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Talk Pavel - Lecture Series

Loyalty and Contempt


Prof. Thomas Pavel


The University of Chicago


The paper discusses recent attempts to justify contempt as a moral attitude and alternatively as a moral emotion.   By examining several literary presentations of this attitude or feeling, the paper argues that literature, being varied, nuanced, and open-ended, helps us better understand contempt and its rapport with interpersonal loyalty.   It concludes by agreeing with philosophers who, following Martha Nussbaum’s example, consider that literature, by presenting a wide gamut of possible attitudes and feelings, is uniquely helpful for identifying emotions and their behavioral manifestation.


For more information, please check below references:

Fictional Worlds, Harvard University Press, 1986

The Spell of Language, University of Chicago Press, 2001

The Lives of the Novel,  A History, Princeton University Press, 2013