A book by Leonard O’Brian exploring the work of five Irish philosophers.
- John Scottus Eriugena
- John Toland
- George Berkeley
- Francis Hutcheson
- Iris Murdoch
The festival is nothing new. Neither old nor new it is elemental. […] One thinks of the harvest festival blessing the year’s yield and completeness, of Easter transfiguring the sacramental earth with jubilating, spring shouts of renewal. […]
In the modern rationalisation of time the weekend gets its instrumental justification from the workweek; working time possesses the primacy. In the festival, by contrast, we experience time as other. Festival time does not simply borrow its meaning from worktime. […] For modernity, efficient work, aided by powerful technology, is the primary transformer of nature. With the festival, however, nature and the human are transformed in a different way such that everyday work becomes a secondary mode of transformation. The original power of being itself is festal.
William Desmond, Philosophy and Its Others: Ways of Being and Mind (pp. 301-2)
I would also argue that the poetical imagination in art is one that opens up an ethical sensitivity in us. It opens us to other ways of thinking, living, and being. Here I am, an Irishman in Boston in 2012 reading Anna Karenina, for example, and suddenly I’m a woman in nineteenth-century Russia, and I’m committing suicide. That’s what imagination can do. The artistic imagination can, as King Lear says, expose oneself to “feel what wretches feel.” And that vicarious literary imagining, it seems to me, is already protoethical in that it’s opening us up to acts of sympathy, to living as others lived, and to living as if we were them. And that’s an ethical sensitivity that I think can help us to live better.
Of course, there are misuses of imagination as well. We can go the other way and close ourselves off from others, and then it can become voyeuristic, egotistical. It can generate a kind of narcissism that feeds upon itself, and then we believe, as the serpent says to Adam and Eve, that we shall be as gods, that is, sufficient unto ourselves (see Gen. 3:4). It seems to me that the imagination that thinks it is sufficient unto itself and has no other beyond, no vis-à-vis outside of itself, is on an unethical path.
Imperial history is taken as a standard for all national history, as if nations that have been the target of invasion, conquest, and colonisation cannot have histories appropriate to themselves — histories that tell a story of disruption, displacement, and discontinuity. […]
There is, of course, such a thing as Irish intellectual thought but it can’t be characterized in imperially nationalistic terms.
From the Preface of A History of Irish Thought, Thomas Duddy. via @judystout1