By Murdoch, Iris; Murdoch, Jean Iris; Woolf, Virginia; Woolf, Adeline Virginia Stephen; Lazenby, Donna J.; Woolf, Virginia; Murdoch, Iris
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Extra info for A Mystical Philosophy: Transcendence and Immanence in the Works of Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch
114 Russell’s view of aesthetics is reinforced by Clive Bell’s study, Art, printed in the same year as Russell’s ‘Mysticism and Logic’. ’116 ‘It is fatal,’ he writes, for art ‘to sacrifice significance to representation,’117 and while objects are to be experienced ‘as pure forms,’ that is ‘as ends in themselves,’118 this mode of perception is to begin with the emotional response of an individual to a set of relations, the significance of this formal arrangement being consummated by an ‘inspired emotion’ once again:119 ‘Naturally, if an artist’s emotion,’ he writes, ‘comes to him from, or through, the perception of forms and formal relations, he will be apt to express it in forms derived from those through which it came; but he will not be bound by his vision.
For example, Bernard’s comment recited above (‘For I am no mystic; something always plucks at me . ’)106 conveys a shared sense, with Russell, of mystical vision as bringing an unadulterated sense of unity to experience, to a realm removed from the everyday sphere of concrete objects and events. Earlier in To The Lighthouse (1927) it is ‘the mystic’, ‘the visionary’ who, walking the beach, had ‘suddenly an answer . . 107 But Woolf ’s ambiguous relationship with the mystical returns for consideration.
The logical positivism which defined early twentieth-century British philosophy was of a spirit in continuity with its heritage, particularly that heritage defined by the work of Cambridge philosopher Bertrand Russell. Ayer was to inherit Russell’s discussion of mysticism, bringing it to define, within the context of even stricter attention to the logical and empirical structures of knowledge, the excesses of metaphysical speculation. 82 The resonances of this engagement are relevant here insofar as they illuminate Woolf ’s conversation with, and reaction to, Russell’s distinction between the logical and mystical, especially where he identifies the latter with what he characterised as the irrational and epiphenomenal effusions of art (and literature).
A Mystical Philosophy: Transcendence and Immanence in the Works of Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch by Murdoch, Iris; Murdoch, Jean Iris; Woolf, Virginia; Woolf, Adeline Virginia Stephen; Lazenby, Donna J.; Woolf, Virginia; Murdoch, Iris