…raising his holy hand, making the sign of the cross in the air saying to the beast, “do not advance any further; do not seize the man but quickly depart”. Then indeed the beast, at the command of this holy man, speedily flees trembling.
The dramatic passage above is from the Vita Sancti Columbae, the life of Columba, telling of his encounter with a huge beast with large teeth near Loch Ness1 The 7th of December this year is the 1,500th anniversary of his birth, and this year sees a series of events, including an exhibition by the RIA Library on the Cathach (available here). However this post is not about Columba but the writer of the passage above, Adomnán, who created a law which has been described as the “first Geneva Convention”.
It is a curious but indisputable fact that every philosophical baby born alive is either a little positivist or a little Hegelian. […]
Professor J. O. Wisdom of York University, Toronto, once observed that he knew people who thought there was no philosophy after Hegel, and others who thought there was none before Wittgenstein, and that he was prepared to contemplate the possibility that both were right.
Ernest Gellner (1987) “Positivism against Hegelianism” in Relativism and the Social Sciences, Cambridge University Press. Quote on p. 4.
Wisdom was qualified to comment, as someone who studied both, even if his conclusion is cursing both houses! Wisdom was born 110 years ago, on this day.