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10 AUGUST 2014

Patience, Satire, and Self-Righteousness

"Gilbert and Sullivan's fifth Savoy Opera, Patience (1881), is a shining example of the critical role of satire in popular culture, and a most important record of how many self–righteous upper middle class contemporaries viewed fringe schools of thought and pop culture during the dissipation of the Evangelical church. The operetta's premise is that Reginald Bunthorne and Archibald Grosvenor––characters reputedly based upon Oscar Wilde and Charles Swinburne respectively, although the actor who originally played Bunthorne drew on Whistler––are shams as bogus as the aesthetic movement that they embody."

(William R. Terpening, 1998, Victorian Web)

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1881 • 19th centuryAesthetic Movementaestheticismaesthetics • Algernon Swinburne • Archibald Grosvenor • Arthur Sullivan • Charles Swinburne • chauvinismcolour • comic opera • critical commentarycultural critiqueDante Rossettidecadence • decadentismo • dissipation • electric lighting • Evangelical church • fringe • Gilbert and Sullivan • Harold Bloom • James McNeill Whistler • male vanity • musical theatreopera • Opera Comique • operetta • Oscar WildePatience (1881) • pop culture • popular cultureProtestantism • Reginald Bunthorne • satire • Savoy Opera • Savoy Theatre • Savoyards • schools of thought • self-righteous • self-righteousness • theatrical production • upper middle class • vanityVictorian literature • William Gilbert

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 OCTOBER 2013

Modern medicine evokes a Cartesian mind-body dualism

"If we look at the history of medicine, we can see that it became what it is today because of a sweeping social transformation that modernized Europe centuries ago. Urbanization and commerce, along with Protestantism and the Catholic Counter–Reformation, encouraged new ways of conceiving and interacting with nature. It was within this context that 'scientific medicine' was invented and elaborated. The particular scientific model that became predominant in Europe in the seventeenth century accepted the mind–body dualism of René Descartes, for whom the human body is a self–contained, entirely material machine. His contemporary, Baruch Spinoza, on the other hand, elaborated a more relational view, stemming from a Jewish tradition that regards the body as essential to a complex and ultimately spiritual being, and all beings as mutually dependent.

Spinoza's perspective is no less compatible with scientific medicine than the Cartesian view. For science has two complementary ways of explaining: by taking apart–as atomic physics mainly does–and by bringing into relation–as Einstein's relativity theory does. Spinoza was quite aware of the power of the first approach, as elaborated by Descartes and advanced by technologies such as the newly invented microscope. Spinoza acknowledges that the human body is composed of parts, and those parts of smaller parts still. But he recognizes also that bodies are encompassed by, and can be adequately understood only in relation to, unities larger than themselves, until we reach the widest system of all, which is 'the whole of nature.' Spinoza was an early exponent of what is known today as 'systems theory.'

Medicine in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries could have taken a more integrative path, in keeping with Spinoza's insight that we are guardians not only of our bodies, taken individually, but of the entire domain of nature with which they are continuous. Instead–for reasons that this essay will explore – mainstream medicine adopted the Cartesian machine model."

(Raymond Barglow, Tikkun Magazine, March 2002)

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16th century17th centuryAlbert Einstein • atomic physics • atomisticBaruch Spinozabodybringing into relation • Cartesian machine model • Cartesian view • Catholiccomplexitycomposed of partscontingencydualismhealth carehistory of medicinehuman bodyintegrative practices • Jewish tradition • Judaism • mainstream medicine • man and nature • material machine • medicinemicroscopemind-body dualismnatureProtestantismrelational aestheticsrelational viewRene Descartessciencescientific medicine • scientific model • self-contained • social transformation • spiritual being • systems theorytaking apart • theory of relativity • urbansation

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
19 MAY 2013

Ways In and Out of the Hermeneutic Circle

"In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry examines acts of reading and interpretation by way of the theory of hermeneutics. The origins of hermeneutic thought are traced through Western literature. The mechanics of hermeneutics, including the idea of a hermeneutic circle, are explored in detail with reference to the works of Hans–George Gadamer, Martin Heidegger, and E. D. Hirsch. Particular attention is paid to the emergence of concepts of 'historicism' and 'historicality' and their relation to hermeneutic theory."

(Open Yale Courses, 22 January 2009)

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2009 • Alexander Pope • Being and Time (1927) • Christian tradition • circularity • common ground • cult of genius • Eric Donald Hirsch • fore-having • fore-project • fore-structure • Friedrich Schleiermacher • Hans-Georg Gadamerhermeneutic circlehermeneutic horizonhermeneutic theory • hermeneutic thought • hermeneutics • historicality • historicism • history of hermeneutics • imagined whole • interpret meaningsinterpretation • interpretative engagement • Mark Akenside • Martin Heidegger • mechanics of hermeneutics • moving back and forth • Northrop Frye • Open Yale Courses • opinionpart • Paul Fry • preconception • prejudgment • prejudices (prior awareness) • preliminary conception • preliminary idea • prior judgment • Protestant ReformationProtestantismreligion • sacred scripture • Samuel Johnsonscripture • secular scripture • supposed whole • Talmudic scholarship • The Reformation • theory of hermeneutics • theory of literature • transparency of meaningviewpoint • Voruteil • Western literature • whole • Wilhelm Dilthey • William Kurtz Wimsatt • Yale University

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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