“Plato suggests that literature is not an end in itself; it has a broader social responsibility which imposes a duty on poets to make sure that their works are not immoral or untrue. Poetry and art in general have fundamental responsibilities to the society that produces them. If poets are unwilling to tether their imitations of life to the demands of that society, Plato argues, then they should be kicked out of the republic.” (Danson & Gupta, 2005, p. 4) This idea by Plato is the concept behind instrumentalism.
If Plato was alive today, he would condone ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ all the way. Just like any big corporation should be held responsible for what its actions are outside of producing a certain product or service, Plato believed that poet was responsible for what he was producing. In reality, Corporate Social Responsibility, if analyzed in the long run, can be the best thing for a company. If a company carries out its duties other than delivering a great product to society, it gains the people’s trust, maintains goodwill, and cashes in on the steady profits in the long term. In the same light, according to Plato, a poet must create poetry responsibly and cater to the needs and demands of his society. In doing this, the poet must create works that might eventually become simply a thing that society demands. By doing this, literature loses its essence and becomes simply what the public wants but to create continuously what the public wants and have it accepted by them is an art of its own. To observe the cycle like this, Plato’s simple theory of producing work responsibly becomes producing work to cater to a specific demand, which then becomes a sort of artistic economics, and simply a work of beauty like Oscar Wilde’s. For this reason, instrumentalism or aestheticism alone cannot be the judge of good literature.
Basically, both the Nobel and Booker were found to expand British literature, the former by means of transforming the judging criteria from time to time and the later by 21st century marketing tactics. “A neo-Kantian might advise the Nobel or Booker judges as follows: derive your standards for judging literary works themselves rather than by following extant rules of literary judgment; look to exemplary works of genius for guidance in judging the work before you; treat such works as models, and never reduce them to a list of determinate rules, formulae or precepts.” (Danson & Gupta, 2005, p.203) Keeping in mind the advice given by the neo-Kantian the new prize for the best novel of the twentieth century will weigh the literatures strength according to its aesthetics, instruments, and modernist views.
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