Machado de Assis, the Brazilian Pyrrhonian

Posted in Biography, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy on 2011-12-14 02:05Z by Steven

Machado de Assis, the Brazilian Pyrrhonian

Purdue University Press
248 pages
6 x 9
Hardback ISBN 10: 1557530513; ISBN 13: 9781557530516
eBook ISBN 10: 1612490948; ISBN 13: 9781612490946

José Raimundo Maia Neto, Professor of the Philosophy
Federal University of Minas Gerais

Machado de Assis, the Brazilian Pyrrhonian examines the towering figure of nineteenth century Latin American letters from a fresh perspective. Machado is a writer of philosophical fiction. His subtle criticism of cherished institutions is evident to all readers, and his skepticism (sometimes confused with pessimism) has often been mentioned by critics. Not until Maia Neto’s study, however, has Machado’s philosophical position been seriously examined by a philosopher.

Maia Neto traces Machado’s particular brand of skepticism to that of the ancient philosopher, Pyrrho of Elis, and reveals the sources through which he inherited that line of thought. The author then shows how Machado’s own philosophic development (as seen primarily through his fiction) follows the stages proposed by Pyrrho for the development of a skeptical world-view: flight from hypocritical society in favor of domestic quietude, investigation of manipulative social interactions, suspension of judgment, and mental tranquility.

Impressive for both the breadth and the depth of its reading, the study pays particular attention to the Brazilian master’s short stories and novels, pointing out how characters during different phases of the author’s career tend to portray the stages in the development of a skeptical philosophy.

For those who study literature, Maia Neto’s book will provide a foundation for understanding the thought of one of the most important writers of the Americas. For philosophers, the book will reveal a fascinating modern world-view, thoroughly rooted in the traditions of ancient skepticism.

Tags: , , , ,