Cora Diamond and the Ethical Imagination

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In much of her writing, Cora Diamond stresses the role of the imagination in awakening the sense of our humanity. She subtly unthreads the operations of the ethical imagination in literature, but deplores its absence in philosophy. Borrowing the notion of 'deflection' from Cavell, Diamond sees ethical understanding 'present only in a diminished and distorted way in philosophical argumentation' (2008, 57). She does, however, herself make a philosophical, if idiosyncratic, use of the imagination in her appeal to it for a 'transitional' understanding of nonsensical Tractarian remarks. I begin by delineating and endorsing Diamond's humanistic view of the creative imagination; I then argue against her opportunistic use of the imagination in her interpretation of the Tractatus and her condemnation of philosophical ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-240
JournalBritish Journal of Aesthetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2012


  • ethics
  • Cora Diamond
  • philosophy of literature


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