Saturday, April 08, 2017

Just War Theory Presupposes an Account of Justice

Saba Bazargan-Forward has an interview on just war theory at 3AM; it's OK. It has the superficiality much modern just war theory has, although some of that might just be the interview format, and it has good points -- it's nice, for instance, to see someone acknowledging that just war theory concerns specific acts of warring and not 'a war', which can be a complicated and even a vague and ill-defined thing.

I was interested, though, in this:

Now, it’s one thing to collaterally maim and kill foreign civilians in necessary defense against an unjust attack by their country. But it’s another thing to collaterally maim and kill foreign civilians to whom we owe compensation! The second is much worse.

But, of course, the obvious response to this is "No, it's not." Once you're at the point of maiming and killing, whether you are in debt to the people you are maiming and killing is at best a secondary matter. And if you were to ask people whether your debt to someone might possibly be canceled if they attacked you without cause, there are a lot of people who would say that, yes, depending on the circumstances, that could very well wipe the debt clean. They may have already taken out their compensation in violence and then some. (Part of the problem, too, may be that compensatory debts for war are not actually equivalent to what they are compensating for; what happened was that lives were lost and infrastructure destroyed and time wasted, none of which can be undone at all. Compensation in this sort of case is to help start some things anew; it is not a measure of harms.) And the problem is seen in focus when we consider his further comment:

We end up, then, in an interesting place: sometimes, in order to wage a defensive war permissibly, we first have to discharge compensatory duties.

This starts looking very much like a reductio ad absurdum of the entire idea.

The sort of thing Bazargan-Forward is talking about arises from the fact that the principle of proportionality, as it is usually understood in analytic versions of just war theory, is a foreign principle to the theory itself, a consequentialist idea that wandered in and pushed out the original notion of proportionality, which was not about balancing harms and benefits but about fitting appropriate means to the acceptable ends. (That's where the name came from: proportioning means to ends. Thus you'd originally have considered things like what is required actually to solve the relevant moral problem, consistency of means with ends, the relative importance of various priorities, what you have a natural right to do, and the like.) Thus there's nothing about just war theory itself that says anything about how to handle it, allowing for looser and stricter interpretations as people please. Bazargan-Forward takes a very strict interpretation. He is thinking that we have accumulating harms and benefits that just stay there inertly, so that if you are in arrears it always has to be made up as soon as possible, and that you are not acting proportionately if you do not pay back what you owe.

But none of these things are true. As time goes on, what is harming and what is benefiting are constantly changing, and if you are actually weighing harms and benefits, that would therefore change, too. Before Petroland unjustly attacked Imperioland, Imperioland was indebted to Petroland because of past harms. This would not be static in the meantime as the populations changed, even considering downstream effects, but even if we set that aside, the unjust attack is now a harm in the other direction, and thus the entire calculation of who harmed who and how much would now be different. Further, hostilities arguably put the whole matter on hold as something that cannot be properly worked out until other problems are solved. And whether or not you are in debt simply does not affect whether or not you are engaging in a proportional response in this particular moment. If a criminal owes me medical expenses for prior assault, he still has the right to defend himself if I am trying to stab him in the chest, and he can defend himself in exactly the same way that he morally could if he were a perfect stranger.

This ties in to a broader issue, namely, with claims that just war theory can't handle this or can't handle that. Just war theory by its very definition is not a standalone theory. The root of just war theory is the question, "Can actions of war be just actions?" and the Yes answer comes with the condition, "when justly disposed people justly use means for just ends". The particular form of just war criteria is often affected by long experience of recurring problems in warfare and the kinds of things you can get people to agree to in order to resolve them (and sometimes by historical accidents like the consequentializing of proportionality, which is due to, first, Vitoria's particular formulation of it, and, then, a consequentialist interpretation, including the conflation of being harmed and being wronged, thus losing the sense of making sure harms you cause are not worse than the wrong committed against you), but all of the criteria are specific forms, adapted to the conditions of war, of general requirements of justice in any kind of endeavor. Any just war theory that does not implicitly recognize this is a fake just war theory -- why is it even talking about 'just war' if it is not about justice in warring? The question is therefore, can the relevant account of justice handle the problem? If it can't, no amount of fiddling with just war theory is going to improve matters, and if it can, there's no problem for just war theory.

Lent XXXIV

Contend not in words, for it is to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (2 Timothy 2:14)

Contention signifies a conflict in words. Therefore, it can be understood in two ways since the one speaking sharpness is depraved in two ways. In one way, if through this one comes to favor what is false, as when someone, trusting in his loud voice, impugns the truth. In another way, on account of the disorder, as when sharpness is used either beyond the appropriate manner or against the character of the person. But if it be used moderately, both with due circumstances and for the truth, it is not a sin. And thus in rhetoric it is one instrument of exhortation. But in Sacred Scripture it is taken to mean the disorder.

[Thomas Aquinas, Commentaries on St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Baer, tr. St. Augustine's Press (South Bend, IN: 2007) p. 116.]

Friday, April 07, 2017

Jottings Toward a Typology of Murder Ballads

"There's always a killer, / so logically someone has to die...."
Murder ballads are a form of song about death, but are distinguished from other death songs in three ways:

(1) They are story-songs.
(2) They are differentiated from other story-songs about death by the fact that they concern murder or punishment for murder.
(3) They are not songs about murder ballads.

Thus, for instance, "Murder Ballad", from which the above line is quoted, fails to be itself a murder ballad because it is a song about murder ballads that tells no story, although it introduces one, and does not actually involve any murder. "Strange Fruit", while powerful and often classified as a murder ballad, is not a murder ballad in this sense; it is condemnation requiring no story.

For song purposes, suicide ballads are best not counted as murder ballads; they tend to work very differently. The sense of 'murder' is popular rather than strictly legal.

Given this genus-species definition, we can divide murder ballads into murder simple and murder comeuppance ballads. The most obvious division is between murder ballads that describe a murder, and nothing else, and a murder ballads that deal with comeuppance for murder. Comeuppance ballads divide into two kinds: true comeuppance and false comeuppance. In true comeuppance, there is a murder and the murderer is punished (gets comeuppance). In false comeuppance, there is indeed a process of comeuppance, but it goes awry. They can be divided into two kinds: miscarried comeuppance, in which someone who is not the murderer is punished for the murder, and eluded comeuppance, in which the murderer manages not to receive their punishment. There should be further division of murder simple as well, particularly given that it is a large field, but it is not as simple a question to come up with any one set of principles for dividing them; this requires more study. As will be seen below, my provisional division is by narrator.

Some basic examples.

I. Murder Simple

In murder simple we meet a murderer. It may be narrated by a third party or by the victim or by the murderer. Thus, in Nick Cave's "Where the Wild Roses Grow", the song is fittingly a duet between murderer and victim:



In "Banks of the Ohio" and Cher's "Dark Lady" the murderer is the narrator. In "When It's Springtime in Alaska", the victim is. In "Henry Lee", "Matty Groves", "Stagger Lee", and Carrie Underwood's "Two Black Cadillacs" a third party is the narrator, as is also the case with Tom Lehrer's parody, "The Irish Ballad".

Murder simple ballads are probably the most common kind of murder ballad; they also seem to have become increasingly popular over time.

Note that a murder ballad can involve comeuppance without being a comeuppance ballad in our sense, if the murder is itself comeuppance for some other kind of crime -- adultery is probably the most common one.

II. True Comeuppance

True comeuppance tales are probably the form of murder ballad most difficult to do properly; but when done properly, they are the crowns of the genre. As with murder simple, true comeuppance ballads could be narrated by the murderer, by the victim, or by a third party. A well done true comeuppance ballad from a murderer's perspective is very difficult to beat. An example is "Down in the Willow Garden"/"Rose Connelly":



"I Hung My Head" is from the perspective of the murderer. Third party narrations are far and away the most common: "Miss Otis Regrets", "Frankie and Johnny", "Omie Wise", "Mary Hamilton", "Pretty Polly" (a splendid version, by the way), "Big Iron", are all examples. I don't think I know any famous ones from the victim's perspective, but it's certainly a possible class.

Note that the only distinguishing characteristic is that there is comeuppance; it might not actually be a major part of the song, as in "Pretty Polly", in which the murderer just gives himself up.

III. Miscarried Comeuppance

The wrong person sometimes gets punished! A good example is "Long Black Veil":



There are some interesting differences in this class of murder ballad. In "Long, Black Veil" the innocent man dies rather than admit that he was having an affair with his best friend's wife; in "Poor Ellen Smith" (this version, at least), the idea seems to be that the innocent man was too obvious a suspect because of other unspecified wrongs he had done; in "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia", the innocent man dies because he was beaten to the murder and didn't get an appropriate trial ("Don't trust your soul to no backwoods son of lawyer").

IV. Eluded Comeuppance

Probably the rarest kind of murder ballad, in eluded comeuppance the murderer gets out of comeuppance. An example would be Springfield Exit's "George Cunningham":



There's quite a bit of diversity here, as well. In "George Cunningham" the murderer escapes punishment by ingenuity and Cunningham family loyalty; in the Dixie Chicks's "Goodbye Earl" the murderers escape through lack of evidence and because no one actually cares much about the man who died; and, among the best of all, in "Red Headed Stranger" the murderer escapes because "you can't hang a man for killin' a woman / Who's tryin' to steal your horse."

Lent XXXIII

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul. (1 Peter 2:11)

From this point on, he skillfully urges the various classes of the faithful not to show themselves unworthy of so great a grace of the spirit by living according to their bodily desires, lest any of those marked with the royal and priestly name, driven on by the wickedness of their vices, fall away from the glory of the nobility granted or promised them....Appropriately, however, he teaches those who are free to keep themselves from bodily desires, because the freedom of a more relaxed life is accustomed to be exposed to the greater dangers of enticing allurements that fight against the soul, because while the body body weakly gives in to pleasant concupiscences, the army of the vices is being strongly armed against the soul. He suitably calls them newcomers and strangers that they may the less subject their mind to earthly affairs the more they remember that they have a fatherland in heaven.

[St. Bede, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles, Hurst, tr. Cistercian Publications (Kalamazoo, MI: 1985) p. 89.]

Thursday, April 06, 2017

I Tread with Steps so Faltering

The Mother to Her Child
by Nathaniel Parker Willis


They tell me thou art come from a far world,
Babe of my bosom ! that these little arms,
Whose restlessness is like the spread of wings,
Move with the memory of flights scarce o’er—
That through these fringed lids we see the soul
Steeped in the blue of its remembered home;
And while thou sleep’st come messengers, they say,
Whispering to thee-and 'tis then I see
Upon thy baby lips that smile of heaven!

And what is thy far errand, my fair child?
Why away, wandering from a home of bliss,
To find thy way through darkness home again!
Wert thou an untried dweller in the sky?
Is there, betwixt the cherubothat thou wert,
The cherub and the angel thou mayst be,
A life’s probation in this sadder world?
Art thou, with memory of two things only,
Music and light, left upon earth astray,
And, by the watchers at the gate of heaven,
Looked for with fear and trembling?

God! who gavest
Into my guiding hand this wanderer,
To lead her through a world whose darkling path:
I tread with steps so faltering—leave not me
To bring her to the gates of heaven, alone !
I feel my feebleness. Let these stay on—
The angels who now visit her in dreams!
Bid them be near her pillow till in death
The closed eyes look upon Thy face once more!
And let the light and music, which the world
Borrows of heaven, and which her infant sense
Hails with sweet recognition, be to her
A voice to call her upward, and a lamp
To lead her steps unto Thee!

Nathaniel Parker Willis was a star journalist and a widely read poet who knew all the major literary figures of his day; but time has not treated him well. Indeed, it wasn't treating him well, despite his fame and success, in his lifetime: people mocked him behind his back, and while his poems were indeed widely read, they were also widely mocked for their sentimentality and affectation.

In any case, I came upon this poem by a sort of research meander. Miriam Burstein had mentioned that the nineteenth century was "the era of persistent misspellings"; as it happens I was intending to search various online repositories for Lady Mary Shepherd -- something I occasionally do in order to see if anything new pops up, which every so often happens -- and the comment made me realize that, while I have searched for misspellings before, it had been a very long time. So I searched Google Books for "Lady Mary Shepard". And what popped up was from a biography of Nathaniel Parker Willis. In particular, it's a selection from his diary; the entry from June 30, 1835 reads:

June 30. Breakfasted with Samuel Rogers. Met Dr. Delancey, of Philadelphia, and Corbin, ditto. Talked of Mrs. Butler's book, and Rogers gave us suppressed passages. Talked of critics, and said that ‘as long as you cast a shadow, you were sure you possessed substance.' Coleridge said of Southey : 'I never think of him but as mending a pen. Southey said of Coleridge: 'Whenever anything presents itself to him in the shape of a duty, that moment he finds himself incapable of looking at it.'

Went to the opera with Hon. Mrs. Shaw and heard Grisi in 'I Puritani', and saw Taglioni: both divine. Visited Lady Blessington's box and Lady Vincent.

After to a party at Mrs. Leicester Stanhope's. Saw Guiccioli, and was stuffed to the eyelids by Lady Mary Shepard about my shorter and scriptural poems.

Which, of course, led me to look at Willis's shorter and scriptural poems, which are, indeed, always competent but usually not great.

The reference to Shepherd is not particularly important, but I collect passing mentions of her in the wild; it's potentially useful information to know something about the interpersonal networks of which she was a part, and what kinds of topics she talked to other people about. And notably you do get information about this, although it is very brief and scattered; we find her talking about the nature of space with an economist (Ricardo), arguing phrenology with a phrenologist (Spurzheim), or, here, talking about poetry with a poet.

Lent XXXII

I found Israel like grapes in the desert, I saw their fathers like the firstfruits of the fig tree in the top thereof: but they went in to Beelphegor, and alienated themselves to that confusion, and became abominable, as those things were, which they loved. (Hosea 9:10)

If we love to be with God, then, and honor the one who called and chose us and plucked us from this worldly condition as if from a thorny desert like a bunch of grapes and an early fig that is attractive, we shall preserve unbroken our union with him, which is clearly of a spiritual kind. If, on the other hand, there is some inclination to what is ugly and what offends him, we shall be no different from the nations; we shall be loved ones who became objects of loathing, and duly hated. Scripture says, remember, "The righteousness of the righteous will not save them on the day they sin"; and very wisely the blessed Paul writes, "And so let the one who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

[St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Twelve Prophets, Volume 1, Hill, tr. The Catholic University of America Press (Washington, DC: 2007), p. 187.]

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Generic Pop Protest with Diversity (and Pepsi)

Pepsi recently had a marketing disaster with a commercial that managed to offend liberals and send conservatives into gales of laughter, and unite the entire political spectrum in what Americans truly share today, namely, sarcastic dismissal:



It was so bad, Pepsi had to pull the ad after a very short run and issue an apology.

I don't have all that much to say about it, but I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that a lot of people seem to have a cargo cult view of how protest works. You could not ask for a better illustration of that fact than this advertisement. What is being protested? Nothing at all. All of the signs are generic (Peace, Join the Conversation); we get a lot of art whose actual relation to the protest we do not know; we go through the diversity checklist; and it's impossible to tell what's actually going on. It's the surface appearance of a protest -- the external motions -- and nothing else. It's as if aliens from another planet had seen a protest on TV and tried to copy what they saw.

And, of course, to make it truly sarcasm-worthy, the cargo cult protest here is put into the service of making PepsiCo money. Buy Pepsi to Support [Insert Cause Here].

But, to be fair, that so many people saw the absurdity of it is also a good sign; although, as other campaigns of a similar kind pass unremarked, it probably helped that this advertisement was so extraordinarily vapid in how it portrayed protests.

In Confidence and Peace

Christianity has been too often in what seemed deadly peril, that we should fear for it any new trial now. So far is certain; on the other hand, what is uncertain, and in these great contests commonly is uncertain, and what is commonly a great surprise, when it is witnessed, is the particular mode by which, in the event, Providence rescues and saves His elect inheritance. Sometimes our enemy is turned into a friend; sometimes he is despoiled of that special virulence of evil which was so threatening; sometimes he falls to pieces of himself; sometimes he does just so much as is beneficial, and then is removed. Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God.

John Henry Newman. This is from what is usually known as the Biglietto speech, which he delivered when being made a Cardinal.

Lent XXXI

Is any of you sad? Let him pray. Is he cheerful in mind? Let him sing. (James 5:13)

He who above restrained the brethren from complaining against one another in difficulties now himself shows what must on the contrary be done. If any oppressive sorrow, he says, has come upon any of you either by an injury brought on perhaps by other people or by a besetting fault or by an overwhelming, domestic loss or if you have been made sad for any reason at all, you should by no means gather at that hour to murmur against one another and place the blame on God's judgments but rather come together at the church and on bended knee pray to the Lord that he may send the grace of his consolation, lest the sadness of the world which brings death swallow you up. You yourselves also drive away the harmful disease of sadness from you heart by the frequent sweetness of psalm-singing.

[Bede, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles, Cistercian Publications (Kalamazoo, MI: 1985) pp. 60-61. In Bede's interpretation of the verse, unlike the Douay-Rheims translation quoted above, the singing is part of the response to the question about sadness, not a separate topic.]

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Isidore of Seville

Today is the memorial for St. Isidore of Seville, Doctor of the Church. He is best known for having written the Etymologies, an encyclopedic look at all sorts of things using the method of etymologia, which means defining things by similar words that connect a more abstract idea to actual experience. Because of this he is sometimes regarded as the patron saint of the Internet. We tend not to use the method of etymologia much any more, but the phenomenon of language it draws on is a real one, as we all know from the fact that everyone (to the annoyance of pedants) uses the word 'parameter' as if it were related to 'perimeter'; and 'folk etymologies', criticized for not being etymologies in the modern sense of the word (namely, a historical origin), are often really etymologiae in the medieval sense, since almost no one actually cares much whether they are literally the histories of the words as long as they capture the meaning in a striking way. (Later scholastics will take etymologia and descriptio to be kinds of imperfect or incomplete definition -- they are the ways we start roughing out what the definition should be.)

From Isidore's Etymologies, Book VI, 71-79 (my very rough translation):

Penitence (poenitentia) is named as if it were punishment (punitentia), because by repenting in himself a man punishes the bad he has done. For nothing other is done by those who truly repent than that they do not allow the bad they have done to be unpunished. The one whose high and just judgment is not evaded by the contemptuous is sparing to the extent one does not spare oneself. And that penitence is complete that weeps for for past [sins] and does not allow future ones. This is according to the likeness of a fountain, because if when the devil attacks some sin by chance should creep in, by this satisfaction it is purified. And satisfaction is to exclude the causes and temptations (suggestiones) of sins and not to repeat the sin again. But reconciliation (reconciliatio) is what is added after the completion of penitence. For as we are united (conciliamur) to God when first we converted from paganism (a gentilitate), so we are reunited (reconciliamur) we return repentantly (poenitendo) after sin. Exomologesis is the Greek word which is understood in Latin as 'confession', which word has a twofold signification. Either confession is understood as in praise, such as: 'I will confess you, O Lord, the Father of heaven and earth', or as when one confesses his sins so that they will be regarded kindly by the one whose compassion is indeficient. Therefore by use of this Greek word 'exomologesis' we express that act by which we confess our failing to the Lord, not as if the one to whose knowledge nothing is hidden were ignorant, but confession is a declared awareness (professa cognitio)of a thing, namely of that which has been unknown (ignoratur). For suppose a person judged it useful and pleasant to rape, to commit adultery, to steal; but when he becomes aware (cognovit) that these are punishable (obnoxia) by eternal damnation, he confesses his error as he becomes aware (cognitis) of this. And confession is profession (professio) of ceasing to err; therefore there should be a ceasing of sin when there is confession. And confession precedes, remission follows. But beyond pardon is one who is aware (cognoscit) of his sin and does not confess what is known (cognitum). Thus exomologesis is the discipline of prostrating and humbling oneself, in dress and food, lying in sackcloth and ashes, darkening his body with dirt, casting down his spirit in lamentation, changing by harsh treatment those things in which one sins.

Lent XXX

But withal prepare me also a lodging. For I hope that through your prayers I shall be given unto you. (Philemon 32)

But on the contrary, he was never returned to them but died in Rome. Therefore, his hope failed.

I respond that the hope of the just is twofold. Chiefly it is for one's own good, and in this it never fails for oneself. The other is secondary, the approval of others, and in this it sometimes fails since the merits of others are opposed, just as when the just are sometimes not heard in their hopes for others.

But was he deceived in his confidence?

It must be said that to know future things belongs to God alone and not to human knowledge, except prophetic knowledge. And none of the prophets knew everything about his own future except Christ, Who did not have the Holy Spirit to a limited measure. Thus Isaac the great prophet was deceived in Jacob. Hence, it is not a marvel if the Apostle did not know either.

[Thomas Aquinas, Commentaries on St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Baer, tr., St. Augustine's Press (South Bend, IN: 2007) p. 206.]

Monday, April 03, 2017

Evening Note for Monday, April 3

Thought for the Evening: Analogical Predication and Veneration of Icons

Thomas Aquinas's account of analogy (ST 1.13.10)

Univocal terms mean absolutely the same thing, but equivocal terms absolutely different; whereas in analogical terms a word taken in one signification must be placed in the definition of the same word taken in other senses; as, for instance, "being" which is applied to "substance" is placed in the definition of being as applied to "accident"; and "healthy" applied to animal is placed in the definition of healthy as applied to urine and medicine. For urine is the sign of health in the animal, and medicine is the cause of health.

This translation is a little misleading, in that the way it translates Aquinas's claims makes it sound more static than it is -- Aquinas's account of analogy does not apply to terms as such, and in the Latin he does not talk about 'univocal terms', for instance, but about 'univocals'. Aquinas's univocal, equivocal, or analogical is applied to predication, or things like imposition of names, which can be thought of along the lines of predication. In other words, it is about what we would call use of terms, application of them to something. Nor is it a single application; Aquinas's account is about comparison of one use with another. Nothing is univocal on its own, but only in comparison with something else.

To apply a term univocally means that it is in all the uses being considered omnino eadem ratio, wholly the same notion; to use a term equivocally means that it is in the uses considered omnino ratio diversa, a wholly different notion; and to use a term analogically (i.e., by a kind of proportion) is in between the two. One of the examples Aquinas gives of analogical use is that of 'animal' applied to an animal and a painted animal. If I have a cow and I paint the cow, I can point to the cow and say that it is a 'cow'; I can also point to the painting and say that it is a 'cow'. This use is not univocal; a cow is not a painted cow. Nor is it equivocal; there is something shared by meanings of the word as I am using it. As Aquinas puts it, real cow is in the definition of painted cow; that is, a painted cow is a cow in the sense that it is an image of a real cow. This is, of course, not a bare claim about words; it is a claim about how things are understood.

Aquinas gives other examples of analogical use, but there's a reason to focus a moment on the painted animal example, because it connects to a theological topic that is not often considered in conjunction with analogical use of names: veneration of icons. That the two relate can be seen by considering the works of St. Theodore the Studite on the subject.

Theodore (759-826) was a monk in the Stoudios Monastery, one of the great monasteries of Constantinople. He was the most important figure on the orthodox side in the dispute that arose during the Second Iconoclasm. Veneration of icons had been approved by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, but Emperor Leo V saw himself as reliving the greatness of the Isaurian Dynasty (the sources of the First Iconoclasm) and tried to revive their iconoclastic policies. The orthodox Patriarch Nicephorus was exiled; a new Patriarch sympathetic to the Imperial policy was put into place, and St. Theodore became the major opponent of the iconoclastic movement. He was exiled, but conducted a massive correspondence campaign that had considerable influence. When the iconoclastic policy ended after his death in 843 (which is celebrated by the East under the name 'Triumph of Orthodoxy'), it was Theodore above all who was remembered.

The issues intersect when we consider veneration of icons. In effect, if we have an icon of Christ, and I address it in prayer by saying, "O Christ", then if the use of the term 'Christ' is equivocal (compared to the use of 'Christ' to mean Christ Himself), I am not praying to Christ, but if the use of the term is univocal, I am praying to a painting as Christ. Both of these are idolatrous. Theodore has the means to address this in his First Refutation of the Iconoclasts:

...the copy is not separated from the glory of the prototype, in the same way as shadow is not separated from light. And indeed, whatever is said about the cause, the same things can be said without exception of whatever is caused. In the former case, this will be said in the proper manner (kyrios), because it is so by nature (physei); in the latter case, it will not be said in the proper manner (kyrios), but rather by homonymy (homonymos)....And we call the image of Christ "Christ," because it is also Christ, and not two Christs--since it is impossible to distinguish one from the other in virtue of the name (homonymia), but only in virtue of the nature (physei); so the blessed Basil says that the image of the king is also called king, and there are not two kings; neither is power divided, nor is the glory apportioned; and the honor of the represented images goes over (diabainei) to the prototype. [Theodore the Studies, Writings on Iconoclasm, Cattoi, tr. Newman Press (New York: 2015), pp. 51-52.]

...when you consider the likeness to the original by means of a representation (di'ektypomatos), you will see both Christ and the image of Christ. However, it will be Christ by virtue of homonymy (kata to homonymon); it will be the image of Christ because of the relation (kata to pros it). For the copy is a copy of the original, and so the name is the one name of the one who is named. [p. 54]

'Christ' used of Christ and the icon of Christ cannot be univocal: they differ by nature. But it cannot be simply equivocal, either, because the term is used of one because of its relation to the other as an image, just as the image of the emperor is also called the emperor. It is precisely that makes it possible for the honor of the one to pass over to the other, and also why this does not mean that anyone is honored other than Christ, just as the image of the emperor and the emperor are not two emperors. The icon is not venerated as different from Christ; and it is not venerated as Christ in its own nature; but it is venerated as Christ insofar as it is understood that it is of Christ. Veneration of icons depends on the analogical use of terms.

Various Links of Note

* "Reading Acts" has a series on IV Maccabees: What is Fourth Maccabees?, Fourth Maccabees and the Fourth Philosophy, Fourth Maccabees and a Rational Faith. With regard to the last, I think we need a broader view, since it is not just temperance but all of the four cardinal virtues; I've touched on this, but only touched on it, in my post on The Philosophical Vindication of Judaism in IV Maccabees.

* Natalie Wolchover, A Long Sought Proof, Found and Almost Lost

* Phoebe Maltz Bovy, The Perils of 'Privilege'

* An interesting phenomenon is what is often known as the Mandela Effect: it occurs when, independently, a significant number of people misremember the same thing in the same way, and do so very vividly. It gets its name from the claim that lots of people remember Nelson Mandela dying in the 80s instead of in 2013, but a more plausible example of it is that people will swear up and down that the name of the Berenstain Bears is the Berenstein Bears, to the extent that, if shown the actual name, they will often think it was changed at some point. Another common example is that a great many people remember the comedian Sinbad having made a genie movie named Shazaam, despite the fact that he never did so. (There was a movie named Kazaam with Shaquille O'Neal, but there are apparently people who remember that and also remember a Sinbad movie named Shazaam.) Sinbad apparently gets asked about it constantly, so for April Fool's this year, he worked with College Humor to make 'proof' of the nonexistent movie.

* A good YouTube analysis of how Who Framed Roger Rabbit? achieved its unusually good meshing of live action and animation.

Currently Reading

Dante, Purgatorio
Christ Our Pascha: Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church
Donald Ainslie, Hume's True Scepticism
George Santayana, Three Philosophical Poets
Michael Flynn, Eifelheim

Music on My Mind



Balsam Range, "Voodoo Doll". Very, very catchy.

Lent XXIX

Labour as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3)

There are three ways in which someone is a soldier of Christ. First, inasmuch as he fights against sin....And this fight is against the flesh, the world, and the devil....

Second, someone is a soldier of Christ by fighting against errors....

Third, the military service of martyrs is against tyrants. And this is more laborious....And a soldier (miles) ought not to rest since he is named from the warfare to be endured (militia sustinenda).

[St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentaries on St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Baer, tr., St. Augustine's Press (South Bend, IN: 2007) pp. 110-111.]

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Whose Pow'r Alone, Dissimilars Can Join

Orphic Hymn to Justice
tr. by Thomas Taylor


The piercing eye of Justice bright, I sing,
Plac'd by the throne of heav'n's almighty king,
Perceiving thence, with vision unconfin'd,
The life and conduct of the human kind
To thee, revenge and punishment belong,
Chastising ev'ry deed, unjust and wrong;
Whose pow'r alone, dissimilars can join,
And from th' equality of truth combine:
For all the ill, persuasion can inspire,
When urging bad designs, with counsel dire,
'Tis thine alone to punish; with the race
Of lawless passions, and incentives base;
For thou art ever to the good inclin'd,
And hostile to the men of evil mind.
Come, all-propitious, and thy suppliant hear,
When Fate's predestin'd, final hour draws near.