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.

Manus Charleton

The Voice in the Ear

Conscience, Hamlet felt, could make cowards of us all. Nietzsche agreed, seeing it as a conspiracy to rein in the strong and free-spirited. And yet it is those moved by conscience, human rights activists, dissidents in totalitarian societies, whom we see as holding up a light for a better world.

Meet the Replicants

Research, backed by large financial investment, is forging ahead to turn fiction into fact and reproduce human intelligence in androids that approximate to humans. What effect might these efforts, if successful, have on how we perceive and value our own intelligence and consciousness?

The God in the I

The Estonian aristocrat Hermann Keyserling was recognised as a leading intellectual in Europe and America in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1911, aged thirty-one, he travelled around the world to develop his spirituality. The Travel Diary of a Philosopher was the result.

Philosophy on the Boulevard

The bloom of Existentialism may have faded today - though its presence is still felt in literary work - but fifty years ago every fashionable person wanted to learn about it, the Establishment fretted about it, and almost every journalist seemed to be using it to make a living.

Do Right Man

An initiative sponsored by President Higgins rightly locates ethics as not just a matter of personal behaviour or minimalist professional codes, but as forming the moral fabric of society through values and principles operating within its institutions and practices.

Deeper than God

Dworkin argues that, as well as religious theists, there are many others who because they believe the universe is inherently ordered while at the same time reaching beyond our comprehension, should also be regarded as religious. He calls them religious atheists. Among scientists, Einstein is the most famous religious atheist.

Do the right thing

The debate over ethics and the role it might or might not play in economic life sparked by recent comments from President Higgins could be informed by a study of the Irish Enlightenment thinker Francis Hutcheson, who posited an objective source for our feelings of right and wrong.

The Opening to Others

Believers make use of supernatural stories to give detailed content to and make more tangible the sense of openness to the transcendent, openness to strangers.

Mind And Mystery

In a BBC Four documentary (Pol Pot’s Executioner: Welcome to Hell – May 2011), a torturer said that the only way he could have tortured his victims was to regard them as animals, as he was required to do. The practice of dehumanising prisoners by relating to them only as a number was part of this process, as it was in the Nazi death camps. A torturer might be opposed to torturing prisoners but have justifiable fears of being killed and perhaps tortured to death himself if he refuses to do so, which presumably would set up conflicting signals in his brain patterns. But there are those, such as Duche, the notorious Non Pen camp commandant during the Pol Pot regime, who oversaw and implemented the extreme methods. His state of mind must somehow have been able to override a brain state of distress. Harris writes about understanding psychopathic behaviour in terms of brain pathologies. However, there is also Hannah Arendt’s phrase for the Nazi atrocities, “the banality of evil”, and Duche’s ordinariness comes across in the documentary.

Shedding The Ego

It is to literature we have to look to convey an experience for which there are no direct words, notably to its resources within tone and connotation. Heidegger, in the end, saw in poetry a better means than philosophy to express the experience of Being. And, for Existentialist philosopher Merleau-Ponty, philosophical language needs to become more literary if it is to convey something of the experience. Since there are no direct words for the experience, philosophy, for him, needs to proceed indirectly or obliquely.