The Lives of Iris Murdoch: an Apologia

Maria Antonaccio

in A Philosophy to Live By

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199855575
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933198 | DOI:
The Lives of Iris Murdoch: an Apologia

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This chapter concludes the volume with a discussion of the dilemma faced by the interpreter of Murdoch in the wake of the biographies that appeared shortly after her death: What role should a thinker or writer’s personal life play in the interpretation of her thought? The chapter focuses in particular on Nussbaum’s review of Conradi’s biography of Murdoch as an entry point into a wider set of substantive issues between Murdoch and Nussbaum. Challenging Nussbaum’s tendency to read aspects of Murdoch’s philosophy through the facts that have been revealed about her personal life, the chapter attempts to identify what I take to be certain distortions in Nussbaum’s reading of Murdoch. An apologia in the classic sense, the chapter also offers a defense of Murdoch insofar as it attempts to answer Nussbaum’s charge that Murdoch was an “egoistic” philosopher who failed to engage matters of social and political justice.

Keywords: martha nussbaum; peter conradi; literary biography; politics; moral psychology; social justice; john bayley

Chapter.  11437 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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