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Metaphysical Animals by Clare Mac Cumhaill & Rachael Wiseman
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Metaphysical Animals

How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life
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Narrator Alix Dunmore

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Length 12 hours 35 minutes
Language English
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Brought to you by Penguin.

'In philosophy, one must start from scratch - & it takes a very long time to reach scratch'


Iris Murdoch, Mary Midgley, Philippa Foot and Elizabeth Anscombe were philosophy students at Oxford during the Second World War when most male undergraduates (and many tutors) were conscripted. Taught by refugee scholars, women and conscientious objectors, the four friends developed a philosophy that could respond to the war's darkest revelations.

When images of the concentration camps emerged, Foot wrote: 'We had thought something like this could not happen.' And when the atom bomb fell on Hiroshima, Anscombe saw a terrifying new possibility: by signing his name at the foot of an order, US President Harry Truman had been able to act on so vast a scale as to end the war by killing hundreds of thousands. How, they asked, do we find our way through the darkness of what we have created? Not even the great thinkers of the past or the logical innovators and Existentialists of the early twentieth century could make sense of this new human reality. So, in search of an answer, the four friends set out to bring philosophy back to life.

What is freedom? What is real? What is human goodness? As creatures who use language - as human animals - it is in our nature to ask these questions. We are metaphysical animals. And the answers we give shape what we will become.

Written with expertise and flair, Metaphysical Animals is a vivid blend of philosophy and recovered history - bringing back the women who shared ideas, as well as sofas, shoes and even lovers. Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman show how from the disorder and despair of the war, four brilliant friends brought philosophy back to life and created a way of ethical thinking that is there for us today.

ยฉ Clare Mac Cumhaill & Rachael Wiseman 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman are philosophy lecturers and friends. Mac Cumhaill is an expert in the philosophy of perception and aesthetics at Durham University, home of the Mary Midgley Papers; Wiseman lectures at Liverpool University and is a recognised authority on the work of Elizabeth Anscombe.
Their interest in the group of philosophers in this book sprang from a concern about their students: why were so many brilliant female fledgling philosophers leaving the discipline? Clare and Rachael began telling the story of Iris Murdoch, Mary Midgley, Philippa Foot and Elizabeth Anscombe to inspire the next generation.


Mac Cumhaill and Wiseman are the co-directors of www.womeninparenthesis.co.uk, a pioneering scholarly project that focuses attention on the four women and makes the case for analytic philosophy's first all-female philosophical school. Mac Cumhaill and Wiseman's mode of collaboration continues the tradition started by the group they study.

They live in Newcastle, the city to which Mary Midgley moved in 1951. In the final few years of her life Clare and Rachael became good friends with Mary. When she died, aged 99, they were inspired to tell this story.

Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman are philosophy lecturers and friends. Mac Cumhaill is an expert in the philosophy of perception and aesthetics at Durham University, home of the Mary Midgley Papers; Wiseman lectures at Liverpool University and is a recognised authority on the work of Elizabeth Anscombe.
Their interest in the group of philosophers in this book sprang from a concern about their students: why were so many brilliant female fledgling philosophers leaving the discipline? Clare and Rachael began telling the story of Iris Murdoch, Mary Midgley, Philippa Foot and Elizabeth Anscombe to inspire the next generation.


Mac Cumhaill and Wiseman are the co-directors of www.womeninparenthesis.co.uk, a pioneering scholarly project that focuses attention on the four women and makes the case for analytic philosophy's first all-female philosophical school. Mac Cumhaill and Wiseman's mode of collaboration continues the tradition started by the group they study.

They live in Newcastle, the city to which Mary Midgley moved in 1951. In the final few years of her life Clare and Rachael became good friends with Mary. When she died, aged 99, they were inspired to tell this story.

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Reviews

Irresistible... Highly evocative... Bring[s] to life an important episode in intellectual history, and [has] made me again grateful that I was for a time a contemporary of these unforgettable women Lively ... This fascinating work of historico-logico-feminism shows... how women fought their way on to the world stage of philosophy and turned its spotlight away from an analytical desert on to what was really important - moral clarity, wisdom and truth The narrative is of four brilliant women finding their voices, opposing received wisdom, and developing an alternative picture of human beings and their place in the world... To read this story is to be reminded...that the life of the mind can be as intense and eventful as friendship itself Joyful... These four are enlivening companions... four glorious heroines, confident and curious, focused on the world and not on themselves Excellent Expand reviews
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