By your deeds shall ye be judged

Eoghan Harris is in top form this week, not least concerning his barney at the launch of the Lives Entwined book in Dublin last week. We hear from independent witnesses that he’s as formidable an opponent in the flesh as he is in print. But what’s really fascinating about this week’s column is his contrast between the Aristotelian and Platonic world views, although in a very particular sense.

He lays out what he means:

Platonists think you can talk meaningfully about “crime” or “Christianity” or “republicanism” in the abstract, cut off from the actual actions of living men and women. Aristotelians think you cannot separate the singer from the song – crime is what criminals do, Christianity is what Christians do, republicanism is what republicans do.

Then moves swiftly to the sting in the tail:

That means that if republicans are murderous thugs then republicanism is what they do and nothing else – it does not exist in pristine purity somewhere else. So if republicans are good people – in the sense that my grandfather’s selfless generation were good people, in the sense that the brethren in Bandon are good people – this will animate the abstraction called ‘republicanism’ and bring it to vibrant life, but only for as long as republicans are virtuous.