Friday, October 22, 2004

Readworthy

1. Augustine on the Incarnation at "Maverick Philosopher," on Augustine's use of the linguistic analogy for the Incarnation in On Christian Teaching. Augustine uses it several times in On the Trinity, as well. Vallicella notes several of the disanalogies in the analogy. I'm inclined to think that Augustine wasn't putting the analogy forward as an argument for the coherence of the Incarnation, or a proof of its possibility; but this leaves us with the question of what he is doing. I think it could be argued that in part he is usually looking at just one element or aspect of the doctrine of the Incarnation. This is certainly the case whenever he gives an analogy for the Trinity, where he is always very careful to insist on the disanalogies, and is simply heading off certain types of objections or impediments to belief - e.g., someone who would disbelieve the doctrine of Trinity simply because things cannot be both three and one is overlooking that some things are both three and one. Augustine insists that this does not mean that these other things that are both three and one are exactly like the Trinity; rather, they just show that "things cannot be both three and one" is a bad objection to the Trinity. I'd have to go back and look at how Augustine uses the linguistic analogy; but I know that Greeks like Damascene occasionally use it to head off objections that Incarnation somehow involves a diminution or reduction of God. I suspect one reason he uses it is that he is already using the interior word analogy for the doctrine of the Trinity; and, whatever its imperfections, it does involve some sort of embodiment of the interior word.

Beyond this, I'm not sure Augustine's analogies are intended to be anything more than a rough first-attempt to help people get started on knowing what is not yet known. For instance, if someone were to come across the sentence, "The Word was made flesh" and were to ask, "What in the world could that even mean?", an analogy like the linguistic analogy might help clarify at least some aspects of the meaning of the sentence, without committing anyone to the claim that the Incarnation is a special case of the phenomenon of speech. (Indeed, going into the disanalogies as well as the analogies would clarify the meaning even more.)

An interesting and thought-provoking post.

2. A post on Theism at "AnalPhilosopher"; I don't agree with it all (in part because I do know people who have come to believe God exists because of cosmological arguments, and people who have come to be atheists because of the problem of evil; I also don't think it's necessary for a belief's being rationally grounded that it originally come about because of the arguments - but this actually makes me agree with Burgess-Jackson's conclusion even more), but it's interesting to get an atheist's perspective on the matter.

3. An Odd Ode by Thomas Gray at "Flos Carmeli"

4. A post on the last convicted witch in England at "Early Modern Notes"

5. Pictures from Burnet's Telluris Theoria Sacra at "Giornale Nuovo".

6. A description of Baghdad's current state by Hala Fattah at "Cliopatria"

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