Higgins calls for 'independent thought'

A new wave of "independent thought" and "emancipatory scholarship" is needed to deliver Ireland's recovery, President Michael…

A new wave of "independent thought" and "emancipatory scholarship" is needed to deliver Ireland's recovery, President Michael D Higgins has said.

Speaking at his enrolment today as a member of the Royal Irish Academy, the President said public intellectuals faced "a moral choice - to be part of a passive consensus that accepts an insufficient and failed model of life and economy or to seek to recover the possibility of alternative futures".

Calling for "vision, foresight and bold strategies", he said: "In our current times our intellectuals are required to be brave; to have the courage of their convictions and to defend their conclusions; to speak truth to power and false inevitabilities...

"Independent thought, from home and abroad, and scholarly engagement with our current circumstances are crucial. We need a scholarship that is genuinely emancipatory, centred on originality rather than imitation: one that rejects the notion of inevitabilities supinely accepted; that restores the unity between the sciences and culture in their common human curiosity, discovery and celebration of the life of the mind; and that encourages and enables not only new visions to emerge, but new forms of inclusive, warm and celebratory forms of life to be experienced, in conditions of real freedom from the deprivation of the essentials of life, and the obstacles to participation in society."

At the ceremony Dr James Browne, president of NUI Galway described President Higgins a "committed utopian" who "continues to live a life of truthful and uncompromising commitment to ideas of value, and to the value of ideas".