Jeffers’ axe: The instability of nonviolence
This article begins by situating Jessica Benjamin’s idea of the “moral third” in relation to some discourses of ethical nonviolence. It then offers a discussion of Robinson Jeffers’ narrative poem “The Inhumanist” that shows the insightfulness of Benjamin’s concept and demonstrates the worth of poetry in fostering the forms of moral involvement in nonviolence that follow from the experience of the moral third. Finally, it puts Jeffers’ and Benjamin’s ideas about nonviolence into conversation with Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, highlighting the limitations with understanding reason and altruism as the primary forces against state violence.
Keywordspsychoanalysis nonviolence modernism poetry Robinson Jeffers
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