1.6 The social context of Babylonian mathematical activity

The extant mathematical tablets from the Old Babylonian period fall broadly into two categories, table texts and problem texts. You have seen examples of both of these. The weighing-the-stone problem with which we started is from a problem text, while all the others—the table of squares, the reciprocal table and Plimpton 322—are table texts, tablets consisting solely of tables of numbers. Several hundred table texts have been found, and many types of calculations appear to h
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1.2 A Babylonian mathematical problem

Before seeing how our knowledge has been acquired, let us get into the spirit of things by ascertaining what a problem looks like once the modern cuneiform scholar has translated a tablet. The following example is taken from a tablet (see Figure 2), now at Yale University, translated by Otto Neugebauer and Abraham Sachs. Words in square brackets are their suggested reconstructions of what the tablet presumably says (where it is damaged), and words in parentheses are the translator's additions
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1 Babylonian mathematics

In Mesopotamia, the scribes of Babylon and the other big cities were impressing on clay tablets economic and administrative records, literary, religious and scientific works, word-lists, and mathematical problems and tables. Nearly all of the texts that give us our fullest understanding of Babylonian mathematics—indeed, of any mathematics before the Greeks—date from about 1800—1600 BC. During this period, King Hammurabi unified Mesopotamia out of a rabble of small city-states into an em
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2.3 After the recording

It follows that sorting MacLean's poems out by ‘themes’ entails the risk of disguising the tight interlocking of ‘Politics’, ‘Love’, ‘Landscape’, ‘War’ and ‘History’ in all his poetry down to 1945. Nevertheless, for convenience's sake, I will do this.


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3 What is poetry?

We can possibly best define what poetry is by saying what it isn't. For one thing, poetry, unlike prose, cannot be paraphrased. If you could sum it up succinctly in any other fashion you wouldn't write the poem. One can talk about the theme of a poem, for instance, but it's the poem itself which conveys the ultimate effect. A poem is the best possible expression of what the poet wants to say. Some might say that the form and content of art, in this case poetry, is untranslatable.

Let's
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2 Forming the form

By and large, readers tend to agree whether a poem ‘works’ or not, even if it's not clear how or why it works. The best poems retain a certain mystery, but subsequent analysis invariably reveals various techniques the writer has employed to key into this commonality. The form a poem takes, whether it be free or traditional, reflects those techniques, and is itself vital in the unlocking of ‘the logic of the imagination’.

The form a poet chooses for any one poem is partly
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Learning outcomes

By the end of your study of this unit, you should have:

  • an understanding of the common techniques underlying free verse and traditional forms of poetry;

  • begun to identify aspects of your own experience and imagination that you can use when writing poems;

  • learnt the basic terminology and practical elements of poetry.


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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should:

  • be able to discuss basic philosophical questions concerning the nature of consciousness;

  • have enhanced your ability to understand problems concerning the nature of consciousness and to discuss them in a philosophical way


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References

Bloom, H. (1997) Omens of the Millenium, Riverhead Books.
Crane, T. (2001) The Elements of Mind, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Damasio, A. (1994) Descartes's Error, New York, Grosset/Putman.
Dennett, D. (1996) Kinds of Minds, New York, Basic Books.
Descartes,
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2.2 The Church

The Scottish Church seems an unlikely place to look for the stirrings of enlightenment. In 1690, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland passed an act against ‘the Atheistical Opinions of the Deists’, and, in 1696, an eighteen-year-old Edinburgh University student was executed for denying some of the propositions of Christianity. The legacy of the Scottish, Calvinist Reformation, it seems, was one of conformism, intolerance and narrow-mindedness.

But this is not the whole sto
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2.2 Collecting and selecting

Writers are always on the alert for potential material. A notebook is an essential tool for any writer and has several functions. These range from the jotting down of observations while you’re out and about to an account of daily events, your rants and raves, ideas for poems, single words, clippings from newspapers, responses to books or poems you’ve read, notes from research, all kinds of ‘gathering’. Your notebook is for you, and it needs to contain whatever helps you or fuels your
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5.2 Sardanapalus – passion and futility

For many of Delacroix’s Romantic contemporaries, versed in Byronic despondency and melancholic ruminations on the futility and transitory nature of worldly pleasure, Sardanapalus expressed the condition of ennui, (melancholy or listlessness) – a kind of inner emptiness, languor, stultification and world-weariness. (The term ennui had been used in medieval French to signify profound sadness, disgust and personal anguish from the seventeenth century onwards it was used
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4.2 Purpose of the Decennial Competition

These tensions came to a head in the Decennial Competition of 1810, which was intended to reward the major artistic achievements of the decade since Napoleon came to power. Prizes were offered for the best history painting and for the best painting ‘representing a subject honourable to the national character’ (Wrigley, 1993, p.338). There were also prizes for sculpture and architecture. The jury consisted of members of the National Institute, the official body that regulated scholarship a
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3.5.1 Denon's account of Eylau

Exercise

Now read Denon's account of the subject and consider the following questions. In each case, take as your point of reference other Napoleonic propaganda paintings and, in particular, Gros's Jaffa.

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3.2 The propaganda function of Jaffa

When Jaffa was exhibited in 1804, it was greeted with great acclaim and would thus seem to have fulfilled the propaganda purpose for which it was intended. Like The Battle of Nazareth, it deals with the later stages of the Egyptian campaign after the French had invaded Syria, which, like Egypt, formed part of the Ottoman (Turkish) empire. The French assault on Jaffa in March 1799 culminated in the massacre on Bonaparte's orders of some 2,500–3,000 Turks, who had surrendered th
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2.5 The emperor

With Napoleon's coronation as emperor in 1804, a new type of official image was once again required. Portraits of the emperor in his ceremonial robes were commissioned from several established artists; these all revived a traditional type of royal portraiture from the eighteenth century. The example shown in Plate 10 is by a former David student, Francois Gérard (1770–1837), by now a fashionable portrait painter (see Author(s): The Open University

2.3 The military leader

Let us now consider another relatively early portrait, David's Bonaparte Crossing the Alps, in which the then First Consul is shown at the Great Saint Bernard at the start of the campaign which led to the defeat of the Austrians at Marengo in June 1800 (see Plate 10). In fact, Bonaparte had actually crossed the Alps on a humble
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6.2.3 Groups

The large group portrait came to commercial prominence in the 1880s, probably as a result of the widespread introduction of dry plate negatives. These negatives could be bought ready made over the counter. They did not require immediate processing and they reduced exposure times significantly. The group portrait involved the production of a single negative and a potential sale to each member of the group. Customer costs were kept low without injury to the photographer's profits. School, work
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1.5 Differing perspectives

Closely related to representation of religion is the recurring issue of differing perspectives. In talking about perspectives here, we are thinking about how we look at something. We rarely approach anything neutrally – either consciously or subconsciously we tend to adopt a particular perspective – and how we look at something affects what we see. Whenever we make assumptions, we impose them on events, phenomena and other people. This is as true for scholars examining religion as
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Introduction

There is a widespread perception in the West that we live in a secular age, an age in which religion is at best an optional extra, if not a false delusion completely out of place. However, religion still arouses passion and causes controversy; it controls and transforms lives. An informed understanding of the contemporary world thus requires an appreciation of the role of religion in shaping ideas, world-views and actions that have an impact on the social as well as on the personal life of th
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