Sunday, January 25, 2009

Notes and Links

* Can you name the 100 most used words in the English language, in only twelve minutes? I got 74, although I completely lucked out on at least five or six of them; #87, which I missed, surprised me most, but it makes sense because it gets a lot of use as a verb. There were also a few words whose absence surprised me. Don't just do the quiz, though; take a moment to think of just how much you can manage to say with just these 100 words. (ht)

* Ummyasmin at "Dervish" recently had a post on ilm al-tasawwuf. I took a course on Islamic philosophy in graduate school with a fellow student who was doing her work on al-'Arabi; he's a fascinating, if sometimes difficult, thinker.

* A post at "Praeter Necessitatum" discusses pseudonymous authorship and the Internet.

* I had meant to mention it before, but Tom has been doing some interesting things at "Blogicum" on boundary mathematics, sets, and his notation:

Boundary mathematics and algebra of sets
Compendium of Peirce's Existential Graphs
Bricken's boundary logic
Peirce and Bricken accommodated
Implicative context introduced
First act of intellect

Very interesting, as I said. Tom can run circles around me on matters of logic, so it's taking me a while to work through some of the ideas here.

* A discussion of the early Great Books movement. Both Beam and the reviewer overlook, I think, the fact that a movement can still have influence in hybrid forms, and while there may not be many Great Books colleges, there are a lot of smaller liberal arts college that have hybridized some aspects of the Great Books movement with more ordinary features of college education. The movement more or less dissolved, but dissolving is not the same as simply evaporating.

* Lindsay Beyerstein has been hired by Washington Independent; many congratulations to her, and to the Washington Independent for hiring her.

* An interesting sort of venture at "Object Oriented Philosophy": What if Heidegger had died at 40? (ht). It's often interesting to ask similar sorts of counterfactual questions in order to speculate how things might have been different. I'm not so sure the Heidegger's politics issue is so easily cut out, however; it's based not merely on the rectorate period but also on the fact that Heidegger seems from the beginning to share themes and, occasionally, language with Nazi intellectuals; and, indeed, Heidegger's Nazism even from the rectorate period is often more in line with pre-Hitler Nazism than with Hitlerism itself, and his growing dissatisfaction with the Nazi party was arguably due to his inability to find the way to fuse the two. He makes an interesting comparison and contrast in that regard with another, less original, philosopher of this type, Kurt Huber. Huber is often regarded as a hero because of his participation in the White Rose Society, which was an anti-Nazi resistance movement; but Huber's own views were Nazi, just of a kind that opposed the views that flourished under Hitler: a kind that in its own way was just as anti-semitic, for instance, but more Volk and land and Geist than Führer and blood and Reich. (The National Socialist movement had a number of strands like these, all clearly Nazi, with the basic nasty physiognomy, but not all the same, and not at all inclined to agree on practical matters; Hitler didn't invent National Socialism, but pushed one version of it, his own, into power. There was much in-fighting, and many of the early Nazi intellectuals were pushed out, or given the cold shoulder, or went into active rebellion, when conflict rose between their views and those of Hitler and those closely connected to him. Huber was one of those; Heidegger was another; Dinter was another; one might also include the Strassers. Even Schmitt ran into problems. Outside of Germany itself matters were even more diverse.) Eventually some graduate student or other would push into this territory, and word would spread, and we would be back into it again, although perhaps not as acutely. But I think the author is right inasmuch as the case of Heidegger's politics would be more like the case of Huber's politics than like it actually turned out to be.

* An interesting argument on quasi-sacramental aspects of Islam.

* Kenny discusses Kant on Copyright.

* James discusses politics as an art vs politics as political prudence.

* The Pope has lifted the excommunications for the original SSPX bishops. This is a significant move, but less significant than it might appear. Father Zuhlsdorf clarifies.

* The Vatican YouTube channel.

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