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Mill believes that the expansion of democratic rights in itself exerts a pervasive educational influence. He strongly holds this view, although in earlier essays on the United States he also acknowledged in the American electorate a narrow and intolerant mentality. Although Mill at times fluctuates between trust and distrust of democracy, he always believes in its potentiality to improve men. Active citizenship can usually nourish the qualities that good citizenship demands, draw out human resources otherwise dormant, and advance the lot of mankind. In discussing the executive in the representative system, Mill is the empiricist and Benthamite, who is eager to accept innovations but clearly places a high value on what has been tested by experience.

He sanctions the parliamentary executive, which the British developed through common sense and the accidents of a long history. Indeed, he gives scant attention to any other system except the American, which affords him merely a basis for contrasts. With brevity and acumen he discusses precepts that must govern a responsible and effective executive. But it is equally true that in many counsellors there is wisdom. A single individual even in his own business seldom judges right, and still less in that of the public. These and related points, he thinks, are woven into the fabric of British parliamentary practice.

Distinguishing between policy and administration, he is anxious that in the latter highly trained minds should save democracy from errors. He fears that the popular tolerance of mediocrity impairs the competence and quality of the state. In defending the Northcote-Trevelyan Report on the civil service he had advocated the recruitment of officials through competitive examinations from the ablest brains in the country, irrespective of social class.

This case he confidently argues afresh in Representative Government and defends it for every democratic state. Critical of British complacency and aristocratic casualness, he constantly extols the professional and the expert above the amateur and the dilettante. His zeal for professional skills extends from administration to lawmaking. In his opinion a large and unwieldy parliament can no more legislate than administer. His Benthamite conscience was hurt by the haphazard and often dilatory manner in which British laws were made, with little concern for whether they fitted logically into the existing legal structure.

His remedy was a legislative commission, composed of those who from assiduous study and long experience acquired an expertise in drafting bills which parliament could pass, reject, or return for further consideration He suggests that on their appointment members of the commission should become life peers and thus enlarge the element of expertise in the House of Lords. In his chapter on second chambers, however, he emphasizes that the House of Lords should not be considered the main instrument for tempering the ascendancy of the majority in the lower house, a task better achieved through the electoral reforms that he and Thomas Hare advocated.

His sympathy always seemed stronger for the men in Whitehall than for those in Westminster, for the officials rather than the politicians. More than a quarter of Representative Government is devoted to four topics that may seem somewhat marginal to the main subject of the book. But because for Mill they are important and illustrate cardinal features of his liberalism they merit separate discussion.

In both On Liberty and Representative Government Mill extols local institutions as essential for the welfare and education of the people. They permit citizens to acquire invaluable experience in working for common ends, introduce them to the skills and ethics of collaboration, and are an indispensable preparatory school for the democratic state.

In Britain, moreover, such Edition: current; Page: [ xl ] institutions are a necessary auxiliary to the national parliament itself, which otherwise would become harassed and strained by tasks better left to local bodies, visible and sensitive to local electorates and directly accountable to them. A robust municipal system, Mill believed, would nourish a responsible public spirit and foster among the citizenry the political enlightenment essential for an extended franchise and a viable democracy.

In these views Mill was faithful to the utilitarian and radical tradition, drawing inspiration from Bentham who had emphasized the inherent value of local government and the necessity for its overhaul in England. He shared an early and lifelong friendship with Edwin Chadwick, a zealous and energetic Benthamite and the chief architect of municipal reform in the s and s. The two men freely consulted, exchanged general ideas, and usually agreed on policy. When in Mill came to write his chapter on local government he surveyed a scene of increasing complexity and baffling confusion.

The rapid growth of industry and population had created massive urban concentrations of people clamouring for new and varied services. The different municipal bodies launched in the s and s were busily trying to cope with the problems of a social cauldron. The Boards of Poor Law Guardians, the borough councils, and the numerous ad hoc boards and commissions responsible for specific services all attempted to give a new meaning to municipal rule in a changing society. But in the counties the ancient system of appointed justices of the peace meeting in Quarter Sessions still survived.

On this institution Mill as a faithful Radical is caustic:. The mode of formation of these bodies is most anomalous, they being neither elected, nor, in any proper sense of the term, nominated, but holding their important functions, like the feudal lords to whom they succeeded, virtually by right of their acres. The institution is the most aristocratic in principle which now remains in England: far more so than the House of Lords, for it grants public money and disposes of important public interests, not in conjunction with a popular assembly, but alone.

He would correct the deficiencies of county government through elected county councils to replace the Quarter Sessions, a reform not achieved until Mill also attacks the cluttering proliferation of boards and commissions which needlessly fragmented and confused English civic life.

In brief, he recommends for all the local business of a town one body, whose members should be chosen only by ratepayers. He criticizes the subdivision of London into several independent units, each jealously clinging to responsibility for providing the same services, and thus preventing co-operation. Action must be localized, though knowledge, to be useful to all citizens in the kingdom, should be centralized. In the public interest a close partnership between the two levels of government is imperative. The central government should designate a specific department to act as a responsible guardian, adviser, and critic, scrutinizing everything done in local areas and making its fund of special knowledge available to those who need it.

It should in particular supervise those matters of national interest left to local administration, but its power should be limited to compelling local officers to obey the laws enacted for their guidance. His chief example for this type of supervision is that of the Poor Law Board over the Local Guardians.

In these ideas he demonstrates his type of utilitarian thought Edition: current; Page: [ xlii ] at its best, especially in taking traditional English institutions and adapting them to the necessities of a new industrial age. But in the wider perspective of her relations with continental Europe it was important. His chapter on the subject is brief, little more than half the length of that on local government, perhaps too brief for him to render full justice to the magnitude and complexity of the theme.

It was manifested in a people through a powerful sense of community and an anxiety to live under one government.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

It was fostered by a variety of influences, such as identity of race, a common homeland, common language, common religion, and a common sense of history. This passage has been quoted and requoted. Yet in his brief sketch Mill does not explain precisely how, why, and when the actual unifying sense of a common national history arises, especially in cases like Germany and Italy, where for generations deep political divergences expressed in a plethora of small states seemed more conspicuous than unity. Mill took a definite position on the relations of nationality to democracy.

This is merely saying that the question of government ought to be decided by the governed. In brief, Edition: current; Page: [ xliii ] democracy works best in a uni-national state of like-minded people. He contends that different nationalities, speaking different languages, would hamper the crystallizing of public opinion on which successful representative institutions depend.

Social fragmentation and divisiveness would result from the presence of separate leaders of different nationalities. The same books, newspapers, pamphlets, and speeches would fail to circulate throughout all sectors of the society. Each nationality would thus differently assess facts and differently express opinions. Such differences, when sharp enough, would favour despotism rather than freedom.

Politicians for their own advantage and power would exploit mutual antipathies. Mill makes two far-reaching qualifications to his principle that the boundaries of state and nation should coincide. First, circumstances may sometimes render it difficult or impossible to implement: for example, in parts of Europe, notably the Austrian Empire, nationalities were so intricately intermingled as to make separate national states impracticable.

In such cases the people affected must make a virtue of necessity and tolerantly accept life together under regimes of equal rights and equal laws. Second, it is often socially advantageous for a small nationality, rather than pursuing political independence, to merge in a larger one. He believes that this also applies to the Welshman and the Scottish Highlander. Whatever his sympathy for such small nations, he is confident that their members would reap cultural benefits from close association with the larger nation, and in return confer benefits.

In this type of situation it is essential for the weaker to receive not only equal justice but equal consideration, and thus help to blend qualities inherent in the different nationalities to the advantage of mankind. They are manifest in his treatment of the contentious national problem of Ireland. This Mill discussed in a sparse single paragraph in Representative Government, but in subsequent writings he said much on the subject, and notably in his pamphlet England and Ireland. Mill recognizes that the nationality of the Irish had never been absorbed in the larger nationality of Britain, as Bretons and Alsatians had been absorbed in that of France.

For this result he gives two reasons: the Irish are numerous enough to constitute in themselves a respectable nationality and had for generations nursed a deep enduring enmity towards England Edition: current; Page: [ xliv ] because of its harsh methods of rule. His comments in Representative Government suggest that Mill believed that recent improvements in British policy had reduced Irish hostility, and in the future even more harmonious relations between the two countries might be expected.

Seven years later, however, in England and Ireland, he is more pessimistic. In the interval a severe agrarian depression and Irish agitations for land reform had failed to win an adequate response from the British parliament. The consequent rise of a revolutionary Fenian movement committed to tactics of violence to achieve independence worsened and embittered relations between the two countries.

They have allowed what once was indignation against particular wrongs, to harden into a passionate determination to be no longer ruled on any terms by those to whom they ascribe all their evils. Rebellions are never really unconquerable until they have become rebellions for an idea. Nevertheless, despite the inflamed sense of Irish nationality. Mill desires that the two countries should remain united. Their affairs are intimately intertwined in trade, population movements, and international security.

Geography makes it easier for them to exist within one state rather than two. But the imperative condition for doing so successfully is that English rulers radically change their attitude towards Ireland.

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In making laws for that island they must resolve to recognize Irish circumstances and satisfy Irish interests no less than their own. In particular, Mill argues, they should introduce sweeping agrarian reforms, leaving Irish peasants in permanent possession of their land, subject to fixed charges. Koppel S. In such a state, Mill believes, an army composed of different nationalities could readily be the executioner of liberty For this reason he prefers whenever feasible the uni-national state, confident that it gives richer promise for free government.

Even in a uni-national state, however, a spirit of aggressive nationality may destroy democratic liberties whenever the power and prestige of the nation are threatened. A nationalist is not necessarily a liberal or a democrat. He may support any form of government that satisfies the ambition and interests of his nation. On this matter Mill attempts no direct argument, but from the nature of his general philosophy we can deduce his views. Primarily concerned as he is with individual liberty and human progress, he nowhere suggests that the claims of nationality are superior to those of liberalism.

Federalism he extols as an invaluable instrument to achieve a larger and more fruitful collaboration in defence and social development between communities endowed with many mutual interests, but separately weak and often absorbed in petty rivalries. He discusses with acumen the conditions necessary to render a federation acceptable and feasible, the different modes of organizing it, the institutions such as a supreme court essential to fulfil its purposes, and the broad beneficial consequences flowing from its success.

In federal states he sees decisive advantages similar to those conferred by other practical modes of co-operation wherein persuasion replaces command and for certain purposes the weak meet on equal terms with the strong. For him in some degree the federal principle is implicit in every truly free state. This fact partly explains his conclusion that a federal government had inadequate authority to conduct effectively any war except one in self-defence. In the American case he had some evidence to support this opinion, but scarcely sufficient on which to rest a firm and enduring generalisation.

Hence, although his principal remarks on federalism Edition: current; Page: [ xlvi ] reflect shrewd intuitions, he lacked adequate data for the full play of his characteristically empirical thinking. He made no attempt to probe the history of federal ideas in such thinkers as Jean Bodin and the German jurists. His chief inspiration and guidance came directly from the American Federalist Papers and the wealth of American practical experience. He looked to concrete political experiments as a guide. Writing on the eve of the Civil War he thought that American federalism had already achieved something valuable in limiting the tyranny of majorities, protecting territorial groups, and creating a judicial arbiter supreme over all the governments, both state and federal, and able to declare invalid any law made by them in violation of the constitution.

As a servant of the East India Company for thirty-five years, he was constantly preoccupied with imperial issues. He also became closely associated with those Philosophic Radicals who in the s advocated colonial reform in general and systematic colonization in particular: notably Charles Buller, William Molesworth, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, and the enigmatic Lord Durham. Mill freely admitted his debt to Wakefield.

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For him the old mercantilist empire was near death, and not to be mourned, but a renovated and vigorous empire could be established on the mutual interests of self-governing colonies and the metropolis. This cause made him actively interested in the National Colonization Society, launched by Wakefield and his associates to create a new colonial society on liberal principles, built on British capital and British labour. The new empire was expected to ensure markets and sources of supply for Britain and relieve her population pressures, economic stagnation, and the miseries of an industrial society.

He was elated in January by the Edition: current; Page: [ xlvii ] appointment of Lord Durham as High Commissioner and Governor General of British North America, because this event provided an unparalleled opportunity for the Philosophic Radicals to prescribe for a critical colonial situation. If Durham succeeded, the Radical party no less than the Empire would immediately benefit. Durham took with him to Canada Buller and Wakefield, both of whom substantially contributed to the contents and character of the famous report, including its recommendation for colonial autonomy.

Mill for his part promptly employed the London and Westminster Review to defend Durham and his mission. Such a generous assessment was far from acceptable to all the contemporary Radicals, Roebuck in particular was forthright in criticizing Durham, especially for his contemptuous attitude to the French Canadians and their nationality.

In the wake of triumphant free trade in Britain and responsible government in Canada certain members in the Liberal camp were openly hostile to colonies and empire. Spokesmen for the Manchester School and a few veteran Benthamites, like Place, wrote of colonies as expensive and needless encumbrances. Since trade was everywhere free or becoming so, the burdens and perils of a permanent colonial connection were unacceptable. The most polished and influential exponent of this view was Goldwin Smith, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, who in The Empire argues that the self-governing colonies contribute nothing to Britain, and threaten to involve her in conflicts with other major powers.

In Edition: current; Page: [ xlviii ] Representative Government he contends that Britain and her colonies had so many interests in common that a severance of formal ties would be a mistake The empire could survive by consent. For him colonization, despite its numerous problems, is justified by its ultimate and enduring benefits. The imperial society preserves peace among its scattered territories, pursues a civilizing mission, furnishes an opportunity for invaluable co-operation between young communities and the mature metropolis, and helps to keep their markets open to one another, immune from exclusion by hostile tariffs.

On the last point Mill reflects a sanguine belief, then current among British Liberals, but soon shattered by events, that the free trade so recently introduced must naturally appeal to the overseas segments of empire. Mill moreover considered that a continuance of imperial ties augmented the moral stature and influence of Britain in the councils of the world. In a special expression of national pride he lauds Britain as the power that best understands liberty, and that in dealings with foreigners is more responsive to conscience and moral principle than any other great nation Such qualities were consonant with his deep respect for the imperial links.

In he wrote to his friend, John E. I think it very undesirable that anything should be done which would hasten the separation of our colonies. I believe the preservation of as much connexion as now exists to be a great good to them; and though the direct benefit to England is extremely small, beyond what would exist after a friendly separation, any separation would greatly diminish the prestige of England, which prestige I believe to be, in the present state of the world, a very great advantage to mankind.

Although he favoured the maintenance of the colonial connection, Mill rejected as unrealistic the idea of a federation of Britain and its colonies, which was then occasionally mooted, especially in the form of direct colonial representation in the parliament at Westminster:. Countries separated by half the globe do not present the natural conditions for being under one government, or even members of one federation.

If they had sufficiently the same interests, they have not, and never can have, a sufficient habit of taking counsel together. They are not part of the same public: they do not discuss and deliberate in the same arena, but apart, and have only a most imperfect knowledge of what passes in the minds of one another.

The conditions essential for a genuine federation did not exist, and to assume otherwise would be folly. As late as January, , Mill expressed similar views to a friend in New Zealand. Mill advocated, however, one proposal designed to consolidate the sense of imperial unity. He would open the public service in all departments and in every part of the empire on equal terms to the inhabitants of the colonies. He commended his old radical friend Sir William Molesworth for setting an excellent example in appointing Francis Hincks, a Canadian politician, to the governorship of a West Indian Island In the concluding pages of his chapter on dependencies Mill presents his mature opinions on governing India.

Instead he believed that it needed for a prolonged period enlightened governance by those with high administrative competence and a profound grasp of its special difficulties. In his opinion the best available vehicle under the Crown for applying sound utilitarian principles was the East India Company, with its large and unique stock of knowledge and experience.

More effectively than any other institution the Company could act as a trustee and guardian for the Indian people. In the Company had concluded its role as trader. Henceforth the welfare of subjects, rather than the dividends of shareholders, was its paramount concern. In Representative Government Mill criticized this fundamental change on the ground that a British politician would usually be ignorant of the country, seldom hold office long enough to acquire an intelligent grasp of the subject, and naturally be more responsive to considerations of party advantage in Britain than of social progress in India Since a Secretary of State must constantly be answerable to the British people, his authority could hardly serve the best interests of Indians, whom he was unable to see, hear, or know, and whose votes he had no need to solicit.

The parliament and public to which he was accountable were even less likely Edition: current; Page: [ l ] than himself to understand Indian affairs. In its ignorance it would be unable to judge whether and to what extent he abused his powers. Mill admits that any system whereby one people attempts to rule another is defective, for alien rulers usually misjudge and despise subject populations; they do not and cannot feel with the people.

But political systems differ in the amount of wrong they commit. He feared that in Britain had selected the worst possible system So intense were his convictions that he twice refused an invitation to serve on the new Council of India. A major issue confronting the British in India was to formulate proper policies for education, language, and culture, and at the India House Mill had to deal with these. He witnessed with disapproval the attempt of Lord Bentinck and Thomas Macaulay to downgrade the study of Oriental languages and philosophy and exalt that of English literature, thought, and science.

Bentinck and Macaulay desired to impose on India an unmistakable English image, and in particular emphasized the necessity of useful knowledge. On these matters Mill followed a moderate course, free from much of the dogmatism of his father and utilitarian friends. He thought that education for Indians as for Englishmen should foster the self-development and social progress integral to his concept of liberty. Their vernacular languages must be respected and cultivated as the indispensable means whereby the bulk of the people could assimilate useful ideas from Britain and Europe.

He had little sympathy for missionaries who wanted to proselytize India or impose practices repugnant to the religious feelings of its people Mill was confident that Britain had conferred on India solid benefits, including greater peace, order, and unity under law than the country had ever enjoyed before and than any native despot seemed able to ensure. It had introduced the vitalizing influence of highly trained and competent administrators who furthered social progress and prepared for the time, Edition: current; Page: [ li ] however remote, when India would rule itself.

Although Mill accepted the superiority of British culture, he denied that cultural differences were due to racial differences. A variety of influences, such as education, state enactments, and special social and historical circumstances were more important than race. This task, as he conceived it, was compelling because of the circumstances in a critical age of transition, which witnessed the emergence Edition: current; Page: [ lii ] of democracy, improved and enlarged media for expressing opinions, the threatened tyranny of the majority, and the active presence of reformers like Auguste Comte hostile to the principle of individual liberty.

It selects, refines, and develops certain elements from earlier essays that advocated religious tolerance, free discussion for testing ideas and sifting truth from error, and a free press to promote public enlightenment and responsible government. Early friendships and associations, especially those with Thomas Carlyle, Alexis de Tocqueville, the Saint-Simonians, and notably Harriet Taylor, influenced his conceptions of freedom. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, indirectly or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.

That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. This general formula is supplemented by an argument that the independence of an individual in whatever concerns merely himself should be absolute. From the outset the broadness of this formula made it subject to varied interpretations.

For Mill it implies an individual utility, since liberty is an unfailing source of personal development, and also a social utility, since ultimately society must benefit from whatever sustains a diverse and rich individual life. Progress for all depends on liberty for each. His liberal principle is thus not an absolute ethic, irrespective of time or place, but related to changing circumstances affecting the conduct of man as a progressive being Despotism rather than liberty is a legitimate rule for primitive societies, provided it aids their development to the ultimate stage where they can benefit from liberty.

The appropriate domain of liberty comprises that of conscience, thought, opinion, and all the tastes and pursuits of an individual pursuing his own good in his own way and at his own risks. Included also are voluntary combinations of individuals for purposes involving no harm to others. Men are free when they can act according to their desires Their liberty consists in expressing views they want to express and doing what they want to do without injuring others. To such liberty the principal threat has hitherto come from unresponsible and despotic governments, which to satisfy their own ambitions and interests encroached on the customary areas of individual liberty.

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Hence the early liberal movement sought to resolve the conflict between authority and liberty by making rulers accountable to the people through constitutions and bills of rights. These endeavours brought to Western Europe a major era of political liberalism and democracy, which people hoped would foster their interests and protect their liberties.

At the outset Mill shared their hopes, but, influenced partly by Tocqueville and American experience, he soon perceived in democracy an implicit element of tyranny—that of the majority, or those who accepted themselves as the majority threatening the liberties of individuals and minorities He also saw that increasingly in the democratic age the chief menace to liberty is derived, not from public officials and the penalties of law, but from society itself through the inescapable pressures of social usage, popular prejudice, and public opinion.

Society, in exercising power, executes its own mandates and over the individual asserts a pervasive compulsion hardly less relentless and even more capricious than that of law. Under such strict public surveillance individuals and families shape their conduct less by what they think it ought to be than by what the circumstances of the society seem to demand. Their inclination is to conform with custom, public opinion, and established norms. In the modern state mass emotions have a larger opportunity for expression and dominance. He feared, however, that the emergence of mass domination would destroy the atmosphere of freedom and tolerance necessary for a lonely genius to develop and exert influence.

The ultimate phase of social tyranny occurs when the majority desert or renounce liberty by failing to make judgments and choices. As individuals they lose the capacity to determine their own fate. Fears about current social tendencies explain the fervour with which Mill formulated a plan to protect men from what seemed to him a dismal fate. Rules of conduct must encourage the individual to explore abundantly the ends and qualities of life to his own advantage and that of mankind.


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In Chapter ii he extols liberty to exchange ideas as cardinal to other liberal values. It enables a society to know and to reform itself. Mill rejects out of hand the claim made in some nations that a government is entitled to interfere with a free press when the public so demands The best government is no more entitled than the worst either to dictate or silence opinion. Although for him freedom of discussion is not a natural right, it is a supreme priority in the life of a progressive society. This freedom provides, not merely protection against tyrannical and corrupt rulers, but helps also to foster understanding among citizens about themselves and their society, to resolve social conflicts, and to establish truth as the ideal if elusive aim of human inquiry.

Mill assumes that the collision of adverse opinions is an instrument of enlightenment. Truth may suffer from silencing a single dissenter. This hopeful view was not supported by all his contemporary adherents. Leonard Edition: current; Page: [ lv ] Courtney doubted that truth was to be found half-way between two anti-thetical theories.

The opinions Mill confidently expressed on the virtues of free discussion were not those he had hitherto invariably approved. Nor did they contain reservations one might expect him to make. He believed that it was the quality, rather than the quantity, of discussion that counted. These reservations are explained by differences in time and circumstances.

Under different circumstances and in different periods he frankly bared his mind on important matters, but what he wrote sometimes failed to coincide with what he said when circumstances and his own thinking were different. This variance is particularly evident in his treatment of free discussion in relation to authority, where he leaves many questions unanswered.

Yet there is no ignoring the firmness of his convictions and assurance of his language in Chapter ii of On Liberty. However inconsistent with earlier writings, it clearly reads as his genuine and unamended testament. In the third chapter Mill argues on lines parallel to those in the second. In one he contends for freedom of discussion to discover social truth and in the other for liberty of action to achieve a vital individuality.

In some respects this is the most distinctive part of his essay, because the concept of individuality contributes to his liberalism a more original and more contentious element than the older and long-extolled liberty of speech. His great liberal forbears, like Milton and Locke, never attempted to annex so large Edition: current; Page: [ lvi ] and uncertain a territory for the free and autonomous self. By Ludwig Wittgenstein. Perhaps the most important work of philosophy written in the twentieth century, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was the only philosophical work that Ludwig Wittgenstein published during his lifetime.

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Most of her work was published…. By Jacques Derrida. In the s a radical concept emerged from the great French thinker Jacques Derrida. Read the book that changed the way we think; read Writing and Difference, the classic introduction. By Frances Yates. It is hard to overestimate the importance of the contribution made by Dame Frances Yates to the serious study of esotericism and the occult sciences. To her work can be attributed the contemporary understanding of the occult origins of much of Western scientific thinking, indeed of Western…. By Albert Einstein. Time's 'Man of the Century', Albert Einstein is the unquestioned founder of modern physics.

This item has been added to your basket View basket Checkout. Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. View other formats and editions. Synopsis Author. With a foreword by Mary Midgley. Iris Murdoch One of the most outstanding British authors of the twentieth century, Iris Murdoch was a writer of multi-layered novels, often of a strong philosophical and psychological bent.

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