Depth, Articulacy, and the Ego

In Carla Bagnoli & Bradford Cokelet (eds.), Iris Murdoch's Sovereignty of Good. At 55. (Anniversaries Series, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2025) (forthcoming)
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Iris Murdoch claims that “clear vision is a result of moral imagination and moral effort.” Our experience of the world can be blurred by egoism, inattentiveness, and other failings. I ask how we distinguish clear vision from distorted vision. Murdoch’s texts appeal to four factors: (A) attention; (B) unselfing; (C) a form of conceptual articulacy; and (D) love. I ask three questions about these standards: - Are these standards directed at the same goal? (For example, are they all geared toward securing purely epistemic goals?) - Are these standards criterial for improvements in vision? (That is, does the presence of some combination of (A)-(D) constitute or guarantee better vision?) - Does Murdoch think that there’s a single best form of vision? (Such as the one attained by the person who manifests (A)-(D)?) In the secondary literature, the typical answers to these questions are: yes, yes, yes. But I give different answers: no, no, no.

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Paul Katsafanas
Boston University


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