Questioning gratitude in an unequal world with reference to the work of Toni Morrison

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Abstract

The last few decades have seen an increasing amount of philosophical, psychological, and educational research and theory promoting the virtue and value of gratitude. Such works elaborate various reasons for gratitude and argue for it in various cases, including unintuitive situations such as cases of harm. This essay challenges broad contemporary promotions of gratitude by considering gratitude in difficult, realistically complex moral circumstances, exploring gratitude in contemporary American author Toni Morrison's novels, particularly The Bluest Eye (1970) and Sula (1973). It then explores the alternative form of moral education that reading such fiction can provide in relation to relevant philosophical and educational views, reflecting particularly on Martha Nussbaum and Morrison's own perspectives regarding the possibilities and limitations of learning from fiction. Copyright © 2016 Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-243
JournalConcentric
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Citation

Jackson, L. (2017). Questioning gratitude in an unequal world with reference to the work of Toni Morrison. Concentric, 43(1), 227-243. doi: 10.6240/concentric.lit.2017.43.1.11

Keywords

  • Gratitude
  • Moral education
  • Toni Morrison
  • American fiction
  • Social inequality

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