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UCD School of Philosophy

Scoil na FealsĂșnachta UCD

Brendan Purcell

MA, STL (Latern, Rome) PhD
Senior Lecturer 

Evolution: myth or theory?, Human origins, Palaeolithic-Neolithic symbolizations of order, Bernard Lonergan's Philosophy of Consciousness, Eric Voeglin's Philosophy of History, Theory of the Human Person and Interpersonal Relations


1960–63: BA in Logic and Philosophy, 1963, at University College Dublin.
1963–65: Pontifical Lateran University, Rome (BD, 1965; STL, 1967).
1967–69: MA in philosophy at UCD, by major thesis: Aspects of Method in Human Psychology.
1969–72: enrolled as PhD student at the Research Center for Motivation and Time Perspective of the Department of Psychology, Catholic University of Leuven.
1981: Awarded PhD for thesis in psychology, completed at University College Dublin: Wewards: Theoretical Foundations for a Psychology of Friendship.

‘The Horseshoe and the Ring.’ In:  The Black Book: An Analysis of Third Level Education. Eds. R. Kearney & B. Fitzpatrick (Dublin, 1975), 67–79.
‘Newgrange: Between Sun and Stone.’  The Crane Bag, 2 (1978) 1/2, 89–95.
‘Solzhenitsyn’s Struggle for Personal, Social and Historical Anamnesis.’  Philosophical Studies ,  28 (1981), 62–88.
‘Cuore per cuore: educazione reciproca nella famiglia.’  Nuova Umanità, 3 (1981) 18, 32–43.
‘La persona come comunione. Riflessioni in chiave psicologica.’Nuova Umanità, 5 (1983) 30, 87–98.
‘In Search of Newgrange: Long Night’s Journey into Day.’ In:The Irish Mind: Exploring Intellectual Traditions. Ed. R. Kearney (Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1985), 39–55 & 319–23.
‘Church, State and Society.’  Irish Philosophical Journal, 3 (1986) 1, 58–79. Expanded as: ‘Church and State.’ 
Philosophical Studies, 31 (1987), 380–403.
‘Reflections on Education in the light of Learning for Life.’Institute of Guidance Counsellors’ Journal, 14 (1988) 1, 23–26.
‘Understanding the Human Mystery: Human Origins in Palaeoanthropology and Philosophy.’ In:  At the Heart of the Real. Ed. F. O’Rourke (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1992), 339–71.
The Drama of Humanity: Towards a Philosophy of Humanity in History. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1996.
‘Universal Viewpoint and Universal Humanity: Attunement or Discord in the Philosophies of Voegelin and Lonergan?’ In:Lonergan Workshop 12: In Tune with the Divine Ground: Cultural and Social Conditions for Political Order. 
Ed. Fred Lawrence. 12 (1996) 227–49.
‘Darwinism: Dangerous Idea or Deconstructed Myth?’ In:  The Philosophy of Science: Proceedings of the Irish Philosophical Society, edited by Thomas Kelly (Maynooth: Irish Philosophical Society, 1997), 40–54.
‘The Philosophical Context of the “Hitler and the Germans” Lectures,’ in: Eric Voegelin, Hitler and the Germans. (The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, vol. 31.) Translated and edited with an Introduction by Detlev Clemens and Brendan Purcell (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999), 21–40.
Hitler and the Germans. The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, vol. 31. Eric Voegelin. Translated and edited by Detlev Clemens and Brendan Purcell (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999).
‘What would Socrates Say? Towards a Foundation in Media Ethics.’ In:  Media in Ireland: The Search for Accountability, ed. Damian Kiberd (Dublin: Open Air, 1999), 19–32. 
‘Reflections on Evolution in the Light of a Philosophical Biology,’ in:  Thomas Aquinas: Approaches to Truth. Eds. James McEvoy and Michael Dunne, (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002). 
‘Faith & Reason: Cultural Dimensions,’ in:  Maynooth Fides et Ratio Symposium, Ed. James McEvoy (Dublin: Veritas, 2002).
‘L’Opposition du principe anthropologique et de la bêtise extreme dans l’individu et la société,’ in: Eric Voegelin,  Hitler et les Allemands .  Trs. Mira Köller and Dominique Seglard (Paris: Du Seuil, 2003), 21–25.
Amor amicitiae  in the  Bhagavad Gita.’In:  Amor Amicitiae: On the Love that is Friendship. Essays in Medieval Thought and Beyond, in Honor of Professor James McEvoy, eds. Thomas Kelly & Phillipp Rosemann (Leuven: Peeters, 2004), 347–77.
‘The Big Mystery: Human Emergence as Cosmic Metaxy,’ In:Philosophy, Literature and Politics: Essays Honoring Ellis Sandoz, Eds. Charles R. Embry and Barry Cooper (Columbia: University of Missouri Press), 2005, 102–25.

Courses taught:
1. The question of human origins: towards a philosophical cosmology and paleoanthropology. 
2. First act in the human drama: palaeolithic and neolithic symbolization of the quest for attunement to the ground of existence.
3. The Irish neolithic quest for attunement to cosmic order at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
4. Experiences of disorder and the search for order in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian cosmological myth
5. The Bhagavad Gita as a mytho-speculative meditation on the order of human existence.
6. Job’s quest for God’s face: a reflection on suffering and evil in the light of ancient wisdom literature.
7. Towards being one in agape: the understanding of human oneness in the Fourth Gospel.
8. The emergence of the individual in political society from Homer to Thucydides: A critical reading of Eric Voegelin’s The World of the Polis. 
9. Greek tragedy as a dramatic evocation of the achievement of wisdom through paradigmatic suffering.
10. Plato’s exploration of the meaning of human existence in his Apology, Crito and Phaedo. 
11. Plato’s Gorgias: towards a philosophy of communication. 
12. Plato’s articulation of metaxic communion in the Symposium. 
13. Aristotle’s ‘little politics’ in his treatise on friendship.
14. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground: a 19th century critique of reductionist and voluntarist anthropologies.
15. Dostoevsky’s artistic development of an integrated anthropology through his diagnosis of emotional, intellectual, moral, political and spiritual disintegration. 
16. The history and nature of ideological consciousness.
17. Hitler and the Germans: a philosophical diagnosis of National Socialism. 
18. Overcoming an amnesia of humanity: Solzhenitsyn’s anamnetic recovery of the roots of personal order in the context of a philosophy of history. 
19. The drama of humanity: an interpretative framework for a philosophy of humanity through its mythic, philosophic, revelatory, ideological and post-ideological expressions. 
20. The quest for transcendence in modern painting. 
21. Bernard Lonergan’s philosophy of understanding. 
22. An introduction to Eric Voegelin’s philosophy of history.
23. The human person as you-wards: a relational understanding of the human person.
24. Humanity as we-wards: a theoretical articulation of human community.
25. Introduction to mathematical logic.

Administrative responsibilities:
Member Postgraduate Studies Committee and Workloads Committee.
Was a member of staff-student committees from time to time.
In various years, I coordinated First Arts, Second Year, Mode 1 and BA courses.
I served on the Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology’s Development Committee.
I’ve been external examiner for doctoral theses in the UK and in Australia.

Current research:
I’m researching two topics at the moment:

  1. Towards an understanding of evolution within a philosophical context, particularly in the light of recent evolutionary-developmental (evo-devo) theory (Rudolf Raff, Wallace Arthur, S.F. Gilbert, Eric Davidson, Sean Carroll).
  2. The Big Mystery: human emergence as cosmic horizon, to be published in 2006, is a study of human origins from the perspective of philosophical paleoanthropology.