Iris Murdoch, Gender and Philosophy  book cover
1st Edition

Iris Murdoch, Gender and Philosophy

ISBN 9780415429993
Published April 27, 2011 by Routledge
160 Pages

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Book Description

Iris Murdoch was one of the best-known philosophers and novelists of the post-war period. In this book, Sabina Lovibond explores the tangled issue of Murdoch's stance towards gender and feminism, drawing upon the evidence of her fiction, philosophy, and other public statements.

As well as analysing Murdoch's own attitudes, Iris Murdoch, Gender and Philosophy is also a critical enquiry into the way we picture intellectual, and especially philosophical, activity. Appealing to the idea of a 'social imaginary' within which Murdoch's work is located, Lovibond examines the sense of incongruity or dissonance that may still affect our image of a woman philosopher, even where egalitarian views officially hold sway.

The first thorough exploration of Murdoch and gender, Iris Murdoch, Gender and Philosophy is a fresh contribution to debates in feminist philosophy and gender studies, and essential reading for anyone interested in Murdoch's literary and philosophical writing.

Table of Contents

Introduction  Part 1: A Woman Philosopher: Why Not?  1. The Prophet  2. Introducing Iris Murdoch  3. Murdoch and Feminism: First Thoughts  4. Imagining the Philosopher  5. Murdoch the Platonist  6. Sages and Charlatans  7. Socially Defective 'Knowledge'  8. Women as Interlopers  9. Homage to the Male  10. Female Epistemic Dishonour  11. Discipline and Autonomy in Murdoch's Ethics  12. The Story of M and D  Part 2: The Simone Weil Factor  13. Attention and Obedience  14. Unselfing  15. Murdoch, Weil and Liberalism  16. 'The Whole Cannot be Saved'  17. Charity or Militancy?  18. The Thinker as Individual  19. Not Required: The Collective Interrogation of Consciousness  20. The Unexamined Life  21. The Problem of Authority  Part 3: Men, Women and Learning: Case Studies in the Fiction of Iris Murdoch  22. Under the Net  23. A Severed Head  24. A Fairly Honourable Defeat  25. An Accidental Man  26. Nuns and Soldiers  27. The Philosopher's Pupil  28. The Book and the Brotherhood  29. The Message to the Planet   Part 4:'What is she Afraid of?'  30. Decreation: A Woman's Place  31. A Shock to the System  32. Feminine Masochism  33. Paths to the Divine  34. Asceticism and Gender  35. The Erosion of Authority  36. Religion through Thick and Thin?  37. The Negative Moment  38. Vertical and Horizontal  39. Some Emotional Baggage  40. Afterthoughts.  Notes.  Bibliography.  Index

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Sabina Lovibond is Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Worcester College, Oxford. Her work has been primarily in ethics, ancient philosophy and feminist theory.


"In this admirable study, Sabina Lovibond examines some of the most interesting and yet neglected aspects of Iris Murdoch’s philosophy, such as gender and sexual equality. Drawing on Murdoch’s novels and philosophical essays, this is a remarkably lively and enjoyable reading." - Carla Bagnoli, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA

"In the context of contemporary philosophy, where Murdoch's work is either neglected or treated with reverence, this critical interest is more than welcome. Lovibond's book is also sharp, well-written and exposes a serious, urgent real-life interest in its theoretical subject matter." – Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"In a detailed analysis of Iris Murdoch's novels, viewed in relation to her moral philosophy, Lovibond opens a space of reflection on the question of what philosophy can be, and what place women (still underrepresented) might have in the discipline and, more generally, as public intellectuals. ... Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above." - CHOICE