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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 76, Issue 3, Summer 2002

F.B.A. Asiedu
Pages 393-410

The Elusive Face of Modern Platonism
Iris Murdoch on Anselm and the Ontological Argument

Iris Murdoch’s Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals ranges wide over the field of Western philosophical thought. Throughout the work, Murdoch proposes and enacts a form of philosophical inquiry that she believes supports a moral philosophy based on the idea of the good. One of her attempts, partly inspired by Paul Tillich and J. N. Findlay, centers on her critique and appropriation of the structure of the so-called “ontological argument” in Anselm’s Proslogion. This study assesses Murdoch’s accomplishment and the tenability of the kind of Platonism she proposes against Anselm’s argument about the good in both the Monologion and the Proslogion. My claim is that Anselm’s conception of the good simply does not permit the kind of interpretation that Murdoch puts on the “ontological argument.”