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Richard Kerridge describes the literary, cultural and scientific context of Plath’s interest in wild animals, landscape, climate and pollution. The letters and journals show that this interest was intense, but also that it was not scientific or systematic, even in a rudimentary way. Plath’s strategy was to preserve the dramatic immediacy of unexpected encounters with wildlife, rather than frame those encounters with scientific information. Nevertheless, an emergent ecological consciousness and environmental concern are evident in her writing. Kerridge provides the historical and scientific background for this concern, by outlining the major conceptual shifts that were taking place in ecological science, the recent history of wild nature in literature, and some of the changing popular attitudes in Britain and the USA.
Though Chaucer seems to have matriculated at neither of England’s medieval universities, his acquaintance with philosophical ideas of the classical and medieval traditions is strikingly evident in his writings. He also had friends at the University of Oxford, including the ‘philosophical’ Strode to whom he dedicates Troilus and Criseyde. His principal textual authority was Boethius’ De consolatione philosophiae, but he also drew on the works of the Neoplatonic poets Alan of Lille and Bernard Silvester. The philosophical themes explored by these writers, which range from the origin and ordering of the universe to the function of nature and the relationship between fate and free will, are addressed in different ways in his literary narratives, perhaps most subtly and successfully in Troilus and Criseyde. Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis, on which the narrator dwells at the beginning of the Parliament of Fowls, was known to Chaucer through the commentary on this text produced by Macrobius, which itself supplied the classification of dreams that confounds the narrator of the House of Fame, and to which Pertelote wisely appeals in the interpretation of his own prophetic dream in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale. Though not typically remembered as a philosopher, Chaucer was certainly a philosophical poet.
‘Secularity’ is here taken to involve matters which are lay and earthly as opposed to otherworldly and spiritual. Personal experience was being allowed its own authority, a principle which often features in Chaucer’s poetry, as when he portrays a woman with much experience of marriage and a marquis who obsessively tests his wife’s virtue. Certain marvels were acknowledged to have natural rather than miraculous causes; this belief features in the tales told by the Squire and Franklin. Chaucer condemns false alchemists who dupe victims into believing that they are seeing precious metals being created. As far as astrology/astronomy is concerned, he makes use of secular science whilst disassociating himself from the pagan beliefs held by its ancient proponents. His sociopolitical values often reflect those associated with recently recovered works by Aristotle. Secularity and religiosity were not invariably in opposition, but sometimes the strains showed – as in Chaucer’s Retractions.
Chaucer lived in a society that was aware of childhood and adolescence as distinctive stages of human life and which inherited practices whereby young people were brought up and trained for adulthood. Informally, at home, children were introduced to social norms, religion and work. Those from wealthier families underwent more formal education, mastering literacy at home, in schools or in great households, where they learnt reading, rules of courtesy, French and, in the case of some boys, Latin. Chaucer’s works refer in passing to most of these processes, with particular attention to adolescents, including university scholars. During the fifteenth century his works in general came to be seen as having educational value. The Astrolabe, first written for his son Lewis, seems to have been used for teaching reading to other young children while his major writings were recommended as suitable literature for older ones.
Chaucer’s God considers how characters invoke God, both in terms of the everyday language of late medieval England and in the ways that the idea of God is reflected in Chaucer’s fiction. Conventional, non-theological utterances of the names for God by Chaucer’s characters as part of their, by turns, outwardly pious and unthinkingly impious phraseologies are discussed in the opening section, God Woot – ‘God knows’. Under the heading God Forwoot – ‘God foreknows’, some of the more challenging invocations of God are considered, such as the implications of divine foreknowledge and predestination on human free will in the Knight’s Tale, the Nun’s Priest’s Tale and Troilus and Criseyde. The concluding section, God in a Cruel World, asks whether in the Clerk’s Tale and the Franklin’s Tale, if Chaucer allowed his tales to reflect, and characters to reflect upon, the heretical notion of a God lacking in compassion for humanity.
The seasons are one of the most prevalent means by which literary texts engage with and represent climate. This chapter explores the implications of the seasonal perspective of climate, and argues that literary texts have used the seasons as a domain for interrogating the interface between nature and culture. The first half of the chapter traces a history of literary representations of the seasonal cycle. This climate model of change-within-constancy has been interpreted variously as a source of reassuring stability or as evidence for nature’s hostility. The second half of the chapter focuses on individual seasons and the cultural associations that have accumulated around them. Particular seasons are associated with particular human activities, emotions, psychological states, and literary genres. Often the most interesting examples of seasons literature are those texts that interrogate these associations and ask whether nature or culture has shaped our responses to and expectations for each season.
Over the past decade, anthropogenic climate change has encouraged authors and readers to confront new modes of imagining time, selfhood, and narrative and to reassess the relationships among experiential, historical, and climatological time. In Western literary culture, historical and climatological time traditionally have seemed one and the same. Working within the 5000-year time frame of biblical history, writers envisioned a world that, since the sixth day of creation, always has been inhabited and therefore always had been shaped and reshaped by humans. In this worldview, ‘nature’ is always a product of anthropogenic intervention. Beginning around 1800, however, work in geology, planetary astronomy, and palaeontology transformed conceptions of climate by decoupling planetary history from human experience, memory, and myth. In giving narrative form to the collision of experiential and climatological time, Anthropocene fiction explores the problem that science fiction often seems more ‘realistic’ than traditional narrative realism.
This chapter argues that Plato’s Laws are more than a legislative code, more than a work of political philosophy, for they call for the realisation of a project toward which Plato's work converges: to account for the whole of reality, i.e. individual, city and world. This discourse (logos) in which the law (nomos) consists derives its origin from the intellect (nous), which represents what is most akin in the soul to the divine (theos), because it is the principle of order (kosmos). This order (kosmos) which is manifested in celestial bodies must be present in man's soul, in which the intellect has to rule over pleasures and pains. Thus, an order will be assured by means of the law within the city, an order based on the contemplation of the regularity and permanence of the movements of the celestial bodies, which the citizens shall imitate, even in their movements around the territory. In the Laws, Plato brings the project of the Presocratics to its natural conclusion. The city, which is to bring about the birth of the whole of virtue in all the human beings who constitute it, is organised by means of a legislation that takes the functioning of the world as its model. The opposition between nomos and physis therefore disappears, because the law (nomos) becomes the expression of physis.
This chapter sets out the contribution to ‘good energy policy’ that might be forthcoming from the (perhaps unfamiliar) field of ‘public theology’. It argues that an environmental public theology would commend a ‘grounded’ energy policy – one rooted in an explicit conception of a ‘good’ or ‘virtuous’ human life. After defining ‘public theology’, it identifies five convergent stances relevant to energy policy that seem to be emerging today among representative of most world religions: (i) nature as a ‘divine’ ordering marked by integration, equilibrium and harmony rather than as infinitely exploitable; (ii) a call for human ‘stewardship’ of nature; (iii) an acceptance of climate science and an urgent call to shift away from fossil fuels; (iv) scepticism towards unlimited economic growth and its attendant ‘consumerism’; (v) locating energy questions within a broader commitment to a just social order characterised by both an equitable global distribution of access to energy and a decentralisation of energy supply (‘environmental subsidiarity’).
Political science does not offer a distinct subdiscipline to address the subject of energy. Insofar as political science has addressed energy, it has focused on issues often neglected by other disciplines, notably the role of geopolitics and international relations, and the domestic politics of resource-rich states. Apart from the different subfields, we examine different approaches including realism, constructivism, liberalism and Marxism. The rise and fall and rise again of academic articles on energy in leading political science journals is reviewed and linked to exogenous forces such as the price of oil. Two distinct energy topics which have received attention are nuclear power and the oil crises of 1973–79 because of their wider geopolitical ramifications. Perhaps the most prominent or consistent thread through studies of the politics of energy is the question of energy security or energy independence. Finally, in recent years, energy has increasingly emerged as a focus for study in environmental politics and climate change politics in particular.
For Brahms, holidays did not just mean a nice break; they constituted important or even essential periods of composition. This is best seen through the example of his First Symphony Op. 68: as is well known, it had its roots in a birthday greeting of 12 September 1868 to Clara Schumann, in which Brahms notated an alphorn call he allegedly heard during a walk from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen. He then worked on the symphony in summer 1874 in Rüschlikon (near Zurich) and in 1876 in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen where he enjoyed the landscape. As he wrote to his publisher Fritz Simrock, the Symphony ‘was dangling’ from the Wissower Klinken cliffs, the famous chalk formations on the east coast of the island. The manuscript was finally completed in September 1876 in Lichtenthal, near the fashionable spa town of Baden-Baden, where the composer often stayed.
‘Today, my dear wife, née Nissen, successfully delivered a healthy boy. 7th May 1833. J. J. Brahms.’ Thus, on 8 May 1833 Johann Jakob Brahms announced the birth of his first son Johannes in the local paper, the Privileged Weekly General News of and for Hamburg (Privilegirte wöchentliche gemeinnützige Nachrichten von und für Hamburg). At a time when such announcements were the exception, this was a clear sign of pride. Johann Jakob Brahms or Brahmst, as he also spelled it, was born on 1 June 1806 in Heide in Holstein, the second son of the innkeeper and trader Johann Brahms, who had moved to Heide from Brunsbüttel via Meldorf. His ancestors were from Lower Saxony. Johann Jakob completed a five-year apprenticeship as a city wait in Heide and Wesselburen, during which he learned the flugelhorn, flute, violin, viola and cello, then standard instruments. In early 1826, the young journeyman began his travels with his certificate of apprenticeship, received in December 1825.
Despite relative neglect in the literature, Kant’s published and unpublished writings in theoretical philosophy reveal a sustained and at times ambivalent effort to come to terms with the problem of miracles. Because they entail a form of supernatural causation that undermines the law-governedness of the order of nature, miracles pose a significant problem for Kant’s metaphysics. I explore in detail Kant’s account of miracles in conjunction with the relevant aspects of his metaphysics of nature in order to establish in what sense miracles are possible, and how they fit into Kant’s architectonic more generally.