It was a wonderful – and wonderfully stimulating – week! I was challenged in numerous ways throughout the week. First of all, I must admit that before arriving at the Summer School, I knew very little about Irish history. But Alexandra Slaby’s lectures and presentations proved to be immensely rewarding. She was clear, detailed, and thorough, and shared numerous anecdotes — and stories behind the story – that helped to keep us engrossed in the long tragic history of Ireland, from the Easter Rising to today. And in the process, I learned about some fascinating, historical figures such as Pádraig Pearse and Eamon de Valera, whose occasionally fiery words and bold actions have determined so much of the direction of the history of Ireland.
Second, I was incredibly surprised to discover, through Mark Dooley’s lectures, that many of the thinkers and philosophers that I had previously thought offered little or no redeeming qualities actually had a lot to say – even to a conservative thinker like myself. Mark was extremely clear in his presentations, even when going over notoriously difficult material (such as, say, Derrida or Hegel). As he said at the very beginning, his goal was to remove all the jargon that too often gets in the way of understanding. This he did with aplomb (and his characteristic humor). I found his use of concrete examples especially useful. (To help us to begin to understand Hegel’s concept of geist, for example, Mark pointed to the concrete details of the room in which we met daily as examples of how the room itself was infused with the ‘spirit’ of the artisans, architects, and carpenters who built the room.) In short, I found him to be a wonderful teacher.
Thirdly, in addition to being able to learn from Alexandra and Mark, I am thrilled to also have been given the opportunity to spend a week with Roger Scruton, listening to him speak about some of today’s most important topics – art and beauty, the environment, and the idea of the West. Every time I listen to him I learn something new – about reasoning and clarity of expression, above all. Furthermore, to listen to him interact with and respond to the other participants, with humor and wit, was also quite edifying.
Finally, I’d like to say that despite the difficulty of some of the ideas we considered, and the seriousness of some of the contemporary issues discussed, the participation of such a diverse group of participants made the entire experience feel relaxed, friendly, collegial. I had a chance to speak to each and every one of the participants and must admit that learned something from each one of them, often in areas that I did not expect.
For everything I have hastily described above, I would like to thank Alexandra, Mark, and Roger. Thank you for allowing me to participate in the inaugural program of the EBISS.
As I read his work, conceptual navigation through the various topics and issues my dissertation could focus on became exponentially more interesting, and the gravitational weight of them less cumbrous. When I found out about the Edmund Burke Summer School I was ecstatic and made my reservation immediately (I was the first one, so I was told). The summer school was incredibly stimulating. I wrote almost non-stop on topics both relating to and not relating to my dissertation, and even slightly changed my dissertation topic halfway through the week. I found that the Irish history presentations helped illuminate many pieces of Irish culture and history that I had already gathered. Mark Dooley and Sir Roger together presented complementary, yet somewhat divergent, processes of conservative thought both well within the Burkean tradition. One or two guest speakers, by virtue of being slightly outside of the Burkean tradition, strengthened, by means of contrast, the collective Burkean consciousness of the school into a place that made it feel a bit more like home. Friends were made, discussions were had, and the atmosphere was one of greatly beneficial communion with philosophers of intellectual substance, amicable charm, and depth of character. Thank you all.
Pawel Trzciakowski, Poland
It would not be an overstatement to say that this summer school was my greatest educational opportunity ever, and I am very grateful to you for organising this. I think you did an amazing job. I enjoyed the way the course was structured- thanks to Alexandra, I could feel a bit more “at home” in Ireland. Thanks to Mark, I could make sense of what being “at home” actually means. And sir Roger concluded with his slightly more practical remarks about what to do in order to protect our spiritual home- our culture and heritage- against the threats of the modern world, in the fields of religion, art, architecture and environment. As for me, this pattern worked perfectly. The guest lectures were interesting supplements… My favourite parts of the lectures were questions and answers…I remember the thrill coming over me when the dialogues were getting more dynamic. I especially refer to sir Roger’s response to Mark’s critique of Kant. I love listening to knowledgeable people who disagree and try to convince one another to a rival point of view…Overall, I must say, the sadness and melancholia I felt after the summer school was finished hints that you helped me to look at the world through the eyes of an adult. I believe this is what true education should be all about- not fun but labour, and genuine knowledge as the reward. I again express my sincere gratitude for that experience.