Matching Items (8)

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Human Nature, Improvement, and Destiny: A Comparison of Protestant Pietism and Transhumanism

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Transhumanist concepts and themes increasingly occupy a prominent place in contemporary visions of the future, particularly with regard to technology. A growing number of scholars, including some self-described transhumanists, see

Transhumanist concepts and themes increasingly occupy a prominent place in contemporary visions of the future, particularly with regard to technology. A growing number of scholars, including some self-described transhumanists, see transhumanism as functioning like a religion for secular people, in that it fulfills many of the same desires and impulses without reference to any supernatural forces. For this reason there is a growing discussion of transhumanism in comparison with major religious traditions, but one which has heretofore been underappreciated is Protestant pietism. Pietism grew out of a need among Protestants after the Reformation to realize a better Christian community and better prepare individual believers for the afterlife. It had a significant influence over the European Enlightenment, of which transhumanists claim to be the successors. In its understanding of human improvement, human nature, and ultimate human destiny in death and the end-point of history, pietism has multiple interesting points of comparison with transhumanism. Both ideologies begin by improving individual human beings as the primary means to the end of eliminating suffering, especially death and disease, and building the ideal human community. Transhumanism accomplishes its goals for humanity through the use of advanced technologies which enable human beings to transcend their natural limitations. Pietism focuses, as its name suggests, on moral and spiritual improvement according to practical guidelines that lead a Christian believer to take an active role in his or her own sanctification. This essay concludes that pietism reveals certain key limitations in transhumanism as a comprehensive life philosophy, especially in its ability to organize society according to its system of values.

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Staying Jewish in America: 19th Century German-Jewish Migration

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Between 1820 and 1875, the United States saw a surge in German-Jewish immigration. This wave of immigration brought Jews that were eager to adapt Judaism to their modern lives in

Between 1820 and 1875, the United States saw a surge in German-Jewish immigration. This wave of immigration brought Jews that were eager to adapt Judaism to their modern lives in a rational and accessible way. The challenge in America, however, was maintaining the desire to be Jewish and practice Judaism within a societal context that did not require them to be Jewish. The adoption of Reform Judaism in the 19th century amongst German-Jewish immigrants helped these new immigrants remain faithful and proud to be Jewish in within their new American lives. Furthermore, Reform Judaism helped these determined Jews balance their Jewish identities within the context of American society and culture.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Science and Social Governance: Lessons from the Human Genome Editing Debate

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This thesis responds to the question, "Can Science Make Sense of Life?" through a structural lens of the Human Germline Genetic Editing debate. I explore who is absent from the

This thesis responds to the question, "Can Science Make Sense of Life?" through a structural lens of the Human Germline Genetic Editing debate. I explore who is absent from the table, and how the ways of thinking that dominate marginalize and exclude alternative frameworks and considerations. This analysis is centered around an examination of several perspectives from the disability community and an in-depth study of how the Orthodox Jewish community contends with genetic disease. These perspectives illuminate several lessons that prove to bring insight not merely to questions of permissibility on genetic editing, but also offer reflections on the larger relationship between science, technology, and society. I then return to the mainstream genetic editing debate to show how the culture it is born out of and the structures it has ingrained prevent lessons such as these from impacting the conversation. In light of such structures that continuously reproduce the assertion that it is science, not humanity, that is able to make sense of life, my final argument is that though science tends to gatekeep questions of emerging technologies by centering conversations on highly advanced and methodological considerations, public individuals need not feel as if they are irrelevant or unessential. Though science may offer one solution, it is the individuals and communities, not results from a lab, that are equipped to determine if it is the best solution.

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Date Created
  • 2021-05

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Usury, Monarchy, and Expulsion: The Rise and Fall of Jews in Medieval England

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The Norman invasion and conquest of England in 1066, led by Duke William "the Conqueror," is well-known in British history; less well-known is the fact that the conquest caused a

The Norman invasion and conquest of England in 1066, led by Duke William "the Conqueror," is well-known in British history; less well-known is the fact that the conquest caused a group of Norman Jews to immigrate to England. These immigrants were the first significant population of Jews to ever reside in England, and by about 1100, distinct communities of Jews had established themselves in several cities throughout the country. However, Jewish life in England came to an abrupt end less than two-hundred and thirty years after its beginning when King Edward I expelled the entire Jewish population from England in 1290. The edict of expulsion was approved by the English parliament on June 18, 1290, and there are no surviving records of what happened in that meeting or why Edward decided to banish the Jews. Accordingly, there are a host of questions that need answering if one is to propose a explanation. For example, what could compel Edward I, who struggled financially and was deeply in debt for the duration of his reign, to expel the people who had been the crown's greatest asset for two centuries? Why did the king break the charter which specifically placed the Jews under the monarchy's protection? Why was the aristocracy so intent on getting rid of the Jews who, on several occasions, kept the baronies financially afloat through generous loans? My goal in writing this thesis is threefold: first, to provide a concise but clear account of this extraordinarily specific section of history; second, to present the information in such a way that those who read it might be convinced that the Expulsion was, in fact, primarily motivated by financial factors; and third, to identify several structural and institutional factors which were critical to the Jews' experiences in medieval England.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-12

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The Persecuting Society: Church, Crown, and Jewish Moneylending

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The following text is a re-evaluation of Robert Moore's persecuting society thesis in light of recent criticism. The Persecuting Society asserts that the fundamental condition of Jewish persecution in the

The following text is a re-evaluation of Robert Moore's persecuting society thesis in light of recent criticism. The Persecuting Society asserts that the fundamental condition of Jewish persecution in the 13th century was law and order. In other words, persecution had become an institutionalized phenomenon through which medieval Christians--particularly, the English and French monarchies--segregated, both geographically and ideologically, Jews in England and France. The character of such persecution was primarily economic, but based in religious roots. The paper thus also discusses the role of the Church in establishing and justifying social and economic controls against Jews within the English and French persecutional state apparatuses. The text affirms Moore's persecuting society thesis on two accounts: First, that the English and French crowns developed institutions which marginalized and persecuted Jews; secondly, that functionaries of the Church, particularly ecclesiastic functionaries and later popes of the 13th century, did so as well.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014-05

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From monsters to patients: a history of disability

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This dissertation addresses the tendency among some disability scholars to overlook the importance of congenital deformity and disability in the pre-modern West. It argues that congenital deformity and disability deviated

This dissertation addresses the tendency among some disability scholars to overlook the importance of congenital deformity and disability in the pre-modern West. It argues that congenital deformity and disability deviated so greatly from able-bodied norms that they have played a pivotal role in the history of Western Civilization. In particular, it explores the evolution of two seemingly separate, but ultimately related, ideas from classical antiquity through the First World War: (1) the idea that there was some type of significance, whether supernatural or natural, to the existence of congenital deformity and (2) the idea that the existence of disabled people has resulted in a disability problem for western societies because many disabilities can hinder labor productivity to such an extent that large numbers of the disabled cannot survive without taking precious resources from their more productive, able-bodied counterparts. It also looks at how certain categories of disabled people, including, monsters, hunchbacks, cripples, the blind, the deaf and dumb, and dwarfs, which signified aesthetic and functional deviations from able-bodied norms, often reinforced able-bodied prejudices against the disabled.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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For one's brothers: Daniil Avraamovich Khvol'son and the "Jewish question" in Russia, 1819-1911

Description

One of the great hallmarks of Russian life during the nineteenth century was the proliferation of alternative identities at nearly every level of society. Individuals found, created, or adopted new

One of the great hallmarks of Russian life during the nineteenth century was the proliferation of alternative identities at nearly every level of society. Individuals found, created, or adopted new ways of self-identifying oneself vis-à-vis religion, nationality, and politics. This project examines the life of Daniil Avraamovich Khvol'son (1819-1911) and his understanding of his identity--from poor Lithuanian Jew to German educated scholar, to leading defendant of Jews accused of ritual murder, to renowned university professor. Khvol'son is often mentioned in works of the period but remains understudied and, as a result, poorly understood. This dissertation is the first to examine the man's life and times, his scholarly and public writings, as well as available commentaries about him from former students, opponents, and colleagues. This project is based on the available archival sources housed in the central archives of Russia and draws upon the different literary venues in which Khvol'son published during his lifetime. While it provides a broad biography of the man, more importantly, it takes on the content of his writing, the themes he explored, and the ways in which his contributions were viewed within their own time. This project argues that the aim of Russian imperial policy toward Jews was based on a hopeful, if hesitant, desire to gradually bring Jews into the state's service. Khvol'son was among the most successful of those candidates who received a world-class German education, a position within the state, and an opportunity to participate fully within Russian intellectual circles. However, Khvol'son's legacy is complex because he promoted a radical rethinking of Christian understanding of Jews and Judaism and by doing so, he challenged the Orthodox world to reconsider in a deeply personal way the ongoing persecutions of Jews based on false tales about them and their religion. Khvol'son painstakingly challenged the blood libel and sought to prove that it was not based in any identifiable reality but perpetuated an un-Christian worldview that demonized and vilified Jews. In doing so, Khvol'son formulated a controversial self-understanding for his position in society as situated between two diametrically opposed worlds--one Christian, the other Jewish.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Protecting the spiritual environment: rhetoric and Chinese Buddhist environmentalism

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This dissertation analyzes the way in which leaders of certain Taiwanese Buddhist organizations associated with a strand of Buddhist modernism called "humanistic Buddhism" use discourse and rhetoric to make environmentalism

This dissertation analyzes the way in which leaders of certain Taiwanese Buddhist organizations associated with a strand of Buddhist modernism called "humanistic Buddhism" use discourse and rhetoric to make environmentalism meaningful to their members. It begins with an assessment of the field of religion and ecology, situating it in the context of secular environmental ethics. It identifies rhetoric and discourse as important but under acknowledged elements in literature on environmental ethics, both religious and secular, and relates this lack of attention to rhetoric to the presence of a problematic gap between environmental ethics theory and environmentalist practice. This dissertation develops a methodology of rhetorical analysis that seeks to assess how rhetoric contributes to alleviating this gap in religious environmentalism. In particular, this dissertation analyzes the development of environmentalism as a major element of humanistic Buddhist groups in Taiwan and seeks to show that a rhetorical analysis helps demonstrate how these organizations have sought to make environmentalism a meaningful subject of contemporary Buddhist religiosity. This dissertation will present an extended analysis of the concept of "spiritual environmentalism," a term developed and promoted by the late Ven. Shengyan (1930-2009), founder of the Taiwanese Buddhist organization Dharma Drum Mountain. Furthermore, this dissertation suggests that the rhetorical methodology proposed herein offers offers a direction for scholars to more effectively engage with religion and ecology in ways that address both descriptive/analytic approaches and constructive engagements with various forms of religious environmentalism.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012