Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1715344
 


 



Sympathy and Scapegoating in J. M. Coetzee


Andy Lamey


University of California, San Diego

June 1, 2010

J. M. COETZEE AND ETHICS: PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVES ON LITERATURE, Leist, A., Singer, P., eds., New York: Columbia University Press, 2010

Abstract:     
J.M. Coetzee’s book, 'Elizabeth Costello' is one of the stranger works to appear in recent years. Yet if we focus our attention on the book’s two chapters dealing with animals, two preoccupations emerge. The first sees Coetzee use animals to evoke a particular conception of ethics, one similar to that of the philosopher Mary Midgley. Coetzee’s second theme connects animals to the phenomena of scapegoating, as it has been characterized by the philosophical anthropologist René Girard. While both themes involve human interactions with animals, each transcends application to that particular issue and raises deeper questions, respectively concerning the foundations of morality and the therapeutic allure of political violence. Making explicit these two preoccupations enhances our understanding of Coetzee’s fiction, particularly Disgrace. However, when Coetzee’s two philosophical strands are analyzed in their own terms, the ethics of sympathy is shown to be a more coherent notion than the understanding of politics he takes over from Girard.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 13

Keywords: Coetzee, J.M., animals, ethics, Midgley, M., Girard, R.

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Date posted: November 29, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Lamey, Andy, Sympathy and Scapegoating in J. M. Coetzee (June 1, 2010). J. M. COETZEE AND ETHICS: PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVES ON LITERATURE, Leist, A., Singer, P., eds., New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1715344

Contact Information

Andy Lamey (Contact Author)
University of California, San Diego ( email )
Department of Philosophy
9500 Gilman Drive 0119
La Jolla, CA 92093-0119
United States
(858) 534-9111 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://andylamey.com
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