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Molyneux's Question: The Irish Debates

Fasko, Manuel and West, Peter. (2020) Molyneux's Question: The Irish Debates. In: Molyneux's Question and the History of Philosophy. London, p. 125.

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Abstract

William Molyneux was born in Dublin, studied in Trinity College Dublin (TCD), and was a founding member of the Dublin Philosophical Society (DPS), Ireland's counterpart to the Royal Society in London (Hoppen 1970: x). He was a central figure in the Irish intellectual milieu during the Early Modern period and - along with George Berkeley and Edmund Burke - is one of the best-known thinkers to have come out of that context and out of Irish thought more generally. In 1688, when Molyneux wrote the letter to Locke in which he posed the now famous question about a man born blind made to see, he was an active member of the DPS and was on familiar terms with several other key figures in Irish philosophy at the time. For these reasons, the intellectual environment in Dublin and Ireland is where the effects of Molyneux's famous question would have been most immediately and directly felt. It would be amiss, then, for a survey of the impact and influence of Molyneux's question to omit an examination of its reception in Early Modern Ireland. Accordingly, our aim in this paper is to chart the reception, and subsequent employment, of Molyneux's question in one of the most contentious issues taken up by Early Modern Irish thinkers, namely, debates concerning human knowledge of the divine attributes. These debates, about whether and how we can gain knowledge of God's nature and attributes, concerned some, if not all, of the most influential figures in Irish thought during the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century, including William King (the archbishop of Dublin from 1702-1729), Peter Browne (provost of Trinity College from 1699-1710), and George Berkeley (fellow of Trinity College and, later, bishop of Cloyne from 1734-1753).
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement K√ľnste, Medien, Philosophie > Fachbereich Philosophie > Theoretische Philosophie (Wild)
UniBasel Contributors:Fasko, Manuel
Item Type:Book Section, refereed
Book Section Subtype:Further Contribution in a Book
Publisher:Routledge
ISBN:978-0-367-03092-6
e-ISBN:978-0-429-02037-7
Series Name:Rewriting the History of Philosophy
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Book item
Language:English
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:17 Mar 2021 15:15
Deposited On:17 Mar 2021 15:15

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