Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Object LessonsThe Novel As a Theory of Reference$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Jami Bartlett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226369655

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226369792.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

Murdoch and the Monolith

Murdoch and the Monolith

Chapter:
(p.122) 4 Murdoch and the Monolith
Source:
Object Lessons
Author(s):

Jami Bartlett

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226369792.003.0005

This chapter returns the concept of the novel as a theory of reference to its beginning, and argues that, for the philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch, narrative itself is a theory of reference. The characters in Murdoch’s novel Under the Net find themselves enmeshed in obscure, monolithic patterns and systems they cannot see, manipulated by contingency or by the strategies of others, and resentfully complicit; Murdoch’s object of reference is literary form itself. She treats the narrative potential of objects in her philosophy, as well. Her essay “The Idea of Perfection” makes a case for the thingness of intention, arguing that a person’s intention in saying or doing something involves a behavior pattern rather than an intended object. This pattern is shown to be Murdoch’s most powerful tool as a novelist, since the description of what happens is available to characters and narratives, and refuses the hypothetical status of the unknowable inner life. Following Wittgenstein and Anscombe’s suggestion that under some descriptions an action is intentional, and under others it is not, Murdoch understands an expression of intention as given by the description of the act under which it is intended: she understands intention as a product of narration.

Keywords:   Iris Murdoch, Under the Net, The Idea of Perfection, behavior pattern, intention, intentional action, Elizabeth Anscombe, Ludwig Wittgenstein, literary form, inner life

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.