Monday, June 18, 2012

Links and Notes

* Christopher Framarin reviews Stephen Phillips's Epistemology in Classical India, and in the course of doing so discusses some interesting aspects of the epistemologically sophisticated Nyaya school.

* Catarina Dutilh Novaes discusses medieval theories of consequence at the SEP.

* An excellent discussion of Aquinas's account of fear:

* Ten years of playing Civilization II

* Ranch Style Beans are a big thing here in Texas; cans are easy to get here, of course. (I remember once in high school when we lived in Pennsylvania and my grandparents would ship up cans in care packages.) But I want to try this home-cooked variation on it sometime.

* This geometry book for children, by Grace Chisholm Young and William Henry Young (who wrote some truly excellent mathematics textbooks at the beginning of the twentieth century), looks fascinating: rather than using diagrams, it uses folding and cutting of paper. This was the sort of thing I always liked when I was a kid, and I could well imagine taking to this approach.

* Two things on conversion:

Calah Alexander discusses the difficulties of her conversion in The Long Road of Grace and Mercy;

and Leah Libresco is becoming Catholic, and her discussion of the reasons for her shift are quite interesting. Many prayers for her, and I think that she will like the fact that in Catholic Christianity reason is not just a moral requirement but a divine vocation, and intimately linked with love of others. Different things work differently for different converts. For converts of Leah's type, i.e., intellectual with strongly ethical orientation, the single best thing to keep in mind is patience, both in the sense of not rushing or forcing things and in the sense of being patient with people. This probably won't be a problem in general, but there are always occasions when this is a temptation. I often recommend, too, for those who might be interested, the following course of reading, if they haven't read them yet (it works very well as a progression in this order):

Plato, Gorgias
Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy
Aquinas, Treatise on Happiness (i.e., Summa Theologiae 2-1.1-21)
Kierkegaard, Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing

Plato, of course, is Greek pagan, Boethius (subtly) and Aquinas (explicitly) Catholic, and Kierkegaard is Lutheran, and none of the figures agree completely with the others, and in each case some of the arguments raised can be left as well as taken, but it's all in the family, for the reasons Justin Martyr gives in the Second Apology. (And while there are many handy Catholic guides focused on the practice of confession, there's no Catholic book on the underlying moral idea of the practice of confession that is as good as Kierkegaard's.) And Adolphe Tanquerey's classic Spiritual Theology, on spiritual (including moral) progress in Christian life, is one of the handiest books if you can find it. But, again, no need to rush or force things in any way; and different people have different needs and interests.

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