cover image Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

Iris Murdoch. Viking Books, $35 (528pp) ISBN 978-0-7139-9100-0

The most conspicuous citizens of our epoch, according to Murdoch, are ``demonic individuals,'' egoistic go-getters in pursuit of money, fame, power and sex. The English novelist-philosopher sketches a new morality that would end the compartmentalization of public from private, work from pleasure and aesthetic from ethical concerns. Plato's view of the cosmos, as Murdoch interprets it, speaks to our age and can help us forge a religion without a personal God. Religion should be ``demythologized,'' she urges, adding that religious thinking ought to incorporate the transcendental experiences of mystics, artists and poets. This dense, demanding treatise engages the ideas of Plato, Kant, Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, Simone Weil, Nietzsche, Jung and structuralists. For diligent readers, it presents many riches as Murdoch ranges from Shakespearean tragedy to Martin Buber's philosophy and the nature of imagination. (Jan.)