Iris Murdoch’s Contemporary Retrieval of Plato. The Influence of an Ancient Philosopher on a Modern Novelist

Author: Zuba, Sonja
Year:2010
Pages:348
ISBN:0-7734-3824-6
978-0-7734-3824-8
Price:219.95
This book analyzes the work of Iris Murdoch as a thinker concerned with conceptions of human good in contemporary Western cultures. Until now, Murdoch’s contributions to literature and the relationship between her philosophical work and her novels have received little comprehensive examination.

Reviews

“Dr. Zuba disentangles and handles well the many different threads of Murdoch’s thought, while not losing sight of their interwovenness in the larger tapestry of the whole. This book will contribute importantly to Murdoch studies, offering us an engaging image of both the intensity and range of Murdoch’s art and thought. The work is to be warmly applauded in its own terms, as well as to be celebrated in terms of the realization of the worthy talents of a young scholar.” – Prof. William Desmond, Catholic University of Leuven

“Positive appraisal of Iris Murdoch is not lacking. While her novelistic oeuvre has encountered criticism, very few commentators are willing to dismiss a body of work that includes twenty six novels. In addition, Murdoch’s work in philosophy has engaged the attention of such luminaries as Charles Taylor and Alasdair McIntyre. There has been significantly less attention paid to the relation between Murdoch’s philosophical work and her novels, and neither can one say that Murdoch’s philosophical work has received the kind of comprehensive treatment that it deserves. These two lacunae are in significant part redressed in this fine work. Sonja Zuba has written the most comprehensive account of Murdoch’s philosophical commitments that I know, while at the same time attending to over half of Murdoch’s novels.” – Cyril O’Regan, University of Notre Dame

“. . . original and very thorough research into the writings of Iris Murdoch . . .” – Dr. Patrick Quinn, All Hallows College, Dublin

Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Foreword Professor William Desmond
Acknowledgements
Introduction
Chapter 1: Art and philosophy: literary theory
Section I: The quarrel of poetry and philosophy
Section II: The Republics’s challenge to poetry’s techne status
Section III: Plato’s defence of philosophy as the techne par exellence
Section IV: A techne of poetry? The status of revised literary practice
Section V: Poetry’s function in the ideal polis
Section VI: Eros as a solution to Plato’s problems?
Section VII: Murdoch’s literary theory
Section VIII: Art and the aesthetic in Murdoch’s moral vision
Section IX: The role of art in morality
Section X: The novel as part of Murdoch’s philosophy
Section XI: Mimetic Texts
Section XII: Acastos
Section XIII: The Bell
Chapter 2: Philosophy and ethics
Section I: The Existentialist Self:Consciousness, Freedom, and the individual
Section II: Rejecting the self
Section III: The critique of consciousness in existentialism
Section IV: A possible solution to the paradox of freedom and value
Section V: Murdoch and Sartre on the individual and Marxism
Section VI: Linguistic Behaviourism
Section VII: The moral consequence of Linguistic Behaviourism
Section VIII: Consciousness
Section IX: Consciousness as the mode of moral being
Section X: Confronting the fact/value divide
Section XI: The rejection of structuralism
Section XII: Consciousness in relation to an ontology of value
Section XIII: Consciousness, freedom, and the individual
Section XIV: Consciousness and the relations with others
Chapter 3: Philosophy and metaphysics
Section I: Introduction to the idea of the good
Section II: Transcendent and immanent aspect of the good
Section III: The argument from perfection
Section IV: The ontological argument
Section V: The ontological status of the good
Section VI: Is the Platonic form of the good “empty”?
Section VII: The problem of ethics in our moral situation
Section VIII: Murdoch on good without God
Section IX: On the loss of theism
Chapter 4: Philosophy and religion
Section I: The Religious crisis and Murdoch’s vision of religion
Section II: The Platonic influence in Murdoch’s moral-religious thought
Section III: The role of imagination and fantasy
Section IV: Religion and the moral life: what is wrong with the way we are now?
Section V: Spirituality in Murdoch’s thought
Section VI: A mystical Christ
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index