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.

A slightly inhuman presence that bans bad comments and works late at night to remove the wrinkles in Slugger’s technical carpet. You will need to know about the comments policy to stay off the fightin’ side of me and there is a bit of background about me here. You can email me using this spam-proof link if you really need to, and Slugger is @sluggerotoole on Twitter. But above all, remember, Play the ball and not the man.

Living History 1968-74

A unique, once-in-a-lifetime 10-week course at Stranmillis University College Belfast featuring live, in-depth interviews with leading figures from this tumultuous era in Northern Ireland’s cultural and political history.

Live interviews with: Bernadette McAliskey, Austin Currie, Brid Rogers, Baroness Blood, Dennis Bradley, Baroness Paisley, Lord Kilclooney, Tim McGarry, Danny Morrison, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and others…

Find out more…