Thursday, October 24, 2013

Explicit and Implicit Philosophical Dialogue

In Mansfield Park, Austen represents a philosophy of education in which the most important good is the development of constancy, the most important end is the proper use of liberty (with a special emphasis on leisure, or free time and space). The primary means is the inner conversation and reflection regarding modern life with its competing conceptions of law and virtue and the incoherence created thereby....

Austen's philosophy emerges within a polyphony of voices that creates two kinds of philosophical dialogue. First, she creates an explicit dialogue in which the narrator represents different perspectives, including that of an authoritative, ironic, and/or corrective voice, over against other perspectives voiced by characters at different points in the narrative. She also creates an implicit philosophical dialogue by juxtaposing throughout the narrative contrasting representations of education.

Joyce Kerr Tarpley, Constancy and the Ethics of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, CUA Press (Washington, DC: 2010) p. 60.

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