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Psyche and Ethos: Moral Life After Psychology
 0198755821, 9780198755821

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Psyche and Ethos CLARENDON LECTURES IN ENGLISH

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Psyche and Ethos Moral Life after Psychology

AMANDA ANDERSON

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Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP, United Kingdom Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries # Amanda Anderson 2018 The moral rights of the author have been asserted First Edition published in 2018 Impression: 1 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by licence or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Data available Library of Congress Control Number: 2017956287 ISBN 978–0–19–875582–1 Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY Links to third party websites are provided by Oxford in good faith and for information only. Oxford disclaims any responsibility for the materials contained in any third party website referenced in this work.

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Acknowledgments These lectures were originally delivered at Oxford University in November 2015. I was graciously hosted by the English Faculty and Oxford University Press and want especially to thank Jacqueline Baker of OUP and the following members of the English Faculty: Seamus Perry, Laura Marcus, Helen Small, and David Russell. I am grateful for the extraordinary hospitality I received from these individuals as well as many others during my two-week stay at Balliol College. Beyond this, I wish to thank the audiences at the various lectures for their engaged responses; some of their questions have led to what I hope are clarifications and refinements in the text that follows. I enjoyed a great deal of intellectual assistance and support from colleagues, family members, and friends as I wrote and revised these lectures, the topics of which involved exploring a wide range of new materials. I thank Michael Gastiger for critical research assistance in the early stages of the writing. For helpful conversations and recommendations, I thank especially Helen Anderson, Isobel Armstrong, Branka Arsic, John Brenkman, Susan Bruce, Leela Gandhi, Martin Hagglund, Bonnie Honig, Jacques Khalip, David Kurnick, Jeff Nunokawa, Ben Parker, Bruce Robbins, Carrie Rohman, Sianne Ngai, Nancy Yousef, and Alex Woloch. After giving the lectures at Oxford, I had the opportunity to present portions of the lectures at other universities, including Columbia University, CUNY Graduate Center, Yale University, Northeastern University, Cornell University, Harvard University, and Stanford University. I thank audiences at these venues for their helpful responses as well.

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Contents 1. 2. 3. 4.

Introduction Psychology contra Morality In the Middle of Life: The Vicissitudes of Moral Time The Tragic and the Ordinary A Human Science

References Index

1 15 39 61 85 105 111

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Introduction

The argument pursued in the lectures presented here may strike some readers as counterintuitive, insofar as I will be arguing that a widespread cultural tendency to privilege psychological and therapeutic frameworks has profoundly affected the field of literary studies, and in ways that displace the importance of the moral life, and in particular the importance of moral reflection and moral judgment as they are experienced in time. There are two distinct reasons such a claim might seem counterintuitive, or at least oddly framed: the first has to do with a widely recognized turn to ethics within the literary field since the 1980s and the second has to do with a commonly held view of the centrality of politically minded criticism within literature, which is understood to examine ideology and framing systems of power in the name of informing ethico-political values. In these two ways, we would seem to be surrounded by something like moral commitment. Why then the concern that the moral life is undervalued or not acknowledged? And why is psychology seen as playing a central role in this story? It will take a moment to get to the second question, which can only be approached once I have sketched out what I take to be the salient conditions affecting the field’s treatment of the moral life more generally. To begin with, the turn to ethics within the literary field took place largely within the field of poststructuralism, not in opposition to it, and this matters. While some traditionally humanist scholars drew attention to ethics during this period, notably Wayne Booth and Martha Nussbaum, a more influential role was played by deconstructionists such as Jacques Derrida and J. Hillis Miller, and by poststructuralists such as Judith Butler, particularly in her work on precarious life, which draws on Emmanuel Levinas and Giorgio

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Agamben. This more theoretically minded work emphasizes vulnerable humanity subject to inescapable forces of normalizing power and the complex conditions of undecidability and attenuated agency under which all decisions and actions occur. It may lend a certain existential texture and resonance to its consideration of ethical and political questions, but it retains the strong critique of human agency that characterizes poststructuralist thought, positioning itself in fundamental opposition to Kantian and Aristotelian ethics as well as those moral frameworks that aim to adapt Kantian moral theory to a more ambitious social vision, namely, Habermas’s communicative ethics and Rawls’s theory of justice. In the new ethical thought, poststructuralism’s painstaking attention to the unresolvable complexity of meaning within language is essentially transposed onto ethical and political questions, where it presents as a highly sensitized responsiveness that remains open rather than closed, radically anti-teleological, deliberately futural or aspirational. This mode of thought vigilantly guards against the articulation of first principles or norms. Such a stance is evident for example in Derrida’s conception of a “democracy to come” or in Agamben’s characteristic moves from critique to ontology.2 Jacques Rancière has criticized the turn to ethics within contemporary theory for abandoning the distinction fundamental to traditional moral judgment, that between “fact and law, what is and what out to be.”3 For Rancière, the ethical turn “dissolves the norm into the 1 See Lawrence Buell, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Ethics,” in Marjorie Garber, Beatrice Hansen, and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, eds., The Turn to Ethics (New York: Routledge, 2000), 1–13. Buell usefully catalogs the various approaches within the turn to ethics, including deconstructive, humanist, and Foucauldian approaches, the last of which I will discuss presently. See also Amanda Anderson, The Way We Argue Now: A Study in the Cultures of Theory (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006), 8–9. For Butler’s Agamben-inflected work on ethics, see especially Judith Butler, Antigone’s Claim: Kinship between Life and Death (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000) and Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2004). See also Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller Roazen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998). 2 Jacques Derrida, The Politics of Friendship (New York: Verso, 2006); Agamben, Homo Sacer. 3 Jacques Rancière, “The Ethical Turn of Aesthetics and Politics,” Critical Horizons 7.1 (2006): 1–20, 2.

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fact,” imagining the law as a power which covers everything. Its characteristic response in light of this understanding of power is to emphasize ontology (“ethos is the dwelling and the way of being, the way of life corresponding to this dwelling”) and to invoke “an unprecedented dramaturgy of infinite evil, justice, and redemption.”4 Rancière’s argument is multi-layered, addressing not only the ethical turn in contemporary theory but also a set of corresponding elements in contemporary aesthetics. Most centrally, it captures well the movement away from moral judgment, which for Rancière is profoundly consequential for the field of politics, insofar as politics are fundamentally driven by moral division. Morality in this schema involves fundamental judgments and commitments; it involves recognizing the gap between norms and what actually obtains; and it involves struggle and contestation in relation to that gap. Ethics, by contrast, can see only the absoluteness of the law and the trauma of ongoing catastrophe in the face of the law. It is pathos-laden. In a cultural situation in which trauma is the fundamental condition, moral agency and responsibility are evacuated: we are left in a situation in which “evil” has transmuted into “the trauma that knows neither innocence nor guilt.”5 Rancière sees a continuity, moreover, between the new conception of ethics and the centrality of humanitarianism and consensus within contemporary international politics. It is striking that Rancière so centrally invokes the concept of trauma, contrasting its model of victimization and protection to one in which political divisions are morally avowed and confronted. His account usefully shows the extent to which therapeutic and psychoanalytic concepts and frameworks influence the field of cultural theory and criticism. Even as psychoanalysis proper appears as something of a niche critical activity, psychoanalytic assumptions pervade much of cultural criticism, from the emphasis on symptomatic elements within literary works to the identification of cultural anxieties driving the formal dynamics of artworks and social institutions.6 Such approaches participate in the same collapse of the ought and the is that troubles Rancière, describing how systems of power and ideological 5 Rancière, “The Ethical Turn,” 2. Rancière, “The Ethical Turn,” 4. Rita Felski makes this point well. See Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 59–60. 4 6

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formations maintain themselves, and how individuals within such systems either learn to cope with these conditions, or act out in relation to them. Active, reflective engagement with such conditions, based on reflectively endorsed moral values, is not given much emphasis. At best, what is valorized is the form of consciousness that registers or exposes the way the system works.7 Rancière’s direct avowal of the term “morality,” and his insistence that morality and politics are inherently connected with one another, is a refreshing departure from a more common tendency to see morality as a front for ideology, as something in need of critique. The pervasiveness of the charge of “moralism” in the literary field is particularly revealing in this respect, as I will demonstrate in Chapter 2. Indeed, the prominence of ideological critique has resulted in a situation in which moral frameworks are typically seen as conduits for ideology, or in the service of the status quo; they are seen to offer up quietist salves to systemic suffering, either in the guise of individual moral enlightenment or intersubjective scenarios of sympathetic understanding. This is a standard view, for example, of the nineteenth-century British industrial novel, beginning with Raymond Williams’s reading of the genre in Culture and Society.8 I will be suggesting that we need to revisit the large terrain of moral experience in order not only to acknowledge forms of life that are diminished when we view moral frameworks as benighted or ideological, but also to better confront and defend the normative and evaluative dimensions of humanities scholarship. A key and somewhat anomalous figure relevant to this discussion is Michel Foucault, who also underwent a prominent “ethical turn” in his later work, shifting his attention from the systemic critique of modern disciplinary power to a more situated study of individual 7

Actually, it is not uncommon for accounts such as this to assume a comprehensive ideological system, productive of forms of effectively false consciousness, while at the same time presenting certain exempted figures or texts capable of registering or even critically diagnosing the very condition in which everyone is also presumably caught. I analyze a related dynamic within feminist literary scholarship in “The Temptations of Aggrandized Agency: Feminist Histories and the Horizon of Modernity,” Victorian Studies 43.1 (2000): 43–65. 8 Raymond Williams, Culture and Society: 1780–1850 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958).

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practices of the self within classical culture, drawing some implications for how we might approach ethical and political life in modernity as well.9 Foucault’s turn is more evocative of the Aristotelian tradition of virtue ethics than it is of other forms of morality. His later work managed to draw attention in a surprisingly uncontroversial way from many scholars in the humanities, in part because it was underwritten by his previous and continuing work on forms of power, an effect reinforced by the oddities of reception under conditions of delayed translation, especially in the case of his lectures on neoliberalism.10 Notably, however, his work on ethics prompted a general interest in questions of ethos without necessarily resulting in sustained engagement with questions about moral principles or moral judgment.11 In this respect, it shares some affinities with Cavell’s work on perfectionism, skepticism, and “the ordinary,” which has also enjoyed some uptake within literary studies among scholars interested in dimensions of the moral life.12 The lectures in this book participate in the spirit of Cavell’s and Foucault’s interest in lived practices and ordinary existence, but they also take seriously the Kantian and neo-Kantian traditions, in particular their understanding of the primacy of the moral life (what 9

For discussion of the contemporary horizon of ethical practice, see especially Michel Foucault, “The Ethics of the Concern of the Self as a Practice of Freedom,” in Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth, vol. 1 of The Essential Works of Michel Foucault, 1954–1984 (London: Allen Lane, 1997), 281–301. 10 Foucault’s lectures on neoliberalism were first delivered in the late seventies but not published until 2004, with the English translation appearing in 2008, long after the first translations of the work associated with the ethical turn. See Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79, ed. Michel Sennellart, trans. Graham Burchell (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). 11 For discussion of Foucault’s exempted status with respect to his writings on ethics, and for the influence of his use of the term “ethos,” see Anderson, The Way We Argue Now, ch. 6. 12 While Cavell has expressed ambivalence toward deconstruction, there is nonetheless an overlap between some of the more ethically inflected deconstructive approaches and Cavell’s treatment of skepticism. Yet Cavell remains fundamentally interested in a human drama and in moral concepts such as trust, responsibility, and acknowledgment, as I will show in Chapter 2. For analysis of the relation between Derrida and Cavell’s work, see Judith Wolfe, “ ‘The Ordinary’ in Stanley Cavell and Jacques Derrida,” Minerva: An Internet Journal of Philosophy 17 (2013): 250–68. See also David Rudrum, Stanley Cavell and the Claim of Literature (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), 5.

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Kant calls in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals our interest in morality) as well as the importance of those social webs in which our primary practices of interaction and mutuality take place.13 This latter dimension of moral life is emphasized by Jürgen Habermas in his communicative ethics, in which he draws upon Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development.14 I will be discussing the importance of moral development in Chapter 3, when I take up the question of goodenough parenting in relation to the work of D. W. Winnicott and the British object relations theorists, who in my view present a compellingly integrated view of the moral and the psychological life, in part because of their departure from the Freudian framework. This post-war strand of psychology is sensitive to the need to respond to trauma and vulnerability but does not absolutize them either via a theory of drives or through the form of encompassing law that Rancière describes. In its attempt to connect healthy development with healthy citizenship, moreover, object relations theory unexpectedly dovetails with certain informing assumptions of Habermasian communicative ethics. *

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The particular perspective taken here is the result of an attempt to mediate between a broader cultural framework and more specific conditions and tendencies within the field of literary studies. To that end, I take seriously the power of therapeutic culture as well as the developing authority and popularity of cognitive science, and in particular those forms of cognitive science that explore fundamental issues of human psychology and human social behavior. There are important continuities between the rise of psychology as a social science in the nineteenth century, followed by the dramatic impact of Freudian psychology, and the cultural role currently being played by cognitive science more generally. As I will discuss in Chapter 1, a significant challenge to morality begins with Freud and continues to shape cultural discourse in important ways up to this day. The main 13

Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, revised edition, trans. and ed. Mary Gregor and Jens Timmermann (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 58–62. 14 Jürgen Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, trans. Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990).

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thrust of that challenge involves the claim that we are not the deliberative moral agents we take ourselves to be, and that we presume ourselves to be in many understandings of moral education, moral character, and moral action. The challenge to morality within contemporary cognitive science and social psychology, however, does not find its way into literary studies in any direct way. As I will show in Chapter 1, to the extent that cognitive science has influenced literary studies, the emphasis has been almost exclusively on theory of mind and forms of cognition, and in particular how they relate to reading practices and to the reading of other minds and human action within realist fiction. Moral questions have been to a large extent sidestepped in this literature, though they do appear in some scholarship on empathy, and also in scholarship attempting to understand literary culture and aesthetic experience through the lens of evolutionary psychology. In the latter case, however, we see either blunt universalism or a species of cynicism reflecting a presumption of evolutionary self-interest at the heart of cultural practices. Generally, then, the work in literature and cognitive science reproduces the two main attitudes toward morality that tend to characterize the field: evasion and suspicion. These attitudes toward morality within the literary field participate in and extend a well-developed critique of morality that traces back not only to Freud, as I will show in Chapter 1, but also to Nietzsche and Wilde and many other figures in the literary and philosophical fields throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Nietzsche is of particular importance here, given the shape of his arguments in On the Genealogy of Morality. Interestingly, his work has powerful resonances with Freud, insofar as both writers lament the deep unhappiness that “conscience” has visited upon modern man. Nietzsche explicitly presents his analysis of morality as the diagnosis of a psychologist, writing that “a psychologist today shows his good taste, if he shows any at all (others might say: his integrity), by resisting the scandalously overmoralistic language with which practically all modern judgments about men and things are smeared.”15 He identifies in modern man the 15

Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson and trans. Carol Diethe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 101 (emphasis in original).

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symptoms of a deep sickness, one that manifests as a denial of instinctual vitality, spontaneity of action, and freedom of will. Nietzsche traces a development (or devolution) by which what began as clearsighted relations of power based on social position transmute into warped moral categories driven by resentment of the weak against the powerful. The claim of the “good” against the “bad” is fundamentally a maneuver of the weak: all of morality, particularly Christian and ascetic ideals, espresses a fundamental pathology of modern culture, a disabling psychological response borne of reactivity and resentment. The ascetic ideal in particular amounts to an assault “not over something in life, but over life itself and its deepest, strongest, most profound conditions.”16 Nietzsche’s critique resonates not only with Freud’s emphasis on the unhappiness of man in the face of the constraints of the moral life (as internalized through the superego). It also finds echoes in more current forms of social critique, including Michel Foucault’s discussion of disciplinary power’s hold on the sexual life (and his accompanying appeal to an implicit ideal of unconstrained “bodies and pleasures”) as well as Judith Butler’s account of heteronormativity (and her accompanying call for “parodic practices” of norms of the body, sex, gender, and sexuality, and for their “proliferation beyond the binary frame”).17 It is not my intention to discount the force of these critical claims about the relation of conventional morality to larger dynamics of power, or to discount the imbrication of ideology and morality in many cultural formations. In Nietzsche’s case I believe a limited insight into the social psychology of disenfranchisement is elevated to the status of a general critique of morality that fails to capture the value of many ethical ideals and political movements. But my aim in this book is not primarily to examine the ideals underlying progressive ideological formations, as I have done elsewhere.18 What I wish to

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Nietzsche, Genealogy, 86. “The rallying point for the counterattack against the deployment of sexuality ought not to be sex-desire, but bodies and pleasures.” Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, vol. 1, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Random House, 1978), 157. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), xii. 18 See especially Amanda Anderson, Bleak Liberalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016) and The Way We Argue Now. 17

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explore, instead, is the force of our interest in moral experience, and the complexity of moral experience as it is lived in time. And while I will be showing the challenge to moral frameworks posed by specific psychological formations, I also believe that any comprehensive account of moral experience can only be adequately expressed with the help of psychological concepts and frameworks, as I suggested earlier in my brief invocation of the British object relations theorists. I will therefore be drawing on psychological concepts and theory as well as the persuasive psychological realism of literary art in order to advance my argument about moral experience. So that while I will be according a certain primacy to moral experience in these lectures, I am committed to the idea of moral psychology as well, which is to say, to the idea that we need a richly rendered, psychologically nuanced account of how we live the moral life. The goal, to invoke the title of these lectures, is to reconcile Psyche and Ethos, while also showing their long and often fraught relation. The difficulty in even formulating this as a project for our field is due in part, as I have tried to suggest, to the larger assumptions and tendencies that stem from ideological criticism, which is why I invoke that form of criticism here and at various moments throughout the lectures. By dramatic contrast with Nietzsche, Kant’s philosophy presents a strong claim for the primacy and importance of morality, and it is worth saying a few words about his approach so as more clearly to specify what dimensions of moral experience I will be most concerned with in the lectures that follow. Kant’s project in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals is to give an account of the force of the moral life, the persistence of those values and reasoned principles that underpin our relation to our actions, our decisions, and our ways of being (for ourselves and in relation to others). He gives powerful expression to the force of moral obligation as dictated by respect for the moral law and for the dignity of all. The force of that obligation is evident in the categorical imperative that lies at the heart of Kant’s argument: “act only according to that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.”19 As the discussion proceeds, Kant considers how the categorical imperative takes on such value for

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Kant, Groundwork, 34.

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us, asserting that it assumes respect for the dignity of all humans, as is evident in a reformulation and extension of the imperative as follows: “So act that you use humanity, in your own person as well as in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.”20 Throughout the Groundwork, and in a way that mirrors the later critiques of morality from a psychological perspective, Kant also explores how psychological conditions or tendencies both derail and enrich our approach to moral understanding. The psychological dimension of Kant’s argument presents in several ways, both implicit and explicit. To begin with, the entire argument about the importance of the categorical imperative takes place against the background condition of the countervailing force of human inclination or desire. Thus there is at the heart of Kant’s morality a psychological struggle between duty and inclination which reason must win on behalf of duty. At the same time, there is a psychology of the relation to the law and to the categorical imperative, one that first is simply described or assumed as “respect for the law” and then more rigorously elaborated, in the final section of the book, as a mediation between transcendental understanding and internalized interest.21 In his critique of Kantian morality in Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Bernard Williams argues that in making his argument about internalized interest in the law, Kant is “building ethical life around an illusion,” by which he appears to mean a psychological illusion.22 This seems a fair criticism of the third section of the Groundwork. And there are other ways in which Kant’s psychology seems faulty or blunt; this is especially true with its treatment of the opposition of duty and inclination. I also find problematic the fact that respect for others in Kant is treated secondarily to respect for the law: as I have intimated, I favor a relational understanding of moral commitment as it is elaborated within communicative ethics, and furthermore deepened by British object relations theory. Nonetheless, the psychological dimensions of Kant’s work are noteworthy and powerful, and not only those that show how conflicted and 20

21 Kant, Groundwork, 41. Kant, Groundwork, 16. Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), 191. 22

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riven by warring impulses deliberations about duty can be. What is most relevant for the claims I will be pursuing in the lectures that follow are the moments where Kant appeals to experience within time, and to what we might call, somewhat anachronistically, the existential dimensions of living a relation to the moral life. One sees these elements of lived moral practice in the examples elaborated by Kant in the second section of the Groundwork, where he discusses perfect and imperfect duties. In the case of perfect duties, one cannot even think the action in question without contradiction: this is seen to obtain for Kant in the examples of taking one’s own life or falsely promising. In the case of imperfect duties, while it is possible to imagine their universal enactment, one still cannot will them, since they clash with what Kant calls “meritorious” duty: the examples in this case are cultivation of one’s natural talents and providing assistance to those in greater need than one finds oneself. In these latter cases, there is appeal made to experience within time: selfactualization in the first case, and the vicissitudes of fortune and dependency in the latter, which interestingly challenge the principle of autonomy so central to Kant’s account of the moral life. These appeals to experience within time in the Groundwork strike me as not so much anomalous as inevitable. In my view, any sufficiently rich consideration of the moral life will have to consider complex experiences within time and across key passages of a life. This means that we need an account of the moral life that includes not only punctual moments of deliberation or action of the sort that are used to define the categorical imperative, but also other processes that take place in less discrete and obvious ways. Focused moments of moral decision and moral epiphanies matter deeply, but so do processes that take place over time, including forms of moral rumination, processes of grief and healing, and dawning realizations within the unfolding of consequences. It is these long, slow processes, and their interaction with more punctual forms of understanding and decision, that will interest me here. As will become evident, the work in cognitive science that treats moral decision making is almost exclusively punctual in nature and cannot capture these complex forms of experience. Literature, by contrast, is often especially illuminating in its presentation of the full range of moral experience.

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One of the great opportunities presented by a lecture series such as the Clarendon Lectures is the chance to explore a topic outside of the usual requirements of a full-length monograph, or the limits of the occasional essay. One is released from the felt imperative of comprehensiveness and free to engage in an open-ended inquiry based on a somewhat eccentric constellation of texts and topics. One’s topic can be large, but one’s archive contained and highly selective. In any event, that is certainly the case here. Still, even though the lecture series is a distinctive genre of scholarship, I believe it is important to locate these lectures in relation to my previous and ongoing scholarship, especially since doing so will also help to situate them in relation to the literary field, and to larger debates about the condition and task of the humanities at the present time. The topic for these lectures was conceived during a period in which I was completing a book on the relation of liberalism and literature, one which sought to reconstruct a more complex and tragic liberalism than is typically invoked within recent literary scholarship, which has tended to see liberalism as a governing and normalizing ideology for the consolidation of a capitalist or disciplinary status quo. The book, entitled Bleak Liberalism, presents liberalism as a lived ideological commitment that typically moves between moral aspiration and the adoption of a longer, more sober view of the many barriers—economic, political, and psychological—to the realization of its goals of equality and freedom. Bleak Liberalism builds on earlier work in which I explored the “character” or “ethos” of various theoretical projects in the humanities.23 I have had a long-abiding interest in the ways that practical philosophies imagine themselves as lived practices, and in doing so often invoke ideal attitudes, habits, temperaments, or ways of life. Speaking in broad terms, my work has always sought to both explore the normative dimensions of various theoretical and critical projects (and especially to press on their underacknowledged or disavowed normative implications) and to argue for the importance of the lived and conscious relation to ideological commitments or philosophical and theoretical ideas. 23

Anderson, Bleak Liberalism; Anderson, The Way We Argue Now.

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These lectures thus remain focused on what might be characterized as the central interest of my scholarly career: the question of normative commitment, or of value in its broadest sense, and its relation to lived experience, to forms of life, both individual and social. All of my work assumes the primacy of normative commitment, its ineluctable presence in all the work we do, even in the most stringent negative critique. And while I respect the fact that many forms of antinormative critique view their negative stance as principled, I have myself argued for the importance of avowing the ideals that drive our criticisms. In this sense my interest in these pages in a more direct engagement with the moral life is of a piece with my earlier work advancing projects that sought to clarify normative commitments and aspirations. At the same time, there are two ways in which these lectures depart from the methods and arguments that have characterized my previous work. First, I take seriously the powerful influences of a generalized therapeutic culture alongside a popular body of work in cognitive science and social psychology. I believe that academic scholarship is not as buffered or disconnected from such influences as we might imagine, and I also believe it is important to consider the relation between dominant paradigms in academia and formations in popular culture and the media. Second, and most directly in Chapter 4, I emphasize how the kind of analysis that I undertake reflects the importance of the humanities at the present time, arguing for the distinctive ways in which humanities scholarship can contribute to transdisciplinary collaborations and precisely around questions of value clarification and understanding of human experience. *

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The lectures that follow were originally delivered at Oxford University in November 2015. I have revised and updated the original texts only minimally apart from Chapter 4, where I made changes to allow consideration of some very recent scholarship that was not addressed in the lecture.

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1 Psychology contra Morality

The topic of these lectures is potentially vast. When over the past year or so friends or colleagues would ask what subject I intended to treat in the Clarendon Lectures, I typically responded with the following: “I will be talking about the relation between psychological explanation and moral understanding in the modern era, from Freud through cognitive science.” I am not unaware of how ambitious that sounds. My interlocutor on occasion would make some point about the breadth of the topic but I think it is fair to say that the majority of those I spoke to were immediately interested in the topic and often had something to say about it. My sister, who is a law professor, remarked that the question is of paramount centrality in modern law, where questions of legal and moral responsibility are often challenged by psychological complexities, of which “not guilty by reason of insanity” can stand as the most direct example, but which extend far back and inform arguments about necessity and “mental duress,” as in the famous 1884 British case, Regina v. Dudley and Stephens, which treated cannibalism at sea. In that case, in which an established custom of excusing cannibalism under duress as part of a custom of the sea was effectively overturned, a Kantian rigor is brought to bear on the question of whether it is morally permissible to take another’s life in order to preserve one’s own. While refusing the plea of necessity—with its accompanying states of extreme temptation and acute suffering—the court at the same time fully acknowledges how hard it is in such situations “to keep the judgment straight and the conduct pure.” The entire judgment of the court reads as an extended analysis of tension between an absolute principle (it is wrong to take a life to preserve one’s own, apart from a case of self-defense) and the powerful inclination toward self-preservation at any cost, which affects not only extreme conditions such as those faced by

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castaways, but also infiltrates the retrospective judgment of actors who are no longer in danger, and influences the response of society to their harrowing tales. In this particular case, the legal system construes itself as the bulwark against any abrogation of the primary moral duty not to murder innocent life, and the court is especially focused on the problem of excusing or justifying crime, even quoting from Paradise Lost in the judgment: So spake the Fiend, and with necessity, The tyrant’s plea, excused his devilish deeds.

This quotation is provided as a fundamentally psychological insight into a corrupt abuse of power, and in its stead is placed an unwavering moral principle. The court’s judgment moves back and forth between forcefully principled moral reasoning and an acknowledgment of the many forces and conditions, including inclination (what the judgment refers to as “temptation”) and the psychology of self-justification (the term used repeatedly is “excuse”), that make holding to the highest standards exceptionally difficult. The case of Regina v. Dudley and Stephens set a precedent against the plea of necessity as a defense against the charge of murder, but one could say that over time, and within the culture at large, psychology has taken the lead in framing our understanding of the moral life.1 The question of how to weight psychological explanation against moral judgment often animates much of our everyday discussion of the actions of others, as well as our discussion of those forms of literature, most notably the novel, which seek to situate questions of morality within the context of a compelling psychological realism. Given the pervasiveness of what we might call the therapeutic atmosphere of contemporary culture, moreover, the tendency to bracket judgment and simply explore or validate feelings and impulses is often in an ongoing dance with vying tendencies to pronounce judgment and have done. But even what seem to be decisive moments of diagnosis fatigue—such as “he’s a jerk” or “best to simply put it out of your mind”—are shadowed by psychological frames—in the first

1 Regina v. Dudley and Stephens, 14 Q.B.D. 273 (1884). It is worth noting that the convicted sailors were eventually granted clemency by the Crown.

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instance a vague and tension-defusing character description rather than a decisive moral judgment, and in the second instance by therapeutic dicta—cultivate detachment, seek to control only what you can control, not the actions of others, but your own reaction or response to those actions. The premise that I begin with is precisely this: since the advent of Freudian psychoanalysis and extending up through the more recent claims of cognitive science and social psychology, psychological explanation has challenged, displaced, and to some degree eroded traditional frameworks of moral understanding. One could of course adduce a longer genealogy, extending back to the utilitarians and to Hume, and even dramatically earlier, to Plato and Aristotle. The challenges posed by psychological frameworks are various, and there are of course unmistakable ways in which moral commitments animate psychology in its various guises. That in fact will be one of the major arguments I will present—that much of the apparent moral deflation of modern psychology is in fact crypto-moral, or, to be less prosecutorial, differently or persistently moral. But there are nonetheless key ways in which psychology has posed a challenge to morality since Freud, and this has become a central question in much of the current literature emanating from neuroscience. My first task, then, will be simply to establish some key ways in which psychology has posed a challenge to morality. Interestingly, literary studies has to date produced notable work on the topic of reading as cognition and mindreading, but it has not engaged the challenge to moral frameworks in the way that it might and in some sense should, given the extent to which traditional moral assumptions and concepts animate literary concepts and modes, including tragedy and character, and given the central role that psychological and moral frameworks play in the tradition of the realist novel. What this last point demonstrates is that the topic I will be discussing is not simply interdisciplinary, but also caught up in specific disciplinary investments as well as larger forces of disciplinary authority that operate both within and outside academic institutions. These are important conditions to note, especially within those university contexts where collaboration is seen to be a central value and aim, precisely because the rhetoric of collaboration can soften or occlude important questions of disciplinary authority or disciplinary limits

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(and limitations). I will address the question of disciplinary authority to some degree in this lecture, particularly with respect to the relative claims of psychology, moral philosophy, and literature, and then will take up larger questions of disciplinary authority in the context of the challenges currently faced by the humanities in Chapter 4. One central criticism I will wage against much of the work in cognitive psychology is that it does not adequately capture basic elements of human experience that condition the textures and forms of our moral lives and our commitments to moral reflection. A significant contributor to this problem is what I will identify as a blunt conception of experience within time itself. This leads me to another major aim of the lectures, and that is to elucidate the problems involved through a discussion of selective literary examples. The literary texts will serve in part as exempla but I also mean to build from the interpretive readings to a set of broader claims about the role of both literature and criticism in the project of understanding human experience. Chapter 4 will widen the lens to place these claims in relation to current discussion of the place of the humanities, both in the academy and in the world. One initial caveat, or concession really. I believe that psychological explanation or framing has so infiltrated contemporary culture that it is impossible to imagine any pure delineation between psychology and morality. Beyond this, in part because of our own post-Freudian interpretive horizon, most thinking and writing on ethics and morality inevitably involves questions of psychology. I therefore want to stress that the distinction I am making is to some extent artificial or heuristic. Having said this, I do hope to establish the very significant challenge and even threat that psychological explanation has posed to traditional moral frameworks, both ancient and modern. As we will see in later chapters, this threat has implications not only for our understanding of moral concepts or categories, but also for those literary elements and modes that build upon them. I will say a little more about how I anticipate addressing these issues at the close of this chapter, as I look forward to the second and third chapters. * * * Because my central concern is to a large extent the contemporary situation of our discipline and its reading protocols, I will focus

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especially on recent forms of psychological explanation, while assuming to a large extent the powerful force of psychoanalysis and its heirs. Freudian psychoanalysis is well known for its critique of morality: through its lens morality is understood as a way in which society manages human aggression, as the individual turns his or her aggression inward, against the self. Of course, this is to some degree merely a critique of codified morality, and not necessarily any proof that psychoanalysis is anti-moral. To give a fair assessment of the moral dimensions of psychoanalysis, one must examine which ideals underlie the critique of cultural suppression and one must also examine how psychoanalysis imagines the ethics of its own practice and the goals, for the patient, of this practice. Certain theorists of psychoanalysis, such as Jonathan Lear, accord a higher ethical purpose to psychoanalysis, one linked to the unflinching dedication to truthfulness in the practice and to a form of self-actualization that ideally issues from it.2 Nonetheless, both the critique of morality and the bracketing of value judgments in the theory and the practice do invite the question of whether psychoanalysis stands in fundamental opposition to any philosophy of life that would place moral values at the center. In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud insistently argues for the importance that human aggression plays in the history of humankind, stating that “the inclination to aggression is an original, self-subsisting instinctual disposition in man,” one that “constitutes the greatest impediment to civilization.”3 Interestingly, while Freud does acknowledge the value of civilization in promoting the advance not only of knowledge and technological achievement, but also of “mutual relations” and even of certain higher ideals, the text consistently underscores that “the id cannot be controlled beyond certain limits,” and that civilization, and the unreasonable demands exacted by “ethics,” lead to neurosis and unhappiness.4 The story is one of an intractable conflict, it would seem, between individual happiness premised on the demands of the instincts, and the constraining power of civilization and above all of the super-ego, which forces the individual into an 2

Jonathan Lear, Freud (New York: Routledge, 2005). Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 2010), 110. 4 Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, 145. 3

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inner conflict riven with internalized aggressive impulses. Guilt is a reflection of unresolved ambivalence rather than moral awareness, and ethical education is said to be misleading and misguided insofar as it implies that virtuousness is easy to achieve.5 I will return to the relation between ethics and psychology within the history of psychoanalysis in Chapter 3, in part to draw out the contributions of British object relations theory and in part to flesh out the larger integrated project I will advance. The post-war psychological developments are significant, and the time of their historical emergence is also telling. But discussion of these important developments will come later. What I want to focus on now is the precise nature of the challenge that psychology poses to morality at the present time. To that end, I will feature some key examples of the recent empirically driven psychological literature that forcefully challenges moral assumptions. Then I will seek to place the discussion in relation to the more specific field conditions of literary studies, whose own history over the past several decades is also relevant to the story I will tell. As I noted, the particular question of the challenge to morality is not front and center in literary scholarship on cognitive science and literature, which tends to be trained more on forms of cognition and their relation to literary form, reader response, and intellectual history. To the extent that morality comes into the picture, it does so within the field of evolutionary psychology and literature, but in that case, as I will discuss later, there are significant and symptomatic problems in the way human moral interest is discussed. Recent work in cognitive psychology and in moral psychology has shed considerable light on the degree to which various psychological impulses, reflexes, and mechanisms interrupt or derail what we think of as moral autonomy and moral deliberation, or the capacity to make considered and reliable judgments about the right thing to do in any case. The representation of moral choice and moral dilemma of course provides the basis for much of the analysis of character and action in literature and drama, especially the novel and tragedy. In a famous moment in George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Caleb Garth, the hardworking and honorable land agent, decides he can no longer work for

5

Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, 132 fn. 1.

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Bulstrode, having discovered that the banker has engaged in dishonorable action: as he memorably puts it, he must sever ties with Bulstrode because to continue in the relation “hurts my mind.”6 This decision, like his daughter Mary’s resolution not to interfere with Mr. Featherstone’s late-night request to burn one of his two wills, appears as a decisive moral action: a clear-eyed assessment of right and wrong, a strong sense of principle, and a firm move not to involve oneself in morally compromising acts. Literature is full of such examples, including ones involving more delicate shadings of principle and more acute dilemmas. But works of literature also reflect the ways in which psychological dispositions interrupt or condition the moral life. In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the father Fyodor Pavlovitch recalls his reply to someone who had asked him why he hated a certain person so much: “I’ll tell you why: he never did anything to me, it’s true, but I once played a most shameless nasty trick on him, and the moment I did it, I immediately hated him for it.”7 Here we see a very different appeal to the basis for judgment— the psychological mechanism of self-justification. And, of course, in Middlemarch, Eliot’s portrayal of the character Bulstrode himself is trained upon this very mechanism. I will return in Chapter 3 to the question of Eliot’s own engagement with some of the subtleties of psychological life, as well as her attempt to advance a moral philosophy responsive to psychological forces and conditions. But for the moment it’s important to establish the reach of cognitive scientific claims about human thinking and moral choice. There are three key claims drawn from contemporary cognitive science that I want to foreground at the outset, claims which to some degree capture the challenge to morality. First, a number of experiments have served as the basis for a dual-process theory of thinking, one that asserts that much of our thinking takes place automatically, conditioned by forms of bias, or by situational factors that “prime” our response—factors that range from the hearing of certain words, the presence of ambient noise, and various occurrences that precede the moment of moral choice (for example, in one 6

George Eliot, Middlemarch (New York: Penguin, 1994), 695. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990), 86. 7

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experiment participants who found a coin were more likely to help someone than those who had not).8 There are some more disturbing findings having to do with authority, obedience, and human aggression, as the famous Milgram experiment demonstrated. That widely known experiment, conducted in the early 1960s, showed that subjects were willing to “punish” a screaming victim with repeated electric shocks when requested by an experimenter.9 Some of the work in cognitive science has drawn significant attention and achieved best-seller status, participating in a widespread interest in the notion that we are wired to think and act in certain ways. From this perspective, long-held understandings of human cognition and human judgment, central to both the humanities and the social sciences (most notably, economics), need to be adjusted. For example, in Daniel Kahneman’s popular 2011 study of the dual-process paradigm, Thinking, Fast and Slow, it is argued that our thinking and action are highly susceptible to what Kahneman calls the fast and powerful System 1, which he opposes to the traditional conception of thinking as controlled and fundamentally deliberative (System 2, the slow system).10 Kahneman demonstrates the many ways that intuitive or “fast” modes of thinking favor forms of bias that lead to bad decisions: these include 1) hindsight bias, 2) the inability to acknowledge sunk costs (as in not selling a lowperforming stock, or not leaving a long but less than satisfactory relationship), 3) the tendency to misremember (based on how things felt at their worst, and how things ended), and 4), in a striking neologism, to “miswant” (given our optimism bias, and our tendency to discount risk). The second notable claim within the cognitive science literature is that moral judgments themselves are typically made automatically and intuitively, and that moral reasoning is itself therefore necessarily post-hoc. This view is argued by Jonathan Haidt in a widely cited 8 Maria W. Merritt, John M. Doris, and Gilbert Harman, “Character,” in John M. Doris and The Moral Psychology Research Group, eds., The Moral Psychology Handbook (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 355–401. 9 Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority (New York: HarperCollins, 1974). 10 Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).

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article titled “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail.” As Haidt argues through a survey of the experimental literature, most moral reasoning takes place after the fact of intuitive judgment: “the reasoning process is more like a lawyer defending a client than a judge or scientist seeking the truth.”12 Haidt explicitly invokes Hume’s famous claim that reason is the slave of the passions, and he also turns to intuitionism, as we will see, to provide a solution to the consequences of his emphasis on rationalization over considered moral judgment and action. This idea of post-hoc rationalization is in turn related to the third claim I wish to highlight, which is the more psychologically consequential one that self-justification is a driving force in moral discourse and in psychological self-understanding. One popular elaboration of the third claim can be found in the wonderfully titled book, Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.13 Tavris and Aronson explore the relation between moral self-understanding and psychological disposition, arguing for a widespread tendency to resolve cognitive dissonance through selfserving forms of justification. (Cognitive dissonance is a well-known concept in psychology which is meant to capture the discomfort people typically feel when they are holding two contradictory beliefs, or when their actions don’t mesh with their avowed beliefs or image of themselves.) Most people will go to some lengths, typically not marked with what we think of as integrity, to lessen this dissonance, most commonly, as Mistakes Were Made argues, by self-justifying rationalizations. (In its first chapter, this book in fact adduces the example I cited from The Brothers Karamazov.) Such a view poses a major challenge to the belief that bad decisions catch up with people, either via forms of regret or a more dramatic “day of reckoning.” Tavris and Aronson cover a wide range of arenas, from politics to personal relations, in order to show the ubiquity of this phenomenon. 11

11 Jonathan Haidt, “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment,” Psychological Review 108.4 (2001): 814–34. 12 Haidt, “The Emotional Dog,” 820. 13 Carol Tavris and Elliott Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts (New York: Harcourt, 2007).

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These findings and claims challenge not only traditional understandings of moral reasoning and deliberation but also the conception of character that underwrites the Aristotelian tradition of virtue ethics. Which is to say that they challenge to some degree the two major strands of moral philosophy—the Kantian tradition and the Aristotelian one. It is perhaps worth reminding ourselves that neither of these two moral frameworks is in favor in present-day literary studies, which has for some time engaged in a critique of reason and autonomy from the standpoint of poststructuralism and its theoretical allies, such as post-colonialism and queer theory. The critique of reason and autonomy did not start there, either: standing behind poststructuralism are structuralism and those forms of naturalistic explanation that animated the social sciences from the nineteenth century onward and that exist in a tense and antagonistic relationship to the idea of moral autonomy and self-authorization through reason, deliberation, and self-examination. Freud is part of that critique, as are any forms of psychological explanation that wrest autonomy away from the actor and demote self-knowledge and reason by insisting on unconscious mechanisms. There is moreover some resonance between modern psychology’s case against moral autonomy and general trends in the humanities to emphasize forces that take place behind the backs of individual subjects or that are otherwise inaccessible to self-conscious reasoning or deliberation. Both ideological critique as well as Foucauldian and psychoanalytic models have played into this general field orientation. In the history of literature, we can see writers and movements that reflect and refract these intellectual formations: literary naturalism was committed to representing various determinisms, literary modernism explored the disunity and fluidity of the self, and literary postmodernism trades on linguistic and cultural construction as well as the fragmentation of identity. But these tendencies in no way tell the full story of the moral dimensions of human social and aesthetic expression, as I will hope to show, in however preliminary a way. Insofar as cognitive science emphasizes automatic mental processes, it can be seen as compatible with the impulses of theoretically inclined literary studies to downplay individual agency and control. But insofar as cognitive science is an empirical science drawing on experimental frameworks that can themselves be critiqued for blindness and bias

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(and excessive confidence in the objectivity of science itself), it is a natural enemy of literary studies. This situation has thus not surprisingly produced a variegated field of debate over cognitive science approaches within our field—ranging from stringent critique to refining appropriations. I will discuss this complex situation more in the coming chapters, as well as its effect on how we understand the significance and legitimacy of those various modes and concepts informed by the moral frameworks that precede the debunking moves of the modern era. First and foremost among these is the concept of character itself, in both its literary and moral dimensions. But other terms and concepts linked to actions and states of mind are implicated, including promise, regret, remorse, guilt, contrition, blame, praise, trust, resolve. Behind all of these stands something probably best captured by the term integrity. The recent work in cognitive science and social psychology poses a significant challenge to character as it is understood not only in the highly developed tradition of virtue ethics but also in more everyday ways when we think of ourselves and others, as we assess and respond to social situations and individual actions and decisions. One of the striking anthropological facts about human societies is how much time we actually devote to discussions of norms and those who are seen to violate norms: what is involved is far more than some trivializing observation that people like to gossip. Whereas work in primatology has established the existence of prescriptive rules among the great apes, the distinguishing mark in human primates has to do with extensive third-party engagement with and commentary on others’ behavior, above and beyond the also notable fact of developed legal systems to police those norm violations that are seen to threaten social order itself.14 Important new work by the anthropologist Webb Keane lights up the way transhistorical and transcultural practices of everyday reflexivity and communicative principles of respect and repair animate diverse local conventions or belief systems. He moreover emphasizes the way in which argument, reasoning, and justification pervade social interactions, well beyond the formal practices of logical

14

Haidt, “The Emotional Dog,” 826.

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argument. I will return to the implications of this claim, especially in light of the view that most moral reasoning is post-hoc. In a chapter contributed to The Moral Psychology Handbook, Maria Merritt, John M. Doris, and Gilbert Harman have addressed the challenge that new psychological findings pose to virtue ethics, and particularly to the concept of character.16 Their essay is premised on the idea that philosophers would do well to confront and not dismiss the empirical findings of the new psychological sciences. What Merritt et al. are most concerned with is evidence suggesting that human action is affected by cognitive processes (in the automatic system) that seem to act independently of the individual’s “reflectively endorsed personal norms.”17 This results in what the authors call “moral dissociation,” where action and avowed norms conflict.18 Using the term “moral dissociation” rather than “cognitive dissonance” would appear to grant a higher degree of moral consequence to the disparity, a higher stake in responding to it than one feels in the more descriptively neutral or resigned concept of dissonance. And the designation also seems to suggest that “moral dissociation” may carry a higher degree of self-awareness than cognitive dissonance. But Merritt et al. also make clear that forms of anguish or feeling badly about what one is nevertheless doing in no way mitigate the stark disparity, and in that sense cannot be used to rescue standard conceptions of character or virtue ethics: “There is no way to prettify this result by talking about obedient subjects’ inner states.”19 Indeed, one could say that allowing oneself to be solaced by one’s inner state in the face of dissonance is itself a psychological mechanism that permits us to evade full moral responsibility for our actions. The authors note that Milgram makes this very point in Obedience and Authority: Subjective feelings are largely irrelevant to the moral issue at hand, so long as they are not transformed into action . . . The attitudes of guards at a concentration camp are of no consequence when in fact they are allowing the slaughter of innocent men to take place before them. Similarly, so called “intellectual resistance” in occupied Europe—in 15 Webb Keane, Ethical Life: Its Natural and Social Histories (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015). 16 17 Merritt et al., “Character.” Merritt et al., “Character,” 356. 18 19 Merritt et al., “Character,” 363. Merritt et al., “Character,” 366.

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which persons by a twist of thought felt that they had defied the invader— was merely indulgence in a consoling psychological mechanism.20

Merritt et al. aim to respond to the challenges posed by new findings in cognitive science both by adjusting the light in which we view these findings and by advancing strategies that will counter the morally adverse tendencies that the findings reveal. Interestingly, they cede the importance of context or environment in the shaping of moral action and moral response but provide an expanded and positive conception of it: in order to promote consistency of moral behavior, they argue, we need to “inhabit climates of social expectation that elicit and support the consistency in question.”21 What they are arguing for is a kind of retraining, or a willed affiliation with social contexts that will be formative of desirable moral habits ingrained over time. In some sense they are advocating that we simply become more aware of the types of thinking that govern automatic processes and be on the alert for situations where they might get activated. But there is also a reframing of the power of situations so that they become not so much arbitrary triggers of up-down decisions but rather influential mediums of moral awareness and naturalized virtues. This counter-proposal thus takes the somewhat paradoxical form of an enlightened communitarianism. A similar move is evident in Jonathan’s Haidt’s essay “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail,” whose subtitle—“A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment”—reveals the turn the article will take. Indeed, a striking fact about this article is the strange bifurcation it evidences. First, it quite decisively and comprehensively establishes that moral reasoning is both post-hoc and somewhat defensive (more akin, you will recall, to a lawyer making a case than a judge searching for the truth). But then it turns around and offers a synthetic approach that includes both intuition and reasoning and is interactively and socially grounded. In its social interactionist framework it follows Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, which outlines a progression through six stages from the preconventional stage to the conventional and then ultimately to the post-conventional stage, 20 21

Cited in Merritt et al., “Character,” 367, fn. 23. Merritt et al., “Character,” 389.

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where one reflectively affirms moral principles rather than simply conforming to them. His theory is perhaps best known by an audience such as this for its influence on the work of Jürgen Habermas and the feminist Seyla Benhabib, where basic structures of reciprocity and respect are learned over time in the web of intersubjective relations that condition all of our communicative practices.22 Later in his career Kohlberg explored forms of regression and also added substages, such as the famous stage 4½, which was essentially a form of strategic or negative rather than principled post-conventionalism. (Habermas notoriously assigned certain skeptical thinkers to this stage, just as he accused postmodernists of immaturity.)23 What is ultimately proposed by Haidt draws on Kohlberg’s basic theory as well as neuroscientific experiments of intuitive processes, which support the idea that, in the words of one researcher, “social skills and judgmental processes are learned gradually and implicitly then operate unconsciously, projecting their results into consciousness, where they are experienced as intuitions arising from nowhere.”24 For Haidt, this view underscores the importance of moral development from childhood onward, as well as the role of cultural shaping of intuition. More concretely, one can “try to create a culture that fosters a more balanced, reflective, and fair-minded style of judgment.”25 This paints a far less bleak picture than the image of life in which moral reasoning is always chasing after acts and decisions and judgments that took place unawares. I shall return to one feature of these responses that I find central, and that is the appeal to habits formed over time, or practices experienced over time and through immersion in a socio-cultural 22

Jürgen Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, trans. Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990) and Seyla Benhabib, Situating the Self: Gender, Community, and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics (New York: Routledge, 1992). 23 Habermas, Moral Consciousness, 184; Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, trans. Frederick G. Lawrence (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), 107, 257. 24 Cited in Haidt, “The Emotional Dog,” 828. See M. D. Lieberman, “Intuition: A Social Cognitive Neuroscience Approach,” Psychological Bulletin 126 (2000): 267–86. 25 Haidt, “The Emotional Dog,” 829.

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surround. But for the moment I want to note that scholars producing and engaging the new literature in cognitive science and social psychology tend to emphasize the need to address moral concerns that arise in light of their findings. Of course it makes sense that a scholar in moral psychology or moral philosophy would do this. But a question still arises about where and how moral authority over the moral implications of cognitive science is assumed. A very interesting 2016 article in the New York Review of Books entitled “The Psychologists Take Power” takes up this very issue.26 Much of the article follows the troubling collaboration of social psychologists with the US torture program in the wake of 9-11. But there is also a central emphasis as well on the questionable legitimacy, from a philosophical standpoint, of the claim of certain psychologists to moral authority based on selected scientific experiments—whether MRI studies or experiments tracking moral decisions under simulated or staged conditions. As the author Tamsin Shaw puts it, it is a fallacy “to suggest that expertise in psychology, a descriptive natural science, can itself qualify someone to determine what is morally right and wrong.” A painstaking analytic elaboration of this same position can be found in the philosopher Selim Berker’s article “The Normative Insignificance of Neuroscience,” published in the journal Philosophy and Public Affairs, and adduced by Shaw in her essay. Berker essentially argues that, within a particular subfield of neuroscientifically inspired utilitarianism (represented by the work of Joshua Greene and Peter Singer), every normative assumption or claim allegedly yielded by the science is actually presupposed “from the armchair.”27 Regardless of questions of logical status or disciplinary authority, however, it is striking to note a pattern in which works of psychology that challenge our sense of moral autonomy themselves circle back to moral aspirations that are to some degree mooted by their own findings. Tavris and Aronson conclude their book with a strong exhortation to respond with willed determination to become more

26 Tamsin Shaw, “The Psychologists Take Power,” New York Review of Books, February 25, 2016. 27 Selim Berker, “The Normative Insignificance of Neuroscience,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 37.4 (2009): 293–329.

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aware of dissonance and to learn how to admit mistakes. “The need to reduce dissonance is a universal mental mechanism,” they write, “but that doesn’t mean we are doomed to be controlled by it.”28 They advise that one should either learn to tolerate dissonance or try to protect against its damaging effects. Their conclusion involves a clear investment in the capacity for humans to change patterns of behavior that are to some degree automatic or hardwired. It makes appeal to a conception of transformative self-awareness that is part of the long tradition of the examined life at the heart of virtue ethics and, more narrowly, Kantianism as well. Kahneman is less sanguine about the possibilities of conscious alteration of System 1 thinking. He asserts that “System 1 is not readily educable” and “cognitive illusions” (his term) are very hard to recognize.29 Interestingly, he is more hopeful about the possibilities for third-party alertness to problematic thinking and for this reason believes that organizations and institutions might be better equipped to provide the sort of regulatory and oversight practices needed. He also claims that if we can equip actors with key concepts, such as hindsight bias, that identify basic errors of reasoning, we may aid observers in the task of timely intervention. Some such terms from the literature, such as “sunk costs,” have already entered everyday conversation, both private and professional. It is significant that scholars producing the new literature in cognitive science and social psychology tend to emphasize the need to address moral concerns that arise in light of their findings. For in doing so, these ostensibly deflationary works of psychology typically pay homage to the very ideals they seem to debunk. Despite their scientific claims or leanings, that is, they seem to be motivated by moral concern, or to imagine they are necessarily appealing to readers who are so motivated. The debunking itself participates in a kind of moral drama—something like the taming of hubris or the pathos of naturalism. A somewhat chastened project or practice is then sketched in light of the findings. This is worthy of note as a feature

28 29

Tavris and Aronson, Mistakes Were Made, 222. Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, 717, 27.

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of the genre. What do we make of it? I suggest it is a symptom of an unresolved question about the nature and reach of moral life. Of course, this feature of the literature, its late-appearing moral impulse, could itself be seen as an instance of the post-hoc or belated quality of moral reasoning that Haidt underscores. But I would refuse this parallel, precisely because I think the original claim of belatedness is misleading. Once one has established the existence of intuitive, automatic, or fast processes, and argued for their importance, it is of course uncontroversial in some simply descriptive way to call moral reasoning or deliberation something that necessarily takes place after the fact, or in a different temporal register that is separate from the moment of decisive judgment or action. But does that mean it is somehow fundamentally illusory or motivated or expressive of an inescapable bad faith? It is worth noting that such a suggestion— part of the frisson of these findings—is itself informed by a frustrated ideal of rational self-transparency and moral autonomy. Both the “tail that wags the dog” premise and the very use of the term “slow” or “post-hoc” seem to demote and delegitimize moral reasoning. But simply because one can identify automatic processes, does that mean that deliberative processes are somehow operating blindly, oblivious that they are powerless against cognitive mechanisms that eclipse their efforts? The very fact that so much effort is expended in rumination and moral reflection, whether retrospective or prospective, argues for their existential significance. And these modes of thought are typically linked to core values that lend meaningfulness to individual lives, and that are expressed in various cultural values as well. The arguments about slow or posthoc reasoning strangely disregard the fact that ongoing moral rumination and reasoning is a practice that helps to define one’s selfhood, one’s relation to others, and one’s commitments to larger communities and ideals. The problem with much of the current psychological literature that tends to be so gleefully embraced in the media is that it typically falls short precisely when it comes to the more existential or meaning-laden realms of life. One of the late-introduced distinctions in Kahneman’s book is that between the experiencing self and the remembering self. As I stated earlier, one of the findings of his research is that we tend to “misremember” based on how things felt at their worst, and how they

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ended. A key experiment that supports this finding has to do with an experience of cold-water immersion of one’s hand.31 Each subject in the experiment is exposed to two cold-water immersions: one is a 60-second experience of steady cold, the other a 90-second immersion in which the temperature is increased just slightly during the last 30 seconds but is still uncomfortably cold. Kahneman finds decisive and manifestly irrational the fact that, when asked which experience they would like to repeat (with no knowledge of how long each had lasted), participants typically choose the longer immersion, even though the last 30 seconds are still uncomfortable, if slightly less so than the 60 seconds that precede. But is that irrational, really? Experience of time is a complex thing, and the forms of meaning that structure our lives— the narratives and memories that give them integrity and value—are not reducible to quantifiable pain and pleasure units. The experiment of cold-water immersion seems to discount the value of the experience of relative relief, apart from seconds clocked. There is of course some psychological truth to the claim about forms of remembering—especially when one considers experiences of longer duration and more heightened personal significance, such as a relationship or a job. But in that case to call it “misremembering” seems less psychologically insightful than blunt. Often what gets highlighted as one thinks back on past experiences depends on very complex forms of processing loss or disappointment or achievement. How one thinks back can vary moment to moment even as it shows trend lines over time. And sometimes how something ends is the most important thing about it, and it needs to be prominent in remembrance. Sometimes it’s not. Which is simply to say that Kahneman’s claims really show their weakness when they approach the complexities of human experience and particularly the complexity of human experience in time. If we return to the sunk costs idea, for example, it is crucial to acknowledge that there is a profound gulf between a financial misjudgment—such as holding onto a poorly performing stock—and a moral choice made amidst uncertain conditions and in 30

30 The following two paragraphs are drawn, with some minor changes, from Amanda Anderson, “Review of Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow,” Common Knowledge 20.1 (2014), 139–40. 31 Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, 381–4.

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relation to core values. Remaining committed to a project or a relationship that gives one’s life meaning, even if it may later fail, is simply not captured by the notion of sunk costs, which by imposing a financial and calculative framework on human experience, evacuates it of its meaningfulness and purpose. A somewhat different issue arises with the theories of psychological self-protection such as the account of self-justification in Mistakes Were Made. While the theory seems to suggest that individuals may be so driven to protect themselves from an indicting responsibility that their actions will not in fact catch up with them, it remains the case that the phenomenon is premised upon some deep sense that one knows, at some level, that one has acted wrongly. Of course, one could simply be aware that according to social norms one will be judged as being in the wrong, and wish to avoid the consequences of such judgment while still not necessarily according the norm any intrinsic merit. In this case it would simply be a case of impression management. But such a description does not really capture the complex structures of unease and self-deception that characterize the narratives under analysis, where individuals simply do not want to acknowledge their own responsibility for actions that will adversely affect their own selfconception. This informing moral dimension makes the whole literature a bit more amenable in the end to what we might call the “reformist turn,” or the call for needful efforts of vigilance and honest admission. Having said that, it is worth remarking that this literature does not sufficiently acknowledge key differences among the forms in which self-justifying discourse presents—that is, the differences among what one might call uneasy self-justification, unconscious selfjustification, and manipulative self-justification. This omission raises a large question, which I will not be addressing, about the ways in which different personality structures—including personality disorders and what one psychologist calls “character disturbances”—affect forms of self-justification and the potential for transformative awareness.32 My primary intention here is to remark on the persistence of moral concern in the literature and its conceptual apparatus, and to explore

32 George K. Simon, Jr., Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of Our Age (Marion, MI: Parkhurst, 2011).

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the implications of that concern. I will return to the psychological mechanism of self-justification in later lectures, when I treat the normative dimensions of psychoanalysis itself, particularly as it is elaborated in object relations theory. For now, I simply want to underscore the point that the psychology of cognitive dissonance and self-justification typically relies upon informing moral values of integrity or at least motivating, if half-lit, awareness of wrong. This is a point that Kant himself makes in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, when he elaborates on the dynamic at play whenever we decide to make an exception for ourselves so as to follow inclination rather than duty. In such a case, we finesse the problem by allowing for the “general validity” of the law rather than the universality of its principle. But precisely by invoking an exception to a general law, according to Kant, we “actually acknowledge the validity of the categorical imperative, and permit ourselves (with all respect for it) just a few exceptions that, as it seems to us, are immaterial and wrenched from us.”33 As I have shown in a preliminary way, work in moral psychology aims to mediate the findings of cognitive science and social psychology in order to redeem or refine important moral potentialities that are undercut by non-rational processes. There has typically been a somewhat different tendency in literary critical engagements with this area of research. Scholarship in cognitive science and literature often focuses exclusively on the ways in which literary works reflect and strengthen the basic human and social capacity for mind-reading, in ways both compatible with recent Theory of Mind and illuminated by it. Lisa Zunshine’s work is representative here.34 This scholarship can remain entirely trained on cognitive mechanisms and their representation in literature without approaching the moral concerns I have highlighted. Interestingly, there has been some movement outward to consider how ideology works in and through cognitive mechanisms, which is of a piece with a more general move toward

33 Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. and ed. Mary Gregor and Jens Timmermann (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 37. 34 Lisa Zunshine, Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2010).

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socio-historical elaboration of this work. But addressing the challenge to morality is notably not a feature of the field. Scholarship within literature and evolutionary psychology has taken a different route, tending to reinforce fairly simplistic and universal themes and traits. For this it has been vigorously attacked by theoretically inclined scholars allied with those forms of antihumanist critique characterizing the discipline since the 1960s: a prominent and influential example is Jonathan Kramnick’s 2011 essay, “Against Literary Darwinism.”36 Interestingly, for my purposes, the works within this area that are seen to attain a higher degree of sophistication typically manifest the anti-moral bias I have been identifying in the field more generally.37 I have in mind, for example, Blakey Vermeule’s Why We Care about Literary Characters and William Flesch’s Comeuppance, both of which ostensibly treat the moral life but at bottom subscribe to a certain cynicism about human motivation.38 Vermeule’s study aims to place our interest and investment in literary characters in the context of broader understandings of a historically inflected evolutionary psychology. For Vermeule, we “care” about literary characters because reading about them helps us to hone our ability to gather the forms of social information that enable us to guard and advance our interests within specific social and economic contexts of the modern era. Invoking the hypothesis of Machiavellian intelligence, an evolutionary development that purportedly facilitates the securing of position within group life, Vermeule argues that literature both develops the reader’s Machiavellian skills and trades on our supreme interest in Machiavellian characters. It can do so 35 For a helpful account of this development, see Alan Richardson, The Neural Sublime: Cognitive Theories and Romantic Texts (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010). 36 Jonathan Kramnick, “Against Literary Darwinism,” Critical Inquiry 37.2 (2011): 315–47. 37 Kramnick mentions the work of Alan Richardson as well as the works I will discuss here as instances of non-reductive approaches. Kramnick, “Against Literary Darwinism,” 346 fn. 78, 347 fn. 79. 38 Blakey Vermeule, Why Do We Care about Literary Characters? (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) and William Flesch, Comeuppance: Costly Signaling, Altruistic Punishment, and Other Biological Components of Fiction (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

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because it is especially insightful about the competing interests that shape relations, events, and practices in the social field. While Vermeule refers in her preface to “moral problems” as part of what the practical reasoning skills developed in reading literature help us to confront, the overwhelming message of her book is that psychological interest is of paramount importance to gaining advantage within a field riven by power and self-interest.39 So while literature is credited with its finely differentiated and insightful analysis of human psychology and human behavior, the notion of moral deliberation or moral judgment is curiously non-present. Indeed, Vermeule offers a cynical reading of idealism, which she sees as supporting a self-deceiving “formula of humanity.” She writes, “Humans are powerfully invested in their ideals, so much so that even when they act in their own interest they often sincerely and loudly deny doing so.”40 Vermeule is especially interested in the eighteenth-century novel and those social conditions exacerbating the need for information during that period of history: specifically, an emerging credit and commerce economy that requires the ability to negotiate the shoals of mistrust animating a contract-based world. Along somewhat different lines, and with a transhistorical sweep, William Flesch in Comeuppance aims to account for why we as humans are drawn to narrative. In essence, he argues, we are compelled by stories because we are anticipating the moment at the end when everyone will get their just deserts. As an audience, we are reassured and consoled by poetic justice, which negatively confirms the evolutionary need for social cooperation. More akin to the type of normative monitoring that I mentioned earlier in relation to the anthropological literature, narrative in Flesch’s account explains a number of persistent literary elements, not only typical plot outcomes but also, for example, figures such as the “altruistic punisher,” the character within the story who expends energy tracking down those who violate social norms or who sacrifices him or herself in the name of altruism. Examples include the detective hero or a character such as Cordelia in King Lear. This account may seem more directly moral in its focus than Vermeule’s, but in fact Flesch assumes a socio-moral and aesthetic

39

Vermeule, Why We Care, xii.

40

Vermeule, Why We Care, 3.

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landscape in which we are all anticipating another’s comeuppance. We are once again presented with a fairly bleak and reactive view of human motivation and human interaction. Reading pleasure in the form of Schadenfreude is a key element in the analysis and is seen as necessary and helpful to the maintenance of cooperative societies. In its emphasis on socio-historical changes such as the rise of credit and commerce, Vermeule’s study reveals the significant force of ideology critique within our field, a feature I also noted when discussing recent work in cognitive science and literature. This remains the case despite the many challenges and alternatives to critique that have appeared in the literary field in recent years (a subject I will return to in Chapter 4). In fact, in order to demonstrate the beleaguered position of moral frameworks within the field I might just as easily have written a series of lectures on the tension not between psyche and ethos, but between politics and ethics. As I discussed in the Introduction, one of the central ways in which morality is displaced or subordinated in literary studies has to do with the belief that morality is typically in the service of ideology or normativity. This is not to discount important ways in which a turn to ethics took place in the field, beginning with the shift in Foucault’s work toward practices of the self and further developments in deconstruction and in other more literary-minded critics. But the dominant style of critique in the literary field, influenced in the main by Marxist and Foucauldian approaches, is a negative one that remains in an unresolved tension with appeals to situated moral agency or even to ethical questions of the type explored by Derrida, Levinas, or Foucault in his late period. I will be making appeal, by contrast, to a more integrated framework of analysis, and my focus will be on those forms of psychological theory that help to enrich our understanding of the moral life as it is experienced over time, in thought and action, both through deliberation and through our response to events and forces we cannot control. To capture some of these features of the moral life, I will ultimately make appeal to the object relations theorists as well as to communicative ethics. Let me now look ahead for a moment to the remaining lectures, so as to preview how they will amplify and build upon the arguments I have presented today. Chapter 2 will take up the question of human moral experience in time by means of two literary texts, Henry James’s

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“The Beast in the Jungle” and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Time plays a key role in these texts, and in each case I will focus on a consequential critical debate that discloses both the larger field tendencies I have been outlining and the more specific barriers to acknowledging powerful forms of moral and temporal experience in these texts. Among other things, I will be trying to locate a version of slow time that is precisely not deliberative but that does have distinct moral and existential qualities. Here the relation between experience, suffering in time, and forms of awareness and reflection will be gathered into a concept that I will call moral time. In Chapter 3 I will explore the role of post-war psychoanalysis, with particular emphasis on D. W. Winnicott and the importance of the ordinary, which I will contradistinguish from the conventional. In this lecture my literary example will be George Eliot, and Middlemarch in particular, and my goal will be to explore the mutual illumination of British object relations theory and the tension between vying conceptions of the tragic and the ordinary in Eliot’s realism. Eliot’s novels represent an ambitious moral realism that seeks to enfold awareness of those psychological and social complexities that hinder selfactualization as well as the realization of moral and political ideals. At the same time, Eliot makes clear the significance of primary relations and the basic homes in which we find our first nurturance. This lecture will use both Winnicott and Eliot to establish a mutually enforcing understanding of psychological health and moral aspiration amongst precarious conditions and powerfully negative experiences of aggression, rupture, and trauma. In Chapter 4 I will extend the discussion to situate my topic in relation to broader trends and developments in the humanities, and specifically in relation to the project of describing the distinct forms of knowledge and understanding that characterize the humanities. This will inevitably return us to the question of whether and how moral and political commitments animate the work that we do, and how various practitioners and commentators think about the broad evaluative and normative dimensions of the humanities, especially in relation to what we might think of as more delineated questions of knowledge or method.

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2 In the Middle of Life The Vicissitudes of Moral Time

In July 2015, the online site Ashley Madison, whose tagline reads “Life is short, have an affair,” was hacked by a group calling itself the Impact Team. The hackers threatened to release the identities of the site’s users if Ashley Madison was not shut down. In August the Impact Team then leaked a massive amount of user data, which first became available on what is known as the dark web, a shadow internet whose routes of entry involve anonymous sites and channels. Soon thereafter, the data were made available on the open web, where, through broadly publicized channels, anyone could search the database for individual email addresses (which, by standard practice on such sites, typically remain hidden and protected). The hacker group justified their attack by saying that Ashley Madison was fraudulently offering a “full delete” service (for a paid fee) that in fact was not effective in deleting the personal data of site users. They made reference as well to the fact that those using the site, given their moral shadiness, did not deserve protection. The event received lots of news coverage and prompted much debate about the ethics of privacy and moral hacktivism.1 Another area of the internet also hotly debated the hack: what is informally referred to as the infidelity boards, itself part of a much larger area of the internet where online, password-protected, anonymous forums offer support for those dealing with challenging life situations such as addiction, depression, or betrayal. A popular blogger on See David Bisson, “The Ashley Madison Hack: A Timeline (updated 9/10/15),” Tripwire, . Accessed February 2, 2017. 1

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infidelity who also maintains a password-protected site for discussion is Tracy Schorn, who writes regular columns on her site, chumplady. com, and also on occasion for Huffington Post. The tagline for her website is “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.”2 She quite reasonably sees herself as a David up against the Goliath of what she calls the Reconciliation Industrial Complex (e.g. divorcebusting.com, marriageadvocates.com). She wrote several columns on the Ashley Madison data breach, but one was particularly striking. It was entitled, “The Good Advice Chumps Won’t Take . . . Now.” In it, Schorn remarks that she has received large numbers of emails asking whether her site saw a huge swell of numbers in the wake of the hack. She states that no, in fact she has received no more hits than usual, and that she is not surprised by this. She also notes that many in the press are making similar assumptions about the likely effects of the hack, such as the New York Times, which in its coverage included predictions about how the surge in divorce might affect the economy. She then counters with a vivid description of how long it actually takes chumps to absorb the fact and the consequences of infidelity, and how uncertain it is whether any individual chump will end up at a hardline site like hers, which advocates for ending relationships and marriages when cheating is involved. The final two sentences of her post read as follows: “Groundswell of chumps last week? No. An incoming tide in the months and years to come. Yes.”3 *

*

*

In this lecture, I want to talk with you about time—and about the complexity of psychic and moral life as it is lived within time. The example I begin with is not an accidental one, because I want especially to focus on the forms of experience that often characterize what we think of as the middle of life, or mid-life. Mid-life crisis, a folkloric psychological conception, stands in as a somewhat inexact label for a 2

See . Tracy Schorn, “The Advice Chumps Won’t Take . . . Now,” August 24, 2015, . Accessed February 2, 2017. See also Josh Barro and Justin Wolfers, “An Ashley Madison Recession? Or an Ashley Madison Stimulus?” New York Times, August 20, 2015. 3

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situation in which an individual stops to reconsider the life they have built and the time they have remaining. In the informal theory on the subject, and pretty much all of the theory on the topic is considered informal, a healthy version of such a life event results in a mid-life transition, where one reassesses one’s cumulative choices and current commitments, makes necessary changes, and does so without any undue harm to others. In mid-life crises, by contrast, things take on a more chaotic and destructive character, and it can take years for the individual involved to really come to terms with their actions, just as it can take years for those affected collaterally to work through an experience that often took them by complete surprise.4 Interestingly, mid-life crisis is often trivialized in the culture, associated with superficial actions such as purchasing a new sports car, dying one’s hair, and hanging out with younger people. It is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, nor is there any agreement about what it is or whether it even exists. Schorn herself rejects the very notion, since she sees it as part of a larger framework of concepts that disable clear-thinking moral assessments of cheating. In other arenas of discussion, there is often extensive and nuanced debate over whether what is called mid-life crisis is actually a form of mental illness, a character flaw, or an expression of personality characteristics that already exist in a subtler form and then find more extreme enactment under the stress of life’s challenges, particularly dramatic events such as the death of a parent or a personal illness, events which can cause one to feel one’s mortality and the pinch of time. Several texts in the literary tradition treat the experience of midlife, if we allow for cultural and historical differences in the ways it might be understood. Many conversion stories are relevant, many tragedies, and many realist novels. For the present purposes I want to hone in on two literary texts that will assist me in linking the set of concerns I outlined in Chapter 1 with what I believe are the specific

4

See Jim Conway, Men in Midlife Crisis (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1997); Pat Gaudette and Gay Courter, How to Survive Your Husband’s Midlife Crisis (Lecanto, FL: Home and Leisure Publishing, 2011); Jed Diamond, Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the Four Key Causes of Depression and Aggression (New York: Rodale, 2005).

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illuminations of mid-life conditions: Henry James’s tale, “The Beast in the Jungle,” and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The claims of cognitive science and social psychology I discussed in Chapter 1 pose significant challenges not only to traditional moral concepts such as character or virtue, but also to literary concepts and modes that reflect traditional moral understandings of selfhood and action, including continuity of character, the forms of integrity that are seen to underwrite it, and notions such as tragic realization or regret. The challenges from cognitive science issue from arguments about fast or automatic thinking processes and about the allegedly post-hoc nature of moral reasoning, whether in the thin version which imagines that reasoning must always follow on the heels of intuition, or in the thicker version which posits tendencies to resolve cognitive dissonance through forms of self-justification. All of these arguments challenge traditional investments in moral agency, moral deliberation, and what we might call more authentic forms of post-hoc moral reasoning—considered assessment of one’s action, reflective endorsement of one’s situation or choices, or chastened regret for actions and their consequences. *

*

*

I have chosen these texts because they will assist me in keeping in play a series of questions and concerns that I want to consider together. First, as I stressed in Chapter 1, the relevant work in cognitive science operates via a blunt conception of time, reproduced in the punctual nature of most of the experiments. Time is of course central to both of the literary texts I will discuss: The Winter’s Tale contains a gap of sixteen years as well as the use of Time as a character who appears between what are arguably two distinct genres in the play—tragedy in the first three acts, romance in the last two. And “The Beast in the Jungle” is about the passage of time in the midst of a dramatic expectation about one’s life. The second reason for focus on these texts is that each will afford me the opportunity to engage in a metacritical discussion of two influential yet opposing critical readings. As I move through discussion of these texts I will be concerned not only to show forms of moral life, or moral time, lost to view in the psychological literature, but also to highlight a certain evasion of moral frameworks in the literary field

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itself. In the case of “The Beast in the Jungle,” I will be taking up the very well-known reading by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “The Beast in the Closet,” in relation to Leo Bersani’s reading of the tale in his article, “The It in the I: Patrice Leconte, Henry James, and Analytic Love.”5 In the case of The Winter’s Tale, which of course has a long critical history, I will focus on Stanley Cavell’s reading of the play in Disowning Knowledge, as well as Charles Altieri’s interesting counterreading, “Wonder in The Winter’s Tale: A Cautionary Account of Epistemic Criticism.”6 I will suggest that Altieri’s essay stands out among the four critical accounts as a distinctly contemporary form of mid-life criticism. One advantage to approaching these texts via critical readings, apart from the illumination it sheds on the works themselves, is that it becomes possible to assess more fully the forms of knowledge that characterize contemporary humanistic work. This in turn allows a more informed evaluation of the relation between humanities approaches to psychology and morality and the scientific approaches I examined in Chapter 1. I will take up the question of the humanities more directly in my fourth lecture but I want to signal its importance to this lecture as well, and the particular methodology I am pursuing here. “The Beast in the Jungle” centers on a no longer quite so young man, John Marcher, who re-encounters after a period of ten years a woman he had originally met by chance. He re-encounters her while visiting friends who live near the country estate in which she lives in the condition of a “poor relation.”7 As he is drawn into conversation with her, he comes to remember that he met her previously, and she, who remembers their prior meeting distinctly better than he does, informs him that at the time of their meeting he had told her a 5 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 182–212; Leo Bersani, “The It in the I: Patrice Leconte, Henry James, and Analytic Love” Henry James Review 27.3 (2006): 202–14. 6 Stanley Cavell, Disowning Knowledge in Seven Plays of Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Charles Altieri, “Wonder in The Winter’s Tale: A Cautionary Account of Epistemic Criticism,” in John Gibson, Wolfgang Huemer, and Luca Pocci, eds., A Sense of the World: Essays on Fiction, Narrative, and Knowledge (New York: Routledge, 2007). 7 Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Selected Tales (New York: Penguin, 2001), 427.

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secret about himself. This woman, May Bertram, characterizes his secret in the following way: You said you had had from your earliest time, as the deepest thing within you, the sense of being kept for something rare and strange, possibly prodigious and terrible, that was sooner or later to happen to you, that you had in your bones the foreboding and conviction of, and that would perhaps overwhelm you.8

Over the larger part of the duration of the story-world, which covers a span of years, Marcher and Bertram inhabit a relationship that consists of their waiting together to watch for the event that he anticipates. During this time very little happens apart from typically Jamesian conversations about the condition of their strange companionate waiting, though May’s character and attitude undergo some palpable if cryptic shifts. Eventually, May ends up contracting a blood disorder, then dies. Finally, some time after her death, Marcher has a powerful realization, while visiting her gravesite and glimpsing the face of a “middle-aged man, apparently,” also visiting the cemetery, and “in mourning.”9 He suddenly knows that what he had missed was her—what would have allowed him to live instead of merely waiting to live would have been to love her. Instead, “she had loved him for himself; whereas he had never thought of her (ah how it hugely glared at him!) but in the chill of his egotism and the light of her use.”10 Here is how the tale concludes: The horror of waking—this was knowledge, knowledge under the breath of which the very tears in his eyes seemed to freeze. Through them, none the less, he tried to fix it and hold it; he kept it there before him so that he might feel the pain. That at least, belated and bitter, had something of the taste of life. But the bitterness suddenly sickened him, and it was as if, horribly, he saw, in the truth, in the cruelty of his image, what had been appointed and done. He saw the Jungle of his life and saw the lurking Beast; then, while he looked, perceived it, as by a stir of the air, rise, huge and hideous, for the leap that was to settle him. His

8 9 10

James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 431. James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 458. James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 460.

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eyes darkened—it was close; and, instinctively turning, in his hallucination, to avoid it, he flung himself, face down, on the tomb.11

It seems fair to say that this is a lurid and melodramatic ending that feels out of keeping with the tenor of the tale. It is criticized strongly by both Sedgwick and Bersani, within the context of quite different readings. Sedgwick’s reading, by which many have come to know the story, memorably argues that “to the extent that Marcher’s secret has a content, that content is homosexual.”12 Sedgwick argues that May is in possession of this secret, and that she in fact “wants to liberate him into knowledge of his sexuality.”13 What mars the ending, for Sedgwick, is the collapse of any critical distance in James’s presentation of Marcher: the finely controlled “epistemological askesis” that marks James’s compositional practice is, as Sedgwick puts it, “gorged, for once, beyond recognition, by Marcher’s compulsive, ego-projective certainties,” and Marcher himself ultimately represents “the irredeemably self-ignorant man who embodies and enforces heterosexual compulsion.”14 What might have been a psychologically healthy embrace of sexuality and a bracing departure from social conformity becomes instead a stark egoism yoked to normative heterosexuality. While all the elements of a better story are in place, they are derailed by a failure of control and presumably nerve on James’s part. Of the utmost interest, for Sedgwick, is the unmistakable coding of the homoeroticism within the tale, the brilliance of the depiction of May’s knowingness in relation to the sexual secret, and the complex way in which temporality and cognitive awareness play out in relation to one another: with the slow advance of time, according to Sedgwick, May becomes aware of a different secret (the sexual one). For all of these reasons, Sedgwick insists, one should resist those critics “eager to help James moralize the ending” with their focus on the notion of a love that should have been.15 Sedgwick’s reading is masterful in its combination of inventive close reading and the assumption of something like esotericism on James’s part, as it tracks “lexical pointers to a homosexual meaning” 11 12 14

James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 460–1. 13 Sedgwick, Epistemology, 201. Sedgwick, Epistemology, 207. 15 Sedgwick, Epistemology, 200, 210. Sedgwick, Epistemology, 202.

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and fears of the monstrosity of what awaits him, both cast by Sedgwick as culturally conditioned and expressive of a homophobic surround. Among the words and phrases she catalogs are the more directly evocative (if also anachronistic) “queer,” “gaiety,” and “perversion,” and the more suggestive: “his inevitable topic,” “his predicament,” “the catastrophe,” “something more monstrous than all the monstrosities we’ve named,” “all the loss and all the shame that are thinkable.”16 It is a compelling and rightly famous reading. But I will suggest a different way of looking at the ending as well as at the complex treatment of time, and especially as it relates to what Sedgwick views as the moralized ending. Before doing so, I want first to consider Bersani’s reading, which shares important features with Sedgwick’s, most centrally an aversion to what is seen as Marcher’s “fall,” in this case from a stringent and admirably aesthetic mode of virtuality (a version of life as art, as it were) to a discourse of missed passion, moral failure, and conventional self-actualization. Bersani’s reading of the story begins with a dismissal, in the tone of weary sophistication, of the revelation of a love never properly recognized, a love that might have given meaning to Marcher’s life. From this perspective, Bersani writes, “Marcher becomes one of James’s least interesting, and least appealing, characters.”17 For Bersani, both the psychological and the moral dimensions of what we might call the traditional reading of the story are unsatisfying, and he avers, interestingly, that “James, however, seems nearly as unsatisfied as I am with this reading.”18 Like Sedgwick, Bersani discovers within the story an alternative representational economy that undermines the socially coercive platitude of the ending. A counterreading of Marcher as an emblem of art serves to subtract the effects of an ending that is at once aesthetically vulgar and socially conformist. Indeed, the reading represents in this particular way the very investments of aesthetic modernity diagnosed so trenchantly by Robert Pippin in Modernism as a Philosophical Problem.19 An aesthetic attitude becomes associated with freedom and with liberatory anti-bourgeois 17 Sedgwick, Epistemology, 203. Bersani, “The It in the I,” 209. Bersani, “The It in the I,” 210. 19 Robert Pippin, Modernism as a Philosophical Problem: On the Dissatisfactions of European High Culture, second edition (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999). 16 18

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attitudes—it is above all a form of negative freedom. Bersani gives this attitude an even more radical resonance by associating it with pure virtuality, or a temporalized notion of abstract form also reflected in the strangely elusive use of the word “it” throughout the sentences of James’s prose. But lamentably for Bersani, when at the end of the tale James assigns “it” a specific content burdened by moral and psychological meaning, he “retreats from the remarkable singularity of his story (much as psychoanalysis retreated into a depth psychology from its discovery of the impersonal dimension of psychic being).”20 For Bersani, nothing is worse than a moralized psychology or a teleological psychoanalysis—and while I have not reconstructed the full context of Bersani’s reading, which is nested within a reading of Patrice Leconte’s film, Intimate Strangers, it is significant that another valorized form in his essay is the non-teleological talk of the psychoanalytic session, talk of the sort that May and Bertram engage in as they wait indefinitely. The beauty of that relation is marred, implicitly for Bersani, by introducing realized passion into what would ideally remain “inherently unspecifiable happening” (which seems as good a one-phrase description of late James as any I have read).21 Here we clearly have, at a somewhat high altitude of sophisticated formalism, the valorization of art over what is seen as the bluntness of morality and the crudeness of a normalizing psychology. In point of fact, both of the readings pejoratively invoke morality, which they see as thwarting a fragile and rare psychological ideal. Sedgwick faults both critics and James for moralizing the story in the final scene of passion avowed in the realization of its loss, and Bersani conveys contempt for what he views as Marcher's banality in loving May “for herself ”—indicating that Marcher and James have fallen into a bathos of sentiment associated with a moralized understanding of the right way to live. In psychological terms, Sedgwick emphasizes negative forces such as ego-projective certainties and homosexual panic; a psychologically healthy relation to sexuality exists only as a frustrated ideal. In Bersani, apart from the stringent art of psychoanalysis, psychology appears primarily to describe moments in which

20

Bersani, “The It in the I,” 213.

21

Bersani, “The It in the I,” 213.

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a conventional notion of stability and self-actualization feeds into the established order and limits transgression and the possibilities of art. It is in this context that I wish to offer a different approach to this tale, one that I hope will illuminate its existential density and its moral force, which is entirely dependent on an understanding of the workings of time. In this case I want to underscore that the challenge to morality in the literary critical readings is coming from multiple fronts—from the psychoanalytic disdain for morality as a blunt and ultimately defensive or infantile way of giving value to existence; from a form of aestheticism that sees morality as both conventional and as limiting; and from a commitment to anti-normativity as such. These are field-specific forms of the challenge to morality as it manifests in literary studies, as discussed in Chapter 1. But I will also aim to underscore through my reading how a certain perspective on this story can help to counter the particular problems I identified within contemporary cognitive science and social psychology, which constitute a challenge to morality from another front. The complexities of time are central to the story, as is evident from the opening scene, with its effect of defamiliarization produced by the lapse of years in which the two main characters have not seen one another, and the unmistakable way in which time as suffering is legible in May Bertram, given her subordinate situation in the house in which she lives. Time has an ongoing effect in the story on the recognizability of self and other, disclosing the pressures of waiting, disappointment, and loss. Various things happen imperceptibly in time: the growing sense that May knows something about his secret that Marcher doesn’t; the deterioration of May and her increasing remove; and aging itself (we are told that Marcher suddenly notices one day that she looks “much older to him than he had ever thought of her being” and that it is this that “brought the truth home to him” that he too is older).22 But other less teleological forms of passing time are noted, most strikingly the effect of Marcher and May’s time together in May’s home, conveyed in a passage that appears directly after May intimates that she has a higher awareness of what Marcher’s fate might be, that she is certain her “curiosity, as [he] calls it, will be but too well repaid”: 22

James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 444.

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They were frankly grave now; he had got up from his seat, had turned once more about the little drawing-room to which, year after year, he brought his inevitable topic; in which he had, as he might have said, tasted their intimate community with every sauce, where every object was as familiar to him as the things of his own house and the very carpets were worn with his fitful walk very much as the desks in old counting-houses are worn by the elbows of generations of clerks. The generations of his nervous moods had been at work there, and the place was the written history of his whole middle life.23

This passage evokes a deep sense of shared time, and in fact brings home the sense in which May and Marcher are a couple. Stanley Cavell has an interesting reading of the story in which he asserts that they are in fact as-if married, then revises that claim to say that she is married to him but he is not married to her until the final scene at the grave.24 Cavell’s noting of this asymmetry certainly gets at the way in which Marcher’s narcissism and sense of entitlement are important to the story, even despite his repeated moments of awareness of his selfishness, and attempts to correct for it—largely by mentioning it to May Bertram. But as Sedgwick insightfully notes, May becomes a significantly empowered figure in the story, despite her seeming subordination to the drama of his non-life, or the non-drama of his life, whichever it might be: “As their relationship continues, the sense of power and of a marked, rather free-floating irony about May Bertram becomes stronger and stronger, even in proportion to Marcher’s accelerating progress toward self-ignorance and toward a blindly selfish expropriation of her emotional labor.”25 I think “free-floating irony” is misleading, however: what May seems to see is that John Marcher is missing his own life and somehow lacks the capacity to see that. Her insight is psychological and moral. In a way, one could say that he is married, in a sort of unconscious way, while she is not. She is slowly orbiting away from him because she sees that he is not equal to her commitment to him, and I don’t mean commitment in any conventional sense here. She believes in the James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 439. Stanley Cavell, Contesting Tears: The Hollywood Melodrama of the Unknown Woman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 166. 25 Sedgwick, Epistemology, 210. 23 24

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meaningfulness of the time they are living together, and she sees that his own sense of entitlement to a life unlived is causing him to miss his own life, which is also their life together and apart. While certain elements of the text invite one to read Marcher’s realization as conventionally romantic, including the melodramatic scene at the graveyard, I think the move to disregard this realization in relation to other aspects of the text, as evident in both Sedgwick’s and Bersani’s readings, causes one to look too far afield for the meaning of the story, which is a moral and existential one. It is too conveniently the case that the ending is bathetic and so allows for the rescuing aesthetic or queer reading.26 There are two key points I would flag about the ending, in fact, which go unremarked in these readings. First, and really quite startlingly, we are told that the illumination at the gravesite might have come about another way. Marcher has been in the habit, after a year traveling in the east, of visiting May’s grave regularly, where, in the “open page” of his friend’s tomb, he can read “the facts of the past” and “truth of his life.”27 This ritual continues unchanged until the event that produces the finale. He describes it as an accident, superficially slight, which moved him, quite in another direction, with a force beyond any of his impressions of Egypt or India. It was a thing of merest chance—the turn, as he afterwards felt, of a hair, though he was indeed to live to believe that if light hadn’t come to him in this particular fashion it would still have come in another. He was to live to believe this, I say, though he was not to live, I may not less definitely mention, to do much else.28

26

It is of course widely known that Sedgwick later took some distance from the forms of reading represented in Epistemology of the Closet, advocating for the importance of “reparative” readings to complement “paranoid” readings. I will discuss this “turn” within Sedgwick’s work in Chapter 3. For now, I will state that because the reparative move is fundamentally propped on, or secondary to, the paranoid position, I would not class my own reading as reparative in the Sedgwickian sense. See Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, Or, You’re So Paranoid You Probably Think This Essay Is about You,” in Touching Feeling (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002). 27 James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 458. 28 James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 458.

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One wonders if this means that Marcher may have had the realization but without the same degree of theatrics—in a different setting, perhaps, and with a muted éclat. What does seem insisted upon is that the event was waiting for him, taking its time to unfold, as certain realizations do. This is slow psychic time without active deliberation but still guided by something deeply felt, planted through experience, and advanced at least partly through rumination. The theorists of automatic processes don’t seem to account for the fact that not all automatic processes are fast: some are very slow, and proceed through an elusive dynamic between conscious thought and unaware gestation. Grief and mourning work this way, and they in essence precede the moment of awakening for Marcher. Even if Marcher is mourning mostly for his own lost past—and therefore still in a narcissistic mode— there is something in the loss of May Bertram’s goading companionate presence that lays the ground for his suddenly remembering her in her specificity. The lesson he learns is precisely this: “he had seen outside of his life, not learned it within, the way a woman was mourned when she was loved for herself: such was the force of his conviction of the meaning of the stranger’s face.”29 Marcher is thus moving in this last phase of the tale to something more than mourning for someone whose value was fully known in the moment: he is experiencing a kind of regret, a post-hoc realization about his life, a day of reckoning. Bersani really dislikes the phrase “for herself”; he quotes it repeatedly as a clear and lamentable sign of the fall from art into conventional romance, from virtuality into actuality. But we might note what is also invoked beyond the notion of loving another for herself: the slow and indeterminate process through which one comes to terms with loss, and with the pain of losing a life that was shared with a particular other. What is being captured here is a profound culmination of a long process of mourning. This brings me to the second aspect of the ending that is worthy of remark, and that is the stress that James puts on the realization that Marcher missed the point of his life in imagining he was always waiting for it actually to happen. For in the very same passage in which we read the meaning of the stranger’s face, we also read Marcher’s understanding of what May had seen all along,

29

James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 459–60.

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while he remained in the dark: “It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait itself was his portion.”30 I want to place this emphasis within the story—its true existential interest and depth, especially as it relates to the moral implications of having missed May in her specificity—next to another passage that draws a lot of interest from both Sedgwick and Bersani, the passage in which Marcher is described as living behind a mask. In this moment within the text, he is shown to be in some fundamental way dissociated from all that he goes through as a matter of course, and May Bertram is said to be in the secret of that fact as well as his more fundamental secret, that he is destined for something momentous: Above all she was in the secret of the difference between the forms he went through—those of his little office under Government, those of caring for his modest patrimony, for his library, for his garden in the country, for the people in London whose invitations he accepted and repaid—and the detachment that reigned beneath them and made of all his behavior, all that could in the least be called behavior, a long act of dissimulation. What it had come to was that he wore a mask painted with the social simper.31

Bersani believes that this passage, especially when coupled with the way in which May Bertram and John Marcher use the shield of conventional expectations about their probable relation, lights up Marcher’s fate as linked to non-conformity, the very value that he sees the ending of the story as abandoning or even reversing. Sedgwick reads this passage differently, simply as a clear indication that Marcher lives a closeted existence. But it seems to me more accurate to see the masked behavior as of a piece with the narcissism: it is a splitting that goes along with Marcher’s inability to embrace the life he is living, both its ordinariness and its inventive form of companionship with May Bertram, which itself becomes a life lived unconventionally if habitually. The point I want to emphasize here is that James gives us a powerful rendition of a kind of existential inauthenticity, one in which forms of entitlement block an individual from apprehending the value of the life he is already living. It is a psychologically compelling 30 31

James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 460. James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” 437.

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portrait, and it has a moral, a moral that is not linked to conventional life as much as to ordinary, embedded life. One of the limitations of much literary and cultural criticism of the present time is the inability to make any distinction between the two, which is to say, between the conventional and the ordinary. The problem in the literature on cognitive science is different: it abstracts from ordinary life to construct experiments that miss the interplay of slow and fast thought and action over time. The resulting distortion also prevents the possibility of recognizing the forms of moral time that orient this tale. *

*

*

I move now to a discussion of The Winter’s Tale, and again, for reasons I hope will become clear, I approach the text through what I take to be especially illuminating as well as symptomatic criticism so as to help focus directly on the themes I have been addressing. There is of course a very long and distinguished history of criticism on this play, and it is not my intention to try to take account of all of it. I am interested in The Winter’s Tale for two main reasons. Striking psychological dynamics emerge immediately at the play’s beginning, and there is a very unusual generic shift from tragedy to romance, marked by the extraordinary gap of sixteen years between acts 3 and 4. Indeed, multiple elements of the play have been singled out as especially odd, artistically strained, or in need of interpretive justification. Among what one critic calls “charges of creaking dramaturgy” are Leontes’s sudden jealousy in act 1, the appearance of a bear (who then proceeds to eat Antigonus), the appearance of Father Time, the narration of key events in act 4, and the coming to life of the statue of Hermione in act 5.32 I will focus on three of these in particular: the sudden jealousy, the emphasis on the passage of time, and the miracle of the play’s end, which includes both the finding of Perdita and the restoration of Hermione to Leontes. Interestingly for my purposes, Cavell’s reading of the play is to a significant extent reflective of the values I have been stressing in the lectures thus far. In keeping with his general reading of skepticism as a

32 Nevill Coghill, “Six Points of Stage-Craft in The Winter’s Tale,” Shakespeare Survey 11 (1958): 31–51.

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human drama, Cavell reads Leontes’s madness—his jealousy and violent alienation from those closest to him—as a repudiation of “that attunement with others” which underwrites our shared world and our ability to communicate with each other.33 This repudiation is prompted by what Cavell characterizes as a revenge upon existence itself, particularly existence defined as dependence on others. It is for this reason, according to Cavell, that the play contains such a pervasive and ultimately symptomatic language of debt: the fundamental condition of life is one of being indebted to others, dependent on others. For Cavell, philosophical skepticism is always a reactive response to this condition of dependence, an “intellectualization of a prior intimation” of precisely this condition.34 The powerful work of revelation that takes place in act 5, where the frozen statue comes to life, is a reflection of the fact that Leontes must be shown something, something that exists beyond any telling, any narration, any simple fact that might be conveyed: the world is being remade, and Leontes is brought back to the world from which he severed himself. In this sense the drama is truly about Leontes and his own forms of truncated knowledge and self-destruction. What the final act displays is his “path to recovery,” in which “the revenge against life is foregone.”35 In The Winter’s Tale, the moment of family crisis takes place as the son is growing up and the father is simultaneously brought into contact with his own childhood friend Polixenes and the memories of their youth. Leontes’s violent break with his world is crucially a crisis of age and of the awareness of age, not simply of dependence itself, or existence itself, which is difficult to see as front and center in the immediate context of Leontes’s sudden jealousy. This element of the play will become central in Altieri’s reading, even as he appears to be most invested, as Bersani was with James, in heightened aesthetic experience, in this case conveyed through the power of performance, poetic language, and states of wonder induced by the theater. Written precisely as a critique of Cavell, Altieri’s reading of The Winter’s Tale begins with a claim about the limits of those forms of reading that

33 35

Cavell, Disowning Knowledge, 206. Cavell, Disowning Knowledge, 214, 200.

34

Cavell, Disowning Knowledge, 206.

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privilege narrative, ethical dilemmas, cognitive values (via the drama of skepticism), and a “therapeutic attitude.”36 There is in fact a moment in which Altieri faults Cavell’s reading for its “eagerness to explore moral and psychological dilemmas,” and then states that his approach will instead “show how the text models alternative ways of participating in [the] world,” in this way seeming to use Cavell’s own favored language against him.37 But behind Altieri’s emphasis on the theater’s ability to invite and enable states of wonder and transformative forms of participation, another moral and psychological tale is told by him. I remark this not only because the form it takes is particularly relevant to my topic, but also because I believe this aspect of Altieri’s reading reflects a broader human need to make sense of the world through assigning particular values to experience, a form of sense making that, in the case of literary genres such as drama and the novel, depends on moral and psychological frameworks. This is not to say that one cannot write more focused accounts of aesthetic experience, as Altieri to some extent is doing here. But it is to underscore that a major dimension of work in the humanities involves the exploration of questions of value in relation to human experience.38 I will have more to say about this in Chapter 4. What is especially interesting in Altieri’s reading, given the topic with which I began, is its striking invocation of mid-life motifs and the therapeutic language most commonly associated with those motifs. Altieri reads the play as a crisis of self-perceived waning power on the part of Leontes, as a crisis related to the experience of age and of lost youth, which the presence of Polixenes introduces and intensifies. Accompanying this is an act of projection onto Hermione—the cause of the problem must be external to him—and an enactment of his rage through jealous accusation and a series of destructive acts,

Altieri, “Wonder in The Winter’s Tale,” 266–7. Altieri, “Wonder in The Winter’s Tale,” 267. 38 Of course one could say that Altieri is investigating a question of value, specifically, aesthetic value. This is a fair rejoinder. I don’t have the space here to investigate the normative dimensions of aesthetic values such as wonder, and I acknowledge that it is to some degree difficult to separate aesthetic and moral values. 36 37

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including the trial and imprisonment of Hermione, the abandonment of their baby daughter, and the flouting of the oracle. Altieri’s reading of the play’s drama as somehow prompted by feelings of male impotence is based largely on the exchanges in act 1, scene 2 over the nature of the early friendship between Leontes and Polixenes and the sense the two shared in boyhood that their days were eternal. It is also worthy of note that Polixenes seems to have a moment of unmotivated rage when confronted with his own son’s powerful romance with Perdita, one provoked by an apprehension of “the procreative intensities that charge life for the young,” to adapt a phrase from Altieri.39 Altieri’s critique of Cavell’s reading centers on the privilege it accords to epistemic modes; he emphasizes that Leontes doesn’t “learn” anything in the way that Cavell imagines.40 For Altieri, in fact, Leontes has already learned everything Cavell attributes to him by act 3, scene 2, the moment he hears of the death of his son. Something else has transpired within Leontes over the course of the sixteen-year gap: His life certainly changes. But it is impossible to attribute these changes to anything new that he discovers in those years. Leontes changes in the third act; his world and implicitly the audience’s world, change in the last act less because of anything he does than because of what he has become through his suffering. To explain that change then we cannot concentrate on the character’s attitude toward knowledge so much as on the world’s becoming different for the character primarily due to factors completely beyond his control, like luck and grace. The ending requires attention to very different aspects of being than are likely to be the concerns of the recovering skeptic.41

While Altieri’s reading emphasizes the way in which the miracle of act 5 takes place beyond the agency of the characters, and hence is a form of grace, it is also the case that a kind of acknowledgment has taken place precisely through suffering and a humility about the suffering caused by others. Ultimately, Altieri’s essay combines two different readings, one essentially about the moral life, another about forms

39 40 41

Altieri, “Wonder in The Winter’s Tale,” 271. Altieri, “Wonder in The Winter’s Tale,” 269. Altieri, “Wonder in The Winter’s Tale,” 269–70.

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of aesthetic experience. Both are subtended by a spiritual element, grace in the first case, wonder in the second.42 When focused on the aesthetic dimension, Altieri overstates the case against psychology and morality, and at times he seems to know it. He is irritated by what he sees as a cognitivist bias in Cavell. This may seem strange given Cavell’s stress on acknowledgment over the thinness or narrow epistemological orientation of skepticism, but it is somewhat paradoxically the case that epistemology and cognition are given too much experiential weight, if only negatively, in the Cavellian universe. The power and the real beauty of Altieri’s reading lies in his attention to the way in which the theater can present a form of experience that is itself beyond explanation: it is a happening that bears some relation to experiences endured in time, experiences of suffering, of loss, and of one’s own inability to control the outcome of a situation in which much suffering has resulted. A miracle of grace does indeed occur, and those who were “dissevered,” to use Leontes’s word from the last line of the play, are brought back to one another. There is a very interesting passage in Altieri on the question of control and by implication accountability and remorse. It is within the context of a discussion of Leontes as a tyrant, as one who imagines he can simply effect his will through action in speech. Altieri writes, But Paulina introduces the need for a drastically different sense of temporality in which one must fully inure himself to the likelihood that even with a new perspective, after what he has done nothing will change that really matters. To enter that sense of temporality Leontes must teach himself that the actual suffering he caused is more important than the fact that he caused it—largely because then he also has to face the fact of how little he now controls the conditions that really matter to him, whatever his attitude might be toward epistemic skepticism. (15)

Apart from the final criticism aimed at Cavell, the important point here is the limits of cognition with respect to certain forms of ethical orientation toward one’s own actions and one’s own past. I think 42

There are of course notable Christian readings of the play, which make much of the character of Paulina as the spiritual guide of the play. One can hear echoes of the Christian reading in Altieri.

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Altieri has put it very nicely when he speaks of the need to enter a new sense of temporality. The play presents the complex workings of time in the moral life of the individual and those who belong to the individual—and the play of course treats multiple forms of affiliation—spouse, child, friend, retainer. The attempt to quantify temporal experience in the way that Daniel Kahneman and others do cannot begin to grasp the way these processes work (see Chapter 1). And in a way, the whole unfolding of the play beginning with act 4 banishes to lesser significance both the act of realization in act 3, scene 2 and the forms of self-justification and projection that preceded it. Which is to say, the whole problematic at play in defensive psychological mechanisms—the challenge they pose to the possibility of moral clarification and reflection—is dwarfed by the orientation toward the world that follows upon the effects of suffering and the habits of grief and atonement that accompany it. This is not to say that such mechanisms don’t matter but that their effects are often better understood within a longer perspective—the perspective of a life, not simply an incident within a life. I selected the example of mid-life since it is a powerful and I believe understudied formation within literary and cultural studies. Part of its interest lies precisely in the fact that it can be very hard to place within existing psychological frameworks of personal development or personality tendencies, and it moreover interestingly focuses a certain tension between psychological and moral frameworks, as I noted at the outset. Is the drama of mid-life a moment of mental derangement, as Leontes’s bizarre outbreak seems to be, or is it an expression of flawed character, as in John Marcher’s sense of entitlement lurking behind a mask of conformity? In both cases, and however we interpret the origin or cause, the literary treatment illuminates the workings of moral time, the ways in which moral action and moral life involve more than punctual acts or limited processes of deliberation: they take place over stretches of time and involve modes of thoughts at once ruminative and reasoning. Interestingly, criticism too involves a kind of slow time, dwelling with and elaborating readings that seek to draw out the felt commitments of a particular work of literature. In Chapter 3, I will consider those psychologists of the ordinary, known as the middle group in British psychoanalysis, in relation to the writings of one of the great moral and psychological realists in the

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literary tradition, George Eliot. In both cases, I hope to show the ethical and social stakes of a body of work which understands ordinary life as both ground and achievement, as always fraught with tensions and frustrations, but as ultimately the basis for our understanding and promotion of broader social and political practices.

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3 The Tragic and the Ordinary

In 1997, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick published what was to become an influential and oft-cited article entitled “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, Or, You’re So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay Is about You.” Sedgwick’s essay is often seen to have catalyzed a significant shift within criticism, not exactly a full turn away from the hermeneutics of suspicion, but rather an emergent discussion of the need for supplementing suspicious reading. Others would make more emphatic arguments after the turn of the century, promoting surface reading over deep reading, distant reading over close reading, or forms of aesthetic openness in lieu of the dominant mode of critique within literary studies.1 But Sedgwick’s earlier piece has some elements that repay study and shed light on the larger question of the relation between ethics and psychology, the central topic of these lectures. In her essay, interestingly, she is scrutinizing the kind of critic she showed herself to be in The Epistemology of the Closet (see Chapter 2). She is quite explicit about the fact that she sees her own previous work as part of a general trend in the 1980s when paranoia shifted from being “a privileged object of antihomophobic theory,” insofar as it was fundamentally indicative of the “repression of same-sex desire,” to being “its own uniquely sanctioned methodology.”2

1 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, Or, You’re So Paranoid You Probably Think This Essay Is about You,” in Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 123–51; Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus, “Surface Reading: An Introduction,” Representations 108.1 (2009): 1–21; Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History (New York: Verso, 2007); Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015). 2 Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading,” 126.

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Sedgwick’s essay simultaneously advanced a critique of prior methodologies and announced a new emphasis on affect, invoking the work of Silvan Tompkins. The essay appeared first as the introduction of Novel Gazing: Queer Readings in Fiction, a collection of essays edited by Sedgwick, and then several years later in Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity, which is seen as one of the inaugural works of the turn to affect in literary studies.3 But behind the relatively unknown and intriguing figure of Tompkins lies another very significant figure, one who supplies the key words of Sedgwick’s title, “paranoid” and “reparative”: Melanie Klein, a major player in the history of psychoanalytic thought. Typically associated with object relations theory, Klein is better classified as a hinge figure between Freud and British object relations, because while Klein places great emphasis on the infant’s relation to objects, in her account these relations still follow fundamentally from the primary instincts—or drives—toward life and death. Other British object relations theorists reject the fundamentally structural theory of the drives and make relations with objects (including people) the dynamic and environmentally contingent condition in which infants and children develop. In this lecture I will explore the importance of understandings of psychological development to modern conceptions of moral life, with special attention to the ideas of selected British object relations theorists, and to the novelistic art of George Eliot, who was herself deeply interested in moral development. My aim is to draw attention to forms of psychological understanding that emphasize healthy positive development, including healthy and positive relations with others. In such conceptions, moral goods are folded into a conception of healthy development, rather than viewed suspiciously as attempts to defuse questions of power, aggression, or the limits of human agency. I begin with Sedgwick in order to draw out how the critique of suspicion has developed in the field, and to suggest how we might reformulate that critique to better ends. To return now to the significance of Sedgwick’s interest in Klein. Klein is a hinge figure between drive theory and object relations 3 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Novel Gazing: Queer Readings in Fiction (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), 1–37; Sedgwick, Touching Feeling, 123–51. Some of the discussion of Sedgwick that follows is drawn from Amanda Anderson, “Therapeutic Criticism,” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 50.3: (2017): 321–8.

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theory insofar as the influential theory of splitting she describes is precisely an attempt to negotiate the death instinct. According to her theory, the infant responds to its own destructive impulses by splitting its ego into good and bad parts which it then projects onto external objects, first and preeminently the mother’s breast, which is split into the objects of good breast and bad breast. The infant has the sense of being persecuted by the bad object: this constitutes the paranoid position, which is also fundamentally schizoid since it is based upon an act of splitting, hence the Kleinian term, “paranoidschizoid position.” However, as the infant becomes aware of these conflicting attitudes—which amount to a conflict between love and hate—he or she moves into what Klein calls the depressive position, which is characterized by remorse but also by the impulse to repair objects that have been affected by the aggressive acts emanating from the paranoid position. The reparative impulse is the basis for the reception of a productive form of nurture, and ultimately of love itself. It also provides the basis for our ethical relation to others, in that it is the dawning of concern for objects, including other people, outside of ourselves, and it aids in tempering the effects of those aggressive impulses that persist in the individual.4 Sedgwick finds Klein’s concepts useful in advancing a more flexible critical practice, one that can admit more pleasure and joy than the dominant forms of suspicious or “paranoid” criticism allow. The Kleinian model also enables diagnosis of the outright resistance to reparative impulses and practices given the current “paranoid consensus” across a swath of theoretical approaches in the humanities: The monopolistic program of paranoid knowing systematically disallows any explicit recourse to reparative motives, no sooner to be articulated than subject to methodological uprooting. Reparative motives, once they become explicit, are inadmissible in paranoid theory both because they are about pleasure (“merely aesthetic”) and because they are frankly meliorative (“merely reformist”).5 See Melanie Klein, “Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms,” in Envy and Gratitude and Other Works 1946–1963 (New York: Free Press, 1975), 1–24. Also see Eric Rayner, The Independent Mind in British Psychoanalysis (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1991), 22–6. 5 Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading,” 144. 4

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It is worth noting Sedgwick’s recruitment of the notion of repair to aesthetics and politics rather than ethics. She is in fact quite explicit about this when she first pivots toward her elaboration of the value of the reparative position, noting that most discussions of the depressive position in Klein stress its ethical dimension of concern, care, and love. Sedgwick then revises this notion of ethical, other-directed care into a form of self-care dedicated to pleasure, a term which for Sedgwick captures both sexual and aesthetic experience. Projects that advance reparative forms of pleasure are of special interest, and toward the end of the essay she generates a list of intellectual and aesthetic practices that represent a broad, pleasure-inflected category of camp.6 I mention this series of moves within Sedgwick’s essay because it symptomatically reflects the larger field tendency to skirt or demote the ethical relative to the political and aesthetic. It is of course obvious but worth emphasizing that the reparative attitude or action is entirely dependent upon, and secondary to, the destructive primacy of the paranoid attitude or action. It follows in its wake, it is post-hoc, belated. It cedes the primacy of the paranoid and its aggressions. It is to some degree authorized or legitimized by the primacy of the paranoid. Sedgwick repeatedly underscores that one thing she especially likes about Klein is her use of the nonessentializing word “position” when describing paranoia and repair— these are not personalities or fixed stages and hence allow us to conceive of flexible practices that can shuttle between the two.7 Sedgwick is in no way asking that we abandon the projects or the findings of paranoid reading, rather that we supplement them with the counter-moves of the reparative. But for all this talk of flexibility—and for all the talk of pleasure and joy and campiness—the paranoid position comes first. One needs to keep in mind that for Klein, the paranoid-schizoid position originates out of an innate drive. As I suggested, in that sense she is closer to Freud than Sedgwick would like to think, especially when compared with other object relations theorists.8 For these other thinkers, it is precisely relations with others—or external object relations—that constitute the context in 6 7 8

Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading,” 150. Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading,” 128. Rayner, The Independent Mind, 22–6.

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which pathology arises. But for Klein, pathology is structural— prompted by the basic drives of life and death. It is no accident, in a way, that she is more easily adaptable to a critical rumination like Sedgwick’s, which does not want to disavow suspicious reading, but rather craft a reparative response to it. The structural pathology of Kleinian psychoanalysis is parallel to the systemic pathology posited by paranoid theory—or by the hermeneutics of suspicion broadly conceived—which sees power and violence as ineluctable and pervasive. Things would look different were one to start not with Klein but with D. W. Winnicott. Winnicott and other object relations theorists acknowledge the concept of the paranoid schizoid position as a key insight, but attribute it not to primary drives but rather to environmental factors, to which it is a response. It is seen as a response to trauma, as a pathological event, not a necessitated stage of infantile development. Winnicott is quite sensitive to the precariousness involved in the vulnerable condition of infantile need—and to the negative affects that accompany frustration—but he writes a story of response and adjustment that, given the expected practices of what he famously calls the “good-enough mother,” will produce a successful negotiation of the fraught pathway toward healthy autonomy, one that permits connection and independence.9 A pediatrician and practicing analyst, Winnicott observed great numbers of children and mothers, and his writings display a humaneness and a modesty that is striking and unusual. Eric Rayner describes Winnicott in this way: If one were asked wherein lay Winnicott’s particular greatness it would be hard to be specific. It was perhaps in the way he showed how special ordinary, real human relationships were. He dwelt most upon mothers and children, of course, but he highlighted many others in any place and time. Freud, and then Klein, had illuminated the individual unconscious and inner world. Winnicott showed how these determine and are determined by our myriad interpersonal relationships.10

9

See D. W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality (New York: Routledge, 2005); D. W. Winnicott, Home Is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst (New York: Norton, 1990), 239–59; Adam Phillips, Winnicott (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989); Rayner, The Independent Mind. 10 Rayner, The Independent Mind, 35.

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Winnicott is known for developing several concepts that have had a lasting impact in psychoanalysis: not only the good-enough mother but also the transitional object, the holding environment, and the false self. The transitional object—think of a blanket or a stuffed animal— allows for the negotiation of the mother’s absence as well as the development of a sense of self in relation to the not-self. The difference in approach between Winnicott and Klein becomes apparent via this concept. One of the major consequences of the splitting mechanism identified by Klein is projective identification—the situation where individuals project their own hated qualities or actions onto another. The transitional object, if engaged productively, prevents such projection and introjection, promoting a healthy development of the self and the self ’s relation to others. Similarly, the holding environment, originally provided by the mother’s literal act of holding, but extending to a whole series of possible environments and structures that can give one a sense of safety amidst precariousness, enables healthy development and also serves as an important model for therapeutic practice. And the false self describes a form of inauthenticity that results from not-good-enough mothering, a situation where the mother does not provide a proper holding environment and her own self eclipses the infant or fails in responsiveness to it: the resulting trauma produces in the infant a false, care-taking self which seeks to mirror the mother’s needs. It is problems in the early environment that result in various pathologies: paranoid-schizoid splitting, projective identification, or false self. In an interesting paper written in 1950 entitled “Thoughts on the Meaning of the Word Democracy,” Winnicott applies his ideas of psychological health to social formations, arguing that a democratic society is a healthy and mature society, and that the development and maintenance of such a society depends upon the maturity and health of a “sufficient proportion of the individuals that comprise it.”11 Winnicott divides members of society into the following groups: anti-socials, those who identify with authority (these are a form of hidden anti-socials), indeterminates (who can be easily influenced by

11 D. W. Winnicott, “Some Thoughts on the Meaning of the Word Democracy,” in Home Is Where We Start From (New York: Norton, 1991), 243.

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whatever group is dominant), and “healthy individuals capable of social contribution.”12 It is clear that in this analysis Winnicott is trying to come to terms with the conditions that promote fascism, and also aiming to think through the larger social and collective implications of his psychological theory. He believes that what he calls the “ordinary good home” is the crucial nurturing ground for healthy democratic citizenship.13 One of the most striking moments in the essay occurs in his discussion of how the groups respond during wartime. The anti-socials feel that their feelings of persecution are legitimized by war; and those who identify with authority enter into the hierarchies of wartime readily. But the healthy individuals are typically thrown off balance: The mature, healthy individuals do not necessarily show up as well as the others. They are not so certain as the others that the enemy is bad. They have doubts. Also they have a bigger positive stake in the world’s culture, and in beauty and in friendship, and they cannot easily believe war is necessary.14

In the final paragraph of the essay, which follows directly on his breakdown of the wartime responses of the groups, Winnicott describes the strange reversals in the overall system that are activated in the transition from peace to war, and also the consequences of those transformed dynamics: Moreover, some of the healthy of peace-time become anti-social in war (conscientious objectors) not from cowardice but from a genuine personal doubt, just as the peacetime anti-socials tend to find themselves in brave action in war . . . It may be that, when a war has disturbed a democracy, it is best to say that at that moment democracy is at an end, and those who like that way of life will have to start again and fight inside the group for the establishment of democratic machinery, after the end of the external conflict. This is a large subject, and it deserves the attention of large-minded people.15

12 13 14 15

Winnicott, “Some Thoughts on the Meaning of Democracy,” 245. Winnicott, “Some Thoughts on the Meaning of Democracy,” 247–8. Winnicott, “Some Thoughts on the Meaning of Democracy,” 257–8. Winnicott, “Some Thoughts on the Meaning of Democracy,” 258.

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It is illuminating to compare Winnicott’s speculative use of political psychology with Sedgwick’s Kleinian approach to ideological critique. Winnicott advances a sociology of political groupings deepened by psychological analysis and based on a standard of health against which are posed various conditions that fall short of the standard. Sedgwick, by contrast, diagnoses a pervasive intellectual attitude she deems essentially disabling and arrested: hers is thus an intellectual psychology emanating from a broad constellation of political commitments. Sedgwick indicates repeatedly that her own ideological position is best captured by the term “anti-homophobic,” though she also links the paranoia animating anti-homophobic theory with tendencies in feminist theory, psychoanalytic theory, deconstruction, Marxist criticism, and new historicism.16 There is in Sedgwick an assumption of a unified academic theoretical left, one that recognizes the existence of a fundamentally oppressive system but that has failed to develop healthier, reparative forms of criticism, and whose ideal form of political response would involve interacting forms of criticism, art, and politics. It should be noted that Winnicott is writing in the early Cold War, at a time when it was common for intellectuals across a number of spheres to try to come to terms with the conditions that led to fascism. The Frankfurt School was directly investigating the social psychology of political formations, especially the structure and tendencies of the authoritarian personality.17 And others in the liberal-democratic camp, such as Isaiah Berlin, also sought to understand the psychological dynamics that led to political catastrophe: his famous essay “Two Concepts of Liberty,” published in 1957, interprets positive liberty, which is to say the attempt to give substantive content to the good life, through the lens of totalitarianism.18 What is striking about a comparison between Winnicott and Sedgwick is the fact that for Sedgwick repair or reform remains something that is conditioned by pervasive systemic conditions conceived as enduring throughout Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading,” 127. Theodor Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford, The Authoritarian Personality: Structures in Prejudice (New York: Norton, 1993). 18 Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” in Liberty: Incorporating Four Essays on Liberty, ed. Henry Hardy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). 16 17

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modernity. Within that system, there is a primary critical position relative to systemic power (the paranoid position) and desirable and counteracting impulses of pleasure and concern (the reparative position). By contrast, Winnicott introduces distinct personality types and names what he sees as the type of healthy personality based on optimal conditions of nurture and development. This healthy personality helps to advance democratic political life, in part because it resists absolute judgments about wartime enemies—it is a personality prone to doubt propaganda and demonization, one can infer. Winnicott also specifies unhealthy personalities that conform all too readily to authoritarian states or can be easily conscripted into situations where aggression overrides democracy—most notably in the case of war. The divergence between Sedgwick and Winnicott’s use of psychological concepts reflects an important divergence in contemporary critical theory. Broadly speaking, there is a tendency in what might be called “anti-normative” and poststructuralist theory to use concepts drawn from psychoanalysis to describe structural conditions and positions.19 This move was inaugurated in a sense by Lacan, who saw the Oedipus complex as describing a general entry into the Symbolic order. Others have adopted any number of psychoanalytic concepts—such as the phallus, abjection, and phobia—to capture enduring conditions of constraint, power, or exclusion. Sedgwick falls within this formation even as she seeks to reconstruct a psychoanalytic concept—reparation—that will help to promote positive responses to power. Winnicott’s emphasis on the importance of early development to healthy democratic or “mature” citizenship, by contrast, is more in line with the critical and normative theory of Jürgen Habermas and Seyla Benhabib, both of whom draw on theories of moral development to undergird their larger philosophical frameworks. Habermas’s theory of communicative action sees moral development beginning with childhood as ultimately providing the basis for those democratic practices and institutions meant to embody and foster principles of recognition, respect, and dialogue oriented toward mutual understanding.20 Similarly, Seyla Benhabib invokes 19

Felski, The Limits of Critique, 59–60. Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, trans. Thomas McCarthy, 2 vols (Boston, MA: Beacon, 1984–7). See also Jürgen Habermas, 20

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basic forms of moral education employing lessons in perspective taking and reciprocity as the foundation of a communicative ethics meant to promote what she calls “interactive universalism.”21 Both Winnicott and neo-Kantians such as Habermas and Benhabib avow primary practices that promote healthy moral development as well as the institutional elaboration of normative political principles, while Sedgwick insists on pervasive and negative systemic forces, and focuses instead on reparative response.22 There are of course shortcomings to Winnicott’s model. Foremost among them is a limited recognition of how forms of oppression can actually sharpen critique—as demonstrated throughout the long history of standpoint epistemology, from the consciousness of the proletariat through feminism to queer anti-normativity and Black Lives Matter. And Winnicott does not have a capacious understanding of kinship or alternative kinship, though his understanding of the therapeutic practice is an interesting place to start considering ways in which the model of the good-enough might be extended to forms of mentorship and kinship more broadly. Also neglected is the question of horizontal (rather than filial or therapeutic) relations and how to think about them, which is crucial for politics and democracy. Thus, I am in no way saying that Winnicott provides the solution to the several theoretical problems I have been exploring in these lectures. But I do believe his ideas are important for two key reasons: 1) they provide an integrated understanding of the interplay between psychological conditions (of vulnerability, frustration, nurture, and trauma) and moral capacity (of judgment, balance, and care), thereby suggesting ways in which psychology can inform morality in constructive ways; and 2) they are suggestive, as Winnicott himself shows in his few forays into political topics, for an understanding of the psychological

Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, trans. Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990). 21 Seyla Benhabib, Situating the Self: Gender, Community, and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics (New York: Routledge, 1992), 164–70. 22 The discussion in this paragraph is drawn from Anderson, “Therapeutic Criticism.”

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and normative dimensions of healthy democracy and unhealthy political forms such as totalitarianism or unhealthy events such as war. *

*

*

I now turn to consider a literary example that will help us to explore the implications of shifting our attention to the British object relations theorists as a resource for imagining a more integrated understanding of morality and psychology, one that has implications as well for how we think about ideology and about political life. One of the claims of these lectures is that work in literary studies has tended to avoid direct avowal of moral claims. I shall now consider one of the great moral realists of the British literary tradition, George Eliot, in order to further explore the terrain I have been mapping, with particular attention to the question of the relation between the tragic and the ordinary. Ultimately, I am in sympathy with the project of moral realism in its attempt to promote an attunement to moral life that itself comprehends a finely differentiated and open-eyed psychological realism. I will hope to show as I go along more precisely what I mean by that. My remarks today will focus on Middlemarch, which from a certain perspective represents a journey from excessive idealism to reconciliation with common life. A fundamental tension animates the narrative, however, insofar as it moves between a tragic framework informed by frustrated idealism and a more steady-eyed embrace of the ordinary linked to reaffirmation of community by means of marriage and grounded vocation. Eliot has been criticized from many different angles throughout the historical reception of her work for forms of idealization. Some critics have argued that her conception of sympathy is an impossible ideal inevitably undercut by egotism, power, or by the indeterminacy of language itself.23 Others have lamented what is seen as moralism, citing her use of an intrusively 23 D. A. Miller, Narrative and Its Discontents: Problems of Closure in the Traditional Novel (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981); Ann Cvetkovich, Mixed Feelings: Feminism, Mass Culture, and Victorian Sensationalism (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992). See also Amanda Anderson, The Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Detachment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 135–6 fn. 27.

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didactic narrator and her favoring of universal moral maxims. For many, this moralism is doubled in the presentation of overly idealized characters—Adam Bede, Dinah Morris, Felix Holt, Dorothea, and Daniel Deronda—who themselves engage in didactic speech not unlike the narrator’s. I have argued elsewhere that Eliot’s presentation of the moral life is more complicated and self-knowing than many of the critiques presuppose. In certain cases, notably, Eliot dramatizes a skeptical relation between an aspiring idealist and a doctrinaire figure presented ambivalently, as both exemplary and extreme. For example, Daniel Deronda resists Mordecai’s desire for fusion and absolute adherence to his doctrines. A similar dynamic is at play in Romola’s relation to Savonorola. It is incontrovertible that Eliot has deep sympathy with idealizing tendencies, yet at the same time she is able to take distance from the characters who most represent those tendencies. At key moments, in fact, she displays an analytic distance that is at once psychological and sociological, attuned to both the aspirations of those characters who are committed to ethical vocation, and to the challenges of a world in which enchantment takes various forms, some of them problematic because coercive or blind. She values movement on the part of aspiring individuals away from enthrallment to charisma and toward a more realistic engagement with the given conditions of life, as ordinary or common as they may seem. This is where an adjusted heroism lies.24 Middlemarch famously begins, via the Prelude, by remarking the tragic lack of fit between ideal, ardent individuals and the conditions of modern life, which offer no unified belief structure and seemingly no options for true heroism. Motifs of mistakes, delusions, and failure are prominent and overall the narrative reflects a disenchanted realism subtended by frustrated idealism. In certain key criticism on the novel, Eliot is assumed not to be aware of this problematic. F. R. Leavis famously argues that an early tendency to present Dorothea ironically (evident especially in the dialogue about the mother’s jewels in the first chapter) collapses into a mode of idealization as the narrative progresses. D. A. Miller, in Narrative and Its These arguments are elaborated in Amanda Anderson, “Living Theory: Personality and Doctrine in Eliot,” in Amanda Anderson and Harry Shaw, eds., A Companion to George Eliot (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), 442–56. 24

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Discontents, argues that the novel is governed by a pattern of lamented failure and therefore remains culpably idealistic at its core: as he puts it, “Defining itself as the negative image of successful transcendence, failure is a bottom line strategy of paying homage to it.”25 Dorothea herself moves from a tendency toward desiring immediate actualization of her ideals (which she imagines the marriage with Casaubon will allow) and a less ambitious but nonetheless morally active responsiveness to her immediate world, as manifested in her various impulses toward repair (of Lydgate’s reputation, of Rosamond’s marriage) and her support of Will’s political projects. Eliot presents a complex picture of Dorothea’s blindness, her deep need for a kind of moral meaningfulness, and her “nature”—which is marked by “impetuous generosity” and “generous sympathy.” Dorothea comes to understand that she must recognize others as distinctly other—to use psychoanalytic language, that her tendencies toward projection, moral exceptionalism, and fusion fail the test of reality and render her ineffectual and stalled. In a conversation with Will about mid-way through the novel, after a moment in which Will remarks that Casaubon doubts himself too much, Eliot writes: But Dorothea was strangely quiet—not immediately indignant, as she had been on a like occasion in Rome. And the cause lay deep. She was no longer struggling against the perception of facts, but adjusting herself to their clearest perception; and now when she looked steadily at her husband’s failure, still more at his possible consciousness of failure, she seemed to be looking along the one track where duty became tenderness.

This moment represents a moral commitment emerging in the wake of psychological insight and a reconciliation with reality, rather than one that is unyielding in both its aspirations and its judgments. It is the kind of awakening that Eliot endorses. The novel discloses the full complexity of its treatment of idealization through its inclusion of the Garth family, and in particular through the contrasting figures of Dorothea Brooke and Mary Garth. Unlike Dorothea, Mary has a kind of clear-eyed rectitude from the start, a practical sense that is aligned with a high-functioning 25

Miller, Narrative and Its Discontents, 144–5.

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moral compass. And, to adopt a popular idiom of the present day, she has strong boundaries, in vivid contrast to Dorothea. She also has a healthy self-esteem, which is best captured in the simple statement, “she liked her thoughts.”26 Mary is notable too for her steady commitment to her longstanding affection for Fred, despite evidence, most disappointing to her, that he has tendencies toward entitled or providential thinking, moral irresponsibility, and general directionless. The loyalty is tempered by clear boundaries, and it would not be erroneous to say that the loyalty is secured by these boundaries, not maintained in spite of them. Whence all this mental health? Well, much of it can be attributed to the fact that she comes, as Winnicott would have put it, from an “ordinary good home.” It is interesting that it is only in the context of the Garth family story that we encounter extended examples of childrearing. Mrs. Garth engages in farm work as well as tutelary exercises with her children at once educational and moral. Mary herself occupies a liminal space, both daughter and auxiliary mother to her younger siblings. Both mother and daughter are good-hearted yet firm in their principles and steady in their treatment of others. What is of central interest in the presentation of the Garths is not so much the interior workings of the family, but the effect of this family system on Fred Vincy. To begin with, Mary insists in a remarkable way that Fred remain accountable to himself; she will not allow him to use his love for her to evade the key vocational decisions of his life. There is a memorable incident involving horse trading, in which Fred gambles away money that is needed to repay a debt that was underwritten for Fred by Caleb. This creates a significant financial hardship for the Garth family, and it becomes a pivotal moment in which Fred learns the difference between fearing for one’s image and something like empathy. In hearing the slight tremor in Mrs. Garth’s decisive statement about needing to draw on their son’s school savings as well as a loan from Mary in order to pay off the debt, Fred felt “for the first time something like the tooth of remorse”:

26 George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life (New York: Penguin, 1994), 315.

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Curiously enough, his pain in the affair beforehand had consisted almost entirely in the sense that he must seem dishonorable, and sink in the opinion of the Garths: he had not occupied himself with the inconvenience and possible injury that his breach might occasion them, for this exercise of the imagination on other people’s needs is not common with hopeful young gentlemen.27

Most interesting of all is the role that Caleb plays in providing a Winnicottian “holding environment” for Fred as he becomes somewhat placeless and despondent after cascading frustrations and the loss of an expected inheritance. In fact, it is arguably the case that Caleb Garth is the good-enough parent in this narrative, insofar as he provides the opportunity and the firm guidance which will allow Fred to establish a realistic independence and a workable vocation. The language Caleb uses as he explains to a skeptical Mrs. Garth his decision to take Fred on as an apprentice is revealing: “I shall have trouble with him, but I think I shall carry it through.” He also states, “that young man’s soul is in my hand.” Not least, there is the powerful response he gives when Fred says he has not the least claim to speak to him: “Yes, my boy, you have a claim. The young ones have always a claim on the old to help them forward.”28 The orientation of both Caleb and Mary toward Fred is noteworthy in its combination of fidelity and a firm insistence that he make his own way. This same notion of an orienting primary relation marks the Winnicottian model, which is of course centered on the mother–child dyad. Winnicott’s concepts of the good-enough mother and the holding environment are profound in their ordinariness and in the primacy they give to love and commitment borne of shared existence and to the meaningfulness of place. Grounding principles of relation and of place are also central to Eliot’s moral realism. Dorothea comes around to an appreciation of ordinary life but her being always carries with it an added halo of saintliness, in contrast to Caleb Garth’s mildness, indulgence, and firm embeddedness in the practical world of work. As the finale has it, Dorothea’s effect on others was “incalculably diffusive”; Caleb’s seems entirely focused and concrete, even if it is also, as in the case of Fred, prompted by

27

Eliot, Middlemarch, 248.

28

Eliot, Middlemarch, 564, 565, 563.

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“ardent generosity.” Given Dorothea’s role as the central heroine of the novel, one cannot discount the prevailing force of Eliot’s investment in the model of luminous ethical being that she represents, but it is important to consider the broader constellation of endorsed characters, and in particular the vying forms of exemplarity represented by Dorothea and Mary. Across the novel, forms of fidelity, guidance, and support animate key moments of growth and repair, and undergirding the model of growth and repair is an ideal of healthy ethical growth in ordinary circumstances which nonetheless can never be taken for granted. This ideal is represented by the Garth family. I am not arguing that the function of the Garths is to discount the tragic key in which other parts of the story are told. On the contrary: what the Garths underscore is precisely the profound value of the ordinary in relation to the tragic. As I noted at the outset, the novel opens by highlighting the tragic lack of fit between heroic aspiration and modern conditions. Dorothea is subject to this situation, and she must learn to value forms of moral action within whatever circumstances are given. She must come to terms with the more limited opportunities that life presents to her. Her own blindness is at play in all of this. At the same time, tragic events transpire, some of them in slow motion, which cause pain and chastening readjustments for her. A similar pattern takes place with Lydgate, though with less recuperation and regrowth. Tragic conditions include significant character flaws but also social and historical constraints: the novel conveys forms of social critique, particularly with respect to constraints on self-actualization for women, but also in connection with institutional inertia, entrenched property privileges, professional territorialism, and political corruption. But always in the background, for Eliot, ordinary conditions of familial and communal affection and care serve as the medium for healthy moral growth, which includes the ability to avoid damaging others and the ability to repair damage, both to the self and to others. If one thinks of Adam Bede “in [the] second autumn of his sorrow,” as he recovers from the pain that will nonetheless always be a part of him, or Maggie Tulliver’s awakening, 29

29

Eliot, Middlemarch, 565.

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or, negatively, the lack of grounding conditions which would have ensured Gwendolen’s moral ballast, one can see this pattern throughout Eliot’s work.30 And just as moral vigilance is required in order not to activate a chain of negative consequences in the sphere of moral action, so too is a form of watchfulness important to the endurance of primary loyalties: when Mary takes notice of the attentions of Mr. Farebrother, a man of higher caliber than Fred and therefore closer to Mary’s league, it is not that she is not tempted, but that she does not allow herself to be tempted: When a tender affection has been storing itself in us through many of our years, the idea that we could accept any exchange for it seems to be a cheapening of our lives. And we can set a watch over our affections and our constancy as we can over other treasures.31

Given the importance I am according to the Garths, it is worthy of note that Mary and Fred become writers, and that Mary writes a children’s book entitled Stories of Great Men, Taken from Plutarch, thus endorsing the practice of teaching through exemplars. There is a moment within the novel where Mary’s own story-telling echoes one of the most famous passages of Middlemarch itself. Mary is entertaining Louisa Vincy by telling the story of Rumpelstiltskin; Fred gets jealous as he watches Farebrother admiring Mary; and then Fred petulantly complains that Louisa won’t care any more about hearing his story of the one-eyed giant. Louisa asks him to please tell it, but he tells her to ask Mr. Farebrother. Then we read: “ ‘Yes,’ added Mary; ‘ask Mr. Farebrother to tell you about the ants whose beautiful house was knocked down by a giant named Tom, and he thought they didn’t mind because he couldn’t hear them cry, or see them use their pockethandkerchiefs.’ ”32 Compare this passage with the following wellknown statement by the narrator: If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.

30 31

George Eliot, Adam Bede (New York: Penguin, 2008), 532. 32 Eliot, Middlemarch, 580. Eliot, Middlemarch, 643.

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In the story she both references and tells, Mary conveys a fairy-tale version of what here is spoken as though by an oracle. She does so not with the weightiness of the narrator but rather as a situated, ironizing commentator who is alert to the emotional and psychological dynamics at play in the room, one who with natural ease engages in the ordinary work of providing moral education that is playful, storybased, and oriented toward the cultivation of empathy. At the same time she deftly manages another layer of meaning in the barbed reminder to Fred of his heavy-footed assertion of self, both in the present jealous moment and in the prior harm done to the Garth’s beautiful household. Mary is thus in some ways a narrator figure herself, liking to observe and reflect upon the follies of others, and holding views similar to the narrator’s, but through a more ordinary idiom and with a healthy dose of practical wisdom. The parallel between these two passages lights up the interplay of the tragic and the ordinary in Eliot. Eliot does have idealizing tendencies, and they tend to participate in conceptions of innate or exceptional character as well as accompanying ideas about the force of primary egotism. Arguably, one could recruit her to the Kleinian psychic framework, which sees the impulse to repair as secondary. From a Freudian perspective, one could claim that her need for moral certitude is a symptom of the inability to accept negative human drives or human limitations on control. But these ways of framing Eliot’s project would problematically diminish her appeals to primary relations, to the effect of healthy growth amidst a nurturing web of relations, to the importance of good-enough support to those others who have a claim upon one. That group is perceived to be very broad indeed by Caleb Garth—all the young in relation to all the old. And it is also considered to widen naturally when conditions of healthy nurturance obtain, as in the famous passage from Daniel Deronda lamenting that Gwendolen never had the benefit of such conditions: Pity that Offendene was not the home of Miss Harleth’s childhood, or endeared to her by family memories! A human life, I think, should be well rooted in some spot of a native land, where it may get the love of tender kinship for the face of earth, for the labors men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for whatever will give that early

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home a familiar unmistakable difference amid the future widening of knowledge: a spot where the definiteness of early memories may be inwrought with affection, and kindly acquaintance with all neighbors, even to the dogs and donkeys, may spread not by sentimental effort and reflection, but as a sweet habit of the blood. At five years old, mortals are not prepared to be citizens of the world, to be stimulated by abstract nouns, to soar above preference into impartiality; and that prejudice in favor of milk with which we blindly begin, is a type of the way body and soul must get nourished at least for a time. The best introduction to astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a little lot of stars belonging to one’s own homestead.33

This movement outward from primary relations to a cosmopolitan openness is in line with the connection drawn between communicative action and developed democratic practices and political institutions in Habermas and Benhabib, and it also informs Winnicott’s understanding of healthy citizenship. What is most striking about considering Eliot in relation to Winnicott is their shared attention to the importance of ordinary good homes, and to the ways environmental forces can thwart as well as enable self-actualization. Winnicott is not typically drawn to the kinds of tragic understanding evident in Eliot, but his privileging of environment over innate drives creates a conceptual dynamic that is compatible with her understanding of thwarted aspiration in a way that the Kleinian or Sedgwickian model is not. What I have aimed to do through a discussion of Eliot in relation to British psychoanalysis of the twentieth century is to show that there develops within the history of psychoanalysis itself a framework by which healthy moral development is described and avowed, one which refuses the primacy of the drives. The general forms of psychoanalysis within literary studies to date have tended to be oriented toward the structural models of Freud and Klein, and they reflect an aversion to moral avowal which is at least as distorted as moralism itself. The great contribution of Winnicott and the British Independents is the attention to the significance of the ordinary, and especially to the normative dimensions of ordinary life—an engagement with their work could help considerably in moving away from a condition

33

George Eliot, Daniel Deronda (New York: Penguin, 1995), 22.

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within literary studies in which the ordinary is collapsed into the conventional and seen as a target of critique.34 *

*

*

One further interesting development among the British object relations theorists is their discussion of artistic process. Winnicott’s treatment of play, for example, construes it as the basis for healthy development, productive therapy, and creativity itself. Play allows for the testing of boundaries between self and other, and between objective and subjective experience. It is “inherently exciting and precarious.”35 Other psychoanalysts such as Ella Sharpe and Marion Milner contributed further to this discussion, and Milner’s thought in particular is worthy of note in the present context. In an important essay entitled “The Role of Illusion in Symbol Formation,” Milner explores how forms of what might otherwise appear to be fusion or projection are, within the artistic process, enabling rather than pathological. (Notably, these forms of suspension of what we might otherwise take to be healthy maintenance of separation or boundary also characterize certain productive moments within the therapeutic process.) Milner writes, “[A]rt provides a method, in adult life, for reproducing states that are part of everyday experience in healthy infancy.”36 From this perspective one might rethink the function and effect of the character system in a writer like Eliot, where the testing of identifications is ongoing among characters and between the narrator and the characters themselves, both within individual novels and across the entire oeuvre (where one would need to think not in terms of a single narrator, but of characters and narrators in relation to an implied author or, to adapt Foucault’s term, an author function).

34 As I mentioned in the Introduction, Stanley Cavell’s work is another site where a useful illumination of the ordinary, particularly as a site of primary value or acknowledgment, is taking place. See Chapter 2 for a further discussion of Cavell. 35 Winnicott, Playing and Reality, 70. 36 Marion Milner, “The Role of Illusion in Symbol Formation,” in The Suppressed Madness of Sane Men: Forty-Four Years of Exploring Psychoanalysis (New York: Routledge, 1988), 98.

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Admittedly, this would mean shifting our understanding of realism itself to some degree, but the complexities of the character system across the novels arguably make the whole oeuvre analogous to a work like Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, where the same characters appear in different notebooks in entirely different guises, sometimes renamed, sometimes not. This is not to say that evaluative distinctions are bracketed, or that the boundaries of individual works and characters disappear, but rather to acknowledge that the character system in Eliot can productively be viewed as itself an ongoing and somewhat fluid testing of moral stances and practices on the part of the implied author. I have argued elsewhere that there is an animating tension between the stance of the narrator (who espouses comprehensive moral doctrines) and the actual conditions endured by embedded characters, who precisely because of the limits of existence in time cannot avoid the problems of a moral reflection that is out of step with action and eventfulness in time—out of step and characteristically belated.37 But from a psychologically inflected framework one can see this perspectival dissonance as a form of play or art that is moving between objective and subjective, staging different forms of identification and moral discrimination. Eliot’s is a highly reflective art and might seem far from the forms of fusion that analysts like Sharpe and Milner explore in their discussion of art and aesthetics. But it is interesting to note that the main protagonists themselves all have a tendency toward fusion and boundary blurring that is linked to their moral capacity— Dorothea in her desire for fusion of the ideal and the actual, Romola in her drifting away from the stringent demands of reflective devotion, Maggie Tulliver in her forgetfulness of the claims of others, Deronda in his “plenteous, flexible sympathy” that “threatens to hinder any persistent course of action.”38 Eliot’s moral realism, both conceptually and formally, thus reflects a sophisticated and flexible psychology. The complexity of her treatment is consonant with her finely differentiated understanding of the many forms of self-love and self-deception that thwart moral

37

Anderson, “Living Theory.”

38

Eliot, Daniel Deronda, 364.

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aspiration and shadow even the best-intentioned ethical acts. And she is also wary of the seductions of power and charisma, both for the moral aspirant and for those in the role of moral guide or teacher. In these many ways, Eliot’s work resonates in relation to thinkers who anatomize the psychological and sociological forces that any moral or ethico-political project must take into account. I have already discussed Winnicott’s relevance to the presentation of the “ordinary” in Eliot; others writing in the chastened atmosphere of the post-war years might also be adduced. For example, in The Liberal Imagination, published in 1951, Lionel Trilling famously advocated a moral realism dedicated to stringent exploration of the moral life, including most centrally its dangers. His prime exemplar was James’s anatomizing of political idealism in The Princess Casamassima. For Trilling, as for Isaiah Berlin in The Two Concepts of Liberty, the great danger to modern life was authoritarianism, and an overweening idealism was the underlying culprit. As Trilling provocatively puts it as he advocates for the diagnostic capacities of moral realism, the “moral passions are even more willful and imperious and impatient than the self-seeking passions.”39 In her novels, and along these very lines, Eliot illuminates forms of moral hypocrisy and is especially shrewd about the psychological mechanisms of self-justification and bad faith, which is to say she is very good at showing instances where individuals yoke a sense of moral righteousness to agendas that are founded on entitlement or a will to power. Bulstrode in Middlemarch is a prime example. Other famous anatomizations of self-justification include her portrayals of Arthur Donnithorne in Adam Bede and Tito Melema in Romola. In a reading of Eliot based on her attention to this psychological mechanism, but opposed in spirit to Trilling’s emphasis on moral realism, Fredric Jameson has argued that it is precisely in her representations of mauvaise foi (bad faith) that Eliot undermines the “ethical binary” of good and evil, which for Jameson is “the fundamental binary opposition and also the object of an immense tendential deconstruction in modern times which can be seen as the last stage in the secular struggle

39 Lionel Trilling, “Manners, Morals, and the Novel,” in The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society (New York: New York Review Books, 2008), 221.

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against religion and superstition as well as the most fundamental political drive towards democratization.”40 Jameson’s reading of Eliot has several components but for the present purposes I want to single out his central claim. Jameson argues that Eliot’s psychological understanding of bad faith effectively undermines simple moralizing and in that sense can be put into a lineage which includes Nietzsche and Sartre. Here, then, quite simply, psychology undermines an ideologically driven morality. Giving primacy to bad faith over, say, simple badness, works along with other tendencies in Eliot and in realism more generally to advance the democratization process. Within a world in which psychological defense mechanisms rule, there are no villains and evil does not exist: one still has placeholders for villainy, but the terrain has shifted and the world has therefore opened up to democracy by eroding traditional moral authority. To know all (psychologically) is to forgive all (democratically). Jameson’s is certainly an atypical reading of Eliot. He seems to move to accommodate the more familiar understanding of her moral commitments when he admits that Eliot is more Spinozan than Sartrean or Nietzschean in her “insistence on the toll of psychic misery to be exacted by the ‘sad passions’” such as bad faith.41 In other words, the introduction of bad faith is perhaps less liberating, in Eliot’s world, than the driving thesis about democratization would seem to imply. But what could be the cause of this constraint on liberation other than conscience, the very element that the turn to psychology would seem to displace? For my purposes, what is most interesting about Jameson’s reading, despite this moment of relenting, is the dedication to rescuing Eliot from the common charge of “moralizing” by invoking the modern complexity of her psychology, its effect of “equalization” and “narrative democratization.”42 She can then be associated with the general arc of democratization even though her novels are not overtly political.43 Fundamentally, Jameson construes morality as a benighted cultural form that supports and masks ideological formations, just as certain psychological frameworks 40 41 42 43

Fredric Jameson, The Antinomies of Realism (London: Verso, 2013), 115. Jameson, The Antinomies of Realism, 133. Jameson, The Antinomies of Realism, 120, 121. Jameson, The Antinomies of Realism, 121.

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understand moralism as a defense or the enactment of an infantile need. In the field of literary studies, morality has tended to be denigrated relative to the political just as it has been denigrated relative to the psychological. Indeed, there is a tradition of readings of Eliot that fault her precisely for displacing politics with ethics.44 In the case of Jameson, psychology serves the political forces of emancipation, while morality is aligned with the forces of ideological constraint. In point of fact, however, political life in Eliot is the outgrowth of moral life, just as democratic citizenship in Winnicott can be traced back to a healthy early development, the ordinary good home. We saw this idea reflected in the passage from Daniel Deronda, and we see it more concretely and dramatically in Middlemarch, as Will Ladislaw’s institutional political practices are supported by the ethical being that is Dorothea. Indeed, as I have argued elsewhere, their marriage can be taken to symbolize the form that the relationship between ethics and politics takes in Eliot’s world.45 Ethical being provides the basis for a widening vision, one which might be dedicated to reducing harm, as in Will Ladislaw’s eminently liberal principle (“That’s my text—which side is injured?”) or to expanding intercultural understanding, as in Deronda’s persistent cosmopolitan questioning of Mordecai’s nationalist vision. It is true that certain forms of systemic critique might be forestalled or muted in such a world: the same Caleb Garth who serves as good-enough parent for Fred admonishes the laborers when they resist the oncoming railway and all that it represents. Eliot doesn’t like the idea of radical or abrupt change, nor does Winnicott. But they do both recognize the forces that lead to abuse of power and intimate aggression. In that sense their thought contains forms of psychological discrimination that render their moral vision compelling and persuasive. Beyond that, it is not clear to me that systemic critique requires the suspicion of morality assumed in so many of our current frameworks. As I argue in Chapter 4, the point is not to replace systemic critique but rather to revise its method and its principles. 44

See Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), 180; William Myers, “George Eliot: Politics and Personality,” in Literature and Politics in the Nineteenth Century, ed. John Lucas (London: Methuen, 1971), 123. 45 Amanda Anderson, Bleak Liberalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 75–7.

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4 A Human Science

Literature on the plight of the humanities and the university has become a minor industry, and for understandable reasons. A gradual but momentous shift in the funding structures of universities, as well as a sharpened focus on questions of monetary value and metrics—on forms of counting—has put pressure on the humanities in particular, which have to a considerable extent traditionally been seen to stand outside any need for justification by reference to utility. Specific pressures vary depending on national context and institutional category, but the situation has produced interesting discussion on both the nature and value of the humanities. Since I believe that the examined life is a desideratum, I don’t think the inquiries and debates on these matters are such a bad thing, even when part of the reason they are taking place has to do with threatened diminishment of resources, or in response to the attitudes of uninformed and skeptical people whose work lies far afield from the humanities. It has produced some very interesting and thought-provoking writing. What I would like to do in this lecture is to consider the topic I have been advancing over the course of these lectures in light of the discursive conditions in play around defenses and characterizations of the humanities. The question of the value of the humanities is central to these debates, and the way in which that question makes itself felt will shed light on the place of morality within the literary field. The discussion here will zoom out to a much wider perspective in order to help further illuminate the ongoing issues at play in the relation between psychology and morality within the literary field. As I have argued elsewhere, there are two key poles of justification within which defenses of the humanities typically fall: justification by method and justification by value, where the latter’s typical reference is Bildung or ethos of some sort. The justification by method asserts

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the far-reaching significance of an assumed primary practice within the field, typically a transdisciplinary activity such as writing, argument, communication, or critical thinking. This argument has been advanced by Gerald Graff in several publications, and also more tendentiously and narrowly by Stanley Fish, who believes we should stick to a stringent notion of method which remains value neutral and entirely academic.1 The justification by ethos or Bildung, by contrast, makes appeal to the ways in which reading and thinking about literature and culture form part of a larger development of the self as a critically responsive ethical and political subject. Many discussions of what we already do or what we ideally do make appeal to both modes of justification—invoking the forms of our practice as well as the effects of those practices on human subjects and particularly on human subjects conceived as ethical or civic or democratic subjects. For example, Martha Nussbaum’s 2010 book, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, argues that the humanities help to make citizens of the world adequate to the challenges of the present era, through their focus on argument and critical thinking and through their cultivation of the imagination and sympathetic responses to people distant from us in location and experience.2 For Nussbaum, the humanities constitute a form of moral education that helps to counter fundamental psychological dispositions toward narcissism, control, and othering. Christopher Newfield, too, stresses how important the humanities are to the furtherance of human development both nationally and globally. For Newfield, the humanities not only promote enhanced states of cognitive and imaginative capability, they also produce “cultural knowledge about the psychological, interpersonal, and cultural capabilities that allowed society to evolve.”3 Of course, there is a strong ideological critique of appeals 1

Gerald Graff, Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003); Stanley Fish, Save the World on Your Own Time (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). I originally made this argument in “The Way We Talk about The Way We Teach Now,” Profession (2009): 19–27. Some portions of this chapter are drawn from that earlier essay. 2 Martha Nussbaum, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010). 3 Christopher Newfield, Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 21.

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to human development emanating from both anti-humanist and postcolonial thought, but one could argue that even the critiques include a crypto-Bildung justification of literary and cultural studies: enlightened critique of literature will productively demystify the project of Bildung and thereby produce more sensitive political subjects. The justification through Bildung helps to provide a key missing element in the method-based approach and also in many paradigms operative within the field: the question of how to live, both individually and collectively. This question is simultaneously one oriented toward value, or what matters most, and experience. To adapt a point made by Laurent Dubreuil in the context of a critique of scientific approaches to literature, the focus on method cannot really grasp the force and significance of statements such as “that book changed my life.”4 Similarly, in What Are Universities For, Stefan Collini argues that the kinds of understanding and judgment exercised in the humanities are of a piece with the kinds of understanding and judgment involved in living a life. All we can say at this point is that, in the end, is why they interest us and why they seem worthwhile, and we must then recognize that we have reached a point beyond which justification cannot go.5

Of course part of the reason there is often a divide between the justification by method and the justification by Bildung is precisely because certain scholars find a focus on value to be problematic, misguided, or pious. Here the work of Stanley Fish is illustrative. Fish has advanced an argument on behalf of stringent methodological neutrality with respect to value, beginning with Professional Correctness and extending to Save the World on Your Own Time and numerous entries on his New York Times blog.6 A prolific critic and theorist as well as a seasoned administrator, Fish insists on the university as a value-free zone of academic inquiry, a place where the pursuit of truth requires that we bracket the promotion of moral and political value. Fish

4 Laurent Dubreuil, “On Experimental Criticism: Cognition, Evolution, and Literary Theory,” Diacritics 39.1 (2009): 17. 5 Stefan Collini, What Are Universities For (London: Penguin, 2012), 85. 6 Stanley Fish, Political Correctness: Literary Studies and Political Change (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999); Fish, Save the World; .

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argues that conceptions of the liberal arts or the humanities which imagine they can successfully inculcate certain values—such as diversity, respect, and civic virtue—are simply deluded: it is a mistake to suppose that moral or political effects follow from academic practices, which themselves fundamentally involve the imparting of knowledge or the pursuit of truth. Fish would thus reject the whole of Nussbaum’s brief on behalf of the humanities as misguided, as confusing academic practices with political ones. There is a subtler force working against the values rhetoric, one having to do with the field’s own aversion to direct moral avowal, a topic I have been addressing throughout the lectures. As Collini points out, one of the pitfalls attending the attempt to justify the humanities is precisely the risk of sounding pious or defensive. Given its aesthetic investments, the field often tends to value the tacit over the explicit, and many of its judgments imply a distinction between the vulgar and the refined; in this context, direct assertion of the value of the humanities can feel immediately hackneyed or even as though it is a performative contradiction.7 The acts of defending or justifying the humanities discussed thus far are significantly if not exclusively public facing. They self-consciously respond to external pressures. It is worth considering more closely the relation between such outward-facing speech acts and what we might call “internal” field conditions—developments within the field about the direction of the field, whether actual or exhorted. The relation between the two can be hard to discern precisely because there are cross-over moments in each type of discourse: moments where the outward-facing documents register important contributions or trends within the field and moments where field-internal arguments make the case that a change in method is required given the threatened state of the humanities more generally. But they remain distinctly different genres and speech acts, with different institutional locations, perspectives, and effects. The arguments internal to the field tend to cite exhausted scholarly modes in need of overhaul, or to call for a radical shift required by historically evolving forces or hitherto unacknowledged ontological conditions. The public-facing arguments tend to be

7

Collini, What Are Universities For.

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more modest, more liberal. They tend to go down more easily as they conform to the unoffending blandness of what Richard Rorty called “liberal hope.”8 The executive summary of the 2013 report on the humanities and the social sciences commissioned by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences might serve as an example.9 It begins as follows: As we strive to create a more civil public discourse, a more adaptable and creative workforce, and a more secure nation, the humanities and social sciences are the heart of the matter, the keeper of the republic—a source of national memory and civic vigor, cultural understanding and communication, individual fulfillment and the ideals we hold in common.

Very different is the field-internal language employed to exhort us to new forms of reading and new paradigms of understanding. Arguably, of course, one could make peace with a pragmatic approach that recognized that different arguments and rhetorical strategies should be used for different occasions and institutional and cultural sites. But I want to press a bit on the ways the disjunction is playing out, one that points to a substantive problem for the field related to the issues I have been exploring in the lectures. To that end, it is worth singling out one key element in the Academy’s report: the call to “encourage all disciplines to address ‘Grand Challenges.’ ” Appeals to grand challenges are increasingly central in the mission statements and strategic plans of universities, foundations, and public agencies oriented toward support of scholarship and the advancement of knowledge. The grand challenges mentioned in the Academy’s report are the provision of clean air and water, food, health, energy, and universal education. As articulated in my own university’s strategic plan, they include Sustaining Life on Earth; Creating Peaceful, Just, and Prosperous Societies; Improving

8 Richard Rorty, “Private Irony and Liberal Hope,” in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 73–95. 9 American Academy of Arts and Sciences, “The Heart of the Matter,” Report of the Commission on the Humanities and the Social Sciences, Cambridge, MA, . Accessed February 22, 2017.

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Population Health; and Using Science and Technology to Improve Lives.10 The emphasis on the grand challenges reinforces the significance of the social sciences overall and discloses an important condition currently at play in the university: the fact that the orientation toward grand challenges is not only driving strategic planning and fundraising, but also significantly conditioning what it means to be effectively interdisciplinary and collaborative at the present time. A premium is placed on finding ways to advance forms of knowledge that will actively address these challenges. Implicit in the Academy’s yoking of the social sciences with the humanities, and in the invocation of the grand challenges, is a commitment to the problem-solving and policy-oriented dimensions of the social sciences. Understanding problems in their entirety might involve key elements of humanistic scholarship and practice—indeed, my own university also includes Understanding the Human Experience among its themes—but the ultimate aim is to solve problems, engage with real-world partners, and actively engage institutions, political processes, and economic structures. How does this overall orientation toward the grand challenges look in relation to some of the developments in the field that are more properly internal? Interestingly, at the very moment that external pressures have been coming most to bear on the humanities, certain relatively autonomous developments within the field of literary and cultural studies are announcing the need for radical theoretical and methodological transformation. By and large, these field interventions are not easily aligned with grand challenges discourse. Most prominently, within the field, is a call for refusals of a long dominant tendency of negative critique linked to forms of systemic or ideological analysis. Rita Felski’s The Limits of Critique would be exhibit A here, but it is important to see that text in relation to a number of other statements, including Eve Sedgwick’s call for reparative as opposed to paranoid reading; Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best’s argument for surface reading; Franco Moretti’s manifesto on behalf of distant reading; the new vitalism of Jane Bennett; Caroline Levine’s argument on behalf of 10

Brown University, Building on Distinction: A New Plan for Brown, October 26, 2013, . Accessed February 22, 2017.

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reading for form across social and aesthetic registers; Heather Love’s brief for description over interpretation; and various examples of what has been called “the eudaimonic turn,” which is to say new work on behalf of optimism and hope and more enabling moods.11 As this constellation of projects makes clear, a range of manifestos and scholarly projects seek to depart from the more ambitious forms of critical theory and redirect our attention to more limited or modest practices, more hopeful moods, and a different kind of engagement, practical and affective, with the objects that we study. While these developments are noteworthy, it is important to acknowledge the persistent force of various critical and antiprogressivist trends in the field. There remains a strong tendency to make appeal to the framework of neoliberalism as the orienting explanatory framework for many diagnostic analyses and interpretive moves in both political and literary theory. And one of the strongest statements of the last decade was the announcement that we should negate the future. Lee Edelman’s widely referenced 2004 book, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive, argues that our understanding of the political is in thrall to a “reproductive futurism” that takes the image of the child to come as its motive and telos. Insofar as this is the case, Edelman claims, politics remains locked within a fundamentally conservative dynamic, authenticating and reproducing the normative heterosexual order.12 Apart from its insistence on queerness, this formation is in line with a longer tradition of negative politics, or 11

Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015); Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, Or, You’re So Paranoid You Probably Think This Essay Is about You,” in Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 123–51; Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best, “Surface Reading: An Introduction,” Representations 108.1 (2009): 1–21; Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History (New York: Verso, 2007); Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); Caroline Levine, Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015); Heather Love, “Close but Not Deep: Literary Ethics and the Descriptive Turn,” New Literary History 41.2 (2010): 371–91; James O. Pawelski and D. J. Moores, eds., The Eudaimonic Turn: Well Being in Literary Studies (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Press, 2012). 12 Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004).

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what we might even call negative utopianism, in theoretically inclined literary and cultural studies, one that reaches back to the negative dialectics of Adorno. As radical as Edelman’s vision is, it has been upstaged by a newer tendency, the registration of the pressure of no future whatsoever, which is to say, the pressure of extinction. The attention to extinction appears across environmental and philosophical registers. The environmental emphasis invokes and reinflects the threat of nuclear annihilation so palpably present several decades ago, adding to it the threat of environmental apocalypse and biological extinction. The philosophical approach, found in the newer theoretical movements associated with speculative materialism, insists on the limits of consciousness-based understandings of the world, invoking the significance of both ancestrality (a time before the human) and extinction (a time after the obliteration of human consciousness). Two central figures in this movement are Quentin Meillasoux and Ray Brassier, the latter of whom argues in Nihil Unbound for a stringently scientific, disenchanted, anti-cognitive view.13 Work that refuses negative critique stands either implicitly or explicitly opposed to these anti-progressivist frameworks. For example, Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter, the bright obverse of Brassier’s Nihil Unbound, affirms the connection of all living and non-living things: such work is in close alliance with environmental and ecological thought, and it remains affirmative while not privileging human consciousness. The arguments within the field of literary studies, aligned often with new ways of reading texts, stress an openness to the text and a bracketing or refusal of negative or suspicious critique. The case for surface reading by Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus opposes not close reading but rather various forms of symptomatic reading, which is to say, readings which take texts to be symptomatically displaying elements of larger ideological or unconscious structures to which the texts remain fundamentally blind. Fredric Jameson’s The Political Unconscious serves as Best and Marcus’s negative touchstone but they also reference a broad range of work from the 13

Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (London: Continuum, 2008); Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (New York: Palgrave, 2007).

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past several decades. Surface reading, by contrast, involves reading with as opposed to against the grain, taking the text at its word instead of reading it as ideologically motivated and blind, allowing literature itself to be critique, to simply mean what it says. In upholding this approach, Best and Marcus aim to correct for the excesses of symptomatic reading by relinquishing what they characterize as its overweening political and epistemological pretensions. The announcement of new directions for the field has a notably therapeutic dimension in its promotion not only of new methods but also of more salutary moods.14 In this we see a certain continuation of the privileging of psychological over moral desiderata or, to put it somewhat differently, we see psychological states presented as morally desirable. The emphasis on mood is not prominent in all of this work, but when it appears it often performs an indirect evaluative function: a certain mood is lamented and forsworn, another is offered in its place, or rather, what is offered is a new practice that might allow for and invite other moods. This is evident in the inaugural moment of this line of thinking, Eve Sedgwick’s “Paranoid and Reparative Reading,” which is based on the Kleinian notion of a reparation built precisely out of depressive mood and ultimately becoming the basis of love. In this line of criticism one sees a focus on affect rather than the more reflective notion of temperament. To use Aristotelian terms, pathos is favored over ethos. But what does this mean? What are the implications? Well, to begin with this emphasis on affect reflects a field tendency to evade reconstructive moral language, to privilege registers of experience other than the moral one, or simply to bracket moral questions once the diagnostic analysis has been completed, a diagnostic analysis that, it should be noted, does not shy away from identifying “moralism” in the ideological or negative modes under analysis. In Felski’s text, most notably, the language of mood, of re-enchantment, of love and attachment allows for this displacement from the moral to the therapeutic, and seems inattentive to the ways in which therapeutic culture more generally can blunt or displace political awareness

14 For a further elaboration of this claim, see Amanda Anderson, “Therapeutic Criticism,” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 50:3 (2017): 321–8.

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and moral judgment. This particular feature of the field-internal polemics is in some tension with the public-facing discourse of the humanities, especially its emphasis on questions of value. Admittedly, Felski states in the conclusion of her book that her intervention is “motivated by a desire to articulate a positive vision for humanistic thought in the face of growing skepticism about its value.”15 And there she also includes “moral reflection” as one effect of engagement with art.16 Still, a significant gap remains between the primacy of mood linked to a renewed interaction with art and the question of how the humanities engages moral questions. Beyond the methodological and theoretical statements and manifestoes there are focused scholarly developments that define themselves by theme or area, often through cross-disciplinary collaboration. These developments are responding in part to new pressures coming from outside of the field—either from the university administration itself or from granting agencies and the forces they represent. From the perspective of fundraising conditions in the US, where universities tend to organize themselves around a repeating cycle of strategic planning followed by major capital campaigns, there has emerged a desire for large interdisciplinary themes that bring together scholars across fields and divisions of the university. Examples include medical humanities, cross-disciplinary approaches to the environment, and big data across the disciplines. Neuroscience is also often given pride of place in university plans, and formations around cognitive science and social psychology are relevant here, as are developments around cognitive science and literature as well as evolutionary psychology and literature. As I discussed in Chapter 1, topics that have developed out of these areas of interest include the evolutionary development of literature and story-telling as well as explorations of how forms of cognition are manifested in texts and in reading practices. The impact of big data is evident in literary studies most notably through the model of distant reading advanced by the literary scholar Franco Moretti, who oversees a “literary lab” at Stanford.17 Moretti’s project is distinguished by its strong call for an entirely new methodology 15

16 Felski, The Limits of Critique, 186. Felski, The Limits of Critique, 188. See Franco Moretti, Graph, Maps, Trees. Also see Mark Algee Hewitt, ed., Stanford Literary Lab, . 17

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for the field of literary studies, which is to say the demotion of its central method of close reading in favor of distant reading. Distant reading employs quantitative methods and is dedicated to the notion that frameworks from the social and natural sciences will yield new knowledge about literary form and literary history. Considering large numbers of literary texts beyond the usual canon, Moretti and his team explore broad trends, for example, the rise and fall of specific novelistic genres (such as gothic, epistolary, or sensation), forms of sentence style across hundreds of novels, or formal similarities among a vast number of plays from different national traditions and time periods. All of the work is collaborative, both because it would be difficult if not impossible for a single person to undertake collection and analysis of the data involved, and because there is an informing opposition, in the self-definition of the project, between the limitations of an individual scholar doing close reading and a collaborative team producing quantitative knowledge. There has also been significant discussion of the future of the field of literary studies in relation to fast-developing new media such as digital forms, visual media, and social media. The questions posed here are somewhat different from those raised in relation to scientific and social-scientific approaches, though overlap is evident in the focus on practices of reading. In the case of media studies, one sees more continuity with elements that literary studies and the humanities have always privileged: form, transmission, mediation, and the interaction between form and subject. In “The Future of the Literary Past,” Meredith M. McGill and Andrew Parker redirect attention away from the vanguard notion that literature at some point simply gives way to media, arguing that the more interesting provocation of newer media is to light up media and mediation as categories.18 Media studies often helps to focus the distinctiveness of the humanities in its attentiveness to the human subject’s experience of, and engagement with, the object of attention. Methodologies that are at once phenomenological, historical, and formal come together to illuminate the practices and forms that shape the experience of reading across a

18 Meredith M. McGill and Andrew Parker, “The Future of the Literary Past,” PMLA 125.4 (2010): 959–67.

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wide historical span. Media studies also shares continuities with the approach advanced by Robert Scholes in the 1990s, which promotes an understanding of the field unified not by a canon of texts but rather by a set of concepts, precepts, and practices.20 In its orientation toward the understanding of human experience, media studies underscores the common inclusion of a subject- or participant-centered dimension within humanities research.21 More generally, the humanities help us to understand the human experience of X or Y, where X or Y might be, among other things, a globalized world, the threat of extinction, an impoverished environment, the cognitive experience of reading, or engagement with various media. This emphasis is at odds with some versions of post-humanism, but we can aim to understand human experience at the same time that we also aim to put it into perspective, whether by means of a complementary systems theory or through acknowledgment of non-human entities or forces. The pertinence of this proposal to the arguments of earlier lectures should be clear. As I argued in Chapter 1, the problem with much of the current cognitive scientific literature is that it falls short when it comes to the more existential or meaning-laden realms of life. In that lecture, and in the one that followed, I especially emphasized a version of slow time that most experiment formats simply cannot capture. The slow time I characterize is precisely not deliberative in a steady sense, as in Daniel Kahneman’s conception of slow thinking, but does have distinct moral and existential effects, in particular via a dynamic that involves ongoing and intermittent reflection and rumination interspersed with punctual moments of prospective moral commitment, immediate moral decision, and retrospective moral assessment. In a

19 There are of course a wide variety of approaches in media studies, including some that are more strongly interested in a cognitive science approach to the experience of reading, or to effects that transcend the perspective of the individual human actor. 20 Robert Scholes, The Rise and Fall of English: Reconstructing English as a Discipline (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), 1998. 21 Christopher Newfield, “What Is Literary Knowledge of Economy? How Does Criticism Help?” Lecture, Cogut Center for the Humanities, October 1, 2015. Also see Helen Small, The Value of the Humanities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

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different way, the focus on early development in Chapter 3, via the theories of D. W. Winnicott and other British object relations theorists, privileges a moral-psychological dynamic which can only be understood in relation to an unfolding life and the web of relations that support it. The humanities advance not simply deep understanding of experience but reflection on experience, which is to say that they involve critique and judgment, or the assessment of conditions relative to various values. The question of value is inescapable as a feature of any intellectual practice: values and norms always animate projects, whether those values and norms are avowed, coherently integrated, implicit, or evaded. The question then becomes which traditions and frameworks help us to clarify informing values. My previous work on character and argument explored the ways in which questions of ethos inhabit theory, or to put it differently, the ways in which theories and practical philosophies imagined how they might be lived.22 In a larger sense, scholarship in the humanities is often engaged in teasing out the relations between method and ethos within works, and within the larger critical and theoretical arguments animating the field. This is one of the key ways in which the humanities engage in the clarification of values. To return to one of the examples discussed earlier, the call for surface reading is pitched in terms that repeatedly evoke ethos: the point of surface reading is to abandon mastery, to stop being a resisting reader. At a certain point, when listing the desirable features of surface reading, Best and Marcus advocate “Embrace of the surface as an affective and ethical stance.”23 This involves accepting texts, not using them. At another point they affiliate surface reading with an achieved neutrality which involves description over evaluation: here they would seem to want to expunge value and embrace only fact, but the whole discussion is shot through with claims to a cultivated method that is hard to contradistinguish from ethos or even a kind of spiritual practice, as when they invoke Anne-Lise François’s endorsement, in Open Secrets, of “bearing witness to the given.”24 22 Amanda Anderson, The Way We Argue Now: A Study in the Cultures of Theory (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006). 23 Best and Marcus, “Surface Reading,” 10. 24 Quoted in Best and Marcus, “Surface Reading,” 18.

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In the case of Moretti’s distant reading, it may seem that ethos is entirely absent, insofar as it involves a focused scientific method seeking to maximize and formalize the gathering of data. And of course many of the objects under study are deliberately objective or formal, such as genres, geography, and syntax. But there is nothing about Moretti’s approach that requires ruling out elements that have more existential or experiential import. Indeed, it is interesting that the ebb and flow of genres was observed by his researchers to correspond to the time period of generations, a concept that cannot be fully comprehended or felt within a quantitative approach. There is a tendency in justifications oriented toward Bildung and ethos to suggest that the humanities are important because they directly impart value. In this scenario going to a class in the humanities is analogous to going to church—it’s where you go to absorb shared values, cultivate empathy, and become a better person. This is a version of the humanities I do not endorse, and I can see how and why responses like Stanley Fish’s get provoked. But the point I would stress is that the humanities are engaged, and here I adapt Max Weber’s argument from “Science as a Vocation,” in the clarification of values—not the direct imparting of specific values but a series of methods and practices which involve and advance the clarification of values—which is to say the process by which individuals explore and decide how best to live, both individually and collectively.25 Individual works in the humanities assume or endorse values, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly. And critics do, too, as I am in these lectures. But the humanities as a whole do not—it is a broad pluralistic activity that involves, among other things, this central and important activity of clarifying value. In approaching the matter this way, one also preserves something that needs preserving, which is the distinction between the human and the natural sciences. From the perspective of institutional politics, this would allow those speaking on behalf of the humanities to point to the Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation,” in H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, eds., From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1946). Also see Amanda Anderson, “Practicing the Humanities,” Life, Learning, and Liberal Education, TEDx Brown University, October 25, 2012, . 25

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crucial ways in which certain scientific and professional fields already rely heavily on the humanities when they debate professional ethics: as, for example, in bioethics, medical ethics, or the ethics of studying human subjects. In practical terms, I believe we should try to combine arguments for the possibility of cross-cutting dialogue between the humanities and other areas of inquiry, inside and outside the university, with arguments for the distinctive claims and practices of the humanities considered in their particularity. There is a tendency at present to construct the humanities as the handmaiden of other endeavors: they will assist students in getting jobs in non-humanities professions; they help to clarify values involved in other pursuits; they supply useful narratives that will concretize policy initiatives or bring home the impact of scientific discoveries. It’s worth pointing out that the humanities can and do serve such roles, but they also exist and hold value independently of their use, however significant, to other disciplines and activities. The humanities are centrally involved in the protection, interpretation, and transmission of cultural archives, regardless of their instrumental value to other endeavors. Stressing the important role the humanities play in advancing reflection on method and ethos, or on the clarification of value, raises the practical challenge of just how effective such a characterization of the humanities can be in the public arena. This issue invites questions akin to those that have been voiced in the domain of political strategy and policy, particularly in George Lakoff ’s writings on the difficulties of “framing” that face the democratic and liberal left. Given the left’s interest in complex causation and deliberative debate, and in the importance of reflective endorsement, it can be hard to produce the kinds of resonant frames that have worked so well for the Republication Party’s decades-long project of motivating the base.26 The humanities may face a version, then, of the political and sociological problem that has faced the democratic left, and that has faced liberals and intellectuals more generally. Nonetheless, we do need to find ways accurately to characterize the humanities without falling into 26 George Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute, Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2006); George Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2004).

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simplistic values-speak (“the humanities make us good”; “the humanities make us citizens of the world”) and without aiming for a stringent justification by method that is meant to gain us credibility in relation to scientific or transdisciplinary norms. In the context of public-facing discussions of the humanities, the question of the relation of the humanities and the social sciences often comes into play, as well as the longer history of critical theory. Despite the pervasive emphasis on STEM fields, there is a significant ascension of the social sciences within the university, and particularly with respect to its social and political mission. Both the empirical and the critical-diagnostic aspects of the social sciences are viewed as crucial to meeting the grand challenges invoked by research universities and funding agencies. Beyond this fact, understanding the specific challenges faced by the university and by the humanities within the economic and sociological structure of the university requires forms of knowledge drawn from the social sciences. Christopher Newfield’s work conveys this point forcefully, while still acknowledging other forms of knowledge distinctive to the humanities.27 So, how precisely do we understand the relation between the role of the social sciences in these realms and the influential new methods and stances internal to the literary field? A couple of observations are in order. First, apart from Moretti’s distant reading, which is unabashedly quantitative, and apart from some aspects of Levine’s formalism, the new methods tend to relinquish the systemic viewpoint for more situated, local, participatory, modest practices. Moreover, to the extent that a system is described, it is not driven by teleology or captured by means of traditional explanatory causality. We see this for example in Felski’s use of Bruno Latour’s Actor Network Theory and in Caroline Levine’s use of the notion of affordances (drawn from J. J. Gibson) and the work of the “new institutionalists,” whose understanding of institutions expands to include all manner of situated practices and forms, moving fluidly between experiential and habitual forms on the one hand, and more recognizably built and chartered forms on the other. In these uses of unorthodox or newer forms of social science, there is an interesting opening onto what actually becomes the very thesis of

27

Newfield, Unmaking the Public University.

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Levine’s work: social forms can be read as closely, and with the same degree of open discovery, that literary forms are. For Levine, this in turn allows for strategic actions that might advance the possibilities of a more just world. The question remains: what is left of the act of distantiation that allows for systemic critique guided by normative commitments that grow out of existing practices and conditions on the one hand, and a vision of collective life or social transformation on the other? This question could be asked of both Levine and Felski, but one would have to carefully differentiate the issues that arise in each case, and the openings they each offer. In Felski, the more embedded understanding of action, and the focus on the experience of openly engaging with literature or art, joins with a general diagnosis of critique as limited and limiting, whether conceived as a suspicious mood or an act of distancing or denaturalization. The problem is that this leaves aside the long history of critical theory as a normatively committed project of understanding the social totality in terms of complex structural causality. That project too has an ethos, as I’ve argued elsewhere, and it is associated with the tradition of critical theory in its nonsuspicious mode.28 Habermas is a prime example of this form of critique. Despite her considerable and welcome pluralization of critical practice, Felski somewhat puzzlingly omits this tradition, which I believe does not fall prey to the problems she identifies.29 To be fair, she herself is articulating a set of conditions she sees at play in literary studies, but I believe the relevance of normative critical theory to her argument is unavoidable.

28

Anderson, The Way We Argue Now, 134–87. When I refer to critical theory in its “non-suspicious mode,” I don’t mean to suggest that normative political theory neglects the diagnosis and critique of power relations. I am making a distinction between the unrelenting suspicion of anti-normative and negative critique on the one hand and, on the other, normative critique that has both “explanatorydiagnostic” and “anticipatory-utopian” dimensions, to use Seyla Benhabib’s formulation. See Seyla Benhabib, Critique, Norm, and Utopia: A Study of the Foundations of Critical Theory (New York: Columbia, 1986), 226. 29 Interestingly, Habermas was a major influence on some of Felski’s earlier work. See especially Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989).

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In the case of Levine, there is indeed a serious engagement with the complexity of systems, and one could argue that the forms of social science she makes appeal to (especially in the sections treating institutions and networks) provide a basis for a new systems theory that could productively replace entrenched modes of analysis trained on capitalist ideology, neoliberal ideology, or even on the specific barriers to liberal and social-democratic aspirations. The difficulty, however, is that the understanding of power in Levine is so fluid and aleatory that it becomes hard to explain what the basis for normative political judgment actually is. Somehow we are supposed to know when a particular formal collision or configuration is constraining or emancipatory, but in order to know that, one would need identifiable normative commitments based on an affirmed ideology. From what perspective are we judged to have strategically worked the system to politically desirable ends? Once one has to answer this question, one can no longer maintain such a flexible pluralistic approach. What are needed are ambitious, layered, complex understandings of structural causality informed by normative commitment to the values that would undergird those yet-to-be achieved political arrangements we could reflectively endorse. Recognizing that power and forms are not simply constraining does not solve the problem of value clarification in relation to political ideals. One might argue that what I am asking for betrays the field in its privileging of explanation over interpretation, and in its seeming to disallow the field of literature to simply be what it is—which is to say defined above all by its objects of study, and by a method that is interpretive rather than explanatory, humanistic not scientific. But the field some time ago embraced and incorporated theoretical models that promote strong interpretations of semiotic and political life. In my view critical social theory is vitally necessary, not only in support of the normative project of justifying and advancing our work, but also in relation to emerging conditions in the university and in the society at large. The calls for new forms of reading that are deliberately circumscribed, affirmative, or non-evaluative cannot really answer to these conditions. At the university level, it is important to address the implicit and explicit elevation of the social sciences in the context of the grand challenges. Do we see ourselves as allied with the social sciences and if so, how? And how precisely do we articulate what the

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humanities have to offer these challenges? And it might be worth considering, if we are to follow some of the more interactive and embedded models from sociology, anthropology, and psychology— as both Felski and Levine do—how we would make the case for their significance to meeting the grand challenges. Moreover, given the assault on truth in society at large, and within the specific conditions of mediatization at the present time, it seems worth considering the stronger versions of normative critical theory, with their assertions of the centrality of explanation, ideology critique, and complex structural causality. Leavening such theories with the interpretive strengths of the humanities is a powerful path to advocate for, but stepping aside from them seems to me a perilous proposition. * * * The arguments I have presented throughout the lectures attempt to incorporate a richer understanding of moral experience and moral judgment than is currently present in the literary field. Beyond that, they challenge the subordination or even suspicion of morality relative to those influential forms of psychological explanation, historical and contemporary, that exercise such a strong hold on the cultural imagination. Resources for understanding the complexity of the moral life reside in our literary tradition as well as in certain strains of the psychological literature. I have aimed to underscore my arguments with some force, but I should also emphasize that I am a pluralist when it comes to thinking about work in the humanities. There is destined to be a great variety of work that will fall under the label of the humanities, and this broad venture will continue to unfold and surprise us. Any one project can only focus on a limited area and a small set of driving questions, as these lectures have done. But I have stepped back to think about the humanities more broadly in this final lecture because the question of value, and more specifically the problem of speaking directly about the moral life, plays out with special force in the gap between the public-facing discussions of the humanities and the methodological and theoretical interventions internal to the literary field. My exploratory project in these pages is meant to serve as an invitation to think within the context of a very broad question strikingly relevant to many fields of inquiry and to many areas of

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our lives: what is the relation between psychological explanation and moral understanding? And do our current frameworks of understanding adequately capture moral experience, and particularly moral experience as it is lived in time? Such questions require that we consider the relation between social scientific and humanistic frameworks, since broadly speaking psychology belongs to social science and much of the history of ethics belongs to the humanities, and to philosophy and literature in particular. More specific questions arise in the case of literature: how do literary genres and modes confirm or challenge psychological accounts of action and cognition, both recent and historical? What does literature know, and how does it know it? The encounter between literary studies and new work in cognitive science and evolutionary psychology reveals the special capacity of literature to capture forms of human thinking and behavior that the new scientific frameworks of understanding either fail to capture, or capture only to distort. A deeper dialogue between the fields might help to advance our understanding of the complex relation between psychological impulses or tendencies, and the persistent need for humans to structure their lives around orienting moral values, whatever those might be. I’ve only managed to offer a few examples of the ways in which writers and thinkers have approached this terrain, and of how developments within psychoanalysis itself have contributed to the advancement of thinking on this topic. But I do think as literary scholars we would do well to confront the question of the moral life more directly, without fear of sounding didactic, benighted, or insufficiently political.

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Index Adorno, Theodor 68n, 92 aesthetics 48, 55, 57, 58 affect 93 Agamben, Giorgio 1–2 agency 3 Altieri, Charles 43, 54–8 Anderson, Amanda 2n, 5n, 8n, 32n, 62n, 70n, 71n, 81n, 84n, 93n, 97n, 98n, 101n anthropology 25 anti-normativity 48, 69, 70, 101 Aristotelian ethics 2, 6, 17, 24, 93 Aronson, Elliot 23, 29 Ashley Madison 39, 40 automatic mental processes 22, 24, 27, 51 autonomy 24, 31 bad faith 82, 83 Barro, Josh 40n Benhabib, Seyla 28, 69, 70, 79, 101n Bennett, Jane 90, 92 Berker, Selim 29 Berlin, Isaiah 68, 82 Bersani, Leo 43, 45, 46–7, 50, 51, 52 Best, Stephen 61n, 90, 91n, 92, 93, 97 bias 21, 22, 24–7, 30 big data 94–5 Bildung 85, 86, 87, 98 bioethics 99 Bisson, David 39n Booth, Wayne 1 Brassier, Ray 92 Buell, Lawrence 2n Butler, Judith 1, 2n, 8 cannibalism 15 categorical imperative 9–10, 11 Cavell, Stanley S. 5, 43, 49, 53–5, 56, 57, 80n character 24, 25, 26

close reading 92, 95 Coghill, Nevill 53–4 cognitive dissonance 23, 26, 30, 34 cognitive science 6, 7, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24–5, 27, 30, 34, 94, 96, 104 Collini, Stefan 87, 88 communicative action 69, 79 communicative ethics 2, 6 conscience 7, 83 convention 8, 25, 27, 38, 48, 52, 53, 80 Conway, Jim 41n Courter, Gay 41n cultural criticism 3 culture 28 Cvetkovich, Ann 71 dark web 39 Derrida, Jacques 1, 2, 5n, 37 Diamond, Jed 41n disciplinary authority 17–18 distant reading 95, 98, 100 Doris, John M. 26 Dostoevsky, Fyodor 21 dual-process theory 21, 22 Dubreuil, Laurent 87 duty 10, 11 Edelman, Lee 91–2 Eliot, George 38, 59, 62, 83 Adam Bede 76, 77n, 82 Daniel Deronda 72, 78–9, 81, 84 Middlemarch 20–1, 71–8, 82, 84 Romola 81, 82 empathy 74, 78 environment 27 environmental disaster 92, 96 “ethical turn” 1–2, 4–5, 37 ethico-political values 1, 2, 5, 93–4 ethics: contribution of humanities to professional ethics 99 vs. morality 3

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Index

“eudaimonic turn” 91 evolutionary psychology 7, 20, 35, 104 existential import 96, 98 extinction 92, 96 false self 66 Felski, Rita 3n, 69n, 90, 91n, 93, 94, 100, 101, 103 Fish, Stanley 86, 97–8, 98 Flesch, William 35, 36 Foucault, Michel 4–5, 8, 24, 37, 80 Francois, Anne-Lise 97 Frankfurt School 68 Frenkel-Brunswik, Else 68 Freudian psychology 6, 7, 8, 17, 19, 24, 78, 79 Gaudette, Pat 41n Gibson, J. J. 100 “good-enough mother” 65, 66, 75, 78, 84 grace 56, 57 Graff, Gerald 86 Greene, Joshua 29 grief 51, 58 guilt 20 Habermas, Jürgen 2, 6, 28, 69, 70, 79, 101 hackers 39 Haidt, Jonathan 22–3, 27, 28, 31 Harman, Gilbert 26 Hewitt, Mark Algee 94n holding environment 66, 75 homoeroticism 45–6, 47 humanist scholars 1 humanities 18, 55, 63, 85–90 Bildung 85, 86, 87, 98 contribution to professional ethics 99 literary studies 92–3, 94–5, 104 media studies 95–6 questions of value 94, 97, 98 social sciences and 100–3 Hume, David 17, 23 hypocrisy 82 idealism 36, 71–3, 78, 82 ideological critique 4, 24 infidelity 39, 40, 41 integrity 25, 34 internet 39

James, Henry: “The Beast in the Jungle” 37–8, 42, 43, 44–53 The Princess Casamassima 82 Jameson, Fredric 82–4, 92 Kahneman, Daniel 22, 30, 31–2, 58, 96 Kantian ethics 2, 5, 6, 9–11, 15, 24, 30, 34 Keane, Webb 25 kinship 70 Klein, Melanie 62–5, 66, 68, 78, 79, 93 Kohlberg, Lawrence 6, 27–8 Kramnick, Jonathan 35 Lacan, Jacques 69 Lakoff, George 99 Latour, Bruno 100 Lear, Jonathan 19 Leavis, F. R. 72 Leconte, Patrice 47 legal responsibility 15 Lessing, Doris 81 Levinas, Emmanuel 1, 37 Levine, Caroline 90, 91n, 100–1, 102, 103 Levinson, Daniel J. 68n liberalism 12 literary characters 35–6, 81 literary studies 92–3, 94–5, 104 Love, Heather 91 Marcus, Sharon 61n, 90, 91n, 92, 93, 97 Marxism 37, 68 McGill, Meredith M. 95 meaning 96 media studies 95–6 medical ethics 99 Meillasoux, Quentin 92 memory 31–2 Merritt, Maria 26, 27 mid-life crisis 40–2, 43, 54, 55, 58 Milgram, Stanley 22, 26 Miller, D. A. 71n, 72–3 Miller, J. Hillis 1 Milner, Marion 80, 81 mood 93 Moores, D. J. 91n moral agency 3, 20, 21–2, 24, 31, 37 moral authority 29, 83

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Index moral development 6, 27–8, 62, 69, 78, 79, 80 moral dilemmas 20–1, 55 moral dissociation 26 moral education 86 moral experience 9, 11, 18, 37, 96, 103, 104 moral habits 27, 28 moral hypocrisy 82 moral judgment 1, 5, 94, 103 moral realism 9, 16, 38, 58, 71, 75, 81, 82 moral reasoning 22–3, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31 moral responsibility 15 moralism 4, 71–2, 79, 83, 84, 93 morality: aesthetics and 48, 55, 57, 88 challenges to 7, 8, 10, 17, 19, 20, 21, 37, 48, 83, 103 politics and 4, 84, 91 vs. ethics 3 Moretti, Franco 61n, 90, 91n, 94–5, 98, 100 mourning 51 murder 15, 16 Myers, William 84n

113

Pippin, Robert 46 Plato 17 play 80 political values 1, 2, 5, 93–4 morality and 4, 84, 91 poststructuralism 1, 24, 69 primatology 25 professional ethics 99 projective identification 66 psychoanalysis 3, 48, 58 Freud 6, 7, 8, 17, 19, 24, 78, 79 Klein 62–5, 66, 68, 78, 79, 93 Lacan 69 Milner 80, 81 object relations theory 6, 9, 10, 20, 38, 62–3, 64, 71, 80, 97 Sharpe 80, 81 Winnicott 6, 38, 65–71, 74, 75, 79, 80, 82, 84, 97 psychological realism 9, 16, 38, 58, 71, 75, 81, 82 psychology: influence on literary and cultural studies 1, 6, 17, 18 moral authority and 29, 83 scientific claims 30 queer theory 24, 46, 50, 62, 70, 91

narcissism 49, 52 necessity 15, 16 negative utopianism 92 neoliberalism 5 neuroscience 29, 94 Newfield, Christopher 86, 96n, 100 Nietzsche, Friedrich 7–8, 9, 83 normativity 12, 13, 37, 48, 79, 91, 101 Nussbaum, Martha 1, 86, 88 object relations theory 6, 9, 10, 20, 38, 62–3, 64, 71, 80, 97 Oedipus complex 69 oppression 70 ordinariness 5, 38, 52, 53, 58, 65, 67, 74, 75, 76, 79, 80, 82 paranoid reading 50n, 61–5, 68, 90, 93 Parker, Andrew 95 Pawelski, James O. 91n Phillips, Adam 65n

Rancière, Jacques 2–4, 6 rationalization 23 Rawls, John 2 Rayner, Eric 63n, 64n, 65 reason 23, 24 Regina v Dudley and Stephens 15, 16 relational perspectives 10 reparative reading 50n, 61–5, 68, 69, 70, 90, 91n, 93 Richardson, Alan 35n Rorty, Richard 89 Rudrum, David 5n Sanford, R. Nevitt 68n Sartre, Jean-Paul 83 Scholes, Robert 96 Schorn, Tracy 40, 41 Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky 43, 45, 46, 50, 52, 61–2, 63, 64, 68, 69, 70, 79, 90, 91n, 93 self-awareness 23, 30

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self-justification 16, 21, 23, 33–4, 58, 82 sexuality 8, 45–6, 47 Shakespeare, William: The Winter’s Tale 38, 42, 43, 53–8 Sharpe, Ella 80, 81 Shaw, Tamsin 29 Simon Jr., George K. 33n Singer, Peter 29 Small, Helen 96n social critique 76 social norms 33 social psychology 6, 7, 8, 17, 25, 29, 30, 68, 94 social sciences 24, 89, 90, 100–3 Spinoza, Baruch 83 sunk costs 30, 32–3 surface reading 92–3, 97 symptomatic reading 92, 93 Tavris, Carol 23, 29 Theory of Mind 34 therapeutic culture 1, 3, 6, 13, 16, 93–4 time: mid-life crisis 40–2, 43, 54, 55, 58 perceptions of 32

“The Beast in the Jungle” 38, 42, 43, 44–53 The Winter’s Tale 38, 42, 43, 53–8 Tompkins, Silvan 62 torture 29 transitional objects 66 trauma 3, 6 Trilling, Lionel 82 universities 85, 87, 89–90, 94, 100 utilitarianism 17, 29 value/values 87–8, 94, 97, 98 Vermeule, Blakey 35, 36–7 victimization 3 virtue ethics 5, 24, 25, 26, 30 war 67 Weber, Max 98 Williams, Bernard 10 Williams, Raymond 4, 84n Winnicott, D. W. 6, 38, 65–71, 74, 75, 79, 80, 82, 84, 97 Wolfe, Judith 5n Wolfers, Justin 40n Zunshine, Lisa 34