Moral Shapes of Time in Henry James

Chapter
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 109)

Abstract

Moral philosophers often turn to the works of Henry James as a resource. Martha Nussbaum, for instance, reads James’s texts for moral examples of the quest for the good. Robert Pippin’s neo-Hegelian approach, on the other hand, reads James’s texts as capturing the moral ambiguities of living through a major shift in social structure of the Western society. For Nussbaum, James’s language is about the subtle perceptions of the characters and narrators. For Pippin, the novel’s complex syntax and obscure diction capture the uncertainties of social transition. Neither one examines the ontological dimension of James’s approach to language and morality. This paper looks at James’s as a moral philosopher in the line of Charles Taylor and Richard Rorty, for whom questions of morality emerge in the context of the linguistically articulated identities of the individual and community. Through this lens, James is a philosopher of language whose novels display the rupture and repair of semantic packages of moral beliefs. Unlike Nussbaum and Pippin, I maintain that James’s late style needs to be considered as something more than an aesthetic vehicle for ethical content. Instead, it presents a phenomenological and ontological drama that gives moral meaning temporal as well as semantic shapes.

Keywords

Moral Reasoning Moral Philosopher Moral Belief Semantic Place Moral Perception 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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