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Scepticism and Literature
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Scepticism and Literature: An Essay on Pope, Hume, Sterne, and Johnson

Fred Parker

Abstract

‘The more we enquire, the less we can resolve’, wrote Johnson. Scepticism — a reasoned emphasis on the severe limitations of rationality — would seem to undermine the grounds of belief and action. But in some of the best 18th-century literature, a theoretically paralysing critique of the pretensions of reason, precept, and language went hand in hand with a vigorous intellectual, ethical, and linguistic confidence. The conjunction of philosophy with literature is crucial; to realize philosophical scepticism as literature was effectively to transform it; and to perceive this transformation is to ... More

Keywords: Hume, irony, Johnson, Locke, Montaigne, Pope, reason, religious belief, scepticism, Sterne

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2003 Print ISBN-13: 9780199253180
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253180.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Fred Parker, author
Fellow of Clare College in the University of Cambridge.
Author Webpage