Iris Murdoch, Philosopher: A Collection of Essays by Justin Broackes (ed) - review by Jonathan Derbyshire

Jonathan Derbyshire

Say What You Mean

Iris Murdoch, Philosopher: A Collection of Essays

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When Iris Murdoch returned to Oxford in the autumn of 1948 to take up a fellowship at St Anne’s College, after a brief sojourn in Cambridge where she’d gone with the intention of beginning a PhD on Edmund Husserl, she found herself at the centre of the English-speaking philosophical world. The years after the Second World War were a sort of golden age for philosophy in this country, and the discipline flourished especially by the banks of the Isis, under the aegis of two men in particular – J L Austin and Gilbert Ryle.

Austin and Ryle were the leading lights of so-called ‘ordinary language’ or ‘linguistic’ philosophy, which viewed the purpose of the subject as the study of the words or concepts we employ, rather than of the facts or phenomena to which those concepts are applied. The ordinary language philosophers saw philosophy

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