Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Plans of Burnaby (Repost)

(The following is a repost, slightly revised, from 2006.)

For some time it had been known that Frances Reynolds, the sister of Sir Joshua Reynolds and a correspondent of the great Samuel Johnson, had printed as a pamphlet in 250 copies, an essay on taste. Very little was known of it, however. It seemed to be quoted by James Northcote in his early nineteenth-century Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds, but none of the quotations ever seemed very helpful; and people began to suspect that either Northcote was mistaken about the source (i.e., mistakenly thought the text he was quoting was by Reynolds) or he was quoting an early draft that may have been very different from the one actually printed. (It turned out they were right.)

In the meantime, scholars were trying to hunt down another, and even more mysterious, work of Reynolds's, which she had sent to Johnson for comments. Johnson had responded (8 April 1782) kindly but critically. The letter everyone had access to was that printed by Croker and later by Hill:

Your work is full of very penetrating meditation, and very forcible sentiment. I read it with a full perception of the sublime, with wonder and terrour, but I cannot think of any profit from it; it seems not born to be popular.

Your system of the mental fabric is exceedingly obscure, and without more attention than will be willingly bestowed, is unintelligible. The plans of Burnaby will be more easily understood, and are often charming. I was delighted with the different beauty of different ages.

I would make it produce something if I could but I have indeed no hope. If a Bookseller would buy it at all, as it must be published without a name, he would give nothing for it worth your acceptance.

High and low scholars looked for this otherwise unknown novel or short story about the plans of Burnaby. It never came to light.

Which is not surprising, as there was no Burnaby. Johnson's actual letter never said anything about the plans of Burnaby; it was a faulty transcription. The actual letter had, instead of 'The plans of Burnaby', 'The Ideas of Beauty'. The Burnaby story was really the essay on taste!

In any case, having more information in hand it was possible to identify the work. You can read it, and, in the introduction, James Clifford's account of the history of the work, at Project Gutenberg. It strikes me as a nice little parable for all scholars everywhere. Every discipline has its own versions of the plans of Burnaby, whether on a small scale or a grand one -- that stunning little piece of evidence that sends you on a wild goose chase because it is, unbeknownst to you, all wrong. Beware the plans of Burnaby!

Comradeship with Imperfection

We should be churlish creatures if we could have no joy in our fellow-mortals' joy, unless it were in agreement with our theory of righteous distribution and our highest ideal of human good: what sour corners our mouths would get--our eyes, what frozen glances! and all the while our own possessions and desires would not exactly adjust themselves to our ideal. We must have some comradeship with imperfection; and it is, happily, possible to feel gratitude even where we discern a mistake that may have been injurious, the vehicle of the mistake being an affectionate intention prosecuted through a life-time of kindly offices.

George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, Chapter 59

Friday, September 18, 2009

On an Argument about Atheistic Naturalism

I am somewhat puzzled by a recent post by Barry Arrington at "Uncommon Descent," which I came across through John Pieret's Thoughts in a Haystack. It lays out something like this argument:

(1) Atheistic naturalism is true. (assumption)
(2) One can’t infer an "ought" from an "is." (assumption)
(3) All that is is the natural world, and the natural world is all there is. (from 1)
(4) There is nothing in the natural world from which we can infer an "ought." (from 2 and 3)
(5) For any action, there is nothing from which one can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action. (from 4 and 3)
(6) For any action, it is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action. (assumption)
(7) For any action, it’s permissible to perform that action. (from 5 and 6)

No one should actually accept (2) in an unqualified form; the original Humean reasons for the maxim don't justify an unqualified form, and neither, I think, do open question arguments; whereas there is excellent reason to think that an unqualified version of it should be rejected. But one can reasonably set this aside; (2) is widely accepted, and there are probably quite a few people who would indeed take it in an unrestricted way, not having thought the matter through. I still have two puzzles about this argument.

Puzzle 1: I can see no plausible reading of (1), or even (3), that makes it impossible for "the natural world" to include some fairly straightforward oughts, even if they are taken as primitives. For instance, most atheistic naturalists, I take it, would accept the view that there are obvious conditional oughts identifying optimal strategies for dealing with various problems: If you want to survive, you ought to do this; you ought to do that in order to minimize the possibility of harm to yourself and your kin. If each of these is taken as an 'is', then the argument really amounts to a reductio ad absurdum of (2), since each would then be an 'is' from which 'oughts' can obviously be inferred (If you want to eat ice cream, you ought to go to the ice cream shop; you want to eat ice cream; therefore you ought to go to the ice cream shop.) You've proven that atheistic naturalists (and, indeed, everyone else) should not accept (2), which is not obviously required by atheistic naturalism itself. If you take the other option and classify each of them as an 'ought', though, then there seems no reason why atheistic naturalism would rule all oughts out as part of the natural world. But if atheistic naturalism doesn't rule them out, then all the argument says is that you can't infer what you ought to refrain from doing from that part of the natural world that is classified under 'is'; it still leaves entirely open inferring it from that part of the natural world that is classified under 'ought'. The atheistic naturalist would escape through the loophole.

Puzzle 2: Suppose, however, you were to rework the argument so as to clarify Puzzle 1. There is still another puzzle. (5) and (6) don't give you (7). What they do give you is this:

(7') For any action, you are not obligated not to perform that action (i.e., it is permissible to perform it) if the obligation not to perform that action can only be reached by inferring it from something else.

That is, there is an additional assumption required to get to (7), that the only way you could get any ought (or at least an obligation not to do something) is by inferring it from something else. But mixing this hidden assumption with (2) means that there are no oughts unless there is an infinite regress of them. But if to get any ought we could only get it by inferring it from some other ought, that seems as much as to say we can't get any 'oughts' at all: it is to say that you have no oughts unless you infer them all from an infinite series of oughts, inferred from other oughts, that you already know. And this seems an odd position for anyone to accept, because it seems clearly contrary to the way we reason about oughts. The same two escapes seem to arise from this puzzle as arose from the other: the atheistic naturalist could then take the argument as a proof that he should not accept (2), or the atheistic naturalist could escape through the loophole by taking some ought as primitive, either because it is intuitively recognized or because it is constructed. And while one might raise problems with this loophole, they are problems far removed from anything touched on by this argument.

I think it should be recognized that there is a certain cleverness to the argument; one finds clearly stupid arguments on all sides of this dispute, and I don't think this particular one can be regarded as one of them. Its points of failure could easily be missed by just about anyone who wasn't thinking through the argument point by point. But it does fail to do what it is supposed to do, and, what is more, the failures seem to be fatal: there seems to be no way to revise this particular argument in order to avoid them. Even at its best it could not do what it is supposed to do; all it could show is that either the atheistic naturalist should reject (2) in any unqualified form, or that he should admit that there are oughts in the natural world, or that he should reject that all oughts must be inferred. But there are already good reasons for taking the first option; there are already possible candidates for reasons why one might take the second option; and there is at least one good reason for taking the third option if (2) is still accepted, to wit, that combined with (2) it already requires us to say there are no oughts at all, withough even bringing atheistic naturalism into the picture.

And that third point is what especially seems to deal the devastating blow to the viability of this particular line of argument: if the argument were accepted, the principles of the argument would seem to make (7) true for any possible position. It's true that the argument raises a problem severe enough that, if its steps are taken all to be in order, we should reject one of the premises; but rejecting the first premise won't solve the problem. The bleak conclusions can't be blamed on (1) in particular, even if (1) is false.

Linking to Linker's Post on Post

I recently came across Joe Linker's interesting weblog, The Coming of the Toads, and enjoyed reading his post on Emily Post:

It becomes increasingly clear why Emily Post did not go into literary criticism. As George Bernard Shaw said, ”Those who can, do; those who can’t, study etiquette, or rhetoric, or grammar, or some such thing.” And Emily’s Etiquette is a work of fiction, and she is a stunning, literary star. Had she placed her cartoonish characters into any kind of plot, she could have been as good as P. G. Wodehouse.

Quite right; she has a knack for characterization that's very Wodehouse-like. It put me in mind of Dorothy Parker's inimitable review of Post's Etiquette. The review is hilariously funny, and what makes it work so well is not merely Parker's wide-eyed, faux-innocent irony, but also the fact that she plays it off Post's already droll characterizations, so that you are hit from one side with drollery and from the other side with biting sarcasm:

I am going in for a course of study at the knee of Mrs. Post. Maybe some time in the misty future, I shall be Asked Out, and I shall be ready. You won’t catch me being intentionally haughty to subordinates or refusing to be a pallbearer for any reason except serious ill health. I shall live down the old days, and with the help of Mrs. Post and God (always mention a lady’s name first) there will come a time when you will be perfectly safe in inviting me to your house, which should never be called a residence except in printing or engraving.

It will not be a grueling study, for the sprightliness of Mrs. Post’s style makes the textbook as fascinating as it is instructive. Her characters, introduced for the sake of example, are called by no such unimaginative titles as Mrs. A., or Miss Z., or Mr. X.; they are Mrs. Worldly, Mr. Bachelor, the Gildings, Mrs. Oldname, Mrs. Neighbor, Mrs. Stranger, Mrs. Kindhart, and Mr. and Mrs. Nono Better. This gives the work all the force and the application of a morality play.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bellarmine on the Civic Animal

Political rule is so natural and necessary to the human race that it cannot be withdrawn without destroying nature itself; for the nature of man is such that he is a social animal; for indeed brutes are so endowed by nature that each is sufficient to himself, but man needs so many things that he can in no way live alone. For brutes are born clothed and armed, and they have an instinct so determined toward all those things which are beneficial for them that by nature, without any teacher, they know at once how to build nests, to seek for food, and even to make medicine for themselves; but man is born without clothing, without a home, without food, lacking all necessities, and although he has hands, and reason, by which he can prepare all instruments, nevertheless each one needs a long time to develop, and so long that it is impossible for one man to be sufficient to himself for all necessities, especially since we are born unskilled, and the arts are learned rather by instruction than by experience; therefore it is necessary that we should live in society, and that one should aid the other.

Besides, even were each one sufficient to himself for the necessities of life, yet he would never, unaided, be able to protect himself from the attacks of wild beasts and robbers, but for this purpose it is necessary for men to assemble and to ward off attacks with their combined strength. And granted that one man might prevail against an enemy, yet he would always remain ignorant, and destitute of wisdom and of justice and of many other virtues, although, indeed, we are born for this very purpose, expressly to cultivate our mind and our will, for the arts and sciences were developed after a long time and by many men, and without a teacher they cannot be learned; it is impossible, moreover, to exercise justice except in society, since it is the virtue determining equity among many.

St. Roberto Bellarmino, De Laicis, Chapter 5

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Notes and Links

* From The Wild Hunt I see that there are signs of an SRA panic again. This sort of thing really can cause harms to a large number of groups that, because they are relatively small and either unknown or misunderstood, get treated as if they were somehow involved: practitioners of vodun, Wicca, Santeria. It will be important to keep an eye out for any stirrings of such a panic and stamp hard on any nonsense that floats about.

* David Dubin, The Most Influential Paper Gerard Salton Never Wrote. A mistake conflating two different papers, neither of which were on exactly the subject of the phantom paper, was carried forward by people copying the citation without going back to read the original work.

* Ben Goldacre discusses the not-always-rational dynamics of paper citation in Hit and Myth: Curse of the Ghostwriters at CiF.

* Electricity from trees. (ht) The amount is very, very tiny, so there's no way to use this for any major power generation, or even powering ordinary electronics. But it does mean that simple micro- and nano-scale environmental sensor electronics can be powered in forests without using batteries.

* A discussion of realism and feminist philosophy.

* Fascinating: Darwin's revisions across various editions of The Origin of Species.

* A new fragment of the Codex Sinaiticus has been discovered.

* An interesting post by Schwitzgebel on what he calls "confessional philosophy," whose purpose is to "display oneself as a model of a certain sort of thinking, while not necessarily endorsing that style of thinking or the conclusions that flow from it." He gives Augustine, Descartes, and Hume as examples. Descartes's Discourse seems to me to be set up much more completely as confessional than the Meditations; it's also here that it is most clearly seen that the confessional posture is, as Schwitzgebel suggests, a pose or posture; it is, so to speak, part of his sales tactic. Treatise 1.4.7 seems to me to be one of the most striking examples in modern history. But I think it's also very deliberately stylized in order to drive home the point of Treatise 1.4: reason proposes as it must, but nature disposes as it will. And that makes sense, I think: in confessional philosophy you aren't just randomly telling anecdotes; you are presenting the story as an occasion for reflecting on something very definite and specific.

Hume's "My Own Life" is arguably a more subtle example.


* The article on Minucius Felix in the IEP is really quite good. I've recommended Minucius's Octavius (his only surviving work) as a model philosophical dialogue before; beautiful stylistically (in some ways very Ciceronian), it is also very balanced in argument.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two Poem Re-Drafts and a New Poem Draft


Beyond the first awareness is the seed,
source untouched by any craving need,
spark forever steadfast in its light,
constant in reflection and in fight:
thinker is but thought, and doer deed.

Sacred text in hand, the lion waits;
teaching is the path through golden gates
reaching other realms and then
byssal depths of light beyond all ken.
One question given, answers dissipate.

Lion for reflection on the plains,
Free of deep delusion, in the rains
looks out on golden grasses and the sky;
golden eyes outlook all things that die.
Self once overcome, no self remains;
thoughts devoid of craving know no pain.


I sat upon the wayside, lost in thought
of longest years and great ideas and loves,
of hopes and hearts in darkness caught,
of mighty topics handled with kid gloves
by men who never think save on their meals,
by minds that know no truths but only feel,
who have never winding paths of Wisdom sought.

Through all my many days of glowering cloud --
the days are many, though the years be few --
of this I was most often proud,
that I knew and saw more than others do;
but minds are mirrors wavy and unwise,
prone to malice, mischievous with lies.
When I see the world, why trust my sight as true?

Or perhaps it is, but in a subtle way;
for many are the threads that God can spin
upon the loom of life, and in bright day
one pure white refracts through many men,
yet never less a white as it plays upon the face
of crystal planes, before it turns its race
to dazzle mind and eye with plural ray.

A rabbit stole the sun; it, fearless, rose
and snatched a piece away, a shattered shard
that broke into the stars that nightly glow.
Perhaps a god inspired the lonely bard
who told that tale, that we might come to see
that rays of light refract through you and me
to be caught again only by the pure of heart.

For truth, they say, is simple, one, and whole;
it stays as it ever stays, unbroken and most pure.
When the titan for our sake the glory stole,
it shattered, for only God could this endure
to wear as gem and dress; as flint on steel,
the sparks flew out to set our minds to reel,
the fire of the Logos lodged in earthen souls.

Yet as I sit upon the wayside here and think,
the fire always flickers; for what am I,
presuming from that Hippocrene to drink
which lacks its full effect until we die,
but a thief within the garden, stealing pears,
and plucking those great things as none should dare;
and what is this but an all-engulfing pride?

And yet--and yet the flame still mounts on high.
What the titan has unlocked none can return;
none who speak it can undo that question, "Why?"
And as the pitch once flamed must henceforth burn,
so must I, now heated, lit, and god-inspired,
be self-taught; for learning is desire
from the One. To the One it must return.


The rain outside washes down the summer heat
into puddles and streams that flood the city street,
leaving the air cool; and, with relief,
the trees stretch out in branch and leaf
to dance and play with misty wind
as with some long-forgotten friend.
As a thirsty man, once filled, washes hands and face,
so they wash, with pure and unpretentious grace,
and rub their hands together as if with glee.
So you, my Lord, my Savior, work in me
new rain, which to the swelter of the mind
brings cool; and, through this mist, of life remind
old images, long dried from this age's drought,
and raise them, and bring their gladness out.

Cicero on Conversation

Conversation, then, in which the Socratics are the best models, should have these qualities. It should be easy and not in the least dogmatic; it should have the spice of wit. And the one who engages in conversation should not debar others from participating in it, as if he were entering upon a private monopoly; but, as in other things, so in a general conversation he should think it not unfair for each to have his turn. He should observe, first and foremost, what the subject of conversation is. If it is grave, he should treat it with seriousness; if humorous, with wit. And above all, he should be on the watch that his conversation shall not betray some defect in his character. This is most likely to occur, when people in jest or in earnest take delight in making malicious and slanderous statements about the absent, on purpose to injure their reputations.

Cicero, De Officiis, XXXVII (134)

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Function of Book Blogging at the Present Time

"A Commonplace Blog" and "Anecdotal Evidence" have been hosting a symposium on bookblogging, which has been full of interesting ideas and insights.

Symposium Opening

Walter Aske of Elberry's Ghost
Nigel Beale of Nota Bene Books
Mark Athitakis of American Fiction Notes
Brad Bigelow of The Neglected Books Page
Miriam Burstein of The Little Professor
Michael Gilleland of Laudator Temporis Acti
Patrick Kurp of Anecdotal Evidence
James Marcus of House of Mirth
Ron Slate of On the Seawall
Levi Stahl of I've been reading lately
Benjamin Stein of Turmsegler
Terry Teachout of About Last Night
Frank Wilson of Books, Inq. -- The Epilogue
Summing Up

Every one makes for interesting reading. Thanks to Miriam for the kind words; it's always nice when someone whose opinion you respect thinks you are doing something right.

On the "nature of the beast" question that Myers discusses in the Summing Up post, I think that it partly helps to put the whole matter into perspective: this is hardly exclusive to blogging, because it's the beast in discourse itself. Discourse within particular domains, e.g., academic conferences or publication venues, involve conventions and restraints to limit its expression. To some extent blogging opens up previously protected domains to anyone who happens by, and lifts some of the sanctions and enforcements that limit those who are already there; it thus means that book blogging, and any other blogging, has to deal with the way discourse usually works in an arena where no one is policing or potentially looking over your shoulder in ways that could harm your career. Thus everyone has to deal with people whose idea of reasoning is to try to cram you forcefully into the little intellectual world of which they are the center; we all occasionally deal with commenters or fellow bloggers who apparently think it self-evident that we should be parroting their own views; and there are always people who have no conception of blogging as a medium for learning and self-teaching. For that matter, except where we've put in safeguards to prevent it, we probably all have our moments when we tend toward this ourselves; some people just do a better job at letting the moments pass. And so I think another way to look at the issue D. G. Myers raises is to ask, "How can discourse about literature advance in such an open and unprotected domain?" Putting the question that way, I think, is one way to see the attraction of his suggested answer, whether one agrees with it or not. It's a question, of course, that has to be raised by bloggers of other types, as well.

Le sève est du champagne

by Arthur Rimbaud
tr. by Wyatt Mason


No one's serious at seventeen.
--On beautiful nights when beer and lemonade
And loud, blinding cafés are the last thing you need
--You stroll beneath green lindens on the promenade.

Lindens smell fine on fine June nights!
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes;
The wind brings sounds--the town is near--
And carries scents of vineyards and beer. . .


--Over there, framed by a branch
You can see a little patch of dark blue
Stung by a sinister star that fades
With faint quiverings, so small and white. . .

June nights! Seventeen!--Drink it in.
Sap is champagne, it goes to your head. . .
The mind wanders, you feel a kiss
On your lips, quivering like a living thing. . .


The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels
--And when a young girl walks alluringly
Through a streetlamp's pale light, beneath the ominous shadow
Of her father's starched collar. . .

Because as she passes by, boot heels tapping,
She turns on a dime, eyes wide,
Finding you too sweet to resist. . .
--And cavatinas die on your lips.


You're in love. Off the market
till August.
You're in love.--Your sonnets make Her laugh.
Your friends are gone, you're bad news.
--Then, one night, your beloved, writes. . .!

That night. . .you return to the blinding cafés;
You order beer or lemonade. . .
--No one's serious at seventeen
When lindens line the promenade.

29 September 1870

The French title for this poem is Roman, which does, indeed, mean "Novel", but one inevitably feels that something is lost in the translation. In "The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels," 'Crusoes' should be read as verb: Rimbaud's verb is robinsonne. A looser, but better, way to capture the idea in English would be to verbalize Robinsonade: The crazy heart of a seventeen-year-old robinsonades through novels. As, indeed, the not-quite-so-crazy hearts of those older than seventeen sometimes do, too.

Paraconsistent Negation and Subcontrariety (Repost)

This is a repost, slightly revised, from January 2008.

With what is usually called classical negation, (p & ~p) 'explodes'; that is, combining a proposition with its negation implies everything (a principle that is also called ex contradictione quodlibet). Hartley Slater famously argued that paraconsistent negation, a form of negation for which this explosion does not happen, is really just a subcontrariety operator and therefore to be distinguished from the more robust negation in which (p & ~p) is a genuine contradiction. Slater uses this to argue that really there is no such thing as paraconsistent logic; others, Béziau comes to mind, have taken the same point to argue that even classical logic has paraconsistent elements. In any case, one response to Slater I've occasionally come across (in discussions, for instance) is to argue that there is no significant sense in which paraconsistent negation is subcontrariety, or that, at most, there is just a vague analogy between paraconsistent negation and subcontrariety. But it's easy enough to show that some paraconsistent negation really is nothing other than subcontrariety.

As I've noted before, it is possible to handle all of standard propositional logic in terms of categorical propositions if you make two assumptions:

(1) Propositions are terms;
(2) The universe of discourse is singleton.

As it turns out, it is (2) that makes negation function classically for this propositional logic. You can create a system where negation is paraconsistent if you reject (2) and add the following two assumptions to the list:

(2') The universe of discourse is plural;
(3') The default interpretation is particular.

Thus, 'p' is interpreted as +/D/+P (something in the domain is P); ~p is interpreted as +/D/-P (something in the domain is not P). With (2) universals can be inferred from particulars; which means that these two cannot both be false (as particulars) and cannot both be true (as implying universals), and therefore are contradictory. When we reject (2) however, the particulars no longer warrant inference to their universal counterparts; we no longer have a term logic of one individual. Thus (p & ~p) can be true with no ill effects; the negation is an opposition of quality between two particular propositions and therefore subcontrariety.

This is not, I think, the only possible way to get paraconsistent negation, so it does not show that Slater's argument applies to every such way of getting paraconsistent negation. I confess myself skeptical on this, in fact. But it is important to realize that

(a) this negation is paraconsistent;
(b) this negation is literally subcontrariety (albeit in a limit case of the logic), not merely analogous to it.

This point is related to another. I mentioned that Béziau and others have taken Slater's interesting comment about subcontrariety in another direction, arguing that you can have paraconsistent negations in classical logics. For instance, the not-necessary operator is read as paraconsistent, and its place on the modal square of opposition clearly shows it to be related to subcontrariety (see the PDF here, for example). Suppose we were to take the above categorical approach to propositional logic, the one that accepts (2'). This breaks from standard propositional logic and allows paraconsistent negation. But I haven't said much about how propositions should be interpreted in this approach, except to say that they are particular and in a non-singleton universe. Suppose we understood them in this way: the domain of discourse is possible worlds or, if you prefer, possible states of the world. Then the paraconsistent negation turns out to be nothing other than the modal version that others have suggested.

Very similar things could be said if you were looking for a paracomplete logic; paracompleteness bearing much the same relation to contrariety as paraconsistency to subcontrariety.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

William P. Alston (1921-2009)

William Alston died today, September 13, in Jamesville, NY from pancreatic cancer. Alston was well known in epistemology circles. Many of his works can be found online. Some notables:

Sellars and the "Myth of the Given"

Perception and Conception

What Is Naturalism, that We Should Be Mindful of It?

Two Cheers for Mystery!

I have very different philosophical presuppositions from Alston, but we are now the poorer for lacking him. Many prayers for him, his friends, and his family.

Hume on Reasoning from a Singular Experiment

'Tis certain, that not only in philosophy, but even in common life, we may attain the knowledge of a particular cause merely by one experiment, provided it be made with judgment, and after a careful removal of all foreign and superfluous circumstances. Now as after one experiment of this kind, the mind, upon the appearance either of the cause or the effect, can draw an inference concerning the existence of its correlative; and as a habit can never be acquir'd merely by one instance; it may be thought, that belief cannot in this case be esteem'd the effect of custom. But this difficulty will vanish, if we consider, that tho' we are here suppos'd to have had only one experiment of a particular effect, yet we have many millions to convince us of this principle; that like objects placed in like circumstances, will always produce like effects; and as this principle has established itself by a sufficient custom, it bestows an evidence and firmness on any opinion, to which it can be apply'd.

Treatise (SBN 104-105)

I've been recently searching for a topic for a paper on Hume and Shepherd; currently I'm leaning toward something on their views of the singular experiment. Unfortunately I'm not sure it can be done without going into some length about Thomas Brown's views on the subject -- I say 'unfortunately' not because Brown's views are uninteresting, but because I really would rather write about Hume and Shepherd themselves without any major detours, particularly since both of them are tangle enough on the question without adding more tangles. I think I can do it. But reasonable completeness of research requires that I compare them both to Brown, anyway, and papers have a way of not doing what you intend them to do.