Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Wizard of Wisecombe, Part I

This is the first part of a short story draft.

Yes, I knew old Jack DuFarge. He was something of a celebrity around these parts, so everyone knew him. He lived in that old ruin of a house outside of town, out near where the village of Wisecombe used to be before it was infested with that never-ending swarm of ladybugs. Yes, it's pronounced Wisk'm, not Wise-comb; you can always tell whether someone is from around here by how they pronounce it. Because of the house, and because he used to peddle spells and luck charms, DuFarge was called the Wizard of Wisecombe. He was a mountebank, of course. The local farmers went to him for everything -- love charms, luck spells, healing potions -- but in reality, as I know for a fact, the only thing he actually knew how to do was put weather in bottles.

Superstition is such a tough weed, it can even grow in this day and age! Everybody is looking to believe anything that can solve their problems and bring comfort to their lives; promise them sorcery and they'll come running. I've tried a few times to convince people that he was really a charlatan, and it never works. They'll talk about how he managed to find the Sullyrood boy who fell down the well, or how he saved the Mablethrop apple orchard from the rotting disease, or, more ridiculously, how he revived Dave Haythorne's last cow, Millie, after it had died. But the one story that always comes up, that they always take as the definitive proof, is the one that makes my point. At some point in the discussion, they'll say, "Oh, but wait, you can't deny that Jenny Shay married Simon Caster, now can you?" That's a tale I know a lot about, as it happens, and there was no magic in it at all.

It was about twenty years ago. Jenny, who is my second cousin, was a wonderfully beautiful girl -- blonde hair, blue eyes. The boys were always looking at her. She had a head on her shoulders, too. She developed a crush on Simon, though, a sulky and quiet boy with dark hair and dark eyes. But he never seemed to notice her. And I guess that's the sort of thing that makes even intelligent girls indulge in a bit of superstition, because she went up the road to Wisecombe one day and knocked on Jack DuFarge's door.

That house has been in a dilapidated state for as long as anyone can remember. If you go up there today, you'll see that the front gate is hanging by a single hinge, the pavement up to the house is has been broken by the grass, and the paint on the front door is coming off in long, ugly strips. It looked exactly the same when I was a boy. People used to talk about how it was haunted by ghosts, who would bang the shutters when people passed by. It never happened to me. I imagine some country bumpkin was passing one day while the 'Wizard' was bottling the wind and mistook it for a ghost. Then the story spread everywhere, because people will believe anything.

Jenny told DuFarge her plight and asked him for a love philtre. Usually at this point the old charlatan would give a long spiel about how love spells were dangerous and that they often did not work in the way one wished, so that they should only be used in the greatest need. You know, the kind of thing salesmen say to drive up the price when faced with desperate buyers. But perhaps Jenny struck him as more intelligent than most, or perhaps even he was touched by the appeal of a pretty and earnest face, because this time he gave no such speech. He went into another room and came back with a little cobalt blue bottle that said, IODINE, and, after wiping the dust off of it, handed it to her.

"You'll need to get him alone," he said, "preferably in a shaded area, and then pour out this bottle on the ground. If there is any chance that he will ever love you, you will know."

So Jenny took the bottle and by the end of the week, she and Simon were courting. She had asked him up to the Mablethrop apple orchard on some pretense or other, and then poured out the bottle, to be sure. And everyone takes it to be 'magic' this and 'love spell' that. But, honestly, I'm sure what he did was just give her a bit of bottled spring day. If you put a young man and beautiful young woman together in an apple orchard on a fine spring day, the light shining as if through crystal and the scent of distant rain on the air, you will never need magic to get results.

In any case, that would probably have been the end of it, and it would take its place with Millie the cow in the background of the Wizard of Wisecombe's legend, except that Jenny Shay's father hated the entire Caster family.

to be continued

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Xenophon's Agesilaus, Books III-IX

Book III

As Xenophon turns to Agesilaus's inner virtues, he begins with reverence for divine things. So great was Agesilaus's respect for the gods that people trusted his oaths before the gods more than they trusted the normal ties of friendship. Religious piety is consistently, throughout Xenophon's work, treated as a very practical virtue, and this work is far from being any exception. Piety here is regarded as necessary to a general because it is a component of trustworthiness.

Book IV

In book IV we consider the virtue of justice (dikaiosyne), as exhibited in matters of money. No one ever accused Agesilaus of profiting by fraud. On the contrary, he is continually praised for his generosity to others. Not only did Agesilaus pay debts of justice, he paid debts of gratitude, as well, and in both cases he paid back more than he owed.

Book V

Agesilaus was also not enslaved to pleasures, avoiding immoderate drinking, eating, and sleeping, as well as sexual looseness; nor is this simply a matter of intensive discretion, since virtually everything he did was public. Xenophon insists in particular that these kinds of victories are greater victories than those Agesilaus had over his enemies; many men who can defeat external foes cannot defeat these internal ones.

While this book provides some of the most explicit statement, the emphasis on Agesilaus as willing to endure ponos, hard work, is a consistent point throughout the entire text; he will later be praised (IX.3) as philoponos, a lover of toil.

Book VI

In addition, Agesilaus exhibited manliness or courage, andreia, as well as wisdom, sophia. The sign of his courage was that he did not hesitate to fight even the strongest enemies, and when he did so, he did not hesitate to be on the front line. The wisdom Xenophon attributes to Agesilaus here is clearly that sort of wisdom that goes with courage in battle -- it is the military leader's tactical sagacity that serves to support, and is supported by, fortitude in battle, and which helps to spread it to others. By learning to make use of his advantages, he was able to turn even the strengths of his opponents against them. Thus he became both impressive to his enemies and a source of strength to his friends and allies.

Book VII

All of these virtues are tied up in his love of city, philopolis, which his every action exhibited (VII.1):

To speak briefly, we all know that when Agesilaus thought he would be serving his fatherland he never shirked toil, never shrank from danger, never spared money, never excused himself on the score of bodily weakness or old age; but believed that it is the duty of a good king to do as much good as possible to his subjects.

He served the laws and customs (nomoi) of the city. He was not afraid to praise even his enemies if they benefited the city and he treated all citizens, regardless of his disagreement or agreement with them, as people to stand by in times of trouble. He also stood for the rights of the Greek cities generally, so if it is honorable to love the Greeks, he has that honor; and if it is honorable to oppose the Persians who sowed so much discord among the Greeks, he has that honor, as well.


Book VIII gives us the social side of the king, in a flurry of virtue-words. Agesilaus was also gracious (eucharis). He was not boastful (megalauchos), but always was familially affectionate (philostorgos) and ready to help (therapeutikos) towards his friends. He liked to chat, but was always willing to work with those who faced serious issues, and as he was hopeful (euelpis), generous (euthymos), and cheerful (hilaros), people flocked to him. Nonetheless, he also had a high-mindedness (megalognomosyne) in matters touching Greek affairs, so that he could not be turned aside from what was good for the Greeks, and he had a profound simplicity of life.

Book IX

The end of Book VIII had begun a contrast between Agesilaus, as an ideal Greek, and the Persians, and Book IX continues it in force -- a somewhat different view than we get in other works, some of which are at least partly devoted to praising Persian heroes. But Agesilaus, of course, was a major rival to the Persians, and Xenophon implies that he could have conquered the Persian Empire if he had not put the needs of his city first, so the Persian Great King serves as a sort of equal and opposite to the Spartan king. Interestingly, Xenophon thinks the public nature of Agesilaus's displays of virtue is a thing to be said in his favor: "Agesilaus delighted to be constantly visible, believing that, whereas secrecy was becoming to an ugly career, the light shed lustre on a life of noble purpose."

Additional Comments

* Ashok Karra summarizes Xenophon's account of Agesilaus's virtues:

The complete list of his virtues: piety (III), justice (IV), moderation (V – the virtue is unnamed in the text; it is tied to piety. See Leo Strauss, Xenophon’s Socrates p. 101), courage, wisdom (VI), love of the city (VII), gracefulness (VIII). The center of his virtues is courage – no surprise, given II: 12-13. Courage is discussed in the same chapter with wisdom. There are 11 chapters in the work as a whole; chapter VI is doubly central.

As the post goes on to note, this list of virtues is similar to the list of Socratic virtues in the Memorabilia, raising the question of how the two are related.

* At the end of Book VIII, Xenophon affirms the importance of holding the soul inviolate against the assault of wealth, pleasure, and fear; this is exactly parallel to the progression in Books IV, V, and VI. Thus one can see love of the gods (Book III) as providing a foundation for his freedom from vice (Books IV-VI), which is linked to love of one's city (Book VII), all of which is adorned by a gracious and cheerful manner (Book VIII). This provides a perfect profile of the great Greek man, which Xenophon brings into sharper relief by contrasting it with the Persian (Books VIII and IX), whose great weakness is not having a life conducive to love of city, and therefore to true civilization, which requires it.

Music on My Mind

Disturbed, "The Sound of Silence". A Simon and Garfunkel tune originally, of course, but symphonic power ballad works wonderfully well with it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kantian Dinner Party Initiative

One of my more popular posts here at "Siris" is the 2010 post Immanuel Kant's Guide to a Good Dinner Party, in which I gave a summary of the basics of Kant's discussion of dinner parties in Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. It was a bit of a lark post rather than anything fully serious, but I hope it has led a lot of philosophers, whether faculty or grad students, to take into account a side of Kant, and his ethics, that is often overlooked. (There are a few people who had previously looked at Kant's account of dinner parties; see, for instance, Alix Cohen's The Ultimate Experience: Kant on Dinner Parties. I wasn't aware of her article when I did my post directly from Kant, but Cohen is one of the world's top scholars when it comes to Kant's Anthropology, so it's not surprising that she had already seen the importance Kant gives to dinner parties.)

Having long talked about the topic, I was delighted to see this:

Debate without dogmatism.
Respect and enjoyment.
Civility and sociability.

These are the goals of the Kantian Dinner Party Initiative, a new project which aims to provide a forum where members of diverse communities can engage with timely topics in a respectful and democratic fashion.

The dinners, which will be conducted according to rules laid out by 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant, will include a maximum of nine guests, including a presiding host who ensures an open, inclusive and flowing conversation. Guests are asked to conduct themselves in a manner that ensures that "mutual respect and benevolence always shine forth." And, in an effort to engender trust, guests are also asked not to repeat anything shared during the dinner party.

The project, which was funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, is coordinated by Marquette University graduate student Anthony Lanz, alumnus Charles Dobbs and Dr. Ryan Patrick Hanley, Mellon Distinguished Professor of Political Science.

They have a bit more at the link. I wish the Kantian Dinner Party Initiative the best of luck in their endeavor, and hope that this is the start of a long, and often-copied, tradition.

Cruel Jokes and the Sense of Humor

David Shoemaker has a very interesting post at "PEA Soup" on cruel jokes and insult comics. In it he suggests that cruelty sometimes makes intended jokes not funny at all -- it doesn't just outweigh reasons to find them funny, it ends up being incompatible with (at least many) reasons to find them funny.

This is actually fairly similar to a position that is put forward by Alexander Gerard in An Essay on Taste:

Objects conceived to be in any of these ways incongruous, always gratify the sense of ridicule: but they may excite, at the same time, a more important feeling, which, by occupying the mind, prevents our attending to the incongruity, or extinguishes the sentiment thence resulting, as soon as it begins to rise. Enormous vice, though of all things the most incongruous to the natural system of our minds, is never esteemed ridiculous. Pain or misery is never in itself ridiculous; it can become such only by being accidentally connected with unsuitable circumstances, and by failing to excite pity so intense as may swallow up the ludicrous sensation.

(The 'sense of ridicule' is Gerard's name for what we nowadays would usually call the 'sense of humor'. It is, in his own words, the "sense which perceives, and is gratified by the odd, the ridiculous, the humorous, the witty; and whose gratification often produces, and always tends to, mirth, laughter, and amusement.") Thus Gerard's view is that an object that is incongruous in certain ways will naturally stimulate mirth, laughter, and amusement, but that the object can simultaneously produce a sentiment that impedes this expression, and that one possible case is when the object that is incongruous also elicits strong moral disapproval. Things that inspire strong pity can have a similar effect. Gerard at several points also indicates that the sense of ridicule might in a number of different kinds of cases simply intensify the sentiments of other inner senses, like our sense of imitation (which is more or less our sense of how realistic or unrealistic a representation is).

Beattie has a similar account, although somewhat more complicated because he distinguishes the ludicrous (incites laughter simply) from the ridiculous (incites contemptuous or disapproving laughter). In "On Laughter, and Ludicrous Composition", he says:

It would seem then, that those absurdities in ourselves or others, which provoke the disapprobation of the moral faculty, cannot be ludicrous because in a sound mind they give rise to emotions inconsistent with, and far more powerful than, that whereof laughter is the outward indication.

To a certain point, moral disapproval changes the ludicrous to the ridiculous (as when we have a mocking attitude to a wicked character on the stage), but beyond that point, when the wrong is monstrous, people of sound mind cannot find it humorous because "moral disapprobation is a more powerful emotion than laughter" and when they are inconsistent, the stronger makes the weaker impossible.

One could argue for a slightly different view, though, which is that the sense of humor, itself, is actually a fairly minimal thing -- our ability to recognize the odd or incongruous -- and that what we usually think of as mirth or amusement is actually a complex response. So our sense of whether something is a good joke or not actually depends on how it affects a number of our 'inner senses'. The sense of novelty is a good example here. Novelty is obviously a major component in a lot of humor; some jokes rely heavily on it and even old tried-and-true jokes often need to seem fresh in some way if they are to do more than induce a smile or small chuckle. So some humorous response is not merely the sense of humor, but also tangled up in the surprise or shock arising from our sense of something's novelty. Similar things can be said about the sense of imitation or realism, since really great jokes often have not just oddness and freshness but also that air of 'that's way too true'. And it's not at all implausible to argue that this could also be true of the sense of morals, or sense of virtue, as Gerard calls it -- our response is shifted from mirth and amusement to disapproval by things that are too far out of moral bounds. In an account like this, the expression of the sense of humor would be more or less the same; it's just that the overall emotional response would be different because of the way other 'senses' contribute.

Soft Facts and Presidential Debates (Re-Post)

I didn't see the presidential debate last night, but there seems to be a considerable confusion over who 'won' it; I have seen a considerable amount of angsting, and a considerable amount of bravado, from both sides, while a look at the actual polling numbers in response to the debate gives an equally muddled view. Now, the first thing to grasp is that the purpose of political debates (and any other debates not in actual debate contests), at least in principle, is to inform, not to 'win', and it's very hazy to determine what counts as a 'win' when you have no scoring system for the debate itself. But the general idea of 'winning' a debate is that of whether it left good or bad impressions on those it reached, by and large, and that, while still slippery, is less hazy. I re-post the brief discussion below, from 2004, about the way in which who 'won' is a soft fact that depends on things that happen after the debate. This is actually, incidentally, one of the reasons Hillary Clinton has always done well in debates; she's one of the few politicians today who grasps the fact that a debate is less about what what you say and do and more about the what it lets you give your supporters to hammer the other side with until the next debate -- it's one of the things that made her stand so well against Obama, who is a far better speaker but who also kept being outmaneuvered after debates. (As I said, I didn't see the debate, but the fact that Clinton supporters are slow with coming up with any such hammers suggests that her performance was unusually weak, and that she may have made the error of covering old ground rather than giving her supporters something new to work with. But, of course, nothing but time will tell.)

By 'soft fact' I do not mean the sort of excuse for a fact that often passes in politics. I mean instead a technical term in philosophy of time: a 'soft fact' is a fact some of whose truth conditions occur only after the fact itself. If we think of evaluations of good and bad as being factual evaluations, we can see some rough examples of the sort of thing that's meant. For instance, if something happens that radically changes your life, it can often be uncertain until other things happen whether it was a bad happening or a good happening. Indeed, it might sometimes be the case that what seems bad at the time turns out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to you, or vice versa, because of what comes after.

I think it's important to recognize that in a certain sense, who wins or loses a presidential debate is a soft fact; we cannot, strictly speaking, determine the matter until well after the debate because the fact of the matter is, as it were, still pending. When we think of who 'won' the debate these days, we usually have in mind who appeared better to those who watched the full debate. However, the television appearance at the time is not everything that needs to be kept in mind when judging whether the debate was won or lost, because it is not the only medium in which the debate reaches people. There is, of course, the radio version at the time, and that can give different impressions; there are also the transcripts on the internet, and reading can potentially give yet another impression of the debate; and there are radio and television clips, and newspaper summaries, afterward. All of these, even the things that are reaching people well after the debate itself is actually over, are as it were the debate itself, still propagating through society. In addition, memories of the debate fade and change as other things happen (e.g., something that might not seem annoying in one debate might become annoying if it occurs in all the debates, thus adversely affecting judgment of the first debate). There are a lot of factors that need to be kept in mind. Who wins or loses the presidential debate actually depends on the sum effect of all this. Things can get surprising. It is how the debate affects the whole race that determines who won and who lost; victory and defeat in a presidential debate is a soft fact. This is not primarily 'spin' (although certainly there's always that) but is due to the simple fact that presidential debates have effects that are much more extensive than just the first impressions of television viewers (or radio listeners).

I suspect there are lots of soft facts in politics, even of the technical philosophical kind....

Monday, September 26, 2016

Xenophon's Agesilaus, Books I and II

Xenophon's Agesilaos, or Agesilaus, is sometimes considered the first genuine biography. As with many of Xenophon's works, it is concerned with the requirements for great leadership.

People have occasionally questioned the authenticity of the work, particularly of the last book, on the grounds that it seems to have more rhetoric and less of Xenophontic simplicity than other works by Xenophon; but such suggestions have tended to be in the minority. The first two books are more or less excerpts from Xenophon's Hellenica (Xenophon's history of the last part of the Peloponnesian War and its aftermath).

You can read the Agesilaus online in Bowersock's translation at the Perseus Project and in Dakyns's translation at Adelaide.

The Background

Agesilaus II (c. 440 - c. 360) was an unusual Spartan king. It was not originally expected that he would ever be king. He was born the younger son of Archidamus II, and, moreover, he was born lame, with one leg shorter than the other. He was short and physically unimpressive. But coming to the throne by happenstance at a crucial time, he became highly popular among the Spartans and extremely powerful throughout Greece. Xenophon knew him personally and served under him for several campaigns.

Book I

Xenophon gives his reason for writing the work right at the beginning:

I know how difficult it is to write an appreciation of Agesilaus that shall be worthy of his virtue and glory. Nevertheless the attempt must be made. For it would not be seemly that so good a man, just because of his perfection, should receive no tributes of praise, however inadequate.

Thus there is no pretension of evenhandedness here; the point is to praise Agesilaus for his virtues and his achievements, because he was a good man. And we begin with context -- he is a man from an excellent family in an excellent city, chosen by that city to be its king. having recently become king, Agesilaus is faced with a challenge: Persia was preparing to invade Greek lands again. Agesilaus proposed a counter-invasion to nip this in the bud, and the proposal was enthusiastically accepted, particularly as it would mean that Persia, for once, would be the scene of the Persian-Greek showdown.

The Persian governor, Tissaphernes, tried to hold Agesilaus with proposal of an armistice until he could get reinforcements, but Agesilaus was pleased to discover the offer fraudulent -- it put his invasion entirely in the right. Tissaphernes expected that Agesilaus would build a vengeance strike against himself, and prepared accordingly, but in fact Agesilaus continued to be levelheaded and instead worked on systematic conquest of wealthy and strategic cities. Out of this conquered wealth, Agesilaus richly rewarded all of his friends, which, of course, led to others working very hard to be his friends. But Agesilaus, taking the long view, also recognized that these lands needed to provide not only the temporary wealth of looting but a consistent and easily held supply base. For this reason he actively treated prisoners of war well and made sure, whenever he conquered a city, that he could claim to have liberated it, by making penalties less harsh and the laws more free. In order to build a cavalry, which was essential for the terrain, he obligated the horse-breeders to supply it, and he set in place a policy freeing from obligation to serve in the cavalry any wealthy horse-breeder who would provide a rider and arms. This made powerful locals active supporters of his cavalry-building. Meanwhile he trained his army, guided by the three principles Xenophon says provide for military success: reverence to the gods, active practice as a military, and obedience to command. And success Agesilaus certainly had before the Spartans called him back to deal with an anti-Spartan confederation of Greek cities.

Book II

Xenophon has no patience for people who praise generals for fighting forces greater than their own -- while it may sometimes be necessary, only an idiot does it freely and deliberately. Agesilaus comes against the confederates with a large and well trained army with considerable morale and military pride from their prior fighting. Xenophon thinks that Agesilaus could have done better tactically, but he nonetheless still showed valor and tactical care, guaranteeing victory to his army.

Even a competent king cannot eliminate all possibility of disasters, and Xenophon seeks to absolve Agesilaus of any blame in less fortunate happenings, such as a new anti-Spartan confederation or slave revolts. By this point, Agesilaus was aging rather severely and no longer able to take an active part in fighting, so he turned his mind to the second most important thing Sparta needed for her protection: money, which he began to gather by diplomatic means from both allies and defeated foes.

Additional Notes

* Xenophon's praise of Sparta for unbroken continuity in its line of kings is not a minor note -- stability of government is something Xenophon consistently regards as one of the most important questions of politics throughout his work.

* The claim that Agesilaus was still a youth when he became a king has baffled scholars through the ages -- Agesilaus would have been in his forties by that time, and Xenophon could hardly have been ignorant of that fact. Some have suggested that a 'not' had dropped out at some point; then the passage might be read as suggesting that Agesilaus, although not a youth and still new to politics, took admirable initiative in a time of crisis.

* Books I and II are basically background, dealing with external matters. Xenophon's primary interest, however, is virtue, and it is to this that he turns in Book III.

Life is Well Worth Living Still

The Reunion
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Read September 10, 1885, to the surviving students of Haverhill Academy in 1827-1830.

The gulf of seven and fifty years
We stretch our welcoming hands across;
The distance but a pebble's toss
Between us and our youth appears.

For in life's school we linger on
The remnant of a once full list;
Conning our lessons, undismissed,
With faces to the setting sun.

And some have gone the unknown way,
And some await the call to rest;
Who knoweth whether it is best
For those who went or those who stay?

And yet despite of loss and ill,
If faith and love and hope remain,
Our length of days is not in vain,
And life is well worth living still.

Still to a gracious Providence
The thanks of grateful hearts are due,
For blessings when our lives were new,
For all the good vouchsafed us since.

The pain that spared us sorer hurt,
The wish denied, the purpose crossed,
And pleasure's fond occasions lost,
Were mercies to our small desert.

'T is something that we wander back,
Gray pilgrims, to our ancient ways,
And tender memories of old days
Walk with us by the Merrimac;

That even in life's afternoon
A sense of youth comes back again,
As through this cool September rain
The still green woodlands dream of June.

The eyes grown dim to present things
Have keener sight for bygone years,
And sweet and clear, in deafening ears,
The bird that sang at morning sings.

Dear comrades, scattered wide and far,
Send from their homes their kindly word,
And dearer ones, unseen, unheard,
Smile on us from some heavenly star.

For life and death with God are one,
Unchanged by seeming change His care
And love are round us here and there;
He breaks no thread His hand has spun.

Soul touches soul, the muster roll
Of life eternal has no gaps;
And after half a century's lapse
Our school-day ranks are closed and whole.

Hail and farewell! We go our way;
Where shadows end, we trust in light;
The star that ushers in the night
Is herald also of the day!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Maronite Year LXXIV

Second Sunday after Holy Cross
1 Corinthians 15:19-34; Matthew 24:1-14

Your cross, O Lord, leads up to heaven's heights,
for by it we are saved from flame and death,
and by it we receive the gift of life,
and by its light we see the things of God.

From Adam came death; in Adam all die;
through Christ's Cross all shall be brought to true life,
and the one who perseveres shall be saved
when he is filled with the love of the Cross.

Grant that our works may be fine sacrifice,
that our justice may be a fragrance sweet,
that with our faith we might raise up incense
and by testimony build Your temple.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Dashed Off XXII

Every explanation is reduplicative or aspectual. (Even total explanations are total by being of all aspects.)

kinds of commentary arising naturally out of ruminative reading

count numbers vs fixed numbers
(round numbers as perhaps intermediate conceptually between the two)

Arguments, to have their proper force, must be understood in their proper light.

To deny people the right to be proud of their heritage, whether by being one of their predecessors and doing great wrong, or by denigrating what goodness there is in the heritage, is a serious matter.

universalist arguments focusing on limits of punishment, universalist arguments focusing on limits of sin
each of these seems to break down into extent-focused and intensity-focused -- how long and how much, in a sense
A -- extent of punishment -- e.g., 'God would not be victorious'
B -- intensity of punishment -- e.g., 'God would be cruel'
C -- extent of sin -- e.g., 'No one can sin forever'
D -- intensity of sin -- e.g., 'No sin is an infinite sin'

piacular responsibility and hell

seal, trumpet, and vial as symbols of preaching

arguments as ancillary to truths rather than instead of them

Common appeals to Ockham's Razor are often excuses for accepting what one's prejudices would find most convenient.

love as participation in good

Hope anticipates union in love.

By light of faith we see that the world is rich with hints of God.

PS 51:18-19 seems to be a later prayer added to the original.

layers of problematic language
(1) slurs, etc.
(2) malassociations
(3) historical malassociations
(4) problematic phrasings

Bishops are not vicars of the Pope but successors of the Apostles.

the two key elements of poetry: to say something the right way and to suggest more than is said

Symbols and traditions are how people maintain good relations to other people they cannot personally know.

Every sacrament is a kind of sabbath.

partial identity as implying vague identity
? Are all candidates for vague identity analyzable in terms of partial identity?
This question is obviously complicated by the possibility of indeterminate parts.
if there are indeterminate parts, there is certainly vague identity, if there is partial identity.

life as playful vs life as problem-solving

Liturgy is the life's blood of holy Tradition; sacred Tradition is inherently liturgical.

"Sin is shameful only at the time we commit it. Changed into confession and repentance, it is honorable and brings salvation." (Francis de Sales)

Implicit in all evil is an initial potential for good.

Catechesis is structured by drawing all things back to Christ.

Each sui juris church is a distinctive witness to the apostolicity, unity, and dignity of the faith, and all together witness to the catholicity of the faith.

Human politics is complicated by the fact that we can see that it is appropriate to authority to rise paradisially like a mist from the ground, but authority as we find it is more likely to descend in inconstant rains.

arthapatti as fit

All sensory impressions 'contain' power and efficacy; this is precisely why we call them all impressions.

We should admit not only that with which we are acquainted but that which makes possible the acquaintance itself.

That which can be abstracted from experience is given in experience.

marriage as the most future-looking institution of ordinary civilized life

rich experience account of tragedy // soul-making theodicy

Literature shows us the importance of temptation and challenge to growth.

Most quarreling is consensual.

romance as structured by pleasure, attention, and connection

(1) We all have an obligation to care for the common good of the human race.
(2) Preservation of the species is part of the common good of the human race.
(3) A major element of the means for preservation of the species is sexual behavior.
(4) Caring for the common good of the human race involves restraining oneself for its maintenance.
(5) We should restrain our sexual behaviors to facilitate the maintenance of the common good.
(6) We should restrain our sexual behaviors so as to facilitate in general the appropriateness of sexual behavior for caring for the common good.

ineffability, noetic quality, transiency, and passivity in figurative language itself

The common goods of humanity organize civilizational priorities.

the principle of decoration and the liturgical commonwealth

two forms of victory: over temptation and over challenge

stable goods, cycles of goods, ecosystems of goods

ecology as a science of a particular kind of good

pity and fear as motivators of inquiry

behaviors detrimental to common good
behaviors insufficiently conducive to common good
behaviors inadequately respectful of common good

the failure to distinguish private/individual from public/common utility as a weakness of preference satisfaction utilitarianism

parents as provident causes and instruments of divine providence

moral character of conclusion arises from
(1) structure
(1a) means-end/consequence (e.g., utilitarianism)
(1b) consistency/intrinsic (e.g., Kantianism)
(2) content

4 ways of placing oneself in the presence of God (Francis de Sales)
(1) lively awareness of divine omnipresence
(2) reflection on divine presence to spirit
(3) thought of the regard of the ascended Christ
(4) imagination of Christ as near

"For the fundamental thing about the passion is to consider who he is who has suffered." (Julian of Norwich)

the temptation to substitute a documentary Catholicism for a liturgical one

the filial piety of Christ

practical reasonableness as the first moral step

faith as illuminating intellect, thymos, and desire

"The Church continually gives birth to Christ, despite the dragon's attack." (Bede)
"The Church, too, every day begets the Church, which rules the world in Christ."

The world battles the Church with equivocations. No doubt the devil uses them too, and often, but he is even more fond of red herrings.

All of human tradition is both fruit of the vine and work of human hands.

Who has been taught his task is more lucky at it.

For a phenomenon to be an experiment, it must be taken to represent other phenomena. Note that the phenomenon itself must be taken to be representative.

The strength of reasons often lies in how they are layered.

Ps 28: the voice of the lord mentioned seven times; suggestive of sacraments:
on the waters -- baptism
in power -- confirmation
in magnificence -- eucharist
breaking the cedars -- penance
shaking the desert -- orders
dividing the flame -- matrimony
prepares the stages -- unction
Bellarmine himself reads the Psalm as discussing preaching

De profundis and purgatory

Jn 12:32-33 // Jn 21:18-19 (but note difference in tense)

preaching as unsealing truth, trumpeting judgment, pouring out wrath

Sin without contrition is as terrible as it is contrition-free.

Civilizations are reasonably evaluated in terms of
(1) preservation of life
(2) endurance and material progress
(3) pursuit of rational truth and social harmony

People will endure extraordinary pain for the sake of victory.

elliptical orbits as projections of circular movement in four dimensions (think of tilted circle and its projection on a plane it crosses)
All ordinary inverse square laws have symmetry involving rotation in four dimensions.

The Baptism of Jesus turns a baptism of repentance (material) into a baptism of filiation (formal).

After baptism must come the desert.

This is Heaven: for that which is not divine to be given divinity as something not from itself.
This is Hell: for that which is not divine to seek to seize divinity as something of its own.

Concupiscence is a grasping after what should be given.

Hume's discussion of causes as an argument against natural signs

The Two Barbara Problem: Aristotle holds that Box-True-Box modal Barbara is valid but True-Box-Box modal Barbara is not.
Note that predicate modality makes Aristotle's divergence claim make sense, whereas it is more perplexing with proposition modality (which seems to require that either they both are valid or neither are).
The big issue, of course, is that Aristotle thinks of the major functionally.

That for which Christ on the Cross gives us hope is that to which Christ Risen leads us.

Note that Newton's First Law, as found in Newton, is not time symmetric.

Metaphysics is essential for bridging scientific physics and folk physics for the purpose of popularization.

Euclid's common notions as a (minimal) theory of measurement

(1) Ex 3:14-15 admits of a timeless interpretation.
(2) By the time of Philo at latest, the timeless interpretation already exists.
(3) Jn 8:58 appears to suggest the timeless interpretation.

aim, restraint, ardor

Rv 22:16 // Mt 22:42-45 as undesigned coincidence

The key ethical sea changes caused by Christianity: that the martyr enduring is more brave than the soldier fighting; that the consecrated virgin is more temperate than the person of the world; that the voluntary poor who act with love are more just than the magnificent citizen; that the fool for Christ is wiser than the sage.

Mutual consent is never by itself adequate to guarantee the preservation of common good in an exchange.

4 aspects of the 'Napoleonic' idea of war (Corbett)
(1) total war
(2) unrelenting pressure
(3) primacy of offense
(4) armed forces as objective
-- he notes that these ideas are not especially Napoleonic, but are a combination of primitive/barbaric view of war (war made with the whole force of the people) and ideas found in Cromwell (persistent effort, armed forces as objective) and Frederick (primacy of offensive).

Clausewitz and the means-end structure of war.

"counter-attack is the soul of defense" (Corbett)
"The object of naval warfare is the control of communications, and not, as in land warfare, the conquest of territory."

For any vocabulary, one may identify through analogy (using terms in the vocabulary) concepts not covered by the vocabulary.

(1) base mereology; (2) dimensions; (3) additional structure (metric, distinguished elements, etc.

radius-tangent definition of perpendicularity

To say that someone acts wrongly is to say that the action is objectively unreasonable and the person's engaging in that action is unreasonable, relative to the circumstances of that person, and in such a way that the person could recognize the objective unreasonableness of the action and act to avoid it.

Every right is a form of authority.

decisions as microplans

Finish with a thrust, not with a cut.

To adapt dynamic logic to means and ends would require breaking any distinction between programs and states -- a program can be a state to be achieved by a program.

nondeterministic readiness to appear

plans appropriate and inappropriate to human beings

genius as relative to a domain

In inquiry as in physical search in the dark, one may receive insight from false patterns that seem true but fail; for there is a reason they seem true despite failing, & sometimes this is a useful clue.

inappropriateness of means to its end; inappropriateness to context; inappropriateness to agent; intrinsic impossibility of appropriateness

sense of external world as habitus

natural law and moral sociology

ethical reasoning based on
measure by standard
-- strict and approximate (error-tolerant), developed & estimative forms

The measure of a rebel is that against which he will not rebel.

sloth and envy as vices opposed to joy (this seems to make devotion and kindness joy-supporting virtues)

hell as the point at which every sin becomes suffused with sin against the Holy Spirit

prayer as a way of seeking good and avoiding evil

Humean associationism as a sort of exemplar causation

greatness as goodness with power and wisdom

'parva sed apta mihi' as a motto of temperance

society as imitation of providence

analogy as at-least-some-overlap

analogical inference as possibility-preserving

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Music on My Mind

Tom Lehrer, "The Irish Ballad"