Form and Contingency

Maria Antonaccio

in A Philosophy to Live By

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199855575
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933198 | DOI:
Form and Contingency

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This chapter draws certain analogies and conceptual linkages between the two-way movement in philosophy central to Murdoch’s understanding of metaphysics and a similar pattern in her theory of the novel: the tension between form and contingency. I explore the connection Murdoch draws between the aesthetic dilemma of the novelist, who tries to shape the narrative into an orderly form while still allowing for the freedom of the characters, and the philosophical dilemma of the metaphysician, who tries to create a unified philosophical whole that can also capture the particularity and contingency of human existence. The chapter reveals the extent to which Murdoch’s enduring interest in the dilemmas involved in the creation of literary and philosophical form are keyed to her desire to preserve the value of the individual—a concern that cuts across all domains of her thought, from the aesthetic and the moral to the political.

Keywords: metaphysics; art; tragedy contingency; form; consolation; individual; character; the novel

Chapter.  10233 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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