Iris Murdoch Long Fiction Analysis
A knowledge of Iris Murdoch’s philosophical and critical essays is invaluable for the reader wishing to understand her fiction. Her moral philosophy, which entails a rejection of existentialism, behaviorism, and linguistic empiricism, informs her fiction throughout and provides a basis for an interpretation of both the content and the form of her work. Although early influenced by Sartrean existentialism, she developed a radically different view of the human condition. The major disagreement she had with the existentialist position was its emphasis on choice, a belief Murdoch characterized as “unrealistic, over-optimistic, romantic” because it fails to consider the true nature of human consciousness and what she called “a sort of continuous background with a life of its own.” Existentialism, which she called “the last fling of liberal Romanticism in philosophy," presents humanity with “too grand” a conception of itself as isolated from its surroundings and capable of rational, free choice. She described this picture of humankind as “Kantian man-gods” who are “free, independent, lonely, powerful, rational, responsible, and brave.” Although Murdoch denied being a Freudian, Sigmund Freud’s “realistic and detailed picture of the fallen man” is much closer to her own conception of human nature, and she agreed with what she called Freud’s “thoroughly pessimistic view” in which the psyche is described as an “egocentric system of...
(The entire section is 10340 words.)
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