Just Literature: Philosophical Criticism and Justice. New York: Routledge. More about this book Abstract. 2019.
Everyone admits that some works of literature are profoundly insightful. Yet literary theorists have found it difficult to build upon this foundation. Their primary reservation was that to regard literature as yielding knowledge drives readers away from the complex responses created by powerful works. “Philosophical Criticism” — an approach to literature introduced in this volume — aims to defuse this tension. Philosophical criticism is an attunement to the synergy between the understanding literature enables and the unique experiences it induces. Justice is this book’s overarching category. Philosophical readings of works by Dante, Shakespeare, Morrison, Coetzee, and Roth will argue that their value as literature is partly constituted by advancing our grasp of justice. Literature is not philosophy; but it may expose a distinction between compassion and pity, reveal a relationship between unfairness and withheld solidarity, or show how moral commitments – to impartiality, to mercy – sometimes rely upon a more fundamental evasion.