Saturday, February 11, 2006


* Abbé Suger and a Medieval Theory of Light at "Philolog". Suger is always fascinating; I did a short post on him some time ago, with useful links.

* "The Little Professor" has some great links on Victorian spirit photography.

* Alejandro at "Reality Conditions" reviews Nagel's The Last Word. I'll probably be posting something on it in the next few days; I agree with the basic point of the review, but I think, for example, that Nagel can be defended from the charge that he is inflating his result to get the 'Platonic-Cartesian' theory of reason. Indeed, I think that one of Nagel's successful suppositions is that it really doesn't take much to push one to the point of holding such a theory of reason -- it's the opposing, empiricist theory of reason that is a stretch. So I'll be discussing that at some point.

* Sharon points out this beginning-level medieval Latin tutorial. Also, see Experience Latin with Fr. Reginald Foster.

* Tomorrow is the birthday-anniversary of Charles Darwin, who would be 197. It's also Lincoln's birthday, Cotton Mather's birthday, and the anniversary of the deaths of Lady Jane Grey, Immanuel Kant, and Richard Dedekind; and it is the anniversary of the founding of Georgia. I mention it in case any of you bloggers lack things to talk about tomorrow....

* UPDATE: There's an interesting post on The Jews in John's Gospel at "Better Bible Blogs". I discussed this issue from a more purely literary side some time ago. The first key to translating well is to read well; which is a difficult thing to do, but necessary (as I think cases like this show).

UPDATE 2: In the comments Clark asks about Greek tutorials. Some possibilities that look promising:

Ancient Greek Tutorials
Little Greek 101: Learning New Testament Greek (incomplete, but what's there looks good)

Square Meme

I was tagged by Silversmith. Alas, it turns out I am dull, dull, dull:

Four jobs I've had

I've taught (four classes). But other than that, some grading, and some volunteer program coordinating, I've been pretty much jobless.

Four DVDs I keep watching

I don't really watch many DVDs -- on my own I don't have a DVD player, and when I'm with friends or family who do they always have cable or satellite as well.

Four places I wish I had lived

Hmmm. I'll have to get back to you on this one.

Four TV shows I watch

Battlestar Galactica, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate SG-1, Gilmore Girls

Yes, you read that correctly. Other candidates are: The Simpsons, Grounded for Life, and, occasionally, House.

Four places I've traveled

Boston, Massachusetts
Morelia, Mexico
Oxford, England
Pheonix, Arizona

Four websites I visit daily

Almost any four from my blogroll would count.

Four foods I love

Roast beef with Yorkshire pudding
Deep-fried turkey

Four early musical influences

Kenny Loggins
The Oak Ridge Boys
Johnny Paycheck

I remember that when I was a very, very young boy I used to go around singing "Elvira" and "Take This Job and Shove It". Indeed, they are the earliest memories I have of singing anything.

The Trinity and Consistency

There is an interesting discussion at Prosblogion about whether the doctrine of the Trinity is inconsistent. In particular, the question is whether there is a consistent way of accepting the following heptad:

1. The Father is God.
2. The Son is God.
3. The Holy Spirit is God.
4. The Father is not the Son.
5. The Father is not the Holy Spirit.
6. The Son is not the Holy Spirit.
7. There is exactly one God.

In the comments I put forward my (among philosophers) idiosyncratic view that this problem was entirely solved by the Church Fathers, and given especially lucid treatment by Basil and by Gregory of Nyssa:

To see this, think of Gregory of Nyssa's "On Not Three Gods". Gregory takes the standard (eespecially Eastern) view that while the metaphysics of the Trinity is unique, the logic of it is entirely ordinary. For, says Gregory, take three human beings. The 'is God' in (1)-(3) are usually understood as meaning 'has a divine nature'. Thus we get the parallel:

(1a) Peter has a human nature.
(2a) Paul has a human nature.
(3a) John has a human nature.

Now, Peter, Paul, and John are different people, so:

(4a) Peter is not Paul.
(5a) Paul is not John.
(6a) Peter is not John.

And says, Gregory, this is also true:

(7a) There is exactly one nature that is human nature.

For, Gregory points, out, this follows if you hold (as he does) that everything that is human shares (in whatever metaphysical way you prefer) one human nature.

Now, we know that (1a)-(7a) are not logically inconsistent. (Even if you think Gregory is stretching on (7a), it's not obvious that he's making a logical error.) The difference in the two cases, Gregory insists, is not logical, but metaphysical. The difference between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit on the one hand, and Peter, Paul, and John on the other, is just that they are related to their natures in a different way: Whereas human beings share a human nature by (as it were) dividing it up materially, the Persons of the Trinity share it by way of the traditional Trinitarian processions.

There are additional questions that might be raised, particularly about whether the parallel to (7a) (There is exactly one nature that is divine nature) is an adequate translation of (7). Gregory deals with such questions (indeed, "To Ablabius, on Not Three Gods" is primarily devoted to exactly these questions), but I thought the above was enough for a comment.

I've dealt briefly with this issue a long time ago. Perhaps this discussion will allow me to update my discussion then by helping me to get more clear about other people's objections and questions.

UPDATE: Added (7) to the heptad.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Fig and the Olive

In Treatise 1.4.5, Hume presents an argument for the following claim:

N An object may exist but be nowhere

In support of this Hume claims that our sense of place or locality is rooted entirely in our senses of sight and touch; other senses convey a sense of place only by association with these. In light of this he argues (T.

1. Whatever has a place must either be extended or be a mathematical point.
2. Whatever is extended has a figure or shape.
3. A desire has no figure or shape
4. Mathematical points can be combined and disposed so as to form a volume.
5. A desire is not so disposable.
6. Therefore a desire has no place.

So, despite the apparently counterintuitive nature of N (which was explicitly denied by Samuel Clarke in his correspondence with Leibniz), Hume says of it that "this is not only possible, but...the greatest part of beings do and must exist after this manner" (T We can say that an object is nowhere when its parts are not so related to each other as to form a figure or volume, and the whole is not related to other things so as to be distant or contiguous. Hume puts all our perceptions in this category (with the exception of those of sight and touch, which he thinks are extended). Indeed, not only are most of our perceptions (and their objects) nowhere, they are such that they could not possibly be in a place. If this is so, however, most of our perceptions (and their objects) cannot be 'locally conjoined' to matter, i.e., they cannot be united to matter in a place, because any relation requires that both be similar enough to serve as the ground of relation.

But we do often try to attribute local conjunction to the things Hume says can't be locally conjoined to anything. Suppose, says Hume, that we have a fig at one end of a table and an olive at the other end. We are naturally inclined to say that the taste of the fig is at the fig's end of the table, and the taste of the olive is at the other end. Hume thinks that the reason we do this is mere prejudice: we associate the fig's taste with the fig, knowing that the fig-body can cause a fig-taste to follow it in time. Since the fig-body and the fig-taste are related by causation and temporal succession, we assume that they are also related by local conjunction. Indeed, Hume's view is that this is almost impossible to avoid: when we are faced with an incomplete union the imagination has a natural tendency to fill in whatever relation is necessary to make the union complete; only then can we be satisfied. On reflection, Hume thinks, we would recognize that the result we've arrived at is clearly unintelligible and incoherent. For where in the fig-body is the taste located? There is no extended thing or set of points within the fig that constitute the fig-taste; therefore the locality we give the fig-taste is that of the fig-body and every part of it. In other words, we assume that the fig-taste is located in the whole fig-body, and located wholly in every part of the fig-body (totum in toto et totum in qualibet parte, as the scholastics would say). Hume thinks that this is an obvious contradiction: it is equivalent to saying that the fig-taste is both in a place and not there at the same time.

So, Hume argues, we are faced with a trilemma. Either

(a) some beings exist without any place;


(b) all beings (including things like desires and passions) are extended and figured;


(c) some things are so incorporated with extended objects that they are wholly in the whole and wholly in every part.

Since Hume has argued against (b) and (c), the only option left is (a), which is equivalent to N.

Such is only one of the more interesting and unusual arguments in Treatise 1.4.5, which is universally recognized by Hume scholars as one of the most bizarre and difficult to interpret sections of Hume's entire corpus.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Ovid's Metamorphoses (Baucis and Philemon)

Both obeyed,
and leaning on their staves toiled up the steep.
Not farther from the summit than the flight
of one swift arrow from a hunter's how,
they paused to view their little home once more;
and as they turned their eyes, they saw the fields
around their own engulfed in a morass,
although their own remained,--and while they wept
bewailing the sad fate of many friends,
and wondered at the change, they saw their home,
so old and little for their simple need--
put on new splendor, and as it increased
it changed into a temple of the gods.
Where first the frame was fashioned of rude stakes
columns of marble glistened, and the thatch
gleamed golden in the sun, and legends carved,
adorned the doors. And al] the ground shone white
with marble rich, and after this was done,
the Son of Saturn said with gentle voice,
'Now tell us, good old man and you his wife,
worthy and faithful, what is your desire?'

The Hospitality of Abraham (Genesis 18):

The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant."

The Odyssey (Book I)

Minerva answered, "Do not try to keep me, for I would be on my way at once. As for any present you may be disposed to make me, keep it till I come again, and I will take it home with me. You shall give me a very good one, and I will give you one of no less value in return."
With these words she flew away like a bird into the air, but she had given Telemachus courage, and had made him think more than ever about his father. He felt the change, wondered at it, and knew that the stranger had been a god, so he went straight to where the suitors were sitting.

The Sin of Sodom

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom:
She and her daughters were arrogant,
overfed and unconcerned;
they did not help the poor and needy.

Ezekiel 16:49

My Secret Identity is Uncovered

You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Notes and Links

* Universal Truths and the Question of Religion: An Interview with Alain Bourdieu at The Journal of Philosophy and Scripture (HT: wood_s lot). For a discussion of the work that is being discussed in the interview, see Jared Woodard's Faith, Hope, and Love in the same issue.

* Problems for Dogmatism (PDF; HT: Think Tonk). I've already said my (idiosyncratic) piece on this sort of problem several times (I don't think 'degree of confidence' is or should be linked to conditional probabilities, I don't think BIV questions are relevant to whether I have hands or not, I don't think something can be considered justified simply because it is what you would expect on a given supposition, we are justified in denying BIV, I think Berkeley is essentially right in his critique of skeptical scenarios like these, I accept both the Buridanian and the Thomistic (PDF) responses to skeptical scenarios in general, etc.). I'll just say further that we can only have fake hands if we have hand-seeming things that aren't able to do handed things; if our hand-seeming things are able to do handed things, then it follows that we have real hands -- new hands, perhaps, but not fake ones. Something can be fake only if something could possibly give it away as fake (fakeness is like deception in this way, so Austin's comments about deception in Sense and Sensibilia apply). Further, any account of justification of one's belief that one has hands has to take into account all the relevant experiences (what Hume calls "the coherence of our perceptions" T White notices this briefly, but I think if it is taken seriously it becomes difficult to find skeptical scenarios we can make much sense of.

* At Ars Disputandi Andrew Bailey has a paper called Thomas's Lesser Way: A Critique (PDF; HT: Matthew Mullins). I don't think the paper manages to be a critique of Aquinas's argument, or at least not a complete one; in great part because Aquinas doesn't define, and couldn't have defined, contingency, necessity, true per se, true per accidens, etc., in terms of possible worlds, so the principles would have to be justified as sufficiently equivalent to what Aquinas actually says. (I am not, for instance, convinced of interpretations that attribute P6 to Aquinas, for instance; contingency and necessity in Aquinas, whatever they might be, are not understood in terms of the entire manifold of possible worlds, but in terms of something discernible in their role in this actual world.) But it is, certainly, a good paper, with plenty of food for thought.

* The first edition of the Progressive Faith Carnival is up at CrossLeft.

* Apparently February 12 has been designated "Evolution Sunday" by about 412 congregations of various denominations from all over the U.S. You can find out more about it at The Clergy Letter Project. (HT: GetReligion)

* At "Faith and Theology" there's a supplementary ten to the original essential twenty paintings for theologians.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Muslim Question

What worries me most about things like the recent Danish cartoon controversy is that they lump the whole of Islamic civilization under one Muslim Question, somewhat like all of Jewry was once lumped under the Jewish Question -- and we know how well that turned out. The two are not exactly analogous. For instance, Muslims are not, and never will be, as vulnerable as Jews were and in some places still are. But the two are often similar: suspicion of Muslims as a whole, refusal to believe that Muslims can really participate in Western civilization, doubts about whether Muslims can be loyal Americans or Frenchmen or what-have-you, fear-mongering about how much Muslims control, etc. It's not healthy, in any way, and it is bound to make things horrible at some point. God save us from that.

Evil and the Grotesque in Mieville

"Scribblingwoman" has a post up discussing Mieville's Iron Council, with some discussion of Perdido Street Station (as is inevitable in treating of Mieville's later New Crobuzon works). It was interesting to read, in part because I have such very different reactions to Mieville's work.

She asks (of PSS) "And, are not male readers also uncomfortable with Lin's fate?" I don't know about others, but I confess that I am not at all. I often empathize fairly strongly with characters; but I have no sense of why people find Lin's state at the end of the book particularly disturbing. I find her beginnings, as they are unfolded in the book to be a fate much more uncomfortable and sad. My own view is that Mieville failed completely in his attempt not to aestheticize Lin's fate; I think it's a general problem with Mieville's work that he can't avoid romanticizing suffering and pain as a form of heroism in the face of the grotesque. Grotesquerie, in fact, generally replaces real tragedy. We don't get a Balin. (In Le Morte D'Arthur, Balin performs the apparently insignificant act of drawing a sword. From that moment on, he is doomed, no matter what he does, as inevitability, ignorance, and immoderation turn his every attempt to extricate himself, no matter how noble, into a means for greater suffering, pain, and destruction.) It's difficult even to imagine a Balin in Mieville's world. There is no genuine tragedy there; the closest it gets is the grotesqueness built into the system, a grotesqueness that assimilates everything, manifesting itself in physical and mental and even political form. This can be fairly gritty and uncomfortable, but it is much weaker sense of evil and suffering than one can get in a real tragedy, because it is evil only under the sign of ugliness. All evil is aestheticized in such a world. It is the foundation for the ambivalence that surrounds New Crobuzon throughout the novels: twisted, misshapen, packed to the brim with suffering, but something for which one can still have (as the characters often have) a sort of affection. This is not entirely a criticism of Mieville; he has a powerful talent for grotesquerie; but we shouldn't try to make it into something it is not. To return to Lin: my own view is that, as events were set up, she was lucky, for things might have been much, much worse. At the end of the book she is broken (she has been mentally assimilated by the grotesquerie, in a brutal fashion), but she is left alive and insulated from the evil that has been done to her. The problem again is that Mieville can't avoid romanticizing senseless suffering and pain into a form of grotesque art. It may repulse but the repulsiveness is born of art, not nature; it is an aesthetic repulsion in the face of an ugliness, not a sympathetic repulsion (who can sympathize with someone raped, mutilated, and mentally destroyed, particularly when they'd had a life like Lin's?). There isn't even much done in the story to encourage moral repulsion.

She also asks, "Why can we accept evil overlords but not an evil bourgeoisie? Orcs can suck the marrow from hobbits' bones, but a Mayor of a large city can't pop out people's eyes?" Which is fair enough as a response to some criticisms of Mieville (as I suggested above, I don't think Mieville's world actually has anything in the way of real moral evil); but I think it's also clear that blatantly evil overlords and monsters are much more plausible than evil bourgeoisie, from the very fact that real bourgeois evil is characterized by vicious banality. (Hannah Arendt) Portraying it any other way is an obscuring of the real way bourgeois evil works. A genuinely bourgeois villain would be much more like Austen's Lady Susan or Eliot's Tito than like Orcs or Sauron; more like Eichmann than like Hitler. I think something of the same can be said for evil under the aspect of the grotesque; but Mieville can be more easily defended on this ground, since bourgeois evil can be portrayed as grotesque, if done correctly.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Jyllandsposten Controversy

I haven't said much about the Danish cartoon controversy. In one sense it doesn't strike me as an interesting issue: I would have thought that anyone who actually took the trouble to look up the cartoons, as I did, would see at once that there is nothing particularly anti-religious about them. Several of them are clearly racist, feeding on stereotypes about Islamic civilization, and I find it puzzling that so many people are defending what is, in fact, nothing other than a hostile European xenophobia. I find it sickening that so many people are using the label 'freedom of speech' as a way of proudly supporting racist attacks on an entire civilization. I don't think setting fire to embassies is quite constructive; but I don't think violent civil-rights uprisings or peasant riots are generally constructive, either. I think, as well, that such things are failures to attain to the level of moral action to which we are all called. I still can understand them, and I'm not convinced that those who engage in such acts are really more culpable than those who occasioned them, or even than those who condoned those who occasioned them. Wrongs are not righted by wrongs; but we must not let the more noticeable case distract us from recognizing that it is occasioned by something that is also wrong.

The most powerful commentary on this whole chain of events, I think, has been from Muslims; and I wish that people wouldn't talk about this sort of thing without making a serious attempt to see this matter from the Muslim point of view. My recommendations for blog-reading on the subject:

Sunni Sister has a very good post about a very common form of bigotry (I had noted briefly an example of this in discussing Daniel Dennett's odd essay in CHE recently):

My feeling is that by now, people who are really interested in knowing what the regular Mozzies of the mainstream think about terror have figured it out, and only those who are interested in stoking the flames of hate still say, "Why don’t they condemn terrorism?" every time a Muslim dares to raise his or her head. Because anyone with access to a television, newspaper, or the internet can take a moment or two to find out that Muslim community leaders, including those of our big organizations, spend a great deal of time telling the press that we’re against violence, terror, etc. everytime some Muslim somewhere does something wrong. It’s getting to the point where some guy named Abdullah mugs an old lady, and someone’s going to call the masjid and ask for the imam’s response, and some right wing nutter’s going to blog a post asking, "Why haven’t all the Muslims condemned this mugging?"
(HT: Dervish)

Abu Sinan has a few very brief posts on the issue that are worth reading: here, here, and here.

Qadeeb al-Ban at Mere Islam has a set of links to try to help others see why some Muslims are so angry over this matter. See also the post, An Idiot's Guide to Offensive Cartoons.

Sister Aishah's Islamic Journey discusses the lessons of the story behind the Prayer of Taif in light of current events.

In addition, see Bookish on the subject (HT: Akram's Razor). (Unfortunately there's a pop-up from something on the page.)

[UPDATE: This defense of the cartoons at the Washington Post seems to me to miss the point entirely; it would be irrational, for instance, to commission cartoons using Shylock stereotypes and blood libel to test how afraid the media is of Jews; it doesn't become more rational when similar stereotypes and calumnies are applied to Muslims. It also, like a number of others in this controversy, fails to remember what 'freedom of press' and 'free speech' actually mean, namely, freedom from government coercion. They are not what is primarily at stake here; what is primarily at stake here is bigotry that casts aspersions with a broad brush.]

Malebranche against Spontaneous Generation

THÉOTIME. It is necessary, Theodore, that I tell you about an experiment I made [une expérience que j'ai faite]. One day in summer I took a large piece of meat that I enclosed in a bottle, and I covered it with a bit of gauze. I noted that various flies came to lay their eggs or larvae on this gauze, and that when they hatched they ate the gauze and fell onto the meat, which they devoured in a short time. But as that smelled too bad, I threw it all out.

THÉODORE. That is how flies come from putrefaction. They put their larvae on the meat and hurriedly fly away. These larvae eat and the flesh putrefies. After those larvae have eaten well, they enclose themselves in their cocoons and leave them as flies; and because of this common men believe insects come from putrefaction.

THÉOTIME. What you say is certain. For many times I have enclosed flesh in a hermetically sealed bottle where no flies have been, and I have never found larvae there.

ARISTE. But how then can it be that one finds very large ones in all sorts of fruits?

THÉODORE. One finds them large, but they entered the fruits small. Search well, you will discover on the skin either a small hole or its scar. But let us not dwell, I pray you, on the proofs that people give that there are animals that come from putrefaction. For these are proofs so weak that they do not merit any reply. One finds mice in a newly constructed vessel, or in a place where there were none. Therefore, it must be that this animal has been engendered from some putrefaction. As if these animals were prevented from seeking out their needs at night, from moving on planks and and on the ropes onto small boats and from there onto the large ships, or as if one could construct vessels elsewhere than on the shore. I am unable to comprehend how such a great number of people of good sense have been able to enter into such a blatant and palpable error on similar reasons. For what is there that is more incomprehensible than an animal being formed naturally out of a little putrified meat? It is infinitely easier to conceive of a bit of rusty iron being changed into a perfectly good watch; for there are infinitely more parts of greater delicacy in a mouse than in the most complex clock.

Nicolas Malebranche, Dialogues on Metaphysics and on Religion (1688), XI.viii. This is about 20 years after Redi's experiment against spontaneous generation, of which Theotimus describes a simple version; this convinced most people who were aware of it that larger animals like flies and mice did not arise spontaneously. Due to the discovery of microbes (by way of the microscope) it was still common for people to hold that microbes spontaneously generated; but, given Malebranche's view of all life as extremely complex machinery, he would hold that the same reasoning applies to microbes that applies to flies and mice. It took Pasteur, however, to provide (or finish providing, since he built on previous work) solid experimental evidence that microbes were not spontaneously generated in things like spoiled broth.

[As a side note, in case I have any readers who are interested in this sort of thing, Tara Smith of the weblog Aetiology is starting a new blog carnival, Animalcules, devoted to microbes. (HT: Science and Politics)]

Monday, February 06, 2006

Examples of Per Impossibile Reasoning

Looking for good examples of per impossibile reasoning that don't involve God, I found this one at Bill Vallicella's old Maverick Philosopher blog site:

A perpetual motion machine is nomologically impossible. Yet if, per impossibile, one were to exist, it would have to be a physical object.

This is a useful example for looking at how reasoning per impossibile works, since it is clear and not controversial. The conjunction of 'A perpetual motion machine exists' and 'A perpetual motion machine is nomologically impossible' is a contradiction. Despite this we can (one might say) overlook the contradiction and say, without supposing any difference in the laws of the universe (which would be a messy and complicated thing to do, given how much reasoning would be required in order to be consistent about it), that if a perpetual motion machine were to exist, it would have to be a physical object. It follows simply from its being a motion machine of any sort that it would have to be a physical object.

Another example, from Vomit the Lukewarm:

If, per impossibile, I existed by essence or definition, then I could never cease existing, for definitions are always true.

The point here, of course, is that to exist by essence or definition is to exist, simply speaking; even if we assume an impossible case of existing by essence or definition, to make sense of it qua case of existing by essence or definition, we have to treat it as a case in which the thing supposed to exist simply exists, end of story.

I think that my suggestions for an account of reasoning per impossibile apply to examples like these quite well.

Lincoln on the Preservation of Liberty

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not the reliance against the resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, every where.

Quoted here as a selection from a speech at Edwardsville, Illinois, 11 September 1858.

Links and Notes

* The early modern Carnivalesque is up. The posts on astronomy in Calvin and Aquinas, self-portraiture, and leeks and onions in early modern philosophy were especially interesting. As can be seen from the passage in Malebranche, it's an important example for him; he is very clear that he is getting it from the story in Numbers. However, unlike the others, Malebranche never suggests that the Egyptians worshipped leeks and onions; his focus is on the Israelites, whose sin was not that they literally worshipped leeks and onions but that they gave leeks and onions priority over God.

* The second Biblical Studies Carnival is also up.

* Loren Rosson III has finished up his series on Lewis's Perelandra: Prologue, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Epilogue.

* Lee at verbum ipsum points to this review of Nagel's The Last Word.

* I keep forgetting to link to Clayton's interesting discussion of Steward's analysis of 'could have done otherwise'.

* Bono's homily at the National Prayer Breakfast,(HT: GetReligion). It was interesting to note that he has a Thomistic understanding of almsgiving:

And finally, it’s not about charity after all, is it? It’s about justice.

Let me repeat that: It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.

And that’s too bad.

Because you’re good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can’t afford it.

But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment.

* Father Jim has a homily on Job.

[UPDATE: Jimmy Akin has a series discussing various interpretive approaches to Genesis 1, which he has put into a single post. I think I'll be putting up a post soon on evening and morning knowledge, which is a curious Augustinian variant of the Revelatory Day interpretation, one that has had a long and distinguished theological history.]

[UPDATE 2: An interesting discussion of the notion of 'existential import' (HT: Beyond Necessity).]

As you might have noticed, I'm making some minor changes to the template -- reorganizing a bit, sorting out the blogroll and adding a few people I haven't gotten around to adding yet, etc. This will probably be occurring over the next several weeks, bit by bit.

Betty Friedan

As you may know, Betty Friedan died Saturday. Some of the blogosphere's notable posts on her are found at the following weblogs:

Hugo Schwyzer
Random Ravings (good set of links)
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Echidne of the Snakes
UPDATE: nomadicfusion
UPDATE 2: Another good one at Echidne of the Snakes

If you know of any others that were particularly interesting, let me know and I'll put them up.

My suspicion is that at some point within the next few decades Friedan, who at present is still regarded as something of an out-of-date dinosaur, even by feminists who appreciate the work she did with The Feminist Mystique, will be seen, even by those who disagree with her overall view, as what she really was: namely, the most politically savvy feminist of her generation, who saw that the real key to lasting feminist change in the United States was in transforming for the better the lives of the large number of women who are too often dismissed by feminists (as Friedan herself often was, due to her focus on them) as "bourgeois." On its own such a focus was no doubt incomplete; but I think it was more savvy than it is usually conceded to be, and a more complete focus needs to be precisely that -- more, not less. But time is what will really tell. As Hugo Schwyzer notes, it's interesting to compare and contrast her with another great feminist who recently died, Andrea Dworkin. Between the two of them they have a lot to tell us about the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary feminism.