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Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 120, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, II$
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P. J. Marshall

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263020

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263020.001.0001

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Ernest André Gellner 1925–1995

Ernest André Gellner 1925–1995

Chapter:
(p.148) (p.149) (p.150) Ernest André Gellner 1925–1995
Source:
Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 120, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, II
Author(s):

John A. Hall

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197263020.003.0008

Although Ernest Gellner had a successful academic career in Britain, becoming a member of the British Academy in 1974, his work was not properly understood. The fact that he was a brilliant polemicist, genuinely believing that there were devils at his back, tended to obscure his positive views. Of course, he had distinct reputations in different fields, notably as anthropologist, student of Islam, sociologist, theorist of nationalism, and philosopher. If this made him a latter day philosophe, seeking to understand modernity with whatever tools were to hand, little recognition was given to the presence of the metaphysic that lent unity and strength to all his work. As that metaphysic was based on the intense personal experience characteristic of a Central European exile of Jewish background, it is scarcely surprising that it centred on questions of identity.

Keywords:   philosophers, polemicists, metaphysics, identity, Islam, theories of nationalism

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