Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (Vintage Classics)
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Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (Vintage Classics)

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  119 ratings  ·  12 reviews
"Iris Murdoch has written a book which concerns all of us as human beings. There are pages here that one wants to embrace her for, pages that say things of fundamental human importance in a way that they have never quite been said before." --Sunday Telegraph
The decline of religion and ever increasing influence of science pose acute ethical issues for us all. Can we reject...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 7th 2003 by Vintage (first published 1992)
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Oct 06, 2010 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Philosophy teachers and students
Recommended to David by: Professor N.J.H. Dent

Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals presents the story of Philosophy as the story of a kind of Art ('Art launches philosophy'), as an attempt to imagine (key Murdoch word) the world in which we find ourselves. A similarly ambitious narrative is Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy, but whereas Russell is often concerned to find the logical error in a philosophical vision, Murdoch asks whether it is true to life. Russell's guiding question allows for complications of historical detail bu...more
Nov 16, 2012 Szplug marked it as intermittently-reading
And I need a guide, 'cause I'm a morally turpitudinous bastard—just today, I ignored the cries to hold the elevator from some poor schlep scooting along with an armload of groceries. Wee-hah! Take the stairs or wait your turn, motherfucker!*

This little plumper is actually quite good—clear and graceful writing backed up by an impressively learned grasp of an immensely complex subject. It'll prolly take me some time to saunter through, but I firmly believe it will prove to be worth it. Several rev...more
Basically Murdoch's reading notes from her entire life... 500 pages of aphorisms. It took me something like 6 months and 40+ pages of notes to read it. A cogent organized argument throughout? No. Brilliant? Yes. And by the end the reader cannot have any doubt as to what she means to have said. I would rate this as one of the best things on ethics I have ever read and one of the best books I have ever read, but it's difficult to recommend because there's no getting away from the fact that it is a...more
I couldn't recommend this book to anyone. It has become quickly dated in the three decades since first presented as lectures in 1982, and would perhaps offend people younger than myself. With that said, it remains a text that brought back to me why I read philosophy, which I somewhat needed when I took it down from my bookshelf. There's no doubt of the broad grasp of her readings and she particularly reawakened in me the lure of Schopenhauer,who is complimented for being one of the few philosoph...more
This book is hands down the second most important work in metaphysics in the last 200 years. The 1st most important work is Whitehead's "Process and Reality;" taken together, the "200" year frame is quite possibly overly conservative.

Murdoch does not present us with a metaphysical "theory." Rather, she presents a comprehensive argument about the nature and purpose of metaphysical *inquiry*. It is impossible to overstate the significance of such a shift in emphasis.

Murdoch carefully leads the rea...more
Sue Bird
Didn`t understand a word.
David Kleppe
An awesome and spectacular erudition of a first-rate thinker and novelist, Iris Murdoch writes with great wisdom and understanding about philosophy, ethics, literature, and religion in a conversational tone that has more clarity than a formal academic treatise. I go back time after time to re-read and gauge the depth of her insight into the kind of classical knowledge that integrates being and thinking with insights and arguments that really matter and are important to us. Though claiming not to...more
Christopher Sutch
Where to begin with the many, many things that are wrong with this book... First, Murdoch willfully misreads Derrida as a "structuralist," which he is not (though his thinking is, in part, descended from structuralism), and then equating structuralism with marxism (marxism is not structuralist int he same way that Derrida is (by Murdoch's definition)). Second, her eurocentric--actually ANGLO-centric--assumptions about culture. All peoples do not see the world as the English do (thank God) and, t...more
Bob Breckwoldt
A sprawling compendium of ideas, notes and essays that reflect her thoughts and reading. A guide to morals? No. A fascinating commentary on the people, books and ideas that affected her, whilst still holding on to the idea of the power of a transcendent good.
Arguably Iris' best work. Inarguably pleasant; it should be read straight through, though. if metaphysics is a guide to anything in this book its just pleasure.
Not light reading - but would like to re-read this now that I am a grown-up!
Beverley Dunn
May 28, 2013 Beverley Dunn marked it as to-read
Added to read - before her novels.
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Dame Jean Iris Murdoch

Irish-born British writer, university lecturer and prolific and highly professional novelist, Iris Murdoch dealt with everyday ethical or moral issues, sometimes in the light of myths. As a writer, she was a perfectionist who did not allow editors to change her text. Murdoch produced 26 novels in 40 years, the last written while she was suffering from Alzheimer disease.

"She w...more
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