“Wisdom denotes pursuing of the best ends by the best means”
Founded in Belfast, 2002, in memory of the moral philosopher Francis Hutcheson (1694 -1746) who, if remembered today, is best known as the ‘Father of the Scottish Enlightenment’, although he came from Ulster (Saintfield, Co. Down) and died in Dublin. Intellectually Hutcheson was a pillar of the Enlightenment, but emphasising the practical and applied aspects of it in political, economic and sociological terms,
Hutcheson’s arguments were for economic development by removing artificial constraints on trade and commerce, e.g. old medieval guild restrictions and state monopolies, to open up ‘free markets’ which all could entre on an equal basis.
Hutcheson thus presaged the civic society: tolerance based on excluding subjective (identity) matters from the public sphere, enabling equal entry and participation to all. Currently, Northern Ireland is following the polar opposite route and has institutionalised its religious divisions into a sectarian society, resulting in disconnected politics and continually failing institutions. The aim of the Institute is thus to recall Ulster’s own indigenous philosophical tradition to examine ways to develop a new politics in Northern Ireland and to overcome its severe sectarian divisions in a positive and progressive manner, one that has been found to work in the rest of the Western world.
The Francis Hutcheson Principles
It seems obvious that in facing a killer disease we should respond medically first and foremost: the economy can recover but those killed by the pandemic cannot: reasonable, and accurate as far as it goes.
From the 1890s onwards there has been a Republican drive to infiltrate the Gaelic movement and hijack it for their own political purposes, diverting it from legitimate cultural and scholarly study.
If America has an Irish heritage it is fundamentally that of Ulster-Scots (Protestant Dissenters) who, like their fellows from England and Wales, established the American colonies to be free from Episcopalian (clerical hierarchy) rule. They sought freedom from the religious intolerance of Anglican and Roman Catholic hierarchies, the liberty to worship in their own way, something that Anglican and Catholic Episcopalian persecution denied them in Europe.