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Religion, Belief and Unbelief

A Psychological Study

Series:

Antoon Vergote

This book focuses attention on the central elements of human religious existence. Vergote's primary aim and viewpoint are clear: to examine empirically and to interpret dynamically the psychological factors at work in the field of religion. Vergote consistently adheres to the position that psychology is neither philosophy nor theology and that its task is not to explain religion. In this work he situates religion as a cultural fact and studies how persons orient themselves to it, positively and/or negatively. Rather than emphasise and juxtapose belief and unbelief as alternative positions, he sees them as threads of experiences interwoven throughout the human existence of persons and institutions. In this context he studies motivations and their ambivalences, religious experiences and their ambiguities, conflicts between religious belief and unbelief, and the various expressions and practices of religion.

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Kenneth A. Bryson

The religious belief in personal immortality depends on the evidence for the existence of God, an immaterial soul or mind, and human nature. We also need to support the view that God will always want to maintain relationships with us in the afterlife. So, immortality is a hard sell. The suffering of innocent victims suggests that the existence of a loving God is not self-evident. Furthermore, the soul's separation from the body at death raises the troublesome problem of personal identity. How can that be me in the afterlife without my body? The tradition from Plato to Descartes plants the seed of personal immortality in our rational nature. But the deconstruction of human nature suggests that our species is not special. Yet, the belief in immortality lingers.
The first step in the reconstruction of personal immortality is found in systems theory, or belief that the whole individuates the part. This view suggests that we are the outcome of relationships rather than eternal natures entering into relationships. We are the product of relationships taking place at three basic levels. 1. In psyche where being human is the result of a tendency toward good and evil. 2. As social entities where the existence of other human beings individuates us. 3. In being's unconcealment where the intelligibility of things provides a foundation for epistemic life. Heidegger's view of the nothing or horizon surrounding being allows us to identify God as creator entering into personal relationships with us - a view supported by contemporary science.
That will be me in the afterlife, if the relationships that individuate me in my pre-mortem state continue into my post-mortem existence. The reversal in being's unconcealment suggests that human death continues the cycle of personal existence.

Series:

William Gerber

The book analyzes, synthesizes, and evaluates the insights of the world's outstanding thinkers, prophets, and literary masters on the good, the morally right, and the lovely (part one); the question whether the world operates on the basis of such universal laws as the logos, the tao, and the principle of polarity (part two); what there is and isn't in the world, including such categories as existence, reality, being, and nonbeing (part three); and pre-eminently credible and enriching beliefs about truth, wisdom, and what it all means (part four).
Emphasis is placed on the divergent views of such intellectual giants as Confucius and Laotse in ancient China; the classical Hindu philosophers from ancient times to Gandhi and Tagore; patriarchs and prophets quoted in Scripture; Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages; Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, and Kant; and nineteenth- and twentieth-century luminaries such as Bentham, Mill, Peirce, James, Dewey, Sartre, and Wittgenstein.
The differences and resemblances of their cogitations are portrayed as a conversation of the ages on questions of persistent concern.

Series:

Susan Petit

From the 1950’s, with Le Rempart des béguines, La Chambre rouge, Cordélia, Les Mensonges and L’Empire céleste, down into the 1990’s, with Adriana Sposa, Divine, Les Larmes, La Maison dont le chien est fou and Sept démons dans la ville, the work of Françoise Mallet-Joris has exercised a very special fascination over a very large readership. The content of her work, ever developing yet faithful to residual, either lived or observed, studied experience, is wide-ranging and unflinching – family relationships, the individual psyche, belief systems that move from quasi-nihilism to the mystical, sexuality, feminine consciousness, creativity, larger social frameworks, etc. – and she can move with ease from portrayal of the hypercontemporary to the researched – and finely imagined – historical reconstruction. Susan Petit, whose lively and elegantly written study addresses all these, and other, factors, argues modestly but wisely that “the works of Mallet-Joris provide stimulating, thought-provoking and coherent ways of apprehending ourselves and our human situation”. One need ask no more of an author who, though perhaps personally drawn to certain perspectives, maintains an admirable openness and multiplicity of interrogation of existence.

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Sean Cubitt

For the last twenty years ecology, the last great political movement of the 20th century, has fired the imaginations not only of political activists but of popular movements throughout the industrialised world. EcoMedia is an enquiry into the popular mediations of environmental concerns in popular film and television since the 1980s. Arranged in a series of case studies on bio-security, relationships with animals, bioethics and biological sciences, over-fishing, eco-terrorism, genetic modification and global warming, EcoMedia offers close readings of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, Miyazake's Princess Mononoke, The Perfect Storm, X-Men and X2, The Day After Tomorrow and the BBC's drama Edge of Darkness and documentary The Blue Planet. Drawing on the thinking of Flusser, Luhmann, Latour, Agamben and Bookchin, EcoMedia discusses issues from whether animals can draw and why we like to draw animals, to how narrative films can imagine global processes, and whether wonder is still an ethical pleasure. Building on the thesis that popular film and television can tell us a great deal about the state of contemporary beliefs and anxieties, the book builds towards an argument that the polis, the human world, cannot survive without a three way partnership with physis and techne, the green world and the technological.

Ancient Medicine in Its Socio-Cultural Context, Volume 2

Papers Read at the Congress Held at Leiden University, 13-15 April 1992

Series:

Edited by H.F.J. Horstmanshoff, Philip J. van der Eijk and P.H. Schrijvers

This collection of papers – some of which written by the world’s leading specialists in the area of ancient medicine – aims at promoting an integrated approach to medical theory and practice in classical antiquity. Questions of health and disease are considered in their relation to the social, intellectual, moral and religious dimensions of the ancient world. The papers focus on the socio-cultural setting of the experience of pain and illness, the different reactions they provoked and the importance that was attached to this experience in literature, religion and philosophy.
The first volume offers articles (from an archaeological, historical and philological point of view) dealing with social, institutional and geographical aspects of medical practice. It also has a special section on medical views on women, children and sexuality, and on female medical activity.
The second volume focuses on the ways in which religious and magical beliefs influenced the experience of, and the attitude towards, illness and medical practice. It also deals with the relations of medicine with philosophy, and the other sciences and with the variety of linguistic and textual forms in which medical knowledge was expressed and communicated.

Contributors to the second volume are Darrel W. Amundsen, Angelos Chaniotis, Philip J. van der Eijk, Elsa García Novo, Burkhard Gladigow, Richard Gordon, Katerina Ierodiakonou, Alberto Jori, Karl-Heinz Leven, James Longrigg, Harm Pinkster, I. Rodríguez Alfageme, Ineke Sluiter, Heinrich von Staden, Gilles Susong, Teun Tieleman, and M. Vegetti.

Ancient Medicine in Its Socio-Cultural Context, Volume 1

Papers Read at the Congress Held at Leiden University, 13-15 April 1992

Series:

Edited by H.F.J. Horstmanshoff, Philip J. van der Eijk and P.H. Schrijvers

This collection of papers – some of which written by the world’s leading specialists in the area of ancient medicine – aims at promoting an integrated approach to medical theory and practice in classical antiquity. Questions of health and disease are considered in their relation to the social, intellectual, moral and religious dimensions of the ancient world. The papers focus on the socio-cultural setting of the experience of pain and illness, the different reactions they provoked and the importance that was attached to this experience in literature, religion and philosophy.
The first volume offers articles (from an archaeological, historical and philological point of view) dealing with social, institutional and geographical aspects of medical practice. It also has a special section on medical views on women, children and sexuality, and on female medical activity.
The second volume focuses on the ways in which religious and magical beliefs influenced the experience of, and the attitude towards, illness and medical practice. It also deals with the relations of medicine with philosophy, and the other sciences and with the variety of linguistic and textual forms in which medical knowledge was expressed and communicated.

Contributors to the first volume are Lawrence J. Bliquez, Simon Byl, Armelle Debru, Nancy Demand, Danielle Gourevitch, Ann Ellis Hanson, H.F.J. Horstmanshoff, Ralph Jackson, Eva C. Keuls, Jukka Korpela, Ernst Künzl, Gabriele Marasco, Attilio Mastrocinque, Karin Nijhuis, Vivian Nutton, H.W. Pleket, Heikki Solin, Peter Van Minnen, and Juliane C. Wilmanns.

Series:

Sander Brouwer

In this book, the problem of literary character is investigated in a series of detailed analyses of short stories by I.S.Turgenev: Bezhin Lea, Mumu, A Journey into Polesé, The Dog and Punin and Baburin. Up until roughly the 1920's (in Russia: before Formalism), the approach to character in literary criticism was based on the implicit assumption that literary character somehow reflected characters in real life, who were thought to have a fixed inner essence (psychological and/or ideological). In post-formalist, structuralist studies, on the other hand, character as it were dissolved into the textual fabric of the work. In this book, the basic viewpoint of structuralist theory of character, namely its exclusively textual nature, is retained. But in that case, how is the structure of character in texts of the pre-modernist era to be described, in which the belief in the existence of an inner essence in actual as well as in fictional characters had hardly yet been shaken? In order to tackle this problem, the author turns to Roman Jakobson's idea, taken up and developed by W.Schmid and A.Hansen-Löve, that the meaning of a work of literature is generated by the interaction of paradigmatic and syntagmatic mechanisms. The image of character in Turgenev's stories is the result of devices characteristic of narrative as well as of verbal art. It is partly created with the help of leitmotivs that form sequences of equivalences, and of intertextual references. Thus (social) representation is supplemented by lyrical and philosophical overtones. Comparable observations have been made by V.M.Markovic (1982) on Turgenev's novels, as well as on those by Puškin, Gogol' and Lermontov. For the assessment of intra- and intertextual equivalences it has been found of great importance to pay more attention than is usually done to folkloric connotations of details in Turgenev's fictional world. Thus new layers of meaning can be uncovered in stories that have been considered well-studied; and a first-ever interpretation is given of The Dog, a story traditionally regarded as incomprehensible.