Friday, April 10, 2015

Awing the World with Age or Beauty

To the Sibyls
by John Hanmer

Where are ye, Sibyls, ye who on far shores,
Persic, or Libyan, or Cumaean cave,
Awing the world with age or beauty, gave
Response that Time e'en yet fears and adores,
Still questioning; for each stroke of Charon's oars,
As ghosts of years go by his icy wave,
Sends upwards through the portals of the grave
A vague dread voice, that like an earthquake roars;
And, "when above the dust and unclean bones
Of this vile generation shall be cast
A little earth," some listening seer exclaims,
"Thus shall it be, and thus,"—meanwhile the blast
Of strife goes on; and battling codes, or thrones,
From the blue sky the quiet rainbow shames.

Baron Hanmer -- it was Baronet when he wrote this sonnet -- was better known as a politician and Member of Parliament.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Before and After

According to Aristotle, time is the number of change with respect to before (proteron) and after (hysteron). This can sound odd to our ears, because we often tend to think of time as our paradigmatic case of before-and-after, and therefore it could sound to us like he's simply saying that time is the number of change that has to do with time.

But it's interesting that Aristotle does not think time is the paradigmatic case of before-and-after; he is very clear that the most obvious case of before-and-after is place or relative position. This is one reason Aristotle seems to give change of place an especially important role for understanding time: it gives us a clear way to think of the numbers we give to time as having a before-and-after, by giving us a change that has a clear link with relative position and its before-and-after; and since time is a numeration of change, it inherits the before-and-after relation. The before-and-after of time is primarily reached by mapping, in a change, time to place, where the latter is conceived in a way relative to a particular reference point. As he says at one point, the change goes with the distance and the time with the change.

Thus on this view (1) time is not the most basic form of before-and-after ordering, but a derivative one; (2) it is not even the form of before-and-after ordering that we know first; and (3) it is not even the form of before-and-after ordering that we know best.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Analogy as Equivalence Relation

This is a re-post from quite a few years back; I have been thinking about these issues recently, so I am putting it here to make it easier to find for a while.

An equivalence relation is a relation that has the following characteristics:

It is reflexive (a is related to a).
It is symmetrical (if a is related to b, b is related to a).
It is transitive (if a is related to b, and b is related to c, a is related to c).

One might regard analogy, understood as a relation, as meeting each of these criteria.

A is analogous to A. This can be taken as a tautology, so we can add the analogy a : a to any inference at any time, for any a. So if you are reasoning analogically you can always take something as its own analogue.

If A is analogous to B, B is analogous to A. If there is something in or about A that is similar enough to something in or about B that we can say that A is analogous to B, for that very reason we can say that B is analogous to A.

So analogy in general is certainly reflexive and symmetrical.

If A is analogous to B, and B is analogous to C, A is analogous to C. Slightly trickier. Consider:

(1) A is analogous to B. (Premise)
(2) B is analogous to C. (Premise)
(3) C is analogous to B. (from 2 by Symmetry)

It is clear from (1) and (3) that A and C are analogous in at least one respect: namely, they both are analogous to B. Thus if we take 'is analogous to' to mean 'is analogous to in any way', analogy is always transitive. Sometimes when we are talking about analogy we restrict to the transitivity of analogy to what might be called relevant analogy, i.e., cases where the analogy of A to B and of B to C meet some special condition that allows us to say the two are relevant to each other. This is an entirely legitimate way to go, of course; but we set aside such approaches for now.

So analogy is an equivalence relation. On the basis of this you can build an axiom system using analogy as your only equivalence relation. (I'll simply write 'x is analogous to y' as 'xy'.)

We'll take the above properties and analogize them:

Reflexivity: (aa)
Symmetry: (ab)(ba) [i.e., 'a is analogous to b' is analogous to 'b is analogous to a']
Transitivity: (((ab)c)(a(bc)))

Some other axioms you might have:

Verisimilitude: T(aa)
Falselikeness: F(~T)
Double negation (~(~a))(a)
Analogical Distributivity of Disanalogy: (~(ab))((~a)b))
Analogical Distributivity of Disjunction: ((a v (b v c))((a v b) v (a v c))

And so forth. Because analogy's being taken as an equivalence relation we can substitute analogue for analogue. There's nothing distinctively interesting about this, since it's just an ordinary, humdrum sort of logic, with the only qualification being that it's all done with analogies. Actually, unless I'm mistaken, it's a straightforward equational logic in which all of the equations are analogies. Proofs are straightforward, e.g.:

(1) (~(F(~(aa)))) [premise to be refuted]
(2) (~(~(aa)F)))) [1, symmetry]
(3) (aa)F [2, double negation]
(4) T(aa) [axiom]
(5) F(~T) [axiom]
(6) (aa)(~T) [3,5 substitution]
(7) (T)(~T) [4,7 substitution]

(7) is the analogical version of a contradiction.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Sui Juris Churches III: The Melkite Catholic Church

(On sui juris churches in general)

Liturgical Family: Byzantine

Primary Liturgical Languages: Arabic and Greek

Juridical Status: Patriarchal

Approximate Population (Rounded to Nearest Million): 2,000,000

Basic History: The definition of the Council of Chalcedon spread rapidly through the cities of the Roman Empire, consolidating the orthodox position against the monophysite position Chalcedon rejected. However, in many places it was still controversial, and this was especially true in less urban areas of Syria, where the monophysite position was quite strong. In these places, defenders of Chalcedon were often called, usually dismissively, Melkites: Emperor's men. A long history of schism, struggle, and quarrel developed between Melkites and Monophysites, and it still continued when the Muslims invasions took Syrian Christians out of the direct influence of Constantinople. The orthodox of Syria and surrounding areas remained within the larger Byzantine sphere, however, and they, like the rest of the East, increasingly had difficulty relating to Rome and the West.

But it was never the case that opposition to the West was total in the East. During the Crusades, in particular, there were a number of fruitful alliances between Western Christians and Eastern Orthodox Christians, despite mutual suspicion on religious grounds, and this contributed to the existence of a persisting, and always fluctuating, party of Eastern Christians who were sympathetic at least to Western Christians (although their views on what were commonly regarded as Western innovations still ran the entire gamut). Despite pressure from Muslim governments, which did everything they could to encourage estrangement between East and West, and despite the problems that arose with attempts at reunion, and despite opposition from other bishops, bishops who were pro-Western in at least a loose and broad sense continued to exist.

This resulted in a crisis for the See of Antioch in the eighteenth century, when the Melkite bishops of Syria elected Cyril IV Tanas as Patriarch of Antioch. Cyril was widely suspected to have Westward sympathies, and the Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremias III, interfered, declaring Cyril's election invalid and appointing Sylvester of Antioch in his place. It was a disastrous move. Not all the Melkite bishops were particularly pro-Western, but they did not like Constantinople messing in their affairs, particularly since Cyril's election had been regarded as definitely valid by Syrian bishops. It was made worse by the heavy-handedness of Sylvester; and it was made even worse by the fact that the Ottoman Turks backed Constantinople with troops. In 1729, Pope Benedict XIII affirmed the validity of Cyril's election as patriarch and the Melkites of Syria broke with Constantinople and united with Rome.

This element of the Melkite background is particularly important. From the Melkite perspective, they never ceased being Eastern Orthodox. Their patriarch was the legitimately and justly elected Patriarch of Antioch, and they joined with Rome and broke with Constantinople first and foremost because Rome recognized the justice of their claim and supported them while Constantinople did not (and persecuted them in what they regarded as an obvious usurpation of power). Differences in doctrine did not stand in the way not because the Melkites agreed with everything Rome said, but because there was enough sympathy with the West in Syria to incline them toward interpreting Rome charitably, and toward holding that the doctrinal differences were not an insuperable matter as long as Rome did not too strongly insist that things must be done its way. This sense has varied over time, but the sense of the Melkite Catholic Church is that they are fully Eastern Orthodox in full communion with Rome, and almost everything the Melkite Greek Catholic Church does expresses this sense of their heritage.

The nineteenth century was a century of wild ups and downs for Melkites; Rome did not have a particularly stable or consistent policy toward Eastern Catholics in this period. It did see the rise of one of the greatest of the Melkite patriarchs, Maximos III Mazloum, who became patriarch in 1833. In the next several years, he strengthened the Melkite position in Syria, managed to get the Melkite Catholic Church officially recognized by the Ottoman Turks, thus freeing them from some of the dangers of oppression, and was given full patriarchal recognition by Rome as Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Maximos was followed, however, by Clement Bahouth, who under pressure from the Roman Curia began to latinize Melkite liturgy and practice in a set of reforms that nearly broke the Melkite Catholic Church, creating several minor schisms and an immense amount of resentment among the Melkite faithful.

After Clement came Gregory II Youssef-Sayur, who healed much of the division and attended the First Vatican Council. There Gregory, who was very well respected, became a major voice against the definition of papal infallibility; Gregory's position was that the Council should reaffirm the basic principles of the Council of Florence and that the definition of papal infallibility would likely estrange Catholic and Orthodox further. He left the Council before the definition was passed. Afterward, Rome insisted that the Eastern patriarchs sign the definition. Gregory signed, but insisted that he did so with the explicit understanding that the definition should be understood in such a way as to be consistent with the Council of Florence's protection of the rights and privileges of the Eastern patriarchs. Melkites to this day tend to affirm Gregory's view of the papacy, which is why they tend to be the papal minimalists of the Catholic Church: they accept the definition given at Vatican I, but hold that it should be understood in light of Florence's full affirmation of patriarchal rights, on which they also insist. The Pope, in other words, has full authority and power -- but this authority and power must be understood in such a way as to be in harmony with the traditional rights of the patriarchal sees. It is another contribution to the Melkite Catholic Church's recognition of itself as simultaneously Orthodox and Catholic. Pius IX was not especially impressed by Melkite insistence on this point, but they had some support in it from Leo XIII, who protected the Melkites from latinizing pressures and expanded the recognized jurisdiction of the Melkite.

Considering themselves Eastern Orthodox in communion with Rome, Melkite Catholics are often very critical of whatever they regard as the overreaching of Rome, and will often oppose what they see as the impositions of Catholics from the West. (They make an interesting contrast in this regard with Maronite Catholics, who are often vehement supporters of Rome.) They are papal minimalists, as noted above, and while they accept Catholic dogmatic definitions, they tend to interpret them in whatever way fits best with their conception of common patristic views from the first millenium of Christian history. While Eastern Catholics often tend to maintain dialogue and connection with their Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox counterparts, this is perhaps most true of the Melkites. However, Melkites also tend to be very insistent on maintaining unity despite disagreement, and have consistently worked to maintain communion even at times when they have firmly disagreed with Rome. And they are, of course, recognized in return as fully Catholic by Rome, the full Catholic Church itself in its Melkite form.

Notable Monuments: The Patriarchal Residence of Raboueh; Ain Traz Seminary.

Notable Religious Institutes: Basilian Order of the Most Holy Saviour; Basilian Order of St. John Chouérites and Aleppo United; Basilian Order Chouerite; Basilian Order Aleppine; Society of the Missionaries of Saint Paul; Salvatorian Basilian Congregation of the Sisters of the Annunciation; Religious Chouérites and Alépines United; Religious Congregation of Basilian Chouérites; Religious Congregation of Basilian Alépines; Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help; Sisters of Our Lady of Good Service; Monastery of the Resurrection; Monastery of the Nativity; Greek-Melkite Catholic Moniales of Nazareth and Tazert; The Nuns of the Emmanuel Bethlehem

Notable Saints: St. Mariam Baouardy (August 26). The Melkite calendar also includes many Orthodox as well as Catholic saints, including St. Gregory Palamas.

Extent of Official Jurisdiction: Seven Archeparchies in Lebanon, five Archeparchies in Syria, and eparchies and exarchates in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela. (Sphere of influence always extends beyond the official jurisdiction due to members of the church living outside of any official jurisdiction of the church.)

Online Sources and Resources:

Monday, April 06, 2015

Parable of the Botanist

A botanist seeking a rare tree met two country people from whom he requested information. "There is one of those trees in this wood here," says the first. The other says to him, "Take the third path that you come to. Follow it for one hundred paces. You will be at the very foot of the tree you are seeking." The botanist takes the third path, he goes a hundred steps, but he does not reach the object of his quest. To touch the foot of the tree requires an additional five paces.

Of the two pieces of information that he received, the first was true and the second was false. Even so, which of the two country people has more right to his gratitude?

Pierre Duhem, "On the Subject of Experimental Physics," Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science, Ariew and Barker, eds. & trs. Hackett (Indianapolis: 1996), p. 110

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Radio Greats: "The Son of Man" (CBS Radio Workshop)

When last I had a post on the CBS Radio Workshop, I think I summarized its history fairly well:

CBS Radio Workshop came at the very end of the Golden Age of Radio. Radio drama was dying, its demographic taken by television, and so radio networks were trying bolder, more experimental things. CBS had had some reasonably good success with earlier series focusing on experimental theater, so it put a considerable amount of effort into this one. Probably what it really needed was a longrunning experimental series, to build up a significant audience loyalty; trying to jumpstart a new one in the late 1950s was a little too late to be trying to capture people's attentions, a way of locking the barn door after the cows are gone. But CBS did put a considerable amount of effort into it, and the overall result was not bad, and people did like it; it just wasn't enough to have much of a long-term effect.

One of its more famous episodes was a religiously themed episode -- relatively unusual, since the Golden Age of Radio was for the most part fairly cautious and indirect about its handling of religious topics. "The Son of Man: A Passion Play" brings together an all-star cast just to read from the Gospels in the King James Version for an Easter program, interwoven with music adapted from Bach. The four Evangelists are played by actors each of whom were famous in part for their voices, but who were also widely known in other respects:

Herbert Marshall (Mark): Marshall had lost a leg in World War I, but despite this became one of the most recognizable leading men of his day in film and TV, in very high demand for romantic roles. He was also often on the radio, because people loved his voice.

Robert Young (Matthew): An extremely hard-working actor, Young appeared in over a hundred movies in his lifetime, sometimes five or six movies a year. He is most famous today, however, for playing the role of the father on Father Knows Best.

Victor Jory (Luke): Jory made a name as a screen villain; he is probably best known today for having played Jonas Wilkerson in Gone with the Wind, but he played many, many other villain roles.

Vincent Price (John): Price, of course, is famous for his roles in camp movies, but he was also a leading man in his day, especially in radio, where he played Simon Templar in The Saint.

You can listen to all the episodes of CBS Radio Workshop at the Internet Archive ("The Son of Man" is #64).

The Sap of Spring

A Better Resurrection
by Christina Rossetti

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall—the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.

Surrexit Christus!