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Tributes to Ernest Gellner

Ernest Gellner was a scholar in the classic mould, whose intellect and influence could not be confined within national boundaries or within the bounds of any one academic discipline.
EDWARD MORTIMER, Foreign Affairs Editor of the Financial Times

He was so wonderfully au courant with the European scene, know so many people, and was so knowledgeable about civilised thought. At the same time, he was completely without self-importance, and an unending source of good jokes...People gravitated towards him for his wit, his stories, his humour, his kindiness and vivacity, What a loss.
JOHN WATKINS, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, LSE

Although known primarily as a philosopher, Gellner had a vertiginous perspective on life. He expanded his interests into the fields of anthropology and social and political theory, exposing with a dazzling and at times controversial lucidity the patterns by which modern society has been shaped.

A university don and intellectual of the first rank, Mr. Gellner understood the needs of the press. He loved public debate and infuriated less nimble opponents with cutting wit and memorable epigrams. He poured out articles and books - more than 20 by one count - routinely apologising: 'I've written another; I just couldn't help it.'

As a philosopher Ernest Gellner was a maverick and a gadfly. Yet neither of these quite captures the uniqueness of his subversiveness. He was, it is true, resolutely independent of prevailing orthodoxies, whose guardians he loved to irritate. But what they have found irriating abut his standpoint and way of arguing had always been his insistence on setting their standpoints and ways of arguing in a wider social and historical perspective.
STEVEN LUKES, Professor of Political and Social Theory at the European University Institute

He was witty, liked anecdotes and gossip, enjoyed other people's intrigues, and lived intensely with and for his friends and students. He was deeply loyal to his family.
JOHN DAVIS, Warden of All Souls College, Oxford