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1.8 Conclusion

In conclusion, what is Babylonian mathematics about? Although it is not easy to answer this question precisely, because of the difficulties of interpretation such as you saw with Plimpton 322, the overwhelming impression is of the study and use of numbers, and various techniques for solving problems involving numbers. Where the numbers arise from—whether land measurement, economic questions, idealised geometrical objects (cubes, triangles and so on), or just fairly abstractly—seems
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1.4 A remarkable numeration system

The Babylonian numeral system was described in Section 3 as ‘remarkable’. It is worth spelling out the reasons for this judgement. Although what we notice first is that it was a place-value system (see Box 1), what is perhaps more striking is the coupling of this feature with a ‘floating sexagesimal point’; that is, the lack of any indication about the absolute value of the number. This makes life hard for us in reading the tablets initially, but seems to have given the Babylonians un
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3 Britain in the 1790s

A problem that has exercised historians for many years is, put in its most concise form: why was there no revolution in Britain in the 1790s? The question is a significant one here, because religious factors have formed an important strand in the answers that have been given. The intellectual trend was set by the publication in 1913 of England in 1815, in which the French historian Elie Halévy (1870–1937) argued that the growth of Methodism in this period was a key factor in the Bri
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4.1 Why was our immortality an issue?

When reading about Hume's death you may have been puzzled as to why people became so worked up about Hume's attitude. The question of what, if anything, happens after death is something most of us are at least curious about, just as most of us are curious to know what we will be doing in a few years’ time. But curiosity cannot explain the venom evident in the condemnations of Hume.

The reason for the hostility can be approached by considering the opera Don Giovanni. The opera i
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3.3 The divide over the Church, 1790

The revolutionaries of 1789 also aspired to reform the Catholic Church in France, though not to disestablish it, still less to de-Christianise the country. Many of the clergy themselves favoured reform. In August 1789 the Assembly deprived the Church of its income by abolishing the tithe. In November it decreed the sequestration (nationalisation) of church lands, roughly 10 per cent of all land in France, for public sale. The Assembly was prompted by the same need to raise revenue to pay off
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • assess the specific problems concerning the health of a community;

  • describe how medical knowledge was a resource for, and was shaped by, broader cultural perceptions of the body.


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Acknowledgements

The material acknowledged below is Proprietary (not subject to Creative Commons licensing) and used under licence. See terms and conditions.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following:

Figures

Figure 1 Bodleian Library;

Figure 2 Keele University, Turner Collection;

Figure 7 Deutsches Museum, Munich.

The material acknowledged below is contained in The History of Mathematics – A Reader (1987) J Fauvel and
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4 Review

  1. We began by considering the meanings of ‘imagination’ and related terms in everyday contexts, and then looked at the twelve conceptions of imagination that Stevenson distinguishes. This suggested a first definition of ‘imagining’ – ‘thinking of something that is not present to th
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2 The varieties of imaginative experience

What would life be like without imagination? Perhaps, in this very first question, we have found something that is impossible to imagine. Imagination infuses so much of what we do, and so deeply, that to imagine its absence is to imagine not being human. Some people, I am told, think about sex every five minutes. For them, I presume, a sudden loss of imaginative powers would be devastating. Some people (not necessarily the same ones), at certain points in their lives, think about getting marr
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1 Imagination

Imagination, a licentious and vagrant faculty, unsusceptible of limitations and impatient of restraint, has always endeavoured to baffle the logician, to perplex the confines of distinction, and burst the enclosures of regularity.

(Samuel Johnson, Rambler, no. 125, 28 May 1751)

In much of western thought, the imagination has an ambiguous status, seemingly poised between spirit and nature, m
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2 Links between English and Latin

Although Latin is not the direct ancestor of English, as it is of Italian, French and Spanish (the so-called ‘Romance’ languages), it has nevertheless given us an enormous number of words. According to some estimates, nearly half of all English words come from Latin. You may be familiar with the idea that words such as science, transport and solution are derived from Latin, but did you know that street and kipper come from Latin words which entered ordinary spe
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Acknowledgements

This unit was written by Dr Angus Calder

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

Grateful acknowledgement and thanks are made to Michael Schmidt, OBE, FRSL, Carcanet
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2.3.2 Love

Please now read ‘Dogs and Wolves’.

Click to view the poem ‘Dogs and Wolves’

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2.3.1 Politics

MacLean was a socialist from the age of twelve, and a Marxist by the late 1930s, when he believed that the Soviet Union and the Red Army were the only agents that could defeat Fascism. However, he never joined the Communist Party, and by 1944 events in Poland had thoroughly disillusioned him about Stalin and the Soviet Union. One reason why he could never commit himself fully to Communism seems quite clear: he retained from his Calvinist heritage a deep pessimism about human nature and human
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2.1.2 The poems

Your reading in this unit has already prepared you to some extent, but please read the following poems (both the English and Gaelic versions are given) which are discussed in the recordings, and then listen to the recordings.

 

Kinloch Ainort

A company of mountains, an upthrust of mountains

a great garth of growing mountains

a concourse of summits, of knolls, of hills


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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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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should:

  • have an awareness of what is involved in the study of philosophy, which enables you to offer arguments for and against the main positions discussed;

  • have a rudimentary ability to use philosophical reasoning techniques.


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Acknowledgements

This unit was written by Dr Linda Walsh and Professor Tony Lentin

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Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following source
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9.2 Cultural shifts: from Enlightenment to Romanticism, c.1780–1830

  1. A growing impulse towards revolution, rupture, transformation and radicalism.

  2. A growing scepticism about the potential to identify objective, empirically validated and universally valid truths, and an increased emphasis on subjectivity.

  3. An increasing emphasis on the self, introspection, identity and individualism.

  4. A growing exploitation and intensification of an aesthetic of the sublime.

  5. A
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8.3.2 Revolution

It cannot be emphasised enough that neither Voltaire nor Rousseau nor anyone before 1789 anticipated the revolution that actually took place in France or the violent and bloody course that it took. What Voltaire looked forward to was an enlightened, humane and orderly society of moderate property owners, a society whose members were guaranteed freedom to worship (or not to worship), to read, publish and discuss whatever they wished, a humane penal system, the rule of law, freedom from arbitra
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