978-0-312-14602-3 / 9780312146023

Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus To Pornography


Publisher:St. Martin's Press



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About the book:

An intellectual tour-de-force, Forbidden Knowledge is a study of the ethics of literary and scientific inquiry. Shattuck first approaches his subject indirectly, conducting an engaging tour of Western literature: Adam and Eve, Prometheus, Milton's Paradise Lost, Goethe's Faust, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. He then uses these tales to address the moral questions raised by mankind's tendency to search for dangerous knowledge. He contrasts J. Robert Oppenheimer's acceptance of guilt for the atomic bombings with Edward Teller's dismissal of the same. In his own field of literary criticism he argues against the neutral analysis of immoral works as "pure literature," illustrating his point with a critique of the Marquis de Sade. Forbidden Knowledge is a stimulating and forceful intellectual argument against moral relativism, as well as a practical approach to difficult ethical problems, from genetic engineering to pornography.

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