Saturday, September 09, 2017

Fields, Orchards, Gardens

Sonnet on September
by William Mann

Amidst the songs of morn, and harvest mirth,
Soft-eye'd December on our plains descends;
Rejoicing Nature gladdens at her birth,
And sweet serenity her steps attends.
Rich magazines of plenty round her rise,
Creation sings the bounties of her Lord;
Fields, orchards, gardens, teem with full supplies,
And earth appears like paradise restor'd.
O plenteous scenes! I'd have ye always last,
O prospects grand! I'd have ye always stay;
Oh! how I wish that troublous times were past,
Oh ! how I long for the millenial day.
Father of mercies, paradise restore,
Let wars, and wants, and woes be known no more.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Dashed Off XIX

"For propaganda to succeed, a society must first have two complementary qualities: it must be both an individualist and a mass society." Jacques Ellul

stages of argument use: entertainment, consolidation, acceptance, diffusion

agent intellect as (ground of) intrinsic potential of philosophy

process of ideation: to sketch, to purify, to glorify

"Each emotion obeys a logic of its own, and makes deductions which no other logic can draw." William James

consecrated religious as signs representing the Church in its devotion (this makes considerable sense of many private revelations to saints)

enlightenment, purification, and transcendence as the characteristics of high philosophical contemplation

Note that James has a correct summary of arguments ex consensu gentium.

"The truth is that any state of things whatever that can be named is logically susceptible of teleological explanation." James

Belief is not thought at rest.

The ordinary magisterium is the Church's natural resistance to discordant innovations.

Private property is a ius sanctum by participation in, and protection of, human dignity.

the ethics that guide science as the ethics of civic life with scientific ends

the ethics required by scientific inquiry (esse) vs that required by good scientific inquiry (bene esse)

"The Church is essentially a popular institution, defending the cause and encouraging the talents of the lower classes, and interposing an external barrier in favour of high or low against the ambition and the rapacity of the temporal power." Newman

Intellectual work is like investment in its effects; sometimes it is sunk, or lost by accident, sometimes it stagnates or slowly declines, and sometimes it expands with a kind of compound interest.

betrothal // catechumenate

-more attention needs to be directed to the study of how arguments are extracted from contexts

Justice makes important the exclusive, the reformative, and the impersonal.

Matrimony "resumit et perficit" the sanctifying grace of baptism (Familiaris Consortio sect. 56).

solidarity: a firm and constant will to care for common good
subsidiarity & curation of common good

baptism : affective catholicity :: confirmation : effective catholicity

the notes of the Church as the standard for episcopal acction

To recognize an independent, continually existing world is to recognize in oneself a potential that can be made actual by an active power other than oneself. The independence and externality are recognized by reflecting on sameness and difference in one's being moved.

loyalty (Royce): thoroughgoing and loving devotion of an individual to a community = willing and thoroughgoing devotion of a self to a cause when the cause unites many selves in one and is therefore the interest of a community

Thoughts that are not thought together are incomplete.

(1) We find in nature things that exist from another, in the sense that we say that they are made to be.
(2) If everything together existed from another, there would be something beyond everything together, which is a contradiction; so some things must not exist from another.
(3) If everything together is not from another, something must not be from another.
(4) Therefore there must be something that is not from another.

Knowledge is not something produced so much as it is something grown into.

The human mind experiences the world around itself as question-raising.

"Consciousness of the body is comparable to the consciousness of a sign." Sartre

Everything Sartre says about freedom is ambiguous between freedom and craving.
Craving is the nothings made to be in the human heart, which forces man to try to make himself rather than to be; it makes human reality seem to be a grasping after oneself.

pride & the tendency to identify self with craving (cp. wrathful Buddhas)

plans as schemes of presumptive possibilities

"Man is an animal that interprets; and therefore man lives in communities, and depends upon them for insight and for salvation." Royce

Mere repetition does not make things more probable; only eliminating alternatives does.

Helen Wodehouse: 'ought' as 'This is what is needed'.

the narrative unity of human civilization

liturgy & Royce's communities of interpretation

Sidgwick seems consistently to underestimate the boldness of Bentham. (He is far from being alone in this.) he also falls back too loosely and lazily on hints and accusations of tautology, as if tautology were not another name for "necessary structure of consistent of reasoning" and as if tautologies and identities were not the sort of thing you need in order to clarify reasoning.

the intelligible structure, the rhetorical utility, and the moral character of an argument

the impossibility of an infinite regress in moral responsibility

ordained priests as sylleitourgoi of the angels
Each angelic order reflects an aspect of liturgy.

Human beings are not capable of infinite precision in their use of terms.

The very notion of an experiment implies that potential can deliberately be made actual in light of preselected ends.

All true devotion is a kind of learning.

We begin our assessments of truth not from single cases but from what usually happens. (This lets us clarify what is actually going on in single cases.)

Suggestions of what is good, drawn together and subjected to immense rational pressure, crystallize into obligations.

In an appropriate rational context, law forms itself like a crystal.

hypotheses as quasi-metaphorical

Any education more than merely casual relies on some notion of authority-to-teach.

The most impressively effective secularization has not been political but the secularization of sexual desire.

Politics is a negotiation of debts.

definitive, constitutive, and exhortative modes of doctrine

HoP and the exemplar causation of arguments

the Cantorian df. of a set: A set is a gathering together into a whole of definite, distinct objects of perception or thought, which are called the elements of the set.

status rationales
- conjecturalis (an sit)
- definitionis (quid sit)
- qualitatis (quale sit)
status legales
- scriptum et voluntas
- leges contrariae
- ambiguitas
Note that status legales deal with possible inconsistencies of law: with originating intent, with other laws, and with itself.

ciphers & analogies; codes & allusions

Aristotle's Rhetoric as a theory of inference from sign

A character in a narrative is constituted by revealed and suggested moral purposes.

Note that Aristotle explicitly allows deus ex machina for contextualizing (knowledge of what is otherwise unknowable).

the dignity of the bench as essential to the effectiveness of courts

unity + apostolicity -- papacy
unity + sanctity -- consensus of Church Fathers
unity + catholicity -- ecumenical Councils
sanctity + catholicity -- sacramental tradition
apostolicity + catholicity -- communion of episcopate
sanctity + apostolicity -- Scripture
-- But, of course, all these things must in some sense bear all four notes.

"The study of history shows us that grave external calamities often release internal dissensions and party quarrels." Ludwig von Pastor

vagueness & indistinguishability of things in other ways distinguishable

Aristotle on the utility of rhetoric
(1) Truth and justice have a natural tendency to prevail; thus lapses tend to be rhetorical lapses
(2) Some cannot be instructed, but something must even so be done toward conviction.
(3) By employing rhetoric on both sides of a question, we may see more clearly what is the case.
(4) As rational creatures we should be ashamed of not being able to defend ourselves by word and reason.

One needs a doxastic logic with tracks-of-belief (potentially multiple for any single believer). This would allow regimentation of beliefs where inconsistency is involved -- inconsistent beliefs lie along different tracks. Which would allow Bp -> ~B~p as being intrinsic to belief, which would be handy, without ignoring the problem of inconsistency. Moreover, this seems to be reasonably connected with explanations of how we can have inconsistent beliefs to begin with -- we don't generally just have B(P&~P), but rather we get to one by one route and to the other by another, and only recognize the contradiction when we compare across routes, not when we are considering a single route.

For any active power, one may distinguish Box and Diamond, as that which is beyond the power or its conditions (i.e., must be presupposed by it) and that which is within its scope. This raises the interesting question of whether every modal Box and Diamond can be taken to imply an active power of some kind.

curation of the museum of thought
collection, conservation, display, and education about historical arguments

respect des fonds as a light-fingerprint approach to archival curation (the archivist is avoiding creating a new fonds)
- this perhaps suggests that it is more important as the fonds is more fragile and more difficult to reconstitute (and less as the reverse).
- respect des fonds also serves as a natural default where there is no agreement on classification - minimal irreversible actions.

archival work as a possible humanitarian tradition

A society needs reasonable hortators more than it needs experts, not because the latter are unimportant, but because a society needs noncoercive reasonableness in ways going well beyond its need for expertise.

the Sitz im Leben of an argument

Allegorization of metaphor arises naturally out of reflecting on the meaning and implications of the metaphor.

Jn 14:12 and the sacraments

miracles associated with Peter's boat: two catches of fish, two calmings of storm, walking on water
- note that discourses involving Peter himself are found in close association with each case

Rhetoric is more naturally seen as dealing with persuasion (and being effective at dealing with it) at the level of audience rather than at the level of the individual.

"The basic pattern of legal reasoning is reasoning by example." Edward Levi

D axiom and infinition
G implies F: no end
H implies P: no beginning
Box implies Diamond: no exception
O implies P: no qualification
- it is the seriality, of course, that we are seeing here. [But note that D axiom does not on its own yield seriality.)

computerization as part of the miniaturization of fabrication

Every active power can be ab alio or non ab alio.
Thus: if we assume for the moment that Diamond and Box imply an active power,
(1) For such-and-such Box [or Diamond], there is an active power.
(2) This active power may be derivative or nonderivative.
(3) If nonderivative, there is a first active power in this line.
(4) If derivative, there is another active power for it.
(5) This cannot regress infinitely.
(6) Therefore there is a first active power in this line.
For instance:
(1) For there to be obligation, there must be an obligating power or powers. Pick one.
(2) This power is from another or not.
(3) If not, there is a first obligating power.
(4) If derivative, there must be an active power activating this obligating power.
(5) This cannot infinite regress.
(6) Therefore there is a first active power serving as principle of obligation in this line.
- A complication arises because one kind of active power may derive from a different kind.

a possible classification of theistic arguments
(1) active power arguments
(2) pure perfection arguments
(3) global-skepticism-blocking arguments
(4) practical requirement arguments

Highly confirmed anticipatory models allow one to identify causes based on deviations from the model. (This is related to Newton's First Law.)

the Golden Rule and commons-building

Things do not consistently replicate without a teleology.

ecclesial design arguments

Lady Susan as the World

upholding the dignity of work
(1) respect for labor
(2) moderation of labor
(3) days for rest and worship (formal recognition of human and divine dignity)
(4) protection from exploitation

the importance of legislative representation for corporate bodies, whether direct or indirect

The proper use of language is service to truth.

stability of adherence to truth, of communication of truth, of cultivation of inquiry

True discursive reasoning is an oscillation of simplicity and complexity.

topics : true :: rhetoric : good :: poetics : beautiful

Always to muse much and ponder deeply.

sources of intellectual authority
(1) clear possession of truth
(2) history of preserving truth
(3) history of protecting inquiry
(4) conventional deference
(5) certified accomplishment
(6) charismatic presentation

peace, exchange, mutual aid

Human perversity is (indirect) adaptive; reason, when enslaved by it, builds defenses for it.

sacrament of confirmation and growing in favor with God and man

Justice &c are right unconditionally, without regard for ulterior results -- but not without regard for ulterior ends.

We regard as right the adoption of certain ends because they are subordinate to other ends.

the Church's capacity to express divine things as a sign of its incorruptibility

wisdom as a thing not seen nor yet in hand, but nonetheless loved

the three intrinsic laws of the liturgical commonwealth
(1) The sacraments must be upheld.
(2) The sacramental system must be handed down.
(3) Sacramental responsibilities must be fulfilled.
- These arise from sacraments as received common good.

Primacy of honor calls for a certain deference and loyalty.

The goodness of virtue and the badness of vice must be communicated or a society becomes corrupted.

"Divine power is not circumscribed by any place and neither is the inexhaustible goodness of the Mother of God. For if the graces were restricted only to her tomb, only a few people would gain them. Now her graces are poured out in every place throughout the world." John Damascene (Hom in Dorm 2.19)

Ontological arguments seem to require an intellectual clarity that is generally beyond human beings to achieve.

power : authority of the Church :: wisdom : infallibility :: goodness : indefectibility

the Incarnation as symbolic theology; the sacraments as symbolic theology

"All speaking of God presupposes God speaking." Edith Stein

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Evening Note for Wednesday, September 6

Thought for the Evening: Psycho-Pass

I finally got around to watching Psycho-Pass, an anime science fiction crime thriller, and can highly recommend it. In the future, Japan is governed by the Sybil System, a supercomputer with a ubiquitous network of psychometric scanners. The entire society is organized so as to reduce stress and mental disorders. Every citizen is continually scanned by the Sybil System and issued a Psycho-Pass, which includes a Crime Coefficient indicating the likelihood of criminal behavior. Anyone whose Crime Coefficient rises too high is hunted down by the Public Safety Bureau and neutralized, either by being stunned and sent to therapy, or by being executed on the spot if they are an imminent or irreversible threat. The means of doing this are guns called Dominators that are part of the Sibyl System. The enforcement work is itself stressful, so it is done by Enforcers who are actually latent criminals themselves - that is, they have the kind of psychological profile that have stably high Criminal Coefficients; they are overseen by Inspectors, with low Criminal Coefficients, who have authority to shoot them at any moment that they deem them to become a threat.

The series follows Akane Tsunemori, a rookie Inspector who is assigned to Division 1 of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the Enforcer, Shinya Kogami. Akane, who has a natural temperament for accepting things as they are, has an unusually low, and unusually stably low, Criminal Coefficient; she and Kogami work together to solve am unusual series of grisly and ghastly crimes, committed by very different people who seem largely unconnected, but as things proceed, it becomes clear that there is an orchestrator behind the scenes, not dirtying his hands with the details but providing others means to do terrible things. What is more, the villain, Shogo Makashima, is an anomaly -- he is not bothered by his crimes, so his Crime Coefficient stays low, no matter what he does. No matter what other evidence there might be, the Sibyl System reads him as non-criminal, and therefore locks the Dominators.

Makashima is a compelling villain -- he is well read and cultured, soft-spoken and charming. Even more, the criticisms of the Sibyl System underlying his crimes are legitimate. The Sibyl System keeps society safe, for the most part, but the universal surveillance has stolen something from them, and the Sibyl System is not exactly trustworthy. A true villain, but with a legitimate complaint, capable of terrible evil and highly rational: it's a perfect combination to drop into an ordered dystopia.

The second season faced a number of problems, and received some rather severe criticisms from critics. The criticisms were well founded. The first season, while exceptionally good, had some pacing problems, which were carried over. In addition, there was insufficient continuity of characters -- too much change, one might say. The villain was inevitably going to be less impressive than Makashima. The series also occasionally lost sight of the fact that it was a psychological crime thriller, and became much more violent. However, it did have a number of interesting ideas -- in particular, introducing the idea of whether a collective group could have a high tendency to criminality even though all of its members had a low tendency. And it ends up being OK, not great like the first season, but OK.

The series as a whole is a deliberate mixing pot of philosophical puzzles and ideas: the Panopticon, the omnipotence paradox, deterrence theories of punishment, brains in vats, gestalt personalities, the nature of just judgment, human experimentation, and more. Quite enjoyable.

Various Links of Interest

* The word 'fascism' has been thrown around a lot recently, so it's worthwhile to re-read George Orwell's 1944 essay, "What Is Fascism?", because nothing has fundamentally changed.

* Philip Pilkington, Utilitarian Economics and the Corruption of Conservatism

* Timothy Hsiao, The Perverted Faculty Argument

* David Hershenov, Ten (Bad, but Popular) Arguments for Abortion

* Philip W. Magness, Houston Flooding in Historical Perspective

* Regan Penaluna, Sexism Killed My Love for Philosophy Then Mary Astell Brought It Back

* Christopher Bartel, Rock as a Three-Value Tradition

* If you are planning on donating for hurricane relief, either for Harvey or upcoming Irma, it's best to avoid the Red Cross. Red Cross does some things well, but they are notoriously bad at disaster relief; they are simply not flexible enough. Both the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, on the other hand, have very good reputations for being able to improvise in a way that increases the chances of people getting the actual help they need, when they need it and in the way they need it.

Currently Reading

Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji
Edith Stein, Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities
Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity
C. S. Lewis, The World's Last Night and Other Essays


By the Babe Unborn
by G. K. Chesterton

If trees were tall and grasses short,
As in some crazy tale,
If here and there a sea were blue
Beyond the breaking pale,

If a fixed fire hung in the air
To warm me one day through,
If deep green hair grew on great hills,
I know what I should do.

In dark I lie; dreaming that there
Are great eyes cold or kind,
And twisted streets and silent doors,
And living men behind.

Let storm clouds come: better an hour,
And leave to weep and fight,
Than all the ages I have ruled
The empires of the night.

I think that if they gave me leave
Within the world to stand,
I would be good through all the day
I spent in fairyland.

They should not hear a word from me
Of selfishness or scorn,
If only I could find the door,
If only I were born.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Theoretic Festivals

Even the objects which are the most remote from man, because they are objects to him, and to the extent to which they are so, are revelations of human nature. Even the moon, the sun, the stars, call to man Γνῶθι σεαυτόν. that he sees them, and so sees them, is an evidence of his own nature. The animal is sensible only of the beam which immediately affects life; while man perceives the ray, to him physically indifferent, of the remotest star. Man alone has purely intellectual, disinterested joys and passions; the eye of man alone keeps theoretic festivals. The eye which looks into the starry heavens, which gazes at that light, alike useless and harmless, having nothing in common with the earth and its necessities--this eye sees in that light its own nature, its own origin. The eye is heavenly in its nature. Hence man elevates himself above the earth only with the eye; hence theory begins with the contemplation of the heavens. The first philosophers were astronomers. It is the heavens that admonish man of his destination, and remind him that he is destined not merely to action, but also to contemplation.

Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, George Eliot, tr., Harper (New York: 1957), p. 5. Feuerbach is playing, of course, with the root meaning of the word 'theory', which derives from words for contemplation and sight, and was often linked to festivals (i.e., spectacles, shows). Feuerbach's description here is also consistent with Kant's account of the experience of sublimity, of which Kant himself famously gives the example of the starry heavens.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Servus Servorum Dei

Today is the Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church. From the Moralia in Iob, Book XXXV:

For the less a person sees himself, the less is he displeased with himself; and the more he discerns the light of greater grace, the more blameworthy does he acknowledge himself to be. For when he is elevated within, by all that he is, he endeavours to agree with that standard which he beholds above him. And because human weakness still impedes him, he perceives that he differs therefrom in no slight degree, and every thing within him is burdensome, which does not agree with that inward standard. This standard blessed Job more fully beholds, as he was making progress after his suffering, and with great self-reproach is at variance with himself, saying; Therefore I reproach myself. But because there is no knowledge of reproach, if the lamentations of penitence do not also follow, it is rightly added, after the reproach, And do penance in dust and ashes.