||In this dissertation it is argued that the concept of “literary intelligence” as used and
developed by Frank Raymond Leavis and other members of his Scrutiny circle is a
viable theoretical and educational notion and is long due a reappraisal. Their thesis
that reading quality texts intelligently assists our personal and moral development is
taken up and subjected to philosophical analysis.
It is also argued that a theory of intellectual virtue is best suited for such a
reappraisal. Literary intelligence is then found to be best interpreted as a form of
Aristotelian practical intelligence.
This interpretation allows us to theorize the moral salience of literary experiences.
This theorization is achieved through an in-depth analysis of relevant articles written
by Leavis, Harding and Bantock, assorted writings on the relationship between life
and art as envisaged by a number of thinkers, as well as a sustained analysis of the
theory of intellectual virtue.
In particular, recourse is taken to the theory of intellectual virtue as drafted by
American philosopher Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski.
Consequently, a number of educational implications of the above theories are
identified and commented upon. Also, it is shown that the above-mentioned
theoretical insights fit in well with the consistent findings of research into reading.
Finally it is argued that if the capacity to read well is best approached as a moral trait,
then reading education cannot be legitimately conceptualized as one ‘competence’
among others. On the contrary: reading education ought to form the moral kernel of
the curriculum. A sustained and socially sanctioned emphasis on the fostering of
reading and the creation of a culture of literacy will widely expand the social, cultural
and moral horizons of children and adults alike.