Memory and Modernity: the Clash of Science and Scholasticism in Ireland
(Queen’s University of Belfast)
Paper short abstract:
The purpose of this paper is to explore the different concepts of scholasticism and scientific philosophy as foundations for cultural traditions that have hardened into ethnic identities
Paper long abstract:
Collective memory is vital to the development and maintenance of any identity, it gives us place, time and being in the cosmos, maps out our past, present and future, brings structure and order to our lives and makes them meaningful and purposeful. However, memory can be a two edged sword, it can provide men with a springboard to the future, a trajectory that impels them forward or it can become something that ties one to the past and prevents men from developing and moving forward. In Ireland memory has played a significant part in maintaining a past that is largely negative in terms of the 'other' and in terms of developing and moving forward, to embrace modernity and overcome old cleavages. This is due to the dominant cultural ethos in the religious traditions, i.e. scholasticism, which emphasises references to the past as prime sources of authority and legitimacy, not present based or future orientated knowledge and learning, as in science. The failure to develop a scientific culture in Ireland and the dominance of a scholastic based culture has meant a constant re-fighting of past battles and a failure to move on. The purpose of this paper is therefore to explore the different concepts of scholasticism and scientific philosophy as foundations for cultural traditions that have hardened into ethnic identities and to examine how they have influenced folk memory and attitudes to the other, thus leading to partition and the continuing 'troubles' in Northern Ireland.
Ethnic-religious segregation: the preservation of memory or the preservation of conflict (IUAES Commission on Urban Anthropology)