Saturday, August 18, 2007

Four Poem Drafts

Heart's Leap

You are a summer morning,
golden day,
the roses brightly blooming on the way,
a vision for rejoicing,
life and breath renewed upon the final mile,
mercy's fire burning,
warmth of flame,
the heart's upward leaping when it hears the Name.

The River-Wraiths

The river-splendored wraiths,
mist-entrained, walk at midnight moon,
silver on their fingers ring-encrusted
with gem of dream and drowning swoon,
and I, who miswandered, caught by cords,
must follow, and you, who dreamed too deep,
are bound behind with chains of whisper
forged of echoes born of sleep.
Hallowed hill and hollow, moor and field,
mountain high and valley, pass like wind,
and river-wraiths in splendor draw us
down to darkness and to world's end.


Lightning cracks the air,
rifting night with fire,
as if God took a pen
and flicked it across the page,
no mark behind but madness
drawn with ink of light;
and above us clouds still rumble
and glower with His grace.

Bell's Silence

A poor man on the roadside
rings a bell to catch the ear,
to draw in pennies.
A rose springs up before him;
he is silent,
lest one bell-disturbed petal
touch the ground.

Notes and Links

* Two versions of Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" (both far better than that Kanye West nonsense): Daft Punk's original and the Carleton Singing Knights' a capella version.

Work it harder, make it better,
Do it faster, makes us stronger ,
More than ever hour after
[H]Our Work Is Never Over

The ambiguity of the sound "(h)our" is exquisite; it's like postmodernism on a good day. And indeed, if we wanted to make analogies that are probably stretched a bit too far, postmodernists are often trying to do in philosophy (very often badly, due to the academic taint) what Daft Punk sometimes does very well in music.

* Speaking of Daft Punk, Technologic has its strengths, too.

* John Heard discusses Maximilian Kolbe, who had his feast day recently.

* Ann Bartow has a post on pornography and politics worth reading at "Feminist Law Professors".

* Paul Robinson has an interesting quotation up by Dooyeweerd on Encyclopedia understood as "a philosophic science which indicates the place of the special sciences in the totality of human knowledge". It's noteworthy that Encyclopedia in fact used to be taught as an extremely important part of philosophy, at least in some places; Kant taught nine or ten semesters of Philosophical Encyclopedia, for instance. In essence they were unifying survey courses, although apparently much more systematic and architectonic in format than we usually are comfortable with in survey courses. What we call encyclopedias, of course, are a degenerate form of what encyclopedists originally tried to do, which was to provide a framework to facilitate an understanding of how every bit of knowledge was related to the rest.

* Chris has an interesting post on some research about folk meta-ethics.

* Susan Hurley recently died. You can get a sample of some of her work in this book symposium on Consciousness in Action. Some notices in the philosophical blogosphere on her death are here, here, and here.

Wisdom from Mother Syncletica

Amma Syncletica said, "There are many who live in the mountains and behave as if they were in the town, and they are wasting their time. It is possible to be a solitary in one's mind while living in a crowd, and it is possible for one who is a solitary to live in the crowd of his own thoughts."

Quoted here.

Problem of the Criterion

Ian has a good post at FQI on the Problem of the Criterion. In epistemology we essentially ask two sorts of questions. As Ian puts them:

(1) What do we know? What is the extent of our knowledge?
(2) How do we decide whether we know? What are the criteria for knowledge?

A major issue in epistemology is which question has priority. Roughly: Do you find the answer to (2) by answering (1) first (this position can be called Particularism); or do you find the answer to (1) by answering (2) first (this position can be called Methodism)? Ian gives a vigorous defense of Methodism. I made a few comments defending the Particularist, expecting for some reason to be in the lonely minority (I usually am!), but there are several good comments defending Particularism in the thread, which I highly recommend reading. One of the arguments that I thought was very good, and which I hadn't quite considered before, was raised by Dmitry Chernikov: anyone who believes there are properly basic beliefs has good reason to be a Particularist rather than a Methodist. (Put roughly, properly basic beliefs are beliefs that are adequate for knowledge but not because of any dependence on any other belief's adequacy for knowledge.) In retrospect this isn't surprising; it has been long known that there are a great many analogies between an epistemology that speaks of properly basic beliefs and Scottish common sense philosophy (Reid, Beattie, etc.), and the Scottish common sense philosophers are, in the early modern period, at least, the Particularists par excellence, and are firm critics of Methodism (whose primary instance in the early modern period is Cartesianism).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Flirting and Sex II

There has been some interesting discussion in the comments thread on my post on Ken Taylor's post on flirting. Taylor himself responds; I don't think it moves the discussion forward at all, but you're encouraged to read it and make up your own mind. (On the most important point, I don't see how Taylor can reject my point about the excessively sex-focused nature of his discussion in the post as a simple misreading, given that the lead-up to his Gricean suggestion consists of two longish paragraphs devoted wholly to the question of sexual arousal, and is followed by a paragraph which is easily read as saying that flirting is a sexually charged thing to be distinguished from other sexually charged things. Romance does indeed seem merely to be thrown in: sex is mentioned in one form or another more than twice as often as romance; the romance side of the matter is never elaborated, although the sex side certainly is in the discussion of arousal, and Taylor goes so far as to say explicitly in the fourth paragraph that, to his ear, if you don't intend to cause sexual arousal you aren't flirting; and we are never given any reasoning for romance being placed in the analysis at all unless it is taken to be a form of, or a close concomitant of, sexual arousal.) There's also a more important post-broadcast addendum to Taylor's original post, one added since my post was written, that emphasizes that mere possibility is intimated. I don't think that this actually strengthens the position in the post, since I rather assumed that. Taylor's suggestion:

I think you flirt only when: (a) you behave in ways intended to intimate the possibility of sex or romance and (b) you intend to make that intention manifest to the other.

would be quite a good start for understanding sexual innuendo, if we place the emphasis on the intimation of possibility that Taylor does; but it misses flirting as such entirely -- and I'm sticking by the 'obviously', since I think that when we consider the broad range of cases in which people flirt that this pretty clearly doesn't give us any insight into flirting. On the issue of playfulness, I've also gone on record denying that flirting is intrinsically playful -- although, possibly, Taylor's phrase "an air of intrinsic playfulness" might be felicitous, since something can have an air of intrinsic playfulness without being intrinsically playful, 'an air of' usually indicating an appearance. Even then, however, I think to put much emphasis on it as a clue to the nature of flirting would be to confuse a mark of success at flirting (flirting well) with what you are actually doing qua flirting (flirting as such); one can say interesting things about flirting from this angle, but the real character of flirting and flirtatiousness has to be discovered elsewhere, just as an account of how to live well can be a little fuzzy about what it is to live.

In any case, Kenny Pearce made an interesting comment:

I think the confusion may be caused by the fact that there is a subgroup of flirtatious behavior that might be described as "seduction in play" or some such. That is, seduction involves a serious (and manipulative) intention toward sex. As the degree of seriousness is lessened and replaced by playfulness so that we reach a range between merely teasing with no intention toward sex at all and playful, rather than serious, intentions toward sex it becomes an uncontroversial instance of flirtation. I think, however, that the confusion enters in the belief that this is a complete account of flirtation, when in fact that word has a much broader semantic range. The innocent end of the spectrum I've just described is a playful imitation of seduction which is (hopefully understand by the other to be) lacking the crucial element of seduction, namely a serious intention toward sex. There are, however, instances of flirtation that are far more innocent, far more subtle, and far further removed from sex, than this.

I think it's quite right to think that flirting has a broad semantic range. I don't think flirting is opposed to seduction; there will be cases where flirting is instrumental to a larger seductive project, and where the intentions involved in flirtation are quite serious, and recognized to be so. There will also be cases such as Kenny suggests here -- 'seduction in play' is a good name for them. There will be yet other cases, more Lady-Susan-like, where narcissism has various roles to play (from being the cause of the flirter's 'flirting with' the idea of sexual or romantic attachment to flirtation's being a purely instrumental behavior to put the narcissist in the spotlight again). There will be yet other cases where desperate for positive attention will be significant. Flirtatiousness may be occurrent or habitual, serious or playful in intent, pleasurable or painful, spontaneous or cultivated, done well or done badly, for sex or for romance or for the mere fun of it. (Jenkins wants to distinguish flirtatious behavior from flirting; I don't see the value of the distinction, but those who favor it could reformulate the point in terms that take the distinction into account.) Flirting is a behavior that can be interpreted differently in different contexts even when exactly the same things are done. For instance, the most common contexts for it certainly are cases where the possibility of sex or romance is in some way intimated; but there are other contexts as well. This is one contrast with something relatively one-dimensional, like sexual innuendo or romantic compliments. Jenkins is quite right in her original paper to distinguish flirting from things like these; one can do them without flirting, and one can flirt without doing them. It also distinguishes it from a multi-dimensional aspect of human life, like seductive behavior, which despite its multi-dimensional character is narrow in purpose.

(My own inclination is to treat flirting in terms of a theory of taste, in the eighteenth-century sense of the phrase; but that is hardly surprising, since I'm inclined to treat lots of things in terms of a theory of taste.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

So Now You Know

They further questioned: Why does the dog know his master, and the cat does not? and his [i.e., that of R. Elazar b. Zadok] answer was: It is certain that he who eats from what is left by a mouse is apt to have a poor memory, so much the more so the cat that himself consumes the mouse. They questioned again: Why do all these animals (i.e. dogs, cats, and the like) reign over the mice? and he answered: Because the mice are instinctively mischievous, since, says Rabha, they tear even garments; and R. Papa says: They gnaw through even the handle of a pick-ax.

--Babylonian Talmud (Tract Horioth, Chapter III)

So now you know why your cat seems so haughty; it's that she doesn't remember you at all, but would never admit it.

Grayling's Descartes

About a week and a half ago, Paul Robinson asked me what I thought of Grayling's suggestion that Descartes was a Jesuit spy, or, perhaps more accurately, intelligence gatherer for the Jesuits. I replied:

It's an entertaining idea; but it's pure speculation, with precious little evidence to support it. Most of what Grayling points to just suggests what would have been common at the time -- patronage by courts and the wealthy, and communication among intellectuals on interesting subjects. One of Grayling's odd arguments is that his meeting with Cardinal Berulle somehow suggests that he was an agent for the Jesuits. But this is extraordinarily unlikely; there was clear interest in the early French Oratory in Cartesian ideas as congenial to the order's Augustinianism -- Descartes was good friends with Berulle's successor, Condren, for instance. Further, our evidence is that there was not merely one 'secret' meeting, as one would expect if Grayling were right, but apparently several visits by Descartes to the Oratorian house, plus (even better attested) Descartes's attendance at a salon at which Berulle also attended, at which Berulle asked Descartes to explain to the guests how he intended to fight skepticism. Moreover, Grayling has to overstate rather drastically how intimate Descartes seems to have been with the Jesuits. There are indeed mysteries about Descartes's life; but Grayling's hypothesis, on our current evidence, is conspiracy-theory stuff.

Which is true, but I've been a bit uneasy with my response, because it sounds harsher than it really is, and it doesn't convey just how much of an improvement Grayling's biographical work is over some of his competition. Even on this point, where he makes the same mistake as Richard Watson (no relation), he does so with much more sobriety and reason than Watson does. The Bérulle incident is an excellent case in point. We know for a fact that Descartes had met Cardinal Bérulle: he attended at least one salon that Bérulle also attended; if he interacted with Bérulle outside of this (I should have put this condition in my reply), he likely visited the Oratorian House several times; and, unless I misremember, Descartes name-drops him at least once. Part of the problem in judging just how familiar Bérulle and Descartes were with each other is that most of our sources for Descartes's life are second-hand (Adrien Baillet is the most important of these) and the rest is fragmentary. So there's always a danger of historical pareidolia. We see this, I think, very clearly in the case of Watson's biography. One of the mysteries of Descartes's life is why one of France's foremost minds on a sudden picked up and moved to the Netherlands, there to spend most of the rest of his life. Baillet gives us an interesting suggestion in this regard. Attending the salon I previously mentioned, Descartes interacted with Bérulle, and they were both struck by each other, meeting several more times. Bérulle told Descartes that he should withdraw into solitude in order to write philosophy, and Descartes was so bowled over by Bérulle that he did. Now, this is, I said, an interesting suggestion, but it is not at all surprising that biographers have difficulty regarding this as any more than Baillet's attempt at a 'likely story'. So Watson suggests that really what happened was that Bérulle, deeply involved in the politics of France, tried to recruit Descartes to his cause, and Descartes, repelled by the Cardinal's fanaticism, immediately relocated to get away from him. It's actually rather funny reading it in Watson's Cogito Ergo Sum, since it's transparently obvious that the only reason Watson thinks Descartes must have done this is that that's the sort of Descartes Watson wants to believe existed. It is obviously not any more plausible than Baillet's version, and it lacks two of the merits of Baillet's version -- Baillet, for all that he garbles things, was basing his work on prior sources (the most important of which were Clerselier's lost papers), and Baillet's version fits with the fact that many of the first-generation Oratorians had an intense interest in Cartesian thought. But rather more seriously, we have no serious reason to believe that the interaction with Bérulle had anything to do with Descartes's moving except for the fact that Baillet makes the connection, in the very story Watson rejects as absurd. Without a principled reason for doing this, we are clearly turning history into a wax nose.

Grayling's version has Bérulle, opponent of the Jesuits, calmly letting Descartes know that he knows what Descartes's been up to for them, and (in effect) giving him a choice of leaving or getting in trouble. Grayling's construction of this version is far more sober and less subjective than Watson's (and, it must be said, much more interesting). He takes the trouble to bring in circumstantial narrative; and the result is a narrative much less implausible than Watson's, although one that still raises some questions. The attempt to formulate it is a genuine advance, even if one, like myself, regards it as a dead end, because givent he puzzle it was a possible narrative worth investigating. The admirable thing about Grayling's biography is that he faces squarely a great many of the mysteries of Descartes's life and handle them in a way based firmly on the evidence. I don't think he's usually successful at getting a grip on them, but this has at least as much to do with the state of the evidence as with anything else, and it is a decent attempt.

On the 'spy' hypothesis, it is worth pointing out two things, as well: namely, that to the extent that Grayling endorses the 'spy' label he takes it in a fairly weak sense -- that is, he takes it that Descartes was gathering information, and perhaps trying to infiltrate the Rosicrucians; and that it actually wouldn't be at all implausible for an intellectual of the time to gather information for other intellectuals. It's the systematic and somewhat cloak-and-dagger character of what Descartes would have done that makes it prima facie unlikely of an intellectual in the period; and it sits uneasily with other things we know of Descartes (as I note above, it's very unlikely on the evidence we have that Descartes was so completely involved with the Jesuits as Grayling has to postulate). My suggestion to readers of Grayling's Descartes is primarily that they just enjoy the book; and perhaps take the 'spy' aspect of it as chiefly a literary device that Grayling uses, sometimes to great effect, to lay out the historical background of Descartes's life, Grayling's attempt at a better version of Baillet's 'likely story', and thus to be regarded in exactly the same light we regard Baillet's story.

Two Poem Drafts


The musician lets the music pass;
he lets it fade, he lets it fall;
it lingers not in fact but thought;
he kills it to remember it.
Each note is laid into the grave
and only then is music felt;
its body buried, its spirit haunts;
its murder creates memory;
its death has set it free.


They spring up, some wildflowers, some garden-grown
(but not less lovely for being tended);
some are time-outlasting clay,
some are cracked and must be mended.
Some remain enduring friends,
some foes forever to be reviled;
some are friends transformed to foes,
some are enemies reconciled.
Some are spirits born of love,
like mothers revered as shining saints;
some ghosts, long dead, that haunt the soul;
some shades of life a sleepless fancy paints.

All are sifted like the dust
that covers cities over
and transforms mighty temples proud
into hills of earth and clover.


The memory of the just takes place with rejoicing, said Solomon, the wisest of men; for precious in God's sight is the death of His saints, according to the royal David. If, then, the memory of all the just is a subject of rejoicing, who will not offer praise to justice in its source, and holiness in its treasure-house? It is not mere praise; it is praising with the intention of gaining eternal glory. God's dwelling-place does not need our praise, that city of God, concerning which great things were spoken, as holy. David addresses it in these words: "Glorious things are said of thee, thou city of God." What sort of city shall we choose for the invisible and uncircumscribed God, who holds all things in His hand, if not that city which alone is above nature, giving shelter without circumscription to the supersubstantial Word of God? Glorious things have been spoken of that city by God himself. For what is more exalted than being made the recipient of God's counsel, which is from all eternity?

John Damascene

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Guide to the Argument of Hume's Dialogues, Parts X&XI

Previous Post

In Part IX Demea had proposed an a priori argument as more suitable to religion and talk about God than Cleanthes's a posteriori argument. Problems were raised in response to that, and Part X closes with Philo's pointing out that the a priori argument requries metaphysical and abstract reasoning, and that religion, however much it may be supported by the argument, will always derive from another source than it.

Demea opens Part X by conceding that much, and suggests that other source: "[E]ach man feels, in a manner, the truth of religion within his own breast, and, from a consciousness of his imbecility and misery, rather than from any reasoning, is led to seek protection from that Being, on whom he and all nature is dependent." Driven by fear and misery, we look for hope in the future, by way of prayer and sacrifice, and thereby find consolation in religion.

It is a sign of Demea's cluelessness as to the game being played that he would suggest this at this point, but it is entirely consistent with what he has said elsewhere.

Philo seizes on Demea's suggestion, saying that "the best, and indeed the only method of bringing every one to a due sense of religion, is by just representations of the misery and wickedness of men." Note how Philo in taking up Demea's claim has readjusted it to form the seed of a response to Cleanthes. Cleanthes had said that his a posteriori argument was a sufficient foundation of religion; if Philo's claim made here is true, Cleanthes's claim about his argument must be false. Further, Cleanthes committed himself in Part VIII to the design of the universe being benevolent. At the same time, Philo's readjustment has made Demea's position toothless, for he goes on to point out that "just representations of the misery and wickedness of men" owe more to eloquence and imagery than to serious reasoning. Thus Demea's suggestion gives him no ground on which to argue for his own view, and gives Philo ground for attacking Cleanthes. It is an ingenious move, but subtle enough that it might be missed.

Demea, still clueless, falls for the trap, and agrees, adding that human misery has become proverbial. Thereafter follows a curious back-and-forth. Philo follows this up by noting that there is considerable agreement between the learned and the vulgar on this point. Demea, carried away, says there is probably no book in Cleanthes's library in which the author has denied it. Philo replies that Leibniz did, and Demea responds that he cannot "bear down the united testimony of mankind, founded on sense and consciousness." Even better for Philo, he begins to give examples of misery in the animal world, which Philo then develops. Demea suggests that this is so common that only the human race is exempted; Philo responds that, on the contrary, it is with the human race that they are most apparent, and gives reasons for it. Demea enthusiastically begins expanding on them.

The perceptive reader will catch on quickly to the fact that Philo is herding Demea in the direction he wants the argument to go.

Cleanthes finally manages to break into the discussion by remarking that, while he has seen a few people who have this severe sense of misery, he doesn't feel it himself, and hopes it's not so common as the other two represent it. Demea assures Cleanthes that if he doesn't feel it, he is quite exceptional, and begins to list eminent examples of people who felt it: Charles V, Cicero, Cato....

Philo here abruptly brings the argument back to Cleanthes:

And is it possible, Cleanthes, said Philo, that after all these reflections, and infinitely more, which might be suggested, you can still persevere in your Anthropomorphism, and assert the moral attributes of the Deity, his justice, benevolence, mercy, and rectitude, to be of the same nature with these virtues in human creatures? His power we allow is infinite: whatever he wills is executed: but neither man nor any other animal is happy: therefore he does not will their happiness. His wisdom is infinite: he is never mistaken in choosing the means to any end: but the course of Nature tends not to human or animal felicity: therefore it is not established for that purpose. Through the whole compass of human knowledge, there are no inferences more certain and infallible than these. In what respect, then, do his benevolence and mercy resemble the benevolence and mercy of men?

And here we have it: Philo has set up the board as he wants it, and sets out to checkmate Cleanthes. Philo concedes (note it) that Cleanthes reasons justly in concluding that there is a purpose and intention of sorts in nature. But this purpose and intention appears to have no end in view except the preservation of individuals and the propagation of species -- well short of the benevolent design Cleanthes had suggested.

I have said before that Hume did not write Cleanthes to be a stupid character but, on the contrary, a very intelligent one. And Cleanthes shows his intelligence now, because he sees exactly what his old friend is doing:

And have you at last, said Cleanthes, smiling, betrayed your intentions, Philo? Your long agreement with Demea did indeed a little surprize me; but I find you were all the while erecting a concealed battery against me. And I must confess, that you have now fallen upon a subject worthy of your noble spirit of opposition and controversy. If you can make out the present point, and prove mankind to be unhappy or corrupted, there is an end at once of all religion. For to what purpose establish the natural attributes of the Deity, while the moral are still doubtful and uncertain?

Philo's long agreement with Demea, if I am right, was indeed the erecting of a "concealed battery" against Cleanthes. There is reason also to think that Cleanthes is right about the rest: if Philo can make his point out, he can sever any connection between Cleanthes's argument and religion. We get the natural attributes of God but no moral attributes; without moral attributes, no religion. This is very probably Philo's intention; he wishes to cut off Cleanthes's argument from religious practice. I think people often fail to recognize this because of a particular question that immediately arises: Why would Philo do this? We will see why in Part XII. In the meantime just keep it in your mind as a possibility.

Demea breaks in and says that he thinks Cleanthes is overreacting. Our experience is just a small part of the whole creation; the misery we have now is rectified in the future.

Cleanthes reacts violently to this suggestion:

No! replied Cleanthes, No! These arbitrary suppositions can never be admitted, contrary to matter of fact, visible and uncontroverted. Whence can any cause be known but from its known effects? Whence can any hypothesis be proved but from the apparent phenomena? To establish one hypothesis upon another, is building entirely in the air; and the utmost we ever attain, by these conjectures and fictions, is to ascertain the bare possibility of our opinion; but never can we, upon such terms, establish its reality.

The only method of supporting Divine benevolence, and it is what I willingly embrace, is to deny absolutely the misery and wickedness of man. Your representations are exaggerated; your melancholy views mostly fictitious; your inferences contrary to fact and experience. Health is more common than sickness; pleasure than pain; happiness than misery. And for one vexation which we meet with, we attain, upon computation, a hundred enjoyments.

Demea's suggestion is contrary to Cleanthes's Newtonian rules of reasoning, in which we should avoid reasoning on hypotheses but only conclude by induction from the phenomena, rising from effect to cause. Cleanthes believes that God is benevolent not because of some supposition about the afterlife but because Demea is simply wrong about the misery of life.

Philo slily points out how tenuous this position is. Originally Cleanthes had suggested that his design inference was a sufficient foundation for religion; later it came out that it could only be so to the extent that it concluded to benevolent design; now we find that it can only conclude to benevolent design if it's established as fact that human existence is predominantly happy rather than miserable. Since this is uncertain, Cleanthes's whole system of religion is uncertain.
Moreover, Philo can press his attack to an even greater extent. Even if life is predominantly happy, God is usually supposed to be infinitely good, infinitely powerful, infinitely intelligent. Cleanthes cannot prove this.

Here, Cleanthes, I find myself at ease in my argument. Here I triumph. Formerly, when we argued concerning the natural attributes of intelligence and design, I needed all my sceptical and metaphysical subtilty to elude your grasp. In many views of the universe and of its parts, particularly the latter, the beauty and fitness of final causes strike us with such irresistible force, that all objections appear (what I believe they really are) mere cavils and sophisms; nor can we then imagine how it was ever possible for us to repose any weight on them. But there is no view of human life, or of the condition of mankind, from which, without the greatest violence, we can infer the moral attributes, or learn that infinite benevolence, conjoined with infinite power and infinite wisdom, which we must discover by the eyes of faith alone. It is your turn now to tug the laboring oar, and to support your philosophical subtilties against the dictates of plain reason and experience.

In Part III we found Cleanthes cleverly backing Philo into a corner by forcing him into a position where he would have to accept Cleanthes's argument or reject natural sentiment, which Philo's particular form of skepticism wouldn't allow. Now we find Philo explicitly pointing out to Cleanthes that the tables are turned. Philo has put Cleanthes in check.

But check is not exactly checkmate, and Part XI opens with Cleanthes making the unexpected move of conceding the point. He is not trapped, however, because he suggests that the Author of nature is finitely perfect -- albeit much more perfect than any human being could be. He does not commit himself to this; he instead asks Philo's opinions on it, saying that if it deserves attention it could be developed later. Philo's opinion is basically that it does not change anything; an impartial spectator, one not antecedently convinced that the deity was benevolent, would not find enough in actual experience to conclude that the Author of nature was very good. The same question still arises. Philo, to be sure, doesn't deny that, if we add some suppositions and hypotheses, the world we experience still might be consistent with a benevolent deity. (It is interesting that Philo states this very carefully and clearly: by adding 'conjectures' you can defeat the problem of evil. But conjectures can only show the consistency of the conclusion with the evidence; they do not show that the inference from evidence to conclusion is a good one.) Of course, Cleanthes cannot argue on suppositions and hypotheses.

Philo's (long) development of his reasoning on this point is interesting, but I won't summarize it here, because the game is winding down. Philo and Cleanthes, in fact, have already begun to shift out of one of the games being played. I suggested that there are two levels being played, one involving Cleanthes, Philo, and Demea. This game, however, is simply one (major) part of a game being played between Cleanthes and Philo alone. What we find in Part XI is an abrupt shift from the three-person game to the two-person game -- Cleanthes and Philo, still playing their two-person game, pause in playing the three-person game long enough to discuss whether one possible move in that game -- finite theism -- has much promise. Cleanthes, you will remember, did not put forward the move as the one he wanted to make; he simply suggested it and asked Philo to give his full opinion of it without interruption. Philo goes on to comply by giving his opinion at some length.

Demea feels the sharp change in the game, which has suddenly gone far beyond where he was expecting it to go:

Hold! hold! cried Demea: whither does your imagination hurry you? I joined in alliance with you, in order to prove the incomprehensible nature of the Divine Being, and refute the principles of Cleanthes, who would measure every thing by human rule and standard. But I now find you running into all the topics of the greatest libertines and infidels, and betraying that holy cause which you seemingly espoused. Are you secretly, then, a more dangerous enemy than Cleanthes himself?

Cleanthes finds the protest amusing. "And are you so late in perceiving it?" he says.

Shortly after Demea gives an excuse and leaves; it is suggested that he does so because he "did not at all relish the latter part of the discourse."

The three-person game has ended. But the two-person game, a much friendlier game, and the one that holds the key to the Dialogues, continues. We'll pick it up with Part XII.

Links and Notes

* Eriksen, Franklin, Duncan, and Powell: And Am I Born to Die?. The words are by Charles Wesley; the tune is Idumea, by Ananias Davisson. One of the things I always like about this tune, particularly with these words, is that it beautifully expresses dissonance in the face of death.

* The Evolution of What We Think About Who We Are at "laelaps". Some of the historical sources are about a jillion years out of date (it will be nice when scientists no longer treat White's work as if it were an up-to-date or even particularly accurate resource, rather than an early and somewhat tendentious attempt to get a grasp on a subject about which we now have a great deal more information), but it is well worth reading nonetheless. (ht: ABAtC)

* Eisley's Invasion, both the video and the song, are quite good.

* Jonah Lehrer gives a good response to Nick Bostrom's simulation argument. A further point to be made is that Bostrom's argument depends on the assumption that "we don’t have any information that indicate that our own particular experiences are any more or less likely than other human-type experiences to have been implemented in vivo rather than in machina"; but, of course, we do all have information to indicate that they have been implemented in vivo, namely, the experience of actually living. To be sure, on the hypothesis of a flawless simulation, it's defeasible, but that doesn't change the tendency of the evidence. Bostrom's argument is basically a slightly modified brain-in-a-vat skepticism argument; like such arguments it makes the crucial mistake of assuming that defeasible reasoning is reasoning that can be ignored. That this is a mistake has long been known; as Newton noted, for instance, recognizing it as a mistake is essential if we are to have room for scientific thought. That's the explicit basis for Newton's Rule IV in the Rules for Reasoning in Philosophy, "that the argument of induction may not be evaded by hypotheses." But that's precisely what the simulation argument is, at least prima facie: an evasion of the argument of induction by hypotheses. The supposition of simulation need only be considered to the extent that it is supported by positive proof.

* Allen Wood has a good paper on the history of philosophy, called What Dead Philosophers Mean (Word). Wood's paper gives an excellent account of some issues in what I have previously identified as a key focus in HoP, namely, the problem of the philosophical problem itself.

* Zippy Catholic notes an important feature of the double-effect principle, as it was understood by Anscombe: it preserves exceptionless norms. Perhaps more accurately, it protects morality from ethical versions of realpolitik (the point Anscombe makes about double effect is very similar to a point she makes about just war principles vis-a-vis pacifism and realism).

* Johnny-Dee recently had a post on burden of proof disputes over theism and atheism. Some argue that theism has the burden of proof, others that atheism has the burden of proof. John argues that they both have it. That would be the best response, I think, if I held a view of burden of proof like John's, where there are objective standards. I have a very different view though; burdens of proof are obligations of discourse and therefore always determined by agreement, either tacit or explicit. This is not quite to say that they are arbitrary, since reasons for proposing the obligation may be good or bad, reasonable or unreasonable, appropriate to the type of discussion or inappropriate to it.


* The Al-Ghazali entry is up at the SEP.

* Miriam Burstein gives one the best summaries of Bram Stoker's Dracula that I have seen in a while: "It's as though somebody dropped the characters from CSI into a Freddy Krueger movie."

Scripture Meme

Hugo Schwyzer had a Scripture meme a while back. The idea is to list six scriptural passages central to one's faith. It's a hard pick, but here are six I chose:

1 Corinthians 1:20-31

John 1:1-5

Psalm 130

Matthew 25:14-30

Revelation 7:9-17

Ephesians 1:3-14

The Materials of Architecture II

In passing in another work, Linguistics and Philosophy, Gilson gives another way of saying that the materials of architecture are design solutions:

Everything is mechanical in a house except the idea of building it and the plan of construction. A house is an infinity of hypothetical necessities caused by the freedom of the architect who imposes on them his idea of the house as their common final cause.

Etienne Gilson, Linguistics and Philsoophy. James Lyon, tr. University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, Ind.: 1988) p. 51.

Monday, August 13, 2007

All Shall Find the Light at Last

Timothy Burke has an interesting discussion of Cooper vs. Rowling. I find it interesting that so many of the commenters liked The Green Witch best of the The Dark Is Rising series; it's my least favorite. My favorite is The Dark Is Rising, followed by Silver on the Tree. I'm also a little surprised at Burke's suggestion that the reader would tend to identify with the Drews; I always identified with Will. Burke is right, I think, that Rowling's fiction is character fiction, whereas Cooper is not. The main characters in Cooper's series are not Will or Bran or anything like that, but the Light and the Dark. What's fascinating about it is not this or that character but the world (as one of the commenters puts it, her 'milieux'), which is much more tightly thought out than anything Rowling or Pullman give. If we want to put it sloganishly, Rowling's is a better story; Pullman's is a better poetry; and Cooper's is a better fantasy. I don't think character fiction is automatically better than other fiction, so I don't think the character-centered nature of Rowling's work is a good basis for declaring Rowling superior to Cooper. I would actually give the reverse advice Burke does; fantasy writers should focus on puzzle fiction, not character fiction, because it is extremely difficult to write good character fiction. If you do write character fiction, it should usually grow out of the story, not be something you set out to write.

To some extent, though, it's futile to rank these types of works. Fantasy is a remarkably broad genre, and none of the greats are really doing anything like any of the others. Take the great examples of fantasy for children and young adults:

Macdonald's Curdie books
Lewis's Narnia
Diana Wynne Jones's Chrestomanci books
Cooper's The Dark is Rising

And then the two most recent candidates:

Rowling's Harry Potter
Pullman's His Dark Materials

Not one of these things is quite like the others; they can only blur from someone who has the literary equivalent of a tin ear. They have bits and pieces in common, aand can be compared in very broad terms, but that's about all. And this is as it should be. They all have their influences, but none is derivative. Cooper's world has a cold and intricate beauty to it, like the patterns of snowflakes on the window or the snow-topped peaks of a mountain range, that is leagues away from the messy, and sometimes sloppy, fun of the worlds of Rowling and Pullman.

But the thing I always liked best about Cooper was the rhyme in the TDIR, which is inimitable:

When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song;
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
Six Signs the circle, and the grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the Light at last, silver on the tree.

The upcoming The Dark Is Rising movie looks very iffy, though.

The Materials of Architecture

Building material is not the proper material of architecture. The material of architecture, rather, is the building material already organized into elements, each one of which is a response to some prime construction problem. Such are, among others, the wall, the angle formed by the juncture of two walls, the openings made in the wall in the form of doors and windows, the roof or the vault, in short, those parts of an edifice required to define and isolate a closed portion of space.

Etienne Gilson, Forms and Substances in the Arts. Salvator Attanasio, tr. Charles Scribner's Sons (New York: 1966) p. 55.

In other words: The materials to which architects give form are not things like bricks, wood, etc. Rather, the materials of architecture are design solutions; these design solutions, considered abstractly, are organized into the plans for buildings, and, considered concretely, are organized into the buildings themselves.

Indeed, since I regard architecture as a form of engineering, I think this is true, if we consider design solutions for a broader range of things than just buildings, of engineering in general. I think the primary difference between an architect and what we usually call an engineer is one of expectation, not a difference fundamental to the field. Roughly, when we are considering buildings, what we call architects are engineering generalists, and usually the expectation is that they will have a broader training that includes topics in art and finance as well as applied science, whereas what we call engineers are architectural specialists, usually focused on practical scientific issues involved in putting together particular design solutions. But this is not a fundamental difference. The reason we should treat engineering as broader than 'architecture', of course, is that there are engineers who don't work with buildings at all. (This, incidentally, is a relatively recent terminological innovation. 'Architecture' literally means that art which organizes all other arts, and would once have been much closer to meaning what our term 'engineering' means than it does now. 'Engineering' on the other hand, suggests a focus on practical mechanical problems. But such is the shifting of language.) The key point, in any case, is that architecture and engineering are both architectonic -- they rule or govern the application of other arts. And that is another way of saying that the materials of architecture and engineering are design solutions or responses to construction problems.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Flirting and Sex

Ken Taylor suggests a Gricean account of flirting:

I think you flirt only when: (a) you behave in ways intended to intimate the possibility of sex or romance and (b) you intend to make that intention manifest to the other.

This is just obviously wrong in a number of ways. As I've noted before, people often flirt where neither sex nor romance are in serious view, when there is no intimation whatsoever of the possibility of sex or romance. Taylor is persuaded by this account, I think, because he focuses so greatly on flirting as a sexual act; his entire discussion focuses on sexual arousal, and only throws in even romance at the last minute. But does flirting really have much to do with sexual arousal? Flirting is not seduction; you can flirt unseductively (e.g., just in the spirit of fun), and you can seduce without a single moment of flirtation. There is nothing sexually charged about flirting itself, although one might use flirting as a part of a larger, sexually charged interaction. If I step on the elevator with a lovely young lady and tell her that her outfit brings out the color of her eyes, I might well be a bit taken aback if she were to become sexually aroused by that, or if she took this as my presenting myself as available to her for undefined purposes of sex and romance. And we know that this is a possible scenario because you can pick out ten women almost at random and nine of the ten will be able to give you a personal account of how they were taken aback by men doing something along these lines to them in response to what was only a slight flirtation. To intimate the possibility of sex, you don't flirt, you use innuendo; because there are many cases in which they go closely together, some people admittedly have difficulty distinguishing the two. This is sometimes to the great discomfort of those who don't have such a difficulty.

Carrie Jenkins continues the discussion in good analytic tradition by using absurd science fiction scenarios. She also characterizes the link between flirting and sex too strongly. Flirting is not about raising sex or romance to salience, although it can be a part (an incomplete part, it must be said) of doing so, for the straightforward reason that we like eligible partners for sex and/or romance to flirt with us. Jenkins, I think, unintentionally gets closer to the truth when she expresses it once as 'doing certain things I know will make him think about how cute I am'. This is surely a more plausible characterization, precisely because flirting does have something to do with what we call cuteness, both with recognizing the cuteness of another and with showing how cute you are yourself. None of this, of course, requires intimating the possibility of sex, or raising it to salience, although it does raise the question of how closely flirting is tied to cuteness and what cuteness is supposed to be given that it is in itself eligibility for neither sex nor romance.

Hume and Rousseau

Kieran Setiya reviews Rousseau's Dog, in which David Elmonds and John Eidinow argue that Hume was less than exemplary in the Rousseau affair. Setiya gives a rousing defense of Hume. I found it interesting to read because I think there's good reason to regard Elmonds and Eidinow as partly right on this point, although their argument is faulty at a number of points. The good David was not a saint; calling him such simply shows an absurdly low standard for sainthood; and his role in the Rousseau affair is checkered.

The basic story is this. Rousseau, afraid of being imprisoned because of the religious controversy caused by his works, fled Paris in 1762, but found that he had nowhere to go; he ended up in a secluded place in Switzerland for a while. At some point, he developed the hope that Hume might help him receive asylum in England. This Hume did, and Rousseau was in England in January of 1766. Hume arranged a place for him to stay and began to take steps to get him a secret pension from the King. Hume regarded Rousseau with something like hero-worship; while regarding him as excessive, he repeatedly held him up as the exemplar of a genius. And as Hume put it to a friend, it would be a victory over the French to protect and encourage a genius they had persecuted; although later when writing his account of the dispute he put more emphasis on pity mixed with indignation at the thought of such an eminent man of genius reduced to indigence.

Things started happily enough. Rousseau was profuse with gratitude to Hume, and Hume waxed eloquent in letters about how sociable, warmhearted, amiable, and virtuous his new companion was. He did worry about Rousseau's impatience and 'extreme sensibility of temper', but it called forth mostly compassion; Rousseau, Hume noted, felt pain more deeply than pleasure, and was often unhappy due to a melancholic temper. Rousseau, however, seems to have begun to believe early on that Hume was often lying to him. Part of this was that Rousseau was slightly paranoid in the first place; but he also came across little examples of what seemed to him to be Hume's deceptions. For instance, Hume once made him believe that a carriage ride, which cost more than Rousseau could afford, had been obtained at a discount when in fact someone had paid for part of it. When Rousseau charged Hume with having been in on the scheme and Hume denied it, Rousseau became sullen for a long while. Suddenly, however, he embraced Hume, crying, and asking him to forgive him for being so ill-humored when Hume had done so much for him. Hume, surprised by the sudden change of mood, took it at the time as a sign of Rousseau's 'extreme sensibility and good heart.' According to Rousseau's later account of the event, Rousseau was not sullen; he found Hume staring at him in a way that spooked him. That Hume did stare at him in this way is extremely plausible; a dull stare is a characteristic noted by others who knew Hume. To Rousseau, however, the expression seemed mocking, and he could not reconcile the good man David was supposed to be with this mockery. In the end, however, out of remorse, he embraced Hume in the way described, and hoped it was enough to reconcile. On another occasion, Rousseau refused to receive mail, since he did not have the money to pay postage; Hume protested that if he did so, the mail would become entirely in the control of the clerks at the Post Office; Rousseau responded that he did not care. Hume then paid for the postage. This led Rousseau later to accuse Hume of reading his mail.

The major occasion for the rift, however, was the publication in the St. James Chronicle, and slightly later the London Chronicle, of a letter satirizing Rousseau as someone who had a persecution complex. The satire was anonymous; the author was Horace Walpole. Rousseau, however, was convinced that Hume had had a hand in it. He began to wonder if there might not be an ulterior motive in keeping the pension secret, so he wrote a letter declining the pension unless it were made public, and writing no more to Hume for a while. Hume was mystified by this behavior, but went about getting the secrecy condition removed; he assumed that Rousseau was not writing him because Rousseau was ashamed at having treated Hume poorly in this matter. He suffered a severe shock in this complacency, however, since Rousseau accused Hume of trying to dishonor him, saying to Hume that he had fooled the public but could not fool himself. Hume indignantly replied:

You say that I myself know that I have been false to you; but I say it loudly, and will say it to the whole world, that I know the contrary, that I know my friendship towards you has been unbounded and uninterrupted, and that though instances of it have been very generally remarked both in France and England, the smallest part of it only has as yet come to the knowledge of the public. I demand that you will produce me the man who will assert the contrary; and above all, I demand that he will mention any one particular in which I have been wanting to you. You owe this to me; you owe it to yourself; you owe it to truth and honour and justice, and to everything that can be deemed sacred among men.

For the Scottish philosopher, Rousseau's action seemed a collapse into madness of someone who had already been on the border of it a very long time. Hume, who always had admitted that his ruling passion was his love of his literary reputation, began to be seriously afraid, from the fact that knowledge of the rift began to spread, and from remarks Rousseau had made, that the Swiss philosopher would publish something that would harm that name which he had spent his life trying to earn. To forestall any chance that Rousseau would damage his reputation, then, Hume preemptively published all their correspondence and his own account of the dispute. This poisoning of the wells was very calculated: if Rousseau published before Hume, Hume would have to convince people who had already read Rousseau's account -- which no doubt would be very well-written; worse, it might be published after Hume's death (in which case Hume could not respond); and even worse, it might be published after Rousseau's death (in which case Hume would be seen as attacking a dead man). Several of Hume's friends in France (Voltaire was an exception) had urged him to publish his own account; but his friends in Scotland and England had overwhelmingly urged him not to do so, insisting that Rousseau's charges needed no answer. Hume appeared to accept his British friends' advice in this matter; but then he later claimed that his French friends 'extorted' the publication from him, claiming that Rousseau had sent letters to all the courts of Europe. The British were taken aback by the move; Walpole's reaction was typical: "Good God! my dear Sir, could you pay any regard to such fustian?"

Hume was certainly generous in his aid to Rousseau, and Rousseau's excessive 'sensibility of temper', his manic-depressive behavior, is hard to sympathize with. Nonetheless, le bon David was not perfectly good in the proceedings. Hume in general tended to handle criticism very poorly; it shows in his correspondence with his friends, since he tends to make remarks about the character of people criticizing his arguments. He had always very wisely refrained from responding to criticism at great length or in print, however. In this case, however, he was pushed by fear and vanity into doing exactly what he had wisely avoided doing all this time. Rousseau he regarded as so dangerous that the mere hint that Rousseau might blacken his reputation by publishing against him leads him to blacken Rousseau's preemptively. And let us not have any illusions: the Concise and Genuine Account is not an account free of bias, but is a deliberate attempt to destroy any credibility Rousseau might have in the matter. Before the incident, Rousseau is a misunderstood genius, a little excessive and unhappy in society, but good-hearted and friendly, deserving of compassion for his impatience and melodrama; afterward he is suddenly the most blackhearted of rascals, a wicked liar whose compositions, while eloquent, are praised above their merit. This is, whether it is usually recognized or not, as wild and startling a swing as Rousseau's. And certain curiosities about Hume's account have been noticed. For instance, Hume's account of the satirical letter that played such a major role in the rift uses terms very similar to those used by the St. James Chronicle when it published it. It can be read two ways; either Hume imprudently plagiarized St. James Chronicle, or he had more of a hand in it than he lets on and has inadvertently let a clue to that effect slip. Much that is found in the account admits of such double reading; it raises as many questions as it answers to those who do not accept Hume's assumption of Hume's complete innocence going into it.

It is also interesting that defenses of Hume tend to be based on two assumptions, neither of which allow for objective view of the evidence. (1) That Hume was all amiability and sociability. There is no question that Hume was indeed amiable and sociable, good-natured and generous. That he also was able to pull a Rousseau on a smaller scale is clear from his letters to Strahan. There was more than one person at the time who noted that Hume and Rousseau were similar in vanity. (2) That Rousseau was mad. No one will say Rousseau was what we could call emotionally stable, given his obvious mood swings, and he certainly had difficulty telling imagined attempts to mock him from the many real attempts to mock him, but the accusations of madness are based on reading a great deal into the emotional excess of Rousseau's unguarded letter of accusation.

Seen in a charitable light, one can well believe that Hume was misunderstood by Rousseau; that he intended nothing but good to his philosophical hero; that he was shocked by finding out just how flawed Rousseau really was. But it also shows him to be a man so dominated by a love of reputation that all the pity he felt toward Rousseau could be extinguished if his reputation were threatened, even though that pity had been for exactly the same personality traits that now threatened it. It shows him willing to blacken another's reputation at the mere hinted threat of his own being blackened. It's a very human flaw. The jury is still out on how honest le bon David really was in his concise and genuine account; in the documents we have Rousseau, overwrought, takes no trouble to present himself in a good light, but Hume very clearly does, and a serious, careful, and unbiased evaluation is required before one can say how much Hume's account really accords with the evidence, how much of it is based on an accurate interpretation of Rousseau's actions, and how much of it stands when the merely self-justificatory is removed. But a first approximation shows the picture of a man, not a saint, faced with another man of very different personality and background, not a lunatic.

A Hymn by Anne Brontë

Believe Not Those Who Say

Believe not those who say
The upward path is smooth,
Lest thou should stumble in the way,
And faint before the truth.

It is the only road
Unto the realms of joy;
But he who seeks that blest abode
Must all his powers employ.

To labor and to love,
To pardon and endure,
To lift thy heart to God above,
And keep thy conscience pure.

Be this thy constant aim,
Thy hope, thy chief delight,
What matter who should whisper blame
Or who should scorn or slight.

What matters—if God approve,
And if within thy breast,
Thou feel the comfort of His love,
The earnest of His rest?

This poem, by Anne Brontë, the nineteenth-century novelist and sister of Charlotte, is usually sung to Walter's Festal Song when sung as a hymn, although I tend to like it better sung to Sydenham's King Edward.

Doctors of the Church, Past and Future

The Catholic Church has given 33 people so far the honorific title, 'Doctor of the Church'. The basic requirements are (1) sanctity of life; (2) excellence of teaching; and (3) a surviving body of writings, of permanent and inspiring value, that can be recommended to the faithful generally; there are, however, additional complications, since it is a liturgical title for the Universal Calendar, and has to comply with certain liturgical rules and principles. Those who have received the title so far are as follows, according to date of death (sometimes approximate), with the date they were officially given the title in parentheses after.

368 Hilary of Poitiers (1851)
373 Athanasius (1568)
373 Ephrem the Syrian (1920)
379 Basil of Caesarea (1568)
387 Cyril of Jerusalem (1883)
390 Gregory Nazianzen (1568)
397 Ambrose of Milan (1295)
407 John Chrysostom (1568)
420 Jerome (1295)
430 Augustine (1295)
444 Cyril of Alexandria (1883)
450 Peter Chrysologus (1729)
461 Leo the Great (1754)
604 Gregory the Great (1295)
636 Isidore of Seville (1722)
735 Bede (1899)
749 John Damascene (1883)

1072 Peter Damian (1828)
1109 Anselm (1720)
1153 Bernard of Clairvaux (1830)
1231 Anthony of Padua (1946)
1274 Thomas Aquinas (1568)
1274 Bonaventure (1588)
1280 Albert the Great (1931)
1379 Catherine of Siena (1970)

1582 Teresa of Avila (1970)
1591 John of the Cross (1926)
1597 Peter Canisius (1925)
1619 Lawrence of Brindisi (1959)
1621 Robert Bellarmine (1931)
1622 Francis de Sales (1877)
1787 Alphonsus Liguori (1871)
1897 Thérèse of Lisieux (1997)

Because of the split between East and West there are no Eastern Doctors after Damascene, making eight Easterners in total. There are three Carmelites (Teresa, John of the Cross, and Therese), two Jesuits (Canisius and Bellarmine), three Dominicans (Thomas, Albert, Catherine), three Franciscans (Anthony, Bonaventure, Lawrence), one Redemptorist (Liguori), and five Benedictines (Isidore [according to tradition], Bede, Anselm, Bernard, Pietro Damiani). There are three women, two of whom were nuns. There are nineteen bishops, of whom two were Popes, two Patriarchs of Alexandria, two Patriarchs of Constantinople, and one Patriarch of Jerusalem. There is one deacon (Ephraem).

It's an interesting game to speculate on who might possibly receive the honor in the future. Here are some possible candidates, in no particular order:

(1) Leander of Seville (d. 600). Pro: The brother of Isidore of Seville (whom he preceded as bishop of Seville) has generally been recognized as a superior writer to his brother, a man of great eloquence who did great work opposing Arianism and united Spain into orthodoxy. He is already allowed the honor in Spain, so it would simply be a matter of extending this universally. Con: Only two works of his have survived, neither well-known. One of them is a monastic rule and the other a homily on the conversion of the Goths.

(2) Fulgentius of Astigi (d. 633). Pro: Isidore's other brother, the middle son in the family, also has the honors in Spain. Con: He is often confused with Fulgentius of Ruspe, and none of his works have actually survived, which seems to be an insuperable obstacle. Serious candidacy would require rediscovery of his writings.

(3) John of Avila (d. 1569). Pro: The Apostle of Andalusia, this student of Domingo de Soto was a profound influence on such luminaries as John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Francis Borgia, and Luis of Granada. His works have been widely translated. Con: None, as far as I am aware; Juan de Avila is, I would dare say, the most likely current candidate for the title, or close to it.

(4) Edith Stein (d. 1942). Pro: She's extraordinarily influential, in part on her own merits and in part due to the work of John Paul II, who was heavily influenced by her. Her intelligence and piety were both exemplary. Con: We'll have to see how significant her influence is in a hundred years or so. Also, her death at Auschwitz is regarded for liturgical purposes as a martyrdom, and no martyr has ever received the title. (The reason is fairly simple; 'Doctor Ecclesiae' is a liturgical title. But for liturgical reasons the title of martyr or confessor always trumps the title of doctor, so granted the title to a martyr or confessor would be otiose -- they'd never have the Office of Doctors celebrated for them, because they would always be celebrated as martyrs and confessors.)

(5) Nerses Shnorhali (d. 1172). Pro: His brilliance is undeniable, and his writings have been a profound contribution to the theological heritage of Armenian Catholics. Armenian Catholics, in fact, petitioned John Paul II to declare him a Doctor of the Church. Con: As Catholicos of Armenia he may have worked (unsuccessfully) for reunion with Rome, but he was never strictly Catholic, and is only treated as a canonical saint in the Armenian Catholic calendar.

(6) John Henry Newman (d. 1890) Pro: His influence is clear, and his writings extensive. There is already interest in the idea. Con: He would need to be canonized first, and that can't be guaranteed.

(7) John Paul II (d. 2005) Pro: There's already a push for it. Con: Like Stein, we'll have to see how things stand a century or so from now; and like Newman, he needs to be canonized first (and it needs especially to be reiterated in a case like this that that can't be guaranteed until the final stage of the process).

(8) Jane Chantal (d. 1641) Pro: Jeanne Frances de Chantal was a correspondent of Francis de Sales; she had an extensive correspondence and wrote a number of salutary works on religious life. Con: None, as far as I am aware. I think she is also a highly likely candidate. [It's St. Jeanne's feast day today, by the way.]

(9) Catherine of Genoa (d. 1510) Pro: Her writings have certainly been influential. Con: They are 'private revelations', i.e., descriptions of mystical experiences, and this might not be enough to count at theological doctrine.

No doubt many others could be added.

Virtue in Rags

Horace, Odes 3.29.53-56 (John Dryden, tr.):

Content with poverty, my soul I arm;
And virtue, though in rags, will keep me warm.

Allan Ramsay (1685-1758), "Give Me a Lass with a Lump of Land":

There's meikle good love in bands and bags,
And siller and gowd's a sweet complexion;
But beauty, and wit, and virtue in rags,
Have tint the art of gaining affection.

David Hume, Treatise

Virtue in rags is still virtue, and the love, which it procures, attends a man into a dungeon or desert, where the virtue can no longer be exerted in action, and is lost to all the world.

George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, Bk I, ch. 6:

For a person suspected of preternatural wickedness, Bob was really not so very villanous-looking; there was even something agreeable in his snub-nosed face, with its close-curled border of red hair. But then his trousers were always rolled up at the knee, for the convenience of wading on the slightest notice; and his virtue, supposing it to exist, was undeniably "virtue in rags," which, on the authority even of bilious philosophers, who think all well-dressed merit overpaid, is notoriously likely to remain unrecognized (perhaps because it is seen so seldom).

Charles Dickens, a speech in Boston (February 1842):

I have always had, and always shall have, an earnest and true desire to contribute, as far as in me lies, to the common stock of healthful cheerfulness and enjoyment. I have always had, and always shall have, an invincible repugnance to that mole-eyed philosophy which loves the darkness, and winks and scowls at the light. I believe that Virtue shows quite as well in rags and patches, as she does in purple and fine linen. I believe that she and every beautiful object in external nature, claims some sympathy in the breast of the poorest man who breaks his scanty loaf of daily bread. I believe that she goes barefoot as well as shod. I believe that she dwells rather oftener in alleys and by-ways than she does in courts and palaces, and that it is good, and pleasant, and profitable to track her out, and follow her.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Disowned, chapter LXII:

"I looked around the world, and saw often Virtue in rags, and Vice in purple: the former conduces to happiness, it is true, but the happiness lies within, and not in externals. I contemned the deceitful folly with which writers have termed it poetical justice to make the good ultimately prosperous in wealth, honour, fortunate love, or successful desires. Nothing false, even in poetry, can be just; and that pretended moral is, of all, the falsest...."

Axel Munthe, Diary of an Idle Doctor, IV.1 (Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Nov. 1893, p. 709):

Hardship had furrowed her brow, but the mark of nobility was there still. Hats off for virtue in rags! it is nobler than the virtue of the Faubourg St Germain!