Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Links of Note

 * Joseph Lawler, If You Build It, Will They Come?, at "The New Atlantis", on Austin's interstate highway expansion.

* Nicholas Colgrove & Daniel Rodger, No, Pregnancy Is Not a Disease (PDF). The authors are criticizing a paper by Anna Smajdor and Joona Räsänen that I criticized here.

* Marij van Strien, Was physics ever deterministic? The historical basis of determinism and the image of classical physics

* Matthew Shelton, Divine Madness in Plato's Phaedrus (PDF)

* Jim Graves, The 3 Painted Churches of Hawaii, at "National Catholic Register"

* Nicholas D. Smith & Catherine McKeen, Like-Mindedness: Plato's Solution to the Problem of Faction (PDF)

* Alexej Lochmatow, Virtue as a Lens: Exploring Science, Scholarship, and Politics under Soviet Domination, at "History of Knowledge"

* Hein van den Berg, Explanation, teleology, and analogy in natural history and comparative anatomy around 1800: Kant and Cuvier (PDF)

* John Psmith reviews Einstein's Unification, by Jeroen van Donge, at "Mr. and Mrs. Psmith's Bookshelf"

* Savas L. Tsohatzidis, Speaker meaning, sentence meaning, and metaphorSpeaker meaning, sentence meaning, and metaphor (PDF)

* Nathaniel Gan, What Kind of Non-Realism is Fictionalism?

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Monday, May 27, 2024

Many Worlds and Determinism

 There is an interesting article in Scientific American, Does Quantum Mechanics Rule Out Free Will?, which is, as is unsurprising, concerned with an argument that quantum mechanics (the many-worlds interpretation of it, to be exact) is deterministic, which at least some people quoted in it take to rule out free will. The matter is actually quite complicated. For one thing, physicists use 'deterministic' in a different sense than it is used when discussing free will. For physicists, 'determinism' is a feature of a model such that from the values of the relevant variables in one state you can determine the values in all the other states in the model. 'Determinism' in free will discussions describes a reality in which the connection of cause to effect is accurately and completely described by a strong modality from a logical system in which the strong modality is implied by a null modality. There are a lot of differences here. For instance, the physics-determinism is not directional (e.g., it doesn't matter whether the states are past or future), whereas causal determinism as we find it in free will discussions is directional (it is the cause to effect direction that is controversial, whereas necessity in the effect to cause direction is quite commonly accepted as a form of conditional necessity). But the most obvious is that physics-determinism is a feature of a model, and causal determinism is a purported feature of the world. The issue, of course, is that you can have a deterministic model of a process that is strictly indeterministic. It will just be sometimes possibly wrong, even if only very rarely; and all our deterministic models, even our best, are in fact sometimes wrong, even if only very rarely, because they are all necessarily idealized and do not in all circumstances account for all variables with perfect precision. Moving from one sense of determinism to another is something one does by a vague and imperfect feeling of analogy between the two, and not because anything in the physics-determinism directly implies causal determinism.

The  matter gets even more complicated if we go down a level and consider the many-worlds theory itself. Very crudely and roughly, a central, and unresolved, issue in interpreting the mathematics for quantum mechanics lies in the fact that the Schrodinger wave equation gives us very accurate descriptions of quantum mechanical processes and their outcomes, but that the same equation also gives us answers to which those outcomes do not correspond. In a sense, the wave equation is too generous; it gives us all the possibilities that fit the experimental results and also possibilities that don't. Different interpretations of quantum mechanics try to explain this in different ways, and there are endlessly many different ways. But three core answers keep popping up in different versions, because it seems that one of the three has to be true:

(1) The wave equation is missing something important, and there is some other fact that weeds out the unobtained possibilities.

(2) The wave equation is correct in identifying the possible outcomes, but the real process itself indeterministically 'selects' one of them as the real outcome.

(3) All of the outcomes of the wave equation are in some way real.

This is very crude, but allowing for a lot of nuance in actual development of theories, all of these have had major physicists championing them, and all of them have advantages, and all of them have very serious disadvantages. Historically, the most popular among physicists has been (2), but in recent decades (3), originally dismissed by most physicsts as absurd, has had increasing respect, in part because it makes easier a number of things physicists think important. (3)-based interpretations, of which there are different versions, are generally called 'many worlds' theories, or sometimes 'multiverse' theories.

The whole thing is fascinating from a philosophy of physics point of view. It reminds me in many ways of the problem of the direction of time. The problem of temporal direction is that almost all the major equations of physics make no distinction between past and future, backward or forward in time, but we quite clearly do experience time in a way that makes its direction important. (The second law of thermodynamics is the major exception, but even that is not completely straightforward, since some of the most important explanations of what it means based on probabilities also would not obviously be affected by direction, and you have to get quite precise about what is meant by 'direction' to start seeing why physicists take the increase of entropy to be, in some sense, in one direction.) In both cases, the problem of how to interpret physics can be seen as coming down to figuring out what to do with the failure of fit between the impartiality of the mathematics used by physicists to describe the world and the partiality of the world physicists actually encounter in experiment.

In any case, on a many worlds interpretation, all of the results of the wave equation happen. This raises the obvious next question: Why don't we see them in experiment? And the many worlds interpretation answers this by saying, "They happen in a different universe." There are different ways of making sense of this. The usual way it is described is that at every quantum interaction, the universe 'splits' into one universe for each result from the wave equation. We don't have to puzzle about what we are missing, or how the world selects which result to follow; nothing essential is missing and all of the results follow. Different versions of the many worlds have somewhat different views of this 'splitting' (and also how literally to take the idea that universes split off from each other). 

The technicalities are quite extensive, and more than a few of them beyond me. But this is already enough to see that we should be cautious. What exactly is this splitting? How do quantum interactions relate to free will choices or indeed any other apparently macroscopic event within a single universe? We don't know. There are several different versions of many worlds interpretations, and making very small adjustments in the interpretation can give you very different ideas about what it might mean for a universe or world-history to split into two. 'Free will' is obviously not a term in any scientifically respectable many worlds interpretation, and therefore no such interpretation says anything about it at all. It's even been disputed whether the quantum interactions are properly seen as causal interactions. Physicists have been worried from the beginning that these interpretations effectively dead-end experimental inquiry, because any experiment has to occur in a universe, and therefore there is apparently no experiment one could ever do that could confirm or disconfirm the existence of these other universes, or confirm or disconfirm anything about their particular nature or relation to this universe. (So far the only semi-promising attempts of physics to work out what kind of experiment you could even do that would shed even indirect light on the matter all involve things we currently cannot do and in fact do not currently even know to be possible in the way they would need to be done.) Perhaps more immediately relevant to the free will discussion, many worlds interpretations have also tended to struggle with the role of probability in quantum mechanics. In particular, quantum mechanics requires not just any use of probabilities but a very particular kind that makes sense of some very odd quantum experiments and involves principles, like the Born rule, that characterize how they work; but it has always been difficult to find a many worlds interpretation that definitely fits with those principles. Despite the fact that it simplifies a number of things in physics, it's not surprising that physicists have been reluctant to accept it; its two major problems seem to be that it doesn't seem to be something we could establish by any experiment physicists could do and it's still unclear whether it is actually consistent with the experiments they have done. These problems would look very bad for the interpretation under most circumstances; it's only the fact that all other known interpretations have their own very serious problems that make these problems seem less bad here.

The discussion in the article is occasioned by a particular paper, Eddy Chen's Strong Determinism (PDF). It's a fascinating paper. I don't like some of the ways he sets up the account of determinism used in it, which seems like an unholy amalgam of the two different senses of determinism I mentioned at the beginning of this post; it follows from it that most deterministic theories in physics are not deterministic in the sense used here (since they don't specify anything about which possible worlds they apply to), and it also seems that, depending on how your theories are allowed to gerrymander possible worlds, that you could get strong determinism in Chen's sense even dealing with situations that would usually be called indeterministic in free will discussions. I could perhaps just be missing something, but I'm already wary on these grounds. I also don't like shifting back and forth between the actual world and possible worlds; it can be done, but there are endlessly many ways to get something wrong without realizing it. In any case, one (but only one) of the several things that he considers is how his account of strong determinism relates to Everett's version of the many worlds interpretation. (Chen himself does not seem to have any particular commitment to this interpretation.) It is not strongly deterministic in Chen's sense, but he argues that you can have a version of it, with certain additional assumptions beyond the standard Everett interpretation, that is strongly deterministic, and that such a version makes certain things more tractable in such a way that you could have very simple laws covering all the major phenomena physics want to explain. The point of the argument is not to consider whether the world is strongly deterministic but whether strong determinism in his sense requires you to give up on simple laws of nature, and Chen's argument (which, without having gone through every step, seems reasonably plausible) is that it does not, although you need a particular kind of strongly deterministic theory to make it work; and there's a secondary conclusion that, perhaps surprisingly, quantum mechanics is more hospitable to that particular kind of theory than classical mechanics is. That's an interesting, but much less provocative, result than one would have expected from the Scientific American article.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Third Age on a Historical Timeline

The Lord of the Rings involves huge historical epochs, and it is difficult to keep a sense of them. So I thought I would rough out what the timeline of the Third Age would look like if it were instead in our own timeline. You could do it from the present moment, but I went from 1955, the year The Return of the King was published. I've put in a few battles, dynasties, and empires in a very rough way for comparison. The only real institutions in our history that consistently work on anything like the scales of time we see in the Second Age and the Third Age are things like the Chinese Empire, the Roman Empire (including the Byzantines), Ancient Egypt, the Japanese Imperial House, and the Catholic Church. Almost everything else starts looking very brief.

Incidentally, I suspect it's not an accident that the Founding of the Shire occurs roughly around the time that we get the foundations of Post-Roman Britain (what we might think in legendary terms as 'Arthurian times' and historically as the development of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that eventually became 'England'). The hobbits have an English-length culture as well as an English-like culture.


1955 => The War of the Ring ends with the destruction of the One Ring; the end of the THIRD AGE. [T.A. 3019]

1954 => The War of the Ring begins

1952 => Gollum is captured and taken to Barad-dur

[End of World War II]

1937 => Bilbo's Birthday Party; Frodo inherits the One Ring.[T.A. 3001 = S.R. 1401]

[Beginning of World War II]

1926 => Birth of Pippin Took [T.A. 2990 = S.R. 1390]

[End of World War I]

1918 => Birth of Merry Brandybuck [T.A. 2982 = S.R. 1382]

1916 => Birth of Sam Gamgee and Fatty Bolger; Theoden becomes King of Rohan. [T.A. 2980 =  S.R.1980]

[Beginning of World War I]

1904 => Birth of Frodo Baggins. [T.A. 2968 = S.R. 1368]

1889 => The last formal meeting of the White Council.

1885 => Gandalf and Balin visit Bilbo in the Shire.

1877 => Bilbo meets Gollum and discovers the One Ring; the Death of Smaug; the Battle of the Five Armies; the re-founding of the Kingdom of Erebor. [T.A. 2941]

1867 => Birth of Aragorn. [T.A. 2931]

[American Civil War]

1826 => Birth of Bilbo Baggins. [T.A. 2890 = S.R. 1290]

1815 => Birth of Gimli. [T.A. 2879]

[Rise and Fall of the Napoleonic Empire]

1788 => The White Tree of Gondor dies.

1787 => The White Council meets to discuss the problem of Dol Guldur.

[American Revolution]

1735 => With the Battle of Azanulbizar (also known as the Battle of the Mines of Moria), the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs ends; death of Azog.

1729 => The War of the Dwarves and the Orcs begins.

[Collapse of the Safavid Empire]

1706 => Smaug comes to Erebor and destroys both City of Dale and the Kingdom of Erebor.

1695 => Saruman is given the keys of Orthanc and takes up residence there.

1682 => Birth of Thorin II Oakenshield. [T.A. 2746]

[Jamestown established in Virginia]

[Battle of Lepanto]

1526 => Thror becomes King under the Mountain in Erebor; his brother Gror becomes Lord of the Iron Hills.

[Conquest of the New World begins]

[Rise of the Safavid Empire]

[Fall of Constantinople]

1399 => The Council of the Wise (White Council) is formed. A fisherman named Deagol rediscovers the One Ring, and is murdered for it by Smeagol, who becomes Gollum.

[Rise of the Mongol Empire]

[Crusades Begin]

[Battle of Manzikert]

[Norman Conquest]

986  => The Witch King kills King Earnur of Gondor, ending the line of the Kings of Gondor. Mardil Voronwe becomes the first Ruling Steward of Gondor [T.A. 2050]

938 => The Nazgul capture Minas Ithil and it becomes Minas Morgul; Minas Anor is renamed Minas Tirith.

935 => The Kingdom of Erebor is founded and the Arkenstone is discovered.

[Unification of England]

926 => Durin's Bane wakes in Moria and King Durin IV is killed; the Dwarves begin to flee Moria.

921 => The Host of the West is formed, as King Earnur of Gondor, Cirdan of Lindon, and the remaining forces of Arnor; the Witch Kingdom of Angmar is destroyed; due to the sudden arrival of a force from Rivendell led by Glorfindel, the Witch King is forced to flee.

920 => The Witch King takes Fornost and destroys the Kingdom of Arnor.

[Rise of the Carlovingian Empire]

[Aethelwealh Becomes First Christian King of Sussex]

[Aethelberht Becomes First King of Kent]

[Traditional Date for Wehha Becoming First King of East Anglia]

[Traditional Date for Creoda Becoming First King of Mercia]

537 => The Shire is founded. [T.A. 1601 = S.R. 1]

[Aescwine Becomes First King of Essex]

[Cerdic Becomes First King of Wessex]

[Age of Justinian]

236 => The Witch King founds the Kingdom of Angmar.


[Birth of Christ]

[Rise of the Roman Empire]

64 => (approximately) The Wizards (Istari) arrive in Middle Earth.

[Punic Wars][End of Zhou Dynasty]

[Rise of the Parthian Empire]

[Rise of the Macedonian Empire]

[Peloponnesian War]

[Persian War]

[Rise of the Persian Empire; Collapse of the Babylonian Empire]

[Collapse of the Assyrian Empire; Rise of the Babylonian Empire]

[Traditional Beginning of the Imperial House of Japan]

823 => Arwen is born [T.A. 241]

[Rise of the Assyrian Empire]

1062 => Disaster of the Gladden Fields; the Death of Isildur; the One Ring is lost.


1065 => Gil-Galad and Elendil are slain; the Last Alliance defeats Sauron. Isildur takes the Ring. The end of the SECOND AGE.

[Beginning of Zhou Dynasty]

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Beda Venerabilis

 Today is the feast of St. Beda, also known as the Venerable Bede, Doctor of the Church. 

 The Pelagians were unwilling to believe that the whole mass of the human race was corrupted and condemned in one man. It is the grace of Christ alone that cures and frees from this corruption and condemnation. For why will the righteous be saved with difficulty? Is it a labor for God to set free the righteous? Far from it. But to show that [our] nature was rightly condemned the Omnipotent himself does not wish to set [us] free easily from so great an evil, because sins are easy to slip into and righteousness is strenuous, except for those who love; but charity, which makes them lovers, is of God. 

 [Bede, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles, Cistercian Press (Kalamazoo, MI: 1985), p. 113.He is commenting on 1 Peter 4:18.]

Friday, May 24, 2024

Dashed Off XII

 In light of God, human existence is known to be intelligible and lovable, and an expression of wisdom and goodness.

forms of final causation
(1) final cause exists objectively and nothing more
(2) final cause exists objectively and achieves real existence (is attained)
(3) final cause exists really as exemplar and therefore objectively

'Thou shalt not steal' is traditionally translated by Jewish rabbis as 'Thou shalt not kidnap'.

Measurement is always a directional difference from zero.

"To be a man is to be responsible. To be a man is to respond to what is said to man." Barth (CD 3.2)
"The true good of man awaits him only when he is courageous enough to commend and entreat himself to the opinion and judgment of God."

Love of neighbor includes love of Christ, who is preeminently our neighbor.

As a system of signs, Scripture requires a community for its existence.

freedom as a power of giving

"The laws of nature are the rules according to which the effects are produced; but there must be a cause which operates according to these rules." Thomas Reid

Reid argues that efficient causes must have will and understanding, but in general his arguments would only establish that if there are efficient causes, there must be somewhere in connection relevant efficient causes, with will and understanding.

Hobbe's time argument for the causal principle should be read as saying that without causes we cannot completely imagine situations. Hume reads it as about things; but Hobbes very clearly frames it as about trying to imagine the things. Hume takes it to be arguing that the denial of the causal principle is absurd; but Hobbes states it so as to argue that, try as we might, imagining the corresponding situation is impossible. Hume, in fact, assumes (and does not provide any non-question-begging argument) that it is possible.

Everything that is to be considered as a whole must have a reason why it is to be considered as a whole.

The 'maximal' usually used to characterize possible worlds seems to involve two things:
(1) Everything relevant is a term.
(2) Everything logically implies is listed.

Every active contingent has at least one end set by some agent other than itself.

formed & unformed conscience // formed & unformed reason

vegetarianisms by taste, by faith, by habit, and by hygiene

(1) The Paraclete shines forth and is manifest eternally through the Son, as light through the Son's rays.
(2) The Trinity as manifested eternally cannot be a different Trinity from the real Trinity.

(1) The Holy Spirit is bestowed, given, and sent to us from the Son.
(2) The Trinity as manifested in the missions cannot be a different Trinity from the real Trinity.

Being eternally the Spirit of the Son, the Holy Spirit eternally reveals the Son.

"Because the idea of universal being constitutes the *light* of reason, the moral law is expressed fairly well in the formula, 'Follow reason'. But it would be more accurate to say, 'In all that you do, follow the *light* of reason.'" Rosmini
"...infinity is the fundamental principle of dignity."

"omnes creaturae nihil aliud sunt quam realis quaedam expressio et repraesentatio eorum quae in conceptiones divini verbi comprehenditur." Aquinas SCG 4.42

internal word -> spirit of love -> breath -> external word

Sotah 30b-31a suggests a reading of Ps 68:26-27 as about the Jewish children in the womb ('the source') at the miracle of crossing the sea.

Isaiah 33:5-6 -- The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with judgment (mishpat) and vindication (sedeqah). And He will be the steadfastness (emunat) of your times, the wealth of salvations (yeshuot) of wisdom (hokemat) and knowledge (da'at). The fear of the Lord is His treasury.

the gifts of the poor (tractate Pe'ah)
(1) pe'ah (corner) -- portion left standing (Lv 19:9, 23:22)
(2) leket (gleanings) -- grain that fell in reaping or gathering (Lv 19:9, 23:22)
(3) shich'chah (forgotten sheaves) -- sheaves forgotten or overlooked in move to threshing floor (Dt. 24:19)
(4) olelot -- immature clusters of grapes (Lv 19:10, Dt 24:21)
(5) peret -- grapes that fell in the plucking (Lv 19:10)
(6) ma'aserani (pauper's tithe) -- tithe for the poor in the third and sixth years of the sabbatical cycle (Dt. 14:28-29, Dt. 21:12-13)

Every mother is Mother Nature for her child.

A moral cause of x is a cause of it by rational imputation.

The advising cause is an efficient cause in that it acts in that which acts to produce an effect.

"A presence of God in the creature, analogous to the presence of the artist in the work of art, is visible and sensible in the religious act." Scheler

the experience of relative alterity (remotion), of relative nihilation (eminence), or relative dependence (causation)

Scheler takes negative theology to be essentially phenomenological.

the emotive import of doctrine, while not the most central element, as part of what binds doctrine to doctrine (this is easiest to see with Marian doctrines; the motive import provides the suggestive sphere within which the doctrines are found, 'Mother of God' being the key fount, and formulation of other doctrines being *partly* constrained by how true or false they are to the emotive import of the doctrine of the Theotokos)

A sharp dualism between religion as experience and religion as transcendent is not possible.

Bracketing the existence of the external world, we discover in the phenomena the existence of the external world. It is absurd to think that because one brackets existence, truth, etc., at the start of an inquiry that the inquiry must be distorted by refusing ever to recognize existence or truth as directly or indirectly manifested by the phenomena in which one inquires.

common levels in evaluating evidence
(1) the evidence seems to have these interrelations
(2) the evidence seems as if p
(3) the evidence pushes toward q
(4) the evidence requires r
--> Not stages, because they overlap and intertwine at every point.

Christian philosophy, i.e., metaphysics (and derivative fields) seen in light of sacred doctrine, is hierophanic.

It is difficult for prayer to be purely selfish; even impetration for material assistance is often asking for assistance to benefit others as well as oneself, or asking specifically for it to be from God. The closest thing to a prayer definitely selfish is that of the Pharisee in the parable: it asks nothing because it is smug and complacent, and acknowledges God only insofar as He had the good sense and good taste to benefit oneself. The one who begs at least sees beyond himself.

Large portions of Hinduism, particularly the Rigvedic deities, seem to arise by regarding parts of rituals as having tutelary power and so as divine. The entire visvedevas is as it were a heavenly manual of sacrificial ritual.

power, wisdom, and goodness as three modalities of the holy

architecture as the functionalization of space

The mark of the virtue of friendliness is doing good to another without requiring begging and without expecting reward.

three elements of community: lived intentionality, expressive symbolism, regulative organization

"The creation of God, and therefore His positing of a reality distinct from Himself, is the external basiss and possibility of the covenant. And the covenant itself is the internal basis and possibility of creation, and therefore of the existence of a reality distinct from God." Barth
"Every supposed humanity which is not radically and from the very first fellow-humanity is inhumanity."
"Those who try to fight the Gospel always make caricatures, and they are then forced to fight the caricatures."
"In its basic form humanity is fellow-humanity."
"In the Christian Church we have no option but to interpret humanity as fellow-humanity."

Proto-Indo-Iranian: *Hr̥tás, probably from Proto-Indo-European *h₂r̥-tós, meaning roughly 'properly put together', 'well ordered'; --> ṛta (Vedas = truth, as what moves things fittingly) and aṣ̌a (Avesta = truth as what is established)
three aspects of ṛta (Sharma, "Varna and Jati in Traditional Indian Persepctive")-- gati (change), samghatna (system), niyati (ordering).
dharma as cooperation with ṛta; karma as extension of ṛta
sátya is in a sense the Vedic form or expression of ṛta, as haithya is the quasi-adjectival form of aṣ̌a
In the Avesta, fire is regarded as at least a symbol of, and probably an expression of aṣ̌a.

Everything that is considered a part must have a reason why it is considered a part.

Much of the phenomenology of reading is in reality an exploration of the affordances and affinities of the world for ritual practices.

the sacredness of covenants in Yasht 10

While polytheists usually can distinguish the idol and the god, it is common in popular practice among many cultures to treat the possession of the idol as giving an indirect power over the god.

The course of history has repeatedly seen states taking over powers that originally were the prerogatives of the gods and their priests.

medicamentum (medicor), ornamentum (orno), pigmentum (pingo), monumentum (moneo), detrimentum (detero)

Exodus 29:37 -- The altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy.

That which is consecrated is destroyed in one mode that it may be brought within a particular templum of God.

covenantal act : jural :: consecrated act : sacral

"There are three dimensions to the mind in relation to the concept of existence: wajib (necessary), mumkin (possible), and mumtani (impossible)." Suhrawardi
"Cause is that through which the existence of something becomes necessary."

Christ as microcosm

There is a limit to our ability to be certain about both the precise outcome of a single experiment and its representativeness of other experiments. The more precise the relevant outcome, the more we need the ensemble to assess its representativeness. On the other side, the more representative an experiment is, the more easily we run up against a limit to how precise the outcome can be while still being representative.

"We must do what the gods did in the beginning." Satapath Brahmana
"This the gods did, thus men do." Tattiriya Brahmana

Every text reveals the true and the good well and badly.

the testability of the test (a key element in replication) -- related to the ensemble of experiments

modality and the difference of the same

An experiment is a potentiality with a boundary such that a change can be measured, thus providing information (allowing good inferences) about moving causes (sources of change), and laws (that to which the change tends).

Every virtue has a phenomenology of the world with respect to that virtue.

"Men who are given to defining too much inevitably run themselves into confusion in dealing with the vague concepts of common sense." Peirce

"The phenomena that *show themselves* to one person need not necessarily show themselves to another." Fernando Molina

"Every sign *by itself* seems dead. *What* gives it life? -- In use it is *alive*." Wittgenstein

If your theology, gathered all together, has a sameyness, it is not a theology adequate to Christian life, nor a theology developed from Scritpure, because neither Christian life nor Scripture could be accused of exhibiting any general kind of sameyness.

"In all the arts that minister to rational pleasure, variety is studied, that the mind may be refreshed with a succession of novelty." Beattie

-- Beattie takes our sense of the sublime to be an anticipation of our ultimate felicity; and also tpromote our moral improvement by increasing our disgust with vice and interest in virtue.
-- Gilpin perhaps gets his characterization of beauty as 'smooth' from Beattie (either directly or indirectly) -- see Eleemtns 1.1.9 (sect 181)
-- Beattie on tenderheartedness toward animals (Elements 1.2.5, sect 316)
-- Beattie's Elements 2.1 draws heavily from Butler.
-- Beattie gives a natural desire argument for immortality (sect 460) and also a consensus gentium argument (section 461-462).

three kinds of moral anti-realism: noncognitivism, error theory, nonobjectivism (subjectivism)

I. realism (Some moral facts are objectively true.)
-- -- A. naturalism (objectively true as 'natural facts')
-- -- B. non-naturalism (objectively true in a distinctive way from 'natural facts')
II. anti-realism
-- -- A. noncognitivism (not true or false)
-- -- B. error theory (always false)
-- -- C. subjectivism (true in some sense but not objectively)

NB -- according to Beatties 26 Oct 1769 letter to Sir William Forbes, Beattie gave the draft of the Essay on Truth to Campbell and Gerard, asking them especially to look for any possible misrepresentation.

Beattie to Mrs Montagu (21 April 1773) gives a traditionary argument based on language.

Harre, Causal Powers, p. 45 gives an argument one also finds in Lady Mary Shepherd versus the Humean theory (see also p. 52ff.).

Measurement is always of a thing (the measured) by a thing (the means of measurement) to a thing (what registers the measurement).

causal power --> potential at a place --> ordered structures of local potentials relative to causal powers --> field --> wave --> particle

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Two New Poem Drafts

 Numa Pompilius

In cool woods he walks with the goddess
as fountains spring forth from her feet
to water the hills and their gardens
with clarity up-leaping and sweet;

beneath the black poplars in courting
they drank from the splendor of love,
not foolish or vicious or carnal
but fitting to heaven above.

The numina in blessing all nodded;
the omens were propitious in name;
the fulgural rites were down-noted
and augural offerings the same.

The Muses all crowned him with laurels
and through him the City they blessed,
but he, though of each Muse a lover,
the Silent One loved far the best,

and she in her turn graces showered,
for in silence all order is born,
whether music or poem or shaping
or the law even gods do not scorn.

Thus he poured forth a river of wisdom
as rust ate the spear and the sword,
and the trumpets of terror and weeping
were replaced by the reasonable word.

Oh, where in this wide world of mayhem
does Egeria walk in the wood?
And where is the dark tumult martial
replaced by the tacitmost good?

And where is the king who builds bridges,
the priest who gives union with God?
And who quiets the clamor of battle
where Numa Pompilius trod?


As though my thoughts were swimming in a pool,
afloat, a-dream, in still refreshment cool,
I lose all time; eternity is flowing down
like gentle waters covering foot and crown.
My body is a breeze, a glimpse of light,
an insubstantial thing, like white on white,
and as I think of worlds and greater still,
I feel the breezes play upon this verdant hill,
and breathe the fresh of spring and see its green,
and on eternity and solid stone relax and lean.