11.01.2022 Digitaler Vortrag des "Marburg Celtic Seminar" 24.01.2022 Daniel Watson (Aarhus University): Between Athens and Aachen: What is early Irish philosophy?

Bild: Matías Repetto Bonpland, Design: Andrey Trofimov

Im Rahmen der digitalen Vortragsreihe "Marburg Celtic Seminar" findet am 24.Januar 2021 um 18 Uhr der Vortrag von Dr. Daniel Watson (Aarhus University) statt.

Between Athens and Aachen: What is early Irish philosophy?

Daniel Watson
Foto: Daniel Watson

The reason that philosophy has not been found in early medieval Ireland prior to the impact of Carolingian influence is that the search for it has been guided by an ideological commitment to contemporary intuitions about the character of philosophy rather than a historical commitment to understanding the meanings that philosophia / fellsamnacht had in that context. The question of what ‘philosophy’ means in an early Irish context has been the focus of my most recent research and this paper will be my first attempt to give some account of my findings before an audience. More specifically, it will argue that early Irish speculation on the distinction of secular wisdom from sacred wisdom (and their relationship to each other) presents us with a substantial and definable philosophical tradition. In contrast to the dialectical vision of philosophy which would emerge at the court of Aachen in the time of Alcuin, this is a vision of philosophy in which grammar and law are the master disciplines. It may be said to have a broadly Middle Platonic rather than a Neoplatonic character, or in other words, to involve St. Augustine’s thought, but not to treat him as the rule against which earlier authorities were measured. However, it is found that the failure to identify and understand this tradition of philosophy does not belong wholly to historians of thought. This requires a more historical methodology on the side Celtic Studies as well. For the relevant research in this field has, thus far, generally been dominated and divided by rival contemporary assumptions about reason, inspiration and their relationship to each other, assumptions which have tended to result in the repression of ideologically unpalatable aspects of the historical evidence.

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