Iris Murdoch's Mortal Asymmetry

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Iris Murdoch holds that the best sort of life is a figurative death of the self. This figurative death is informed by an acceptance of real mortality. A recognition of mortality is supposed to help redirect our attention away from self and towards others. Yet these others are also mortal but (unlike the self) remain worthy of love, care and consideration. That is to say, the significance of mortality for Murdoch depends on whose mortality is at issue, whether it is the mortality of the self or of the other that is in question. My rejection of two ways of making sense of this self/other asymmetry is used to motivate the view that her attitude towards death requires a prior commitment to unselfing. And this is a problematic moral project.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2007

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