This month we’ll look at Iris Murdoch.

We’ll be reading

  • ‘The Sublime and the Good’ (Chicago Review, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Autumn, 1959)

And also re-reading chapter 2 of The Sovereignty of Good: ‘On “God” and “Good”‘.

We’ll be meeting to discuss them on 27th October 2016.

Join in the conversation by tweeting to @parenthesis_in. Or by leaving a comment below.

One thought on “4. Iris Murdoch

  1. A further passage to discuss perhaps: from ‘The Sublime and The Good Revisted’ (Yale Review 1959), accessible here: https://msu.edu/course/eng/487/johnsen/murdoch.htm

    “Virtue is not essentially or immediately concerned with choosing between actions or rules or reasons, nor with stripping the personality for a leap. It is concerned with really apprehending that other people exist. This too is what freedom really is; and it is impossible not to feel the creation of a work of art as a struggle for freedom. Freedom is not choosing; that is merely the move that we make when all is already lost. Freedom is knowing and understanding and respecting things quite other than ourselves. Virtue is in this sense to be construed as knowledge, and connects us so with reality. The Kantians were wrong to exclude knowledge from virtue, and the Hegelians were wrong to make virtue into a self-knowledge which excluded others. The knowledge and imagination which is virtue is precisely the kind which the novelist needs to let his characters be, to respect their freedom, and to study them themselves in that most significant area of their activity, where they are trying to apprehend the reality of others. The artist is indeed the analogon of the good man, and in a special sense he is the good man: the lover who, nothing himself, lets other things be through him. And that also, I am sure, is what is meant by “negative capability.””

    Trying to work out what *really* apprehending that other people exist involves – if this is what freedom consists in and freedom is not choosing, then surely freedom is not merely knowing, understanding and respecting, so long as these are understood as contemplative….

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