Dostoyevsky’s idea of collective responsibility for human error is as important now as it ever was, while his message of compassion for all life on Earth remains a challenge. He was also a visionary, who intuited the terrible cruelties that would soon reign ascendant in his country.
Ireland’s 2011 general election saw big changes, with the collapse of Fianna Fáil in particular. In 2016 we saw Fine Gael and Labour weaken, a partial recovery for Fianna Fáil and progress for Sinn Féin and the far left. It may be, however, that the prospects for continuing dramatic change are not strong.
Should a book which contains passages clearly the product of imaginative re-creation be marketed as a biography? Jonathan Swift’s contradictions encourage many different kinds of response, but a work written in a highly imaginative style should perhaps be described as commentary.
The European Enlightenment made its mark in Ireland as well as elsewhere. In the middle decades of the eighteenth century there was optimism about improvement and progress, while at the same time poor harvests, famine and disease took off between 13 and 20 per cent of the population.
Liberals in the US have been told they must understand the grievances of Trump voters. Yet it is difficult to conclude that many of them are anything other than the political enemies of social solidarity, who believe that only ‘winners’ deserve the basic necessities of a good life.
Economic stagnation in the Ireland of the 1950s persuaded many that a different economic course must be tried out. The name of TK Whitaker is intimately associated with the new departure, but the changes that occurred did not exactly match the recipe he initially offered.
Mental function is immensely complicated and our understanding of it still in its relative infancy; in Ireland our first psychiatric institutions date back only to the early eighteenth century. Could it be that it is the human brain or mind, and not space, that is the final frontier?