Iris Murdoch
Philippa Foot
Elizabeth Anscombe
Mary Midgley

The Quartet in Cambridge

Anscombe studied with Wittgenstein in Cambridge in the 1940s. There was a railway link between Oxford and Cambridge and she commuted back and forth. Murdoch had a fellowship at Newnham College in 1947-1948, but she often spent time in Oxford with Foot and Midgley in Park Town.

At the time that Elizabeth and Iris were research students at Cambridge there was, Iris said, just one word on everyone’s lips: ‘Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein, Wittgentsein’. It was in the neo-Gothic Tower of Whewell Court that Elizabeth Anscombe first heard Wittgenstein describe a new way to bring philosophical questions back to the context of human life. There too that Iris Murdoch met Wittgenstein, just once: ‘What’s the use of having one philosophical discussion?’, he asked her, ‘It’s like having one piano lesson.’


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