Friday, April 08, 2016

Links of Note, Noted

I think I'll extend the Fortnightly Book another week so I can have time to get through all of The Return of Tarzan; last week was much, much busier than I was expecting.

* Thony Christie criticizes the tendency to inflate Galileo's achievements.

* Karl Ameriks on Kant and the historical turn

* Samuel Gregg on Benedict XVI's account of law

* How the ancient Greeks learned Latin

* An article at Aeon talks about the role of repetition in music, including the speech-to-song illusion, in which repetition of words begins to sound like singing. I'm inclined to think the phenomenon is entirely misnamed; there is no illusion at all. What is singing? Singing just is speaking with additional features like repetition, prolonging of vowels, and projection of voice, in various combinations. If you listen to Leonard Cohen, he's obviously singing, but it's also quite clear that what he is doing is not anything radically different from speaking.

* Peter Kwasniewski discusses an interesting instance of manuscript variation in the manuscript tradition for Thomas Aquinas.

And speaking of which, autograph manuscripts of Aquinas are now available at the Vatican Library website. Aquinas's handwriting is notoriously bad, so good luck to trying to read it without specializing in it.

* Elizabeth Lopatto discusses the many puzzles of lichen.

* Some half-joke philosophy articles:

David A. Horner, Whether Augustine’s Name Should Be Pronounced AW-gus-teen or aw-GUS-tin?, done in the spirit of a medieval disputation.

Garry DeWeese, Quid ergo Hipponium et Floridensis? Or, Does Horner Succeed in Referring? A Rejoinder, responding to the previous one in the style of Quine

I particularly like DeWeese's final footnote:

I want to thank David Horner, whose loyal friendship more than makes up for his locutionary failure; colleagues who tried but failed to teach me what is important to argue about; and the many students over the years whose well-intended “corrections” of my pronunciation filled much-needed voids.

Such half-joke articles, I think, serve an important function, since they pull back a bit from questions of material content to look at form, function, and method, which is something that needs to be done anyway, but is sometimes difficult to do properly in serious matters precisely because we take them seriously. That, I think, is one strand of the need for a sense of humor in intellectual life.

People have been talking about these things recently in part because of Tyron Goldschmidt's recent article, "A Demonstration of the Causal Power of Absences", which is one of the few Dialectica articles you can get complete and for free.

* Speaking of which, Goldschmidt has an interesting paper on "The Argument from Numbers"; Plantinga had suggested you could argue for God's existence from the nature of numbers, and Goldschmidt explores the strengths and weaknesses of one possible way someone might go about doing that. He doesn't really get very far, but he does rightly note the modal parallels between mathematical truths and moral truths, and the relevance of the Euthyphro problem to both.

* Andrew Ayers argues that Atticus Finch was never the sterling hero some readers made him out to be. (PDF)

* Janice Nadler, Expressive Law, Social Norms, and Social Groups (PDF)

* Cases in which King Arthur shows up in various medieval Lives of Saints.

* Nicholas Stan, Kant's Transcendental Idealism, at the SEP

* A brief debate between Bertrand Russell and G. K. Chesterton.

* MrsD on human restlessness

* An article on Henry Clay Brockmeyer, America's Hands-On Hegelian.

* Samuel Gregg on Benedict XVI's Regensburg Address

* A relatively recent blog: Medieval Logic and Semantics. It has already entirely justified its existence with a discovery of this musical version of the famous syllogistic mnemonic:



Disamis, Datisi, Disamis, Datisi, Bocardo, Bocardo, Ferison, Ferison, Ferison...

* A handy site on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

* Why Medieval Torture Devices are Not Medieval. Like a very large number of bad things pinned on the Middle Ages, they were usually invented in the modern period, although occasionally they were ancient devices of which we have no record of being used in the medieval period. Medievals did have torture -- they did not, as we have a weird tendency to do, think of it as a method of investigation, but they did regard it as sometimes justified as a punishment when the evidence against someone was considered conclusive and the person was refusing to confess in a situation in which it was important to get a confession. As the article notes, medieval torture generally consisted of unimaginative things like binding you tightly with ropes or making you stand out in the sun all day; really imaginative torture is almost always very ancient or very modern.

* And a brief article on medieval eyeglass technology.

* Researchers have discovered evidence that stories told in hagiography about how St. Eric of Sweden died have at least some truth to them.

* S. Adam Seagrave, The National Parks: 'America's Best Idea'

* Christopher Kaczor, Is Speciesism like Racism and Sexism?

* Eugene Marshall, How — and why — should we teach modern philosophy surveys to undergrads?

* An online course for learning basic Classical Chinese.

* An interesting article on recent work discovering otherwise unknown species in natural history museum collections.

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