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Review of “The Heart of What Matters: The Role for Literature in Moral Philosophy”

1 June 2003


Philosophers have long suspected that in good literature, there is something of value to be found for doing philosophy. Plato, for example, delights in quoting the poets, despite his reservations (at least, in the Republic) about their social influence. As we have, more recently, sought to energize our teaching methods by supplementing lecture and discussion with novels and short stories, as well as film, music, and poetry, we may struggle with lingering suspicions about this expenditure of valuable class time or worries about whether we are making the best use of these supplemental resources. More than tokening assent to the value of literature for philosophy, what is overdue is a careful discussion of exactly what it is that literature brings to philosophical (in this case, moral) inquiry, along with, perhaps, a demonstration of how literature can be most effectively utilized. This is just what is provided by Anthony Cunningham in The Heart of What Matters.


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