Saturday, May 27, 2006

What You Should Never Forget

There is a Hindu story about ten men who went on a long and dangerous journey. They passed through fire and water, over treacherous mountain passes and through disease-infested swamps, one after another, without a moment to rest or catch their breath.

When they finally reached a place they could stop, one of them began to count the survivors to see if any of them had been lost in the journey. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine." Then he burst into weeping at the loss of the tenth.

The second man, hearing the first man bewailing the loss of the tenth man, counted as well. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine." And he, too, burst into tears at the loss of the tenth.

And so it went. Each man counted nine men, and began to weep for the loss of the tenth.

At that moment a man on a white horse rode by, and, arrested by the sound of weeping, asked them what had caused such great sorrow.

The first man said to him, "We have just come from a long and dangerous journey, through fire and water, over treacherous mountains and swamps. We began as ten, but now are only nine, and we mourn the loss of our tenth companion."

The rider thought a moment, and then asked the first man if he would count the companions again. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine," the first man counted, and began to weep anew.

Then the rider on the horse leaned over and said, "You have forgotten something. You are the tenth."

Well, I Am Brewed Right

You Are Root Beer

Ultra sweet and innocent, you have a subtle complexity behind your sugary front.
Children love you, but so do high end snobs... when you're brewed right.

Your best soda compatibility match: Dr. Pepper

Stay away from: Diet Coke

I was hoping for Dr. Pepper, but I can take root beer. [HT: Rebecca Writes]

Malebranche and Infinite Machines

THÉOTIME. It is necessary, Theodore, that I tell you about an experiment I did [une expérience que j'ai faite]. One day in summer I took a large piece of meat that I enclosed in a bottle and covered it with a bit of gauze. I noticed that various flies came to lay their eggs or larvae on this gauze and that, when they hatched, they ate the gauze and fell onto the meat, which they devoured in a short time. But as that smelled too bad, I threw it all out.

THÉODORE. That is how flies 'come from' putrefaction. They put their larvae on the meat and hurriedly fly away. These larvae eat and the flesh putrefies. After those larvae have eaten well, they enclose themselves in their cocoons and leave them as flies; and because of this common men believe insects come from putrefaction.

THÉOTIME. What you say is certain. For many times I have enclosed flesh in a hermetically sealed bottle where no flies have been, and I have never found larvae there.

ARISTE. But how then can it be that one finds very large ones in all sorts of fruits?

THÉODORE. One finds them large, but they entered the fruits small. Search well, you will discover on the skin either a small hole or its scar. But let us not dwell, I beg you, on the proofs that people give that there are animals that come from putrefaction. For these are proofs so weak that they do not merit any reply. 'One finds mice in a newly constructed vessel, or in a place where there were none. Therefore, it must be that this animal has been engendered from some putrefaction.' As if these animals were prevented from seeking out their needs at night, from moving on planks and and on the ropes onto small boats and from there onto the large ships, or as if one could construct vessels elsewhere than on the shore! I cannot comprehend how so many people of good sense have been able to enter into such a blatant and palpable error for reasons like this. For what is there that is more incomprehensible than an animal being formed naturally out of a little putrified meat? It is infinitely easier to conceive of a bit of rusty iron being changed into a perfectly good watch; for there are infinitely more parts of greater delicacy in a mouse than in the most complex clock.

Nicolas Malebranche, Dialogues on Metaphysics and on Religion (1688), XI.viii.

I posted this passage, with some slight differences in translation and a brief note relating it to Redi and Pasteur, previously. Another interesting thing about this passage is Malebranche's infinite machine theory of animal life -- when Théodore says there are infinitely more parts of greater delicacy in a mouse than in the most complex clock, he means it literally. On a Cartesian view, of course, all animals are merely complex machines -- elaborate systems of moving parts. What, then, is there to distinguish manmade machines from animals? As far as I recall, Descartes doesn't give us any such distinguishing feature, being more interested in distinguishing humans (who are animal machines with the Cartesian soul) from mere animals. It's possible that he didn't think there was any essential difference. Malebranche, however, does give a clear distinguishing feature: artificial machines are finite machines; natural machines, like animals, are infinite machines. Keep in mind that Malebranche, as a Cartesian, believes that matter is infinitely divisible; so there isn't any theoretical problem with animals having an infinity of parts. And Malebranche held that heredity provided a good reason to believe that animals were actually divided into infinite parts -- Malebranche was (to an extent) a preformationist, so he thought the reason why all bees resemble the first bee is that all bees that have been generated from other bees were originally preserved in very minute germinal form in their predecessors. So baby bee was originally just a tiny part of its mother, who was originally just a tiny part of its mother, who was originally just a tiny part of its mother, on until we reach the very first bee. It's a beautiful picture, actually, and he is right that it would have accounted for all the facts in a simple and elegant way: all heredity and generation would be merely the unfolding (according to simple natural laws) of a complexity implicit in the original creation. (In a previous post I briefly summarized some aspects of Malebranche's view of heredity, which focuses more on the ways in which Malebranche has adjusted his preformationist view to take account of facts that seem to favor epigenesis.) In a sense, it's too bad that animals aren't infinite machines and that heredity isn't an unfolding of complexity. The great Cartesian cosmos-machine unfolding, budding, flowering into new animals, would be quite impressive.

Notice, by the way, the metaphor of the clock. In The Search after Truth Malebranche constructs a design argument that uses the metaphor of the watch. Like most design arguments up to that point, however, it is not an argument for God's existence but for divine providence. In particular, it is an attack on the Epicurean view that the universe came to be entirely due to the random motions of atoms in a void:

But if one examines the reasons and purpose of all these things, one will find so much order and wisdom that a little serious thought will convince even the most devoted disciples of Epicurus and Lucretius that there is a providence which rules the world. When I see a watch, I have a reason to conclude that there is an intelligence, because it is impossible that chance could produce and arrange all its wheels. How then would it be possible for chance, and the encounter of atoms, to be capable of arranging in all men and in all the animals so many different forces, with the precision and proportion that I have just explained? And how, by chance, could it happen that men and animals procreate other beings that exactly resemble them? Thus it is simply ridiculous to think or to say with Lucretius that chance formed all the parts that make up a man, that eyes were not made in order to see, but rather that one thinks of seeing because one has eyes, and similarly with the other parts of the body. (Lennon-Olscamp translation, p. 98)

Malebranche connects this design aspect of the infinite machine hypothesis to a number of theses: only God can make animals (because only God could make a machine of infinite parts); animals do not need souls to do what they do (because an infinite machine is able to do anything that can be done with infinite parts working together in a systematic way); we are not true causes of anything that happens in our body (because to do so we would have to operate the infinite parts of our own infinite machine); indeed, nothing except God is a true cause at all when it comes to matters of life (because only He has the infinite knowledge and foreknowledge that would be required to handle infinite machines).

While Malebranche seems to have been the originator of the hypothesis, the most famous proponent of it is Leibniz. As he says in the Monadology:

Thus the organic body of each living being is a kind of divine machine or natural automaton, which infinitely surpasses all artificial automata. For a machine made by the skill of man is not a machine in each of its parts. For instance, the tooth of a brass wheel has parts or fragments which for us are not artificial products, and which do not have the special characteristics of the machine, for they give no indication of the use for which the wheel was intended. But the machines of nature, namely, living bodies, are still machines in their smallest parts ad infinitum. It is this that constitutes the difference between nature and art, that is to say, between the divine art and ours. (#64; Montgomery translation)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

This is Safari; the photo was taken by camera phone in my parents' house.

Norris's Prayer

This is a repost, but it has been a long time since I've said anything about Norris.

O God of Order and Beauty, who sweetly disposest all things, and hast establish'd a Regular course in the visible World, who hast appointed the Moon for certain Seasons, and by whose decree the Sun knoweth his going down, let the Moral world be as Regular and Harmonious as the Natural, and both conspire to the declaration of thy Glory. And to this End grant that the Motion of our Minds may be as orderly as the Motion of Bodyes, and that we may move as regularly by Choice and free Election, as they do by Natural instinct and Necessity.

O God of Light and Love, warm and invigorate my Light, and direct and regulate my Love. In thy Light let me see Light, and in thy Love let me ever Love. Lord I am more apt to err in my Love than in my understanding, and one Errour in Love is of worse Consequence than a thousand in Judgment, O do thou therefore watch over the Motions of my Love with a peculiar governance, and grant that I my self may keep this Part with all diligence, seeing hence are the issues of Life and Death.

O Spirit of Love, who art the very Essence, Fountain and Perfection of Love, be thou also its Object, Rule, and Guide. Grant I may Love thee, and what thou love'st, and as thou love'st. O Clarify and refine, inlighten and actuate my Love, that it may mount upward to the Center and Element of Love, with a Steddy, Chast, and unsullied Flame; make it unselvish, universal, liberal, generous and Divine, that loving as I ought I may contribute to the Order of thy Creation here, and be perfectly Happy in loving thee, and in being lov'd by thee Eternally hereafter. Amen.

From John Norris, The Theory and Regulation of Love (1688) pp. 142-143. Norris, of course, a first-friend-then-enemy of Locke, corresponded with Mary Astell; he also is distinctive in that he is an English Malebranchean (albeit a very eclectic one).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

April First Things

R. R. Reno has a great article at First Things, called Theology's Continental Captivity, arguing that theologians need to take analytic philosophy more seriously. There's also an article by Bottum on Brinley's The Mad Scientists' Club, which was one of my favorite books growing up. Perhaps that shows how much of a geek I was. (It is not the only evidence that could be brought forward for such a conclusion.)


The doctrine of abrogation (naskh) in Islamic thought is the claim that later verses of the Qur'an can abrogate earlier ones (or, more generally, that later revelation from God can abrogate earlier revelation). It is quite controversial among Muslim theologians (both in the strict form -- whether abrogation in this sense is possible -- and in the more general form -- how far such possibility of abrogation in revelation extends). Jim Benton recently had a good discussion of the Qur'an and the doctrine of abrogation at "100 Camels Times X", which has led me to think about it a bit more. Some resources:

"Niche of Truth" lays out the basic ideas involved in abrogation. I also recommend the discussion of al-Nasikh wa-Mansukh in Chapter 5 of Ahmed von Denffer's Ulum al-Qur'an.

Mansur Ahmad criticizes the doctrine of abrogation at "". His criticisms are the most common ones against the doctrine.

The Wikipedia article for Naskh is surprisingly good, at least as a place to find leads for further research.

The dispute is an important one for Islam, because on the one view those who do not know the principles of naskh will misapply revelation; on the other, the reverse is true.

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord

Peter and the other apostles replied:
"We must obey God rather than men!
The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—
whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him to his own right hand
as Prince and Savior
that he might give repentance
and forgiveness of sins to Israel.
We are witnesses of these things,
and so is the Holy Spirit,
whom God has given to those who obey him."

John Jansen has a nice article on the theology of the Ascension that's well worth reading. At Intellectuelle there is a fragment from a sermon by Augustine on the subject. Magic Statistics has the collect for today from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The heart of the feast of the Ascension is mediation; it is about Christ's role as mediator between God and man, and about His intercession in glory for us. Therefore there is no better way to celebrate the day than conciliation and reconciliation with our fellow human beings and intercession before God for them.

Principle of Credulity

I read with interest this paper on children's acceptance of testimony (PDF). Chris discusses it briefly at "Mixing Memory." The Scottish common sense philosophers -- Campbell, Reid, Beattie -- would have room to feel at least partially vindicated; they discussed such matters under what they called 'the principle of credulity'. (Hume in a sense discusses it as well; but whereas Hume discusses it simply with regard to prejudices and irrationality in reason, the common sense philosophers discussed it as something that tends to be good, if its results are refined over time by active reasoning, since it plays an integral role in the way we learn.) Part of their point was that a conservative stance of skepticism toward testimony (to use Harris & Koenig's phrase) is neither feasible nor, taken globally, defensible, because it ends up being detrimental to reason: it requires us to be skeptical of so much of what we actually accept and of what we have already learned since our early childhood, because a lot of what we take for granted is learned simply by accepting testimony. That is, the skeptical stance toward testimony is rationally regressive. The rationally progressive approach to testimony is to make extensive use of it, subject (of course) to the supervision of reason. This conclusion, of course, depends on their view of how testimony functions in our cognitive development and rational life; that we all have used it extensively and credulously (hence the phrase, principle of credulity) in learning how the world works (although, of course, it is and has always been subject to revision), that it is necessary for rational development, and that it is an important part of who we are as social creatures.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Crimson Stain that Was of Cain

They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
They did not even toll
A reguiem that might have brought
Rest to his startled soul,
But hurriedly they took him out,
And hid him in a hole.

They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
And gave him to the flies;
They mocked the swollen purple throat
And the stark and staring eyes:
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud
In which their convict lies.

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
By his dishonored grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
Whom Christ came down to save.

--From the Ballad of Reading Gaol, by Oscar Wilde

No Dogs or Philosophers Allowed

No Dogs or Philosophers Allowed is a website that has a rich selection of philosophy-related resources. For instance, they have all of John Cleese's 2003 APA-backed short spots on philosophy in mp3.

You can also see the winner of the First Annual Philosophy Video Festival (at the Eastern APA in Boston in 2004); high school students submitted video entries which were judged by a panel. The winner, from Preston High School, in Bronx, NY, can be viewed online:

Noumena / Phenomena

There has recently been some interesting discussion about whether one should hold a 'two-world' interpretation of Kant or a 'two-aspect' interpretation at Kant Blog, Transcendental Idealism and DuckRabbit. I really don't have much to say on the matter, but I always wonder whether this divide in the commentators might be the result of failing to take Kant seriously enough. That is, while the actual positions that are sometimes put forward under these labels are usually more sophsticated than the labels themselves, in the end either of these ways of putting the matter makes the mistake of starting with the world(s) as if that were an unproblematic place to clarify the matter, when part of Kant's whole point is that it is not. Of course, Kant does explicitly on occasion talk of two worlds (mundus sensibilis et intelligibilis); and sometimes within the same footnote or paragraph goes on to say something that sounds more like a two-aspect account -- e.g., that if the senses represent something as it appears, this something must also be in itself a thing. But the reason there is this divide is precisely that Kant is tricky on this point, because the point itself is tricky. For a noumenon is a thing insofar as it is not an object of sensible intuition; but it is not self-contradictory that it could be an object of a non-sensible intuition. We just don't have such an intuition, or even a notion of what such an intuition would be like. We know the noumena not because we experience them, but because experiencing the objects we do experience requires that we conceive of these unknown-somethings required for the possibility of experience. Precisely because they are unknown-somethings, we can't say how they are related to appearances except insofar as they are required for their possibility; and even then we are not saying anything about the unknown-something as such. It's like negative theology generalized: we know nothing about the noumena except what they are not and those of our relations to them that lead us to posit them in the first place. Our capacity for receiving impressions is limited; it cannot give us things except in the mode in which they appear to us. But these appearances by their very nature require us to say that there is something in itself correlated with the appearance. The immediate representation of the thing is its appearance; but there is a thing in itself, independent of sensibility, of which the appearance is a representation. But without some intelligible intuition, we have no way of saying more than this: there are intelligible entities, of some sort, that correspond, in some way or another, to the sensible entities that we experience. These intelligible entities are distinguishable from sensible entities -- indeed, the two cannot possibly be the same, since the former must be independent of all sensation and are never sensed. We cannot even conclude that any noumenon actually exists; all we can conclude is that it is not self-contradictory that it do so, and that the accurate characterization of our experience requires the concept of it. Thus the concept of a noumenon has no function in our reasoning except to tell us what sensibility cannot do; whether it is another world, or another aspect, or what have you, is simply unavailable to us. (And more than this: while we cannot eliminate the possibility that there might be a vantage point from which an answer might be available, and so cannot eliminate the possibility that there might be an answer about whether noumena and phenomena are 'two worlds' or 'two aspects', we cannot even conceive of what such a vantage point would be.) As possible (or at least not self-contradictory), the noumenon is admissible as a concept; as a limiting concept, the noumenon is utterly indispensable, since without it we fall into illusion and contradiction; but this is all we are able to say of the matter, and neither of these gives us enough to favor either a 'two worlds' account or a 'two aspects' account. That we are inclined to prefer either is just a sign that we have missed the whole point. The real point we should be taking away is that, whether there's one world, or two, or even whether there's any way for the noumena to be objects of some sort of intuition we don't have (and thus to be experienced as existing), we're kidding ourselves if we think we can do without them, and equally kidding ourselves if we think we can know anything about them at all beyond their bare possibility and the particular rational needs that make it so that we can't do without them. As I said: it's like negative theology generalized. Just as negative theology says that we can't know what God is but only what God is not and how things depend on Him, so transcendental philosophy says that we can't know what things in themselves are, but only what they are not and how we depend on them. And that is the point, the one which (apparently) makes the argument about whether there are two worlds or only two aspects completely otiose, and (perhaps) not even quite intelligible. I think this applies to all the little variations of this type of dispute as well.

I cannot say for certain whether this is all exactly right, particularly given that my interaction with Kant is relatively limited; it seems to me to fit much of what Kant says, but I freely admit that there's a lot about Kant's view that I simply do not know.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Links and Notes

* Philosophers' Carnival #30 is up at "Anniemiz". I don't know if it's just that I have more leisure to read them through, or whatever else, but this one seems to me to have been a very good one. Worth special mention are: O come, o come Immanuel (on Kant) at "DuckRabbit"; Religion in the Modern World at "Lelia Thomas"; Choosing a Path that's Clear (on free will & feminism) at "Persephone's Box"; Vagueness and the Paralysis of Philosophy at "hell's handmaiden"; and Vengeance and Justice at "Stop that Crow!" I may say something about one or two of these at some point.

* Week Four of the Online Philosophy Conference has opened. I particularly recommend the discussions of retributivism (Brooks and David), Siegel's paper on seeing causation, and the discussion of ontological commitment (Turner & Manley).

* I had blogged about this quite some time ago, but forgotten it completely. is a convenient way to keep track of bills being examined in the U.S. Congress, as well as of the discussions of those bills in the blogosphere.

* Trent Dougherty and Matthew Mullins have both started blogging about Augustine's Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love. Trent's first post is here, Matthew's is here.

* Jan Steutel and Ben Spiecker argue for Good Sex as the Aim of Sexual Education.

* "The Little Professor" has links for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday.

* A Canadian singer-songwriter I wish were more popular in the U.S.: Jann Arden. My four favorite Jann Arden songs: "Never Mind", "The Sound of", "Sleepless", and "Waiting in Canada".

* Canon and the Disputed Books of the New Testament (HT: 21st Century Reformation)

* Don't forget to check out Carnivalesque, if you haven't yet. In part because of the short notice (I signed up as host very late because no one else had volunteered, and I thought it was better to have a hurried edition than a hole in the series), it was in some ways harder than other carnivals I've hosted. I thought up several ideas I would have liked to try out, but couldn't, due to time constraints. (E.g., I wanted to do a Timaeus theme -- a good theme for unifying ancient and medieval periods, and it could have doubled as a tribute to Pelikan, who has an excellent book on the influence of the Timaeus on the medieval period; and I wanted to do more to organize the general collection of links; I wanted a Francophone section to get more cross-interaction, and because it's a feature I've always liked about Canadian conferences; etc.) Nonetheless, it turned out well. As Another Damned Medievalist notes, the carnival was in the end slightly tilted toward the ancient (which surprises me, because I read more medieval blogs more often than almost any ancient blogs; but perhaps has something to do with the nominations I received and the apparent fact that some ancient bloggers seem blog more than most medieval bloggers). And as Ralph Luker pointed out, it is missing Chaucer's The Cipher of Leonardo. Indeed, it is completely lacking anything that has to do with the Da Vinci Code. That would have been a good panel (particularly given that a carnival like this is in part supposed to be an interaction between academics and laypersons), if I had thought of it, and if there turned out to be enough posts to cover it. Still, as I said, it turned out well. I was somewhat hesitant about including some of the LiveJournal posts that were nominated; it's more difficult to judge how private a LiveJournal is supposed to be than it is to judge with the rest of the blogosphere -- LJers are a quirky species of blogger: they're hard to fit in one category of 'public' or 'private'. But I chose carefully, and hope that it doesn't cause any LJers discomfort to have been nominated for such a public forum.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Carnivalesque XV

Welcome to Carnivalesque XV, an Ancient/Medieval Edition. People have sometimes commented that blogging carnivals really aren't very carnivalesque; they don't quite turn the blogging world upside down. But I think blogging carnivals capture beautifully another aspect of the carnivalesque: the striking juxtapositions. And this carnival is no exception, since we have bloggers of different interests milling about and rubbing elbows. In this edition, besides the usual run of posts, we also have a section devoted to the International Conference on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, and a panel on unprovenanced antiquities.

Special thanks to Natalie Bennett, by the way, who nominated several excellent posts that might otherwise have been overlooked.

Tony Keen of Memorabilia Antonina gets a Golden Star of Excellence for having the most nominations for this edition of Carnivalesque. Congratulations, Tony. Just a few of the posts that were nominated:
Rosemary Sutcliff
Fighting the Blurring of Terminology
Recent TV
Hannibal starring Alexander Siddig

Jim Davila at Paleojudaica uncovered a case in which a reporter misreported a Coptologist on the translation of the Gospel of Judas.

The arts are one way in which the past continues into the present. My London, Your London reviews a showing of Aeschylus'sThe Persians, while Renaissance Lit notes the coming performance of Orlando in Love, an adaptation of Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, in New York.

One of the more interesting and valuable things blogging has brought to the scene is retroblogging: the blogging of diaries, journals, and the like. In her retroblog for Miss Frances William Wynn, Diaries of a Lady of Quality, Natalie Bennett transcribes a passage that is particularly interesting for our purposes, in that it gives a glimpse of how someone in the 1830s might have tried to make sense of ancient history -- on this occasion, the Egyptian pyramids.

Varro at Homo Edax mulls on the question of what we can learn from Cicero and Tacitus on the nature of tyranny.

Jonathan Wilson at The Elfin Ethicist links to online resources for Marsiglio of Padua.

Dorothy King reflects on the question of how well the ancient Greek philosophers reflect their religion and their society at PhDiva.

Michael Pakaluk at Dissoi Blogoi has been steadily going through different issues and tangles in Aristotle's discussion of the first cause. There are a lot of posts in the series, but you might want to start with At Loss on God and Minds, Aquinas on the Intellectual Life of the Prime Mover, The First Kinetic Being, The Source of an Eternal Movement, Mysticism and Logic in Aristotle's Metaphysics, That It Might Imitate, and The First Cause Mysterious.

At Mumblings of a Platonist we have an interesting discussion of the opinable and sense perception in Plato's Timaeus.

Alun asks the question, "Who are the four greatest ancient Greeks?" at blogographos. I think my vote would be for Euclid, Aristotle, Euripedes, and Thucydides. But it's a hard one, since so many great minds are left out (Sophocles, Plato, etc.)

Discipula at Medieval Studies asks what people would consider the essential historiographical works for people interested in the Middle Ages.

Heo Cwaeth argues that medieval women writers belong in the canon.

Suzie Lipscomb at Maids Wives and Mistresses summarizes a seminar paper she recently gave called, 'Implementing Patriarchy: late sixteenth Reformed women & the French consistory'.

Natalie Bennett at Philobiblon has an obituary for researcher Suzanne Hull, who changed our views of women in the Renaissance.

Blog carnivals usually showcase posts; but sometimes the comments are worth reading, too, as when commenters reflect on the life of Jaroslav Pelikan at Pontifications and Titusonenine. Also worth reading is the post on Pelikan at Menachem Mendel.

Manan Ahmed reflects on humanism, history, and interacting with the Public in The Polyglot Manifest I and The Polyglot Manifesto II at Chapati Mystery.

In his classic of historical Jesus scholarship, John Meier made use of the literary and discursive device of an 'unpapal conclave' of scholars of diverse background who were forced to hammer out a consensus document on who and what Jesus was, and what he did and said. As an experiment, Loren Rosson of The Busybody organized just such a conclave, and presents the results in a four part series: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV. The last of these is a response to Mark Goodacre's criticism at the NT Gateway Weblog that Rosson's version of the experiment missed out on the most important aspect of Meier's vision: namely, the ideal of rigorous scholarship shared in common even by those with radically different presuppositions and backgrounds.

Derek at Haligweorc asks a question about an Old English characterization of Easter.

André-Yves Bourgès discusses the familial antecedents of Yves of Kermartin at Hagio-historiographie médiéval. Those who need help with the French may find Google's rough translation of the page useful.

At PECIA: le manuscrit médiéval, Jean-Luc Deuffic looks at manuscripts relating to Yvon du Fou. Those who need help with the French may find Google's rough translation of the page useful.

Cosmology Curiosity has a link-rich post on Hannibal and the Battle of Cannae.

Chris Laning at Paternosters discusses pilgrim paraphernalia, providing plenty of pictures.

At Archaeoblog Anthony discusses a paper on megafauna extinctions, discussing whether climate or humans killed off the mammoths in Megafauna Extinctions Update and Update on Megafauna Extinctions Update.

Miland at World History Blog reviews Nicholas Wade's Before Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors.

It just wouldn't be right to have this Ancient/Medieval edition of Carnivalesque without having a section devoted to the International Congress of Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, particularly when there were so many bloggers reporting back. Some of the more notable posts on K'zoo:

Digital Medievalist: Scéla: Weblog Roundtable at Kalamazoo
Unlocked Word Hoard: K'zoo Roundup
Owlfish: Thursday at Kalamazoo, Friday at Kalamazoo, Saturday at Kalamazoo, Sunday at Kalamazoo
Blogenspiel: Kalamazoo Retrospective, Part I, Part II, Part III
Ancrene Wiseass: Zoo Thursday, Zoo in Review
Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog: To Kalamazoo, Wyth Love
IT: Instructional Technology: Tools for Teaching
Point of Know Return: Kalamazoo...
The Cranky Professor: Kalamazoo 41, Kalamazoo Aftermath
Another boring academic has a blog?: More weblogs and the academy
Wormtalk and Slugspeak: Kalamazoo 2006
New Kid on the Hallway: Conference Notes

There has recently been some discussion of a Statement of Concern circulated by Harvard's Lawrence Stager, which opens as follows:

We are archaeologists and scholars who deal with archaeological materials from the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean basin. We wish to express our concern at a movement that has received much publicity lately that condemns the use of unprovenanced antiquities from consideration in the reconstruction of ancient history. On the contrary, a history of this region cannot be written without the evidence from unprovenanced antiquities.

You can read the rest at Paleojudaica. Some of the posts that have discussed this Statement of Concern:

Thoughts on Antiquity: Statement on Unprovenanced Antiquities
Higgaion: Stager's "Statement of Concern"
Abnormal Interests: On Unprovenanced Artifacts
Dr. Jim West: Joe Zias on the "Statement of Concern"

And that is this edition of Carnivalesque, the carnival of premodern history. The next edition, in June, will be an early modern edition, so begin looking for relevant posts. The next edition of the History Carnival, at Aqueduct, is also coming up quickly, so get your nominations in for it, as well. Also, if you are interested in hosting either a Carnivalesque or a History Carnival, please let the organizers know as soon as you are sure you can do it. There is always a need for hosts.