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August 23 - Modernism (Murdoch)

Page history last edited by David Walter 11 years, 8 months ago

Iris Murdoch


Murdoch, Existentialists and Mystics, "The Sovereignty of Good Over Other Concepts" (pp. 363 - 385): MURDOCH(1).pdf


Study questions and some helpful advice.


Don't worry about any authors or terms you do not recognize!  Just note the context and move forward with your reading.


In the beginning of the essay, Murdoch provides a history of the idea of the self from the enlightenment through romanticism to the modern state of philosophy in the latter half of the twentieth century.  She diagnoses a serious problem in the modern understanding of the self and then turns back to Plato for guidance.  (She even throws in a few terms in Greek!  Don't worry--read for the big questions instead of little details here.)  Plato provides an alternative image of the self in the myth of the Cave.  Why is this story so important for Murdoch?  What is she trying to tell you with this myth?


Read for the big, bold questions Murdoch asks and then try to piece together her responses.  What are we like?  How can we improve?  Can you identify the problem she sees in the modern sense of freedom and value?  What is Murdoch's alternative sense of freedom?  What role do nature and art play in our transformation?  What does Murdoch mean by "The Sovereignty of the Good Over Other Concepts"?



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