Iris Murdoch: Henry and Cato

(1811 words)
  • Anne Rowe (Kingston University)

In The Republic, Plato's allegory of the cave represents the path to reality as a painstaking process that involves rejecting the familiar but illusory world of the cave, struggling outside into an unknown world, and focusing upon the sun. This feat is possible for only a very few – the philosopher kings. The core of Iris Murdoch's moral philosophy, the process of unselfing, involves just such an arduous and unnatural decentring of the self. She does not believe in a traditional God or an afterlife, and replaces God with the good in her hierarchy. By eliminating the idea of an afterlife, Murdoch removes the possibility of consolation or reward for behaviour: few expect to be good without a reward, and a life-long process of …

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Rowe, Anne. "Henry and Cato". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 July 2002
[, accessed 27 September 2016.]