Oh, the times we are living in right now! I wonder so much what your opinions would be on polarisation of society. Why are we once again debating good and evil? Does it go around in circles? Must we hit rock bottom again before we can return to "loving attention".

Philosopher's reply

Dear Kent,

Thank you for your postcard & question. Your cri de coeur has no easy or obvious answer.

I put it to the students on one of my philosophy classes. My reply owes much to their intelligent discussion & responses & to their defiance – not seeing themselves as bound to a wheel.

I was reminded of a conversation in A Fairly Honourable Defeat. Back from her escape, Morgan explains the world, love & everything to Tallis, the husband she left behind. All is crystal clear, but he gloriously fails to understand any of it. ‘Oh, don’t talk such sickening rot’ he says while simultaneously wanting to hold her in his arms. The scene evokes loving tension in its comical & canny portrayal, contrasting theory-ridden command and seeing the muddle that is reality.

I hope Kent, that we shall keep debating Good & Evil, though perhaps good more than evil.


Hannah, with the assistance of a certain lady & nine bright young minds.

Philosopher's profile

Hannah Marije Altorf

St Mary’s University, UK

Iris Murdoch has been my teacher. I never met her, but I have been learning from her ever since I first started reading Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, some twenty years ago. This is a book written by a great mind, someone with whom I share a love for Plato, Kant and great literature, as well as concern about the disappearance of religious experience. Above all, Murdoch has taught me to persist with a problem, however unfashionable.

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