The ascendance of psychology in the twentieth century and beyond has had consequential effects on our frameworks for understanding the moral life. In this talk I will explore the importance of literary and philosophical approaches to moral reflection in the context of influential psychological paradigms reaching from psychoanalysis to cognitive science. In drawing out literary forms of moral reflection, I will pay particular attention to the under-acknowledged case of rumination (as opposed to deliberation or judgment). Authors to be discussed include Hannah Arendt, William James, Iris Murdoch, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf.
Amanda Anderson is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English and Director of the Cogut Institute for the Humanities at Brown University. A specialist in British and American literature as well as disciplinary formations and modes of academic argument, her books include Psyche and Ethos: Moral Life after Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2018), Bleak Liberalism (University of Chicago Press, 2016), The Way We Argue Now: A Study in the Cultures of Theory (Princeton University Press, 2006), The Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Detachment (Princeton University Press, 2001) and Disciplinarity at the Fin de Siècle (ed., with Joseph Valente, Princeton, 2002). She delivered the Clarendon Lectures in English Literature at Oxford University in 2015; her other awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin.