Art and Religion, Part Two

Iris Murdoch

If you don’t know Iris Murdoch’s work, you’re in for a treat. I recently quoted a passage from her novel The Bell, in which main character Dora visits the National Gallery. Here I quote from one of her philosophical works, The Fire and the Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists:

“Good art, thought of as symbolic force rather than statement, provides a stirring image of a pure transcendent value, a steady visible enduring higher good, and perhaps provides for many people, in an unreligious age without prayer or sacraments, their clearest experience of something grasped as separate and precious and beneficial and held quietly and unpossessively in the attention. Good art which we love can seem holy and attending to it can be like praying… Good art… provides work for the spirit.”


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