Monday, December 12, 2011

Dashed Off

domain-specific principles of sufficient reason
->cf. Suarez: "we have a general rule that distinctions are not to be multiplied without sufficient reason (seeing that a distinction does not occur in anture without a sufficient cause or without necessity)."

Ezekiel's repair of the temple as figure of resurrection

acquired faith: opinion fortified by argument

(1) the infinite for-any-finite-a-greater
(2) the infinite greater-than-any-finite
(3) the infinite than-which-nothing-greater
->For each we may inquire whether it can be in potentia and whether it can be in actu
->in each case the potential is with respect to some power real or posited

negative indistance

reflection on the Passion a prayer for purity

The worst forms of despair disguise themselves as faith and hope, especially the former.

We should avoid both mortal sin and venial sin, but our reason for avoiding them is not the same: we avoid mortal sin so that we may love God and neighbor, and we avoid venial sin so that we may love them better, and not defectively.

Both Hobbes & Leibniz take conatus to be the impulse of motion considered pointwise -- in Leibniz's analogy conatus : motion :: point : space

analogy between reduplicative & material propositions (Leibniz)

Faith, being an infused virtue, has a twofold analysis, one human that concerns itself with motives of credibility and one divine that is spritiual discernment through divine illumination; and a twofold synthesis, one human that concerns itself with the beauty of the whole world and one divine that is intimacy with glory.

The divine side of faith is entirely on God's terms, not ours.

the perichoresis of virtues

We can only appropriate ideas of the Mysteries, never the Mysteris themselves; but they can appropriate us.

The vocation of a writer is to bear witness; and it is perhaps the very distinguishing mark of the good writer, as opposed to the bad, that the good writer bears witness to what is definitely something.

We learn our true worth through humility; and one thing we learn through humility is that the beatitude or happiness worth having is a very great thing.

People who see the world as it is but cannot give different priorities to what they see will inevitably become depressives.

Without prudence, conscience is mere abuse.

Mockery is answered by proof of rightnes,s proof of congruity, or proof of defensibility.

the world as an occasion of aspiration

A painting, like a text, is a composition of signs.

Impassibility is moral transcendence.

the link between the Ascension & the Headship of Christ

Ascension as anticipation of parousia (Acts 1:11)

Analysis of argument is fundamentally analysis of means and ends; formal structure becomes relevant insofar as it makes arguments suitable or unsuitable for their ends.

adapting belief revision models to argument revision (some are at least primitive versions of the latter already)

It is a mistake to confuse acting without a principle and acting in violation of it. People violate noncontradiction all the time; it is still the first principle of all reasoning, without which nothing makes sense....Just as it would be follish to assume that inconsistency, which is mere violation, means either that we are free from noncontradiction or that noncontradiction is not a norm of consistency,m, to too with bonum faciendum, mutatis mutandis.

If you are not wrong often, you are not thinking enough. (But being wrong often is rather different from being wrong always, or even being wrong about most things; both of these are dysfunctional in a way that being wrong often is not.)

In sexual life our bodies are rational signs of deeper things.

No one understands heroism who thinks it can be forced.

The Faith is not merely our fidelity but our confidelity.

Human beings are often at their best when humbly attempting great things and earnestly doing simple things well.

intense emotion concentrating itself into an image in which the subjective is expressible by the objective

images as seeds of civilization

evocative juxtaposition of images

In art as well as science even failures can be progress (for this is a feature of reason that learns).

Analytic philosophy of the more formal sort is like cubism in its focus on the abstract and inorganic structures of concrete and living forms; it is like impressionism in its more intuition-peddling sorts. This philosophical cubist impressionism has its place, but the museum of philosophical art, even the museum of modern philosophical art, is not chained to one such style. The same can be said of the philosophical tachisme of certain continental schools.

Bentham & Grote seem wrong in saying that pain has more various shapes than pleasures.

Sometimes useless information combines with other useless information to become useful information.

The philosopher has a responsibility to take even false and dubious positions seriously, to the extent that they raise points that may indeed need to be resolved.

computers as mathematical looms

Some contributions to a nation, or to humanity, are so great that ar eword or honor that can be confined to a lifetime is not adequate; this was one reason for heritable titles.

'Observation' as used in different scientific fields is an analogical term, not a univocal one. Observing double stars is not the same as observing bird song, and neither is the same as observing subatomic particles.

In at least some cases (e.g., solution of proportional equations) analogical reasoning is fully rigorous. So the question becomes: under what condtions are analogical inferences so rigorous?

It is true that truth does not contradict truth, but it is also true that the coherence of truth with truth may be subtle.

Reasonable gadflies and intelligent kooks have always performed inestimable services for the intellectual world.

We are beggars in the face of grace in exactlyt eh saem sense we are beggars before nature, and just as we must panhandle for air to breathe, we must panhandle for divine light. But these are all loose metaphors; they capture nothing but our dependence on things that do not depend on us.

Polytheism tends to monotheism by two routes: henotheism (this god is more deserving of my worship, at least, than other gods) and theomonism (all gods are in some way one).

To overcome suffering for what is right is greater by far than signs and wonders.

Bentham's methods of paraphrasis and archetypation are valuable if freed from Benthams complete incapacity to understand the human mind, and the inevitable self-parodying crudeness that results.

Paraphrasis naturally tends to abstraction, not concretion; where concreteness is increased there is generally implicit modification in which concrete things are treated as if they were themselves abstract (i.e., the paraphrasis is by figure of speech), or else information and meaning is definitely lost.

"To try wrong guesses is, with most persons, the only way to hit the right. The character of a true philosopher is, not that he never conjectures hazardously, but that his conjectures are clearly conceived, and brought into rigid contract with facts." Whewell

Because hypocrisy is chiefly a matter of motivation, and becaus ethe values and ideas the hypocrite chooses as whitewash are often genuinely good, we should not forget that the arguments & criticisms made by hypocrites can be right.

To make human beings means to the ends of technology rather than vice versa is inconsistent with human dignity and therefore with justice.

Sacrifice is associated with eating because the latter is assimilation.

As Christ's redemption comes under natural signs, so His body and blood under signs of bread and wine.

Some kinds of prayer, like exercise, require good form. (Hence Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope, Love, and so forth.)

the familial munus: to guard, reveal, and communicate love

Hope is the patriotism of Heaven.

the liturgical year as an oscillation of anticipations and remembrances

All is material, everything occasion, for grace.

loyalty to the virtuous as a group
-Foot's army of volunteers

the books of Daniel & Esther as models for hagiography

the eduction of anecdote and moral from story

Money in the broad sense is a system for comparing, prioritizing, and rationing in a broader system of exchange.

the conditions for self-sustaining intellectual networks

Pleasures without contexts corrupt.

All intellectual insults, however specific, approximate over time to synonymy with 'stupid', i.e., to indefinite and generalized denigration of intellectual & reasoning abilities. Since any intellectual criticism can be turned into insult simply by being used that way, critical vocabulary has a sort of natural tendency to degeneration and impoverishment.

We have in Scripture not one voice but a consonance of voices, and they do not sing all the same notes, but harmonize different notes in polyphonic song.

It is the grace of the young tnot to be terrified of the precipice on which they stand; we have all been there and we all barely noticed.

The aim of the poetic art is to make something to be wondered at.

logical time as measured in inference steps
- note significance of branches of argument (one branch to C can take longer than another branch to C, and two lines of argument can be non-simultaneous or simultaneous)

circular reasoning as a sign of the edge of argument
(cf Aristotle's point that petitio principii treats non-principles as principles)
-> the edge of argument is like the edge of fractal if we consider structure alone

per accidens & per se series of questions

Hope lies in understanding priorities and differences of importance.

Conversions that are not moral miracles always build on some kind of intellectual curiosity or some kind of natural piety, and, indeed, often a mix of both.
-> Indeed, thinking of this further, how many of the obviously unconvertible are so wholly because they are incapable of even basic intellectual curiosity about what they are rejecting? Rational curiosity doesn't guarantee conversion; but deadness of intellectual interest is deadness to all but miraculous persuasion.

Freedom is exactly as valuable as the acts of honor and virtue it makes possible.

Delusion is a stopping of the mind before it has returned to first principles.

seraphim and scorpions

Lists being natural or rational in character, no infinite list of numbers can ever include all real numbers. This suggests the possibility of superlists, pertaining to higher cardinalities: the real superlist, etc.

Equality between human beings necessarily has to take many different forms; any account of human equality failing to recognize this will fail to attain certain needful kinds of equality. For equalities are as diverse as relations between people, and while these fall into kinds, there are many kinds; and there are equalities that pertain to unequal incidentals, as with employers and employees, or parents and children, that are distinctive to those relationship and easily lost through an attempt to reduce all equality down to one kind.

the history of philosophy as a datum for natural theology (cf. civil theology)

Our call is not to civilize the earth but to be civilized in it.

As signs the sacraments are revelations.

The Eucharist is not merely Passion and Resurrection extended to us; it is also Pentecost extended to us.

hamartia - hubris - nemesis - anagnorisis

Since sin consists of dwelling on lesser goods to the exclusion of greater goods, the key practice that must be learned in moral life is looking beyond good to greater good.

It is the beauty, not the complexity, of the universe that most properly indicates divine wisdom.

In the finest classical tragedies, nemesis operates unseen: we are destroyed before we know it.

mereotopology of regions of influence

Means of communication that allow swift transmission of ideas do not always do the best job of establishing them; and vice versa.

the cultivation of play into art

young man's humor, old man's calm

The most dangerous kind of person who presents himself as an intellectual is the one who will not allow others room to be wrong.

rings & fields & the theory of lists

Error theories are not merely useful but necessary when otherwise the existence of a concept or term is itself reason or evidence for the opposing position. That is, when you can say, "But how could we have had the concept/term X at all, if we didn't somehow get it from X?" So Descartes (at least) showed that this is so for God (qua the infinite) & the rationalists extended this in their anti-empiricist arguments; other examples would be things like 'contingency', 'good', and so forth. That is, there is an actual argument from our having that very idea that would need to be addressed by the opposing side (or else it stands).

People who tell no stories of darkness and light, in stark black and white as we say, cannot see shades of gray as gray.

Religious liberty protects the supremacy of the Faith from neglect, fraud, and discord insinuated into society by political interests.

We seek out ritual & liturgy not for pleasure but for rich experience.

paradox of tragedy & extreme initiations

The pretense that all other men contribute equally to the common good as good fathers do is a dangerous one for both societies and men.

Unpredictable turns of argument can form predictable patterns.

nonpersonal, emotional, and analytical factors shaping turns of argument

The potential parts of argument-types are typical deteriorations and adaptations of the original.

argument simulacra

therbligs of reasoning

Facts are feats of intellect and thing.

Lullian combinatorial method as an attempt to trace the fractal edge of argument.

invariances in voluntary acts

the 'great chain' of the good (much more important, perhaps, in hostorical cases than Lovejoy's interpretation allows)

An advantage of the mathematician over the logician is that in some/many areas of logic the lgoician cannot take advantage of the power of massively iterated operations.

The pursuit of wisdom is necessary for a government; it is the only way to be both consistent and flexible enough to stay just in the face of the world's mutability.

comparison & contrast of seed crystal and pollen metaphors for aphorisms

- there needs to be more exploration of marriage as a sign

Logic has analogies to every art.

zones of reasonable doubt and constraints thereupon

regions of acceptable utility

A utilitarianism without a semiotic of goods is blind.

drivers and enablers in historical explanation
- disablers as well

NQV analysis of interscholastic disputes
Boyd's Loop analysis of interscholastic disputes

secularism vs. liminalism

Like ocular blindspots, mental blindspots can be identified by inference. Doing so, however, requires being open to such inferences in the first place.

incantatory functions of money

the oracles, especially Delphic, as having seeded Greek philosophy

Mary as the Mother of Many Ends (Lull)

"As the end is, so is the hope." Lull

"One virtue is an exemplar for another." Lull

Standards of artistic excellence must consider the difficulty of what is being done.

To study philosophers requires appreciating the interest of philosophical experiments that didn't work out.

paratypical modifications of arguments

(1) Regions of influence are colelctions of nodes linked by arcs of influence.
(2) Of two regions of influence, a region A mediately influences a region C when there is some region B such that there is a path through B from a node in A to a node in C.
(3) A region A includes a region B as a subordinate region of influence if every path of influence to a node in B includes at least one node in A, and there is at least one node in A not in any path in B.
(4) Region A and region B overlap when there is some region C that is a subordinate region of both A & B.

We can think of the nodes of regions of influence as persons, texts, artifacts, or institutions.

Possibility of arcs of influence is determined by the causal conditions for communication.

bridge influence can be represented by cuts, on assumption that all relevant influences are considered

utility-amplifying institutions
utility-generating institutions

decision theory & the modeling of prudence

prudence in limited, closed situations vs. prudence in open-ended situations

Laity are not simply subordinate to clergy but functionally interordinate with them, by each being subordinate to the ends of the other in certain respects. The two errors in ecclesiology to avoid are that in which the clergy do not serve their flocks and that in which the laity have no real shepherds.

the vocation of marriage to be revelatory

Society can only reliably be ruled by philosopher-kings when society is filled with potential candidates for philosopher-kings.

sophistry as idolopoetic

If the Seventh Letter hadn't been written by Plato, we would still have to say that its anonymous author was one of the most remarkable minds of ancient Greece.

the divine pastor in Plato's Statesman
(he feeds, heals, arranges nuptials, acts as midwife, soothes with music)

baptism as maieutic

The statesman, politikos, weaves the friendships of the city into balanced harmonies.

self-interrogating reasoned exposition

sexual usury

rhetoric as the art of persuading many by means of mythology rather than instruction (Plato Polit. 304d).

The universe participates the likeness of the Word, but is not the Word.

Christian eschaton is not mere phthora.

Agape is what most suits the pursuit of agathon.

immediate self-sameness (point)
mediate self-sameness (circular motion)

Intention is one of the things capable of temporal asymmetry.

The best thing for good government is prudence in the authorities; the second best thing is for law to be sovereign; the latter is easier to guarantee.

Just as virtue in a person is not merely knowledge, so justice in a city is not merely the knowledge of those in charge.

One of the things writing cannot convey is the massiveness of true dialectic, both its scope and detail; take a text as long as you please, it is merely one surface of the rational discourse that created it.

Times of adversity require patience, forbearance, and pardon.

"The source of wisdom is God's word in the highest heaven." Sir 1:5

the battle of cant & candour

It takes true candour not to call virtue cant.

An understudied area is how much philosophy depends on the mild approval or even mere toleration of large numbers of people who are otherwise largely indifferent to it.
--> NB: this is today most clearly seen with the sciences

Totalitarianism is an attack on MacIntyrean practices.

Immorality corrupts but does not destroy society -- until it becomes immoralism.

The caricature of fortitude will seem more like fortitude than fortitude itself to those who have little acquaintance with fortitude. And so with all other virtues.

Excessive fear of hypocrisy is quite as dangerous as hypocrisy.

open & closed premise sets
-> quasi-closed premise sets for nonmonotonic/defeasible inference

a theory of human exchange in terms of object, work, expense, and risk

The extent of hypocrisy in a society is an indirect (and somewhat unfortunate) measure of the excellence of its moral standards.

the horror reveal & the suspense nonreveal

The amount people are willing to pay for something is usually less than their estimate of its value; people like bargains, and want things at bargain price.

Demand is explained by taste, need, price, and ability to demand.

The key to economics is the difference between real equality and practical equivalence in a domain.

accessibility relations between markets

Lending markets are generally markets involving asymmetric information; they rarely even approach ideal symmetry.

The reason for interest lies in bargaining about loans (not lending itself).

What matters most in modern democratic politics is who is known to oppose you.

Is 55:10-11 & fourfold sense

Political parties are expressions of practical reason; many of their quirks & abuses chiefly arise when practical reason is severed from speculative reasoning.

Finance as a field is nothing other than contract engineering.

protecting the juridical person in man through juridical equality & due process
protecting the moral person in man by protecting memory & conscientious objection
protecting the individual identity in man by protecting creative spontaneity and assertion

commonalities of sentiment reflect natural law which reflects divine law

(1) Being is prior to becoming.
(2) Knowledge originates in experience.
(3) Logic alone does not verify.

Fortitude "is a habit that builds fortifications against the vices" (Lull)

"Faith is the intellect's instrument and enables it to elevate its understanding through belief." (Lull)

the source & sink of an idea

Participation is the basis of testimony.

remote & proximate preparations for rational inquiry

Pleasures must be purified, moderated, and mortified.

the parallel between skepticism & scruples
(note that scruples is often caused by meticulous-mindedness combined with confusions about principles, and failure to distinguish sentiment and consent)
(note too the major remedies for scruples: reasonable obedience & deference to others)

As there are many kinds of assent (imaginative, opinion, knowledge), so there are many kinds of inference (in Newman's sense) corresponding to each.

Holidays and festivals, however vulgar, give nourishment to imaginative and poetic life in people who otherwise may get little.

pseudo-traditionalists who throw out internals to maintain externals

Too much activism breeds an unwillingness to listen to others.

Latin & Greek as treasuries of alternative conceptual vocabularies (obviously any language shaped by robust interplay of philosophical traditions could serve -- classical Chinese and Sanskrit have similar value)

The mountain in the reflection has no height at all. This is half of Zen.

treating words as fields of association

Much of the task of life is to learn how to go bravely to meet our fate, whatever it may be.

Economics is fundamentally an exercise in recognizing what you cannot assume.

For one who has done wrong but retains a living and well-formed conscience, judgment is itself a punishment or at least partial expiation. Hence purgatory: the just find judgment a vindication, the honest wrongdoer under mercy finds it expiation; for both it is salvation.

We measure space by the power to traverse it.

The translator presents the original not literally but by an extraordinary figure of speech.

Participation is another way to talk about final causes (directly or indirectly, depending on the kind of participation).

ongoing operational preferences in reasoning

Every premise set establishes not just conclusions strictly deduced by also conclusions apt to be drawn.

Remnants of older arguments remain in later arguments.

As belief requires context, there must be cognitive acts prior to it.

What makes fideism a coherent kind of position is that (1) we often find ourselves believing things without knowing why and (2) we take at least some beliefs to be themselves evidence of their own truth (the act of believing is itself evidence of the belief). Thus the general logical type, fideism, is possible: We could indeed find ourselves believing something on no discernible evidence but reasonably take the believing itself as evidence of the belief's truth, and this just is fideism. (You will note the similarity of this to taking something to be self-evident; which is no doubt why fideists not uncommonly make the mistake of conflating fides and intelligentia.) Things get trickier when it comes to specific fideistic positions, especially in areas in which the belief in question is not somehow self-reflexive.

Prayer gives stability toboth work and study, whether we are thinking individually or communally.

The greater part of maturity is learning how to work with what the world throws at you.

All formal systems explicitly representing identity necessarily require the assumption that at least some intensional or modal contexts are irrelevant. Consider X=Y. But as labeled, X is X, and not Y, and Y is Y, and not X, and X is on the left and Y is on the right; thus if this is identity, these must be considered irrelevant.

Our discourse about time is modally complex, including not just time-ordering modalities, but also alethic, epistemic, incipit/desinit, and perhaps even deontic. It is a stew of modalities.

Love of the good is health of the will.

Precepts of natural law fructify into prudential counsels of moral philosophy.

Faith we have because of the good, hope we have because of the true.

If families or nations have duties, they have the rights requisite to perform them.

-- a map of the episcopal, monastic, and mendicant lines of the Doctors of the Church

Religious rituals are in effect dialectical negotiations of vaiorus kinds, and thus exhibit on a large scale the features we recognize on a small scale in argument, persuasion, courtesy, and otehr interactions with human beings.

Courtesy is the natural expression of respect, whether we speak of respect for another person, or resepect for truth or justice, or respect for the natural world. Courtesies just are what human beings do in expressing respect.

We often require of people a rational account of how they avoid the problems of not believing something.

Agnosticism is not a simplifying position; it uses necessity to eschew simplicity.

Much of analytic philosophy is voodoo philosophy: to attack or support reasoning you attack or support toy models of it.

Definition is the test of self-evidence.


  1. John Farrell6:57 AM

    People who see the world as it is but cannot give different priorities to what they see will inevitably become depressives.

    Thanks. I needed that.

  2. Catherine Hodge9:01 AM

    Oh, please elaborate on "seraphim and scorpions".

  3. branemrys10:24 AM

    It (sort of) comes from Deuteronomy 8:15 --

    "Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint"

    The word for 'fiery serpents' is nachash saraph, seraph snake ('seraph' means 'fiery one' or 'burning one'). Likewise, when in Numbers 21:6-8 the children of Israel are attacked by snakes, it is seraph-snakes that are mentioned, and it is a seraph-snake that Moses puts on the pole.  Seraphim and scorpions seemed a striking phrase, though.

  4. branemrys12:22 PM

    It is a useful thing to keep in mind, isn't it.


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