Arthur Aston Luce (1882-1977)


Life
b. 21 Aug., Gloucester, son of clergyman; ed. Lindley Lodge Schoo, Eastbourne College, and TCD (BA 1905, BD 1908; MA 1911); chaplain of St Columba’s School 1907–09; ord. Church of Ireland, 1908; TCD Fellow, 1912; served in 12th Royal Irish Rifles 1915–18; awarded MC, 1917; DD 1920; m. Lilian Mary Thomson, 1918, issued Monophysitism Past and Present (1921), on the nature of Jesus; issued Bergson’s Doctrine of Intuition [Donnellan Lects.] (1922); became the leading Berkeley editor and scholar, investigating chiefly the influence of Malebranche (vide, Berkeley and Malebranche (1934); appt. to Chair of moral philosophy, TCD, 1928–49; Canon of St Patrick’s Cathedral 1930–36, Chancellor 1936–53, and Precentor 1953–77; elected life-holder of Berkeley chair of metaphysics, TCD, 1953;
 
issued Berkeley’s Philosophical Commentaries (1944) and Berkeley's Immaterialism (1945), an authoritative corrective to existing views of that philosopher's Idealism; ed., with T. E. Jessop, The Works of George Berkeley, 9 vols. (London 1948-57); issued Berkeley’s Immaterialism: A Commentary on his Principles of Human Knowledge (1945); Vice-provost of TCD, 1946–52 [var. 1951]; issued The Life of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne (London 1949; rep. 1969; rep. with new intro. by David Berman, 1992), Sense without Matter (1954), and an endorsement of his thought; famed for interest in fly-fishing and issued Fishing and Thinking (1959); also Teach Yourself Logic (1958) and The Dialectic of Immaterialism (1963);
 
suffered death of wife and dg. in drowning at Celbridge, Co. Kildare, with a dg., in 1940; himself d. 28 June after an attack by insane young man of Dublin Protestant family; ranks as longest living fellow of the College; his philosophical library was acquired by Notre Dame University; his son John Victor Luce, also a TCD Fellow, in Classics, issued a memoir prefatory to a new edition of Fishing and Thinking (1993). DIB DIW

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Commentary
Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland (1995), citing Luce’s prediction that if Irish because compulsory in schools, half the Protestants of Ireland would turn Catholic in a century; also his comment on Samuel Beckett’s undergraduate prospects as ‘quite dismal’ (pp.452-43.)

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Quotations
We Irish?: ‘We need not read a political reference into the words. Berkeley certainly always regarded himself as an Irishman, and Newton was, to him, “a philosopher of a neighbouring nation”. (Princ. 110, 1st ed.), but when he writes we Irishmen he simply means “we ordinary folk, shrewd judges of fact and common-sense ...”’ [Phil. Comm., ed. A. A. Luce, London 1944; quoted in Harry Bracken, ‘George Berkeley, the Irish Cartesian’, Richard Kearney, ed., The Irish Mind, 1984; notes.)

Rev. A. A. Luce, Submission to the Report of the Commission on Emigration and Other Population Problems (1955)

‘The hard core of the problem is the sad stark fact that one Irish child (more than one, statistically) in every three is born to emigrate, and grows up in the knowledge that he or she must emigrate. The moral and psychological effect of that fact is immense. It paralyses certain areas. It is a dead weight upon the spirit of the whole country, a dead hand upon her economy.’

—Quoted in 6 December 2010 13:02 Piaras Mac Einri ‘Emigration: we still can’t all live on a small island?’, in Politico: Social and Political Issues [online] Note: The Commission was appointed in 1948 and finished most of its work by 1950. See review of same, in W. J. L. Ryan, ‘Some Irish Population Problems’, in Population Studies, 9, 2 (1955), pp.185-88 [available in JSTOR, online; accessed 08.12.2010].

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No smoking - In 1971 A. A. Luce wrote to The Irish Times (Letters to the Editor) to convey his considered opinion: ‘There are worse things than tobacco smoking, aush as the censorious habit and drinking to excess. Nice things can be said baout the sociable cigarette and the thoughtful pipe. Non the less, smoking ahs become a social evil of the first magnitude. / Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes. / It is a man’s duty to set a good example to his family and his circle of friends. It is the duty of the Government to discourage smoking and to prohibit advertisements that encourage the habit. / Can a hardened smoker give it up? Yes, I’ve done so. There may be cases in which medical advice should be sought; in most cases all that’s wanted is a fiat of the will, back by a silent prayer. - Yours, etc. / A. A. Luce. Ryslaw, Bushy Park road, Dublin. (The Irish Times, 14 Jan. 1971, p.11.)

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