Daniele Lorenzini

Is Iris Murdoch a Perfectionist Philosopher?

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In this article I discuss the possibility of offering a sound perfectionist interpretation of Iris Murdoch's "The Sovereignty of Good", taking seriously Stanley Cavell's remark that the central case of moral transformation presented in that book does not constitute an instance of Emersonian perfectionism. More precisely, I argue that, although Cavell and Murdoch both appeal to the vocabulary of perfection, their philosophical perspectives significantly diverge: Cavell's perfectionism focuses on a radical transfiguration of one's self as a whole that entails important political and social consequences, while Murdoch's perfectionism is closer to the Stoic tradition of spiritual exercises as it is described by Pierre Hadot, since it focuses on a purely perceptive or conceptual change of one's inner point of view.


  • Iris Murdoch
  • Stanley Cavell
  • Moral Perfectionism
  • Spiritual Exercises
  • Critique of Behaviorism


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