Joseph Brodsky and the Aesthetic Origins of Ethics

The European Legacy 28 (8):837-851 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1987, the Russian-born American poet Joseph Brodsky argued that aesthetics is the mother of ethics. However, there is an ambiguity in his use of the term aesthetics. In the first part of this article, I distinguish between Brodsky’s narrow use of aesthetics, which refers to problems of beauty, and the broader sense, which refers to the cognitive function of sensibility and feeling. I then suggest that good sense can be made of the claim about the origins of ethics only if we employ the broader sense of aesthetics. The second part draws on examples from Brodsky and the American poet Jorie Graham to illustrate the ways in which the feelings generated by human sensuous receptivity transform the world from a meaningless physical system into meaningful sets of life-valuable relationships. The third part sharpens this conclusion by considering the conditions under which the world can appear to be meaningless. In the final section I link Brodsky’s poetic responsiveness to the world to John McMurtry’s philosophical analysis of “the felt side of being.” Poetic evocation and philosophical argument are two approaches to the same problem which, when brought together, provide a comprehensive explanation of why aesthetics is the mother of ethics.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,386

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Intellectual substance of lyrics by Joseph Brodsky.I. I. Plekhanova - 2015 - Liberal Arts in Russiaроссийский Гуманитарный Журналrossijskij Gumanitarnyj Žurnalrossijskij Gumanitaryj Zhurnalrossiiskii Gumanitarnyi Zhurnal 4 (3):215.
Time in the Lyric Poetry of Joseph Brodsky.Aaron Bradley Beaver - 2003 - Dissertation, The University of Chicago
Editorial Note: “Remembering Stephanie” by Charlee Brodsky.Leigh E. Rich - 2015 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 12 (1):31-31.
Lectures on psychological and political ethics: 1898.Garry Brodsky - 1980 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 18 (1):106-108.
John J. McDermott, "The Philosophy of John Dewey". [REVIEW]Garry Brodsky - 1975 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 11 (3):212.

Analytics

Added to PP
2023-09-08

Downloads
12 (#1,062,297)

6 months
9 (#295,075)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jeff Noonan
University of Windsor

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Critique of Practical Reason.T. D. Weldon, Immanuel Kant & Lewis White Beck - 1949 - Philosophical Review 58 (6):625.
There Are No Purely Aesthetic Obligations.John Dyck - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 102 (4):592-612.
Materialist ethics and life-value.Jeff Noonan - 2012 - Montreal: McGill Queens university press.

Add more references