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Jane Austen and the Ethics of Description : Routledge Studies in Nineteenth Century Literature - Brett Bourbon
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Jane Austen and the Ethics of Description

By: Brett Bourbon

Paperback | 27 May 2024

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Jane Austen and the Ethics of Description demonstrates that Elizabeth Bennet and her creator are misunderstood, and often unrecognized, geniuses of moral philosophy, but not simply because of their virtue or wit or natural skills in game theory. The engine driving the moral judgement and growth of Austen's protagonists consists of a particular and not well-understood ability to reason by description, a skill which we moderns must recover and remaster in order to negotiate the complexities of contemporary life. The forms of rational description this book derives from Austen will be of great interest not only to literary critics and theorists, but also to philosophers and anyone interested in ethics, the dynamics of power, and practical reasoning.

Written in a clear style, the book is for those who love Austen and for those who want to understand how we should reason about our lives, how we should understand power, social conflict, and our own motives and prejudices. It is a literary analysis, a philosophical argument, and a practical guide to ethical thinking.

Industry Reviews

"This is an extraordinarily well-designed book. The structure is rock solid; the content fascinating. The reasoning and argumentation is deeply insightful. The re-conception of reasoning (in and by description) is profound, and this, as the backbone of the book, will be recognized as a new, fuller, richer, way of contemplating both what Austen did and why that is so important. Brett Bourbon's approach is original and excellent. This will be recognized as a very significant contribution."

Garry Hagberg, James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy, Bard College, and Editor of Philosophy and Literature

"At last a book on Jane Austen's morals and politics that doesn't turn her novels into forms of advocacy. Brett Bourbon offers brilliant insights on power, reasoning and conflict, but mostly on how Austen's novels always remain admirable exercises in thoughtfulness. This is clearly one of the most original books on Jane Austen that I know of."

Miguel Tamen, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, University of Lisbon, and Professor of Literary Theory

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