Full course description
John Moriarty was a philosopher, writer, lecturer, gardener and – potentially – mystic. Despite these multiple roles he claimed that he was, in his own words, ‘a human first.’ His time spent in contemplation and reflection in the wild settings of places such as Inishboffin, Connemara, and Mangerton yielded monumental works such as Dreamtime, Invoking Ireland, and Night Journey to Buddh Gaia, all published between 1994 and his death in 2007.
Dropping out of academia in early life, Moriarty has been overlooked as a notable figure of Irish intellectual heritage. Yet as time passes, Moriarty’s work takes on a more prophetic and relevant character, especially with regard to the ecological crises we face now and in years to come. John Moriarty's message is a complex yet captivating weave of ecology, spirituality, philosophy, myth and folklore; this course will ease students into his work by using a short phrase each week to unpack the meaning and implications of Moriarty’s writings.
This course offers a unique opportunity to explore issues of contemporary concern through the lens of an incredibly erudite, compassionate and compelling Irish thinker
Monday evenings, 7-9pm, 26 September to 21 November, 2022
Venue: Online only via Microsoft Teams
Week 1: Housed in a Great Story – We learn about Moriarty’s early childhood and adolescence in which he ‘fell out of his story’, as his Catholic upbringing is undermined by reading Darwin’s Origin of the Species. We compare this to our own personal experiences of needing a ‘story’ to shelter us intellectually, as a house shelters us physically.
Week 2: Inclusion and Integration – Often we try to exclude or supress parts of our nature be they animalistic, primal, spiritual etc. In this session we read and discuss Moriarty’s idea that we need to confront and include all elements of our inner experience in our lives, and that this will help rather than hinder us in living more peacefully and honestly.
Week 3: The Human Habit – We explore the lessons that Moriarty takes from his time meditating in nature, including the idea that we can ‘break the habit’ of being human for short periods, which will bring us into a deeper and more responsible relationship with the natural world.
Week 4: Mind In Hibernation – Is the natural world more ‘awake’ and alive than we usually suppose? This session explores one of Moriarty’s more philosophical notions, congruent with Zen Buddhist thought, than mind/sentience may not be limited to humans and animals.
Week 5: Movement Essential – Human beings tend to be preoccupied with material gain, less so with personal growth. In this session we examine, with reference to Moriarty’s observations, the ways in which we obsess over physical movement and progress at the expense of the expansion and growth of perspective.
Week 6: Merely Clever – We discuss the ways in which the technological and scientific progression of civilisation are really just instances of ‘movement essential’; impressive, but not indicative of wisdom or ecological responsibility. We do so in relation to Moriarty’s claim that humans are intelligent insofar as they are ‘merely clever’.
Week 7: Psychic Exhaust – Moriarty died in June 2007, before the advent of the smart phone and ubiquitous use of social media. In recent years, researchers such as Anna Lembke have demonstrated that digital addiction is becoming a pervasive problem, in the developed world in particular. We explore this problem in relation to Moriarty’s prophetic claim that we are ‘drowning in our own psychic exhaust’.
Week 8: The Blind Not The Window – In the final session we evaluate Moriarty the mystic, and the relevance of this to the overall concerns of this course. If mysticism is the momentary disappearance of the egoic self, then all ego-driven conflicts (social, ecological, religious, cultural, racial etc.) may be cast in a new light if we understand the mystical experience. Moriarty offers us the chance to discuss this in a modern, Irish context.
Kevin J. Power is a Cork-born philosophy teacher and musician, now living in Castlegregory, Co. Kerry.
Since receiving his PhD from University College Cork in 2015 he has lectured in philosophy of mind, environmental ethics, philosophy of death and dying, as well as writing and delivering a unique module entitled 'The Philosophy of Interdependence' for UCC's Adult Continuing Education programme and 'The Great Story', an introductory philosophy course through the Dingle Creativity and Innovation Hub. Kevin is currently adjunct philosophy instructor for Sacred Hear University’s Dingle Campus and a member of the John Moriarty Institute for Spirituality and Ecology. Kevin's work is available through his website www.innerchapter.com