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Dr Daniel Watson

Bergin Fellow

Research Interests

The religious and intellectual culture of medieval Ireland and Scotland, medieval Irish saga, medieval Irish law, Neoplatonism, patristics, medieval philosophy and theology, theurgy/liturgy, mythology and mythography, metaphysics, cosmology, theories of interpretation, historiography

Biographical Sketch

Daniel Watson completed his BA in English Literature at Trinity Western University, Langley, British Columbia, Canada in 2001. Following a number of varied and inglorious adventures, he began to study Classics at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in 2009, with an emphasis on Neoplatonic philosophy, in both its Christian and its pagan forms. This culminated in a research MA on Proclus’ interpretation of Homer’s poetry which was conducted under Professor Wayne Hankey’s supervision and completed in 2013.

Daniel began his PhD in Medieval Irish Literature at Maynooth University under Dr Elizabeth Boyle’s supervision in 2014. His PhD research was concerned with the patristic mediation of philosophical ideas to medieval Ireland, with a focus on the way such ideas were taken up and transformed in early Irish saga and law texts. More specifically, it broadly outlined what ‘fellsamnacht’ (philosophy) means and entails in an early Irish vernacular context. He was awarded this degree in January 2019.

In February 2019, Daniel started as an O’Donovan Scholar in the School of Celtic Studies, at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. His primary research project extends his PhD research more decisively into the eleventh century and beyond. During this time, early Irish ideas concerning ‘natural law’ (recht aicnid / lex naturae) – i.e. concerning non-ecclesiastical forms of knowledge – began to be more engaged with the natural law tradition that tended prevail elsewhere in the Latin West. The Acallam na Senórach will be central to assessing the results of this encounter. Current side-projects include research on early Irish portrayals of reembodiment, the influence of Orosian themes on early Irish literature, and the Irish epitome of Eriugena’s Periphyseon found in Oxford Bodleian Library MS Auct. F.III.15.


‘A Law Beyond Grace in The Prologue to Senchas Már’, Dionysius 36 (2018), 200–14.

‘Irony and Inspiration: Homer as the Test of Plato’s Philosophical Coherence in the Sixth Essay of Proclus’ Commentary on the Republic’, International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 11 (2017), 149–72.

‘Images of Unlikeness: Proclus on Homeric σύμβολον and the Perfection of the Rational Soul’, Dionysius 31 (2013), 57–78.


‘Review Article: Immo Warntjes and Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, eds, Late Antique Calendrical Thought and its Reception in the Early Middle Ages: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on the Science of Computus in Ireland and Europe, Galway, 16–18 July, 2010 (Turnhout 2017)’, Irish Theological Quarterly 84.4 (2019), 424–30.

Other publications

‘The Trouble with Origen and the Idea of Catholicity’, in Susan Harris, ed., The Church Visible and Invisible: ‘The Blessed Company of All Faithful People’: The Proceedings of the 36th Annual Atlantic Theological Conference (Charlottetown: St. Peter Publications, 2017), 117–52.

‘Eating Butter and Honey: On the Practical Means of Discerning between Good and Evil according to St. Antony the Great and the Book of Common Prayer’, in Susan Harris, ed., The Meaning of Evil: The Proceedings of the 34th Annual Atlantic Theological Conference (Charlottetown: St. Peter Publications, 2015), 175–88.