This introductory chapter describes both the narrative and the argument of the book. It also glosses the subtitle, A History of the Moral Imagination, by setting out the method of this study. Rather than just focusing on inter-textual sources and influences, the book also examines those pre-rational assumptions, those shared ways of imagining human nature, and its moral potential, which literary and philosophical writers have in common. Poets and philosophers are understood not only as responding directly to one another's work, but also as reflecting, independently, on the shared assumptions that inform each other's writings, and thereby affecting, indirectly, the imaginative landscape in which they each operate.
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