Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The development of spirituality and ethics in the work of Arthur Koestler, 1937-1959
Author: Ward, Michael J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
This thesis examines the development of Arthur Koestler's ethics, from the publication of The Gladiators in 1939 to The Sleepwalkers twenty years later, drawing upon the extensive material within Edinburgh's Koestler Archive. Whereas his work has often been divided into "political" and "scientific" phases, this thesis adopts a unified approach based on the single hierarchical system that arose from Koestler's analysis of human freedom. The ethical trilogy - The Gladiators, Darkness At Noon and Arrival and Departure - revealed Koestler's continuing abhorrence of the deterministic philosophy he had espoused within the Communist Party. After his abandonment of revolutionary ethics, Koestler proposed an ethical hierarchy to understand the allegorical figures of his eponymous essay, The Yogi and the Commissar. Arthur Koestler viewed society as constantly shifting between the polar opposites of Yogi and Commissar. Hierarchical ethics sought to transcend both poles. What emerged was a more optimistic, life-enhancing ethic than has hitherto been acknowledged. The work of Richard Hillary, George Orwell and Michael Polanyi enabled Koestler to refine his theory, the outcome of which was evident in the 1946 League and the anti-hanging campaign a decade later.
In his scientific writing, Koestler sought to understand the movement of individuals within the hierarchy. If scientific models could be utilised to explain moral and creative insight, he also became convinced, earlier than one might suppose, that the evolution of the human brain was the cause behind the failure of the species to ascend the ethical hierarchy. Biological factors alone do not account for the irrational ethic that survives Koestler's dystopic vision. The thesis presents evidence that this ethical system contains an essential spiritual element traceable to its author's mystical experience whilst imprisoned in Seville. Thus the principle underlying his work and aspirations for humankind, post-Hiroshima, is of a spiritual reality, the admission of which is necessary before a holistic working ethic can be embraced.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available