Posted in 1801-1922 Union and Rebellion Thomas Kingsmill Abbott

Irish Kantians: Found in Translation

The Irish interest in Kant spans back to Dr J. A. O’Keeffe, whose 1795 Essay on the Progress of Human Understanding included a description of Kant’s conception of the aims of philosophy. We know little of O’Keeffe but we do know that he attended lectures in Leipzig given by Friedrich Gottlob Born, who was translating Kant into Latin. O’Keeffe’s radical leanings were manifest in the book, adding to heated English debate on Kant in 1796, and increasing the association of Kant with radical ideas in the English mind.

O’Keeffe had translated sections of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in discussing it, but the first full translation was by the Scot John Richardson in 1797, and attracted little notice. By 1819 Kant was better known in England, and Richardson published additional translations with limited impact. Mahaffy (1878, p. 207) argues for Sir William Hamilton (not the Irish mathematician), along with Semple’s translations, as the driving force in the 1830s for the study of Kant in Britain, and certainly Scottish translators and commentators were active from the late 1830s on.

Despite interest in Kant by Irish individuals such as William Rowan Hamilton (introduced to Kant in the early 1830s by Samuel Coleridge), systematic academic interest did not emerge until the 1860s. Maffahy gives an account of the birth of the Kantian school in Trinity:
Continue reading “Irish Kantians: Found in Translation”

Posted in Events Maria Edgeworth Richard Lovell Edgeworth

Literary Tours of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford

The House in which Maria Edgeworth Lived Public Domain: from "Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil" by Richard Lovett (1888)
The House in which Maria Edgeworth Lived
Public Domain: from “Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil” by Richard Lovett (1888)

Edgeworthstown was the home of Richard Lovell Edgeworth and his daughter Maria Edgeworth who wrote many novels including Belinda and Caste Rackrent. These two, particularly Maria are the focus of the Literary Tour of Edgeworthstown. Also referenced are Maria’s cousin the Abbé Edgeworth (who was with King Louis XVI when the king was guillotined), Oliver Goldsmith, Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth and Oscar Wilde.

Details of the locations visited are available on the Mostrim website. For details of when the tours are run please contact Mostrim before visiting.

Posted in Laurence Sterne

Interior Riches

“A Sentimental Journey” (1768) shows how the language of sensibility became increasingly interiorized in the eighteenth century. Throughout the work Sterne’s interest in his surroundings and in his fellow beings is subordinate to the interior riches they provide him with: the sentimental journey is first and foremost an inner journey, through which “a large volume of adventures may be grasped” and nothing should he missed that “he can fairly lay his hands on”. If the terms here reflect the discourse of acquisitiveness and self-interest, they more generally reveal the self-reflexivity of his perception.

From Christine Levecq Slavery and Sentiment: The Politics of Feeling in Black Atlantic Antislavery Writing, 1770-1850, p. 74.

The term “sentimental”, meaning “emotion-full”, was popularised by Laurence Sterne (24 November 1713 – 18 March 1768) and can be seen of a development of ethical sentimentalism, where feelings of benevolence or sympathy are the motive force for virtue. For Sterne, feelings almost become a virtue in themselves. The benefit of emotions, then, becomes subjective experience rather than outward action.

Posted in 1689 & earlier: Medieval and Early Modern James Ussher John Toland Patrick

Appropriating Patrick: Keating, Ussher, Toland and the Early Irish Church

A statue of St Patrick in an antique shop window (c) david perry/flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
A statue of St Patrick in an antique shop window
(c) david perry/flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The very oldest texts in any language written in Ireland that have survived relate to St Patrick. One, the Confessio, outlines his own account of his life. To the modern reader, it may seem sparse. There is no mention of Pascal fires, of shamrock or of snakes.

The tale of St Patrick developed over time, and to fulfil different purposes. Muirchú’s Latin Life of Saint Patrick, compiled around the year 680 which includes tales of wonders, was written to confirm Armagh’s pre-eminent place in the Irish Church. Patrick was said to have arrived in Ireland in 432AD to undermine the earlier Palladius who was documented to have arrived in 431AD. The development of the myth continued into the 15th century, with examples to be found in the Book of Lismore and the Leabhar Breac. This tradition emphasised St Patrick as a wonder worker and a prophet. At the same time secular writings such as the 12th century Acallamh na Senorach include stories of Patrick meeting the Fianna.

The Norman invasion saw a parallel tradition emerge, starting with Gerald of Wales’ outline of Patrick’s life in Topographia Hibernica, which included a debunking of the legend of the banaishment of the snakes. Jocelin of Furness’ account, based on resources some of which are now lost, was written as part of the Anglo-Norman attempt to appropriate the saint. Written at the same time as the shrine in Downpatrick was established, it portrays Patrick as a miracle-working prophet, whose mother was related to St. Martin of Tours.
Continue reading “Appropriating Patrick: Keating, Ussher, Toland and the Early Irish Church”

Posted in Events George Berkeley

Lecture Series, David Berman on Berkeley and neo-Berkeleian thought. 23rd, 25th, 26th March, 10am-12noon, Trinity College Dublin

This three part lecture series on The Essential Berkeley and Neo-Berkeleian Idealism/Empiricism will be given by Prof. David Berman as part of Trinity College’s Berkeley Initiative.

All three lectures will be held in the Neill Hoey Lecture Theatre, Trinity Long Room Hub Building, Fellows’s Square, Trinity College Dublin.

Monday 23 March, 10am–12pm
Wednesday 25 March, 10am–12pm
Thursday 26 March, 10am–12pm.

The lectures are free, but registration is required on Eventbrite.

The Lecture Series Abstract from EventBrite:
Continue reading “Lecture Series, David Berman on Berkeley and neo-Berkeleian thought. 23rd, 25th, 26th March, 10am-12noon, Trinity College Dublin”

Posted in Elizabeth Hamilton Maria Edgeworth

Am I not a woman and a sister?

Am I Not a Woman And A Sister?
A variant of the Wedgewood designed seal of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade
Wikimedia – Public Domain

The eighteenth century had seen changes in the position of women, not all positive. While arguments for rights for all citizens clearly offered an opening for women to claim these rights, the tendency to assign women to a separate domestic sphere counteracted this. Even in charity work, where women were long pivotal, the growth of institutions tended to push female control to the sidelines. The setting up of institutions for women by women tended to counteract this trend, and women also continued to operate within the boundaries society had set for them.

The campaign against the slave trade was one philanthropic cause that appealed to women, and for which they could directly act. In January 1792 William Drennan in Dublin wrote to Samuel McTierin Belfast: “The Quakers here are forming associations against sugar, and I should much like to see family resolutions on the subject drawn up and subscribed by some of the matrons of Belfast most famous for conserves and preserves.” If a boycott of West Indian sugar was to be effective, it needed the support of those in charge of food production: the women.
Continue reading “Am I not a woman and a sister?”

Posted in Eriugena

Damned Scotus Eriugena

Eriugina was not understood in his time
“which explains, perhaps, the delay in condemning him”
And they went looking for Manicheans
And found, so far as I can make out, no Manicheans
So they dug for, and damned Scotus Eriugina
“Authority comes from right reason,
never the other way on”
Hence the delay in condemning him
Aquinas head down in a vacuum,
Aristotle which way in a vacuum?

From Canto XXXVI by Ezra Pound.

Poster poems: light in the Guardian, on the role played by light in the work of various poets: “For Pound, light was the informing principle of the universe, a view best summarised in the phrase ‘all things that are, are lights’ which he attributed to the Irish philosopher John Scotus Eriugena in the Pisan Cantos.”

Posted in John Tyndall

Physics to Consciousness

[T]he passage from the physics of the brain to the corresponding facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definite thought and a definite molecular action in the brain occur simultaneously; we do not possess the intellectual organ, nor apparently any rudiment of the organ, which would enable us to pass, by a process of reasoning, from one to the other.”

John Tyndall on the hard problem of consciousness in the “Belfast Address”. Quoted by Galen Strawson in “Consciousness myth”Times Literary Supplement.

Posted in Events John Tyndall

“John Tyndall Resurrected”, Wed 4 March 2015, 7pm, Royal Institute London.

On Wednesday 4th March 2015 at 7pm there will be special event to celebrate the launch of the first volume of Tyndall’s correspondence. Royal Institution historian Prof Frank James is to host an evening of expert talks on Tyndall’s early life, his relationship with the Ri and the future of collaborative humanities research. Free to Ri members, £12 standard admission, £8 concession.

Further information here, book here. John Tyndall’s showmanship in the Ri Christmas lectures is described here and the Tyndal Correspondance Project has its website here.

Posted in Events

“An Evening with Wittgenstein” Thur 12 March 2015, 7.00pm ACF London (Free)

“An evening with Wittgenstein” sees the launch of the play-text Wittgenstein – The Crooked Roads, by Methuen-Bloomsbury Drama, together with a talk on the Wittgenstein family by Margaret Stonborough, Ludwig’s great niece, and the first showing of a filmed scene from the play.

Wittgenstein – The Crooked Roads was first staged in 19 April 2011 at the Riverside Studios, London, directed by Nick Blackburn and generously sponsored by both the ACF, London, and the American Philosophical Association. Written by William Lyons, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Trinity College, Dublin, the play spans Wittgensteins’ life, including his time in Ireland in 1948. (More detail on the play is available on IrishPlayography

Attendance is free; for more detail and to book see ACF London.