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Midgley, Mary. Philosophical Plumbing
1992, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 33:139-151
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist

Summary: Is philosophy like plumbing? I have made this comparison a number of times when I have wanted to stress that philosophising is not just grand and elegant and difficult, but is also needed. It is not optional. The idea has caused mild surprise, and has sometimes been thought rather undignified. The question of dignity is a very interesting one, and I shall come back to it at the end of this article. But first, I would like to work the comparison out a bit more fully.

Comment: This article raises questions about what philosophy is, and what philosophy is for. It would be very suitable for students that are new to philosophy, for example in a first year History of Philosophy module.

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Murdoch, Iris. Against Dryness
1961, Encounter, January issue: 16-20.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion

Abstract: The complaints which I wish to make are concerned primarily with prose, not with poetry, and primarily with novels, not with drama; and they are brief, simplified, abstract, and possibly insular. They are not to be construed as implying any precise picture of “the function of the writer.” It is the function of the writer to write the best book he knows how to write. These remarks have to do with the background to present-day literature, in Liberal democracies in general and Welfare States in particular, in a sense in which this must be the concern of any serious critic.

Comment: This text offers a vibrant reflection on the different writing styles within philosophy and literature throughout the centuries. It would be useful for courses which touch upon the subject of philosophical style, meta-philosophy or philosophical methods, as well as – more broadly – discussions which pertain to the importance of contextualising philosophy and situating thinkers within their surrounding political environments. Though this text is clearly written, it requires a good amount of background knowledge of the authors cited within the text and as such is probably best suited to intermediate or advanced students.

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