Iris Murdoch’s The Sovereignty of Good
New York Times columnist David Brooks and University of Chicago Professor Candace Vogler will lead discussions on Murdoch’s work over the course of three meetings.
About the Event
The Sovereignty of Good is a lively volume composed of three essays on moral philosophy by the British philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch. Murdoch’s book is a reaction against the predominant Anglo-Saxon moral philosophy of her time. Against the continuous efforts of the latter to make morality either nonsense or expressions of personal inclination, Murdoch urges that the virtuous (unselfish and loving) person’s attention is oriented to Good. Murdoch argues that we perform moral actions, not because an empty unconditioned will, but because we see the objective moral value in the world—values that neither depend on our will, nor are the outcome of our choosing. Those, she believes, are objective features that we must learn to spot in the object by attending to it without the distorting clouds of selfishness.
In this seminar led by the Hyde Park Institute and co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Graham School, New York Times columnist David Brooks and University of Chicago Professor Candace Vogler will lead discussions of Murdoch’s three essays over the course of three lunch-time meetings.
David E. and Clara B. Stern Professor of Philosophy, University of Chicago
Candace Vogler is the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy and Professor in the College at the University of Chicago, and Principal Investigator on "Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life," a project funded by the John Templeton Foundation. She has authored two books, John Stuart Mill's Deliberative Landscape: An Essay in Moral Psychology (Routledge, 2001) and Reasonably Vicious (Harvard University Press, 2002), and essays in ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy and literature, cinema, psychoanalysis, gender studies, sexuality studies, and other areas. Her research interests are in practical philosophy (particularly the strand of work in moral philosophy indebted to Elizabeth Anscombe), practical reason, Kant's ethics, Marx, and neo-Aristotelian naturalism.
Columnist, New York Times
David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times and the author of, among other books, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (2011), The Road to Character (2015), and The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life (2019). In addition to his work at the Times, Brooks has been a reporter and op-ed editor for the Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at the Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic, and a commentator on NPR and the PBS NewsHour. Brooks was a Senior Fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute and currently serves as chair of Weave: The Social Fabric Project at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C.