7

PERIPHERAL VISIONS (1)

Irish Thought in the Nineteenth Century

Politically, the Irish nineteenth century was marked by a growing resistance among the Catholic population to English rule and to the Anglo-Irish Protestant ascendancy. This resistance expressed itself in the successful struggle for Catholic emancipation, in the more star-crossed struggle for the repeal of the Act of Union, and in the rise during the second half of the century of a militant, conspiratorial Fenianism and a constitutional, parliamentary nationalism. The militant and parliamentary movements came together in the so-called 'new departure' of 1879, a highly effective meshing of forces that resulted in what one historian has described as 'a mass movement without precedent in Irish history' (Moody 1987:275). A new era of concessionary English rule under the administrations of W.E. Gladstone led to the disestablishment of the Anglican Church of Ireland in 1869, a significant gesture that would be followed in subsequent decades by important measures of land reform. But the outstanding fact of nineteenth-century Ireland is a massively tragic one, an event of such proportions that it cannot be swept neatly under the category of either the political or the economic. Though the period after the famine was one of recovery and reform, the fact of the famine itself must keep making its presence felt throughout this chapter and the next, even when it does not occupy our discursive thoughts. The event itself traverses the century like a permanent scar, affecting the way we view the developments that led up to it as well as those that lead away from it, including the sometimes rarefied developments

-214-

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A History of Irish Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • 1 - Interpreting Marvels 1
  • 2 - The Philosophy of Creation 18
  • 3 - Nature Observed 45
  • 4 - John Toland and the Ascendancy of Reason 82
  • 5 - Wonderfully Mending the World 124
  • 6 - Against the Selfish Philosophers 168
  • 7 - Peripheral Visions (1) 214
  • 8 - Peripheral Visions (2) 241
  • 9 - Between Extremities 285
  • Bibliography 321
  • Index 348
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