Commenced in January 2007
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Paper Count: 2

Search results for: Chi-Ming Lee

2 An Exploration of The Patterns of Transcendence in Indian and Hopkins’s Aesthetics

Authors: Lima Antony


In G. M. Hopkins’s poetics and aesthetics there is scope for a comparative study with Indian discourses on aesthetics, an area not adequately explored so far. This exploration will enrich the field of comparative study of diverse cultural expressions and their areas of similarity. A comparative study of aesthetic and religious experiences in diverse cultures will open up avenues for the discovery of similarities in self-experiences and their transcendence. Such explorations will reveal similar patterns in aesthetic and religious experiences. The present paper intends to prove this in the theories of Hopkins and Indian aesthetics. From the time of the Vedas Indian sages have believed that aesthetic enjoyment could develop into a spiritual realm. From the Natyasastra of Bharata, Indian aesthetics develops and reaches its culmination in later centuries into a consciousness of union with the mystery of the Ultimate Being, especially in Dhvanaāloka of Anandavardhana and Locana of Abhinavagupta. Dhvanyaloka elaborates the original ideas of rasa (mood or flavor) and dhvani (power of suggestion) in Indian literary theory and aesthetics. Hopkins was successful, like the ancient Indian alankarikas, in creating aesthetically superb patterns at various levels of sound and sense for which he coined the term ‘inscape’. So Hopkins’s aesthetic theory becomes suitable for transcultural comparative study with Indian aesthetics especially the dhvani theories of Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta. Hopkins’s innovative approach to poetics and his selection of themes are quite suitable for analysis in the light of Indian literary theories. Indian philosophy views the ultimate reality called Brahman, as the 'soul,' or inner essence, of all reality. We see in Hopkins also a search for the essence of things and the chiming of their individuality with the Ultimate Being in multidimensional patterns of sound, sense and ecstatic experience. This search culminates in the realization of a synthesis of the individual self with the Ultimate Being. This is achieved through an act of surrender of the individuality of the self before the Supreme Being. Attempts to reconcile the immanent and transcendent aspects of the Ultimate Being can be traced in the Indian as well as Hopkins’s aesthetics which can contribute to greater understanding and harmony between cultures.

Keywords: Dhvani, Indian aesthetics, transcultural studies, Rasa

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1 Biocultural Biographies and Molecular Memories: A Study of Neuroepigenetics and How Trauma Gets under the Skull

Authors: Elsher Lawson-Boyd


In the wake of the Human Genome Project, the life sciences have undergone some fascinating changes. In particular, conventional beliefs relating to gene expression are being challenged by advances in postgenomic sciences, especially by the field of epigenetics. Epigenetics is the modification of gene expression without changes in the DNA sequence. In other words, epigenetics dictates that gene expression, the process by which the instructions in DNA are converted into products like proteins, is not solely controlled by DNA itself. Unlike gene-centric theories of heredity that characterized much of the 20th Century (where the genes were considered as having almost god-like power to create life), gene expression in epigenetics insists on environmental ‘signals’ or ‘exposures’, a point that radically deviates from gene-centric thinking. Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars have shown that epigenetic research is having vast implications for the ways in which chronic, non-communicable diseases are conceptualized, treated, and governed. However, to the author’s knowledge, there have not yet been any in-depth sociological engagements with neuroepigenetics that examine how the field is affecting mental health and trauma discourse. In this paper, the author discusses preliminary findings from a doctoral ethnographic study on neuroepigenetics, trauma, and embodiment. Specifically, this study investigates the kinds of causal relations neuroepigenetic researchers are making between experiences of trauma and the development of mental illnesses like complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), both throughout a human’s lifetime and across generations. Using qualitative interviews and nonparticipant observation, the author focuses on two public-facing research centers based in Melbourne: Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (FNMH), and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). Preliminary findings indicate that a great deal of ambiguity characterizes this infant field, particularly when animal-model experiments are employed and the results are translated into human frameworks. Nevertheless, researchers at the FNMH and MCRI strongly suggest that adverse and traumatic life events have a significant effect on gene expression, especially when experienced during early development. Furthermore, they predict that neuroepigenetic research will have substantial implications for the ways in which mental illnesses like complex PTSD are diagnosed and treated. These preliminary findings shed light on why medical and health sociologists have good reason to be chiming in, engaging with and de-black-boxing ideations emerging from postgenomic sciences, as they may indeed have significant effects for vulnerable populations not only in Australia but other developing countries in the Global South.

Keywords: genetics, mental illness, neuroepigenetics, trauma

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