Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Notes and Links

* Anna Christina Ribeiro on the importance of aesthetics. It is indeed rather absurd that such an important area of philosophy is so shortchanged in modern philosophy departments. And it does have effects. Last term I had a short aesthetic problems section in one of my intro-level philosophy classes, and one thing I was struck by, both in preparing for it and teaching it, was how often aesthetic questions intersected with other philosophical questions -- philosophy of mind, ethics, philosophy of religion -- both directly (aesthetics is a very good place to see unexpected ramifications of different philosophical approaches to the mind) and by analogy (an extraordinary number of problems in ethics and natural theology have aesthetic analogues). And, of course, that doesn't even consider the fact that its 'jurisdiction', so to speak, is a vast area of human life.

* Dominic Baker-Smith on Thomas More at the SEP. It mostly discusses Utopia, but also gets into other questions; it also has an excellent initial section on the life of More.

* Marcy P. Liscano on Margaret Cavendish at "The Mod Squad"

* Medieval magic tricks

* Martin Locker, Movement Through Stillness: Imagined Pilgrimage in Medieval Europe, discusses the common medieval religious practice of interior pilgrimage, which would, of course, be used by those who could not physically go on a pilgrimage. The most famous such pilgrimages are the labyrinth-pilgrimages that one occasionally still finds, but there were many other varieties.

* Rose recently recommended the Princess Tutu anime series to me; and having watched it, I can recommend it. It's a ballet-based exploration of the nature of story. You can watch the 26 episodes online at Hulu.com.

One can find episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica at Crunchyroll.

Anime is a weird, weird world, but both of these series are quite good, with intricate plots, profound characterization, and a tendency to mess with your head whenever you think you've figured them out. But precisely because of the last feature (common to a great many anime series), you have to watch up at least to the third or fourth episode to get a sense of what the series is doing.

* An interview with Terry Chimes, the original drummer for The Clash, discussing his recent autobiography, C. S. Lewis, and how to succeed as a musician. (Chimes's brief discussion os the last of these in and of itself makes the interview worth reading, whether you're a musician or not).

* Ian Johnson looks at a recent Pew Survey result on Chinese views on the relation between God and morality.

* Stephen Phillips, The Classical Indian Criteriological Argument for the Existence of God (PDF)

* James Chastek is beginning to discuss Perseity and Aquinas's Fourth Way

* Michael Flynn draws deep water from a shallow pond.

* Darwin notes the absurdities in a recent movement to replace hunting with birth control for keeping deer populations down.

* A recent investigation discovered that some -- not all, but some -- British hospitals were incinerating aborted and miscarried fetuses to heat the hospital as part of 'waste to energy' programs. The barbarisms of this age seem always to exceed what any decent person could imagine.


  1. Timotheos1:40 PM

    Just another sign that our society has decayed since the ancient times; at least the citizens of Carthage explicitly sacrificed their children to Moloch, instead of our moderns who only implicitly do so to their deity Demeter.

  2. branemrys2:28 PM

    What I really wonder is what the people involved could possibly have been thinking in doing something so barbaric. But I suppose it's another case of the banality of evil.

  3. MrsDarwin5:05 PM

    I was going to make some witty comments about anime, but the last entry has sobered me. How grevious.

    Have you seen Samurai Champloo? The English dub was well done. One of the plot elements has to do with the Christians of Nagasaki. We watched it seven or eight years ago and still find ourselves quoting it.

  4. branemrys6:08 PM

    I don't think I've even heard of it. The Wikipedia description of it is very, very anime, though:

    Samurai Champloo is set in an alternate version of Edo-era Japan with an anachronistic, predominantly hip-hop, setting. It follows Mugen, an impudent and freedom-loving vagrant swordsman; Jin, a composed and stoical ronin; and Fuu, a brave young girl who asks them to accompany her in her quest across Japan to find the "samurai who smells of sunflowers".

    Being that old, it's likely to have free episodes somewhere online, so I'll keep an eye out for it.

  5. Darwin8:40 PM

    Yes, one is tempted to picture it as some sort of epic evil, but I imagine it's an utterly banal case of someone making a commitment to burn all "biological waste" -- and not having the self awareness to recognize that if we're so much biological waste at a few weeks or months gestation, we are now too. Perhaps they could offer to just toss expired patients in the incinerator as well. Surely the utilitarianism which would see the pre-born as so much fuel would also see any reverence for other dead bodies as pointless.

  6. branemrys9:45 PM

    Yes, I imagine it began as someone's environment-saving project.

  7. Jonathan N3:05 PM

    If you ever desire to read a manga, I wholeheartedly recommend 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa. I wish it was an anime. As for Samurai Champloo, the English dub is at KissAnime's website for free.

    Now I'm interested in Indian theism and Buddhist critiques. Do you know any good summaries?

  8. branemrys5:08 PM

    It's difficult to find things, in part because a lot of the major texts aren't translated (so a lot of the works discussing them, regardless of the quality of the discussion, are obscure poor-quality small press) and in part because the issue of God is a secondary matter in Indian philosophy -- a side issue that's important without ceasing to be a side issue. Most of what I've found myself get to discussion of God by way of epistemology (e.g., in the SEP article on Indian epistemology, God keeps coming up as a sort of test case for different epistemological approaches). I've been told by more than one person, although I haven't read it myself, that Chemparathy's An Indian Rational Theology is extremely good if you can find it.


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