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“Everything important is to do with passion”: Iris Murdoch’s concept of love and its Platonic origin.
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy.
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The object of this dissertation is to highlight the influence of Simone Weil and Plato on the philosopher Iris Murdoch. This is done through an investigation of her concept of love.

The aim is to investigate the concept as it is portrayed in Iris Murdoch’s work with the claim to be a central, but as such neglected, concept in philosophy.

The method of the investigation is mainly the one of exegesis. The study also puts forward the hermeneutical hypothesis that Murdoch’s philosophy is fruitfully looked upon as a spiritual exercise in the spirit of the ancient view of philosophy.

Iris Murdoch is in this study considered as a Platonic thinker in dialogue with other Platonic scholars. Murdoch’s concept of love is illuminated through correspondences and differences with the thinking of Simone Weil.

Central for the discussion are Plato’s concept of eros and Simone Weil’s concepts of attention and decreation. They are studied with the view of interpreting Murdoch’s own key concepts, love and unselfing.

Iris Murdoch described love as knowledge of the individual. Her view of love has been questioned with regard to its neglect of the individual as an object of love for his/her own sake. The critique is directed against a Platonic concept of love in general, of love seen as an ascent from the love of the particular individual to a vision of beauty or goodness. This critique is contested and the focus of attention is turned to the de-singularizing movement in love itself. This movement should not be understood as a mere step on the ladder to the good. The changed love is a change of one’s whole being, and for the lovers a joint creativity and liberation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Universitetsbiblioteket , 2009. , 185 p.
Keyword [en]
Murdoch, Weil, Plato, philosophy, art, love, eros, attention, decreation, unselfing, spiritual exercise
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-9532ISBN: 978-91-506-2051-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-9532DiVA: diva2:173123
Public defence
2009-02-21, Erik Gustaf Geijer-salen, Engelska Parken. Humanistiskt Centrum, Thunbergsvägen 3 P, Uppsala, 13:00
Available from: 2009-01-29 Created: 2009-01-29Bibliographically approved

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