Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Setiya on Murdoch

Just as anyone who might like Kacey Musgraves has almost certainly already heard her most recent album, so anyone with an interest in Iris Murdoch has probably already read Kieran Setiya's review of Gary Browning on Why Iris Murdoch Matters. Still, if you haven't read it yet, I recommend it. Partly it's a nice example of how to write a generous review. And partly I think this is a useful statement of some key ideas from Murdoch:
Murdoch has three big ideas, of which the first is key. She is fundamentally opposed to a view of “moral psychology,” the activity of deliberation and choice, that she associates with both existentialism and the Oxford moral philosophy of her time. On this view, we first come to a neutral description of our circumstance, which leaves open what to do, and then choose freely among our options, expressing our character or moral principles. For Murdoch, description is never neutral. The moral task is to describe one’s circumstance correctly. Once you find the right description, choice is virtually automatic, though not on that account unfree. This process calls for “unsentimental, detached, unselfish, objective attention […] a kind of intellectual ability to perceive what is true, which is automatically at the same time a suppression of self”; once fully achieved, “true vision occasions right conduct.” “If I attend properly,” Murdoch writes, “I will have no choices and this is the ultimate condition to be aimed at.” Murdoch’s second idea is that the primary obstacle to attention is our natural egoism, the “fat relentless ego.” Her third idea is that the answer to egoism, the source of psychic energy that fuels our attention to reality, is love.

These are real things

As far as I know, this was the best song released last year (which I have only just discovered). I found out about Kacey Musgraves from j., via this blog, and Tracyanne Campbell has talked this album up on Twitter, so thanks to both of them for this find. If G.K. Chesterton were to write a country love song it might sound like this.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Highlights of 2018

In no particular order, here's my top ten of things I can remember from this past year:
  1. Beijing
  2. Leipzig
  3. My son got into his first choice university
  4. I read the Bible 
  5. Movies: Blackkklansman and Happy as Lazzaro
  6. Publishing four papers in four months
  7. Seeing Toots and the Maytals at Lockn
  8. TV: Babylon Berlin, Dogs of Berlin, and El Marginal
  9. I made my playlist, which turned out more or less how I wanted it.
  10. I discovered this song, which seems to have influenced two other songs I really like too:

Let's hope 2019 is as good, if not better. Happy New Year!