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Title: Playful Platonist : the development of ideas in the novels of Iris Murdoch
Author: Edwards, S. L.
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 1984
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This thesis examines Iris Murdoch's novels in the light of her philosophical thinking. It places her ethical thinking in the context of twentieth century moral philosophy and shows that her approach to the problems of the subject is out of key with the general run of contemporary philosophical thinking. It traces her debt to G. E. Moore, and the modification which she offers of the Intuitionist view of Ethics, as she develops the significance, for her, of learning to see the appropriateness of concepts to the facts of the case, and of the value of 'attention' in the development of moral behaviour. The thesis Outlines the way in which Iris Murdoch's early interest in the existentialist philosophy of Sartre becomes a firm point of philosophical objection. She finds that Sartre's disgust with the contingency of the world is based on a defensive solipsism, and argues that the world beyond the self should be a matter for delight and instruction in the insignificance of the individual. It further shows how her fundamental philosophical beliefs are indebted to Plato, in that she follows him in attributing to beauty a significance as a guide to the good, and also in equating love with knowledge of the external world. It points out that Iris Murdoch's comments on the novel have often been used to attack her own fictional practice, and suggests that this practice is mistaken. It points out the significance of the essay 'Existentialists and Mystics', which has been neglected by critics, both in terms of illuminating her interests and purposes and also in providing appropriate terminology with which to discuss her novels. The thesis then examines the individual novels and traces the evolution of Iris Murdoch's ideas in them from an interest in, but philosophical hostility to, existentialism, towards the 'mystical' novel which celebrates reality beyond the self, and sees freedom as obedience to that external reality. It suggests that Iris Murdoch consistently attempts to develop secular concepts which will take the place of the religious concepts which she feels are no longer appropriate.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Literature