Friday, August 18, 2006

Carnivals and Things

* The most recent Philosophy Carnival (#34) was at El Blog de Marcos. The post on taste (in a twofold sense!) at "The Hanged Man" is interesting, as well as the post on introspective incorrigibility at "A brood comb".

* History Carnival #37 is up at Mode for Caleb. At "Civil War Memory" there's an interesting examination of the role of the National Park Service in preserving Civil War battlefields; and Nathanael Robinson delivers some sharp criticism for uncritical repeating of Voltaire's famous quip about the Holy Roman Empire.

* The Skeptics Circle can get a bit repetitive, but in the most recent edition at Interverbal, there was an interesting post on déjà vu at Dr. Deborah Serani's weblog.

* There has been some discussion in the blogosphere about this piece at The American Conservative by Heather Mac Donald. Razib at "Gene Expressions" discusses some of the more important threads. I doubt that most nontheistic conservatives are quite as 'mystified' by the religious rhetoric as Mac Donald suggests, since it usually doesn't take much to figure it out; and she overlooks the fact that a lot of theists believe the basic two -- God and providence -- not to stand on revelation alone, but on reason as well. But these are not, as far as I can see, essential to her primary argument, which is simply that there is no reason for a conservative political movement to be as religious as we presume. Whether that's so or not, much of the discussion has been interesting, even for those of us who don't consider ourselves conservatives.

* At "Gaunilo's Island," Travis Ables has an excellent post on divine impassibility in a Christian context.

* Mario Bunge on Ethics and Praxiology as Technologies. He gives too much credit to utilitarians, but makes an interesting argument anyway.

* Star Trek Inspirational Posters. I especially like the Captain James T. Kirk and Kobayashi Maru posters. The Logic poster should be hanging in every philosophy department across the globe. And the picture for the Revenge poster is just about perfect. If you like them, donate a little (if you can) toward bandwidth.

* Mark Chu-Carroll has had some great posts recently. Try the one on sloppy reasoning about probability, the one about roman numerals, and (perhaps most interesting of all) surreals.

UPDATE: I had forgotten (and have been intending for some time) to link to the discussions of Euripides at "Seoul Hero" -- Cyclops, which discusses our only remaining satyr play, and Helen, one of my favorites. I am very much a Euripides fan. The Cyclops play is an interesting one; and a bit tricky to interpret (particularly since it is the only extant play of its kind). But I've always found it interesting that the Cyclops insists that 'Zeus', i.e., the highest, is avoiding pain; since, by the end of the play he has had a flaming brand thrust into his eye, it would seem that he has failed even on his own terms; he denies that the gods are of any significance, but I think Nathan is right that the path to his ultimate defeat is paved by the god, Bacchus, in the material form of wine. Of course, it is all done comically. Helen I can't do justice to here; it's full of doubles and duals, originals and images, and ambiguities between them. I'm not a particularly big fan of the god-denying interpretation of Euripides; I think that as an interpretive principle it usually involves confusing 'The gods are perplexing, mysterious, and dangerous' with 'The gods are not really gods'. (It is, however, clear that Euripides is perfectly willing to dismiss poets' tales about gods.) I think Nathan strikes close to the right balance in his discussions, although I'm not so sure that some of the dualities of Helen suggest demythologization.

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