Exile from Perfection in Iris Murdoch's Philosophical Texts

Tony Milligan

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Iris Murdoch's philosophical texts set out the egocentric dangers of guilt but still endorse an account of original sin. This might seem like an unstable combination as these two are in tension, but I argue that Murdoch manages to use this tension in a productive manner. The human condition is treated as one of fallenness, in the sense of an exile from perfection. We are aware of moral failure and also aware of the standard by which we fail. Guilt is reined in, however, by the fact that such failure is a matter of commonplace flawed moral vision and not an Augustinian perversity of the will. This reining in of guilt is still accompanied by a recognition of our unbridgeable remoteness from perfection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-33
Number of pages12
JournalHeythrop Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • Iris Murdoch
  • Original Sin
  • Augustine
  • Guilt


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