Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

by Iris Murdoch
     
 

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The decline of religion and ever increasing influence of science pose acute ethical issues for us all. Can we reject the literal truth of the Gospels yet still retain a Christian morality? Can we defend any 'moral values' against the constant encroachments of technology? Indeed, are we in danger of losing most of the qualities which make us truly human? Here

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Overview

The decline of religion and ever increasing influence of science pose acute ethical issues for us all. Can we reject the literal truth of the Gospels yet still retain a Christian morality? Can we defend any 'moral values' against the constant encroachments of technology? Indeed, are we in danger of losing most of the qualities which make us truly human? Here, drawing on a novelist's insight into art, literature and abnormal psychology, Iris Murdoch conducts an ongoing debate with major writers, thinkers and theologians—from Augustine to Wittgenstein, Shakespeare to Sartre, Plato to Derrida—to provide fresh and compelling answers to these crucial questions.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Iris Murdoch has written a book which concerns all of us as human beings … There are pages here that one wants to embrace her for, pages that say things of fundamental human importance in a way that they have never quite been said before"
—Noel Malcolm in the Sunday Telegraph

"This is philosophy dragged from the cloister, dusted down and made freshly relevant to suffering and egoism, death and religious ecstasy … and how we feel compasison for others"
—Terry Eagleton in the Guardian

"Gripping … it enchants with a clause that sets you daydreaming, captivates with a stream of thought, empowers with reminiscences"
—Ian Hacking in the London Review of Books

"Anyone who has even the slightest interest in philosophical matters will find Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals an utterly absorbing book"
—The Wall Street Journal

"Remarkable … Iris Murdoch has once again put us all in her debt."
—Alasdair MacIntyre in The New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The most conspicuous citizens of our epoch, according to Murdoch, are ``demonic individuals,'' egoistic go-getters in pursuit of money, fame, power and sex. The English novelist-philosopher sketches a new morality that would end the compartmentalization of public from private, work from pleasure and aesthetic from ethical concerns. Plato's view of the cosmos, as Murdoch interprets it, speaks to our age and can help us forge a religion without a personal God. Religion should be ``demythologized,'' she urges, adding that religious thinking ought to incorporate the transcendental experiences of mystics, artists and poets. This dense, demanding treatise engages the ideas of Plato, Kant, Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, Simone Weil, Nietzsche, Jung and structuralists. For diligent readers, it presents many riches as Murdoch ranges from Shakespearean tragedy to Martin Buber's philosophy and the nature of imagination. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This book is about the interplay of metaphysical images in art, religon, and especially morals. Morality is fundamental to human nature and is to be understood, according to distinguished novelist and philosophy professor Murdoch, not merely in piecemeal analysis but in the broad synthesis of metaphysical categories that set the order and pattern of our moral experience and our concepts thereof. Moral discernment comes from concentrated attention and appears ex nihilo , as by a kind of grace that leads us from contingent detail toward a perfection that we (allegedly) know intuitively. The work draws significant influence from Plato and Kant and also discusses aspects of Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein, and Buber in detail. Far-ranging and rich with well-chosen examples, this insightful book challenges us to think more clearly about its subject.-- Robert Hoffman, York Coll., CUNY

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140172324
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/28/1994
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
929,138
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Iris Murdoch has written a book which concerns all of us as human beings … There are pages here that one wants to embrace her for, pages that say things of fundamental human importance in a way that they have never quite been said before"
—Noel Malcolm in the Sunday Telegraph

"This is philosophy dragged from the cloister, dusted down and made freshly relevant to suffering and egoism, death and religious ecstasy … and how we feel compasison for others"
—Terry Eagleton in the Guardian

"Gripping … it enchants with a clause that sets you daydreaming, captivates with a stream of thought, empowers with reminiscences"
—Ian Hacking in the London Review of Books

"Anyone who has even the slightest interest in philosophical matters will find Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals an utterly absorbing book"
The Wall Street Journal

"Remarkable … Iris Murdoch has once again put us all in her debt."
—Alasdair MacIntyre in The New York Times Book Review

Read More

Meet the Author

IRIS MURDOCH was born in Dublin in 1919 of Anglo-Irish parents. She went to Badminton School, Bristol, and read classics at Somerville College, Oxford. In 1948 she returned to Oxford where she became a fellow of St Anne's college. Awarded the CBE in 1976, Iris Murdoch was made a DBE in the 1987 New Year's Honours List. She died in February 1999.

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