Sunday, December 10, 2023

Rosmini on Causes and Happenings (Re-Post)

 A re-post from 2014.

'Every happening has a cause that produces it.' This proposition means exactly the same as the following: 'It is impossible for our intelligence to think a happening without thinking a cause that produced it.' To show that 'a happening without a cause cannot be thought', we must show that 'the concept of a happening without a cause involves contradiction.' Once this is demonstrated, we will have deduced the principle of cause from the principle of contradiction.

The demonstration is as follows: to say 'What does not exist, acts' is a contradiction. But a happening without a cause means 'What does not exist, acts.' Therefore a happening without a cause is a contradiction. The proofs follow.
As regards the major: to conceive mentally an action (a change) without an ens, is to conceive without conceiving, which is a contradiction. Indeed, the principle of knowledge states: 'The object of thought is ens'; therefore without an ens, we cannot mentally conceive. To conceive an action without conceiving an ens that performs the action, is to conceive without conceiving. Therefore to apply the action to something that does not exist is a contradiction in terms, which was to be proved.

As regards the minor: a happening is an action (a change). If this action has no cause, it is conceived by itself, without belonging to an ens; there is then an action without ens or, which is the same, what does not exist, acts. Thus the minor is proved (cf. 350-352).

Antonio Rosmini, New Essay Concerning the Origin of Ideas, Volume 2, Part III, Chapter 2. To put the argument in another format:

Major: 'Something that does not exist, acts' is a contradiction.
(1) What is conceived is conceived as a being.
(2) An action conceived without being conceived as a being acting, is not conceived as a being.
(3) Therefore, an action conceived without being conceived as a being acting is a contradiction.

Minor: A happening without a cause entails that something that does not exist, acts.
(1) A happening is an action.
(2) An action conceived without a cause is not conceived as a being that acts.
(3) Therefore, a happening conceived without a cause is not conceived as a being that acts.

The section references to 350-352 is from Rosmini's criticism of Kant in Volume 1. There Rosmini argues that 'what happens' conceptually includes the notion of 'cause', and thus the judgment is analytic and not, as Kant would have it, synthetic. As he puts it:

The following, therefore, is the sequence of our conceptions:

1. We conceive coming into existence, a concept which includes that of change.
2. The concept of change contains that of new operation.
3. The concept of new operation contains that of prior existence.
4. The concept of prior existence contains that of cause.

Conclusion: A happening without a cause is a contradiction.

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Night-wandering Vapors Rise Formless and Chill

 December Sonnet
by Paul Hamilton Hayne

Round the December heights the clouds are gray --
Gray, and wind-driven toward the stormy west.
They fly, like phantoms of malign unrest,
To fade in sombre distances away.
A flickering brightness o'er the wreck of day,
Twilight, like some sad maiden, grief-oppressed,
Broods wanly on the farthest mountain-crest;
All nature breathes of darkness and decay.
Now from the low meadow land and drowsy stream,
From deep recesses of the silent vale,
Night-wandering vapors rise formless and chill,
When, lo! o'er shrouded wood and shadowy hill,
I mark the eve's victorious planet beam,
Fair as an angel clad in silver mail!

Friday, December 08, 2023

Music on My Mind


the_miracle_aligner, "Running Up That Hill (Bardcore)". The language on this translated cover of Kate Bush's song is quite interesting; it's in many ways recognizable as a sort of Middle English, which is more or less Anglo-Saxon that had interacted with a lot of Old Norse in the Danelaw area of Britain, but it doesn't yet have much of the Normanized English in it that Chaucer's does, and thus is definitely farther from us than Chaucer is. The translator apparently used Orm as his primary model, which puts it in the twelfth century, compared to Chaucer's fourteenth century. (I suspect Orm was used because Orm invented a phonetic spelling system, and therefore the Ormulum gives a fairly accessible understanding of how the language was actually pronounced.)

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Links of Note

 * Scott Smith, A Misidentified Dogma -- Misadventures in Peer Review, at "Reduced Culpability"

* John Simpson reviews Michael Wood's In the Footsteps of Du Fu, at "The Guardian"

* Liva Rotkale, Species and Genus as Mutual Parts in Aristotle: A Hylomorphic Account (PDF)

* David Bryce Yaden and Derek Anderson, The psychology of philosophy: Associating philosophical views with psychological traits in professional philosophers

* Robert Zaretsky, Thought Experimenters, reviews Wolfram Eilenberger's The Visionaries, at "The American Scholar". As more than a few people have noted about the book, Arendt, Beauvoir, Rand, and Weil are are weird selection to lump together; literally the only thing they have in common is being women in about the 1930s and 40s.

* Serge Grigoriev, History Will Judge: Hume's General Point of View in Historical Moral Judgment (PDF)

* Vivan Mizrahi, The Nature of Timbre

* Edward Feser, Science, metaphysics, and the everyday world, at "The Catholic World Report"

* David Friedell, Creating abstract objects (PDF)

* Seth Mandel, A Truly Terrible Idea on Campus Anti-Semitism, at "Commentary"

* Paul Nedelisky, Nothing Personal, on Derek Parfit, at "The Hedgehog Review"

* Fernando Martins Mendonça, The Dialectical Syllogism in Aristotle's Topics (PDF)

* At, Gary Greenberg has some really lovely microscope photography

* Ruxandra Teslo, Misinformation studies as "Scientific" thought control, at "Ruxandra's Substack"

* Jeremy Page & Elisabeth Schellekans Dammann, Respect, Responsibility and Ruins (PDF)

* Steve Tibble, Have Sword Will Travel: The Templars as Military Consultants, at ""

* Douglas A. Anderson, Raymond Chandler's Fantasies, at "Wormwordiana"

* Elliot Polsky, The Real Distinction Between Posit and Nature in Angels in Thomas Aquinas (PDF)

* Jonathan Egid, Forging philosophy, on pseudonymity in philosophy, at ""

* Lyman Stone attempts to calculate the approximate population of Middle Earth, using the standard methods of demographic historians:
How Many Hobbits? A Demographic Analysis of Middle Earth
How Many Hobbits? Middle Earth Population by People Group

* Michelle Liu, How to Think About Zeugmatic Oddness (PDF)

* Pew Research has an interesting report on Spirituality among Americans.

* Nicholas Clairmont, Warm Planet, Cool Heads, reviews Mike Hulme's Climate Change Isn't Everything, at "The New Atlantis"

* Stewart Duncan, Morality and Relations Before Hume (PDF)

* Ben Caplan, E. E. Constance Jones on Existence in a Region of Supposition

Aurelius Ambrosius

 Today is the feast of St. Ambrose of Milan, Doctor of the Church. From his On the Holy Spirit (Book I, ch. 3):

If the Son is above all, through Whom our salvation received its commencement, so that it might be preached, certainly God the Father also, Who testifies and gives confirmation concerning our salvation by signs and wonders, is excepted from all. In like manner the Spirit, Who bears witness to our salvation by His diversities of gifts, is not to be numbered with the crowd of creatures, but to be reckoned with the Father and the Son; Who, when He divides, is not Himself divided by cutting off Himself, for being indivisible He loses nothing when He gives to all, as also the Son, when the Father receives the kingdom,  loses nothing, nor does the Father, when He gives that which is His to the Son, suffer loss. We know, then, by the testimony of the Son that there is no loss in the division of spiritual grace; for He Who breathes where He wills is everywhere free from loss.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Moral Personality

 Clubs, societies, towns, guilds, unions, associations, churches, firms and nations - all have, in varying degrees, a moral personality in the eyes of those who deal with them. They have will, agency, responsibility, life and reason, and, as for their flesh and blood, we ourselves provide it. They are the objects of interpersonal attitudes - of love, hatred, admiration, contempt, affection, anger, gratitude, resentment, even of grief. To admit such facts is not to engage in outrageous metaphysics. It is simply to notice the world as it is.

[Roger Scruton, "Rechtsgefühl and the Rule of Law" (PDF).]

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

From the Invisible Chariot-Wheels of God

 The Galaxy
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

 Torrent of light and river of the air,
Along whose bed the glimmering stars are seen
Like gold and silver sands in some ravine
Where mountain streams have left their channels bare!
The Spaniard sees in thee the pathway, where
His patron saint descended in the sheen
Of his celestial armor, on serene
And quiet nights, when all the heavens were fair.
Not this I see, nor yet the ancient fable
Of Phaeton’s wild course, that scorched the skies
Where’er the hoofs of his hot coursers trod;
But the white drift of worlds o’er chasms of sable,
The star-dust, that is whirled aloft and flies
From the invisible chariot-wheels of God.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Yūḥana ibn Manṣūr ibn Sarjūn

 Today is the feast of St. John of Damascus, Doctor of the Church, a Christian Arab saint from the seventh century. From the De Fide (Book III, Ch. XII):

Moreover we proclaim the holy Virgin to be in strict truth the Mother of God. For inasmuch as He who was born of her was true God, she who bare the true God incarnate is the true mother of God. For we hold that God was born of her, not implying that the divinity of the Word received from her the beginning of its being, but meaning that God the Word Himself, Who was begotten of the Father timelessly before the ages, and was with the Father and the Spirit without beginning and through eternity, took up His abode in these last days for the sake of our salvation in the Virgin's womb, and was without change made flesh and born of her. For the holy Virgin did not bear mere man but true God: and not mere God but God incarnate, Who did not bring down His body from Heaven, nor simply passed through the Virgin as channel, but received from her flesh of like essence to our own and subsisting in Himself. For if the body had come down from heaven and had not partaken of our nature, what would have been the use of His becoming man? For the purpose of God the Word becoming man was that the very same nature, which had sinned and fallen and become corrupted, should triumph over the deceiving tyrant and so be freed from corruption, just as the divine apostle puts it, For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. If the first is true the second must also be true.