Philosophy of everyday life
Rethinking the role of philosophy in our lives with the Oxford women philosopher quartet (Anscombe, Foot, Midgley, Murdoch)
Keywords:Oxford Quartet, Mary Midgley, Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, Moral Philosophy
At Oxford University, in the context of WW2, when men were largely obliged to abandon the university benches to take part in the war effort, four women philosophers, Iris Murdoch (1919-1999), Mary Midgley (1919-2018), Elizabeth Anscombe (1919-2001) and Philippa Foot (1920-2010), formed a group of philosophical reflections that would become a competitor, after the war, to John L. Austin’s famous ‘Saturday Mornings’. At the heart of the concerns of this ‘wartime quartet’: putting the importance of being human back at the centre of ethics. They opposed “modern moral philosophy” and its many presuppositions, including the claim that ethical questions are independent of the facts of human life or concern a purely rational subject abstracted from everyday issues and from its belonging to the human species. By putting the importance of being human back at the heart of their ethical reflections, these philosophers came to reflect on issues that directly concern human life, far from the philosophical abstractions that interested their men homologues. In this paper, I explore the extent to which this re-inscription of philosophy into everyday life and into ordinary human concerns, opens the way to a feminist philosophy and ethics.
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