Roger Peters Copyright © 2005
The Quaternary Investigation into the Evolution Toward the Uniqueness in Shakespeare
(This webpage features two Essays concerned with the advancement from Tertiary to Quaternary)
Toward a Quaternary level of education
The Quaternary level of understanding and expression, embracing as it
does the previously undiscovered philosophy of William Shakespeare,
requires a new method of teaching and learning commensurate with its
unique philosophic consistency and comprehensiveness. Over the next
few years, the Quaternary Institute will seek ways to impart its findings in
keeping with the pedagogic standards set by its principal protagonist
Shakespeare and the few other proto-Quaternary thinkers.
Foremost in the Quaternary program are Shakespeare’s 1609 Sonnets, his
1623 Folio of thirty-six plays and his four longer poems. His works already
perform a teaching/learning role as part of the curriculum in both
Secondary and Tertiary education, and have done so for many years. Yet,
until now, their pedagogic role as vehicles for a nature-based philosophy
happens only by default.
If Shakespeare wrote his sonnets, plays and poems to impart his
nature-based philosophy, then, their use in educational institutions over the
last few centuries transmits the philosophy purely by osmosis. Fortunately,
despite extremely prejudicial editing and commentary that imposes by
force a contrary paradigm on his works, generations of teachers and
students still respond to the natural attractivity of the sonnets, plays and
Shakespeare’s works, then, are the first recourse for a Quaternary
teaching program. The fourteen Comedies that lead out the plays in the
1623 Folio, demonstrate systematically how to anticipate and correct the
excesses of male-based idealism. Shakespeare draws on nature as a continual
resort to critique the headstrong characters exacting patriarchal prejudice
on their subjects.
In the Comedies, Shakespeare allows eleven savvy and cunning females
and three gender-balanced males to take charge. In the process, he
demonstrates how the characters – and the audience – can imbibe the
philosophic content of a deep nature-based/female-based understanding
that enables life to be contented through natural equanimity.
Because Shakespeare intentionally publishes the Sonnets in the 1609
edition to present the compleat nature-based philosophy, of all his works the
154-sonnet set provides the best practice model for Quaternary pedagogy.
He organises the 154 sonnets to represent nature and divides the set into
two sequences to represent female and male. The arrangement provides a
sound basis for his articulation of the relationship between human
understanding and expression. The natural consistency of the principal
components of the philosophy prepares the ground for the logical argument
and lyrical depth within the set. The consummate effect is to ensure the
most mature, fruitful and beneficial learning outcomes ever devised.
To contextualise Shakespeare’s overarching philosophic achievement,
the Quaternary program will examine the specialised philosophic contributions and pedagogic implications of the scientific writings of Charles
Darwin, the anti-metaphysical investigations of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and
the art works of Marcel Duchamp. Of interest also are the philosophic/pedagogic consequences of Thomas Jefferson’s separation of Church and
State in the Declaration of Independence and American Constitution (and
evident in his design for Virginia University). It should be instructive to
examine the quite distinct approaches of these proto-Quaternary minds to
imparting intellectual ideas or accounting for aesthetic effects.
In The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, Darwin manages to
convey to generations of readers both the detailed evidence for evolution
as well as his deeply ethical sensibility. He does so uniquely because he
adheres strictly to the investigative technique known as vera causa. By
extrapolating from the known facts of artificial selection in existing species
to the evolutionary development over millions of years in preexisting
species years through natural selection, he avoids fruitless speculation on
metaphysical theories on origins, etc.
Darwin’s combination of deep evidential content and ethical values has
some correspondences with the investigative integrity of Wittgenstein’s
philosophic methods. When teaching in the 1930s and 40s, Wittgenstein’s
habit is to combine intense thinking about his current philosophic
concerns with expostulatory statements to evince unguarded responses.
His students witness Wittgenstein in the process of searching for evocative
metaphors to convey his thoughts about the logic of ordinary language.
His notions of language games, forms of life, and natural history prove
effective in conveying the basic ethos of the way humans use language.
The artist Duchamp demonstrates throughout his aesthetically coherent
oeuvre a standard of unwavering integrity in a body of work that speaks
volumes to generations of younger artists. Duchamp’s refusal to academicise
his insights into the deepest level of artistic expression, the mythic, allows
him to present an unrelenting picture of the workings of the aesthetic
impulse at the deepest level. His continual use of puns and ellipsis aids
rather than detracts from the receptivity of his basic ideas.
In revolutionary America, Jefferson legislates to ensure none of the
many religious sectarian denominations can take control of the State.
Instead, by accepting the world operates according to the ‘Laws of Nature’,
Jefferson recognises that all Churches share an undemocratic tendency to
autocratic male-based rule best proscribed from the center of political life.
Because the Tertiary program is doctrinairely selective about what it
teaches of these proto-Quaternary thinkers, their complete body of works
offer greater depths of understanding than academia permits. The
Quaternary program examines the gap to see just how their works manage
to convey the deep content and integrity over and above prohibitive
Tertiary education methodologies.
Shakespeare’s Sonnet philosophy
This essay considers a previously unknown learning opportunity. Only in
the light of Shakespeare’s Sonnet philosophy does it make sense to talk of
a Quaternary pedagogy. No other thinker or system of thought offers such
a consistent and comprehensive philosophy to justify instituting a
completely new level of systematic education beyond Tertiary – the
Not only does no one else in 400 years plumb the depth and breadth of
Shakespeare’s nature-based philosophy, the failure of Tertiary scholarship to
glimpse even a fraction of its natural logic means the uniqueness and depth
of the sound philosophy is completely absent from the highest levels of
twenty-first century education. This represents a massive systemic failure
across Tertiary for a thinker/dramatist/poet of Shakespeare’s significance.
I detail Shakespeare’s Sonnet philosophy, as evident in the 1609 edition,
in the four-volume 1760-page set William Shakespeare’s Sonnet Philosophy
(2005/2019). The volumes include a study of the implications of the 1609
Sonnet philosophy for all his plays and poems and an analysis of 400 years
of misunderstanding by Tertiary commentators.
There are now also three further volumes. The first is a summary
volume, Shakespeare’s Global Philosophy (2017), which includes fresh
insights through the consistent application of the sonnet logic over the last
twelve years. The second, Shakespeare & Mature Love (2018), is a study of
the mature love Shakespeare describes in the 154 sonnets and presents
through select characters in his Folio of thirty-six plays. The third,
Shakespeare’s Philosophy Illustrated (2019), is a pictorial volume with speech
balloon commentaries on the seventy pages of the 1609 edition of the
Sonnets, charts and diagram illustrating salient aspects of the philosophy
and an illustrated set of comments on enigmatic artworks.
It is not possible to appreciate the gap between Tertiary and Quaternary
until those unsure of its potential consider and assimilate a substantial
amount of the material already published or available on the Quaternary
Institute website www.quaternaryinstitute.com. Shakespeare’s Sonnet
philosophy reinstitutes the default status of singular nature over the
plethora of imaginary or mind-based Goddesses and Gods. It recovers the
biological default of the female as the progenitor of the male. These two
simple moves alone correct at the most profound level 4000 years of
imposed male-based/mind-based prejudices and Tertiary apologetics.
Shakespeare understands that mind-based ethics and aesthetics – or truth
and beauty as he calls them – derive from bodily dispositions in nature
with its female/male default. His consistent and comprehensive philosophy
avoids the perennial dilemmas or problems that beset traditional philosophy
when it inverts and perverts the natural order.
Across Shakespeare’s plays, there is a relentless exposé and criticism of
the inevitable malconsequences male-based mythologies. Shakespeare
examines the disastrous consequences of imposing mind-derived beliefs
against natural prerogatives. By recognising the erotic logic of all myths he
reveals their status as mind-based stories. Moreover, by recovering the
default biology of female partnership with the offshoot male, he writes
plays at a mythic level of expression without the imaginary delusions of
traditional male-based mythologies.
The Nature template I derive from the 154 sonnets lays out the basic
components of Shakespeare’s philosophy. Shakespeare builds up his
consistent and comprehensive logic, which accounts for all possibilities out
of the readily observable givens enabling human life in nature.
Nature is the only generic word in everyday use without plural and
without supplementary definition. All humans derive from the sexual
dynamic of female and male in nature and all are the consequence of the
dynamic of increase or reproduction. Each human being is conscious of
incoming sensations and uses language based on the dynamic of true and
false to communicate.
More significantly, for understanding the human imagination, every
person experiences the internal sensations of the mind in the form of
intuitions, love, religious experience or artistic inspiration. Shakespeare,
above all other profound thinkers and poets, is equally conscious he
conveys his thoughts and emotions through the medium of poetry.
Shakespeare demonstrates that by adhering to the facts of human life
and the natural dispositions of sense and intellect, he is able to account
logically for every aspect of human life. Moreover, as the interest in his
works over the last 400 years shows, he is able to write the most integrated,
engaging and challenging poetry and drama ever penned.
The institution of Tertiary
The Quaternary level of mature education presupposes the continuing
viability of the three current levels of age-related learning. The institutionalisation of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary stages of instruction ensures
consistent standards of achievement.
Historically, Primary education equates to pre-scribal societies from
before 4000 years ago where learning was largely oral. The aim of
compulsory Primary education is to teach literacy, numeracy and writing
to all pupils. It also begins to establish the basis for developing skills in
science, mathematics, geography, history and the social sciences.
Secondary equates to scribal cultures in which writing using linear
script is adopted universally and the developments presaged in Primary
become a wide-ranging curriculum. However, only over the last sixty
years or so has Secondary become mandatory in most countries.
Tertiary, for its part, was once the preserve of the few who matriculated
from Secondary to advance academically. Now, like Secondary before it,
Tertiary is becoming mandatory for most vocational opportunities.
Tertiary education was instituted formally around 1100AD in Bologna
and Paris. The move coincided with renewed interest in classical Greek
culture after the cloistering of knowledge during the medieval period or
dark ages. Since Tertiary’s inception under the auspices of the Catholic
Church, it remains predicated on the biblical male-based paradigm.
Shakespeare’s nature-based philosophy as the default for Primary, Secondary
Shakespeare’s works are an established mainstay of the educational
curriculum and are often compulsory for Secondary and Tertiary
examination across jurisdictions (as in Britain and the Commonwealth).
Largely by default, for teachers and educators they provide the nature-based
paradigm that underpins all forms of education at all levels.
Shakespeare’s works are mandatory in many Secondary schools as
pupils develop their rational and creative potentials. Although Shakespeare
may be introduced in Primary using texts such as the Charles and Mary
Lamb’s incredibly facile Tales from Shakespeare and other Shakespeare made
simple books, by the time they reach Secondary students are ready to
engage with the plays, even directing and staging their own productions.
Greater specialisation in Tertiary with more vocation-based courses
means not all students study Shakespeare – even those doing humanities
Criminally, though, there is an insidious corruption of the texts used in
Secondary and Tertiary through the prejudicial culture of paradigm
conversion typical of most Tertiary English departments and endemic at
the Stratford Institute at Stratford Upon Avon. Hence, the downside of
compulsory Shakespeare in Secondary is that students use texts with
emendations, reattributions, authorship issues, etc., in which the interference
reflects the determined conversion of Shakespeare’s works to the prevailing
biblical male-based Tertiary paradigm.
Worse even, are the commentaries provided by the offending academics
to justify the unwarranted changes. Students who are provided with
Oxford, Cambridge and other Tertiary series featuring commentaries on
all the plays unwittingly read the introductory material in which
Shakespeare’s role in providing the underlying nature-based paradigm is
undermined by a prejudiced and supposedly authoritative commentary
that converts his work by a thousand cuts to the Tertiary paradigm.
Only when students recognise the 1609 edition of the Sonnets as authorial
is it possible to begin to appreciate they were intentionally published by
Shakespeare to present the philosophy behind all his plays and poems.
Consequently, only when students recognise the 1623 Folio as authorial, can
the process of enlivening the study of all Shakespeare’s works begin.
Each play is a pedagogical device deployed specifically by Shakespeare
to disseminate his nature-based female-default philosophy. The 1623 Folio
is arranged to emphasise the pedagogical potential of the successful
application of the philosophy in the fourteen Comedies and the disastrous
consequences of the abrogation of nature-based logic in the ten Histories
and twelve Tragedies.
If students in Secondary – and Tertiary – are made aware of Shakespeare’s
manifest intentions, then the role of the academic interference can be
revealed for the literary crime it is. Currently, because so many in positions
of authority in Tertiary are responsible for the literary crimes, the necessary
tactic is to institute another level of learning – the Quaternary – in which
the ideas can be fostered in a climate conducive to the nature-based
philosophy of Shakespeare’s works.
Conclusion, the relationship between Tertiary and Quaternary
The need for a Quaternary level of education arises not because of a
concern about the state of Tertiary pedagogy. The opposite is the case. After
years of study of thinkers considered problematic in Tertiary, I happened
on a philosophy completely unknown within Tertiary yet overarching its
philosophical paradigm and hence all the philosophers of the last 4000
years or so. The insights not only explain the difficulty posed forTertiary
by those apparently problematic thinkers, it shows that their specialized
contributions could be combined to approximate the consistency and
comprehensiveness of the newfound philosophy.
With a systematic philosophy of considerable explanatory power
available, it soon became apparent not only is it unknown in Tertiary, the
Tertiary paradigm is constitutionally too limited to accommodate it. It is
necessary, though, to pass through Tertiary pedagogy to begin to access,
appreciate and apply the Quaternary philosophy. Hence in 2000, I created
a new pedagogic space called Quaternary to explore and prepare the
findings for advanced investigation, learning and expression.
The idea William Shakespeare’s works are based on a sound and
substantive philosophy has long been mooted. Many books and articles
have been written either attempting to delineate the philosophy behind all
his works or aligning his thinking with traditional or modern schools of
philosophy. Both approaches are stymied by adherence in some degree to
the founding Tertiary male-based biblical/Platonic paradigm.
The difficulty for Tertiary is in the level of intellectuality and artistry
required to broach Shakespeare’s brilliant nature-based philosophy written
intentionally for a burgeoning global constituency. He knew he was
preparing for an age beyond the inconsistencies and injustices in the
floundering Tertiary paradigm.
It is necessary to realise Shakespeare intentionally articulated his
nature-based philosophy in the 1609 Sonnets as the philosophy behind all
his plays and that it is only possible to appreciate the philosophy by
bringing together the specialised insights of post-Tertiary thinkers like
Darwin, Wittgenstein, Mallarme, Duchamp, Jefferson (as I did over the
period 1970 to 1995). Only then does the brilliant nature-based philosophy
structured precisely into the Sonnets become patently clear and applicable.
Shakespeare’s Sonnet philosophy is the only philosophy ever written
capable of justifying the establishment of a Quaternary level of learning
wholly beyond current Tertiary education. As with a Secondary student
approaching Tertiary for the first time, any Tertiary graduate of whatever
station from BA to the most decorated professor faces a quantum jump in
expectations and intellectual demands.
The transition from Tertiary to Quaternary is entirely voluntary as befits
a mature level of study. The demands of the Quaternary program self-select
those most capable or most willing to move from a circumscribed
mind-based pedagogy to a global nature-based pedagogy.
Upgrading from Tertiary to Quaternary
Resources for information and advancement
In 2000, I inaugurated the Quaternary Institute to accommodate a fully
post-Tertiary level of inquiry and education. The initiative followed the
discovery in 1995 of the consistent and comprehensive nature-based
philosophy William Shakespeare embeds in his 1609 Sonnets as the basis for
his 1623 Folio of thirty-six plays and his four longer poems.
Now in 2023, the Quaternary Institute can consolidate the process of
superseding the apologetic inadequacies of the Tertiary paradigm. As no
one has previously plumbed the Sonnet philosophy, and as Shakespeare’s
plays and poems can be understood only from the vantage of the
philosophy he articulates in his set of 154 sonnets, then the Quaternary
Institute is uniquely placed to offer pedagogic resources to supersede
A Quaternary paradigm for a nature-orientated global constituency
My ability to apprehend the depth and breadth of Shakespearean thought
came after years studying the difficulties presented by a few seminal
thinkers whose works are not fully conformable with the Tertiary
paradigm (see below). Moreover, the unprecedented explanatory power of
Shakespeare’s Sonnet philosophy means it supersedes all other attempts
over time to articulate a sound and inclusive philosophy.
Shakespeare’s nature-based philosophy demonstrates that all other
so-called philosophies are forms of psychological justification or apologetics
for the biblical/Platonic (or similar) paradigms. In particular, biblical/Christian mythology underpins the psychological apologia for Tertiary
from around 1100AD to the present day.
In keeping with Shakespeare’s reputation as a nature Poet and the
longstanding recognition he bases his works in nature, his Sonnet philosophy
takes nature as the unconditional given for all else. Because in everyday
language we use the word nature without plural or other provisos, we
accept involuntarily nature’s status as the singular precondition for
everything. In contrast, the words God, universe, world, etc., all have plural
forms, or we legislate them into usurpatious singularity over nature.
Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, as he organises them in the edition of 1609,
adhere unerringly to natural prerogatives. The whole set of 154 sonnets
represents singular nature, while the two sequences of 126 and 28 sonnets
within the set represent the male and the female, respectively.
Consistent with the natural preconditions, Shakespeare’s philosophy
recognises the female as the default for the male. In the biology of sexual
dimorphism, the male is an offshoot of the female. As sonnet 20 avers, in
‘nature’ the male is ‘created’ for the female. The male needs to return to
the female for the perpetuation of humankind or what sonnets 1 to 14 call
‘increase’. The increase argument is not that everyone should increase.
Rather that if no one increases, as inferred in some male-based beliefs,
humankind ceases to exist.
With these three moves – the singularity of nature, the default of female
over male and the intractable logic of increase – Shakespeare incorporates
a natural basis for a sound philosophy while critiquing simultaneously all
other inconsistent mind-based and male-based philosophies before or
since. Unless thinkers acknowledge the natural givens, their philosophising
is but psychological justification or apologetics.
Once Shakespeare lays out the incontrovertible givens of nature and the
female/male default and the implications of increase, he can then articulate
the natural logic of the human mind. First, he accounts for incoming
sensations whose singular unmediated effects on the mind he calls ‘beauty’
(sonnets 128 to 137). Then, consequent on incoming sensations within the
mind is the swearing and forswearing of true and false that constitutes
intelligible language or ‘truth’ (sonnets 138 to 152).
Then, throughout the male sequence (sonnets 20 to 126), Shakespeare
accounts for the mind-derived sensations we refer to as intuitions, ideals,
or the sublime (including the epiphanous mind sensation called God). We
experience them as singular unmediated sensations – which Shakespeare
appropriately also calls ‘beauty’.
Shakespeare devotes the majority of the sonnets to this form of beauty,
which we give expression to in the arts. He appreciates that these unbidden
sensations, generated purely in the mind as a consequence of external
sensations inducing language, are a psychological quagmire for susceptible
or immature thinkers and poets.
The Nature template shows the logical relationships within the 154
Holding to these natural preconditions, Shakespeare is then able to
account for all other characteristics of the mind. Among other issues, he
examines the function of writing and particularly the role of the Poet in
the set (sonnets 15 to 19), the construct of time, the erotic logic of myths
of origin and the relation between natural ‘content’ and ‘contentedness’. In
his Folio of plays, he applies the insights of natural philosophy to rectify the
social, political and religious malconsequences of male-based constructs,
such as the Commandments of the Mosaic God with their constitutional
usurpation of the female’s natural default over the male.
Furthermore, Shakespeare’s use of the word ‘globe’ in his plays (along
with the naming of the Globe Theatre in 1598) indicates he was aware his
nature-based philosophy, with its genuine mythic level of artistic
expression, provides a coherent and inclusive philosophy for a burgeoning
global awareness. Shakespeare’s increasing popularity over the last fifty
years means the recent discovery of the Sonnet philosophy, as the basis for
his Folio of plays, is timely for the twenty-first century with its nature-orientated global constituency.
Reflections on the inadequacy of the historic Tertiary paradigm
The inability of Tertiary scholarship worldwide to penetrate the Sonnet
philosophy over the last 400 years, combined with the forcible conversion
and prejudicial adulteration of Shakespeare’s sonnets, plays and poems
through editing, emendation and reattribution by academics and others
since 1700, points to a grievous inadequacy in the Tertiary paradigm.
An anecdotal measure of the chasm is evident in the entry on
Wittgenstein in the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (1996). The
Dictionary makes two crucial observations. First, it doubts whether
Wittgenstein’s ‘thought will ever be fully integrated into academic
philosophy’. Second, it notes that by advocating ‘a naturalism’ or a ‘kind of
natural human practice’ Wittgenstein avoids both absolutism and relativism.
However, despite referring to ‘nature’ and ‘parents’ as unassailable givens
from the period of the Philosophical Investigations to his final notes in On
Certainty, Wittgenstein does not elaborate a systematic philosophy based in
‘naturalism’. Nor does the entry expand critically on the relation between
Wittgenstein’s ‘naturalism’ and ‘academic philosophy’. Instead, it devotes
considerable collegial energy to thinkers such as Foucault and Heidegger,
whose academic philosophising is conformable with Tertiary prerogatives.
I identify two other thinkers whose work, like Wittgenstein’s, is not
integrated fully into Tertiary. Most academics ignore Charles Darwin’s
Descent of Man as the basis for understanding the ‘mental powers’ and
‘moral sense’ of humankind. Rather, like Richard Dawkins, they use
Darwin’s study of precognitive sensibilities in Origin of Species to account
for the human mind and ethics. Academia similarly does not accommodate
the mythic critique and content of Marcel Duchamp’s seminal art works
The Large Glass and Etant donnes. It prefers to derive simplistic formalistic
devices from his readymades.
The doubts raised within Tertiary as to whether academic philosophy
will ever fully integrate Wittgenstein’s thought is true also of Darwin and
Duchamp. Yet, significantly, the aspects of their works currently outside the
purview of academia are not subject to denigration and reattribution.
While some academics acknowledge the presence of the difficult content,
the limited forays by the three thinkers beyond Tertiary precepts makes it
possible to ignore their unsystematic insights.
The same cannot be said of Shakespeare. The complete blindness of
Tertiary scholarship to Shakespeare’s Sonnet philosophy over 400 years has
led in part to the postmodern malaise and the literary crimes endemic in
academia of willful reconfiguration, reattribution or rewriting of
Shakespeare’s works. Only Shakespeare’s complete works are subject to
such presumptuous and demeaning treatment.
Although many sense philosophic depths in Shakespeare works, none
are sufficiently free of Tertiary proscriptions to appreciate the uncanny
scope and incisiveness of Shakespeare’s thought and emotions. Bertrand
Russell quotes from Shakespeare’s works numerous times in his A History
of Western Philosophy (1946). Yet, while he gives many lesser thinkers/poets
such as Byron a chapter, Shakespeare does not qualify for one. Significantly,
Shakespeare does not rate one mention in the Cambridge Dictionary or the
Oxford Companion to Philosophy (1995).
Working to remedy the pedagogical deficiencies within Tertiary
Over the last twenty-five years, I have investigated exhaustively Shakespeare’s
nature-based philosophy and its implications. I present extensive evidence
and argument in the four-volume 1760-page publication William
Shakespeare’s Sonnet Philosophy (2005), in four further publications,
in correspondence and in postings on the Quaternary Institute website
Available now is a 360-page summary volume Shakespeare’s Global
Philosophy (published 2017), a 100-page monograph Shakespeare & Mature
Love (published 2018) on mature Shakespearean love and an A4 90-page
teaching-aid volume Shakespeare’s Philosophy Illustrated (published 2019) of
charts and diagrams. Published in 2022, is a Super A3 924-page 800,000-word volume of speech balloon commentaries on the text of the 1623 Folio of plays titled Play Commentaries to William Shakespeare's 1623 Folio with all pages available on the Quaternary Institute website. (The last two
are also digitalised for data-show screening.)
The conclusion is that only Shakespeare’s ‘naturalism’, which he lays out
in the Sonnet philosophy, has the required degree of consistency and
comprehensiveness to initiate a new level of systematic education free of
the Tertiary dichotomy between absolutism and relativism. The combination
of the nature-based philosophy Shakespeare articulates in the 154 sonnets
and his exploration of its political, social and religious ramifications in the
thirty-six plays in the Folio and the four longer poems provide the basis for
a curriculum that stands entirely beyond current Tertiary strictures and
Having largely completed the process of investigation into the previously
unknown philosophy, I am now developing the material for a Quaternary
level of advanced pedagogy. Tertiary’s paradigmatic blindness to Shakespeare’s
philosophy means only a completely new level of education will suffice.
Interested institutions can subscribe to a course of instruction for
selected professors and others to begin the process of transitioning from
the postmodern malaise into a globally relevant and encompassing natural
Roger Peters Copyright © 2020
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