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Title: The significance of F.R. Leavis : the philosophical and educational context of the critic as anti-philosopher
Author: Cox, Carole
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1994
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My thesis is that the social and literary criticism of F.R. Leavis is best understood by being placed in a broadly Idealist philosophical tradition. This is because the social and ethical concerns characteristic of Idealism, if not its metaphysical elements, inform and underpin Leavis's work. Further, Leavis's avowed hostility to philosophy is explained as resulting from the influence of Moore and Russell, proponents of an abstract, analytical philosophy, upon the Cambridge of Leavis's early career. The central portion of the thesis examines some of Leavis's most maligned concepts, the organic community and the Great Tradition, in the light of criticisms made by such as Terry Eagleton and Raymond Williams. In the process these key Leavisian concepts are shown to have a greater cogency and ethical relevance than such critics allow. Here the Marx-Hegel nexus has a considerable role to play. Further, Leavis's ethical theory and its relationship to his view of literature as a moral force is shown to be best understood by drawing upon Aristotelian notions of flourishing and the good life. The contemporary dimension of Aristotelian philosophy, for example as exemplified in the work of Martha Nussbaum, is most relevant here. Leavis's view of aestheticism is considered and defended as part of the ethical account he derived, however implicitly, from the Idealist tradition. This, attacked by Moore and Russell, is a tradition ultimately rooted in Hegel, who was profoundly influenced by Aristotle. The ensuing chapter focuses on Leavis's view of education and sets out to defend his vision of the university as an organic community by taking account of context - Leavis's own contemporary milieu and the Idealist conceptions of education which underlie his own. A substantive conclusion follows in which there is an overall review of the concerns of preceding chapters and an account offered of the strengths and weaknesses of Leavis's position. The importance of his insights for literature teaching today are emphasized, in the light of the present Government's demands on English teachers and the antithetical sway of literary theory in contemporary critical discourse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available