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Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

1981 to 1982
University of Edinburgh

This book, a revised and expanded version of Murdoch’s 1982 Gifford Lectures, is an intriguing, scholarly, but sprawling work that proceeds reflectively through an enormous range of topics, including art and religion, morals and politics, Wittgenstein, metaphysics, deconstruction, Schopenhauer, imagination, and Martin Buber. What Murdoch presents here is not a systematic treatise, but what can be described as ‘a huge hall of reflection full of light and space and fresh air, in which ideas and intuitions can be unsystematically nurtured’. This image is characteristic of Murdoch, who has always held that metaphysics involves that creation of imaginative concepts and images which help guide our reflection about the moral life. In a time in which the critique of metaphysics has become a persistent feature of modern moral and philosophical reflection, this book raises anew the question of metaphysics and its relation to ethics. 

  • J. Douglas Mastin