I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Shedding The Ego

Shedding The Ego

Manus Charleton
What the Curlew Said, Nostos Continued, by John Moriarty, The Lilliput Press, 376 pp, €30, ISBN: 978 1 84351 124 3 In Philosophy as a Way of Life, Pierre Hadot points out that Christian belief in the Middle Ages was responsible for philosophy ceasing to be about living a philosophical understanding of the meaning of life, as it had been for the Stoics and Epicureans. Since Christianity was seen as the way, the truth and the light, philosophy was relegated to being the handmaiden of theology. Its scholastic philosophers gained a reputation for parsing abstruse points of theology, satirised in the image of them discussing how many angels might dance on a pinhead. It set in train the understanding and practice of philosophy as an ivory tower academic discipline. With the Existentialist revolt against Rationalism in the first half of the twentieth century, philosophers again emphasised the importance of personal experience both to the understanding and living of philosophy. The revolt had its roots in the nineteenth century in the views of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Kierkegaard planted the seed with his famous observation that philosophers had become like people who build castles while in reality living alongside in a shack. Existentialists such as Sartre and Camus chose to write novels and plays as more fitting than philosophical treatises for expressing personal experience. Existentialism is linked in particular to the absurdist movement in theatre. However, its fate within philosophy has largely been to become a more or less interesting set of academic ideas about freedom, authenticity, and the absurd rather than a way of life for even the few. In the parlance of the 1960s, John Moriarty was a drop-out from academic philosophy and, indeed, from Western cultural norms. After he had studied philosophy in University College Dublin he went on to lecture in literature in a university in Canada, but then gave up academic life and returned to Ireland to live in Connemara. He was looking for a way of life that would nourish his soul. And, in this his second volume of autobiography, published posthumously, he revisits his experience, mentioned in Nostos, the first volume, of finding the philosophy he was looking for already written in the natural world. He describes how, “sitting for hours on a rock downstream of a cascade in the Owenglin river”, he began to “uncouple” the “I” from seeing and from hearing. He was left in “pure…

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