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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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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

  • know something about cuneiform how it was used to represent numbers for mathematical problem solving and computation;

  • understand the relationship between a decimal place-value system and a sexagesimal one;

  • appreciate the advanced understanding of mathematics in Ancient Mesopotamia in relation to anyone in medieval Christian Europe 3000 years later.


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4.4 Political implications

In chapter VI of A Practical View Wilberforce broadens his perspective from the primarily spiritual emphasis of the earlier chapters to a consideration of the political implications of his analysis. In so doing he contributed to the ongoing debate on the French Revolution and the changing nature of British society and politics.

A Practical View can usefully be compared here with another work that gave considerable prominence to religion in the aftermath of 1789, Edmund Bu
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3.3 Deism

In the readings you will often come across allusions to the contrast between revealed religion and natural religion (or deism). The distinction turns on what the nature of the evidence is for a particular religious outlook. Deism is a form of natural religion that was prevalent in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe.

The evidence underpinning revealed religion typically consists of a god supposedly revealing himself (or herself or itself) to an individual or small nu
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5.1 Revolutionary calendar and metric system

We considered earlier the universalist principles of 1789 deriving from the Enlightenment that inspired the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the redivision of France into departments. As the dominant group in the Convention by 1793, the Jacobins regarded themselves as mandated to enact the ‘general will’ of the people in a sense inspired by Rousseau: not as the aggregate weight of the individual aspirations of 28 million Frenchmen, but as the expression of that which, as virtuous men
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2.2 The Third Estate as the voice of the nation

Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès (1748–1836) trained as a priest and became assistant to a bishop. He had no religious vocation, however, and his fame arose as the author of a highly influential pamphlet, What is the Third Estate?, published in January 1789, on the strength of which Sieyes was elected a deputy to the Estates-General. Four editions or 30,000 copies of the book came out within months of its appearance, at a time of heightened consciousness that great changes were afoot. What i
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2.1 The bankrupt monarchy

The immediate cause of the Revolution was that the French monarchy faced imminent bankruptcy. (This was partly because of the enormous sums it had spent assisting the American Revolution between 1778 and 1781 in order to discomfort the traditional enemy, Britain.) Neither nobility nor clergy paid direct tax. Without the consent of the established orders of society to a reorganization of the tax burden so as to restore its finances, the government could no longer function. Successive ministers
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Learning outcomes

By the end of your work on this unit you should have:

  • an understanding of the main events of the French Revolution 1789–99 and its significance in the shift in European culture from Enlightenment to Romanticism;

  • an enhanced appreciation of the French Revolution and its significance through exposure to selected contemporary texts, documents and illustrations of the period.


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1.5 Water power

This second phase was achieved by focusing on the water-power potential of the site. Water power had been the catalyst for the original industrial development, and it seemed apt to capitalise on that. It was decided to install a new waterwheel where the original one had been. This provided an important visitor attraction, and also presented the opportunity to use the waterwheel to generate electricity for the site, thus providing significant cost savings. Furthermore, as part of that building
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1.6 Spreading the word about logarithms

Another person besides Briggs to recognise immediately the importance of Napier's concept was the navigational practitioner Edward Wright, who translated Napier's Descriptio into English, as A description of the admirable table of logarithmes. The extract linked below comprises the Preface to that work (the translation of Napier's original Preface, with further sentences added by Napier himself).

Click ‘View document’ below to open the extract.


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2.3 Biography and psychobiography

A significant, inescapable identifying feature of the twentieth century was the birth and development of psychoanalysis. Combined with romantic notions of the artist-genius and the attractiveness of the artist's ‘Life’ as evidence for writing the history of Renaissance art, psychoanalysis further ensured the continued success of the monographic construction of art history. A good example of this overlap between the increasingly redundant/discredited ‘Life’ of an artist and the more re
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5 Conclusion

Robert Wilkinson (2005) has suggested that Romanticism in the end became ‘the dominant view of art in Europe, and we are to this day its heirs’. This is nowhere truer than in song. Even if you have never encountered German Lieder before, you may have been struck by how the emotional directness of Schubert's writing seems like something familiar from much more recent times. The attempt directly to express emotional experience in poetry and in song, often without explanation or narrative, i
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3.5 New light on compatibilist versus incompatibilist debate

Strawson has attempted to throw new light on the compatibilist versus incompatibilist debate by showing that there are certain ‘reactive attitudes’ that are a necessary part of the framework of anything that is recognizably the life of a person. His argument has centred on the claim that is it ‘useless’ to question these attitudes. He argues this by showing the role they have in our lives, and arguing that they are part of the ‘framework’ of life. We could put the point as follows
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3.3 Strawson: Section V

Activity

Click on 'View document' to open Peter Strawson's article 'Freedom and Resentment'.

Introduction

This unit asks what it is to be a person. You will see that there are several philosophical questions around the nature of personhood. Here we explore what it is that defines the concept. As you work through the unit, you will notice that this area of enquiry has developed its own semi-technical vocabulary. The plural of ‘person’ is, in this area of enquiry, ‘persons’ rather than ‘people’. It is easy to see the reason for this. The question ‘What are people?’ is potentially c
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References

Barker, P. (1993) Latin in our Language, Bristol, Bristol Classical Press. Blakemore, C. (1988) The Mind Machine, London, BBC Books.
Dryden, J. (1970 edn) ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ in The Poems and Fables of John Dryden, ed. by J. Kinsley, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
The Holy Bible (1952 edn) Revised Standard Version, New York, Glasgow and T
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4.2.1 Nouns

Nouns are used to name people, places, things or concepts, for example Cicero, Italy, tree, happiness. Most nouns can be singular or plural, for example tree, trees. They each belong to a certain gender, masculine, feminine or neuter (from Latin neuter, neither). In English, nouns have natural gender; for example, boatsman is masculine, woman is feminine, student is of common gender (either masculine or feminine), and university and b
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1.2 Grasping Gaelic

Activity 1

Please read the following poems by Sorley MacLean (linked below): ‘The Turmoil’, ‘Kinloch Ainort’, ‘Heroes’, ‘Death Valley’, ‘A Spring’, and ‘She to Whom I Gave…’. Some of the poems have both Gaelic
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Acknowledgements

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3 Studying philosophy

In the final section of this taster unit I want to say something about the process of studying philosophy. We can divide the process up into three components: reading (and listening), discussing, and writing. Let us take them in turn and see what they will involve in A211.

Reading. Reading philosophy is a special skill. You can't read a philosophy book as you would a novel. You will need to approach it carefully and critically, taking much more time than normal. Different
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