The Imaginative Attention of Cora Diamond




Surges, Jacob

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In 1997, J. M. Coetzee delivered two lectures as part of The Tanner Lectures. Princeton subsequently published Coetzee’s work along with reflections written by commentators from different academic disciplines. Coetzee’s lectures are metafictional and address animal treatment. Cora Diamond wrote an article in 2003 in which she demonstrated a starkly different way of approaching Coetzee’s lectures. Diamond’s approach to Coetzee is a function of her moral philosophy. In her work, Diamond largely draws upon Wittgenstein and Murdoch to form a moral philosophy that operates differently than contemporary analytic moral philosophy. Contemporary philosophy tends to rely on Kantian conceptions of reason and moral worth. In addition, traditional forms of argumentation and debate often fully define the practice of moral philosophy. These forms and assumptions depend on rights language and arguments for capacities. Diamond looks to broaden our view of moral philosophy to encompass literary approaches that encourage an imaginative attention to reality. Where traditional philosophy looks to generalize and apply principles, Diamond depends on sensitivities to the particulars and details of reality in order to construct moral concepts that shape our moral outlook. Thus, I demonstrate that Diamond’s proper reading of Coetzee depends on her alternative and legitimate moral philosophy.