George Eliot, Kant, and Free Will

K. M. Newton

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    Abstract

    If George Eliot is a determinist, how can she justify judging her characters on moral grounds? The most influential discussion of her determinism concludes that she believed one overcomes its depressing effects by understanding it. But this view is contradicted by her assertion that free will is a "practical" necessity, even a necessary fiction. Kantian moral theory is strongly present in her work as is shown by her use of Kantian terms, but it is grounded nonmetaphysically. Rationality and the will are essential if one is to feel free to choose. Her concept of whole self in relation to moral choice has links with Bergsonian theory.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)441-456
    Number of pages16
    JournalPhilosophy and Literature
    Volume36
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

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