Saturday, September 05, 2015

Thought for the Day

I have determined by rigorous scientific, philosophical, mathematical, juridical, and alchemical analysis that in order to make any writing advice actually true, you have to add 'when it is awesome' or 'except when it is awesome', as appropriate. It's not always easy to tell what's awesome and what's merely striking or different or pseudo-awesome, but if you can't tell what's awesome, no writing advice is going to help you, anyway, except by accident.

Just some examples:

"Never mix metaphors except when it is awesome."
"Never use a long word when a short word would do, except when it is awesome."
"Kill your darlings, except when they are awesome."
"Write what you know when it is awesome."
"Cut out all those exclamation marks, except when they are awesome."
"Don't edit while writing your first draft, except when it is awesome."
"Avoid wordiness, except when it is awesome."
"Be daring, when it is awesome."
"Know your genre when it is awesome."
"Show, don't tell, except when it is awesome."
"Revise your work, except when it is awesome."
"Never use a verb other than 'said' to carry dialogue, except when it is awesome."
"Write in the way comfortable to you, when it is awesome."
"Trust your readers, when they are awesome."
"Read a lot, when it is awesome."

And, finally, "Don't take writing advice seriously except when it is awesome."

Friday, September 04, 2015

Invisible Contest

I forgot to put up something yesterday (Thursday) for the feast of St. Gregory the Great. The following is one of his most influential passages, from Moralia in Job, Book XXXI:

For the tempting vices, which fight against us in invisible contest in behalf of the pride which reigns over them, some of them go first, like captains, others follow, after the manner of an army. For all faults do not occupy the heart with equal access. But while the greater and the few surprise a neglected mind, the smaller and the numberless pour themselves upon it in a whole body. For when pride, the queen of sins, has fully possessed a conquered heart, she surrenders it immediately to seven principal sins, as if to some of her generals, to lay it waste. And an army in truth follows these generals, because, doubtless, there spring up from them importunate hosts of sins. Which we set forth the better, if we specially bring forward in enumeration, as we are able, the leaders themselves and their army. For pride is the root of all evil, of which it is said, as Scripture bears witness; Pride is the beginning of all sin. [Ecclus. 10, 1] But seven principal vices, as its first progeny, spring doubtless from this poisonous root, namely, vain glory, envy, anger, melancholy, avarice, gluttony, lust.

I notice, incidentally, that a lot of online sources get St. Gregory's list wrong, assuming that he, like later authors, folds vain glory into pride. But in Gregory's account, pride is a distinct vice; vainglory is a daughter vice of pride, and, indeed, all of the capital vices flow from pride as generals from a queen.

The Sun, in All His Splendor, Wears Thy Beams

On the Works of Creation
by Elizabeth Rowe

Beauty complete, and majesty divine,
In all thy works, ador'd Creator, shine.
Where'er I cast my wond'ring eyes around,
The God I seek in ev'ry part is found.
Pursuing thee, the flow'ry fields I trace,
And read thy name on ev'ry spire of grass.
I follow thee thro' many a lonely shade,
And find thee in the solitary glade.
I meet thee in the kind, refreshing gale,
That gently passes thro' the dewy vale.
The pink, the jess'min, and the purple rose,
Perfum'd by thee, their fragrant leaves disclose.
The feather'd choir that welcome in the spring,
By thee were taught their various notes to sing.
By thee the morning in her crimson vest,
And ornaments of golden clouds is drest.
The sun, in all his splendor, wears thy beams,
And drinks in light from thy exhaustless streams.
The moon reveals thee by her glimm'ring ray;
Unnumber'd stars thy glorious paths display.
Amidst the solemn darkness of the night,
The thoughts of God my musing soul delight.
Thick shades and night thy dread pavilion form;
In state thou rid'st upon the flying storm;
While thy strong hand its fiercest rage restrains,
And holds the wild, unmanag'd winds in reins.
What sparklings of thy majesty appear,
When thro' the firmament swift lightnings glare?
When peals of thunder fill the skies around,
I hear thy voice in the tremendous sound.
But oh! how small a part is known of thee,
From all thy works immense variety?
Whatever mortal men perfection name,
Thou, in an infinite degree, dost claim.

And while I here thy faintest shadows trace,
I pine to see the glories of thy face;
Where beauty in its never changing height,
And uncreated excellence shines bright.
When shall the heav'nly scene; without controul,
Open in dazzling triumph on my soul?
My pow'rs with all their ardor shall adore,
And languish for terrestrial charms no more.

Rowe (1674-1737) was extraordinarily popular at one time, and for nearly a century; her work was praised by the likes of Pope and Johnson. Since her poetic work was mostly didactic poetry, people stopped reading her poems as didactic poetry became less commonly read and she mostly vanished from the view of everyone except a handful of specialists.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Mencius, Book VII

Book VII.A (Jin Xin I)

Book VII is much more aphoristic than the rest of the book, and the topics are varied. Some of the topics in VII.A:

(1) discussion of seeking one's true nature (VII.A.1, VII.A.2, VII.A.3, VII.A.4, and perhaps also VII.A.5 and VII.A.6);

(2) the importance of taking virtues like ren and yi to be high priorities (VII.A.8, VII.A.9, VII.A.10, VII.A.11, VII.A.25, VII.A.33);

(3) the relation between king and people (VII.A.12, VII.A.13, VII.A.14, VII.A.15, VII.A.22, VII.A.23);

(4) the character of the noble person (VII.A.19, VII.A.20, VII.A.21, VII.A.24, VII.A.33, perhaps VII.A.35, VII.A.37, VII.A.40, VII.A.41, VII.A.45);

(5) the importance to virtue of hitting the right mark (VII.A.26, VII.A.27, VII.A.28, VII.A.29, VII.A.41, VII.A.44, VII.A.45, VII.A.46).

One of the notable passages is VII.A.26, in which Master Meng criticizes three philosophers by putting them into opposition. Yangzi is an egoist; Mozi advocates universal care; Zi Mo tries to find a middle way. Because he takes a middle way, he is closer than the other two, because someone who takes an extreme is someone who is not looking at everything; but he fails to find the right measure and concern for circumstances in his attempt to find a middle, and so to that extent has taken an extreme in yet another way.

Another notable passage is Mencius's account of the five ways in which a noble person teaches (VII.A.40):

The first is by transforming influence like that of timely rain. The second is by helping the student realize his virtue to the full. The third is by helping him to develop his talent. The fourth is by answering his questions. And the fifth is by setting an example others not in contact with him can emulate.

Book VII.B (Jin Xin II)

Three major themes dominate VII.B: violence, cultivation of character, and tradition.

The first is the problem of violence. Just as a humane king extends his humanity from his immediate circle to the Empire, so a ruthless king extends his ruthlessness to everyone (VII.B.1). Wars, even legitimately punitive wars, are dangerous and to be avoided (VII.B.2-4). It is very serious to kill the family member of another, because this creates feuds (VII.B.7). Modern kings use the instruments once designed to protect from violence to perpetrate violence (VII.B.8).

In addition, several of the sections concern virtue and good character. Who does not practice the Tao himself cannot expect anyone else to do so (VII.B.9). Profit is dangerous as a motive and those who seek cannot be trusted (VII.B.10, VII.B.11). The survival of a state depends ultimate on trust of the virtuous (VII.B.12). Good character must be actively cultivated (VII.B.21, VII.B.32). To cultivate oneself, one should reduce one's desires (VII.B.35).

A very important passage concerned with virtue occurs when Mencius notes that ren is ren -- that is, the virtue of humanity to self and others is itself the proper sense of being human -- and the two together are the Tao (VII.B.16). The two forms of ren here are etymologically related, homophonic, and are written with related characters -- if you take ren, 人, human, and add the number 2 to it, 二, indicating a relation, you get the virtue ren, 仁, humaneness or benevolence or humanity to self and others.

A third major theme in this final part of the book is tradition, which, of course, is also the influence of the sage and the noble. The skilled can teach rules but not skill itself (VII.B.5); teaching the Tao requires practicing it (VII.B.9). "The sage is teacher to a hundred generations" (VII.B.15). The Confucians accept anyone who is willing to learn (VII.B.26, VII.B.30). The man who, while decent and faultless by ordinary standards, refuses to learn from the ancients is the enemy of virtue (VII.B.37). And in the final section of the entire book, we find Mencius soberly reflecting on how the chain in a tradition of virtue can break (VII.B.38):

Mencius said, 'From Yao and Shun to T'ang it was over five hundred years. Men like Yü and Kao Yao knew Yao and Shun personally, while those like T'ang knew them only by reputation. From T'ang to King Wen it was over five hundred years. Men like Yi Yin and Lai Chu knew T'ang personally, while those like King Wen knew him only by reputation. From King Wen to Confucius it was over five hundred years. Men such as T'ai Kung Wang and San-yi Sheng knew King Wen personally, while those like Confucius knew him only by reputation. From Confucius to the present it is over a hundred years. In time we are so near to the age of the sage while in place we are so close to his home, yet if there is no one who has anything of the sage, well then, there is no one who has anything of the sage.'

But, of course, there was Master Meng himself; and although Mencius knew Confucius only by reputation, there was certainly something of the sage in him.


Quotations are from Mencius, Mencius, D.C. Lau, tr., Penguin (New York: 1970).

The Highest and Greatest of Mysteries

Now, it is the highest and greatest of mysteries that Solomon has allegorized by means of the Song of Songs: the entirety of Christ's coming and His death, together with His sufferings, and the resurrection and the Second Coming and the wedding of the gentiles to Christ the Groom and the illumination of the Church, and the outpouring of the Spirit's grace in prophecy and mission and teaching and martyrdom and virginity and priesthood and the ascetic life and the ways of penance, and the hope of sinners and the dead, thanks to the sacrifice of Christ. Yet, in comparison with what the saints are going to learn in their state of renewal and perfection through the Groom's love, these things which were said by Solomon pale--as does everything else concerning all these miracles of God which have happened and which are going to happen, everything that has been related by the ancients and by people of more modern times, no matter how capable of speaking and teaching the Lord Jesus has made them.

Gregory of Narek, The Blessing of Blessings: Gregory of Narek's Commentary on the Song of Songs, Roberta Ervine, tr., Cistercian Publications (Kalamazoo, MI: 2007) p. 208

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Music on My Mind

Chisu, "Ihana".

Ihana means splendid, delightful, wonderful, fantastic, lovely. The basic gist of this upbeat little song is that you might eventually leave me, you might be crazy, I might be warned about you, but -- you are so ihana, and with you everything is ihanaa, and I want to be ihana for you.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Flavianus Michael Malke

On August 29, Pope Francis beatified Flavyānus Mikhayil Melkī. Blessed Flavyanus was a Syriac Catholic bishop in what is now Turkey who was martyred in 1915. In those days, of course, the ruling power in the area was the Ottoman Empire, and it was a time when the Ottomans were cracking down rather severely on Eastern Catholics. In the 1895 Massacres of Diyarbakir, his mother was killed and his church and house burned to the ground. The primary focus of the massacres was to root out Armenian Christians, a small group of whom had rebelled against local tax collectors; but the pogrom quickly spread to attacks on their Syriac and Assyrian Christian neighbors. Some estimate that over 20,000 Syriac and Assyrian Christians were murdered in the massacres. Things only got worse from there; it was the beginning in earnest of the Armenian Genocide and the Assyrian Genocide throughout large portions of the Ottoman Empire.

In the summer of 1915 the persecution had begun to reach its height. Melki heard rumors that there would be a major crackdown in Gazarta, where he was bishop. He had been out and about helping various villages and churches, but on hearing the rumors he returned to Gazarta and refused to leave, despite the fact that a number of local Muslim leaders with whom he had good relations pleaded for him to do so. He and the Chaldean Catholic bishop, Philippe-Jacques Abraham, were arrested. On August 28, they were both given the choice to convert to Islam or be executed for their presumed treasons against the Ottoman Empire; when Abraham refused, he was killed. When Melki refused, he was beaten unconscious and then beheaded.

Michael Malke

Monday, August 31, 2015

Rosmini for August XXXI

Prudence is acquired with age: the young do not see how profound and cautious a thing prudence is, and they easily imagine themselves to be gifted with it. The old man can see farther than the youth; therefore have great respect for age. You may hold it for a safe rule that prudence consists rather in refraining from action than in acting, and that we seldom are sorry that we did not speak or act, but often that we did.
Letters 2571 [SC]

And that's a rap on Rosmini for August!

Dashed Off II

index, icon, & symbol as three ways in which Logos is imitable

one-good-reason stopping rules

proximate descriptions of feelings in the shape of arguments
the merely verisimilar and its function in argument

hope as guarantor of fidelity

The opposite of usury is love.

sacred vernaculars as treasures of the people

Grace is the personality of God in us.

the theology of grace a theology of the Presence


Each sacrament contributes to humility, instruction, and spiritual work in a distinct way.

Marriage is the one form of human society with a paradisial root; it is the one human tradition not found under the regime of original sin.

the three mysteries that structure the Church: moral virtue, theological virtue, the Incarnation

'Our Father': a bold humility!

Part of the task of a great playwright is to leave the right things unsaid.

Every proof presupposes a background.

"Hypocrisy, while it desires to captivate the eye, becomes itself captive to the eye." (Peter Chrysologus)

"Fasting without mercy is not truth but figure." (Chrysologus)

"Love makes the beloved the lover's form." (Aquinas, III Sent d27 q1 a1)

the exemplarity of prudence

hagiographical tradition
(1) to remember (I Macc 2)
(2) to praise (Sir 44-50)
(3) to see Wisdom in (Wis 10)
(4) to know as witnesses for salvation (Hb 11)

confirmation as the mother sacrament for catechism

sacraments as signs of desire to serve God with devotion

Balzac's "La Messe de l'athée" and symbolisms of friendship

the Creed as the structure of Christian prayer

We can measure things in endlessly many ways; but some of these are natural classifications.

appeals to authority as arguments for the presumptive // appeals to intuition

What equations say depends on things not in the equations.

Middlemarch as a study of shame

Note that most blind mathematicians work in geometry.

the garden of Eden as a symbol of original justice

boundary as "the first thing outside of which no part is to be found, and the first thing inside of which every part is to be found" (Metaphysics 1022a)
-> Note that incipit and desinit seem to split the two clauses up

six views of boundaries in connected space
(1) classical: a boundary is part or complement but not both
(2) paraconsistent (glutty): both part and complement
(3) paracomplete (gappy): neither part nor complement
(4) coincidence: one boundary that is part, one that is complement
(5) eliminativist: no actual boundary (boundary constructed by identification)
-> it seems clear that each of these is true of some things called boundaries

Our natural way of thinking of boundaries is directional, in terms of approach.

whether (judgment or quality)
what/which/who (term)
why/how (middle term of connected principle/principiate)
-> In English, quantity is discovered by whether + arbitrarily posited quantity

Imperative accounts of questions introduce operators (e.g., epistemic) but questions do not always involve any such operators.

questions & deduction with incomplete information

Quamvis operatio attribuatur hypostasi ut operanti, tamen attribuitur naturae ut operationis principio. (Aquinas, DV 20.1ad12)

tradition as a particular form of cultivating good sense

dogmatic definition as magisterial sign

Every extrinsic principle of certainty is reducible to intrinsic principles of certainty.

possibility of thought <-> thinkability of being

There are no one-issue suicides.

pretty dystopias

Sin of its own nature tends toward irrevocability.

micro-weaknesses in arguments

Through the gift of wisdom we are secure of God.

the systems structuring the Mystical Body
(1) sacramental
(2) doctrinal: (a) verbal (b) iconic
(3) penitential

Acedia is the enemy of every tradition.

Faith is a virtue that is a power and achievement of God.

"The effect of Incarnation is in fact to spread radiance, and it is just for that reason that today there can still be witnesses of Christ, whose evidence has a value that is not only exemplary but strictly apologetic." (Gabriel Marcel)

"...conversion is the act by which man is called to become a witness." (Marcel)

"...the free variation of the world of experience leads to knowledge of its essential structure." (Edith Stein)

intersections of disease and moral weakness

free will, duty, present probation, future judgment, divine judge

-- look more closely at Anthony Collins's A Discourse of Free-Thinking on analogy and how Berkeley's Alciphron answers it; note too TVV 6 as summary -- the Euclid reference is particularly interesting

Molyneux's Problem & knowledge of God (cp. TVV 6)

"For we know our ideas; and therefore we know that one idea cannot be the cause of another. We know that our ideas of sense are not the cause of themselves. We know also that we do not cause them. Hence we know they must have some other efficient cause distinct from them and us." Berkeley TVV 13

Neither natural selection nor sexual selection are capable of reduplicative precision beyond the structure of the selection itself.

It is unsurprising that the vitalists conceived of a vital force analogous to physical forces, given that earlier generations of physicists conceived of physical forces on analogy with life.

The problem with thinking in terms of progress is that progress under conditions of easy accessibility is very different from progress under conditions of heavily impeded accessibility.

To consider: Extended periods of swift technological innovation are backed by empire.

-- look more closely at Berkeley's account of Newton's 3rd (DM 69-70)

Every sign of power, wisdom, or goodness in creation is a sign of power, wisdom, and goodness, even if it does not manifest each equally clearly.

3DHP was designed both to stand alone and to be a sort of bridge between PHK Part I and the lost & never published PHK Part II, and like PHK Part I is explicitly linked (in its 1st & 2nd ed. Preface) to NTV.

matter as object, as substrate, as cause, as instrument, as occasion

the sacrament of marriage as a pillar of social justice

covenant symbolisms in sacraments (oil, water, imposition, &c.)

Presuppositionalism treats everything like exegesis.

the implicit dialogue of juxtaposition in liturgy

juxtaposition of the ridiculous and the sublime in Menippean satire

genre classification // saint classification

Genre classification is an integration of multiple typological classifications.

politics as concerned with climates of virtue

mathematics as studying resemblances, contiguities, and constant conjunctions

entrelacement of argument (polyphony)

the Consolation & Lucian's Fugitivi

the principles or ends of Menippean satire (Double Indictment)
(1) to have philosophical discussion walk on common ground
(2) to give it a social presentability
(3) to enable it to gain the confidence of the audience by way of the comic

Wandering off topic while genuinely discussing it is very different from jumping off topic.

typological classifications based on real types vs typological classifications based on hypothetical types (the latter is a derivative form, since it involves blending or comparison of several real cases that ground the type)

The most irenic reading is not always the most charitable reading.

When confronted with something like an Austen novel, one is confronted with something that works extraordinarily beautifully, but saying, or even discovering, why it does so is no mean feat.

A complex number is a dilation with rotation.

vectors as ordered pairs of ordered pairs of integers

confirmation as the sacrament of Shekinah

"The Memra brings Israel night to God and sits on His throne receiving the prayers of Israel." Targ Yer to Deut iv.7

The only thing that makes Whitehead's philosophy a self-forming rather than sustained continuance account is the assumption of an intrinsic direction in time (cp. Ford's account of God as Active Future). Seen in reverse, it would exhibit a sustained rather than self-forming continuance.

forensic justification as crypto-Pelagianism

Meier's five authenticating 'criteria' and the corresponding defective cause one is trying to eliminate
(1) embarrassment: distortion to self-interest : requires accurate assessment of self-interest
(2) discontinuity (dissimilarity): contamination from other sources: requires accurate assessment of other sources
(3) multiple attestation: distortion in channel : requires ability to distinguish independence of channels
(4) coherence: sources of implausibility (think about this) : requires independnetly established facts and accurate assessment of fit with them
(5) rejection & execution: misinterpretation involving failure to adequate explanans to explanandum : requires correct assessment of explanandum

Not all questions are petitions. (Consider, for example, puzzled questions put to oneself.)

Part is relative to division.

topoi as ways of transforming one proposition into a different, not necessarily equivalent, proposition

Note that Buridan distinguishes three different kinds of numerical sameness, all of which can be genuinely called such.

lists, multisets, heaps, sequences

infinitesimals as decay rates (Wildberger)

The Notes of the Church are the notes of faith itself insofar as it is a confidelity.

Voodoo is a kind of economics of spirit-related symbolisms.

sanctuary arguments

three elements of tradition-reception: learn, accept, appropriate

Christ's circumcision is a precondition of our baptism.

monistic: anything in the universe is the universe itself and not a proper part of the universe
pluralistic: anything in the universe is a proper part of the universe and not the universe itself.
glutty: anything in the universe is both the universe itself and a proper part of the universe.
gappy: anything in the universe is neither the universe itself nor a proper part of the universe.


distributive and commutative justice in marriage

indefinite proofs, i.e., proofs whose conclusions may or may not be completely general

unciton & evangelistic consolation

simplicity of concept vs simplicity of operations in mathematics

the cultivation of manners, morals, & piety

Authority is rooted in responsibility.

irony as itself an argument based on incongruity

The methods of analytic philosophy could only ever give approximations.

"This world is a system of invisible things visibly manifested." Maistre

The communion of bishops is a material ecumenical council.

The weapons against heresy are prayer, patience, and instruction.

"a proverb is a brief statement containing some profound science." (Ramon Llull)
"If there were no God the Son, no creature could be a child of God."
"Who gives nothing is not alive."
"One act of virtue is sustained in another."
"One virtue fortifies another virtue."
"God grants one good prayer through another."
"A prayer is worth more than an excuse."
"Minor dignity exists for the sake of major dignity."
"Patience is the refuge of virtues."
"Lawfulness is an image of compassion."
"Vice is the privation of the habit of seeing God."

understanding: beginning and ending :: knoweldge : consistency & inconsistency

To deny and to doubt each involve appeal to the norm of truth.

hierarchy as a defense of the dignity of persons

development of doctrine by transposition of key

Each Gift of the Spirit has both an individual and a communal face.

the Magisterium of the Church as structured by the Gifts of the Spirit

the clerical hierarchy as the trellis with which the vines of charism are hung and grow

to work for the reform of civilization

Law is powerless without conscience.

Rational belief depends not on comprehension but an evidence; this is shown in every intellectual field.

congruity of coordinate evidences

There are many things the bare possibility of which carries moral significance. The bare possibility that you will die tonight is a reason not to let the sun go down on your anger; the bare possibility that all things may be taken from you is a reason to be grateful for what you have. The bare possibility of a future life is a reason to consider how to prepare for it.

Note that Descartes' account of God as self-cause takes Him to be efficient cause not strictly but by extending the concept of sufficient cause to the limit.

the cogito as establishing the existence of a capacity for understanding principles as self-evident (i.e., intellect)

the sacramental/iconic character of miracles

civilization as divine revelation (Whately)

deism -> pantheism -> atheism

MacIntyre's After Virtue as a reflection on A Canticle for Leibowitz

lines of utility, lines of pleasantness, and lines of excellence in traditions

Faith is Tradition working in us.

Each human being is part of the common good of mankind.

Hope is the destroyer of the boredom that attempts to acedia.

'Critique' in academia could often be replaced with 'will to power'.

pietas as structuring tradition
the gift of piety as guarding tradition

We locate things relative to parts.

Drama naturally tends more to polyphony than the novel; the novelist must handle polyphony like the painter depth.

Kant is right about examples to the extent that examples carry no necessities of the sort he wants, being counsel-like rather than obligation-like.

platonistic vs. aristotelian accounts of genre

What is good, is good with respect to divine will as primary standard; what is true, with respect to divine intellect; what is possible, with respect to divine power.

Since the miracles of Jesus were messianic signs, they signify also the works of those ministers woh are stamped with the character of Christ's messianic ministry in Confirmation.

Liturgy as the first teaching of bishops.

Having a view that seems vaguely like a heresy to someone is not having a heretical view; it isn't even possible to have a view that doesn't seem like some possible heresies, because heresy mimics orthodoxy (and, indeed, sometimes by imitation).

Newton's definitions directly imply that impressed forces are acting on matter as measurable, so as to change its measured swiftness, density, or volume.

design and directional series of improbabilities

invariants across divergent points of view

charity as the root of self-discovery

The structure of reasoning is analogous to the structure of hope.
divine love: simple apprehension::faith:judgment::hope:reasoning

Analogy and classifications often work in similar ways.
finding natural analogies through the confluence of artificial analogies
using one analogical inference to confirm another
bare analogies vs. affinity analogies

analyzing ethical approaches and positions by looking at the ceremonies and rituals that would be their objective correlates

"Every camouflaged or mistaken truth...." Rosmini

Neither the world nor the flesh like being put to the question.

resemblance as aptness of symbolism

To mistreat animals, when deliberate, is something like stealing from the common good of human beings. In addition, to love God is to love that which He has created in some appropriate way.

accidents as indicators of substance

The correct & unqualified answer to the question, "What is it?" when asked of that which the sensible accidents of the consecrated elements indicate, is "The Body and Blood of Christ."

Baber's account of the Eucharist is more plausible as an account of sacramentalia.

consecration as making to represent accessible grace or holiness

presence as direct accessibility

The exemplar character of charity connects it with truth.

Presence is always a causal notion; we see this even in the theory of the external world or of other minds.

interlocking argument arcs

The doctrine of purgatory is the recognition that we require not merely repentance but proportional repentance.

"The essence of melodrama is that it appeals to the moral sense in a highly simplified state, just as farce appeals to the sense of humour in a highly simplified state." Chesterton

Vividness of language requires not merely flame in the poet but also tinder in the reader.

The only time you should not use cliche in poetry is when you have reason to think that you can make the point in a better way than what everyone else thinks is an obviously good way.

the 'genotype' and 'phenotype' of argument

emotions as a probabilistic assessment & reasoning system

transcendental ego as self qua indicated/signified

what-it-is vs. sensible indicators of what it is

To measure is to assume truths about the actual and the potential and use them to relate one thing to another.

Augustine uses reading aloud as an example for time-consciousness; this is fitting because reading aloud is structured temporally and nothing can be written so as to rule out this temporal structure of reading aloud.

Note that instead of 'argument from authority is the weakest' it is really 'the locus from authority is weakest' (1.1.8obj2) -- Aquinas is referring to Boethius' account of the otpics. The topos of autohrity is the weakest topos. This is reflected in the response, 1.1.8ad2

(1) An action without being is a contradiction
(2) A happening is an action
(3) In a happening that is a beginning to exist, that which begins to exist cannot be the being of the action
(4) Therefore there must be for every happening that is a beginning to exist some being other than that which begins to exist.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Power of a Voter

This is quite funny:

A mistake by representatives of the Business Loop 70 Community Improvement District means a sales tax increase the district needs to thrive will require approval by a single University of Missouri student.

On Feb. 28, Jen Henderson, 23, became the sole registered voter living within the community improvement district, or CID, meaning she is the only person who would vote on a half-cent sales tax increase for the district.

Basically what happened is that the business owners wanted capital improvements in the area, and to avoid taking it out of property assessment, they needed a small sales tax increase; so they worked with the local government to create a special Community Improvement District. By state law, in such a district registered voters vote on tax increases, but if there are no registered voters, the property owners vote on it. So the idea was to create a CID with no registered voters -- residences in the area were left out of the rigged-up district. But the University-owned property in the area was not. Henderson happens to live on the University-owned property where she is the overnight attendant caretaker for a guest house, and she registered as a voter at that address -- thus becoming the one and only person who has the legal right to vote on the tax increase and completely blocking the attempt of the property owners in the CID to become the ones to decide the matter.

The property owners tried to convince her to unregister, but when Henderson looked into the matter she decided that the plan seemed dishonest and manipulative (and unregistering one's vote is generally not a straightforward process, in any case). The matter doesn't have to be put to a vote, so the masterminds behind the scheme have the choice of either foregoing the election, in which case they have to pay capital improvement debts some other way, or putting it to a vote, in which case Henderson is the one who makes the decision.

Fortnightly Books, August 30

Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh was a man of extraordinary literary style, high ideals, dark humor, nasty temper, and a remarkable lack of what is called moral fiber. In 1930 he converted to Catholicism, and remained vehemently Catholic for the rest of his life; he never pretended to be other than a horrible person, but always insisted that he would be much worse without the moderating influence of the Church.

The fortnightly books provide a dual perspective on this bad-Catholic life; the first will be a first-time read and the second is a re-read. With Edmund Campion: A Life, published in 1934, we get the high ideal, the heroism of the Catholic faith. It is popular biography; it is not a novelization and sets out to capture the historical essentials, but it is also not intended to be a work of rigorous historical scholarship. It was very controversial when it was published because it is unapologetically pro-Catholic, without much sympathy for the Protestant opponents of Campion at all; but it was praised for its excellent literary style and won Waugh the Hawthornden Prize given for literary excellence by authors forty and under. The proceeds of the work were donated to help rebuild Campion Hall in Oxford. The work is divided into four parts, each capturing an aspect of Campion's greatness: The Scholar, The Priest, The Hero, and The Martyr.

On the other side is Waugh's most famous work, Brideshead Revisited, a novel about Catholics who have nothing of Campion's excellence. Indeed, the major theme of the work is that divine grace is given even to horrible people and can do remarkable and surprising things to them. As he told a movie studio:

Grace is not confined to the happy, prosperous and conventionally virtuous. There is no stereotyped religious habit of life, as may be seen from the vastly dissimilar characters of the canonised saints. God has a separate plan for each individual by which he or she may find salvation. The story of Brideshead Revisited seeks to show the working of several such plans in the lives of a single family....

As part of its development of this theme, it is also a sort of argument that the Catholic Church has an immense power over those who have been Catholic, even when highly attenuated and operating under conditions of advanced decay and apparent failure; in his metaphor, they are like fish on a line, and however they swim away it can often take just "a twitch upon the string" to pull them back.

I don't know how well these two will mesh, but they should be interesting to compare and contrast. And perhaps there is a link between the two in the recognition that the ways of grace are not the ways of human society. As he says bitingly of his contrast between Tobie Matthew and Edmund Campion in the earlier book:

Tobie Matthew died full of honours in 1628. There, but for the Grace of God, went Edmund Campion.

Rosmini for August XXX

One of the most favourable dispositions for advancing in perfection is to lay great stress even on small failings. When the soul is convinced that every defect in the moral order is a great evil, greater than any physical evil, it never thinks itself too severely punished or sufficiently humbled for its faults. This feeling, as noble as it is true, has always been conspicuous in the saints.
Letters 5337 [SC]