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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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9780199684113

Shakespeare and conscience

At the outset of an undergraduate Shakespeare course I often ask my students to make a list of ten things that may not, or do not, exist. I say “things” because I want to be as vague as possible. Most students submit lists featuring zombies and mermaids, love charms and time travel. Hogwarts is a popular place name, as are Westeros and Middle Earth. But few students venture into religious territory.

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OUP Philosophy Creast

Test your knowledge of G.E.M. Anscombe

This January, the OUP Philosophy team has chosen Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret (G.E.M.) Anscombe as their Philosopher of the Month. G.E.M. Anscombe (1919 – 2001) was a British analytical philosopher best known for her contributions in the fields of philosophy of the mind, action, language, logic, and ethics. Test your knowledge of this famous female philosopher.

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9780199671267

What was Shakespeare’s religion?

What was Shakespeare’s religion? It’s possible to answer this seemingly simple question in lots of different ways. Like other English subjects who lived through the ongoing Reformation, Shakespeare was legally obliged to attend Church of England services. Officially, at least, he was a Protestant. But a number of scholars have argued that there is evidence that Shakespeare had connections through his family and school teachers with Roman Catholicism, a religion which, through the banning of its priests, had effectively become illegal in England.

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9780199391646

Roe v. Wade and the remaking of the pro-life movement

On 11 January 1973, members of the North Dakota Right to Life Association braved the frigid temperatures in Bismarck to convene their first annual convention. Having won a sweeping victory at the ballot box only two months earlier, they were optimistic about the future and were ready to move on to the second phase of pro-life activism.

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9780190218478

Miley Cyrus and the culture of excess in American history

Miley Cyrus has shocked the world anew with a recent CANDY Magazine photo shoot by over-the-top fashion photographer Terry Richardson. Cyrus sticks her tongue out with enthusiasm—and does much more. In one image, she is “dressed” in a police officer’s uniform, except that she is not wearing a shirt and a pair of handcuffs is displayed prominently.

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9780199948901

No time to think

On leaving school, my advisor reminded me to always take time to think. That seemed like a reasonable suggestion, as I trudged off to teach, write, and, of course, think. But the modern academy doesn’t share this value; faculty are increasingly prodded to “produce” more articles, more presentations, more grant applications, and more PhD students.

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9780199372706

What religion is Barack Obama?

On 7 January, 2016, I asked Google, “what religion is Barack Obama”? After considering the problem for .42 seconds, Google offered more than 34 million “results.” The most obvious answer was at the top, accentuated by a rectangular border, with the large word “Muslim.” Beneath that one word read the line, “Though Obama is a practicing Christian and he was chiefly raised by his mother and her Christian parents…” Thank you, Google.

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Music-Web-Large

Grove Music announces its third Spoof Article Contest

It’s that time of year again! We invite you to submit your entry for Grove Music’s Spoof Article Contest, and as usual the winning entry will be announced on April Fool’s Day. Spoof articles have been part of Grove’s history for several decades; it seems that our authors have always had an inclination toward humor.

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Sources for Shakespeare’s biography

When opening a work of Shakespearean biography, it’s not unusual to find some sort of lament about a lack of data – albeit that it quickly becomes clear that this has not stood in the way of producing a substantial volume. However, rather than dwell on how this can still be done, perhaps we should re-examine what we mean when we say there is little to go on.

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9780199669608

Lying, belief, and paradox

The Liar paradox is often informally described in terms of someone uttering the sentence: I am lying right now. If we equate lying with merely uttering a falsehood, then this is (roughly speaking) equivalent to a somewhat more formal, more precise version of the paradox that arises by considering a sentence like: “This sentence is false”.

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9780199895632 - God Is Watching You: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human

Supernatural punishment: the common denominator

So here’s the question: Is religion evolutionarily advantageous? We can’t ever know for sure what life was like for our prehistoric ancestors, but I hypothesise that supernatural punishment was a very important promoter of cooperation and a way to reduce self-interest, which was vital to the evolution of human societies.

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9780190249380

Religion is not primitive science

When I first heard the suggestion that religion is primitive science, I put it down to ignorance on the part of people who had not studied these things. Having not studied religion, they did not understand what our ancestors’ religious statements were really doing.

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Shakespeare and religion in 16th and 17th century England

The politics and religious turmoil of 16th century England provided Shakespeare with the fascinating characters and intriguing plots. From the publication of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, which some historians argue ignited the Protestant cause, to the publication of the Geneva Bible in 1560, English religious history has dramatically influenced Shakespeare’s work.

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9780198749578

Religious belief, fundamentalism, and intolerance

Religious belief has been allied, for centuries, with fundamentalism and intolerance. It’s possible to have one without the other, but it requires a degree of self-criticism that is not easily acquired. When Calvin endorsed the execution of Michael Servetus in 1553, he justified his decision by appeal to the certainty of his own religious faith.

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9780192804242

10 surprising facts about atheism

Atheism is the absence of belief that God, and other deities, exist. How much do you know about this belief system? Julian Baggini, author of Atheism: A Very Short Introduction, tells us the ten things we never knew about atheism.

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