Thursday, 30 June 2022

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship...

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship. He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had needed repairs.  Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy.

These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this should put him to great expense.

Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms that it was idle to suppose she would not come safely home from this trip also. He would put his trust in Providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about the honesty of builders and contractors.

In such ways he acquired a sincere and comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy; he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance-money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales...

I have made the line of thought more visible with line breaks.  But that is the opening paragraph of William K. Clifford's essay THE ETHICS OF BELIEF, first published in 1877.

Links to the text and to other material, pasted in below...

If our starting point is Irish Diaspora Studies - and today it is - I think that it is difficult to read that paragraph without thinking of the discourse of the emigrant ship, of the Irish Famine migrations, and, of course, the 'Coffin Ships', now enshrined in song and sculpture.  All the elements are there, the Emigrant Ship, the unhappy families leaving their 'fatherland' to seek better times, exiles...  Ungenerous suspicions.  No tales told...

I will not unpack here my own line of thought, which can appear a bit complex - but, for me, is fairly simple.  One of the things that first interested me about Irish Diaspora Studies was the notion that we had an ideal case study of the nature of knowledge - the ways in which knowledge is created, is used, and earns its living.  When I first started developing that line of thought, I fell among philosophers.  Yes, yes, I know, but some of my best friends... 

And it was suggested to me that what I was doing belonged in the sub-section of philosophy called epistemology, the creation of knowledge.  In fact I would argue that that is not correct - I think that what I do is something else, not epistemology.  But I must accept the steer, from my friends, and explore the suggestion.  And I have become interested recently in epistemology's evil twin, what we are learning to call agnotology, the creation of ignorance.

As have we all.

I recently found myself reading Scott Aikin on the Straw Man...  We have plenty of straw persons in Irish Diaspora Studies.  And this led me back to that cluster of questions - called 'the ethics of belief', after Clifford's title - where epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, and psychology, meet.  And back to my meditations on the founding text, Clifford's 1877 essay.  

And the Emigrant Ship.

In discussion of Clifford's essay, the detail that Clifford himself had experienced a shipwreck is mentioned, but is usually - and probably rightly - discarded as irrelevant.  Clifford, himself, describes the wreck of the survey ship, Psyche, 1870, as 'comfortably managed...'  

Discussion of Clifford's essay also tends to discard, without comment, the detail that he is describing an Emigrant Ship.  And, I think, had in mind the discourses around the Irish Famine migrations.

Now, how could we unpack that?

Patrick O'Sullivan

June 2022

 

1  William K. Clifford,

THE ETHICS OF BELIEF, I. THE DUTY OF INQUIRY

https://people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/Clifford_ethics.pdf

Originally published in Contemporary Review, 1877; reprinted in William K. Clifford, Lectures and Essays, ed. Leslie Stephen and Frederick Pollock (London: Macmillan and Co., 1886). The author (1845–1879) was an English mathematician


2  In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Clifford's shipowner and his Emigrant Ship become a 'shipowner who, once upon a time, was inclined to sell tickets for a transatlantic voyage...'

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-belief/

The Ethics of Belief

First published Mon Jun 14, 2010; substantive revision Mon Mar 5, 2018

The “ethics of belief” refers to a cluster of questions at the intersection of epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, and psychology.


3 Two useful books...

Chisholm, M. (2002) Such Silver Currents: The Story of William and Lucy Clifford, 1845-1929. 1st edn. The Lutterworth Press. doi: 10.2307/j.ctv1pdrr4p.

Madigan, T. (2008) W.K. Clifford and ‘The ethics of belief’. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.


4 Scott Aikin and colleagues on the Straw Man - plenty to find out there.  See for example...

Aikin, S. and Casey, J. (2022) Straw Man Arguments: A Study in Fallacy Theory. London: Bloomsbury Academic.


5  Searching for 'The wreck of the Psyche' will take you to many strange places.  The best account I have found is in Science and Controversy, A Biography of Sir Norman Lockyer, Founder Editor of Nature By A. Meadows, 2016.

Pasted in below, photo from The Correspondence of Charles Darwin: Volume 18, 1870, by Charles Darwin, Frederick Burkhardt, Sydney Smith, Cambridge University Press, 1985...

 

Monday, 20 June 2022

It has been a quiet day in Irish Diaspora Studies...

We still have alerts in place - left over from the time of the Irish Diaspora List (see my notes about the Ir-D List, somewhere below).

So, we still monitor items of interest to Irish Diaspora Studies, books, articles, lectures, exhibitions, conferences, as they appear in the media - and some items I can share with Irish Diaspora Studies colleagues...

In recent years, of course, in the background, we have been negotiating Irish History's Decade of Centenaries.  There has been much to mull over.

Today alerts came in as usual - and, on one day, I shared these three links with colleagues... 

We see...  Decisions within the diaspora affecting the course of Irish History...  Creativity re-shaping an identity for independent Ireland - disparaged women's work re-shaping identity...  Independent Ireland still tidying up its untidy legislative legacy, proving of interest to the investigative journalists at Bellingcat....  And structures for three discussions within Irish Diaspora Studies.


1.

London assassination a landmark in Irish history

https://www.irishpost.com/history/london-assassination-a-landmark-in-irish-history-235941

The gunning down of a British army officer had far-reaching consequences for Ireland

This article by Ronan McGreevy concludes...

'The Wilson shooting was Ireland’s Sarajevo moment. Without it, there would have been no British ultimatum, no shelling of the Four Courts, no Civil War. Michael Collins would have lived, and the history of the new Irish state would have been different.

The impact of the Wilson assassination has been underestimated, because of the assumption that the Civil War would have happened anyway and his death only hastened the inevitable, but no war is inevitable.

From Collins’ perspective, Wilson was a dangerous enemy of Irish nationalism. Collins was in the visitors’ gallery of the House of Commons in late May 1922 when Wilson declared that the British government should have no hesitation in crossing the Border to secure order. Collins also held Wilson responsible for the “worse than Armenian atrocities” in Belfast.

Wilson had made enemies too within the British government. Yet Collins miscalculated the depth of unhappiness in Britain about the toleration afforded to the anti-Treaty side by the fledging Irish state.

The shots that killed Wilson would lead on exactly two months later to the shot that killed Collins at Béal na Bláth, leaving Ireland immeasurably the poorer for his passing.'

Ronan McGreevy is the author of ‘Great Hatred: the Assassination of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson MP’, published by Faber (€16.99). He is a former Irish Post journalist.


2.

The forgotten ‘weird sisters’ of WB Yeats who helped forge Irish identity

Overlooked except for a scornful reference in Ulysses, Elizabeth and Lily ran a vibrant women-only arts and crafts enterprise

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/20/the-forgotten-weird-sisters-of-wb-yeats-who-helped-forge-irish-identity

'...They ran an arts and craft enterprise, Cuala Press, from 1908 to 1940, but Elizabeth and Lily were chiefly known as the sisters of two famous brothers – the poet William Butler Yeats and the painter Jack Yeats. They lived in the shadow of their male siblings, and the jibe in Ulysses, before fading into obscurity...'

This Guardian article links to the emerging Cuala Press archive, visible on the TCD web site...

'The Cuala Press ceased operation in 1986, and in October that same year Anne and Michael Yeats presented the remaining business archive (IE TCD MS 11535) and printing equipment to the Library of Trinity College Dublin. The print collection (IE TCD MS 11574) was gifted to the Library by Vin Ryan of the Schooner Foundation in 2017. Funding provided by the Schooner Foundation in 2020/2021 has enabled the conservation, metadata creation, and digitisation of the Cuala Press collection.'

https://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/collections/ms35tg81f?locale=en

 

3.

Inside the Secretive World of Irish Limited Partnerships

'In early June 2019, the Bitsane cryptocurrency platform was a hive of activity.

According to CoinMarketCap, a price-tracking website for crypto-assets, it had a trading volume worth $7 million a day. Bitsane itself boasted of users in over 200 countries.

Within a few weeks, however, the platform, its social media sites and the deposits of close to 250,000 registered users had vanished.

Bitsane customers took to social media, first to question whether there was a temporary issue, then to panic about their deposits, then to angrily compare losses.

Some had invested tens of thousands of dollars into a variety of cryptocurrencies that were offered on the platform.

But from one day to the next, all that was gone...'

'... What Exactly is an Irish Limited Partnership?

ILPs came into existence as part of the United Kingdom’s 1907 Limited Partnerships Act. At this time, Ireland was still a part of the UK.

The same act brought into existence Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs), a corporate vehicle exclusive to Scotland.  Bellingcat has previously produced a number of reports concerning the alleged misuse of SLPs after a series of high-profile money laundering schemes came to light...

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2022/06/18/inside-the-secretive-world-of-irish-limited-partnerships/