Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

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 ...

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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.

The acclaimed author of The Good Apprentice draws on the entire history of philosophy--and particularly on Plato and Kant--to formulate her own model of morality and demonstrate how thoroughly it is bound up with our daily lives. "An utterly absorbing book."--The Wall Street Journal.

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Editorial Reviews

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
From the Publisher
“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.” — Sunday Telegraph
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140172324
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 795,778
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Table of Contents

Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals 1. Conceptions of Unity. Art
2. Fact and Value
3. Schopenhauer
4. Art and Religion
5. Comic and Tragic
6. Consciousness and Thought - I
7. Derrida and Structuralism
8. Consciousness and Thought - II
9. Wittgenstein and the Inner Life
10. Notes on Will and Duty
11. Imagination
12. Morals and Politics
13. The Ontological Proof
14. Descartes and Kant
15. Martin Buber and God
16. Morality and Religion
17. Axioms, Duties, Eros
18. Void
19. Metaphysics: A Summary
Acknowledgments
Index

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