Metaphysical Animals


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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, 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.


Joyful... These four are enlivening companions... four glorious heroines, confident and curious, focused on the world and not on themselves * Spectator *
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 -- Thomas Nagel * London Review of Books *
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 -- John Walsh * Sunday Times *
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 -- Anil Gomes * Guardian *
The heart of this book resides in the friendship among the four women and the ways they supported and influenced one another... The biographical material in Metaphysical Animals is evocative and sparkling, sketching each woman's character with a novelists mastery of detail -- Laura Miller * New York Times *

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