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Selfless Love and Human Flourishing in Paul Tillich and Iris Murdoch$
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Julia T. Meszaros

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198765868

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198765868.001.0001

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‘A Mechanism of Attachments’

‘A Mechanism of Attachments’

The Self in Iris Murdoch

(p.121) 6 ‘A Mechanism of Attachments’
Selfless Love and Human Flourishing in Paul Tillich and Iris Murdoch

Julia T. Meszaros

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 examines Iris Murdoch’s understanding of the self. It is shown that Murdoch accepts modern insights into the disunited and fluctuant nature of the self, yet also attempts to salvage some degree of individual self-being as indispensable for the possibility of moral progress. Drawing on Sartre, Freud, and Plato, she proposes to hold this tension by distinguishing between self and ego, and by highlighting the extent to which individual selfhood is tied to the moral quality of consciousness and desire. Murdoch effectively conceptualizes the self as a mechanism of attachments that is governed by a fallible erotic desire for transcendent Good. This implies the claim that true and flourishing selfhood hinges on leaving behind the illusion of a self-contained ego and of freedom as willful self-assertion, and on entering into a loving relation with the o/Other.

Keywords:   Iris Murdoch, the self, self-contained ego, consciousness, individual, Sartre, mechanism of attachments, desire, transcendent Good, self-deception

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