Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Various, Including Providential History

* If the recent long posts are a bit fatiguing, I apologize; April was a busy month and a number of things I wanted to do had to be put off to the side. There will be more to common, but (I hope) not all in one lump.

* I have to do some re-working of the paper on Malebranche's mind-body union that I'll be giving later this month, so posting will probably be light until Saturday or Sunday. I'm pretty sure that I'll be doing a post on Hume's Natural History of Religion, though; I've been wanting to do it since Chris was discussing cognitive science work on religion in December, and I think I'll probably submit it to Carnivalesque, since I've intended to submit and haven't done so.

* Which reminds me: For Carnivalesque (the early modern carnival), don't forget to turn in your submissions to Nathanael Robinson at rhineriverATearthlinkDOTnet (replace AT with @ and DOT with .). For the Philosophers' Carnival put in your submission at the link.

* Jonathan Dresner has an excellent post on providential history at Cliopatria. I'm not sure I quite follow his point in the last paragraph about logical tautology, but it's well worth reading. I don't think I have a firm grasp on the whole dispute, but I think I'm pretty much in agreement with it. I consider providential history (or some equivalent) to be a necessary and important part of how we approach history; but there's a sense in which it is not history at all, but a higher-order philosophical and theological reflection on history. It needs to be sharply distinguished from the historical work itself, which should be more or less the same in all cases. It's the higher-order interpretations, necessary not so much for historical work as it is for what we decide to learn from it, that are really at issue. And I think this is true from the providential history end as well as from the historical end. For, in the end, I hold to an Old Testament view of providential history: a good providential history never papers over the endless tale of human failings and folly. What makes a providential history different from mere propaganda is that it gives us an idea of how providence deals with us as we are and have been, not with some idealization of ourselves. And that generally requires good, standard historical work to begin with. (I like the analysis in section I, as well).

* Clark links to this paper on Levinas and the Talmud.

* At "Majikthise," Lindsay discusses What's wrong with relativism (the discussion in the comments section is long, but worth reading as well).

* At "Maverick Philosopher," Bill Vallicella posts his paper responding to Quentin Smith on the questio of whether the universe could cause itself to exist.

* Rebecca is collecting the Words We Love. One word I love is syzygy. The opportunity to use it doesn't come up much. I once wrote a nonsense poem consisting of words I enjoy hearing; it was called "A Syzygy of Caribou".

* misteraitch at "Giornale Nuovo" presents us with Michelangelo's Dream.

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