Next Article in Journal
Redefining Religious Nones: Lessons from Chinese and Japanese American Young Adults
Next Article in Special Issue
“Weak Thought” and Christianity: Some Aspects of Vattimo’s Philosophy of Religion, Confrontation with Otakar Funda
Previous Article in Journal
Instrumental Values as Predictors of Religious Experience in the Lives of Students of Pedagogy and of Philosophy
Previous Article in Special Issue
The New Secular Humanists: Ronald Dworkin and Philip Kitcher on Life without God
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Religions 2015, 6(3), 875-890;

Images of Reality: Iris Murdoch’s Five Ways from Art to Religion

Department of Philosophy, Heythrop College, University of London, Kensington Square, London W8 5HN, UK
Academic Editor: Jonathan Hill
Received: 8 May 2015 / Revised: 15 June 2015 / Accepted: 13 July 2015 / Published: 30 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons in the Philosophy of Religion)
Full-Text   |   PDF [203 KB, uploaded 30 July 2015]


Art plays a significant role in Iris Murdoch’s moral philosophy, a major part of which may be interpreted as a proposal for the revision of religious belief. In this paper, I identify within Murdoch’s philosophical writings five distinct but related ways in which great art can assist moral/religious belief and practice: art can reveal to us “the world as we were never able so clearly to see it before”; this revelatory capacity provides us with evidence for the existence of the Good, a metaphor for a transcendent reality of which God was also a symbol; art is a “hall of reflection” in which “everything under the sun can be examined and considered”; art provides us with an analogue for the way in which we should try to perceive our world; and art enables us to transcend our selfish concerns. I consider three possible objections: that Murdoch’s theory is not applicable to all forms of art; that the meaning of works of art is often ambiguous; and that there is disagreement about what constitutes a great work of art. I argue that none of these objections are decisive, and that all forms of art have at least the potential to furnish us with important tools for developing the insight required to live a moral/religious life. View Full-Text
Keywords: Iris Murdoch; aesthetics; moral philosophy; religion Iris Murdoch; aesthetics; moral philosophy; religion
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Burns, E. Images of Reality: Iris Murdoch’s Five Ways from Art to Religion. Religions 2015, 6, 875-890.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top