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4.1 Constant human nature

Just as with other natural phenomena, Enlightenment thinkers came to the conclusion as a result of observation that human nature itself was a basic constant. In other words, it possessed common characteristics and was subject to universal, verifiable laws of cause and effect. As Hume put it:

Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this particular.
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5.2 Free verse

Although we can't make rules about what constitutes a poem, we can see that even when writing free verse, where lines and line-breaks may be irregular, form is still important. Free verse still makes use of technical effects: rhythms, grammatical structures, sound effects, etc. Also, it invariably still makes grammatical sense. Free verse, with its infinite elasticity, can recreate form anew in each poem, inventing a one-off organising principle which explains that particular poem.


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4 Impersonation and imagination

Activity 5

Listen to Track 3, where Jackie Kay, Paul Muldoon and Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze talk about the importance of autobiography to their poems as well as the importance of using the imagination to harness other people's voices.


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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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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) This content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should have:

  • an understanding of ‘texts’ that is not restricted to the written word;

  • an understanding of war memorials as text;

  • a basic ability to interpret a visual text.


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6 Personal response to a memorial

But, you may be thinking, all our agreement up to now has shown that these perceptions and assumptions come from a common understanding of the appropriate form and meaning of a war memorial. Where, might you ask, does personal response come in? Are we not individuals who have different ways of looking at artefacts and of deciding what – if anything – they mean? This question opens up a big area of discussion, one which will be taken up many times later.

Clearly, as individuals, we m
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should have:

  • an awareness of the processes of study in the arts and humanities

  • an understanding of key concepts in the arts and humanities.


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References

Attree, H.R. (1809) Topography of Brighton: and, Picture of the Roads, from Thence to the Metropolis, Brighton and London.
Austen, J. (1967) Pride and Prejudice, in The Novels of Jane Austen, ed. R.W. Chapman, vol.2, Oxford, Oxford University Press (this series first published 1923).
Batey, M. (1995) Regency Gardens, Princes Risborough, Shire Publ
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4.3 The easy problems and the hard problem

What implications do naturalism and strong naturalism have for the study of the mind? There are two. First, naturalists will deny the existence of souls, spirits and other psychic phenomena and maintain that the mind is part of the natural world, subject to natural laws. This view is shared by most modern philosophers of mind. Secondly, strong naturalists will hold that mental phenomena can be reductively explained in terms of processes in the brain, which can themselves be explained i
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4.2 Naturalism and reductive explanation

There is a widespread commitment among contemporary philosophers and scientists to a naturalistic view of the world. In broad terms, naturalism is the view that everything is scientifically explicable – to put it crudely, that there are no miracles. (Note that I am using ‘naturalism’ here for a metaphysical position – a view about the nature of the world. It is also used for a methodological position – a view about how the world, or some aspect of it, should be
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2.3 Some distinctions

I now want to distinguish consciousness, in the sense outlined above, from some related phenomena. This should help to clarify the concept further and avoid potential confusion. What follows draws in part on distinctions and terminology introduced by the philosopher David Rosenthal (Rosenthal, 1993).

The first distinction I want to make has already been introduced. When I described your experience at the dentist's I spoke both of you being conscious and of your experiences
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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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2.9 How successful is Grice's theory of the meaning of utterances?

I turn now to difficulties for Grice's account of the meaning of utterances, beginning with a concern over his methodology. By focusing on examples, real or imagined, Grice attempts to draw out our intuitions and so lead us, as he has been led, to Grice 3. But perhaps our intuitions are wildly inaccurate, or wildly irrelevant. We need to check that Grice's notion of meaning, mined out of his and our intuitions, delivers what we were after when we turned to him for a theory of the meaning of u
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2.8 The Gricean Programme

Before considering any further potential criticisms of Grice's position, let us step back and consider his wider importance to philosophy: his contribution to what is often called The Gricean Programme. Grice himself was not really a Gricean in this sense, since he was not committed to all elements of the programme that bears his name. But Grice's influence has been as great as it has in part because of the way in which his ideas have been co-opted into this broader programme.

Th
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2.4 The meaning of expressions versus the meaning of individual utterances

I drew a contrast at the beginning of the chapter between those approaches to the meaning of utterances that look to the meaning of the words used, and those approaches that look instead to the content of the mental or psychological states of speakers. Grice belongs to the second camp. He aims to show that the meaning of an expression (e.g. a word or a sentence) is derivative, definable in terms of how that expression is typically used in meaningful utterances. The meaning of individual utter
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2.3 Grice on natural and non-natural meaning

Ironically, the word ‘meaning’ has many different meanings. There are four occurrences of ‘mean’ (or ‘meaning’ or ‘meant’, etc.), italicised, in the following paragraph:

Roberto's instructor had been mean to put it so bluntly, but she was probably correct that his short legs meant he would never be a great dancer. He turned into the narrow alleyway, meaning to take a shortcut ho
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1.6 Further reading

For an advanced general introduction to the philosophy of language, see Blackburn 1984. Lycan 1996 is pitched at a more accessible level. Pinker 1994 is an informal but informative discussion of the hypothesis that much of our linguistic ability is innate, an important topic that has had to be left out of this unit.


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2.4 Act 5, Scene 2: Faustus's last soliloquy

The play draws to a close with Faustus's final soliloquy, which is supposed to mark the last hour of his life.

Activity

Please reread this speech now, thinking as you read about how Marlowe uses sound effects to heighten the emotiona
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