Saturday, October 08, 2011

A New Poem Draft

It is really and truly raining; how remarkable.

Finally, Rain

How bizarre; the ground is wet
with water from the sky!
What catastrophe can make
the world break down and cry?
Or what compassion, pure and true,
can equal tears of cloud?
These tears the fallen will renew
and overthrow the proud.

O little men of little faith
and kings of golden crown,
repent and tremble at your fate:
the sky is falling down
and heaven weeps with sobbing tear,
and cries with thunderous cry,
while you, un-Noah, ply your trade,
no ark made ready by.

But you who labor in the field,
and you in arid land,
the world its love has sent to you:
it freshens earth and sand.
Rejoice, oppressed of all the earth,
rejoice, O pure of mind!
The rain falls down. What more to say?
The world is newly kind.

Two Facets of Philosophical Ideas

The "ideas" of a philosopher belong to two worlds. There are those that are the product of reflection; they have been mulled over at leisure, purified by analysis, and joined together into a system, a logical poem that sings the triumph of reason when, freed of time, it was able to attend to eternal things. But underneath these clear ideas, there are those that participate in that other system that is the living person; these are rather the tendencies to concepts; they have not yet been collected into a definition, and they extend into each other, a landscape without lines like the colors of heaven; they live in those regions of the soul where heredity, education, social influences and other fay folk sow the seeds that will later develop into passions, into beliefs, into worries, without it being possible for us to follow the mysterious labor of their development. An interior temple where all the gods have their altar, it is from there that both cries of revolt and words of love escape; it is there that systems plunge their roots, for it is there where questions are perhaps posed and where certainly solutions are formulated. The relations of reason and faith, above all else, belong to this philosophical subconscious; nobody ever believed that it could be found at the conclusion of a syllogism; it is lived before being thought and it is thought all the more strongly as it is lived with more fervor.

Henri Gouhier, La vocation de Malebranche, J. Vrin (Paris: 1926) pp. 135-136. My translation.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Undergraduates and 19th-Century Philosophy

Cogburn at NewAPPS:

And given the incredible richness of so many of the thinkers, I think this whole era is unduly neglected by non-historians. For that matter, given the scholarship Leiter mentions, it seems indefensible to me that so many departments stop the undergraduate history requirement with Kant.

For a very long time I thought that in fact it was standard in undergraduate philosophy departments to teach at least some 19th century German philosophy; it wasn't until I came out of graduate school and started looking at what departments were offering that I realized that this end-at-Kant thing is disturbingly common. The reason I was subject to this misapprehension was that in my own undergraduate education, which more and more I have come to think of as truly exceptional, I did get 19th century German philosophy -- Schiller and Hegel, in particular -- in the Continental Philosophy class (which, although it did get into 20th century continental mostly focused on antecedents, which I think was probably wise), taught by Jeff Gauthier. In no way can such an exposure give one an adequate understanding of Schiller or Hegel, but this is true of Kant (or, indeed, most others), as well, whether we choose to admit it or not; the thing that matters is that it was an exposure, and a direct exposure, a light but real immersion. Undergraduates can never navigate the ocean of a Hegel, but they can swim and surf a bit at some nice beaches. Such an exposure is invaluable.

Indeed, if anything, I think it's unfortunate that 19th century philosophy is virtually synonymous with 19th century German philosophy; British philosophy in particular has traditionally been heavily shortchanged, with Bentham and Mill alone getting mentions for their ethics -- which apparently just hangs in a void rather than being (as it really was) part of heated debates with intuitionists of all stripes and connected to everything from philosophy of law to philosophy of science to natural theology.

But, of course, in a sense this deficiency is just a symptom of a deeper problem, which is that history requirements at the undergraduate level are in general utterly inadequate, leading to vast and demonstrably important (in terms of influence) regions of philosophical history (Middle Platonism, Neoplatonism, most of scholastic philosophy outside of Aquinas, German Idealism and to an even greater extent British Idealism, etc., etc.) being filled in with the words "Here Be Dragons" (if even that) -- and thus leading to professional philosophers whose conception of the history of philosophy is a caricature and cartoon, who in turn propagate their flat-earth conceptions of philosophical history to new generations.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Everywhere and Every Hour

Eternal Silences
by Frederick William Faber

Amid the eternal silences
God’s endless Word was spoken;
None heard but He who always spake,
And the silence was unbroken.
Oh marvellous! Oh worshipful!
No song or sound is heard,
But everywhere and every hour,
In love, in wisdom, and in power,
The Father speaks His dear Eternal Word!

Faber was one of the three great Tractarian poets, the other two being John Keble and Isaac Williams; unlike Keble and Williams, who remained Anglican, Faber followed Newman over the Tiber.

Ban or Support

Joni Balter on France's burqa ban:

What's more, any feminist must realize the wearing of the burqa and niqab is something only women do. It may be grounded in centuries of tradition, but it's blatantly sexist.

Muslim guys prance around Paris in super-tight jeans and slinky shirts. Why support something that only limits activities of women? That's hard to support.

The problem with this, of course, is that not supporting a law-backed ban on a burqa is not the same as supporting the burqa. You can be entirely against the use of the burqa to limit the movements and communications of women, and indeed, active in opposing it, without thinking a legal ban a good idea; being able to make this kind of distinction is one of the essential skills -- perhaps the essential skill -- of citizenship in a modern democratic society. It is not a forced choice between banning and supporting. And, indeed, this has always been one of the problems with France's burqa ban: not so much that there is a ban but that the explicit justifications for it fall so far short of being adequate justifications of direct legal sanction that it is almost impossible to think that support for it is not highly driven by racist, or at least anti-immigrant, sentiment. To put the matter crudely, burning bras does not entail legally punishing the women who wear them; and let us not kid ourselves into thinking that this ban works, even if one takes the anti-sexist justification as sincere, by punishing sexists who impose the burqa rather than the women who wear them. If the situation is genuinely serious enough, this sort of thing might well be justifiable; but one needs a somewhat stronger argument than "It's a sexist custom."

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The First Rule of Kant Scholarship

"The first rule of Kant scholarship," I told my Ethics class as they were leaving tonight, "is 'Don't panic.'" Every single term I teach Ethics I struggle when we get to Kantianism, that worst of all possible things to teach: you know, the topic you can't not teach but which your students just aren't equipped to handle. I have tried all sorts of things, and it just becomes harder and harder to avoid the conclusion that Kantian ethics is a millstone around an instructor's neck.

Part of the problem is that Kant needs to be simplified to be conveyed to undergraduates; but every single simplification I have come across is a distorting simplification, and involves attributing to Kant something that he doesn't actually hold. It does make one appreciate how closely knit Kant's thought was, but doesn't help the pedagogical situation. Part of the problem is that the core Kantian doctrine, the categorical imperative, is an extraordinarily abstract doctrine about the rational will willing the unconditional possibility of the rational will. Kant himself recognizes it, which is why we get the three formulations of the categorical imperative, each one using a different metaphor to try to convey the same point -- but the analogies are themselves still very abstract. Part of the problem is that morality is a vast field, and Kant knows it, and therefore, while the categorical imperative applies to every moral choice, it does not apply to every moral choice in the same way, which is why we get perfect duties to ourselves, perfect duties to others, imperfect duties to ourselves, and imperfect duties to others. This is exactly what one needs in a general moral principle, but for the beginner it just puts an added stumblingblock to understanding what is going on. Part of the problem is that students just aren't given a deontological upbringing anymore. As one of my students said tonight, "I just can't figure out how he thinks. Everytime I think I've figured it out and I try to explain it, I end up putting it in terms of consequences, and I can't do that with Kant."

One inevitably has to settle for very loose approximations. I can live with that. But even getting to the point of genuine-but-loose approximation is something even bright students find discouraging. Most actual teaching plans for Kant that have any success in avoiding the discouraged-student problems end up not even trying to get this far -- what students actually learn are some vocabulary words (what does 'a priori' mean? what's the distinction between a categorical and a hypothetical imperative?) with little practical significance for them and a few practical rules of thumb given a broadly Kant-like phrasing but also used in ways that are also only broadly Kant-like. But then you haven't really taught Kantian ethics; just a crude system loosely inspired by Kant. The horns of the bull seem too tight to allow you to jump between them: either you teach Kant and the students don't learn it or the students learn it and it's not really Kant.

But, of course, it's not just students. An intelligent student can always ask questions that I can't answer without going back to the full text of Kant and working through the problem step by step. And it takes only a survey of lectures notes on the web to realize that on even an elementary pedagogical issue like how the categorical imperative relates to the Golden Rule (which everyone already recognizes), students are repeatedly told incorrect things. Occasionally, they are told that the categorical imperative essentially is the Golden Rule. That's wrong. Sometimes they are told that Kant criticizes the Golden Rule, and rejects it entirely as an ethical principle. That's even more wrong. (What he actually does is look very briefly at a principle proposed by Thomasius as covering the duties of justice, which looks very like a Silver Rule formulation, and simply says that it can't be a categorical imperative in Kant's sense, which ends up being a pretty obvious point given that, as Kant notes, there are duties to which it doesn't apply.) What makes it even more wrong is that it shows a complete failure to understand Kant's mind to think that he would ever contradict Jesus so baldly. Kant, the ultimate mix of Enlightenment and Lutheran pietism, is a very pro-Jesus philosopher; he just thinks that Jesus should be interpreted in such a way as to be a Kantian. Reading him as explicitly contradicting Jesus -- and there are plenty that do -- is not just wrong, it is incompetent. But, again, it's not as if Kant makes himself easy to teach. The real issue is not that there's so much misinformation, because that's hardly avoidable with Kant at the introductory level; the surprise is when anyone manages to convey anything at all.

But perhaps I should take my own advice here. The first rule in dealing with Kant is: Don't panic. The students won't learn Kantian ethics, but it won't be the end of the world; they'll know it's there, and it might start them thinking. And beyond that, what other success is there in teaching? Success that's genuinely in the power of the teacher, that is.

Wisdom from Isocrates

Beauty is spent by time or withered by disease; wealth ministers to vice rather than to nobility of soul, affording means for indolent living and luring the young to pleasure; strength, in company with wisdom, is, indeed, an advantage, but without wisdom it harms more than it helps its possessors, and while it sets off the bodies of those who cultivate it, yet it obscures the care of the soul.

But virtue, when it grows up with us in our hearts without alloy, is the one possession which abides with us in old age; it is better than riches and more serviceable than high birth; it makes possible what is for others impossible; it supports with fortitude that which is fearful to the multitude; and it considers sloth a disgrace and toil an honor.

Isocrates, To Demonicus, sections 6-7. The examples he uses to back up his point are Heracles and Theseus; we don't usually think of Heracles as a paragon of virtue, but the ancient world did,as can be seen in the famous old story, The Choice of Hercules.

Isocrates, of course, was the most philosophical, and one of the greatest, of the orators of ancient Greece.

An Insoluble Question

I see from a post at "Crooked Timber" that it's Flann O'Brien's birthday. His At-Swim-Two-Birds is quite good, but The Third Policeman, a novel about a murderer, whose conscience is named Joe, trying to outfox policemen who obsessively steal bicycles, is an irreplaceable gem.

His short story (very short), An Insoluble Question, gives a taste of what he's like.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

It Is So Far Before

Fata Morgana
by Christina Rossetti

A blue-eyed phantom far before
Is laughing, leaping toward the sun:
Like lead I chase it evermore,
I pant and run.

It breaks the sunlight bound on bound:
Goes singing as it leaps along
To sheep-bells with a dreamy sound
A dreamy song.

I laugh, it is so brisk and gay;
It is so far before, I weep:
I hope I shall lie down some day,
Lie down and sleep.

Dashed Off

As always, just things dashed off; add grains of salt as needed.

Reductionism is a set of views according to which physical theory has an intrinsic teleological tendency to its natural place.

The history of science shows that the norm is not reduction but mutual calibration.

It says something about the human psyche that people will not settle for rationality but must have rationalism, not merely empirical inquiry but empiricism, not merely capital investment but capitalism, etc.

One of the things Mansfield Park shows us is that moral endurance does not mean enduring forever; Fanny's constancy is shown not in that her moral endurance has no limits but in that she is not fickle and resists pressure: its measure is in just how much it takes to reach her limit.

"The spectator who sees the causes of suffering often lacks insight into the way in which it is faced by the soul that is on trial, and fails to allow for the faith that frees the spirit." (Sorley)

Scripture is useful for teaching, refutation, correction, and training, and it is the Church that so uses it.

the study of the relation of different kinds of knowledge to the intrinsic ends of human reason

Two kinds of polytheistic natural world: (1) the laws of physical nature preexist the gods; (2) the laws of physical nature are outcomes (consensus or equilibrium) in negotiations among gods.

one: integration; true: revelation; good: vocation; beautiful: inspiration

the Church as Mother of many ends

One value of the rabbinical tradition even for non-Jews is that almost nothing else displays so perfectly the sheer richness of rational dialectic

pendant nodes in influence networks & lost ideas
-> this has to take into account relativity to designated time to handle lostness

honor as rational thymos

cupiditas in Augustine's De Civ Book IV and pleonexia in Plato's Republic

analogy, coherence, familiarity

grounds of signification
(1) participation
(2) indication
(3) imputation
- link between indication & association

the breaking of the vessels as about knowledge of God, fragmentary except at summit, veiled pieces of aspects under which God may be known

Justice is written on pages of mercy.

the syncretisms of the naturalistic project

the dangerous conversion of a metaphysics into a mechanics

usuries & extortions & frauds of pleasure: demanding from people what is not rightful consolation (for real loss), encouragement (for real risk), or reward (for real service).

By 'revelation' we may mean (1) a sign, (2) the sign's manifesting to a cognitive power, (3) what the sign manifests.

epicyclical patterns of government

logical research as writing poetry with modal operators and inference-relations

modal logic as mereology of the intelligible

ancient rights of moot and muster, post and watch

Most doubts are manufactured doubts; they must be constructed. Spontaneous doubt throughout most of human life is, while not exactly rare, also not at all common: we accept or don't, where we are interested at all.

Explanation is formally time-symmetric but not necessarily reversible.

Every effect is at least a disjoint end for which the means of the corresponding efficient causes must be at least adequate.

effectin means vs integral means

Iconoclasts cannot break the images in their own imaginations.

moral circumstances as singularia

virtues as potestative wholes (Albert)

true principiation as activation

While the actual is obviously essential to it, most of scientific inquiry is directly concerned not with the actual as actual but with its potential, and most investigation is geared toward discovering potentialities and constraints on potential.

de-psychologizing (or de-imaginationizing) Hume's galley effect

phenomenology as metaphysics with shift of sign

Reason needs literature to help her cultivate a sense of adventure.

True, good, and beautiful are being insofar as it completes.

It is a sign of stupidity to think that an explanation ceases to be explanatory by being put in metaphorical terms.

agent intellect moves passive intellect as beloved moves lover.

agent intellect is to phantasms as art is to material

adaptation of impetus theory to mean speed rule

If you look closely you find that all serious arguments against the existence of natural ends are arguments from cognitive ends or the ends of inquiry.

The danger of the Myth of Progress is not in believng that there is progress but in making the better the enemy of the good, and thus not respecting first tries and initial approximations as the feats they often are.

From the perspective of common good, the test of a lending system is not facility of lending or size of profits but effectiveness in seeding beneficial projects, creating enduring profit-making ventures, and making possible enduring public works that could not otherwise be made. The public value of lending consists overwhelmingly in the flexibility it provides for effective organizing of resources.

It is a lesson not yet sufficiently learned, but amply attested by history, that every attack and argument of Christian group A against Christian group B will be mutated and modified later to be directed against any Christian group, if it is in any way possible for it to be.

Uncorrected pleonexia in gift economies leads to suspicious secrecies, which in term foment conflict.

the history of the Church as a history of deviations and remediations

All the capital vices are capable of severely distorting reaosning, but none worse than vainglory and envy.

The young often have wisdom, but it takes age to recognize it consistently for what it is.

He did not foresee it, but who can say that the Plato of the Timaeus would be surprised by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?

probability as negation under possibly inadequate search conditions

evaluation of argument by precedent equivalences vs.
evaluation of argument by metastructural standards vs.
evaluation of argument by ritual template vs.
evaluation of argument by moral signs of character vs.
evaluation of argument by negotiated concessions

All genuine theology is catechetical, but not all in the same way.

It is not knowledge that is cumulative but experience; knowledge progresses not by accumulation but by synthesis of accumulated experiences; the accumulation is essential to progress in knowledge, but it is not such progress.

Questioning without listening is no more philosophical than not questioning.

contradiction explosion as characterizing the domain of the thinkable, the range of the mind; other domains as fragments of this

Much damage is done by the failure to recognize that although metaphor is selective and even in some sense arbitrary, it can nonetheless still be systematic.

Confirmation is always under a description and therefore confirmation of a statement does not confirm every statement equivalent to it except when the entailments ar eadded as additional premsies to be conduits between descriptions.

nonanalogical associative equivocals vs pure equivocals

constraints vs. restraints

Love wills the posisbility of its own eternity.

It is human anture that posits the most general practical problems faced by human beings.

We need to distinguish secrecies and oblivions; secrecies are maintained by active causes confining information to a few, oblivions by loss, either of the information itself (permanent) or of access to it (potentially temporary).

The true rhetoric of philosophy is to die well.

Friendship reaches where authority never will.

The danger of making theology about your relationship with God is that you can make, even contrary to all reason and sense, your relationship with God anything you please.

associativity, commutativity, and distributivity in poetic description

the elocution of the rain

coherence (cf IBE accounts) & constancy (cf analogy accounts) & other minds

Adversity is the environment for ascetic victory.

Technology in general is based on the facts that energy is conserved and that usefulness, although subject to limits, often is not.

philosophy as husbandry (cf. Xenophon's Oeconomicus)

The historical being of a people is found in its everyday life, not the state.

A philosopher's thought is immersed in an environment of habitual inclinations and temperament.

The True modality stops False bleed.

The body is myself as both instrument of myself and sign of myself, and thus myself as a form of reflective self-expression in the world and to others.

artificial intelligence as someone's stylized idea of intelligence

evidence threshold capacitance

Love is fulfillment of the law. But how can love be the true fulfillment of the law if God is not love? For God is the fulfillment of the law, and God is Love, and by grace through Christ we in love participate God, and thus the fulfillment of the law.

free & honest market as a symbol for communion of saints (able to be such because of (1) division of labor & property; (2) exchange; (3) investment)

Shared faith forces philosophers out of hermetic reflection so that they at least regard and consider the reflections of thsoe who are known to share the faith.

Reasonableness requires more than logic; it requires le bon sens.

Christ as the Word of God is the image of the Father; Christ as man is a sign of the Father.

A sign by incomplete substitution represents another to some cognitive power.

Representation or manifestation is not the genus of the sign, but its foundation.

Every extrinsic denomination originates in the real form of another being ('being seen' from sight).

All the forms of piety -- filial piety, national piety, religious piety -- have implications for rationality by way of standards set up by deference. For instance, we owe it to our parents and ancestors to respect their ways and to put them aside only for something established as better in some relevant way (more conducive to the spirit of what they were trying to do, tending to ends that were higher than theirs, etc.).

preface paradox & unknown sin

Ingenuity is no more limitless than any other resource to which we have practical access.

As notes preparing for lyrics, the Baptist's voice prepares for the Word.

The evidentness of a claim is relative to an intellectual frame of reference.

Who gives what is holy to dogs does not distinguish between the sacred and the profane; thus we are to mark off what is holy (cf. Didache) in our prayers and in our lives.

empathic portraiture as a philosophical method

Respect is hospitality detached from place.

the contemplative life, the music of Shao; the active life, the music of Wu

Glib friends are virtually enemies.

None grow wise who do not wander and return.

Public spirit does not drive out our private motives; it encompasses them and gives them new meaning.

Every virtue is a kind of authority.

All cognition regards being in some respect.

All of modern logic can be laid out dialectically.

social hagiography: community networks of saints -- e.g., the family of Basil & Emilia, the Arpad dynasty, the French School, the Spanish School, the beginnings of the Franciscans; etc.

Writing allows for intensive reiteration of arguments.

the correlating of different philosophical systems

the value of dreams as a mode of thought at an angle to waking thought -- makes salient features of waking thought that might be otherwise missed

Plato's Symposium & erotic desire as analogous to phantom limb syndrome

Since knowledge is in the mind, nothing about knowledge itself tells us whether the mind is that which is more fundamental, or the physical world, or both equally. Considering particular acts of knowing alone,a ny physical reduction or explanation has a corresponding psychological reduction or explanation, and they are equally supported by that evidence, for knowledge as a meeting & unity of mind and world is extraordinarily symmetrical or even-handed. In inquiry there are asymmetries, although often more subtle than one would would expect. In knowledge mind and world are virtually interchangeable.

To revere truth is an excellent thing, but as we know truth in our own minds, we often slide from reverence for truth to reverence for our own minds, which is much less excellent, and often confuse the two, which is not excellent at all.

Catholic pastors : Temple priests :: Protestant pastors : post-Temple rabbis

eclecticism as a position of withdrawal

As children play at being adult, so we play at being virtuous.

We know our bodies both as intelligent and as material; and they are, for we are both.

It is no more true to say the Church is constituted by the gathered congregation than to say it is constituted by the buildings in which they gather.

multiple belief sets & the diffusion of revisions across them

Moral deference is the ratchet of moral progress.

aspiration - literature
proclamation - rhetoric
devotion - ethics
inspiration - theology

Uncertainty is relative to judgment.

the Other as needed
(1) for my empirical self
(2) for the constitution of the world as world
(3) for mediation of self-knowledge
(4) for apparent co-existence of consciousnesses
(5) for the source of certain effects on me

No demonstration can be fully understood (by human beings) without understanding the dialectic it presupposes (genetically).

Atonement restores to integrity.

Being young is not an accomplishment; becoming old sometimes is.

Arguments do not proceed in geometrical rays; they froth and blur at the edges.

The reproducible experiment is in fact an abstraction from experimental probes that are not strictly reproducible.

Falsifiability becomes more valuable the greater the ease of reproducibility and less valuable the greater the difficulty of reproducibility, because it is only reproducibility that makes falsification more than a matter of good fortune -- it is what generally allows a systematic method of elimination.

Physics is the mathematical study of the invariances in things that vary, and the limits of those invariances.

Integrity alone is not an effective strategy for anything; even integrity must be applied.

Confirmation is not time-symmetric.

Our reconstructions of the past are as probabilistic as our predictions of the future. We must not confuse the ease of confirmation of past events with rigorous certainty.

Term logic & class logic have a common root in mereology.

We never prove without seeking to prove; what we seek in proving shapes how we go about it.

Truth contains representations of truth itself, as though the universe were in the universe inside the universe, infinitely rich.

Truths are uncountable and not discrete.

human beings as personators of the world

Logicians are the primary toolsmiths of philosophy.

Aristotelian categories as restrictors on search (this is especially obvious with place and time)

Search failure in an adequate search is negation.

Through the vowels the consonants become living souls.

icons as our first way of reading Scripture

Monday, October 03, 2011

Three Poem Drafts

Death of Brutus

From Abydos to farther shore
the army waited there to cross,
but night was come and full of sleep
they breathed till morning's dawn;
yet Brutus, who beyond all men
could sleep's temptations shake,
alone sat thinking of his future deeds.
A rustle caught his thoughtful ear,
a breeze perhaps, or owl -- but no --
for at the tent-door stood a form
like unto man, or corpse, or wraith.
And Brutus said: "Who may you be?"
Then said the form: "At Philippi
shall you and I again cross paths."
"Then I shall see you," Brutus said.
And after time had passed he came
to Philippi against the force
of Antony, Octavian,
and all their allies; there he fought
with valor on the battlefield
and won, and sacked the other camp.
But night had come; he planning still
to fight again in morning light,
the form again was shown to him.
No word it spoke, and yet he heard.
The morning came, his army fought,
and lost, and, routed, fled the field,
but Brutus drew instead aside
to rocky place, and took his sword,
and pressed it to his beating chest;
the sword went in, impressed with will
by Brutus' hand, and Caesar's hand.

I Love You Well, but then I Would Say That

I love you well, but then I would say that:
incentive for those words I have in spades,
so you'd be in your right to wonder what I'm at
when I declare a love that will not fade,
and ask who pays the piper, what motive hides,
what sly agenda calls my voice's tune,
whenever I say your eye can overthrow my pride
or ever I promise you all the stars and moon.
And guilty I confess myself to be, it's true,
for I would say such things to feel the bliss
that comes from seeing smiles shine from you
or feel caress of hand or brush of kiss.
I want these things -- you see I do not lie --
and out of want such words will come unbid:
they out a mouth unwilling freely fly,
nor can my will return them to be hid.
In wanting you, such foolish words will come,
or else I must stand silent, mute, and dumb.

No, I Do Not Love You

No, I do not love you, no matter how you try
to read it in the happiness of some unguarded sigh,
or in my doing all for you each minute, hour, day,
until the world is over or I finally come to die--
no, love this thing is not, no matter what you say.

No, I do not love you, you foolish, foolish girl;
you must not call it love when I make you all my world,
or when in sleep I sigh at some memory of your name,
or when a kiss from you makes all my insides whirl --
you may call it love, but I swear it's not the same.

Growth of Riper Days

Sonnet CII
by William Shakespeare

My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming;
I love not less, though less the show appear:
That love is merchandised whose rich esteeming
The owner's tongue doth publish every where.
Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays,
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days:
Not that the summer is less pleasant now
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,
But that wild music burthens every bough,
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
Therefore like her, I sometime hold my tongue,
Because I would not dull you with my song.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Plutarch on Antiochus and Cicero

When he came to Athens he was a hearer of Antiochus of Ascalon, with whose fluency and elegance of diction he was much taken, although he did not approve of his innovations in doctrine. For Antiochus had now fallen off from the New Academy, as they call it, and forsaken the sect of Carneades, whether that he was moved by the argument of manifestness and the senses, or, as some say, had been led by feelings of rivalry and opposition to the followers of Clitomachus and Philo to change his opinions, and in most things to embrace the doctrine of the Stoics. But Cicero rather affected and adhered to the doctrines of the New Academy; and purposed with himself, if he should be disappointed of any employment in the commonwealth, to retire hither from pleading and political affairs, and to pass his life with quiet in the study of philosophy.

Plutarch, Life of Cicero (tr. by John Dryden). I've mentioned both the New Academics and Antiochus's break from them before. What I really like about the passage is the disjunctive explanation for Antiochus's break and development of a new Stoicism-Platonism mix: either (1) he was convinced by the Stoic argument that there were certainly true sense perceptions and therefore broke with the New Academy or (2) he came to accept the argument because he got angry at opponents in the internal politics of the New Academy and broke with it entirely. That's the way philosophy works in the human world.