Friday, November 23, 2007

TLS, Nov 9 and 16, 2007

TLS Nov 9 2007: from Simon Scott Plummer's review of Alvyn Austin's China Millions: The China Inland Mission and late Qing society:

A year before [Henry Frost moved CIM headquartes from Toronto to Philadelphia in 1901], the mission's operations in China had been crippled by the last act of the Bozer Uprising, which targeted the late Pastor Hsi's followers (he had died in 1896) in Shanxi. On one day in Taiyuan, the provincial capital, forty-five foreign men, women and children were killed in front of the governor and their heads displayed on the city gate. By the time Hudson Taylor died (in Changsa, Hunan province), reparations had been made and missionary work resumed, but it was now less itinerant and more institutional. . . .

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After its expulsion from China in 1950, the CIM changed its name to the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. Today, that organization, based on Singapore, remains the largest Protestant mission in East and South-East Asia.


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TLS Nov 16 2007: from John E. Joseph's Commentary piece "He was an Englishman" on Ferdinand de Saussure:

. . . it was a commonplace view in the second half of the nineteenth century that all thought and all consciousness was purely differential and negative in nature. It was a defining feature of British psychology, as opposed to Continental (particularly German) psychology, which, before the British approach made inroads into it, took thought to be made up of ideas, maybe innate, maybe acquired, but with real substantive content.

For the late nineteenth century the locus classicus of diffentiality was John Stuart Mill's Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (1865), a scathing attack that brought far more attention to Hamilton's writings than their author had managed during his lifetime. Hamilton's "relativity of human knowledge" was one of the few things Mill agreed with, summarizing it as follows:

We only know anything by knowing it as distinguished from something else; all consciousness is of difference; two objects are the smallest number required to constitute consciousness; a thing is only seen to be what it is by contrast with what it is not.

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