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Why Iris Murdoch Matters
Bloomsbury Academic

Why Iris Murdoch Matters

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Why Iris Murdoch Matters
Author(s): Gary Browning

In Why Iris Murdoch Matters Gary Browning draws on as yet unpublished archival material to present an unrivalled overview of Murdoch's work and thought. Browning argues for Murdoch's position amongst the key theorists of modern life, and discusses in detail her engagement with the notion of late modernity. Her multiple perspectives on art, philosophy, religion, politics and the self all relate to how she understands the nature of late modernity.

Browning lucidly illustrates that through both her thought and fiction we can grasp the significance of issues that remain of paramount importance today: the possibilities of a moral life without foundations, the meaning of philosophy in a post-metaphysical age, the prospects of politics without ideological certainties and the significance of art after realism.

A totally original work arguing persuasively that Iris Murdoch not only matters but is absolutely central to how we think through the contemporary age.


“The complex relationships Murdoch so carefully lays bare in her novels show the misery that people inflict on themselves and others by failing to attend properly to the reality at hand. Her philosophical works on metaphysics and ethics display her unique reaction to the dryness and radical individualism of the overly abstract philosophies of existentialist and analytic philosophers, who depict moral agents as freely choosing wills unencumbered, and undefined by, personal relations, detached from the communities in which they live. Murdoch attempts to recover traditional values lost in these philosophies by intimations in experience of the unifying presence of goodness that transcends subjective satisfaction. Good art and literature enable people to see and become more sensitive to the experience of others. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.” – CHOICE

“She had a significant impact on some brilliant philosophers: Cora Diamond, John McDowell, Martha Nussbaum, and Charles Taylor. But she is not widely read … Her work may be more visible now, but progress is slow. Browning’s accessible, wide-ranging book will help accelerate it.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“An original introduction for both the student and the lay reader alike.” —Peter J Conradi, Professor Emeritus of English, Kingston University, UK

“Gary Browning places Murdoch in her age and in ours: she is a profoundly historical and dialectical thinker from a very particular historical moment, whose influence and importance have only grown in recent years. He sees her in the round: this is Murdoch as first, the philosopher who refused to be either 'analytic' or 'continental': but then also and, very vividly, the novelist, the playwright, the political thinker and the letter-writer. An exciting and much-needed book.” —Justin Broackes, Professor of Philosophy, Brown University, USA

ISBN:  9781472574473