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East-West Dialogues: The Transferability of Concepts in the Humanities

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Edited By Christoph Bode, Michael O'Sullivan, Lukas Schepp and Eli Park Sorensen

This is an edited collection of essays drawn from collaborative events organized jointly by The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The book focuses on how literary and cultural perspectives from different humanities academic environs in Asia and Europe might contribute to our understanding of the "transferability of concepts." Exploring ways in which these traditions may enter into new and productive collaborations, the book presents readings of a wide range of Western and Eastern writers, including Shakespeare, J.M. Coetzee, Yu Dafu. The book contains a virtual round table followed by four thematic sections – "Travels and Storytelling," "Translation and Transferability," "Historical Contexts and Transferability," and "Aesthetic Contexts and Transferability."

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Chapter 8: Double Predestination and Hamlet: Jason Gleckman

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Jason Gleckman

Double Predestination and Hamlet

One of the most exciting ideas to emerge as the result of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation was that of double predestination. Earlier Christian perspectives had tended to adopt the view of predestination expressed by Augustine in his late works (The Predestination of the Saints and The Gift of Perseverance [c. 429/30]). According to this theory, God acted differently in relation to those who were saved and those who were damned. Those who were saved had received what Augustine termed God’s preceding or ‘prevenient’ grace which allowed them to be good; in other words, God played an active role in the creation of the saved. Augustine and later theologians used this formulation to combat what became known as the ‘Pelagian heresy,’ a belief that humans could attain heaven on their own merits without any contribution by God.

However, Augustine’s position offered a different logic concerning the damned. In contrast to those who would be saved, the damned were not actively created by God. Instead, they were entirely responsible for their own sins and properly punished for them. This theory had the advantage of placing the blame squarely on sinners for their sin, but the disadvantage of creating two modes of behavior on the part of the Almighty: active selection of the elect but only passive response to the damned who directed their own lives. The expressions used to convey the single predestination view, throughout the Middle Ages, were...

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