Saturday, September 22, 2018

Golf Pictures

A rather interesting tale: Valentino Dixon was in prison, serving a long sentence, and took up drawing pictures about golf. He had never played golf, but he had considerable talent drawing, and someone had asked him to draw a picture of a hole on Augusta golf course, and he discovered that drawing it was relaxing. He began sending his pictures in to Golf Digest, to which another inmate had a subscription and whose photographs he had started using as an inspiration. After a while, the drawings caught the attention of someone and a reporter for the magazine, Max Adler, looked into it as a possible story. When he did, he started finding a large number of puzzles about Dixon's case -- policework that didn't seem to follow procedure, unreliable witnesses, a confession by someone else, and the like. So he published a story not just about the pictures but raising questions about the case, and, although it wasn't a straightforward or easy path, Valentino Dixon's sentence was vacated and Dixon walked free, recognized as an innocent man, a few days ago.

Golf Digest's original profile on Dixon: Drawings from Prison

And their report on the whole story: For Valentino Dixon, a Wrong Righted

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dashed Off XXII

constancy and coherence as features of laws of nature (invariance and change-patterns)

Humean fictions as a doubling of ideas (slightly varied) treated as if the same -- e.g., the idea of vacuum (empty space) from (a) the idea-set of two bodies and nothing else (empty) and (b) the idea-set of two bodies with interposing body (space); or unchanging duration from (a) unchanging idea-set and (b) changing idea-set.

The coherence theory of truth detaches immediate apprehension from truth.

fiction vs abstraction accounts of constancy

All of relativity theory and all of quantum mechanics requires abstraction well beyond what empiricism can handle.

To say that lying can be permissible is to say that truth is not itself a good for fortitude.

Protestantism naturally tends to make Christianity more like Islam.

Dedekind cuts and the ability to say 'these numbers are relevant and those are not'

not-incipit-not, not-incipit, incipit, incipit-not
not-desinit, not-desinit-not, desinit-not, desinit

A widespread tradition of an event that would have had to have been widely witnessed is prima facie reason to believe the event occurred (cp 'Kuzari principle').

Sinai tradition
Either based on (1) purportedly real experiences or (2) legends arising later.
If (1), then either (1.1) real experiences or (1.2) conspiracy and lies.
If (1.1), then either (1.1.1) real experience of real or (1.1.2) hallucinatory experience.
If (1.1.1), either ( supernatural event or ( confusion over natural event.
-- Of the non-supernatural alternatives, only the legends branch is worth taking seriously without direct proof -- e.g., the conspiracy would have to be massive, the hallucination would have to be massive, and the natural event would have to be indistinguishable from a preternatural miracle.

People regularly speak as if legends just magically grew up, spontaneously appearing for no definite reason. But neither in organ nor in development nor in preservation do they work this way. the actual causes must be considered.

Even children will not believe just any crazy thing.

In matters of testimony, one must not confuse proof of defeasibility with proof of defeat.

the existence of the Jewish people as a preternatural miracle
the Life of Christ as a preternatural miracle with supernatural elements

Judicial review must be a means of upholding the law or it is a usurpation of power.

A self-victimizing culture arises when the broader culture confuses being a victim with an act of moral rebellion against evil.

Democratic politics is a process of discovering how horribly evil you have been when your opponents start doing what you already do.

If you ask whether an argument is plausible, you are asking about its poetics. If you ask whether an argument is convincing or compelling, you are asking about its rhetorical usefulness. Do not confuses these with other logical questions.

tarka as an assistant to pramana
--tarka, unlike pramana does not establish the nature of the thing or give anything definitive, but it gives weight to an alternative in apparent conflict

"all wrong cognitions have the resemblance of right cognitions; whenever a wrong cognition appears in the world, it always bears the semblance of a right cognition" Uddyotokara

Philo's Embassy to Gaius and Philippians 2:6

ecclesial infrastructure as standing reserve

Science is self-correcting in the way accounting is. But the books must actually be balanced and audited.

legal justice // political prudence

the Kuzari argument // the traditionary argument

concrete nature -- tutelar
abstract principle -- preternatural
death -- beyondgrave
ultimacy -- deity
Perhaps we can think of these as causal efficacy from over-limits -- the limit of human life (death) the limit of human rule, the limit of the concrete, all limit. But there is something about consciousness here, since we have invisible intelligent power in deity, tutelar, and some beyondgrave; preternatural is not intelligent but intelligible above/beyond (our) intelligence.

beyond the limits of humans as understanding agents
(1) intelligible power under which we stand
(2) intelligent power beyond us
---- (a) by being forces beyond death, which we cannot escape
---- (b) by being forces at root of nature, which we must presuppose
---- (c) by being ultimate

sublimity & natural religious experience

We think of languages as having a defined structure, and this is not wrong, but the actual structure is fuzzy, ranging from the barely coherent nongrammatical up through the perfectly serviceable nongrammatical through normal grammatical registers up to the most polished polished grammatical registers and then to the overly defined and stilted registers.

The feeling of doing one's duty often supports one in difficult and miserable times.

analogy of natural providence + analogy of moral providence + analgoy of Israel -> (by convergence) the truth of the Catholic Church

"Hierarchy within can alone preserve egalitarianism without." C. S. Lewis
"The Dictator and the Secret Police breed in countries where schoolboys lack the No Sneaking Rule."

Sirach as a meditation on Scripture as applied to life (quotes or arguably alludes to almost every OT work, follows a scriptural structure in 44-49, note the grandson's prologue)

legend development
(1) embellishment of prior story
(2) literalization of metaphor
(3) confusion of stories
(4) fabrication entering testimonial stream

elements of system
uddesa: list of topics
laksana: definition/account for each topic
pariksa: critical examination of account's application to topics
systems as related topics with examined accounts

As faith is both personal and ecclesial, so also is prayer both personal and ecclesial.

Nomen substantiae potest aliquid repraesentere in opinione. (Peter of Cornwall)

Noumena as well as phenomena must be able to be signified.

the gifts of the holy Spirit as new formal modes of knowing and willing

the link between romance and pleasant embarrassment

Overlap as 'possibly a point is in both a and b'
Parthood as 'necessarily a point in a is in both a and b'

All limitations on free speech are the expression of some special interest.

Democracies primarily work on group loyalties.

Museum curation often fails by omission, not of topics, but of key context.
Museums are often legendaria, mythological presentations, telling a story that is more about an identity than any history.

boundary/border as symmetric binary operator B(a,b) [similar to overlap]

a is part
Therefore there is something b such that a is part of b

Reception of tradition has two axes, which might be called preservation and generation.

memory as giving testimony to oneself

the plasticity of tradition

Habermas errs by substituting consensus for peace.

The democratic institutions of the Western world are not, and never have been, very concerned with consensus.

the client-forming character of bureaucracy (bureaucracy as patronage system)

ethical integrity, intellectual merit, societal impact in research decisions

If the rational being is to think of his maxims as practical at all, he must think of them as having the regulating principle of will in both matter and form.

the sophistical political maxims [Kant]
(1) fac et excusa
(2) si fecisti, nega
(3) divide et impera

acceptation of the faith vs tradition of the faith

Note that Kant claims that a hereditary nobility is a rank that precedes merit. But the real character of hereditary nobility is that it is a rank rewarded for another's merit, which could not be adequately rewarded otherwise. It is not that hte merit is passed down, either; it is that the inherited rank is the reward for the progenitor. It may then be confirmed in further service, because it then functions as a familial practice of honorable service.

Nature does not make talent and will hereditary; but we do in fact inherit the consequences of the talent and will of others.

Meritorious service to the state is made possible not merely by talent and will but by the means to leverage them.

three forms of teaching
(1) dogmatic
(2) catechetical
(3) dialogical

Pyrrhonians treat the authority of reason as an external authority.

Human beings are always stupid -- but not equally stupid at all times.

'a is at least part of b' is equivalent to 'b is at least the whole of a'

force as mereological (Hegel)

Shepherd's theory of causation involves a generalization of Newton's first law.

templates as patterns that are transcribed to produce a consistent product with a particular character

Parity arguments require (1) similarity of structure and (2) unavailability of relevant principled differences.

Too much of the discussion of empty names conflates or fails to appreciate the difference between 'existing' and 'posited for consdieration'.

Philosophy within, citizenship without.

Journalism forms a check on politics only if it is not itself corrupt, and only if it is not a bottleneck for information that citizens need in order to govern well.

Poem a Day XV

No One Has Ever Known Another

No one has ever known another,
no isthmus joins two minds.

The oceans between are fog-laden,
walls dividing island from island.
Even the islands that trade
speak by messages in bottles.

No one has ever known another;
the oceans are deep between us.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Evening Note for Thursday, September 20

Thought for the Evening: Kinds of Failing in Teaching

Suppose you intend to teach something (it doesn't particularly matter for our purposes what). Then it seems you could intend to teach but fail to teach because you did not do anything that was even the right sort of thing. For instance, perhaps you don't really understand what teaching is, and so even though you genuinely intend to teach, all you manage to achieve is a cargo-cult imitation of it, like a child might -- you put people in rows and stand in front of the group like you've seen in pictures and babble in gibberish or about nothing in particular as if you were lecturing. This is a failure of teaching that is so fundamental that we could say that you didn't even get started on teaching. We can call it the zero level of teaching failure:

0. Not the kind of thing that even could be teaching

But you could fail even if you were not that clueless. For instance, you could try to teach, and do the kind of thing that teaching actually involves, even though you are not the right kind of person to teach -- for instance, if you don't actually know what you are talking about. This gives us the next level of teaching failure:

1. The right general kind of thing to be teaching, but not the right person

Even if you are the right kind of person, you could fail in other words. For instance, you could pick a self-defeating time to teach, or try to teach people who aren't even hypothetically interested in hearing what you have to say, or through a medium that just doesn't work. Thus we have:

2. The right kind of person doing the right general kind of thing, but not in the right circumstances

However, as every teacher knows, you could be the right kind of person doing the right kind of thing in the right circumstances and still fail. For instance, you could garble your explanation so that instead of teaching the student, you just hopelessly confuse them. WE have all been there. Thus the next level of teaching failure:

3. The right kind of person incorrectly doing the right general kind of thing in the right circumstances.

Suppose you do it all correctly, though; you could still be interrupted by something, or impeded by something, so that your correct and adequately done work goes to waste. It happens; your teaching could be perfectly fine in itself but foiled by something external to it. And thus:

4. The right kind of person correctly doing the right general kind of thing in the right circumstances, but blocked by something external

If you manage to avoid all these failures, to that you are the right person doing the right general kind of thing in the right circumstances and aren't prevented or impeded by something else, congratulations; you have in some sense succeeded in fully teaching. I say 'in some sense' because while you have the esse of teaching, you can (I'm sorry to say) still fail to achieve the bene esse. Everything could come together so that you are fully teaching, and you could still be flubbing it. Maybe you need more sleep, or maybe you need to care more, or maybe you are trying out something that is just falling flat, and instead of its taking flight, you can hear it drop like a stone and plink on the distant floor of the abyss that has apparently opened at your feet. Thus:

5. Full teaching that is poorly done

But there is another kind of failure -- the fifth level is where full teaching is lame or sickly for reasons belonging to it, but sometimes teaching is all done right and just smothered by a lack of a support. Perhaps you yourself don't follow through properly; or perhaps you need support from others and they don't come through for you. Perhaps the student drops the ball on their end. Perhaps you do well and get drowned out by error in the end through no fault of your own. And thus the last:

6. Full teaching done well itself but not well supported

There are plenty of ways to fail at teaching, then, and failure is available in plenty even when other things come together just right. An interesting modification of all this is when we are talking not just about teaching but about teaching on behalf of, when the teaching itself is an act of representation. Level 1 failures for teaching in general tend to be about whether you can actually do anything to teach at all; but you can be a perfectly fine teacher and still not be the right kind of person for representative teaching. This is quite common. Perhaps we are talking about teaching in order to certify, as with college professors or teachers in beauty schools, or maybe you are teaching, by a sort of dispensation, what is in itself a higher authority's prerogative to teach, as with rabbis or catechists or the Pope. Such cases impose more conditions that have to be met to avoid each level of failure as a teacher.

As a college professor, for instance, I not only have to teach, I have to teach in such a way that at least a fair amount of what is taught can be used for degrees, transfers, other classes. This is actually a very large set of constraints; a prerogative of being an academic is being able to teach as one sees fit, but in fact, even setting aside laws and policies, there are many things that restrict what one can do. I could teach a perfectly excellent Intro Philosophy class starting with the Pre-Socratics, then looking at Cicero, then Iamblichus, then John Scotus Eriugena, then Gersonides, then John Norris, and ending with Collingwood. It would be perfectly excellent in the sense that it would be an entirely viable way to introduce people to philosophy; they would learn an immense amount about philosophy. But in practice it's not a viable class at all. It wouldn't directly prepare students for a typical upper-level philosophy class; it would be an uphill battle explaining to one's colleagues in the department why this course covering people some of them may never have heard of, or that they know only in name, is an Intro course; another department looking at the syllabus might doubt that it should really transfer as an Intro course, so you wouldn't be doing your students a favor if they try to transfer the credit. It would usually not be good teaching on behalf of the college, even if it were great as teaching. (This ties in, incidentally, to something I've mentioned before, namely, the defective concept of the Intro Phil course.)

Various Links of Interest

* John Brungardt has begun translating John of St. Thomas on natural philosophy. It's only just started, but it looks like it will be a nice project.

* Holly Brewer, Slavery-entangled philosophy. I am, I should say, not wholly convinced by all parts of this argument.

* Elisa Freschi, Bhavanātha and the move towards theistic Mīmāṃsā

* Lani Watson, What is a question -- very nice little essay on the subject.

* Elizabeth Bruenig, He wanted to be a priest. He says Archbishop McCarrick used that to abuse him.

* Ed Condon notes that the recent Catholic crisis is not due to a lack of mechanisms in canon law for dealing with it, but a lack of will in using canon law to protect those who need protection.

* Lloyd Strickland, The “Fourth Hypothesis” on the Early Modern Mind-Body Problem

* Jeremiah Carey, Dispassion as an Ethical Ideal

* Ruth Goodman, Getting Clean, the Tudor Way. A good way to get a sense of the root cause of Tudor fashion, all the ruffs and sleeves: it all comes down to linen being relatively easy to clean and replace.

* When Frederick Douglass came to Ireland -- in his own words

* William R. Black, Let's bring the Sabbath back as a radical act against 'total work'

* Kwame Anthony Appiah, On the Kidnapped Boy Who Became a German Philosopher

* Paul Gerard Horrigan, Transcendental Beauty
Paul Gerard Horrigan, Transcendental Aliquid

* Eduard Habsburg, Ancient Walls and New Bridges

* Steven T. Kuhn and Brian Weatherson, Notes on Some Ideas in Lloyd Humberstone's Philosophical Applications of Modal Logic

Currently Reading

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
Lloyd Humberstone, Philosophical Applications of Modal Logic

Poem a Day XIV

Early Morning

Bright is the day that forms,
shaped by hands unseen;
the world is glowing with joy,
the air is pure and fresh.

There is wind in the flag; it bounds,
it leaps with light step,
it soars, swoops, dips,
bobs in the light like a bird.

How can hearts be weighed down?
Let your soul soar with the breeze,
your mind rejoice in creation,
for gladness is the hue of dawn.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Voyages Extraordinaires #35: César Cascabel

“Has nobody got any more coppers to give me? Come, children, search your pockets!”

“Here you are, father!” replied the little girl.

And she drew out of her pocket a square-cut piece of greenish paper, all crumpled and greasy.

This paper bore the almost illegible inscription “United States Fractional Currency,” encircling the respectable-looking head of a gentleman in a frock-coat, and likewise the figure 10 repeated six times,—which represented ten cents, say about ten French sous.

“How did you come by that?” inquired the mother.

“It's the remnant of the takings at the last performance,” answered Napoleona.

The Cascabels are an optimistic, ingenious, and resourceful French circus family who have been touring the fairs of the United States in their great covered wagon, the Belle-Roulotte (Fair Rambler, in the English translations -- a nice example of a translator introducing a clever translation pun), which serves as a mobile home. They make it all the way across the United States to Sacramento, but as they are returning, ready to go back to France, they are robbed, and they realize that they are not going to be able to earn enough money, just from the return trip across the United States, to pay for getting themselves and the Belle-Roulotte home to France. Undaunted, they decide to go West rather than East. It's a longer voyage, but one that can in principle be done entirely across land, up through Alaska, across the frozen Bering Straits, and all the way across Siberia. If they can just get across the Urals to Perm, they will easily be able to get back to France. Together with a native girl named Kayette and a Russian named Sergius, who join them, they will witness the transition of Alaska from Russia to the United States, brave the Siberian weather, outmaneuver dangerous Russian bandits, and solve a tricky political problem before they are finally home free. And in the end their fortunes will depend on a pantomime-play directed with a circus master's timing.

Caesar Cascabel is very different from stereotypical Verne, but it was a fun, light read; the main characters are charming and undauntable, the story reasonably interesting, and the resolution nicely done.

Poem a Day XIII


The blue is painted on the roof,
the lamp is burning high;
they are, and need no further proof,
nor further reason why,

and yet they pour out proof indeed,
their source they signify,
and pour down gifts for those in need,
which is enough of why;

and so with virtue of the mind
as with the blazing sky;
by being as it is, it finds
the endless source of why.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Baggini on Mill

Julian Baggini on John Stuart Mill:

Mill argued for a distinction between ‘higher’ and lower pleasures. His distinction is difficult to pin down, but it more or less tracks the distinction between capacities thought to be unique to humans and those we share with other animals. Higher pleasures depend on distinctively human capacities, which have a more complex cognitive element, requiring abilities such as rational thought, self-awareness or language use. Lower pleasures, in contrast, require mere sentience. Humans and other animals alike enjoy basking in the sun, eating something tasty or having sex. Only humans engage in art, philosophy and so on.

This is not, however, correct; 'higher' and 'lower' are comparative, not categories of pleasures, as if there were a particular category of pleasure that was 'higher pleasure' and another that was lower. Pleasures are higher and lower, and some pleasures will be higher than a lot of other pleasures, but that's it. Mill is quite clear about this:

If I am asked, what I mean by difference of quality in pleasures, or what makes one pleasure more valuable than another, merely as a pleasure, except its being greater in amount, there is but one possible answer. Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure.

Note that higher and lower are determined entirely by comparing two pleasures according to their preferability, not by classifying them into one of two groups.

Where Baggini is not far off is that human beings, in particular, prefer in this way pleasures that fulfill them more as human beings. But, being animals, we are also familiar with animal pleasures, so when we prefer more wholly human pleasures -- like those of education, art, or philosophy -- we are not making the preference out of ignorance, but out of familiarity with what we are judging. Baggini is also right that it makes more sense to treat pleasures as on a continuum -- but this is Mill's own view, and is the reason for the higher/lower terminology in the first place.

Baggini seems to think that Mill is committed to saying that animal pleasures are simply low-quality pleasures. But in fact, Mill's test is experience-based -- it doesn't prejudge what counts as lower or higher, although Mill does think it is very obvious from human experience that philosophy, poetry, and the like will often provide pleasures more consistently preferable than pleasures of food and sex.

Poem a Day XII

In Finnish, the aurora is called revontulet, which means "fox's fires", because of the mythical creature, the tulikettu or firefox.


The silver-tailed fox
with cool desire
casts sparks to sky
of heatless fire,
struck from the snow
that will not melt
by radiant fur
and glorious pelt.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sibyl of the Rhine

Today is also the feast of St. Hildegard von Bingen, Doctor of the Church. From her exposition of the Athanasian Creed, as translated by Nathaniel Campbell:

O masters and teachers of the people, why are you blind and mute in regards to the inner knowledge of the Scriptures that God has committed to you, just as he established the sun, the moon, and the stars so that rational humankind might recognize and discern the times and seasons? Knowledge of the Scriptures has been set before you so that in them, as if in a sunbeam, you might recognize each and every danger, and so that through your teaching, you might shine upon the unbelief of wandering humans like the moon shining in the shadows of the night. These and many others, like Saducees and heretics, err in the faith—and they are enclosed even among you, and many of you know exactly who they are—and they are like cattle and beasts (cf. Eccles. 3:18), with their faces turned downward. For they neither see nor wish to know that because of the breath of life (Gen. 2:7), they are rational....

This is why the highest Father said to his Son, as written through the Holy Spirit: “You shall rule them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Ps. 2:9). Which is to say: “Those who resist you, ‘you shall rule’ and chastise ‘with a rod of iron,’ which is hard, ‘and dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel,’ which is made from mud, because they also are of the earth.” For they shall not enter by faith the gate of uprightness (cf. John 10:1-9), nor shall they leave it by the reputation of good works, for they are thieves who slaughter according to the peculiar whims of their own will and lay waste on the pretense of what they wish—they are hypocrites who pervert the law for their own destruction.

Roberto Bellarmino

Today is the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine. The following is re-posted from 2017.


Today is the memorial of St. Roberto Bellarmino, S.J., Doctor of the Church, the great polemicist of the Counter-Reformation.

He has an interesting passage in the Controversies in which he summarizes the travails of the Church using the Apostles' Creed. I'm not sure how hard it should be pressed as an intended historical thesis of how things have to unfold (since he clearly thinks there is overlap, and does regard all points as being under continual attack to varying degrees), rather than as an account of the thoroughness with which the Church is attacked on points of doctrine, which has its own natural order; but it does a good job of giving a sense of his sense of the spiritual war. It helps to know first the ordering of the articles, in their traditional enumeration.

1. I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and the life everlasting.

The enemy of the human race, although otherwise he is wont to be totally perverse and a disturber of good order, still he wishes to attack the truth of the Catholic Church not without a certain orderly procedure. Therefore, in the first two centuries from the foundation of the Christian Church, he was totally occupied in trying to destroy the first article in the Apostles' Creed. For what else did they want--the Simonians, the Menandrians, the Basilidians, the Valentinists, the Marcionists, the Manichaeans, and the whole school of the Gnostics--except that there is not one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? But when he did not succeed in that, again at a later time about 200 years after the Lord, the devil established a new front, and he began to attack the second article of the Creed in which the divinity of Christ our Lord is explained....

...But since even then the gates of hell could not prevail against the Church, the devil, now taking a new third approach, began to oppose with even greater strength the third and at the same time the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh articles, because they have a certain connection and relationship with each other.

Therefore he stirred up Nestorius and Theodore of Mopsuestia after the year 400....

All of these, even though different among themselves and using contrary tactics and tricks, strove to destroy and overturn the last five articles of the Apostolic Creed concerning the one and the same mystery of the divine Incarnation, and also of the passion, of the resurrection and of his coming to judge the living and the dead.

He then assigns the schism between East and West to the attack on the eighth article, on the Holy Spirit, and then continues:

But certainly, when our cunning enemy realized that he was accomplishing very little by attacking those articles of faith, which pertain to the divine persons, he then dedicated himself completely to upset and destroy the truths concerning the Church and the sacraments. These two articles -- I believe in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins, with all of his tricks and efforts, with the power of hell he has tried to pervert, and he is still trying even to this day; this has been his strategy since the year one thousand down to the present day; his forces have often been changed, increased and renewed -- by the Berengarians, Petrohrussians, Waldensians, Albigensians, Wycliffites, Hussites, Lutherans, Zwinglians, Confessionists and Anabaptists.

And here we are, I suppose, still fighting the Battle over the Forgiveness of Sins in the longest and most subtle war.

[St. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, S. J., Controversies of the Christian Faith, Baker, tr. Keep the Faith Inc., pp. 17-19.]

Poem a Day XI

Having Difficulty Reading Shakespeare's Sonnet 91
Because I Am Thinking of Her

Thy love is better than high birth to me,
a love that overshines all human skill;
I love you more than misers love their wealth,
and more than barons love their finery.

        some I have known
        in one general best I have been
        all men's pride blown
        not my measure, not my own

But these particulars are not my measure;
my love is not so frail as lesser things,
my song is not as lesser men have sung,
my vault is built to house a finer treasure.

        some make hawk and horse their wealth
        others it in skill will find,
        but I, with stealthier design
        joy above the rest
        that to me and to my mind
        is richer than the best

And having thee, of all men's pride I boast,
for I have humbled pride that you might shine
and pride was never match for truest love
in which alone can pride find best and most.

        take all this away
        wherein I mine
        wealth for but a day
        I'll still have you as mine
        indeed thou mayst boast
        in glory prouder than most
        and wretched are those without
        that glory that is mine

As pride before my love its crown must hide,
in love alone I will then find my pride.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Fortnightly Book, September 16

Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born in 1811 to one of the most prominent families in New England; Lyman Beecher, her father, was one of the major Calvinists of the day, and a number of her siblings did very well for themselves in various intellectual and religious professions. She herself became active in the Semi-Colon Club, a literary club in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she met her future husband, the Biblical scholar, Calvin Stowe. The Stowes were active in the Underground Railroad until the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. Not very long afterward, Harriet Stowe lost her eighteen-month-old child and during communion service had a vision of a dying slave. Armed with a profound sense of what it might be like to be torn from your family, she began writing Uncle Tom's Cabin, or, Life Among the Lowly, which was serialized in The National Era. It was published in book format in 1852 and became an instant bestseller.

I had thought that I had already done it for the fortnightly book, but apparently not. I will be reading it in a Heritage Press (New York) edition, with lithographs by the well-known caricaturist and painter, Miguel Covarrubias, who, if the Sandglass is to be believed, had wanted to illustrate an edition of the book from the time he was a boy in Mexico City, despite never having read the book. The book inspired a broad number of very different theater adaptations, and until The Heritage Club asked him to do the illustration, he had never read the book, and thought, from the plays he had seen, that it was something like a bittersweet comedy, and was startled to find that the book was a serious and profound work. Such is the danger of adaptations, I suppose. The type for the text is De Vinne, printed on white vellum.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Umberto Eco, Baudolino


Opening Passage: Most of the novel is accessibly written, but it begins with a palimpsest -- Eco being clever, and a little heavy-handed.

Rattisbon anno Dommini Domini mense decembri mclv Cronicle of Baudolin of the fammily of Aulario.

I Baudolino son of Galiaudo Gagliaudo of the Aulari with a head that ooks like a lion halleluia gratias to the Allmighty may he gorgive me

ego habeo facto the greatest stealing of my life, I mean from the cabinet of the Bishop Oto I have stollen many pages that may belong to the Immperial Chancellor and I have scraped clean almost all of them excepting where the writing would not come off et now I have much parchmint to write down what I want which is my own story even if I don't know how to write Latin. (p. 1)

Summary: Baudolino is in the genre of secret history, like the novels of Tim Powers. Baudolino of Alessandria, named after St. Baudolino of Alessandria, is a fictional character, and the novel is essential his role in the actual factual events of the Third and Fourth Crusades. Thus he becomes an adopted son of the Emperor, Frederick Barabrossa and tells his story the Byzantine historian Niketas Chroniates during the Sack of Constantinople. He becomes good friends with the Archipoeta, who is the otherwise unknown author of a number of important Latin poems, and with Kyot, who is the otherwise unknown source to which Wolfram von Eschenbach attributes his knowledge of the Grail Quest, and with Robert de Boron, whose version of the Grail Quest became the dominant influence on most later versions of it. Thus the first root of the secret history is to posit that all of these very different people had some common factor. This on its own only gets you historical fiction; to have secret history you must have marvelous happenings in the interstices of the historical facts. This happens in two ways here. Emperor Frederick died suddenly and mysteriously in the midst of the Third Crusade. The reports of how he died are very conflicting, although he seems to have drowned. So here is a mystery susceptible of various interpretations, which is exactly the sort of thing, and Eco takes it further by turning it into a locked room mystery. And then the more fantastic happenings are drawn from the legends of the Grail (Grasal, as it is called here) and of the Kingdom of Prester John.

Secret history is a particularly enticing genre if you, like Eco, are interested in ambiguities when it comes to what we count as true or false. It is supposed to be historical fact, and, indeed, the usual expectation is that a secret history will take even fewer liberties with historical fact than historical fiction will. But historical facts are patchy and uncertain things. However good our research, only traces of the past remain. In ordinary historical fiction, you feel this in by historical plausibilities or (if we are honest, more oftenly) analogies from modern life. But secret history is a fantastic genre; it doesn't have to be fantasy in the strict sense, but whereas in ordinary historical fiction you are taking on the challenge of making the historical events plausible enough to imagine, in secret history you are not. Instead, the challenge is to fill the gaps with something shocking, startling, or surprising, something that is indeed entirely implausible on its own, and yet connect it to the historical facts in such a way that it begins to look plausible in light of them. In secret history the implausible borrows plausibility first by taking up the facts in a coherent narrative and second by 'clearing up' mysteries that cannot be solved just from the facts, and (if they are well chosen) that you cannot honestly solve from ordinary plausibilities. One of the things Tim Powers does, for instance, looks for surprising coincidences that cannot be given a rational explanation because the most likely theory is that they are, in fact, just coincidences; and then he weaves a story in which they are not just coincidences, but are connected. And no matter how strange the story is, there is something satisfying about reducing coincidences to regular order. That's the charm of secret history: taking things you know to be coincidences and asking, "But suppose they weren't?", taking things that aren't related and saying, "But if we told this story about them, they could be."

As you would expect, Eco is extraordinarily good at playing on the ambiguities that secret history provides. He oscillates an astounding speed from well-established historical fact to historical speculation to things that are probably not true but aren't ruled out by the evidence to implausible-sounding interpretations of things that are probably true to things that are definitely not true but are plausible to things that are purely fantastic. He plays very well with showing that the difference between the historian and the writer of secret history is largely that the latter is infinitely more bold; all historians have to speculate, fill in gaps, hypothesize, and all historians have their biases and peculiarities of interpretation. They may not be brazen liars like Baudolino, but what honesty they have does not come from doing something entirely different from what he does. Baudolino is a brilliant work. To compare it to the other secret history I've done for the fortnightly book, I would say it is much more brilliant than Tim Powers's Declare.

But here's the thing. Declare is an entirely successful secret history and Baudolino is not -- indeed, I think it is definitely a failure. Since the book is so brilliant, and the writing so good, it's difficult to pin down what prevents it from working, but I think there are two things.

First, Eco is not really committed to the secret history as secret history, but instead as a way to explore ambiguity of true and false when we are dealing with history. There are so many ways the history of the period could have been drawn into the story, but except for a few portions -- like the founding and saving of Alessandria, which no doubt works because Eco, who is a native of Alessandria, is invested in it -- he passes it all up. The history is not sufficiently integrated; it serves mostly as a frame. One sees this as well with the historical characters, who are mostly just pieces on Eco's board. The Empress and Emperor do sometimes stand out a bit, and Niketas as well (although Eco gives him relatively little to do), but only a bit.

The second problem, even more serious, is that Eco is trying to do far too much here. It is a locked room mystery, a Grail Quest, a quest for Prester John, an account of the Holy Roman Empire in Italy, an account of the fall of Constantinople, and more. The locked room mystery, which plot-wise is the central pillar, is heavily shortchanged. This is a great disappointment, because it was in some ways best part of the book, and since it is structurally so important, you could imagine an excellent book devoted to it. But while the build-up to Frederick's death is good, we then get a pause while everyone goes questing, and only then, much later, do we get the second layer of puzzle to it -- there are three different mutually exclusive confessions and a fourth possibility as well -- and the actual solution is found remarkably quickly. It all feels imbalanced because of the need to fit the two Quests into the the story. Probably what he should have done is stuck with the locked room and, if he really wanted to play around with ambiguities in truth, confined himself to the multiple confessions and perhaps the relic forgery subplot that threads throughout the whole book.

The interlinked Quests, however, are not merely culprits, because they suffer, too. There is about a hundred pages in the midst of the book where I had no idea when reading it what the point was, and having finished the book, I still don't really know -- something to do with the multiplication of error, I'm guessing. All throughout there is big build-up to things that don't happen, or, if they do happen, happen quickly and without full closure. I suppose this is deliberate, since by the end of the book, the Prester John part of the quest is still not completed, but it doesn't work. It's not that it was uninteresting, because there were many interesting episodes and one or two of the best characters in the book (Gavagai, in particular); it's just that it was unsatisfying, and felt more like an interlude than an integral part of the story.

Favorite Passage:

Perhaps she said it with her usual sisterly solicitude, perhaps she wanted only to animate the conversation, but for Baudolino anything Beatrice said was at once balm and toxin. With trembling hands, he drew from his bosom his letters to her and hers to him and, holding them out to her murmured: "No. I have written, and very often, and you, my Lady, have answered me."

Beatrice did not understand. She took the pages, began to read them in a low voice in order better to decipher that double calligraphy. Baudolino, two paces form her, wrung his hands, sweating, told himself he was mad, that she would send him away, calling her guards. He wished he had a weapon to plunge into his heart. Beatrice continued reading, and her cheeks grew increasingly flushed, her voice trembled as she spelled out those inflamed words, as if she were celebrating a blasphemous Mass. Se stood up, once, twice she seemed to sway. Twice she waved off Baudolino, who had risen to support her. Then in a faint voice she said only: "Oh child, child, what have you done?" (pp. 104-105)

Recommendation: Recommended; it's interesting, and very enjoyable in parts, although far from Eco's best.


Umberto Eco, Baudolino, Weaver, tr., Vintage (London: 2003).

Friday, September 14, 2018

Three Poem Re-Drafts

The First Way of Saint Thomas Aquinas

The changed all around us is easy to see.
Unchanged by another no changed thing can be.
What is able to differ cannot be its own act;
it is only potential that another makes fact.
Can-change with a changer is actual change
and by changing of changers is order arranged.
Take the whole changing order, suppose it unmoved:
that's a change with no changer, and impossible proved.
Every series of changers, in an unchanged cause ends,
and from that first changer those changes descend.
But a first cause of change that nothing can change --
to call this cause 'God' is not at all strange.


"I do," said God. The Dove upon the sea
was baptizing creation with the wind,
and light burst forth, a promised liberty,
with streaming rays out to endless end;
then order, breath-like, filled each kind,
like covenant and contract forming law.
It echoed from out of eternal Mind
as dawning stars formed ranks of awe.
Reverberation gave to world a form;
the sun and moon were bright and clear
as fish and fowl rode waves of storm
and beasts began to growl with cheer.
The heart looked up with thought anew
and sallied back with words: "I do."


Speak to me, O Muse,
of the man of many turns,
who wandered over-far
when he had toppled holy Troy,
seeing the many cities
and learning the minds of many men,
enduring in his breast many woes,
reaching out to seize his own life
and the return of his companions.
Yet even so he did not save them,
for all the ardor of his desire --
they died in frenzy,
having eaten the oxen of Helios on high,
so that he took from them their return-day.
Of these things also,
from every source,
O goddess, daughter of Zeus, speak.

Poem a Day X


I dreamed the world, and lo!
the world was bright and fair,
a joy to sense and know
and love, if you would dare,
a world where people flow
around the market square
without a fret or care.
True, time will catch us all;
you know the day will come
when all will softly fall
and hearts no longer drum,
and Charon then will row
when we our obols share --

but dream the world a while
and seek to know its ways
with joy and honest smile
until the end of days.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Mouth of Gold

Today was the feast of St. John Chrysostom. Re-posted from 2012:


Today was the feast of St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church. He was born in Antioch in the fourth century, at a time when Antioch was perhaps the second most important city in the Roman empire. He was never known as 'Chrysostom' in his lifetime; 'Chrysostom' is an agnomen later conferred on him to distinguish him from all other St. Johns; it means 'Golden-mouthed'.

We don't have a very in-focus view of his life. He became deacon for Meletius of Antioch, who was the presiding bishop of the First Council of Constantinople, and was later ordained a priest by Meletius's successor, who was probably Flavian. He was tasked with preaching, and it turned out that he was an impressive preacher. He developed his own style of preaching, which went successively through Scripture and looked at it step by step. His sermons when collected, therefore, made very close, very careful literal commentaries, and would on their own qualify Chrysostom to be considered one of the greatest theologians of his day.

In 397, however, he was suddenly and unexpectedly made Patriarch of Constantinople after the death of Patriarch Nectarius; he was a sort of dark horse, vaulted to the position for little reason other than the fact that he was a brilliant theologian who did not belong to any of the intensely opposed ecclesiastical factions that plagued Constantinople at the time. It was an interesting choice, because Chrysostom, unamused by the frivolity and finery of the capital, set out immediately to engage in an intensive reform of just about everything and to start preaching vehemently against the wealthy of the city. It took some time, but it was inevitable that something bad would happen to St. John; it was impossible to avoid politics in the capital, and Chrysostom, being a powerful preacher who was brilliant and spoke his mind, could hardly have avoided igniting an explosion at some point. At the instigation of the Empress, he was brought up before a synod on trumped-up charges, deposed, and exiled. However, his enemies hadn't quite reckoned on how much the poor of the city loved their Patriarch; they were on the verge of rioting before he was recalled from exile and reinstated. Tensions were still high, though; his enemies still looked for ways to depose him and at least two attempts were made on his life. Finally he was simply dragged out of church one day and sent into exile again. After he left the cathedral went up in flames, burning a large portion of the city with it; his supporters were accused of the arson and executed wherever they were found. Pope Innocent I protested his treatment, but was unable to do much. Chrysostom still had an extensive correspondence, which meant that his enemies couldn't be content even to leave him alone in exile; they captured him again and marched him off to an even more remote location, where he died along the way. His tomb is in Pitsunda, in the modern country of Georgia.

Poem a Day IX

Technical Term

In time
a word
in rhyme

is made
not tool
but jewel

where you
may find
in thought

the True
that mind
had sought.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The First Way and the Fire Example

Michael Almeida, in his recent book, Cosmological Arguments (which you can, for a short time, read for free online), on Aquinas's argument in the First Way against self-causation:

The argument here appears to be the following. If y is actually F and potentially G, and x is the cause of y actualizing G, then x must be G. So, if y is the cause of y actualizing G, then y must already be G. Therefore, if y is the cause of y actualizing G, then y is both actually G and potentially G, and that is impossible. Therefore nothing causes itself to move or undergo change.

Aquinas’s argument against self-causation is unfortunate. It entails that anything x that causes y to be some property G must itself be G. Thus, taken at his literal word, the fire that causes the wood to be hot must itself be hot. But it is obvious that something might cause an object to become green without actually being green. Copper undergoes chemical reactions that cause the metal to change to a pale green. But the cause is not pale green. Similarly corroding iron changes from silver to orange-red. The cause of this change is not itself orange-red. Examples are easy to multiply.

Analytic philosophers have been interpreting the argument this way ever since Anthony Kenny (who should have known better) interpreted it this way, but there is good reason to regard it as a misinterpretation. First some rough working through the Latin, without worrying too much about finer points:

Nihil enim movetur, nisi secundum quod est in potentia ad illud ad quod movetur, movet autem aliquid secundum quod est actu. Movere enim nihil aliud est quam educere aliquid de potentia in actum, de potentia autem non potest aliquid reduci in actum, nisi per aliquod ens in actu, sicut calidum in actu, ut ignis, facit lignum, quod est calidum in potentia, esse actu calidum, et per hoc movet et alterat ipsum. Non autem est possibile ut idem sit simul in actu et potentia secundum idem, sed solum secundum diversa, quod enim est calidum in actu, non potest simul esse calidum in potentia, sed est simul frigidum in potentia. Impossibile est ergo quod, secundum idem et eodem modo, aliquid sit movens et motum, vel quod moveat seipsum.

A bit clunkily: "Nothing is changed except inasmuch as it is potential to that to which it is changed; but it changes something inasmuch as it is actual. For to change is nothing other than drawing forth something from potency into act, but something cannot be reduced from potency into act, except through some actual being; just as the actually hot (like fire) makes wood (which is potentially hot) to be actually hot, and thereby moves and alters it. For it is not possible for the same thing to be at once actual and potential inasmuch as it is the same, but only inasmuch as it is different, for what is actually hot cannot at the same time be potentially hot, but is at the same time potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that, in one and the same way, something could be moving and moved, or that something move itself." Note, incidentally, that one could argue that the per aliquod ens in actu could be read as already implying that we are talking about another thing, and not just the generic 'some thing'.

Aquinas explicitly says -- twice, even -- that the point is that the cause of change must be actual. What Aquinas is arguing in context is that everything moved is moved by another; what he is doing here is specifying what that means in terms of actuality and potentiality, which, of course, are more fundamental than change. It is not correctly interpreted as "If y is actually F and potentially G, and x is the cause of y actualizing G, then x must be G"; what it actually says is "If x is the cause of y, which is potentially G, actualizing G, then x must be actual."

Indeed, the interpretation that takes him as saying that x must be G is interpreting him as proposing a claim that implies the claim, "All causation is univocal." We know that Aquinas does not think that all causation is univocal; that it is not is said and assumed in a wide number of passages. It's not as if it's something he rarely talks about, and has given little thought to. Thus the interpretation in and of itself should raise warning flags.

However, Almeida considers a suggestion from Craig that is essentially the right interpretation (although Craig underplays it as a charitable interpretation, it is, as I note above, what Aquinas explicitly says) and rejects it, arguing:

If Aquinas were arguing for the conclusion that only an actual thing can cause another thing to actualize some property, then there would be no reason to believe that an actual blue thing cannot cause itself to actualize the property of being green. The blue thing is an actual thing, after all. But such self-causation is precisely what Aquinas is anxious to deny.

This is arguably not the self-causation that Aquinas is anxious to deny. Either this is supposed to be per accidens (thing that is blue, but not insofar as it is blue, causing itself to become a thing that is green) or per se (actual blue as such causing itself to become green). Aquinas follows Aristotle in dividing the two from each other, and per accidens has a different (and entirely derivative) account. As for per se, Aquinas elsewhere argues that something can actualize its own potential in the sense that one part can provide the act to the potential of another part, and natural changes can be actualized by the natures of things that undergo them in such a way that the generating cause of the nature is the mover. In other words, there are two things in the vicinity of this that are definitely not counterexamples to what Aquinas is saying: if the blue changed itself to green in such a way that part of the blue changes another part to green, this would not be the relevant kind of self-causation; and if the blue is changing to green because it is in its nature to do so, the generating cause of the blue, which gives it that nature involving that change, is not the relevant kind of self-causation. These are loose kinds of self-causation. The self-causation Aquinas needs to rule out is strict self-causation, as it would be defined by his interpretation of the Aristotelian account of change.

And the argument that Aquinas gives for ruling it out is that "it is not possible for the same thing to be at once actual and potential inasmuch as it is the same, but only inasmuch as it is different." Admittedly, this is be somewhat obscure on its own, but the claim has a parallel passage in the Summa Contra Gentiles:

Nihil idem est simul actu et potentia respectu eiusdem. Sed omne quod movetur, inquantum huiusmodi, est in potentia: quia motus est actus existentis in potentia secundum quod huiusmodi. Omne autem quod movet est in actu, inquantum huiusmodi: quia nihil agit nisi secundum quod est in actu. Ergo nihil est respectu eiusdem motus movens et motum. Et sic nihil movet seipsum.

The hujusmodis are a bit of pain for translation, but I suppose roughly: "Nothing that is the same can be at once actual and potential with respect to the same thing. But all that is changed, as such is potential: because change is the act of the existent inasmuch as it is potential. But all that changes is actual as such: for nothing acts except according as it is actual. Therefore nothing with respect to the same change is both moving and moved. And so nothing moves itself."

Recall that in an Aristotelian account of change, change is incomplete act, but most importantly it is the act of the changer in the potentiality of the changed. There is not an act of changing and then an act of being changed; it's just one act. So the point is that if something that is changed is so because its act of changing itself is its act of being changed, then it is both merely potential (not having G but capable of it) and also actual (being made to have G) in the same way (namely, according to the act that is the change) at the same time. That's a contradiction.

Now, you could perhaps be very stubborn about this and say that nonetheless the Latin can be read as saying something closer to what Almeida means. And probably that's not wrong. But people have pointed out before that the scholastics had concepts like being G eminently. Thus the sun generates a man; but the sun was held to have more universal properties that are, so to speak, being drawn on in this particular case insofar as the man has less universal properties related to those more universal properties. And while I don't think it's necessary in the context of the ST (where I think he is giving a much more general version of the argument than he is elsewhere), Aquinas says things that sound very like it in lecture 10 of his commentary on Book VIII of the Physics, where he gives the argument for univocal causation first and then says that a similar argument can be run for equivocal causation, if you take 'same' in a less strict way. But even interpreting it thus, it seems to me that "If y is actually F and potentially G, and x is the cause of y actualizing G, then x must be G" is an inaccurate characterization, because according to usual formalization conventions, the G would have to be univocal, whereas this interpretation is precisely not assuming that what is the same between x and y is univocal.

Almeida doesn't place a vast amount of emphasis on it, but what often seems to give analytic philosophers particular trouble is Aquinas's fire example. There are several things that are going on in the misreading of it, but I think a great deal of it is not understanding how medieval examples work. Medieval scholastics don't generally give examples as illustrations the way we do; illustration is a rhetorical, and not a dialectical, use of examples, and would generally be regarded as out of place in a rigorous argument. Their understanding of an example, which derives from Aristotle, is that an example is an abbreviated induction, just like an enthymeme is an abbreviated deduction. And for the medieval scholastics, an induction was an argument in which you divided the possibilities and then either established or ruled out that something applies to each part of the division. Thus an example takes one kind of case, shows you that it gets the result, and leaves it up to you to finish the induction. Since the point is not to illustrate the conclusion or even to give you a paradigmatic case of it, but to give you an abbreviated form of an inductive argument, the standard practice is to pick a really obvious case without complications, because arguments are supposed to start with the more obvious rather than the less obvious. This is why medieval examples are so often extraordinarily trite, and why you keep getting the same ones over and over again -- they are usually taking cases that were commonly recognizable as very obvious, at least when such cases were available. Thus there is no implication, from Aquinas's giving the fire example, that every case is like the fire example. It's just that univocal causation is a more obvious case than equivocal causation, so he gives a univocal case.

I'm still reading Almeida's book, but so far it is quite interesting.

Poem a Day VIII


The gentle rain brings gladness to the endless summer heat.
My heart rejoices in the water falling from the sky,
and so I hope like rain will be the angel when I die,
and death itself like showers pouring down with coolness sweet.

Just like other men I fear my death too soon to meet,
and sometimes I have shivered at a sense it drew too nigh;
but sometimes, hot and thick, the air is sick with worldly lie.
Perhaps a light refreshment we would in our dying greet.

But this I have discovered from our Lord upon the Cross:
that death of soul is better feared than merely earthly death,
that all our fear has sprung from when the robe of light was torn.

I think few men can meet their fate and disregard the loss
who have not given up the ghost in trade for God's own Breath,
and died in fleshly Adam that in Christ they may be born.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Theories of Musical Expressiveness

People often seem to experience music as expressive of emotion in some way, and there are a number of different theories that have been proposed for this. I think there is good reason to think all of them inadequate, but ironically I also think they are all underestimated. In particular, I think there is good reason to think none of them can be complete, but that criticisms of each are often really based on oversimplifications of causation, or communication, or language, or emotions, or some such other thing, with the result that many of the objections made to each fail to recognize the resources available to each theory.

One of the most obvious families of theories of musical expressiveness is what is usually called arousal theories. The idea is that the expressiveness of a piece of music is its disposition or tendency to arouse emotions in the listener. The theory is often dismissed today, but I think critics often make it too easy for themselves. For instance, it's sometimes said in objection that people can hear music and not experience the emotions it is supposed to express (for instance, they can hear 'sad music' without feeling sad -- indeed, can be made happy by it). But the arousal theory does not require that people actually in every case have the effect. It does not claim that musical expressiveness is music's having a particular effect; it is the claim that it is music's disposition or tendency to a particular effect. Obviously whether listeners actually feel anything depends in part on the disposition of the listener, and not just on the disposition of the music. But the fact that anyone does feel emotions in response to music establishes that the music does play a causal role, and the fact that certain types of music often lead to feeling certain kinds of emotion establishes that something about the music itself is contributing to the result.

Moreover, the notion of arousing emotions is more complicated than the objectors often realize. Suppose you're sad and I am trying to cheer you up. Obviously, I am most successful at this if you actually feel good cheer, but this is not the whole of it, because I can have a wide variety of partial successes. Maybe I won't cheer you up, but you move in a 'cheerward' direction. It's the same causal story, just a less successful form of it. Perhaps I don't even have this success, but I do get you into a state of mind that cheer is going on, so to speak -- you might not feel it yourself, but you interpret yourself as being in a cheerful situation. This is a weaker form of success, but it would be by the same causal disposition. It's all related to causing good cheer -- actually having that effect is the central form of success, the complete and ideal one, and is what gives the disposition its name; but the fact that my words are suited to causing good cheer is shown not just in causing good cheer but in a wide variety of other related effects. One would expect this to be true in the musical case as well.

Arousal theory focuses on the listeners; obviously you could focus on the composer or the musician instead. It's this, after all, that seems to give 'musical expressiveness' its name: the music expresses the emotions of the composer or the musician. This family is usually called expression theories. The usual objection is that musicians need not actually be feeling the emotions that they express through music. This objection, however, runs into similar problems as the objection to arousal theories given above: the objection involves a simplistic view of the causal story involved in expressing emotion, just as the objection to arousal theories involved a simplistic view of the causal story in feeling emotions in response to things. Consider actors. Actors uncontroversially express emotions. The actor doesn't actually need to be feeling the emotions they express. But of course it's not as if actors simply make up expressions of emotions; that would just be weird. So where is the actor getting the materials for expressing (say) anger? The actor often draws from his own anger, but it doesn't have to be anger that he is feeling at that particular moment. We can express remembered emotions. What's more, we can draw on remembered emotions, and adapt our expression to whatever our particular ends may be -- exaggerate it, or restrain it, or shift it a bit to give it a different quality, or mix it with other things. In short, anything we can do with remembered emotions in our imagination, and thus we can be expressing imagined emotions, based on emotions that we have actually felt. And, what is more, in imagination we can approximate sympathetically what it would be like to have certain emotions we perhaps have not had, based on imitation of those who have had and 'putting ourselves in their shoes'.

As with arousal theories, the relevant family of expressions has a central case which lends its name to the whole family -- in this case, actually expressing the feeling that one has in the expression -- but there are related ways of expressing emotions, like expressing emotions as remembered or as imagined. And again, we see this very clearly in acting, so it seems entirely arbitrary to ignore it in the musical case. (Part of the reason the objection gets traction is perhaps that there is a tendency to distinguish 'expressing an emotion' from 'being expressive of an emotion', where the latter is a purely outward manifestation. But this, I think, is quite clearly an irrelevant distinction if we are just talking about the expressiveness of music. Since we don't have telepathy, the experience of the music qua expressive will be exactly the same in each case; and, far from being an important distinction to make in an account of expression -- whether of speech or of acting or of music -- any account of expression will have to straddle the divide.)

In a third family we find association theories. On these theories, the expressiveness of music is purely a matter of convention. Note that the claim is not that it is purely arbitrary; there can be a real, definite meaning of music, just as there can be a real, definite meaning of the sounds we call words and sentences; taking speech to mean something is not itself arbitrary. But the meaning of language, of course, is heavily conventional, and the idea behind association theories is that the expressiveness of music is very much like the meaningfulness of speech. (The fact that it can so easily show the analogy between the expression of music and other domains is a point in its favor.) Now, the usual objection given to association theories is that there are a great many differences between language and music -- most importantly that language is about emotions but often not expressive of it. However, again, I think this is a case of objectors making it too easy on themselves: in fact language is massively expressive, and a standard way we express emotions. Its representational function is so important that its expressive function is often quite secondary, but this is far from saying that it is not a very expressive medium. Philosophers of language may not have focused much on it (because it falls neither under sense nor under reference but under the 'tone' or 'coloring' or 'illumination' that is left over when focusing entirely on sense and reference), but we use language expressively all the time. The same sentence screamed, whispered, said slyly, said in an exaggerated way, said in a goofy voice, said very slowly, said very quickly, is capable of expressing many different things.

Resemblance theories form a fourth family. Music has a dynamic structure and resemblance theories take some analysis of this moving structure and note the analogies we tend to make between such structure and the dynamic structure of our natural and ordinary expression of emotion. We tend to interact with even obviously inanimate things as if they were quasi-animate, and so we're quite used to attributing emotional expression to other things even when we know that they are not expressing emotions at all. So we might joke about the anger of the wind if it slams a door, because door-slamming is something that can express anger, or we might talk about the ducks laughing, given that quacking and laughing can be similar sounds. So too, the suggestion is, with music. Even the more neutral language in which we talk about music is really something like this; the music moving 'up' and 'down' is obviously not physically moving in space. But we can make perfect sense in terms of resemblance of music going 'up' and 'down' -- and, in fact, when you do, you find that the mathematical similarities between moving up and down a musical scale and moving up and down on a spring are quite reasonably close. Now maybe the exact correspondence of direction has a conventional element -- I think I remember that some Asian languages have the directions reversed, so that what we would call a lower note they would call a higher note, and vice versa. But allowing for this, the relations are quite stable across different cultures. And this is true of a lot of things in music. Leaps in music have some formal similarities with physical leaps, pace in music with pace in locomotion, and so forth. In addition, music and dancing are very closely linked in all cultures, and we can see that some dancing fits various kinds of music, so we would expect any account of the expressiveness of dance to tell us something about the expressiveness of music by the 'fit' of the one to the other. On the other hand, one could well ask what any of the resemblances have to do with emotions in themselves; the resemblance theory seems to try to solve the problem by saying that music is similar to expressive thing X; but it leaves mysterious what makes the X expressive, and thus how it is that music can resemble X in the way in which X is expressive. But perhaps the resemblance theorist can reply that this is a research problem, not a fatal problem; that is, that we first have to identify what in music is expressive, which requires relating it to other expressive things, before we can determine exactly how that could be expressive.

It's noticeable that arousal and expression theories are both 'final' accounts (the expressiveness is linked to the objects of dispositions, either of the source of the music or of the music itself), while resemblance theories are 'formal' accounts (linking it to the structure either of the sound or, at times, the performance), and these theories, which all take musical expressiveness to be intrinsic in some way, can be contrasted with association theories, which gives an extrinsic account. It's tempting, then, to suggest that we should really see expression as a unified thing that can be analyzed in terms of something like the Aristotelian four causes plus conventional context. It does make independent sense to say that the expressiveness of music has to connect up with the communicative nature of music; and music as a communication, like language as a communication, has a unified structure:

source of communication -> shareable signs for communicating -> target of communication

The communication is not the bare signs, or anything in the source or target, but something to which they are all contributing in some way, and the way in which they each participate can be analyzed causally. Since it seems natural to think of musical expression as (at least) some kind of emotional communication, even when it is not (as we noted above) a central example of emotional communication; and a four-causes-with-convention account makes a lot of sense of language. And think of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" Op. 67, which is particularly interesting here because it is a deliberate attempt to pull together a number of different ways in which music can communicate. There's obviously a large conventional element to it, since it is put in a framework of a story; but the associations of the story are building on a prior expressiveness found in tempo, low and high notes, and the different sonorities of different instruments, which suggests something like a resemblance account, and the link with the story makes clear that these things are brought together with a definite purpose of arousing emotions, and possibly expression of them as well. There's a reason all of these have their proponents; they each seem to capture something you can genuinely find in the experience of music.

It's worth noting, too, that inevitably there are analogies between musical expressiveness and other forms of expressiveness, with the four major examples being everyday physical expression (natural gestures, spontaneous facial expressions, etc.), language, dance, and acting. No doubt there are some important differences among these different kinds of expressiveness, but any account of expressiveness really should be shedding light on all of these; one would expect all of them to have some fundamental base account even if there are differences arising from their distinctive features. But it seems plausible that each account alone will struggle with some features of expressiveness in these other contexts. For instance, resemblance theory can make some sense of music being like everyday physical expression, but it seems like it has to take everyday physical expression as just primitive -- at least, it's more challenging to say what spontaneous physical expressions would be resembling. Association theory can make sense of ways in which music is like language, but it does not do so well with some of the ways in which you can identify real resemblances between music and everyday physical expression. Plato's discussion of language in the Cratylus can be adapted to arguing that it's impossible to take alone either a conventionalist account like association theory or a resemblance account, if you want to capture what we do with language; and likewise, the perlocutionary aspect of language often seems to require something like an arousal account -- but obviously language is itself used expressively. And so it goes with other analogies to dance and to acting. It seems that a single-factor explanation is not going to be a generally adequate explanation.

Poem a Day VII


The cars are rushing here and there;
they never stop their hurried flight.
No wind is blowing through the hair;
the boxes are all locked up tight.
They always speed, through day and night,
and never catch their breath or pause,
and barely even keep the laws.
They do not talk, but radio
will ward off things that boredom cause
while car past car must swiftly go.

O Prince, the beasts with iron maws
are deaf to plaint and to applause;
they do not wish or want or know;
there is no love, and nothing awes
while car past car must swiftly go.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Poem a Day VI


incandescent stars
gaze down,
reflecting your eyes
in candlelight.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Voyages Extraordinaires #14: Michel Strogoff

"Sire, a fresh dispatch."


"From Tomsk?"

"Is the wire cut beyond that city?"

"Yes, sire, since yesterday."

"Telegraph hourly to Tomsk, General, and keep me informed of all that occurs."

"Sire, it shall be done," answered General Kissoff.

The Russian Empire is in deadly peril as a massive rebellion led by the treacherous Ivan Orgeff has begun to cut the realm in two. The Czar in Moscow must get an important message to his brother Grand Duke, all the way across the Empire in Irkutsk, before it is too late, and he has entrusted to his most competent courier, the Siberian-born Michael Strogoff. Strogoff has to make the difficult journey, through storms in the Ural Mountains, across rivers and battlefields and through enemy lines to get the message to the Grand Duke. Along the way he will fall in with a brave young woman, Nadia Fedor, who is trying to reach her father in Irkutsk, and together they will have to save their families and the Russian Empire, against extraordinary odds.

Michael Strogoff was in many ways the height of Verne's career. We always remember him for his novels, but it is easy to forget that they were not his primary source of income. The Voyages extraordinaires guaranteed him a steady income, as long as he turned in his two novels a year, but his major income derived not from books but from the theater. He wrote and co-produced plays, which brought in the income that made his yacht vacations possible -- and also made it possible to survive his son's expensive economic misjudgments. The novels gave him security, name recognition, and marketing that he needed to make his plays successful; the plays brought in the big money. Michel Strogoff, an exciting and fast-paced adventure story, sold quite well, so with the help of the playwright Adolphe Philippe d'Ennery, he turned it into a play, also called Michel Strogoff, which for a while was one of the most widely attended plays in the world -- and just as today, when a book will spark interest in a movie which will itself increase book sales, the dual success of the novel and the play was perhaps the greatest literary and financial triumph in Verne's lifetime. There is also more than one critic who has argued that it is Verne's best-written novel. It's interesting, then, that it has not had the staying power of some of Verne's other successes, although in the movie age it did for a while have a solid if not stunning cinematic record. Perhaps, though, its revival is just waiting for someone to bring its racing excitement to the silver screen.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Moral Credibility

One recurring theme in a lot of discussions about the current crisis in the Catholic hierarchy that worries me a bit is that of 'moral credibility'. People will say things like, "The bishops have lost moral credibility". And this, I think, fundamentally fails to grasp how morality actually works.

We probably can make some kind of sense of the notion of 'moral credibility', but it's not straightforward. You can see how in general it would be better to get moral advice from a saint than from someone who has done evil things, but we also tend to tie credibility to experience, and we can also make perfect sense of the notion that a sinner sometimes giving better advice about the moral pitfalls of a sin he knows too well than a saint who had never had that particular temptation to overcome. But neither of these really seem relevant here, anyway. One can well make sense, in addition, of bishops being regarded as less trustworthy for their failures; but this is just ordinary personal trustworthiness, in the same sense that people don't regard politicians as being very trustworthy, regardless of whether they think they are saying the right thing. Politicians don't, as politicians, do anything that depends on a quality of 'moral credibility'. And while that's really obvious, the problem with concerns over moral credibility is that nobody else actually seems to do so, either.

Nor is this surprising, because this is how morality works in general -- it has its own standards. If an adulterer exhorts you not to commit adultery, what is at stake is not the credibility of the adulterer, but of what the adulterer is saying in itself.

One can of course have suspicion of episcopal motives. A few years ago I started noticing that bishops tended to start preaching against detraction after they had been criticized online for something. Contrary to popular belief, I don't think there is actually a special problem with detraction on the Internet -- people are, to be sure, often petty and malicious, and you can find genuine detractors here, as you can find them anywhere. But even when people are being nasty to each other, detraction, which is a very specific kind of sin in moral theology, is not generally the problem. In all my years on the Internet -- and not just on the Internet, but actively arguing with people on the Internet -- I have met endless numbers of people who were being impatient, sharp-tongued, dismissive, or too quick to believe negative comments by others, and indeed have been all of these things myself at some point, but I think I have only personally interacted with one person who actually was engaged in a definite act of detraction that could definitely be identified as such. Such people exist, but that's not what most people online are doing, even at their worst, and even if they were actually doing it, it's hard, just reasoning from the actual evidence you get online, to be sure that they are doing it. When an argument gets too heated, that's not itself detraction; when criticism gets sharper and less restrained than it should be, that's not in itself detraction; even a single act of passing on malicious gossip, which is certainly in the vicinity and the kind of thing a detractor might do, has many other possible explanations. Even if you thought detraction a much more common thing than I do, it's obviously suspicious that bishops would specifically preach on it when they themselves were being criticized; it looks rather like poisoning the well, and any halfway aware person who was aware of the circumstances would put question marks above their motives. It looks like the same sort of thing as people piously talking about the importance of forgiveness when they might have done something wrong. But note that motives are not doctrines. The standards governing whether the bishop's claims about detraction are credible are entirely different from those governing whether they are making the claims honestly or out of self-aggrandizement.

I think part of the issue is that we in this age have a strong abhorrence of the idea of hypocrisy. Note that I say 'of the idea of hypocrisy'. A large amount -- indeed, an absurd amount -- of our political interactions consist of trying to convince people that our opponents are being hypocrites, because it is one of the few charges that still can inspire general revulsion when it sticks. And everyone who has engaged in any amount of political argument at all has at some point or other experienced someone trying to discount what we say, not by engaging with what we say, but by trying to convince others (or sometimes themselves) that we are in fact saying it hypocritically. Now, hypocrisy, unlike detraction, is without doubt extremely common because it doesn't actually require much, and even people who are very decent by common standards may at times be extraordinary hypocrites. But their hypocrites doesn't say anything whatsoever about whether their claims are true; indeed, since people are only hypocrites by trying to look good, if someone is a genuine hypocrite that they are trying to dress themselves in something that would be regarded by many people as genuinely good. Those many people might be right or wrong, or the hypocrite could just be incompetent in his selection of good things, but hypocrisy never means trying to associate oneself with bad things. Thus even if there were some kind of moral credibility at which the hypocrite fails, this would not affect the credibility of what they are saying; that has to have an independent source of credibility, or at least a perceived independent source of credibility, by the very nature of hypocrisy. The hypocrite is a thief of appearances; the whole point is that the appearances have some kind of value independently. All of the hypocrisy-hunting in modern politics is entirely irrelevant to anything; it is political smoke. Discovering that a politician is a hypocrite on a particular point may give you reason to want someone more sincere in the office, but it doesn't tell you much about policies or causes, particularly given that hypocrisy is easy and there's no way to vet your political allies for sincerity, because hypocrites mimic people who are regarded as good. I guarantee that you are in league with hypocrites, no matter where you are on the political spectrum.

In any case, I suspect that the reason for all the talk about 'moral credibility' is tied to our abhorrence of 'hypocrisy' as a classification. In reality, it is all irrelevant. The whole point of an episcopal hypocrite is that he is trying to cover himself with the genuine moral appearance -- we can call it 'credibility', if we want -- of the entire Church and of Christ from whom the Church springs. And none of that appearance depends on the bishop himself. Nor should anyone have ever been caring whether bishops have 'moral credibility' rather than whether they are actually saying and doing morally right things. And this is all in some form true well outside the arena of ecclesial scandal. It is no doubt foolish to trust a known hypocrite to do justice -- but that's a completely different question from the question of what justice is in the first place. It makes sense to ask Cardinal Wuerl to resign because there is reason to worry that he cannot be trusted to uphold faith and morals, or because there is reason to doubt that he can be trusted with such a large amount of responsibility over people. But this doesn't reflect anything about the responsibility, or the faith and morals, or even those positions Wuerl himself advocates; all of these have their own standards, and it seems a rather serious wrong to suggest that these things should be held to the standard of Wuerl's credibility than to insist that they be judged according to standards actually relevant to them.

Bishops aren't, and shouldn't be, dispensers of personal moral advice, at least as bishops; if they do give moral advice, they should be making a sharp distinction between that and what they are doing as bishops. If a bishop is using his episcopal role only to give personal moral advice, the problem with him is not moral credibility; the problem is that he has failed in being a bishop in the first place. Bishops are there precisely to give what they have received, not to be originators; Bishop X not there to preach Bishop X's Faith and Morals, but the faith and morals of the Church, which they are there not to make but to proclaim. And indeed, the whole standard for good bishops is nothing, nothing at all, more than this: that they proclaim the faith and morals of the Church and that they protect its sacramental economy. They must be held accountable to this. But the credibility of the faith and morals of the Church does not in any way depend on the bishops, for which Catholics everywhere and through all of history might say, "Thank God."

Friday, September 07, 2018

Dashed Off XXI

A healthy public sphere must first and foremost be honest.

the 3 elements of Catholic Action (Peter Maurin)
1. Teaching of Christian Doctrine
2. Daily Practice of the Works of Mercy
3. Reconstruction of the Social Order

The tendency to think in terms of predicate calculus has led to an unnatural separation of sense and reference, with senses stuck on references like flags on poles, and, of course, both of these are separated from other aspects of meaning. It is as if one treated steering a ship as one thing, its hydrodynamics as another, its materials as another, all just glommed onto each other, without starting where we actually start, the ship and how it moves.

Hume scholars tend to focus on ideas, but Hume himself is often more interested in the transitions; it is not a static view but a dynamic one.

Much of Hume's theory of imagination makes a very good theory of guessing.

"When people find themselves every moment in danger of being robbed of all they possess, they have no motive to be industrious." Adam Smith

good government as the union of authority and usefulness

Priests who sneer at legalism are often in fact sneering at the rights of the faithful.

Veto and prorogation both provide much needed checks and balances (it is a weakness of the American system that it lacks the latter); but prorogation to be appropriate needs to be done with public conditions (usually time limit and a condition relevant to the resolution of the problem requiring prorogation).

monarchical sources of revenue
(1) demesnes (rents, working estates)
(2) civil list (salaries, pensions)
(3) taxes reserved for monarch
(4) grants (e.g., by parliament)

Popular sovereignty requires that citizens, operating as citizens, have executive, legislative, and judicial authority of some kind. Only to the extent that (1) they clearly have this and (2) other authority is clearly dependent on their having this, is it reasonable to say that the people are in some sense sovereign.

"Moral repair is the process of moving from the situation of loss and damage to a situation where some degree of stability in moral relations is regained." (Margaret Walker)
"Moral repair is the task of restoring or stabilizing -- and in some sense creating -- the basic elements that sustain human beings in a recognizably moral relationship."
"Repair cannot mean return to a status quo, but must aim at bringing morally diminished or shattered relations closer to morally adequate form."

'external' in 'external world' as analogous to 'other' in 'other mind' (perhaps there are analogues of external, independent, and continuing in 'other')

"All other values are relative for, of, or in a person." TH Green

absolute idealism : metaphysics :: coherence theory of truth : logic
-- this raises the question of the metaphysical analogues of other theories of truth

least means (Rosmini)
as considering means: secondary causality
as considering leastness: excluded superfluity
-- from both of these comes permission of defect
as exclusion of superfluity involves using secondary causes to answer needs of secondary causes: systemic totality
as considering distribution for greater good: continuous gradation
as uniting continuous gradation with secondary causation: variety in actuation and modification
as uniting variety and excluded superfluity: excluded equality (excluded redundancy)
as applying least means maximally: unity of action

If PSR is principle of causality plus note of intellect, one would expect reason-principles analogous to causal principles.

three parts of law of germ (Rosmini)
(=seminal reasons!)
(1) all beings have been created in a state of involution or germ
(2) Germs produce other germs by evolution.
(3) Original germs should be no more in number than is sufficient for the purpose.

ordered or directed analogy (this can make some sense if one thinks of analogy as act of analogizing)

Just as a community cannot make all wrongdoers accountable, it cannot validate all victims.

real being & rational being (being of reason) // real truth & rational truth

"Where would such an idea, say as that of God, come from if not from direct experience?" C. S. Peirce (6.493)

now -> always -> ground of always
here -> everywhere -> ground of everywhere
allowed -> obligatory -> ground of obligation
this -> all -> ground of all

Aquinas takes the oblation to be the genus and sacrifice to be a species of it involving making-sacred (i.e., doing something to what is offered rather than just giving it).

happenstance eclecticism vs principled eclecticism

nice example of anti-skeptical retorsion in Nyayasutra 2.1

rethinking the structure of philosophy of religion
God, the tutelar, the beyondgrave, the preternatural [by: what is met]
address, oblation, taboo, commemoration [to: the priestly]
inspiration, revelation, miracle, union [fro: the prophetic]
loyalty, liturgy (semiotic economy), adeption, superliminality [with: the communal]
genesis, providence, eschaton, alterity [in: the forum of meeting]
lure, gift, repair, mystery [through: the mode of presence]
religions proper, disenchantments, as-if religions, fictional religions

at least minimally personal: God, tutelar, some beyondgrave
impersonal: some beyondgrave, preternatural

kinds of tutelar: (1) transcendent, (2) imminent
(1) are tutelars starting to receive Divine attributions (Zeus being the obvious case). Likewise, beyondgraves may be tutelar (gods of death, demons), or human (shades, ghosts), or preternaturals (poltergeists).
Demigods as human tutelars, personifications as preternatural tutelars
pure preternaturals: Ideas (qua 'more divine than the gods'), karma, Lifeforce, mana, eternal Veda
-- How would Brahman be classified here? Will obv. depend on exact school, but prima facie seems a God/preternatural overlap
--All of these overlaps mean that we really need precise and principled definitions.

kinds of arguments for tutelars
(1) religious experience (e.g., Greer)
(2) design
(3) custom
-- (1) can be (a) direct (cf Epinomis) or (b) visionary (which is what Greer seems to have in mind) or (c) indirect (Muse)
-- (2) is obv. particularized. In a sense, Kant's complaint is that the design argument as such does not rise above the tutelar. Design + argument from evil (which are, strictly speaking, not inconsistent with each other) a possible reason for particularizing.
-- (3) seems to need to reduce to one of the others + testimony (although the source may be unknown)
-- Pluralism a reason for particularizing (1) to tutelars.
-- We may need (4) more purely causal as well -- cp Aristotle on first movers, if you don't take it to be (1a) or (1c).
--Is the impossibility of an ontological argument a distinguishing mark of the tutelar domain (or perhaps tutelars and beyondgraves)? Could you have a promiscuity of ontological arguments, as in mathematics? A possibility: A view like Platonic Forms but treating them as tutelars. (Abstract tutelars getting preternatural features seem most promising Tutelars getting divine attributions, on the other hand, are indistinguishable from God when get to an ontological argument.)

tutelar/devata, deity/Ishvara, preternatural/brahman
--this raises the question of where bhagavat fits; it seems extrinsic (based on devotional relations)

demiurge as tutelar with strongly divine attribution

It seems best to think of tutelar et al. as *kinds of attribution* rather than kinds of things.

Veneration of the Cross as a proxy for Eucharist on Good Friday

Recognizing incongruities requires counterfactual reasoning.

sophism // joke

kinds of incongruity in joke
(1) misassociation
(2) absurd effect (disproportion)
(3) impropriety

Since whether a characteristic is observable or not depends on suitable circumstances whether a term designating it is an 'observation predicate' depends on circumstances and whether an assertion involving it is an 'observation sentence' depends on circumstances.

All governments are some extent mixed constitutions; but there may be cases where on part is mostly residual or occasional.

"In searching for the principles of government, we may divide them into two kinds: the principles of authority, and the principles of power. The first are virtues of the mind and heart, such as wisdom, prudence, courage, patience, temperance, justice, etc.: the second are the goods of fortune, such as riches, extraction, knowledge, and reputation." Adams

Any society of popular government, if it is to be just and stable, must be pervaded by the common expectation that gods are to be worshiped, parents to be honored, elders to be respected, and customary laws to be obeyed.

etymological splitting and doubling in the enrichment of language
tradition -- tradition and treason
ratio -- ratio and reason
holiness (from Germannic) and sanctity (from Latin)
watch (from Germannic) and observe (from Latin)

God has unlimited standing to forgive because He is the Good Itself, the First Good which all other goods participate. All wrongs are primarily against Him, and all standing to forgive derives from Him. (None of this is true, of course, of us.)

Liberalism corrupts beliefs through pleasure-pressures; authoritarianism corrupts beliefs through utility-pressures.

"Truth, expressed in practice, is called Justice." Soloviev

contiguity as resemblance with respect to causal reach (resemblance in how one would get to it causally)

the importance of encouraging poor entrepreneurs

Counterfactual reasoning for large, variable populations tends to fail because there are so many things that could shift the population behavior -- thousands and thousands of things that could affect voting or buying patterns, for instance. One is often best advised to look at narrow ranges of shifts, and even then one may have counterfactual explosion.

parsimony & the need to make experiments as useful as possible

two kinds of trivial maps: empty (Hunting of the Snark) and identity (Sylvie and Bruno Concluded)

Sankara's use of the principle of noncontradiction against the Jains

convertibility of being and being causal (not, of course, being caused)

syadvada as a modal logic

(cp. Loke)
Resurrection experiences: either (1) no disciples had purported resurrection experience (legends) or (2) some disciples did.
if (2), either the (2.1) experience was actual or (2.2) merely purported (false testimonies)
if (2.1), either the experience as (2.1.1) real or (2.1.2) hallucinatory
if (2.1.1), either ( the person experienced was the same person as Jesus or ( it was not (mistaken identity)
if (, either ( Jesus did not die (mistaken death) or ( he died and rose
if (, either it was because ( He was never actually crucified (escape) or because ( the crucifixion was botched (swoon).
if (, either he rose ( because of a chance cause (scientific anomaly) or ( because of a divine intervention or miracle (resurrection)
-- Each alternative requires positing a defective cause of the testimony.
-- Note Strauss's argument against the swoon hypothesis in Life of Jesus
-- Note that the Gospels are structured so as to eliminate each branch that is an alternative to resurrection, and they do this fairly explicitly, emphasizing evidences of death, eyewitnesses, multiple witnesses, extended interactions, physical interactions, etc.

(cp. Loke)
empty tomb: assume either (1) there was no crucifixion or (2) there was.
if (1), this is either (1.1) because the story is made up (invention/legends) or (1.2) because the crucifixion was evaded (escape)
if (2), either we should assume (2.1) there was a burial or (2.2) there wasn't (unburied and destroyed)
if (2.1), either we should assume (2.1.1) there was a real change or (2.1.2) there wasn't (remained buried, but misplaced or lost)
if (, the change is due either ( to a human cause or ( to a nonhuman cause.
if (, either ( Jesus removed himself or ( others removed him.
if (, either ( he was there due to swoon or ( he rose by anomaly.
if (, either ( the cause was natural (anomaly) or ( the cause was supernatural (resurrection)

exploitation of citizens and their alienation from public work

Academia conceals its existing-for-others by failing to consider its dependence on the good will and support of the community, that it is, in fact, made possible by the sacrifices of others in the expectation that it will do general good.

In a genuinely free society, citizens can treat support of the functions of governments as a way of expanding their freedoms.

genius, taste, and spirit (there seems little aesthetic work on the last, although cf. perhaps Campbell on rhetoric)

Sometimes by 'hope' we merely mean patience.

Epistemology of any field simply reiterates the field from the perspective of knowing. The same is true of axiology from the perspective of known willing.

values as the qua of willing

"All defects are possibly remediable, otherwise they would not be defects." Ferrier

Marxism is often not bad when it comes to diagnosing the plight of the worker, but it has no actual solution to it because the response always amounts to, "Eventually the workers will fix it themselves."

The responsible citizen puts his life into the common good; but the danger is that this may make his life belong no longer to him but to those who have managed to find their way into the roles and offices that have been given power to care for the common good. The danger is that the latter may lay a trap with the common good as bait.

Working well under just conditions
(1) to act and be treated as a person
(2) to meet human needs of self and others in appropriate ways
(3) to be involved in fair exchanges
(4) to be an active member of society

Labor, work, is merely a material of civic participation.

creative citizenship: in which one's citizenship is an expression of one's person, a culmination of oneself as social, a good willed, something more than getting by -- a matter of honor, of which to be proud

Educational institutions estrange people by intensifying the emphasis on expertise while refusing serious recognition and respect to all expertise but their own.