Iris Murdoch on Pure Consciousness and Morality

Part of the Women in the History of Philosophy and Sciences book series (WHPS, volume 3)


This chapter provides a reading of Murdoch’s discussion of “pure consciousness” in Chap.  7 of Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (MGM, Murdoch 1992), which is one of the central places in her work where we can find sustained attention to this matter. Here she builds a picture of moral consciousness on a critique of nineteenth and twentieth century thought on consciousness and cognition. Through this reading we can see how Murdoch uses a variety of very heterogeneous accounts of consciousness (and the purification of consciousness), to establish one of the pillars of her moral philosophy: the image of moral work as the work of a singular consciousness upon a world which is real and tangible, and yet veiled by the limitations of the self. Attention to this also helps us to place Murdoch in the context of currently growing interest in philosophy as a self-transformative practice.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value, Department of PhilosophyUniversity of PardubicePardubiceCzech Republic

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