Saturday, August 01, 2009

Links and Notes

* History Carnival LXXIX is up at "History Today News"; it's a small one, but well done.

* John Cottingham has a review of Susan Neiman's Moral Clarity: From Job to the Enlightenment. I don't think, by the way, that it's quite right to say that Kant's categorical imperative is "a mere injunction or 'imperative', which we ourselves decide to issue". There is no decision about it; Kant seems to me to be very clear that the categorical imperative is the overarching structure of practical reason itself. In trying to specify this structure in words, we use various kinds of analogies; each different kind of analogy leads to one of the formulations of the categorical imperative (and here again, I think Kant is very clear that all the formulations are just ways of trying to say the same thing, the categorical imperative itself, the fountainhead of all practical reason, the foundation that makes practical reasoning itself possible). And I would argue that on this basis we should distinguish a genuinely Kantian autonomy from the many imitations that it has spawned.

* "Logismoi" has a post on St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain

* The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, which studies and preserves the ancient Christian catacombs of Italy, has a page on the catacombs.

* Ben Rogers on Pascal's Pensées at "philosophy bites"

* The one extant audio recording of Virginia Woolf.

* New York City tapwater, bottled and in the store -- and apparently better than most bottled water. Rather amusing, but, of course, New York State has an unusually high-quality water supply. And most bottled water is tapwater, anyway.

* A good post by Megan McArdle on the obesity problem in America, and the problem with trying to solve it:

I don't have to like something to recognize that I don't know how to fix it. And I don't know how to fix this. Moreover, I don't think anyone else knows how to fix it either. They think it should be fixed, and that this ardent and well-meant desire somehow translates into the ability to do so, if only the rest of America will join them in really getting serious about the problem. In my experience as a pundit with a jaundiced view of the likely success of any given government program, every single problem in America, including obesity, can be directly traced to our national frivolity. If only we'd get really serious, we could fix anything and everything.

* An interesting dispute about Lincoln:

Sean Wilentz, Who Lincoln Was
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Disputations: The Lost Lincoln
Fred Kaplan, Disputations: The Lost Lincoln
Michael Kazin, Disputations: The Lost Lincoln
John Stauffer, Disputations: The Lost Lincoln
Sean Wilentz, Disputations: The Lost Lincoln

Actually, it's primarily good for showing how academics can have ridiculous egos; but, for all that, many interesting things come up.

* Sherry's Hundred Hymns list continues:

#52 Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
#51 Of the Father's Love Begotten
#50 Because He Lives
#49 Alleluia, Sing to Jesus
#48 Abide with Me

* For those readers who liked my 'philosophical sentences' posts: There are several coming along. But they're very difficult to write, much more than you might think, so they'll be coming out very slowly here and there, especially since I'll be busy this August re-working my courses for Fall semester. These are the ones I've done so far:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (Santayana)
If God did not exist, one would have to invent Him. (Voltaire)
The heart has its reasons whereof reason knows nothing. (Pascal)


* Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, by Nellie Bly. Seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds, to be exact. Bly was a pioneer journalist, one of the journalistic greats of the late nineteenth century. Her second most famous feat was her undercover report of the Blackwell's Island lunatic asylum, which she describes in Ten Days in a Mad-House.

* The fourteenth Carnival of Evolution is up at "Quintessence of Dust"

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