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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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1 Approaching philosophy

The 1960s show Beyond the Fringe included a sketch satirizing philosophy. In it, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett play two Oxbridge philosophers discussing the role of philosophy in everyday life. It concludes like this:

Jon: … the burden is fair and square on your shoulders to explain to me the exact relevance philosophy does have to everyday life.

Alan: Yes, I can do this quite easily. This mo
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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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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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Acknowledgements

This unit was written by Dr Derek Neale

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Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce
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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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3.1 The limits of propaganda

Although portraits of Napoleon were manufactured on a large scale and distributed widely, they could only act as propaganda for the regime up to a certain point. Given the institutional circumstances sketched out in the introduction to this unit, the most effective way to use art as propaganda was with large-scale history paintings that would attract the attention and excite the interest of a large audience when they were exhibited in the Salon. State patronage for such painting was revived o
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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

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