Writings by Peter Serracino Inglott
Published by Valletta Contemporary, Malta.
Foreward by Rainer Fsadni
Critical Essay by Michael Zammit and Joseph Borg
Internationally known Maltese contemporary artist Norbert Francis Attard (born 1951) and Prof. Peter Serracino Inglott (1936 – 2012), ex-rector of the University of Malta, Professor of Philosophy, author of several books, writer of four opera librettos, Catholic priest, President, Chairman, Consultant or Member of several institutions and Boards, better known as Fr. Peter, met for the first time in 1969 whilst Attard was studying for his A-level Philosophy. Since then they collaborated on various projects, including several writings by Fr. Peter about the artist’s works. This publication, a homage to Fr. Peter by Norbert Francis Attard, is a reflection of these projects and writings spanning a period of over 30 years and covering three distinct phases of the work of the artist. This book includes a Foreword by Ranier Fsadni, an indebt introduction study by Michael Zammit, a long-time student of Fr. Peter, and also an indebt essay by Joseph Borg, of Norbert Francis Attard’s work over the same period.
PETER SERRACINO INGLOTT
Born on 26 April 1936 to Oscar and Maria Calamatta, he was brought up during the post-war Maltese environment. Serracino-Inglott studied at the then Royal University of Malta (BA 1951–1955), Campion Hall, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar (MA 1955–1958), the Institut Catholique de Paris (BD cum laude 1958–1960) and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Ph.D. 1960–1963) with a thesis on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. His start at the University of Malta was as a librarian in 1963 and just two years later he started teaching philosophy there. In 1971 he became an established professor at the University of Malta and served as chairperson of the University’s chair of philosophy, a post he would retain for seven years until then Prime Minister of Malta, Dom Mintoff, suspended the chair. He would return as chairperson in 1987 when the post was resumed and would consecutively retain the post until 1996. Serracino Inglott was professor of aesthetics at the ‘Instituto Internazionale di Arte e Liturgia’ at Milan, visiting professor at Panthéon-Assas University (1989–1990), UNESCOFellow at the Open University, UK (1978) and guest lecturer at the universities of Cincinnati, Milan (Cattolica), Venice (Ca Foscari), Palermo and the College of Europe at Bruges (1989, 1990). During his advisory role within the Nationalist Party, his emphasis on welfare and charity was seen as strange within a fiscally conservative environment. He was often mistaken to be partisan, but had often expressed his sympathy with the Nationalist Party due to its positive relationship with the Catholic Church in Malta. With regards to the opposing Labour Party, Fr Peter had this to say of former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff: “The great pity is that I have always had a great deal of sympathy with Mintoff’s ideas. It was his manner of implementing them that I always thought was wrong”. He was conferred honorary doctorates by Brunel University in the United Kingdom, Luther College, Iowa and the International Maritime Organization’s International Maritime Law Institute. He was also honoured by the French, Italian, Portuguese and Maltese governments respectively with the Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur (1990), Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Ordine al Merito (1995) and Companion of the Order of Merit (Malta) (1995). He was one of three Maltese representatives at the Convention on the Future of Europe presided by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, contributing to various aspects of the debate at the Convention ranging from proposed amendments to include a reference to Europe’s Christian traditions to procedural proposals to streamline the EU’s decision-making process. He was one of the founder members of the Today Public Policy Institute. The Priest was characterized as joyful, passionate about learning yet forgetful of everyday occurrences. His forgetfulness would sometimes result in comical situations which would cause confusion within his colleagues. Most notable was his office’s order; described as messy and ‘chaotic’ yet somehow logical to and only to the Rector. Fr. Peter Serracino Inglott was a lifelong friend with Maltese architect and designer Richard England. This friendship may have contributed to England’s religiosity and emphasis on theurgy within his projects. Language was at the centre of Serracino Inglott’s philosophical work with Thomas Aquinas and Ludwig Wittgenstein as the two critical signposts on his conceptual terrain. He simultaneously sought to merge both rationalism and faith, and can be quoted saying: “The discovery of God is recognized within, especially within the Creation, and this is recognized from its study”. He had emphasized politics within his writings, placing man as ‘central’ to all political action. As advisor to the economically neo-liberal Nationalist Party, he sought to introduce some form of catholic economics within the party manifesto. Because of his care towards working class needs and leftist economics, he was often referred to as ‘the red priest’. Serracino Inglott published two principal philosophical texts (Beginning Philosophy 1987 and Peopled Silence 1995). Additionally, he wrote and expressed himself in the media on a variety of subjects (notably on biotechnology and human rights but the Mediterranean region stands out as a leitmotif in his thought and core interest. His study of language led to him writing ‘The Creative Use of Noise’ with composer Charles Camilleri. Published posthumously in 2015, the book covers a structuralist interpretation of certain audible phenomena, the meaning of noise itself and the value of audible aesthetics. Despite his social conservatism, Fr. Peter would still grant rationality great importance, even during situations which would grand controversy. In 2006 he infamously contradicted the Catholic Church’s position on conception of human life as he argued that during the first fourteen days after fertilization, the entity present cannot be defined as a person. A former student, Mario Vella, wrote a critical assessment of Serracino Inglott as philosopher, Reflections in a Canvas Bag: Beginning Philosophy Between Politics and History. Fr. Peter is remembered for his contributions towards philosophy, mainly his hours of lectures and talks on language, culture and aesthetics. Fr. Peter Serracino Inglott died on 16 March 2012. He was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and was treated at Mater Dei Hospital.The funeral took place at the Church of Saint Paul, Valletta.
A member of the Department of Anthropological Sciences at the University of Malta, where he teaches with particular reference to the contemporary Arab world and Islam. He has been a Director at the European Commission-League of Arab States Liaison Office (2009-2012) and Advisor on European-Arab League relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2013-2014); Advisor to the Prime Minister on Mediterranean and Maritime Affairs (2004-2012); Member of the European Commission’s Member States Expert Group on Maritime Affairs (2006-2012); and Chairman of AZAD, the Academy for the Development of a Democratic Environment (2001-2009). He is a corporate advisor on future socio-cultural trends and writes a weekly column for The Times of Malta.
Born at Valletta in 1954. He studied Philosophy at the University of Malta, acquiring a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1976, and a Master’s degree in 1993. After teaching at various academic centres in and around Malta, in 1983 he began teaching Philosophy at High School level. He joined the academic staff at the University of Malta in 1988 as part of a team preparing for the introduction of a general knowledge introductory course for High Schools called “Systems of Knowledge”, and also for the introduction of an advanced level matriculation exam in philosophy. At the time, he was also active at the School of Practical Philosophy in Valletta. Zammit began teaching Philosophy, Logic, and Aesthetics (including Calligraphy at the University of Malta in 1992. That same year he was appointed Academic Coordinator of the Centre for Basic Studies at the same university. Between 1989 and 1995, he coordinated, administered and lectured “Systems of Knowledge” courses in both Malta and Gozo. In 1989, he founded the “Philosophy Society” within the Department of Philosophy at the University of Malta. At this university, Zammit lectured on Ancient Philosophy (1992), and Eastern and Western Comparative Philosophy (1994). In 1995, he began teaching Introduction to Philosophy, and other subjects related to Philosophy. On the radio station of the University of Malta (Campus FM), Zammit produced and presented at least three series of programmes related to philosophy: Platun (Plato; 1996), Philosophy Help-line (1997), and Oht il-Gherf? (Sister of Knowledge?; 1998).
Born in 1973, Joseph Borg attended the Dun Guzepp Zammit Brighella Lyceum in Hamrun and the Gian Frangisk Abela Upper Lyceum in Msida and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Malta. In 2009 he attained a Masters Degree in Planning from Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, specialising in cultural landscape assessment, with his thesis focusing on Valletta and the Three Cities. In his professional life he has been involved in the appraisal of a large number of major regeneration projects, particularly within areas of high cultural heritage sensitivity in the Grand Harbour area. Borg has participated in various seminars and conferences and contributed to academic research on aspects of cultural heritage. He gained an interest in art during his early years, through drawing in pencil, which was further encouraged by regular visits to exhibitions and delving into art books. His main interest in art is focused on late modern and contemporary art. He has conducted research on various aspects of art in Malta and in 2014, in communication with the trustee of the late British artist Evelyn Gibbs, coordinated an exhibition of her works inspired by the island of Gozo at Art..e Gallery in Victoria.