To Iris (Philosopher)

My question is:

Is there a difference between health and beauty?

Thank you


Philosopher's reply

Dear Josephine,

What a great question! Here’s what I think Iris might say: beauty is the name we give to a certain quality found in art and nature. Being connected to nature, paying attention to it, allows ‘unselfing’. Forgetting the ego, vanity, a selfishness and allowing unselfish care. ‘Unselfish care’ is central to living a good life. It seems that the health of natural beings is important to the quality we call beauty. A well-tended garden or healthy forest, with flourishing animal + insect life, can inspire the sublime feeling – the self-forgetful pleasure – we have when joining with nature. A degraded or unhealthy natural environment could elicit the unselfish care, but be accompanied by pain rather than pleasure (beauty). This is a complex question, but I hope I’ve made a decent start!

Very best wishes
Kathryn MacKay – Sydney

Philosopher's profile

Kathryn MacKay

University of Sydney, Australia

Iris Murdoch's philosophy represents new opportunities: to understand a neglected thinker, to gain a deeper understanding of the era and Murdoch's peers, and to grasp the development of thought in a more thorough way. I see Murdoch's work as representing a bridge between Aristotelian virtue ethics and the development of care ethics and feminist relational theory, which is an exciting perspective to explore.

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