A History of Irish Thought

A History of Irish Thought

A History of Irish Thought

A History of Irish Thought

Synopsis

The first complete introduction to the subject ever published, A History of Irish Thought presents an inclusive survey of Irish thought and the history of Irish ideas against the backdrop of current political and social change in Ireland.Clearly written and engaging, the survey introduces an array of philosophers, polemicists, ideologists, satirists, scientists, poets and political and social reformers, from the anonymous seventh-century monk, the Irish Augustine, and John Scottus Eriugena, to the twentieth century and W.B. Yeats and Iris Murdoch.Thomas Duddy rediscovers the liveliest and most contested issues in the Irish past, and brings the history of Irish thought up to date. This volume will be of great value to anyone interested in Irish culture and its intellectual history.

Excerpt

'A history of Irish thought? But surely there isn't such a thing as Irish thought-at least not in the sense in which there is, say, English, French, or German thought!' Since I began a few years ago to work on this book and to tell people, perhaps unadvisedly, about the nature of my undertaking, this is the kind of objection that has most frequently come my way. the assumption behind the objection is that Ireland, given the ebb and flow of its colonial history, has not been in a position to sustain the continuities of culture, institution, and civic life that are the prerequisite for a national, ethnically distinctive intellectual history. Whenever I point out that there is a good deal less continuity in English, French, or German thought than is generally assumed, I am quickly told that there is nonetheless a distinctive clustering of concerns in each case, a distinctive vocabulary, a distinctive ethos or style of thought, and that these marks of distinction are most evident among the great or most important thinkers. When I point out that most great thinkers are highly individual in their thinking and that this fact should weigh against their being easily 'nationalized', I am then told that even genius has roots, that these roots are always grounded in culture, and that culture is always in some sense national. It is usually conceded by these objectors that Ireland has indeed produced a few fine individual thinkers but that these have been isolated figures, that they do not constitute a national tradition of thought, and that their influences were not particularly Irish anyway. So, the objectors reiterate firmly, if with a touch of

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