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Title: Iris Murdoch and the art of imagination : imaginative philosophy as response to secularism
Author: Altorf, Marije
ISNI:       0000 0000 7987 6478
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2004
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This dissertation examines the work of the British philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch. A centre concern of this work is a question Murdoch poses more than once: ‘How can we make ourselves morally better?” This question is understood to initiate a form of philosophy which is critical of much of its tradition and its understanding of reasoning and argument. It also recognises its dependence on other disciplines. Murdoch develops this form of philosophy in reply to the cultural phenomenon of secularisation. In the absence of God, she attributes tasks to philosophy formerly performed by religion. Most importantly, she advocates a concept of transcendent reality in philosophical discourse. This reality is the Good. She finds that in order to do so, she has to reconsider philosophy’s central faculty of reason. Drawing on literary, philosophical and theological sources, Murdoch develops an understanding of reason and argument in which images, imagery and imagination are central. This study has three objectives. It first aims to present Murdoch as an imaginative philosopher by exploring the role of literature in her philosophical writing. In doing so, it challenges various presuppositions about philosophy, held by both philosophers and non-philosophers. Its second aims is to reconsider these assumptions in general terms. This part draws significantly on the work of Le Doeuff. In particular, it considers the presence of imagery in philosophy as well as philosophy’s assumed neutrality, which has arisen from its long affiliation with science. Thirdly, the thesis presents a reconsideration of the notion of imagination. This notion is often involved in the interdisciplinary debate between theology, philosophy and the arts. Murdoch’s notion of imagination challenges two important assumptions. By releasing imagination from the limited corner of art, it first challenges a strict distinction between literary and systematic writing. By introducing fantasy as the bad opposite of good imagination, it secondly critically assesses unconditional ‘praises of imagination’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General) ; PR English literature