Dr Hannah M Altorf, St Mary's Philosopher, was recently invited to give a lecture at the prestigious Royal Institute of Philosophy, London Lecture Series. Her Lecture on Iris Murdoch and the Virtuous Peasant: What is it like to be a Woman in Philosophy, has now been viewed online more than 200 times.
2019 marks the centenary of the birth of three highly distinguished and individual philosophers, Elizabeth Anscombe, Iris Murdoch and Mary Midgley, all of whom were together in Oxford in the 1940s. Their equally distinguished colleague Philippa Foot was born in 1920. To mark this multiple centenary, the 2018-19 London lecture series of the Royal Institute of Philosophy is devoted to celebrating and discussing the work of these four remarkable and influential thinkers.
In her lecture, Dr Altorf notes Murdoch's reluctance to answer the question, what is was like to be a woman in philosophy. Instead Murdoch claimed that “these distinctions are not made at Oxford”. She would probably agree with Simone de Beauvoir’s famous saying that the subject is irritating, especially to women.
Dr Altorf notes, however, that there is ample evidence that Murdoch was aware of gender distinctions. Altorf's lecture presents some of the evidence and considers to what extent it allowed Murdoch to create her fiercely original philosophical work.