one hand, but taking up much of what philosophers hope to understand on the other-turns Milton's poem into an exceptionally potent work for a philosopher of literature. Ascent is a philosophical reading of the poem that attempts to keep audible Milton's anti-philosophy stance. The picture of interdisciplinarity that emerges is, accordingly, neither one of a happy percolation among fields ('philosophy', 'literature'), nor one of rigid boundaries. Overlap and partial agreement clash against contestation and rivalry. It is these conflicting currents which Ascent aims to capture, if not to reconcile.
Tzachi Zamir
Paradise Lost has never received a substantial, book-length reading by a philosopher. This, however should surprise no one, for Milton himself despised philosophers. He associated philosophy with deceit in his theological writings, and made philosophizing into one of the activities of fallen angels in hell. Yet, in this book, philosopher and literary critic Tzachi Zamir argues that Milton's disdain for their vocation should not prevent philosophers from turning an inquisitive eye to Paradise Lost. Because Milton's greatest poem conducts a multilayered examination of puzzles that intrigue philosophers, instead of neatly breaking from philosophy, it maintains a penetrating rapport with it. Paradise Lost sets forth bold claims regarding the meaning of genuine knowledge, or acting meaningfully, or taking in the world fully, or successfully withdrawing from inner deadness. Other topics touched upon by Milton involve some of the most central issues within the philosophy of religion: the relationship between reason and belief, the uniqueness of religious poetry, the meaning of gratitude, and the special role of the imagination in faith. This tension-disparaging philosophy on the one hand, but taking up much of what philosophers hope to understand on the other-turns Milton's poem into an exceptionally potent work for a philosopher of literature. Ascent is a philosophical reading of the poem that attempts to keep audible Milton's anti-philosophy stance. The picture of interdisciplinarity that emerges is, accordingly, neither one of a happy percolation among fields ('philosophy', 'literature'), nor one of rigid boundaries. Overlap and partial agreement clash against contestation and rivalry. It is these conflicting currents which Ascent aims to capture, if not to reconcile.
Tzachi Zamir
Paradise Lost has never received a substantial, book-length reading by a philosopher. This, however should surprise no one, for Milton himself despised philosophers. He associated philosophy with deceit in his theological writings, and made philosophizing into one of the activities of fallen angels in hell. Yet, in this book, philosopher and literary critic Tzachi Zamir argues that Milton's disdain for their vocation should not prevent philosophers from turning an inquisitive eye to Paradise Lost. Because Milton's greatest poem conducts a multilayered examination of puzzles that intrigue philosophers, instead of neatly breaking from philosophy, it maintains a penetrating rapport with it. Paradise Lost sets forth bold claims regarding the meaning of genuine knowledge, or acting meaningfully, or taking in the world fully, or successfully withdrawing from inner deadness. Other topics touched upon by Milton involve some of the most central issues within the philosophy of religion: the relationship between reason and belief, the uniqueness of religious poetry, the meaning of gratitude, and the special role of the imagination in faith. This tension-disparaging philosophy on the one hand, but taking up much of what philosophers hope to understand on the other-turns Milton's poem into an exceptionally potent work for a philosopher of literature. Ascent is a philosophical reading of the poem that attempts to keep audible Milton's anti-philosophy stance. The picture of interdisciplinarity that emerges is, accordingly, neither one of a happy percolation among fields ('philosophy', 'literature'), nor one of rigid boundaries. Overlap and partial agreement clash against contestation and rivalry. It is these conflicting currents which Ascent aims to capture, if not to reconcile.
Tzachi Zamir
Many people think that animal liberation would require a fundamental transformation of basic beliefs. We would have to give up "speciesism" and start viewing animals as our equals, with rights and moral status. And we would have to apply these beliefs in an all-or-nothing way. But in Ethics and the Beast, Tzachi Zamir makes the radical argument that animal liberation doesn't require such radical arguments--and that liberation could be accomplished in a flexible and pragmatic way. By making a case for liberation that is based primarily on common moral intuitions and beliefs, and that therefore could attract wide understanding and support, Zamir attempts to change the terms of the liberation debate.

Without defending it, Ethics and the Beast claims that speciesism is fully compatible with liberation. Even if we believe that we should favor humans when there is a pressing human need at stake, Zamir argues, that does not mean that we should allow marginal human interests to trump the life-or-death interests of animals. As minimalist as it sounds, this position generates a robust liberation program, including commitments not to eat animals, subject them to factory farming, or use them in medical research. Zamir also applies his arguments to some questions that tend to be overlooked in the liberation debate, such as whether using animals can be distinguished from exploiting them, whether liberationists should be moral vegetarians or vegans, and whether using animals for therapeutic purposes is morally blameless.

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