Feedback on Queensland Thinkers — First Representative Dozen

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The first stage of research has been placed on the History & Philosophy in Queensland website; as an experimental process of identifying a dozen influential Queensland thinkers among the most well-known and widely-representative groupings. This is a first run. This project will end up with hundreds of Queensland intellectuals and thinkers listed and examined; so please be patient.

To go directly to The  First Representative Dozen

To go directly to the 1st Run Scatterplot Matrix

To go directly to the the explanation of the Scatterplot Matrix

Please complete the poll below, which allows multiple answers and comments.


Dr Neville Buch, Queensland Historian
Dr Neville Buch, Queensland Historian

26 September 2014

Neville Buch, MPHA (Qld)
Ph.D., Grad. Dip. Ed. UQ
Grad. Dip. Arts. (Philosophy), Melbourne

Cultural Sensitivity Warning: This website contains images of deceased persons, including those of indigenous heritage


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7 years ago

Hi Neville – a great idea to put this together, good luck with the project. One thought – are you planning to include scientific intellectuals? There are none there at present, and I wonder about people like Clement Wragge, who was very influential in his time. Also, what about people who spent only part of their life in Qld – eg ACV Melbourne?

Dr Neville Buch
7 years ago

Thanks, Marion. Yes, I do definitely want to include scientific intellectuals, but like another fields I want to consider, what I am looking for is the connection with the people and the big ideas, particularly how the view of their world was changed from new learning coming from beyond Queensland. What I am trying to avoid focusing on is what Ellul called the technological drive, ideas of doing things differently but not really understanding why. I will have to address something of that utilitarian approach, as it is as much part of the intellectual territory as more abstract thoughts, and is certainly essential in the modern scientific worldview, which emerged in Queensland as much as anywhere else. I do need to catch up on the recent work done on Clement Wragge, but its his interest in ethnography, geology and natural history where I would like to know how much of his thinking influenced those around him in Queensland, rather than his contribution to Australian meteorology.

Yes, I do want to include those who may have just spent part of their time in Queensland. Unsurprisingly, historians will be at the top of my personal list, and I am most interested to know more about Alexander Clifford Vernon Melbourne (1888-1943), and particularly his role as the Secretary of the Historical Society of Queensland.

What I am doing now is browsing three major lists that I have complied from the ADB, filtered on Queensland as 1. birth state, 2. death state, and 3. occupational state. My first run at it will try to pick the more obvious occupations and the more obvious names. I don’t want to just to end up with a list of academics, but as a first go at it, it is an obvious place to look. I did at least avoid the problem in the research bias by doing the first representative dozen. Only three of the dozen are true academics — William Cumbrae-Stewart (1865–1938), James Vincent Duhig (1889–1963), and Gordon Greenwood, representing law, science (pathology), and history. Admittedly, Albert Heber Longman (1880-1954) and Samuel Griffith (1845–1920) come close but they are practitioners, and as far as I know were never held a teaching post. So I am trying not to narrow the intellectual history to academic theories and ways of learning. I have in the first dozen four literary figures, five if you include Phyllis Cilento (1894–1987) as a writer. I don’t think I do too bad by including two poets, more so, by the fact that these two — Judith Wright (1915 –2000) and Oodgeroo Nunuckal (1920 –1993) — have an international reputation. That’s for me a big bonus — having Queenslanders whose ideas influence those outside the state. And I have not forgotten political theorists, but, with the extraordinary exception of Samuel Griffith, its not an area where Queensland has been that successful. Certainly, William Lane (1861–1917) was not, and neither was the nationalist activities of Xavier Herbert (1901-1984).

So, yes, I am trying to be comprehensive in my research, considering a large range of fields, the many degrees of strengthens & weaknesses in ideas, and varied contributions from the genders, ethnicity, conventional & dissenting beliefs, and cultures. Once I have these thinkers identified and described, the key question is how were they listened to by Queenslanders. Who paid attention, and how did it make a difference? At that latter stage of the project, things like finding out the number of copies sold in Queensland of various publications would help.

Dr Neville Buch
7 years ago

I just came across an example of a thinker who had just spent part of their time in Queensland, and it would have been great to include him. However, and unsurprisingly, Jack Lindsay, after attending Brisbane Grammar School (1914-17), and graduated from the University of Queensland (BA Hons, 1921), fled Queensland, and as far as I know never really returned. Who could blame him? The University of Queensland conferred on Lindsay an honorary D.Litt. in 1973. Unless I can find any evidence of some legacy of his time in Queensland I can not really include him in the listing. The focus here is on how thinkers influenced Queensland, or not, but with Lindsay he was only 21 when he left, and well before any of his major work. It says it all when one oral history testimony from a Brisbane Grammar Old Boy described Lindsay’s reading as “catholic”. You can see just from this ill-informed word how much they never understood his ideas, then or later.