Friday, September 02, 2011

Links with Notability

* Currently Reading:
Ben Burgis, Paracompleteness and Revenge (PDF)
Haiwen Zhou, Confucianism and Legalism: A Model of the National Strategy of Governance in Ancient China (PDF)

* A BBC program on the Medieval University.

* Paul Needham has done a fair amount of work busting up the myth of direct descent from atomism to modern chemistry (certainly there was an influence, but you can, for instance, trace at least as many connections to Aristotelian anti-atomist arguments as to atomist arguments). It turns out that he has a number of good papers on the subject online (all PDF):
When did atoms begin to do any explanatory work in chemistry?
Aristotle's Theory of Chemical Reaction and Chemical Substances
Substance and Modality

* now has a philosophy page. For a long time to find anything of significance about philosophy at meant seeing what Austin Cline was writing, but, of course, that was necessarily from a rather narrow sliver of philosophical thought and from one particular perspective.

* Lindsay Beyerstein has an interesting account of what guilty pleasures are.

* John Farrell has started off a discussion of monogenism in the blogosphere. Here are some of the notable posts.

Can Theology Evolve?
(John Farrell, "Progressive Download")
Venter and the Vatican (John Farrell, "Progressive Download" -- while this is not directly on the subject, I think it lays out more clearly why John raised the issue in the first place)
Evolutionary theology (Mike Liccione, "Sacramentum Vitae")
Modern Genetics and the Fall (Bill Vallicella, "The Maverick Philosopher")
Original Sin and Eastern Orthodoxy (Bill Vallicella, "The Maverick Philosopher")
Adam and Eve and Ted and Alice (Mike Flynn, "The TOF Spot")
What sort of revision does scientific research call for on the Catholic doctrine of the Fall? (James Chastek, "Just Thomism")


* Judith Butler discusses Hannah Arendt on Eichmann.

* Mendelsohn on Rimbaud.


  1. Ocham4:08 AM

    I have a someposts here examining Vallicella's take on monogenism.  Thank you for the links to Farrell's posts.  The questions of monogenism and original sin are different, of course, although connected. As I understand it, monogenism is that view that the human race has a single set of parents, rather than a group.  Original sin involves the belief that this life is a miserable one, that this misery is a punishment, and that the punishment was for a crime committed by our original parents, not by us.

  2. Ocham4:10 AM

    And of course, we really can't make any sense of this , i.e. Christianity itself, without original sin. 

  3. branemrys9:05 AM

    More or less, I think this is right, although I think misery has little to do with the doctrine itself (although original sin can be, and often is used as, an explanans for much misery). Original sin is the inherited tendency to sin received by being part of this human family; I don't think it, in itself, strictly requires a link to original parents, although, of course, that's the traditional explanation for it and the major alternative views that have ever been proposed (by Origen, put in Platonic terms of a fall into matter, or by certain early Christian evolutionists, put in terms of evolutionary origin -- cf. Darwin's famous jotted note that our descent is the origin of our evil passions and the devil is our grandfather Baboon) have been frowned on as theologically problematic in various ways. Monogenism and Original Sin are connected to each other as relevant through the standard (non-Origenistic) accounts of The Fall, as you say.

  4. I'm reading Augustine as arguing from effect to cause.  We have misery in a world of a just, all powerful and benevolent God.  We have death.  How can that be?  Why, original sin. 

    Like all arguments from effect to cause, it is weak (there may be another cause that explains the effect equally well, if not better).  I'm inclined to think that, while there are many unanswered questions with the evolutionary account (what exactly do we mean by misery or evil or whatever), it is a better explanation than Augustine's. 

    But if we drop original sin, what is left?

  5. branemrys12:06 PM

    But Augustine is surely not arguing merely from effect to cause; he has independent reasons for thinking that something like original sin is the right sort of explanation. This is always a difficulty in interpreting Augustine properly. A rhetorician, he doesn't think in regimented arguments, each distinct from  the others, but in a large-scale mass of reasons tending to a particular conclusion. Or, perhaps better, a large mass of questions that are relevant to each other and thus in need of an account that answers them all. That is pretty literally how he usually argues: he proposes an idea and then asks questions and raises problems until it either breaks down or is rethought enough that it stands up to his satisfaction.


Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.