20th Century Philosophy

Ernest Gellner  1925 - 1995

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Language and Solitude : Wittgenstein, Malinowski and the Habsburg Dilemma

Nationalism by Ernest Gellner

In this book, completed just before his death, Ernest Gellner explores the phenomenon of nationalism, tracing its emergence and roots in the modern industrialized nation-state, its links with romanticism and its creation of national myths. He investigates its various manifestations and reveals how in long established states, such as France, it has been relatively benign, while in Eastern Europe in particular - where nationalist feeling preceded the emergence of modern states - its influence has been far more problematic, and at times disastrous. Finally, the book explores the prospects for minimizing the influence of nationalist feeling and cautiously anticipates the possibility of its decline in this decade of continuing atrocities and "ethnic cleansing"...

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Ernest Gellner Resource Page

Created and Maintained by Philippe Couton.  Website devoted to the wide-ranging work of Ernest Gellner, philosopher, anthropologist, sociologist.  


Our primary intention is to provide a resource page for individuals interested in the thoughts, ideas and works of the late Ernest Gellner. It is widely understood that Gellner actively participated in a variety of discussions; from the nature of modernity, the causes of nationalism, the role of philosophy in modern life, the rise of Islam, to the nature of industrialism and rationalism. Gellner wrote extensively on all these topics throughout his academic life. We hope to foster and disseminate commentary and discussion on Gellner's thought with this Page. Please feel free to contribute by  writing reviews or participating in discussions. 

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Ernest Gellner:  Biography

By Tom Nairn.  


The great philosopher and sociologist Ernest Gellner died in Prague on 5 November 1995. Few of his obituarists mentioned his links with Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, however. So it may be in order to recall here how significant a part these played in his earlier development.



By Paul Stirling, Prof. Emeritus, University of Kent at Canterbury
appeared in the Daily Telegraph, November 9th, 1995.


On Sunday morning (5th Nov), the world lost one of its most vigorous intellectuals, at Prague airport, on his way back from chairing with his usual brilliance yet another conference. Ernest Gellner (b. 9 December, 1925) was much more than a successful don (philosopher and anthropologist); a professional thinker who enjoyed thinking enormously ('the second greatest pleasure in life'), despised writers who write about thoughts and not about the world as it is, and dared to emulate the greats of the Enlightenment, especially Hume, and 'The Greatest Thinker of Them All', Kant. He was a polemical rationalist. Only on Saturday the Guardian published, characteristically as part of a hostile review of a philosopher, complete with foxes and hedgehogs his anguished anxieties about the future of our liberal, affluent, technological, still optimistic society; eight concrete dangers, in another devastating attack on relativism - the idea of a pluralism of incommensurate values. He once said he was on the fence, under fire from both sides; rather he spent his whole life exposed on top of a rationalist bunker, exchanging rapid and fierce fire in all directions. A radical of the centre; with many friends and many enemies.


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