Though best known as a novelist, Murdoch (The Message to the Planet, 1989, etc.)--as her years teaching at Oxford attest--is a notable philosopher as well (Acastos, 1986, etc.). Here is her philosophical magnum opus, a vigorous attempt to use metaphysics to reinvest modern life with a hunger for morality. While the text is erudite and intellectually challenging as Murdoch plunges deeply into classic philosophy (Plato, Schopenhauer, Descartes, Kant, Wittgenstein, etc.) and literature (Auden, Proust, Rilke, etc.), it rarely proves inaccessible as she uses her literary gifts to present formidable ideas in clear, occasionally witty form, and as she nimbly picks her way through religions both east and west to call for a replacement of God-oriented theology by a ""form of moral philosophy."" For, she asks, ""Does not the concept of [the] 'good' force itself upon us? Do not art, nature, thought and duty all compel us to grant its reality as well as making the idea of loving it intelligible?"" Philosophical-minded readers will relish Murdoch's argument, surely one of the most elegant and impassioned metaphysical forays in recent years.