Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Common Doctor

Today is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church! Here's Giovanni de Paolo's painting of St. Thomas Aquinas Confounding Averroes:

Giovanni di Paolo St. Thomas Aquinas Confounding Averroës

Here's a passage from De Regno 1.13, in which he lays out the seven essential goals of good government. (My translation.)

Thus taught by divine law, [the king] should set himself especially to study how the many subject to him may live well; which study is divided into the three parts: as the first is to institute a good life in the many subjects, the second to conserve what is instituted, and the third to move what is conserved forward to what is better [conservatam ad meliora promoveat].

And for good life for one man two things are required, one principally, which is acting according to virtue (for virtue is that by which one lives well), the other secondarily and as it were instrumentally, which is sufficiency of bodily goods, whose use is needed to act virtuously. But the unity of that man is caused by nature; while the unity of the many, which is called 'peace', is procured through the industry of the ruler. Therefore for the instituting of good life for the many three things are required. [1] First of all, that the many be established in the unity of peace. [2] Second, that the many united by this bond of peace be directed to acting well. For just as a man can do nothing well unless a unity of his parts is presupposed, so a multitude of men, lacking the unity of peace, by fighting among themselves are impeded from acting well. [3] Third, it requires that through the industry of the rulers there be present a sufficient abundance of things necessary for living well.

So when the good life by the duty of the king is established for the many, it follows that he must set himself to conserving it. But there are three things which do not allow public good to last, of which one arises by nature. The good of the many should not be instituted for only one time, but should in some way be perpetual. Yet men are mortal; they are not able to abide perpetually. Nor, while alive, are they always vigorous, because they are subject to many variations of human life, and thus men are not able to perform their duties equally throughout their whole lives. And another impediment to conserving the common good, proceeding from inside, consists in perversity of will, in that some either are lazy [sunt desides] in performing what the commonweal requires or, beyond this, are noxious to the peace of the multitude, in that by transgressing justice they disturb the peace of others. And the third impediment to conserving the commonweal is caused from outside, in that through the incursion of enemies the peace is dissolved and sometimes it happens that the kingdom or city is scattered.

Therefore to these three a triple charge is placed on the king. [4] First, that he prepare for the succession and substitution of those who fulfill diverse duties; just as through the divine government of corruptible things, which cannot abide forever, provision is made that through generation one should take the place of another, so that the integrity of the universe is conserved, so also is the study of the king to conserve the good of the many subject to him, in that he concerns himself attentively to fill with others places that are empty. [5] And second, by his laws and precepts, penalties and rewards, he should force [coerceat] men subject to him away from iniquity and induces them to virtuous works, taking God as example, who gives law to man, favoring those who observe it, repaying with penalty those who transgress it. [6] Third, a charge is laid on the king to restore safety against enemies to the many subject to him. There would be no use in eliminating internal dangers if one could not defend from external ones.

And then for the instituting of the good of the many there is a third thing belonging to the duty of a king, [7] that he attentively move it forward, which is done when, in each thing noted before, he studies to perfect it, correcting what is disordered, supplying what is missing, and doing better what he can.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Philosophy in the State of Infancy

The only right method to be followed in philosophy is, undoubtedly, that which starts from facts; and to have proclaimed this method and rendered it universal is the merit of the modern school. On the other hand, passing over certain facts and building upon incomplete observations, are its continual defects. To know how to observe all the facts, to seize even upon those which most easily escape notice, as for instance those of our own spiritual feeling and consciousness, and then to accept impartially the legitimate consequences of the same, these are the qualifications of a true philosopher. To this end, a most vigilant and continual reflection upon oneself is necessary. That observation which is only able to take note of what happens externally to ourselves, of the impressions received by our corporeal senses from the action of matter, is observation of the grossest and most vulgar kind. It produces, not a mature philosophy, but a philosophy in the state of infancy. Such is the philosophy of Locke, of Condillac, of Destutt-Tracy, etc.

Antonio Rosmini, Theodicy, volume 1, Signini et al, tr., p. 139n.

Music on My Mind

I try to avoid bunching up Music on My Mind posts, but this one has also been very much on my mind.

Jenni Vartiainen, "Minä sinua vaan". I like Vartiainen -- I mean, for additional reasons other than the fact that she is a Finnish-speaking brunette with blue eyes who can sing, and thus by that alone at least eighty percent of the way to Approximately Perfect Woman -- but it's always hit-or-miss whether I like any particular song. This one is very definitely hit.

The song itself is quite clever, since it is set up like a riddle: the most important word is the one that is never said. The main sentences are missing their verb, and the title means literally something like "I Just You": minä is the nominative case first person pronoun, sinua is the partitive case second person pronoun (partitive case is, among other things, used for the object of verbs expressing emotions or states of mind, which is what is in view here), and vaan is a conjunction usually translated as 'but' but here probably better translated as 'only' or 'just', as in 'none but'.

In the first stanza the riddle is set up: it says, paraphrasing a bit to avoid getting mired down beyond my limited Finnish, that people keep repeating it like a mantra, but what if that weakens its force -- she wouldn't want to wear the word out, not by speaking it or even writing it down. And then we get the chorus:

Like a she-bear her cubs and the Creator his creatures,
so I just you;
if we had no more bread, or water too, one thing would remain even then:
I just you.

From which the word she will not say should be obvious enough.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Two Poem Drafts

Both in very rough stages.


There are pleasures all around, for this world has many charms
and distractions it can give;
but the man who cannot ache for God or the woman in his arms
has never learned to live.
Like the deer in search of stream, our hearts pant for higher things,
the dreams that startle us awake:
The things for which the world will shake are the things for which we ache,
the things for which our hearts can break.

Two Sisters

Two sisters danced under cherry tree -- let them dance, leave them be! --
one as dark as a midnight sky -- with jet-black hair and ebon eye --
the other as bright as the light of day -- with hair as gold as sunlight's ray.
The gold one mocked the midnight one -- as siblings do, only half in fun --
for ugliness like ash and coal -- which falsehood was in part and whole.
And then anon a strapping man -- strong of arm and shoulder's span --
upon the road did pass them by -- and maidens catch a young man's eye!
He watched them dance under cherry tree -- let them dance, leave them be!
To the darker girl he lost his heart -- and therein every trouble starts --
and asked her hand to share his life, to be his love and loving wife.

Two sisters sailed in a cedar boat -- great beauty on the sea afloat! --
and the gold one pushed the dark one in -- for envy is a sibling's sin.
The dark one cried for helping hand -- for they were far from rock and land --
but the gold one sat and watched her drown -- the sunlight gilt her like a crown.
The dark one soon was cold and dead -- the gold one later haply wed --
for the strapping man, a golden wife -- for sinners oft have a happy life.

One sister sighed on an evening drear -- for the sky was cold and without cheer --
and wished for music light and gay -- as she once had danced in joyful play.
A harpist passed on the lonely road -- and the sky did growl, and the wind forebode.
A harp he had of the finest wood -- its maker was both wise and good--
and strings of hair like blackest jet -- the waves had washed them, cold and wet --
and he sought for her a gladsome song -- with a harper's hand the never went wrong --
but the mighty harp in language spoke -- when the harper's hand its voice awoke --
and "Murderer" was all it said, in a voice of sea and sister dead.

Music on My Mind

Lauren O'Connell, "The Daylight Here".

Aristotle and Absolute Space and Time II

I've noted before that space and time, or at least 'where' and 'when', in Aristotle are defined as relative, not absolute -- 'when' is relative to a clock or cycle, and 'where' is relative to a container or boundary. Aristotelians did think that there is something that is privileged both as clock and as container -- the primum mobile -- but 'where' and 'when' themselves were understood in relative terms. I see that Nick Huggett and Carl Hoefer note another way in which Aristotle can be understood to have a relative rather than absolute understanding of space, although not as clearly, in their article on absolute and relational theories of space and motion:

If the center were identified with the center of the Earth, then the theory could be taken to eschew absolute quantities: it would simply hold that the natural motions of any body depend on its position relative to another, namely the Earth. But Aristotle is explicit that the center of the universe is not identical with, but merely coincident with the center of the Earth (e.g., On the Heavens II.14): since the Earth itself is heavy, if it were not at the center it would move there! So the center is not identified with any body, and so perhaps direction-to-center is an absolute quantity in the theory, not understood fundamentally as direction to some body (merely contingently as such if some body happens to occupy the center). But this conclusion is not clear either. In On the Heavens II.13, admittedly in response to a different issue, Aristotle suggests that the center itself is ‘determined’ by the outer spherical shell of the universe (the aetherial region of the fixed stars). If this is what he intends, then the natural law prescribes motion relative to another body after all — namely up or down with respect to the mathematical center of the stars.

In fact, I think the position they note in the last two sentences is Aristotle's account; in an astronomy based on the geometry of circles, the center is just defined by which circle you are using, so the only question is whether there is a privileged circle, a circle that encompasses all the rest, whose center is the center of everything. But the center itself is always going to have to be the center defined relative to at least some significant circle.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reason Alone and Blind Chance

Of a truth, it is purely a matter of accident that an individual should have received from nature a larger or smaller amount of mental vigour. This amount, always an unknown quantity to him, is in no way dependent on him, and is just so much as nature has bestowed, not a fraction more. How, then, can any one prudently abandon himself to the guidance of his reason alone? Is not this the same as committing one's destinies to blind chance? Some may perhaps wonder at my saying that the amount of our own mental vigour "is always an unknown quantity to us, and in no way dependent on us;" yet, singular as it may appear, it is none the less a simple, undeniable fact.

The power of the instrument by which we know all other things always remains, and by the nature of the case must always remain, hidden from our knowledge. We cannot measure the power of our intelligence. How could we do so except by means of another intelligence? And if there are two intelligences in us (an absurd thing to say) by what will the power of the second be measured ?

Antonio Rosmini, Theodicy, volume 1, Signini et al, tr., p. 34.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Francis de Sales on Devotion

Today is the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, Doctor the Church. From his Introduction to the Devout Life, a classic so popular that it even circulated in abridged Protestantized versions:

You aim at a devout life, dear child, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God’s Divine Majesty. But seeing that the small errors people are wont to commit in the beginning of any under taking are apt to wax greater as they advance, and to become irreparable at last, it is most important that you should thoroughly understand wherein lies the grace of true devotion;—and that because while there undoubtedly is such a true devotion, there are also many spurious and idle semblances thereof; and unless you know which is real, you may mistake, and waste your energy in pursuing an empty, profitless shadow. Arelius was wont to paint all his pictures with the features and expression of the women he loved, and even so we all colour devotion according to our own likings and dispositions. One man sets great value on fasting, and believes himself to be leading a very devout life, so long as he fasts rigorously, although the while his heart is full of bitterness;—and while he will not moisten his lips with wine, perhaps not even with water, in his great abstinence, he does not scruple to steep them in his neighbour’s blood, through slander and detraction. Another man reckons himself as devout because he repeats many prayers daily, although at the same time he does not refrain from all manner of angry, irritating, conceited or insulting speeches among his family and neighbours. This man freely opens his purse in almsgiving, but closes his heart to all gentle and forgiving feelings towards those who are opposed to him; while that one is ready enough to forgive his enemies, but will never pay his rightful debts save under pressure. Meanwhile all these people are conventionally called religious, but nevertheless they are in no true sense really devout.

That one point, "we all color devotion according to our own likings and dispositions", is one of the most important things to grasp when dealing with religious devotion at all. As St. Francis goes on to note, devotion cannot be determined from any particular practice, which is often just a matter of taste; one only has devotion when one has a genuine love of God acting "carefully, diligently, and promptly".

Virtues Growing from the Ground

A Ballade of an Anti-Puritan
by G. K. Chesterton

They spoke of Progress spiring round,
Of light and Mrs Humphrey Ward--
It is not true to say I frowned,
Or ran about the room and roared;
I might have simply sat and snored--
I rose politely in the club
And said, `I feel a little bored;
Will someone take me to a pub?'

The new world's wisest did surround
Me; and it pains me to record
I did not think their views profound,
Or their conclusions well assured;
The simple life I can't afford,
Besides, I do not like the grub--
I want a mash and sausage, `scored'--
Will someone take me to a pub?

I know where Men can still be found,
Anger and clamorous accord,
And virtues growing from the ground,
And fellowship of beer and board,
And song, that is a sturdy cord,
And hope, that is a hardy shrub,
And goodness, that is God's last word--
Will someone take me to a pub?

Prince, Bayard would have smashed his sword
To see the sort of knights you dub--
Is that the last of them--O Lord
Will someone take me to a pub?

Chesterton's ballades are always primarily humorous ways of making one very large point, but the workmanship in the details of the stanza starting 'I know' is excellent.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dashed Off I

As always, only dashed off notes.

Hypothesis and confirmation only get us to verisimilitude; a theory of confirmation is indeed a theory of relative verisimilitude.

free indirect discourse in the Gospel of John

the conditions under which contiguity is possible influence?

the gifts of the Holy Spirit as delineating gneeral roles needed in the work of the Spirit (spiritual life)

In a good allegorical poem or tale, real people look flat in comparison. (We get something close to this in Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Usually, however, allegories don't oblige us by putting real people in as characters so that we can see how robust the allegory is by direct comparison.)

projective mereologies
mereology from a point of view
-> compare to interval calculus
mereological relations that vary according to scale
projective mereology, interval calculus, and relativity of simultaneity

"Proverbs are words of exhortation serviceable for a whole path of life; for to those who seek their way to God, these serve as guides and signs to revive them when wearied with the length of the road." Hippolytus of Rome

Extensionality fails for permeating parthood relations.

The scope of an authority is determined by the good it involves.

Heracles as the ideal Cynic (Epictetus 3.22.57; Diog Ep 26; Dio Chrysostom 8.26-27; Julian the Apostate Or 6.187c)

the picture of society found in Jesus' parables

thesis, reason, analogy, example, exhortation

From what we know of Teles of Megara and others, we have every reason to think that much of the famous Cynic tendency to brevity is due as much to how their comments were preserved as anything else.

Countercultures very commonly justify themselves by golden ages, past or future or even at times present in idealized foreign places.

onset-discovery-confirmation-confrontation in horror stories

'Folk psychology' is a folk psychological term.

one's life as containing the total cause of one's death

Brentano's names for intentionality: intentional inexistence of an object, relation to a content, direction toward an object, immanent objectivity

Bayesian epistemology often confuses the provisional with the probable; it registers full provisional acceptance as if it were the same as probable acceptability.

hierarchy of sacraments, of icons, and of doctrines

Dying is the accumulation of vital errors.

Every sacrament is a union of nature, human art, and divine art, although in different ways, and all three play an important role, although in different proportions in different sacraments.

All theology is both dogmatic and systematic.

rhetoric as concerned with vivacity, beauty, sublimity, and novelty of communicated reasoning

Von Wright's logic of change is actually a logic of difference; pT~p can apply just as well to different places or different organizations as times. Likewise d(pT~p) could just as easily be an act of differentiating as an act of changing, and similarly with f(pT~p). One could also take it to be synchronic (logical moments or instants of change) rather than diachronic.

What is called the 'design stance' (Dennett, etc.) is actually many different stances lumped together.

Debunking arguments need not merely the claim that something has gone wrong, but a causal account of the way in which it goes wrong.

communal eating as a metaphor for tradition (banquet, symposium)
musical performance as microtradition
internal sense theory as capturing forms of tradition (qua transmission)

humanitas, misericordia, intentio professionis and the medical profession

(1) One may have powers (capabilities) that are inactive.
(2) Inactive and active powers show that the actual and the potential are two ways things may be.
(3) The actual is prior to an nobler than the potential.

energeia as operativeness, at-work-hood
entelechia as complete-being-ness, persisting-full-grown-ness

literary canons as us-formation

the humanitarian tradition of medicine, rooted in Hippocratic Oath and developing from there

tradition : memory :: inquiry : reason

Knowledge is of its nature a single principle admitting of contrary effects.

Metaphysics IX is a complete answer to Hume, in the sense of providing all the principles required for an answer.

the tradition of how, the tradition of that, the tradition of what
episodic vs habitual (dispositional) tradition
declarative vs nondeclarative tradition
the elative and illative faces of tradition
institutional identity and tradition

the significance of the fact that memory is so naturally described with spatial metaphors

All interpretation presupposes tradition; and there can be no such thing as interpretation without trusting to someone's tradition.

All perception presupposes memory; and there can be no such thing as perception without trusting to memory.

When declarative tradition is distinct and determinate, and those handing it down are sensible and of good character, we naturally treat it almost as if it we had direct perception of what is declared.

Tradition does not merely retain the past; it also holds the present and anticipates the future.

things drawn forth from the more remote treasuries of tradition, collected again that they may be known as if new, pulled together from their dispersion

Although true inspiration belongs to saints, yet some poets not in this group are found to participate a kind of inspiration, not by a divine movement in the proper sense, but out of a natural movement involving sense and imagination.

Tradition in the Church is not primarily of abstract system but of teachings (including icons) and sacraments.
->meditation on icons as one of the ways of receiving the Tradition's treasuries

memory as trace with measure of time

modernity and the pursuit of understanding that does not set things in order

traditions as sources of problem-concerns and hermeneutic anticipations
tradition as a library of templates

The power of reflection incorporates in reflecting the anticipations of tradition, such as, for instance, the anticipations found in the tradition of language, when the latter is an instrument of reflection.

the Hippocratic Oath as a part of the language of medicine -- it is in effect a complex term applied figuratively to the practice of medicine so as to convey its richness and the richness of its end; it is a symbolon, although unlike the Creed it is not applied literally. The same may be said for the Declaration of Geneva, which is, however, generally used more literally, as a rich concept, a complexity capable of being taken as a unified whole for conveying the spirit of the humanitarian tradition of medicine

The Tradition of the Church is in the care of the Holy Spirit as Principal Evangelist.

truth from another
tradition & docility
tradition as public reason

In Tradition the Church draws on itself in order to hand itself down.

the Romantic fragment as allowing the permeation of thought by thought

Middlemarch on self-diffusive good (Dorothea's good on others as 'incalculably diffusive')

the detective story as a metaphor for philosophy

Belonging to a profession involves an implicit commitment to participate in and contribute to a practical tradition of how to handle common problems. Indeed, this commitment is the root of much of the fruitfulness of a profession as a profession.

analogical, best explanation, and criterial versions of design arguments

climates of virtue as encouraging actions of trust

deliberative vs expressive signs (some things, like interjections, are both)

Every assertion implies an intelligible universe.

Liberty of conscience depends on the expectation of conscientiousness, that is, on the concomitant responsibility.

To lie is not an act of love.

Sectarian issues become more intense the more integrated a people become.

guessing as structured by congruity and incongruity
a Bayesianism of guessing, with probability representing degree of congruity

The Church may be called the mother of saints insofar as she brings for their acts from her conception of the end, which works as a seed.

two ways of determining appropriate liturgy
(1) Old Testament worship as filtered through the coming of Christ
(2) Revelation as presenting ideal liturgy

confirmation Acts 8; 19:6
indulgence Nm 12; 2 Cor 2

infused virtues as virtues for the witness of faith

Law is essential to sovereignty.

Rationality is not a matter of having arguments, which human minds can make up with ease; it would be more accurate to say that it is a matter of having arguments of establishable relevance for a coherent problematic serving as its context.

Baptism, confirmation, ordination, and marriage are sacraments establishing entire jurisdictions, or areas of legal regime.

eucharist : priest :: penance : king :: unction : prophet

The right to religious liberty is the right to civil liberty in matters of religion, as arising from protection of human dignity as the condition for just society.

nature as a forum for grace, a stage for scenes of grace
the natural order as in itself implying the possibility of an order of grace (1) in origin (principle) (2) in order (3) in perfectibility

What counts as evidence depends on one's standpoint.

Building a vocabulary is usually needed to find an answer and always needed to communicate it.

Necessity in cognition is universality of form.

Human knowledge intrinsically involves the suggestion of a standard of knowledge to which it may be held.
Knowledge has gradation and admits of more and less, even with the same object.

'what the Lord taught, the Apostles preached, the Fathers preserved, the Martyrs confirmed'

Belief is not of or to propositions but by means of them.

Community requires a common means of communication.

baptism as the mother of creed

care, fairness, loyalty, authority, sanctity

'the Nemean Lion, which Hera, the good wife of Zeus, brought up and made to haunt the hills of Nemea, a plague to men'

From the intelligibility of the particular and concrete we rise to the intelligibility of the universal principles of the same, thus to catch some intimation of the True.

The liturgy does not merely represent the archetypes of the world's order; it contains and presents them

the Modes of Skepticism as methods for argument-testing

Given the course of the determinism debate, one can easily see that determinists will eventually be accusing indeterminists of something equivalent to 'free will of the gaps' and 'chance of the gaps'; it is already an old argument, but has become less popular due to moral responsibility issues and the complications created by quantum mechanics. But all tendencies are to its return in force.
'God of the gaps' // 'free will of the gaps' // 'chance of the gaps'
-> all of these implicitly get their force by smuggling in the assumption that the other side is only arguing from lack of local evidence to support an otherwise presumptively right closure principle, rather than giving an argument from evidence that that particular closure principle is wrong, or at least presumptively wrong.

The patience of God is the heart of repentance.

Repentance implies that there is a patience in moral law, at the very least in a figurative sense.

doubt : inquiry :: pity & fear : tragedy

Scarcity drives improvement of technique; necessity really is the mother of invention.

disorder in sins against nature
(1) horror of corruption: deviation from reason in favor of arbitrary autonomy
(2) horror of abomination: deviation from human nature (e.g., as self-preserving)
(3) horror of reprobation: idolatry-likeness

Practically every incarnational heresy has implicitly been recapitulated in biblical criticism with respect to the 'Jesus of history' and 'Christ of faith' -- Docetic, Nestorian, etc., And here, as there, only the Chalcedonian is right.

"Whatever reality in its true nature is, it must form a self-consistent, all-comprehensive, and coherent whole; and these characteristics are not found in the world of perception." John Watson

Part of understanding the world is understanding ourselves in our act of understanding the world.

Naturalistic closure principles are imitation conservation laws. (This is very clear when one looks at their history.)

To be an object is to be an object-for; and to be a subject is to be a subject-of.

Nothing is identifiable as many unless it is also identifiable as one.

'the concrete presentation of ideas in definite pictorial form'

Note Watson's correct linking of Newman's theory of development to the idea of the visible church as revelatory.

Not only must a religious ritual be adequate to express in symbol the emotions and ideas of the soul; it must do so in such a way as to unite hearts and minds, which for human beings means it must in some way, direct or indirect, be a shared inheritance.

"The religion which excludes beauty is necessarily of an abstract character." John Watson

A virtuous person cannot but want virtue to be rewarded; virtue is inconsistent with splitting virtue and desert or merit -- virtue cannot deny the intrinsic worthiness and value of virtue.

rational unity as the principle of natural theology

Poetics 1450b16: catharsis and wonder do not necessarily depend on the performance

One problem with many of the speculations about the originating communities of Scriptural texts is that none of the texts (not the Four, not Thomas, not Q if it existed) could possibly be produced by a community that had nothing to draw on but what it contained. Sometimes we have internal indication (e.g., Hellenistic philosophy in the case of John, or Roman words in the case of Mark) or linked external confirmation (e.g., Acts in the case of Luke) suggesting some of this broader field, but often even this leaves us with only tiny patches to reason with.

the need for something like double-entry bookkeeping in historical reasoning

"A very little truth will sometimes enlighten a vast extent of science." Beattie

Charity is efficiently from the whole Trinity and from the Holy Spirit by exemplar appropriation.

Defect occurs either by cessation or by disorder.

Who uses a gift well may merit new gifts, depending on the end of the original giving.

Nothing is moved to the impossible.

Virtues converge to taht which charity provides

charity as a mediating virtue
charity as a provident virtue

Charity sets alight the other virtues, whether acquired or infused, through greater union to the end of any and every virtue.

Love moves the greater to provide for the lesser, equals to commune with equals, and the lesser to contemplate the greater.

prudence and the sigillation of virtue

"A cause is essential to an effect as genus is essential to species, whereas an effect is related incidentally to a cause. For the effect follows on the being of the cause as species follows on genus, unless the effect is something of the cause, since in that case effect will be compared to cause in the manner of an integral part, which is actually and essentially in the whole, while insofar as the effect is soemthing of the cause, it is not distinct from it but one with it." Aquinas

Prayer informs acts of mercy as charity informs the virtue of mercy.

Perception, sensible or intelligible, is not mere hypothesis.

the resemblance of the potential to the actual

Even though resemblance is symmetric, the ground of resemblance may not be, creating a kind of asymmetry. Thus a man resembles the painting of him, but the painting more properly resembles the man because of the asymmetry in teh reason for the resemblance.

Beattie on Cockburn 28 July 1789

internal sense theory as a theory of basic evidence

minatory formulae in philosophical argument

the resemblance of resemblance to sameness

Even though prudence does not directly determine obligations, it is required in order to apply them, and without it no virtue relevant to the obligations can arise.

the second Helvitic Confession is very good on the significance of Scripture as preached

To claim that the Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the only NT sacraments is like claiming that Circumcision and Passover are the only OT sacraments.

the indelible characters as capturing three aspects in how we can, through and in Christ, say "Our Father"

circumcision as indelible visible sign // baptism as indelible invisible sign

Natural faith, hope, and love, despite not being virtues, are the primary natural motivators for many virtues, allowing people to accomplish much that they would not otherwise accomplish, and undergo discipline that would otherwise be too harsh to bear.

Cicero, Laelius on Friendship (Part I: The Greatness of Friendship)

Laelius de Amicitia, sometimes known simply as De Amicitia (On Friendship) is one of a series of philosophical dialogues written by Marcus Tullius Cicero describing what is usually called the Scipionic Circle, a loose group of people gathered around the Stoic philosopher Panaetius and the statesman Scipio Aemelianus Africanus (himself best known for being the general destroyed Carthage and ended the Third Punic War) who would discuss intellectual topics of interest. (It is not known whether this Scipionic Circle really existed or is an idealized picture or even fiction by Cicero.) The other Scipionic Circle dialogues are Cato maior de senectute, De oratore and Cicero's great work, De re publica. In De amicitia, Scipio has just recently died, and a number of people gather with his old friend Laelius to discuss friendship. The work shows many signs of being directly influenced by discussions of friendship in Plato (Lysis), Xenophon (Memorabilia), and Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics), and possibly also a lost treatise on friendship by Theophrastus; but as with all of Cicero's philosophical works, much of the distinctively Ciceronian is found in what he does with his sources.

You can read Laelius de Amicitia online in English at Project Gutenberg. There is a nice set of webpages by Tom Sienkewicz with basic study resources on the dialogue, including an outline of the dialogue.


  Gaius Laelius
Laelius is an old friend and political ally of Scipio. He was often nicknamed Sapiens because of his moderation and willingness to listen to the objections of his critics. He is also a character in Cicero's Cato Major and De Re Publica. He is obviously the main character of this dialogue, which is structured as a conversation in which Laelius makes three major speeches.

  Quintus Mucius Scaevola
Scaevola is Laelius's son-in-law (married to his eldest daughter). Scaevola was one of Cicero's own teachers and is also a character in both De Oratore and De Re Publica.

  Gaius Fannius
He is also a son-in-law of Laelius (married to his younger daughter). In real life he and Scaevola seemed not to have gotten along; Scaevola was younger, but by marrying the older Laelia had managed to get the coveted position of augur, which Strabo may have wanted for himself. It's difficult to be clear about his real life, though, because he is often confused with another Fannius, and Cicero himself seems to have had only a very rough notion of his actual history.

In addition, Cicero directly addresses Titus Pomponius Atticus, to whom the work is dedicated; Atticus was an old friend and ally of Cicero; he was also a student of Scaevola and a lover of philosophy, and in fact seems to have taken the name 'Atticus' to indicate how much he loved Athens and its philosophy. Cicero and Atticus were both in their sixties when the dialogue was written.

Dedication to Atticus

Cicero gives an account of the background of the dialogue, attributing it to his teacher, Scaevola. According to the story Cicero relates, Scaevola was sitting with a number of friends and the discussion came to the topic of friendship. Atticus had apparently suggested that Cicero write on friendship, and so he presents this work to fulfill that, writing, he says, "to a friend in the friendliest spirit on the subject of friendship" by presenting a conversation in which Laelius, "pre-eminent on account of his own glorious friendship, will speak about friendship" (I/5). He asks Atticus to forget him for a while and imagine that it is Laelius himself who speaks, and to recognize in Laelius's exposition of friendship a portrait of Atticus himself.

Opening Conversation

Fannius opens the dialogue in the middle of the discussion by complimenting Laelius on his wisdom, and noting that people have asked him how he is coping with the death of his friend Scipio, since he missed a meeting he scrupulously attends. Scaevola says that when people have asked him, he always says that Laelius missed not because of his grief, which he has but keeps under control, but because of illness. Laelius confirms that he has been sick, and says he thinks obligations should be fulfilled as long as one is well, regardless of the situation. He notes, though, that he would be lying if he said that he was unaffected by Scipio's death, "since I have been deprived of a friend such as I suppose there will never be again" (III/10). But Scipio himself had lived such a full life that a few more years could have hardly added to his honors, so nothing bad has happened to Scipio; and dwelling too long on his own misfortune in losing Scipio would be a mark not of his love for his friend but of his love for himself.

Laelius rejects the idea that the soul dissolves at death, on the ground of authority: his ancestors gave honors to the dead that showed that they thought this was false, and the Pythagoreans teach reincarnation, which show that they think it false, and Socrates, judged wisest by the oracle of Apollo himself, was on this point not obscure and puzzling but quite clear. Scipio held this view as well. Thus one can reasonably expect that one so good as Scipio would be rewarded for his excellence. But even if one held that the soul was destroyed at death, then it follows that even if there is nothing good in death, there is also nothing bad in it for the dying. Thus the only misfortune here is Laelius's, but he will always have the memory of their friendship.

Laelius's First Discourse

Fannius and Scaevola both take this as an opportunity to ask him to talk about friendship. Laelius says that it is an excellent subject, but rejects the idea that he is well suited to speak on it. All he can do is encourage them to recognize that friendship is the greatest thing in human life. True friendship, however, can only arise between those who are good. He rejects the idea that this is due to a particularly restrictive definition of friendship itself, or that it is unattainable; what he means is that friendship requires ordinary decency and strength of character of the sort that we can actually find in real life.

The very fact of our being born makes it so that we live in society, but proximity creates special bonds, so that those who are our compatriots are closer than foreigners, and kin closer than strangers. This make up a natural friendship, although not stably so, for friendship in a proper sense is greater than any of these -- after all, we can be related to people without any benevolence or goodwill existing between us, but friendship requires benevolence. Friendship is far more powerful than ordinary society, even familial society, because it takes all that connection and concentrates it. Affection (caritas) is always found between two, or at most a small group.

Laelius then gives his definition of friendship: "friendship is in fact nothing other than a community of views [consensio] on all matters human and divine, together with goodwill and affection [cum benevolentia et caritate]" (VI/20). Of all gifts of the gods, only wisdom can be seriously regarded as its rival for the greatest. People do often treat other things as more important -- wealth, health, power, public honor, honors, or even pleasures. These things are not stable enough. To be sure, one could say that virtue is the greatest good, but virtue is such that it produces and sustains friendship. Again he insists that we should take virtue here in our ordinary, everyday sense, such as we attribute to great men like Cato or Scipio, not in any rarefied philosophical sense, and then gives some of the advantages such men derive from friendship.

The greatest advantage of friendship, however, is that "it lights a beacon of hope for the future, nor does it allow the human spirit to weaken or to stumble" (VII/23). Who sees a true friend in some sense sees himself, to such an extent that we can say that through friendship the dead live, because of the memory of their friends, so that on this alone we can in some sense say that the dead are blessed. Were benevolence gone from the world, it would all fall apart; friendship and concord hold the world together.

This is, again, simply common sense: anyone can know it, and everyone in their practice endorses it. We see this in the fact that people who are true friends will face danger together, and that we all praise such action.

Having said his piece, Laelius recommends again that they might be better served by finding a professional philosopher to discuss the subject. But his sons-in-law will insist that he speak more, and we'll see what's said in a future post on the dialogue.

  Additional Notes

* In the course of discussing Scipio's belief in the afterlife, Laelius makes a reference to a discussion captured in another of Cicero's dialogues, De re publica, in which Scipio recounts a dream had by his father. This is one of the most famous and influential passages in all of Cicero, the Somnium Scipionis, on which Macrobius wrote a commentary that was very influential in the Middle Ages. The Dream of Scipio is about the reward waiting for the good and noble statesman.

* Laelius explicitly identifies (V/18) four virtues as part of the character required for friendship: fides (good faith or honesty), integritas (soundness or integrity), aequitas (fairness), and liberalitas (generosity). He excludes three three vices: cupiditas (greediness), libido (wantonness), and audacia (shamelessness or brazenness). He also says that friendship requires magna constantia (great constancy).

* Cicero's talking about friendship (amicitia) in terms of affection (caritas) is certainly an influence on another, much later discussion of friendship: Aquinas's discussion of charity (caritas) in terms of friendship (amicitia). The discussion of what is the greatest good (VI/20) is also fairly clearly an important influence on the argument of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, and the major influence on the overall structure of that work's argument.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Two Senses of 'Pain'

But the truth is that the word Pain has two senses which must now be distinguished. a. A particular kind of sensation, probably conveyed by specialised nerve fibers, and recognisable by the patient as that kind of sensation whether he dislikes it or not (e.g., the faint ache in my limbs would be recognised as an ache even if I didn't object to it). b. Any experience, whether physical or mental, which the patient dislikes. It will be noticed that all Pains in sense a become pains in sense b if they are raised above a certain very low level of intensity, but that Pains in the b sense need not be Pains in the a sense.

C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, Collier (New York: 1962) p. 90.