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Out of my self-obsession

The sovereignty of good
Forfatter: Iris Murdoch
Forlag: Oversetter Ketil Røed
Cappelen Damm Akademisk (Norge)

MORAL PHILOSOPHY: It has proved extremely difficult to get philosophy to conform to what society at all times considers sensible, reasonable and appropriate.

The British author and philosopher Iris Murdoch (1919–1999) criticizes in the collection of essays The sovereignty of good two main directions in modern moral philosophy: the existentialist and the analytical. Both are based on Immanuel Kant, who according to Murdoch "abolished God and installed man as God in his place". We are still living in the age of this "Kantian human god", whom she also calls "Satan" and "Lucifer".

To act morally means for Kant to be guided by the will to follow his own reason. In principle, this sounds good, especially if the alternative is blind to obey external authorities. But Kant's sensible, will-driven man, according to Murdoch, still has demonic and monstrous features, which become particularly clear in Kant's philosophy, for example in the existentialist philosophers Nietzsche and Heidegger. Yes, she also asks herself the question: "Maybe Heidegger is Satan in person?" – a comment that can be said to be ahead of its time, seen in light of the new round in the debate on Heidegger's relationship to Nazism after the publication of the so-called black booklets.
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Lars Holm-Hansen
Philosopher and publishing manager at the publishing house Eksistenz.

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