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30 Nov

In Our Time: Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most brilliant and shocking satires ever written in English – Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. Masquerading as an attempt to end poverty in Ireland once and for all, a Modest Proposal is a short pamphlet that draws the reader into a scheme for economic and industrial horror.

Published anonymously but written by Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal lays bare the cruel presumptions, unchecked prejudice, the politics and the poverty of the 18th century, but it also reveals, perhaps more than anything else, the character and the mind of Swift himself.

With John Mullan, Professor of English at University College London; Judith Hawley, Professor of 18th Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London and Ian McBride, Senior Lecturer in the History Department at King’s College London

The programme explains the background of the Proposal, including the confiscation of land, the growth of mathematical problem solving (referencing William Petty, surveyor of Ireland) and the conditions at the time.

23 Nov

Reading Hegel

I think many read Hegel much too innocently – this is especially true of those who want to make religious use of him. He is far more dialectically slippery and equivocal than they seem to realize or want to grant. That said, he is an essential thinker with whom one must come to terms. I’m afraid many of those who think they are beyond Hegel and dialectic are not quite where they claim to be. That is another reason why a recuperation of dialectic, both in its Hegelian and non-Hegelian forms is a continuing task. Dialectic is not univocal.

Does Hegel represent the end of metaphysics? No. Does Hegel stand for the consummation of the philosophical tradition? No. Does Hegel bring about the completion of dialectical thinking? No. Many anti-Hegelians answer yes to the above questions. I say no and engage the metaphysical tradition and dialectic differently.

[…] The reason I continue to teach Hegel is because the struggle with Hegel is worth it philosophically. I do see green readers fall under his bewitchment. I try to offer some philosophical inoculations against false conceptual enchantments. But what can one do when someone is infatuated? The spell will run its course. Or do we need to develop a need area of expertise for treating conceptual possession: philosophical exorcism?

Radical Orthodoxy: Between God and Metaphysics: An Interview with William Desmond

22 Nov

Friendship is Unnecessary

I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gave value to survival.”

C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, p. 103.

19 Nov

The “Incomparable Lady Ranelagh”

Detail from the Boyle Momument, St Patrick's Cathedral (c) Chiara Ogan/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Detail from the Boyle Momument, St Patrick’s Cathedral
(c) Chiara Ogan/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“UNESCO puts philosophy forward as a force for individual and collective emancipation”, as their statement for World Philosophy Day 2015 states. Historically, many have been locked out from philosophy due to their class or gender, and only had access to philosophical discussion through family or informal networks. One such was Katherine Jones, née Boyle.

Katherine Boyle was born 400 years ago this year, on the 22nd March, 1615 in Youghal. Her father, Richard Boyle, First Earl of Cork, saw no point in education for daughters beyond fitting them for the marriage market. It’s been suggested that Katherine obtained her education when she was sent at the age of nine and a half to live with the family of her prospective husband, Sapcott Beaumont. When she was thirteen Beaumont’s father died and the marriage contract fell through. After two years at home in Ireland she was married off to Arthur Jones, heir to Viscount Ranelagh in 1630 when she was fifteen.
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17 Nov

Exploring Irish Archives

Bookshelves in the Russell Library, Maynooth (c) Irish Philosophy (CC BY 2.0)

Bookshelves in the Russell Library, Maynooth
(c) Irish Philosophy (CC BY 2.0)

Some 87 separate Irish archives are listed on the Learn About Archives website, including some already feature on this site such as Marsh’s Library, the Russell Library in Maynooth and the Bolton Library. Other archives listed include those in universities and schools, National Archives (mostly based on Dublin), the Northern Irish Public Records Office (PRONI), county archives, diocesan libraries and more.

Learn About Archives also gives basic information about archives, gives news and events, lists a pdfs of documents under various categories and lists links to relevant websites. It also links to the Irish Archive Resource which allows users to search Irish Archives and lists genealogical resources.

Learn About Archives also maintains the Google Map of archives in Ireland.

10 Nov

This Man Had Kept A School – Pearse’s educational philosophy

St Éanna's hurling team

A hurling team from St Éanna’s
from “The Story of a Success” (1917)

Pádraic Pearse is, of course, best known as the leader of the Easter Rising in 1916, the man who read out the proclamation in front of the GPO. Born on 10th November 1879 at 27 Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse St) in Dublin, he gained a love of Irish from his mother and from his education from the Christian Brothers in Westland Row. He joined the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) in 1895 aged 16, rising quickly through the ranks to become editor of its newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis (“The Sword of Light”) in 1903. He graduated from the Royal College Dublin (now UCD) in 1901 (Flanaghan, p. 276).

Writing in An Claidheamh Soluis from 1903 to 1909, Pearse repeatedly emphasised the need for education reform to secure the intellectual and political independence of Ireland. The Irish language was key: Pearse believed that the personality of a nation is reflected in its language and “by coming into touch with the language, we come into touch with that personality” (Ó Buachalla, p. 73 quoted in Flanaghan, p. 276).
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03 Nov

George Boole Bicentenary Links

Remembering Boole Day
With Boole, #Boole and @GeorgeBoole200 trending in Ireland and the world at various points yesterday, it’s no surprise there were a lot of links being shared. If 1 is the universe and 0 is nothing, this list is closer to 0 than 1: there is a lot more on @georgeboole200, @boole2school and @UCC.

The site GeorgeBoole.com was set up last year by UCC and contains a wide range of information about Boole and the development of boolean algebra. Do you know there is a crater on the Moon named after Boole? That and more here.
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