Thank you for reading this. One question I have wondered about since the birth of my baby sister. I have always wondered what goes on inside a baby’s head. Do you think they would be more or less selfish? Do you think they can remember the day before? Do they feel the same emotions that we do?

Thanks again,


Philosopher's reply

Dear Kate – what a great question!

It seems clear that babies can feel pain and hunger. But what about hopes and memories? Perhaps part of the puzzle is that hopes and memories seem to be about something in a way that pains are not. Thinking about something involves recognising that something else exists – which is a bit like recognising that other people exist and have their own needs and demands. Could it be that the very possibility of hopes and memories requires that babies stop being selfish?

all very best wishes,
Anil Gomes

Philosopher's profile

Anil Gomes

University of Oxford, UK

Murdoch's philosophy, like her fiction, is populated with the varied reality of moral life: mothers who find their daughters-in-law juvenile, concentration camp guards who are kindly fathers. A loving gaze can discern this moral reality just as a good eye can appraise the length of a timber. And if we are to transcend our selfish egos, we need this capacity for loving attention. Murdoch’s work remains a provocation, where goodness is real, and love is seeing aright.

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