Iris Murdoch, Gender and Philosophy: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Iris Murdoch, Gender and Philosophy

1st Edition

By Sabina Lovibond


152 pages

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Paperback: 9780415429993
pub: 2011-03-28
Hardback: 9780415429986
pub: 2011-03-28
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pub: 2011-04-15
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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.


"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

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

About the Author

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

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