Trouble with Strangers: A Study of Ethics / Edition 1

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In this major new book, Terry Eagleton, one of the world’s greatest cultural theorists, writes with wit, eloquence and clarity on the question of ethics. Providing rare insights into tragedy, politics, literature, morality and religion, Eagleton examines key ethical theories through the framework of Jacques Lacan’s categories of the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real, measuring them against the ‘richer’ ethical resources of socialism and the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

  • a major new book from Terry Eagleton, one of the world’s greatest cultural theorists
  • investigates ethical theories from Aristotle to Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek
  • engages with the whole modern European tradition of thought about ethics
  • brings together personal and political ethics and makes a passionate case for political love
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

This difficult, highly abstract, yet extremely closely reasoned study touches on so many topics and ideas that the reader may come away from it wondering whether Eagleton (English literature, Univ. of Manchester; The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction) has made a convincing argument for his main thesis, which is that "most ethical theories can be assigned to one of Jacques Lacan's three psychoanalytical categories of the imaginary, the symbolic and the Real, or in some combination of the three." Eagleton starts by adumbrating the aforementioned aspect of Lacan's thought, then goes on to examine the ethical theories found in Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Levinas, Derrida, and Badiou, among others. He finds that the thought in each of these theories pales in comparison with "the richer ethics of socialism and the Judeo-Christian tradition," which he then considers in detail. Because of the fecundity of the ideas here, this study is recommended for advanced academic ethics and Christianity collections.
—Leon H. Brody

From the Publisher
"In his inimitable way, Eagleton is helping to develop this intriguing scene, and further framings of his thought are keenly anticipated.." (New Left Review, July - August, 2010)

“Readers who know the writers being discussed will enjoy the book.” (Choice, April 2009)

"Eagleton has laboured diligently in tracing the wellsprings of ethics across literature, philosophy, morality and religion. Trouble With Strangers is an engrossing book, peppered with remarkable insights into theory, philosophy and psychoanalysis." (Australian Book Review, March 2009)

"Eagleton is absolutely correct to ask why do we have ‘trouble with strangers?’ It is to ask, after all, how we might be able to recreate solidarity. And it is in pursuit of this answer that he examines the attempts of moral philosophers to give altruism a firm footing." (Culture Wars, March 2009)

“This difficult, highly abstract, yet extremely closely reasoned study touches on so many topics and ideas that the reader may come away from it wondering whether Eagleton has made a convincing argument for his main thesis which is that most ethical theories can be assigned to one of Jacques Lacans three psychoanalytical categories of the imaginary the symbolic and the Real or in some combination of the three.” (Library Journal, December 2008)

"Confronted now with Eagleton's eighth book in 11 years … One finds his trademark qualities in abundance: impishness, prodigious breadth of reading, a poacher's disregard of boundaries and of 'no trespassing' notices, sublime self-confidence, and an opening up of the heart to old allegiances as sudden as a blow to the chest." (Times Higher Education Supplement, December 2008)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405185721
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/20/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Eagleton is John Edward Taylor Professor of English Literature at the University of Manchester. His recent publications include How to Read a Poem (2006), The English Novel (2004), Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic (2003), The Idea of Culture (2000), Scholars and Rebels in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (1999), and The Illusions of Postmodernism (1996), all published by Wiley-Blackwell.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I The Insistence of the Imaginary 1

Introduction The Mirror Stage 1

1 Sentiment and Sensibility 12

2 Francis Hutcheson and David Hume 29

3 Edmund Burke and Adam Smith 62

Pt. II The Sovereignty of the Symbolic 83

Introduction The Symbolic Order 83

4 Spinoza and the Death of Desire 91

5 Kant and the Moral Law 101

6 Law and Desire in Measure for Measure 130

Pt. III The Reign of the Real 139

Introduction Pure Desire 139

7 Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche 154

8 Fictions of the Real 180

9 Levinas, Derrida and Badiou 223

10 The Banality of Goodness 273

Conclusion 317

Index 327

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