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Open AccessArticle

‘A Pause for Po-Ethics’: Seamus Heaney and the Ethics of Aesthetics

Department of English Language and Literature, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick V94VN26, Ireland
Humanities 2019, 8(3), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8030138
Received: 9 April 2019 / Revised: 25 July 2019 / Accepted: 9 August 2019 / Published: 12 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
In this paper, I examine the connections between ethics and aesthetics in the writing of Seamus Heaney. Looking at Heaney’s neologism of ‘po-ethics’, I move through his poetry and especially his translation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, entitled The Cure at Troy, and focus on his Fourth Irish Human Rights Commission Annual Human Rights Lecture: Writer & Righter, wherein he traces a number of strong connections between human rights workers and creative writers. The essay is written through a theoretical matrix of the ethical theories of Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas and Simon Critchley. It looks at poems from Heaney himself, as well as work from Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, Czeslaw Miłosz, and Primo Levi. It focuses on poetic language as a discourse that can act as a counterweight and as a form of redress on behalf of the dignity of the individual human being against the pressures of mass culture and society. View Full-Text
Keywords: Seamus Heaney; Jacques Derrida; Emmanuel Levinas; Seamus Heaney’s Human Rights Lecture; po-ethics; ethics; aesthetics; the other; politics; redress; the individual; Shakespeare; Dante Alighieri; Simon Critchley; Czeslaw Miłosz; Primo Levi Seamus Heaney; Jacques Derrida; Emmanuel Levinas; Seamus Heaney’s Human Rights Lecture; po-ethics; ethics; aesthetics; the other; politics; redress; the individual; Shakespeare; Dante Alighieri; Simon Critchley; Czeslaw Miłosz; Primo Levi
MDPI and ACS Style

O’Brien, E. ‘A Pause for Po-Ethics’: Seamus Heaney and the Ethics of Aesthetics. Humanities 2019, 8, 138.

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