2 Irelands together

This August marks the 270th anniversary of the death of the man who was possibly Ireland’s greatest philosopher: Francis Hutcheson. Who has heard of this County Down-born sage, son and grandson of Presbyterian ministers, today? He ran a ‘dissenting academy’ in Drumcondra Lane in Dublin in the 1720s and during his time there wrote two of the most influential philosophy books of the 18th century; as Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University (1729-1746) he was called  ‘Father to the Scottish Enlightenment’ and taught the economist Adam Smith and the philosopher David Hume; his ideas about the right to resist enslavement, the desire of human beings to contribute to the ‘public good’ and the centrality of happiness to a good society influenced Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, the architects of the US Constitution and the United Irishmen; and he – rather than the English Utilitarian Jeremy Bentham – originated the famous…

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