Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dashed Off I

As always, dashed off notes, to be taken with caution.

traditionality as the momentum of intelligence in motion

In passover the Lord passes judgment on the gods of the nations.

communities as structured by forms of integrity, attention, and cooperation

false goods as anicca, dukkha, and anatta

sacrament as the pedagogy of salvation

angelic speech as pure case of liturgy

Holy orders signifies Christ in Session, whose liturgy it brings down to earth in signs.

Incarnation : Baptism :: Messianic Mystery : Confirmation :: Session : Orders

vapor-like passions and liquid-like passions (volatility and diffusiveness as metaphors capturing aspects of passions)
-- ambiences and surges

baptism as the sacrament within every sacrament
matrimony as the all-reflecting sacrament

imaginative association, analogical proportion, formal implication, systemic structure (teleological fit)
poetics, rhetoric, prior analytics, posterior analytics
plausibility, persuasiveness, reasonableness, demonstrability

analytics as the theory of means of reasoning, considered as such

the reflex principles of good sense
the casuistics of theory preference

internal sense theory as a theory of saliences -- selection and association of experiences into ideational groupings not further reducible to the experiences themselves

One can see Hume's associationism as a degenerate (sparse desert) internal sense theory (or alternatively internal sense theories as supergenerate (dense-jungle) associationism, along the lines of Gerard).

'in the long run' used temporally vs. 'in the long run' used to indicate repeatability in principle

All explanation traces back to what boggles the mind without ceasing to explain.

the intrinsic themis of rite and liturgy giving birth to horae

accessibility relations among arguments

to stay the course (stick to it), to keep the end in sight, to act in the proper spirit -- three essentials of any great work

the I Ching, qua Confucian classic, as a schooling in order

laughter/humor as an instrument of temperance
kinds of humor tending to modesty, to caution, to proportionate judgment, to humility

rhetoric as a theory of cognitive resources pertaining to belief and inference

predicate calculus as propositional logic with multiple interrelated truth tables

All human knowledge requires the cooperation of the senses and something more than the senses.

proportion of part to part as more fundamental than distance?

What allows the lurid is not human strength but human weakness.

internally vs externally grounded versions of an argument (e.g., the argument from evil can be based either on an independent account of evil or on the theist's own)

intentionality as structured intelligibility (a higher order intelligibility of intelligibilities?)

Most of what most people say most of the time is extrapolative in some way.

renewal of faith // recurrence of Eucharist
faith as the constant accomplishment of the Paschal Sacrament in us

Ascension as the feast of hope (the salvific teleology)

The act of defining depends crucially on our ability to see one thing in two lights.

Human beings in general need their practical solutions to be in appropriate theater and symbol.

Let your symbolic gestures be practical improvements.

proximate vs. remote testimonial evidence
direct vs indirect testimonial evidence

The proper standard of training for priests is that they should be able to perform essential liturgical functions under conditions of persecution.

The triumphant saints will leave their doubts, the torrents of concupiscence will be stilled; free from misery they will cross the ocean of becoming and through Christ's teaching they will lead a holy life. No longer will they be attached to possessions, they will have no property, no gold or silver, no home to guard, no relatives for nepotism, but they will live a holy life of unity under Christ's guidance. They will have torn the net of the passions, they will enter contemplation, they will overflow with true happiness, for they will live holy lives through Christ.

rosary as elementary catechesis, divine office as a higher-order catechesis

the importance of visible majesty for law

to polish and to fortify what is human in us

Natural virtues are not suitable for overcoming supernatural opposition.

"All laws of nature are comprehended in one universal law, that similar qualities being in union, there will arise similar results...." (Shepherd; cp. Whewell and Maxwell)

The heart of freedom is the law of reason itself.

common cause & undesigned coincidences -- there is a generalized version of teh latter for all common cause situations. Think about this. --> cp. also Morelli method

the Socratic daimon of a civilization
daimon : Socrates :: God of the Oracle : Hellas

Creation is within ghte covenant-making act of God, as a material condition. (Cp. Barth)

The goddess Rumor is a minion of the Spirit of the Age.

The Spirit of the Age is seen in the hardening of thought and understanding, leading to disobedience toward reason, authority, and wise counsel.

doctrines intrinsic to a teaching authority vs. doctrines instrumental to a teaching authority

The compassion that is the end of matrimony as a sacrament cannot be achieved except by mortifications.

satisficing under conditions in which it is unknown what optimization should be

The amount of testing required to confirm a model increases faster than the number of variables in the model.

The basic principles of Tolkien's On Fairy Stories generalize to other signs.

prudence & 'center of mass' for many passions and actions at one time

liturgy // covenant (both reflect higher order)

drama : tragedy :: fairy-tale : eucatastrophe

Perception is something that can be cultivated.

Creation, as such, makes servants; Incarnation makes created sons.

the image of God in us as an anticipation of the Incarnation

the cultivation of equity as a control problem for political philosophy

Magisterium is not something that turns off and on.

Coventry Patmore on Mary: "Our only Saviour from an abstract Christ"

disposition to end (intention), interaction, resistance, equilibration

Counterfactual accounts of causation are just generalized behaviorisms.

laws as instruments for distinguishing component causalities in phenomena

All experiments are causal situations; it is from and by means of these causal situations that we abstract scientific laws, it is the finality or teleology of the experiment that allows us to do so.

causal regularities as facts about what does not happen

regularities --> final causes
instrumentalities --> final causes
nomologies --> final causes
dispositions --> final causes

The distinction between categorical and dispositional properties seems based on false assumptions about both.

formal distinction // middle knowledge

Agency detection is moral fact detection.

PSR as the principle of principiation

If there are rationally social animals, moral facts are facts in the natural environments of such animals.

Rational inquiry depends on moral facts.

natural place as at infinity

problem of change // problem of multiplicity

The existence of social capital is not a debt owed to the government but a contribution we have already collectively made to each other and to the government.

Social capital is constituted by individual efforts.

Lord & Bondslave // Doctrine of Mean

convergence of guess-work on the basis of snippet evidence (jigsaw puzzle)

lullaby as communication

government as an instrument for increasing foresight
government as a summary representation of the potential of its citizens' lives

generalizing hypothetico-deductive accounts of explanation to many modalities

If validity is Box, then Diamond must be 'If the premises are true, the conclusion can be true' (a case of not-Diamond would be where premises and conclusion are contradictory -- although dialetheism makes this more complicated).

Baptism makes a space for the theological virtues; a community and a tradition for them, a profession in favor of them, and a sign of God's giving them.

The unity of philosophy lies in the analogy of being; the goodness of philosophy in the discipline of virtue; the universailty of philosophy in rational thought; and the tradition of philosophy in the fight against 'might makes right' sophistry.

purgatory as rehab

Youth is a rush of venturing forth.

Medicine has a political or social structure, and as such may be practiced in a way analogous to the politics of the rhetors or in a way analogous to the politics of Socrates.

Love drawn from wisdom is the mother of consolation.

If morality is in any way connected with the fullness of human potential, there are moral facts.

The remedium concupscientiae is usually treated as if it were a scratching of an itch; but in reality it is a healing, a venturing forth to bring light to places where otherwise only darkness would be. IT is not a satisfaction of wayward craving but a reduction of it in favor of rest in a good. Greedy desire is pushed out by generous love; even if sometimes it is only party, by the minor generosity of a minor love, like affection for home and rest in its hospitalities. The very contractual character of it limits pleonexia in a matter where otherwise it can run rampant.

ordinary language & problem-shaping

graduate study & the parochial prima donna problem

Converse Barcan as the modality for exhaustive induction

Justice is based not on abstract equality but concrete equation.

Because 'truth' is said in many ways, 'truthmaker' is said in many ways.

I Pt 2:20ff clearly has links to the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah

Truth is made our own by a worthy way of life.

Faith federates, hope progresses, love binds together.

the general principle of overflow: The lower is moved according to the action of the higher.

We are taught by images because we are images.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Saints and the Successful

The cult of saints excludes the cult of success--the veneration of those people who have got on well in this world, the snobbish admiration of wealth and fame. This does not mean that a person who apparently has succeeded in the world and has led a happy life is necessarily a bad Christian who must be prepared for a painful settlement with his God and Judge when he comes to die. But it does mean that the religious business instinct which has caused people to imagine that the material welfare of individuals or nations is a sign of God's special favor, or to see in disasters and defeats a punishment from God--that this is opposed by the Church in her veneration of saints.

Sigrid Undset, Stages on the Road, Chater, tr., Christian Classics (Notre Dame, Indiana: 2012) p. xii.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Extrinsic and Intrinsic

I've been thinking recently about mirror positions and analogies among mirror positions recently, and I wanted to put something up about them so I would have it where I can easily find it. These are mostly half-formed notes, so they might not make sense on their own at every point; and I doubt that they are of much interest except to those who, like myself, have an intense interest in how arguments work.

There seems to be a considerable number of positions meeting the following characteristics: (1) you can pair off the positions according to very broad similarities; (2) the positions are in fact significantly opposed to each other; (3) the opposition primarily depends on the fact that one treats as extrinsic what the other treats as intrinsic. An obvious example of a pair of positions with all of these characteristics is the opposed pair of divine command theory and natural law theory. There are a lot of similarities between the two, to such an extent that people who are being sloppy or who have not seriously looked at either tend to confuse them; but at pretty much every level they are actually opposed to each other, because they are theories of obligation and natural law theory takes obligation to be intrinsic to reason while divine command theory takes it to be extrinsic to reason. There is a kind of reverse symmetry to them, like images in the mirror, where the correspondence of one to the other can be exact and yet opposite as well.

There are many others, however. Here are a few of the most common.

Extrinsic Intrinsic with respect to
Divine Command Theory
(Moral Positivism)
Natural Law Theory Moral Obligation
Legal PositivismLegal Naturalism
(Natural Law Theory)
Authority of Law
Occasionalism Secondary Causes Causation
Intelligent Design Theory Eutaxiology Order in Nature
Ontologism Intellectualism Understanding
Platonism Aristotelianism Universals
HumeanismAnti-HumeanismStatus of Laws of Nature

Some of these tend to join up fairly readily; for instance, ontologists tend also to be occasionalists and some form of Platonist. Divine command theorists are always legal positivists, although, of course, the reverse is not true, since a large number of legal positivists are atheists; but a legal positivist who believed in God would by that very fact have very strong reasons for being a divine command theorist. But these kinds of connections are not necessarily true; I know of no ontologist who is a divine command theorist; the implications of ontologism for how we know things would tend to conflict with the easiest options for how we would know about our obligations given a divine command theory. Underlying motivations for accepting a position also have their role to play in the differences. Many people are legal positivists because they think (whether correctly or not) that it sits well with naturalism; nobody is an ontologist because they think that it sits well with naturalism. Occasionalism, ontologism and divine command theory have all at some point or another been taken as superior to their rivals because they are held (correctly or not) to display more fully the glory and power of God. On the other hand, extrinsic can sometimes set up for extrinsic and intrinsic for intrinsic. I, for instance, find myself on the Intrinsic side all the way down the above list, and on the Extrinsic side regard only Platonism as even remotely tempting, and all for similar reasons. There are other pairs you could give where I would fall on the Extrinsic side -- Materialism as opposed to Immaterialism about the relation between perception of the external world and what is ultimately perceived, for instance -- but on most major disputes of this sort I tend to fall on the Intrinsic side of the divide, precisely because I already accept the arguments for the Intrinsic side in a lot of other domains.

There are a few things of interest that tend to come up.

(1) Modalities show up a lot. Necessities and impossibilities (strong modalities) tend to be explicable in either extrinsic or intrinsic ways. For instance, if I say, truly, "I can't do that", you would usually expect this to mean one of two things: Something is making it so I can't or I have an inability even without some external impeding cause. It's not surprising that we get analogous divisions for strong modalities elsewhere. This raises two obvious questions.

(a) Can you establish these kinds of extrinsic/intrinsic mirror positions for all strong modalities? It would be a nice feature if you could, but there are lots of strong modalities for which it is difficult to see how one would get the division in the first place -- Always and Everywhere are the ones that come to mind immediately, since there seems no obvious extrinsic/intrinsic debate on these modalities in particular. On the other hand, there is a distinction between absolute and relational theories for both time and space, which seems to make such a dispute possible, if it were just focused a bit more -- assuming, of course, that you could do so coherently. Perhaps it's already implicit but philosophers just haven't explicitly reached that debate in particular yet.

(b) Do all extrinsic/intrinsic mirror positions end up being about strong modalities in particular? There are a few that seem a bit difficult to put in these terms -- the materialism/immateralism dispute about perception of the external world, mentioned above, for instance. But we get a similar set of issues here as with the prior question -- it may very well be that this is just because, as a matter of historical accident, nobody's gotten around to formulating them that way yet, or, if they have, it never caught on. (The reverse symmetry of the positions doesn't really tell us much on its own about the underlying motivations for focusing on a particular disputable point or accepting a particular position when one does.)

(2) God shows up a lot. It's quite clear that you can get these kinds of mirror positions without talking about God at all. But we do get God in the picture a lot. I think this is for two reasons.

(a) God is the most powerful cause that could enter into any kind of explanation, being the limit case. If there's any cause you could talk about that could in principle do something in either an intrinsic or an extrinsic way, God is certainly going to count. So when God comes up as an explanation for something, it seems you can always ask whether He does so by external or internal causation.

(b) God is the most widely discussed cause. People talk about God a lot, and across a wider range of disciplines and topics than anything else that is likely to come up. To that extent, God's regular appearance in these situations is for the same reason as God's regular appearance in philosophy generally -- God, by the nature of the case, is potentially relevant to a lot of things. There might also be a question of facility -- people seem to process complicated philosophical disputes more easily if put into religious terms. This might be precisely because God is a limit case -- you can drop qualifications you might need to keep track of in other cases -- or because of greater familiarity.

(3) Criticisms of one extrinsic position at least sometimes have analogues in criticism of another, and the same for intrinsic positions. This raises the question of whether it is, in principle, possible to do this across the board. That would be extraordinarily valuable, if true. It is, of course, not necessarily the case that such criticism will be equally plausible across the board, so one might say yes for structural reasons. But the contents of these kinds of disputes are fairly important for how the disputes work, so it could be that some such analogies are blocked completely for content reasons.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hammer of the Arians

Today is the memorial of St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church. Here is part of his account, from his book on the Trinity, of how he, originally a pagan Neoplatonist, became Christian:

I believe that the mass of mankind have spurned from themselves and censured in others this acquiescence in a thoughtless, animal life, for no other reason than that nature herself has taught them that it is unworthy of humanity to hold themselves born only to gratify their greed and their sloth, and ushered into life for no high aim of glorious deed or fair accomplishment, and that this very life was granted without the power of progress towards immortality; a life, indeed, which then we should confidently assert did not deserve to be regarded as a gift of God, since, racked by pain and laden with trouble, it wastes itself upon itself from the blank mind of infancy to the wanderings of age. I believe that men, prompted by nature herself, have raised themselves through teaching and practice to the virtues which we name patience and temperance and forbearance, under the conviction that right living means right action and right thought, and that Immortal God has not given life only to end in death; for none can believe that the Giver of good has bestowed the pleasant sense of life in order that it may be overcast by the gloomy fear of dying.

And yet, though I could not tax with folly and uselessness this counsel of theirs to keep the soul free from blame, and evade by foresight or elude by skill or endure with patience the troubles of life, still I could not regard these men as guides competent to lead me to the good and happy Life. Their precepts were platitudes, on the mere level of human impulse; animal instinct could not fail to comprehend them, and he who understood but disobeyed would have fallen into an insanity baser than animal unreason. Moreover, my soul was eager not merely to do the things, neglect of which brings shame and suffering, but to know the God and Father Who had given this great gift, to Whom, it felt, it owed its whole self, Whose service was its true honour, on Whom all its hopes were fixed, in Whose lovingkindness, as in a safe home and haven, it could rest amid all the troubles of this anxious life. It was inflamed with a passionate desire to apprehend Him or to know Him....

While my mind was dwelling on these and on many like thoughts, I chanced upon the books which, according to the tradition of the Hebrew faith, were written by Moses and the prophets, and found in these words spoken by God the Creator testifying of Himself 'I Am that I Am, and again, He that is has sent me unto you.' I confess that I was amazed to find in them an indication concerning God so exact that it expressed in the terms best adapted to human understanding an unattainable insight into the mystery of the Divine nature.

One of the quirks of his career was that he was a married bishop; many episcopal sees in those days were filled by popular acclamation, and when the people of Poitiers wanted him as their new bishop, he was practically forced to accept, despite being married and having a daughter. He became a bulwark against Arianism in the West, and had a very uneven career in attempting to oppose it. But out of his failures as well as his successes came the works that made him, in Augustine's words, an illustrious teacher of the churches. He was recognized as a Doctor of the Church by Pius IX in 1851.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Poem Draft


A twist of light,
a subtle knot,
has for some author vision caught,
leviathan upon a string,
where muses in their choirs sing;
and sure as France or England rise,
by treaty made,
this treaty by its magic words
lays lines of story through the skies,
turns sheep-like stars to ordered herds.

in chaos hurled,
the story-borders of the world
are formed by light:
a lamp,
a lantern,
here and there
entangled in the eddied air
shape their textures in the night.

Fictional Characters and Political Boundaries

There is a small industry in philosophy discussing the question, "What kind of thing is a fictional character?" One thing that I think is often not considered enough in these discussions is the large group of analogies between fictional characters and things like political borders.

If we compare "Sherlock Holmes lives in London" with "The political boundary between Texas and Mexico is the Rio Grande", there is nothing more to our use of the latter than there is for the former. That is, it's all just texts and derivatives of texts. If you go down to the border, to be sure, you'll see signs and the like indicating that the border is there, but if you go to Baker Street in London you'll see signs about Sherlock Holmes, too. One of the families of views about fictional characters is possibilism, the idea that while a character like Sherlock Holmes does not exist in the actual world, he does exist in some possible worlds. It makes a fair amount of sense of characters in stories (more than is sometimes admitted), although there have always been difficulties with the mechanics of it. If we take seriously the analogy between fictional characters and legal/political fictions like borders, it's difficult to see how it would work at all. Besides the usual objections to possibilism, all of which still apply, what would it mean to say that the political border between Canada and the United States, not existing in the actual world, exists in some possible world? Political borders do not represent physical boundaries. They just are legal boundaries, designated by legal fiction, and the fact that they often involve reference to physical features seems quite analogous to the fact that fictional characters often involve reference to them. And people do not cause wars, have riots, yell "54° 40' or Fight!" about things in merely possible worlds.

What is perhaps more generally interesting is that much discussion of fictional characters puts great emphasis on their nonexistence. Much of this discussion is vitiated by a tendency to try to smuggle ontological features into the existential operator, which is nothing more than a positing operator -- in logic or mathematics, using the existential operator tells us nothing more than that something is posited, and does not on its own give us any account of why we are positing it, which is all that could be relevant here. But the thing about political borders like the International Boundary is that they are fictional entities that do (in some sense) exist. The International Boundary, despite being entirely an artifact of the human mind, has real-world effects. (So, for that matter, does Sherlock Holmes's living on Baker Street in London, as you can see if you ever go to Baker Street in London.) When we talk about it we are not talking about a merely possible world or a semi-Platonic realm, but about the actual world as described in treaties and the like. Fictional anti-realism about political borders seems, at least at first glance, to leave us with nothing but muddled sets of muddles.

One could deny, of course, that political borders are fictional entities, but, again, there seems nothing more backing up their purported non-fictional status than we get with Sherlock Holmes. And political borders, of course, are not the only such legal artifacts that have analogies to fictional characters; they simply are an example that throw a wrench in some common assumptions about fictions.

Nothing about the analogy is determinative on its own; but it does seem that anyone seriously putting forward a theory about the status of fictional characters needs to consider it, and either extend the theory to such legal artifacts or give a principled account of why they are relevantly different.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Maximes on Justice

On the maxime as a philosophical genre, and on what I am doing in this post, see here.

Justice is written on pages of mercy.

Law that cannot be a good symbol of true justice is more usurpation than law. Through its code of law a nation not merely organizes itself but presents a symbolic representation of a just society; we judge laws good and bad as a whole based on how well or poorly they depict such a community of just people.

Law does not make one just, but it signifies, and disposes one to, justice.

Mercy is the heart of man and justice is his road.

The means for upholding justice can become means for holding it up.

Fortitude is the protection of justice; temperance prepares one to take joy in justice.

Just as virtue in a person is not merely knowledge, so justice in a society is not merely the knowledge of those who are in charge.

A precondition for justice in society is unity of heart.

The best way to understand the word 'sacred' is ardently to pursue justice.

Maximes on Reason
Maximes on Wisdom


In the Maronite calendar today happens to be the Memorial of the Holy Ecumenical Council of Trent. It's a minor memorial (I believe it uses the Saturday from Week A of Pentecost), but I thought I'd put up something from the Council to mark the day. From the Eighteenth Session:

The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, not confiding in human strength but relying on the power and support of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has promised to give to His Church a mouth and wisdom, has in view above all to restore to its purity and splendor the doctrine of the Catholic faith, which in many places has become defiled and obscured by the opinions of many differing among themselves, and to bring back to a better mode of life morals which have deviated from ancient usage, and to turn the heart of the fathers unto the children, and the heart of the children unto the fathers.

[The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, H. J. Schroeder, tr., TAN (Rockford, Illinois: 1978), p. 126.]

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fortnightly Book, January 10

Since I've just come off a fairly busy holiday and am gearing up for a new term, I decided to avoid anything too heavy for the next fortnightly book. So I'll be reading Helen MacInnes's 1958 spy novel, North from Rome. I don't know whether this was my grandfather's or grandmother's, but I'll finally have gotten around to reading it.

Helen MacInnes was born in Glasgow in 1907 and came to the United States in 1937 when her husband was appointed chair of the Classics department at Columbia University. Her husband, Gilbert Highet, was a well known classicist. He also had done some intelligence work for the Secret Intelligence Service, popularly known as MI6. MacInnes would write 21 espionage novels, several of which were extremely popular. They were also famous for being surprisingly realistic -- some of them were occasionally used as required reading in training intelligence agents and there have always been rumors that she leaked classified information in her fiction. Thus she became known as the Queen of Spy Writers. It's interesting to look back at reviews and bestseller lists -- she's repeatedly mentioned in the same breath with Ian Fleming and John Le Carré (both of whom she often outsold) -- given that she's rarely remembered today.

In North from Rome, a playwright happens to save an Italian girl and ends up for his good deed having to navigate a world of Communism and drug dealing and international intrigue far more complicated than anything he has experienced before. It tends to get mixed reviews from fans, some really liking it and some thinking it weak; it perhaps suffers from falling between her two peak periods in the forties and sixties. We will see....


Schwitzgebel and Ellis have an interesting discussion of rationalization, in which they ask the question, "Would it be epistemically bad if moral and philosophical thinking were, to a substantial extent, highly biased post-hoc rationalization?" After giving three possible reasons for thinking that No is the correct answer, they give four reasons for thinking that Yes is the correct answer, claiming that the costs of rationalization outweigh the benefits. The four are:

(A) Rationalization leads to overconfidence.
(B) Rationalization impedes peer critique.
(C) Rationalization undermines self-critique.
(D) Rationalization disrupts the cooperative enterprise of dialogue.

None of these seem particularly strong. A major problem in general with taking rationalization to have a major effect on inquiry, individual or communal, is that we are almost never in a position to know whether an argument is a rationalization or not. Nothing about the argument works any differently; the only difference is the cause of its being put forward. It takes causal analysis, and, what is more, causal analysis of motives, to assess whether something is a rationalization. In most forms of inquiry, in most kinds of dialogue, in most kinds of peer interaction, we simply don't have enough information to know; the question of whether it's a rationalization or not will be invisible in those contexts. Why would one think that inquiry, dialogue, peer critique, are so fragile that subtle differences in motivations gum up the enterprise? And subtle they often are; we often have difficulty determining in our own case whether we are rationalizing or not. We still have to do the same kind of causal analysis on ourselves, and, while we have more information about ourselves than others, the experience of having difficulty sorting it is a common one.

It's unclear why they take rationalization to be a particularly significant cause of overconfidence, for instance. The argument is that "If one favors conclusion P and systematically pursues and evaluates evidence concerning P in a highly biased manner, it's likely (though not inevitable) that one will end up more confident in the truth of P than is epistemically warranted." But what's missing is a reason to think that rationalization is any more likely to be "highly biased" in this way than any other kind of reasoning, particularly given that we often have difficulty distinguishing rationalization from other kinds of reasoning. To be sure, the question is specifically about "highly biased post-hoc reasoning", but why would one be fretting about the post-hoc part if one already knew that it was highly biased? Why think rationalization is the problem when you are already postulating severe biases?

I've talked before about what I call convalidation of rationalization, in which what is originally a rationalization becomes, over time, our real reason for holding something. Rationalization is one source of real reasons. Schwitzgebel and Ellis seem not to countenance such a possibility, because (B), (C), and (D) seem to require that a rationalization is permanently a rationalization. Motives in reasoning, however, can change. What is more, they both seem to make significant assumptions. If one held a view that a major purpose of peer critique and dialogue is to understand possible reasons or to find public reasons or develop shared arguments (for instance), arguments and reasons that both groups can use regardless of how central they actually take them to be, would it really make any sense to say that rationalization impedes or disrupts this? Why assume that peer critique should always and everywhere examine the "real basis" for the argument? If I destroy someone's argument by showing that it is incoherent, and they just hunt around for a new argument, why does that even matter? I'll destroy that one, too, or, if I fail to do so, the discussion will at least have been upgraded to one in which we're not dealing with obviously incoherent arguments.

There are, of course, goals we might have in mind that would be interfered with by rationalization -- persuasion being the most obvious case. But there are good independent reasons going back to Plato for denying that rational dialogue and interaction should be primarily driven by persuasion. Other goals that would be messed with by rationalization seem all to be cooperative -- that is, we'd both already made a commitment that implicitly requires [rejecting] rationalization. They don't seem generalizable.

The strongest of the four reasons given is (C). But we're not always able to determine what our real reasons for believing are -- there are plenty of cases where the evidence will be ambiguous even to ourselves whether an argument is the real reason why we believe something. What do you do if you are not sure? It seems that you would just have to explore various arguments. Schwitzgebel and Ellis give sober assessment of evidence as a contrast to rationalization. But if you already believe something, how do you distinguish sober assessment of evidence that confirms your belief from rationalization? I see no reason to think we can do so consistently. The argument given seems to make the assumption that all rationalization is deliberate; but this is surely not so, and does not follow from their description of rationalization. Likewise, it seems to assume that we have extraordinary introspective clarity on these things; but in reality the only cases in which we can tell rationalization immediately is when we are deliberately lying.

It's also not clear how rationalization would itself impair self-critique. Surely one of the things self-critique is supposed to do, when it is possible, is uncover rationalization? The particular argument that Schwitzgebel and Ellis gives does not cover all self-critique, just an "important type"; but however important it is, there's no obvious reason why all reasoning, or even all philosophical reasoning and argument, needs to conform to this important type.

Rather amusingly, I'm always suspicious that arguments that rationalization is epistemically bad are really themselves rationalizations. The real reason most of us have a problem with rationalization is that there are lots of cases where it is morally bad -- I don't think it's true that most cases of rationalization are morally bad, but there are certainly some very morally bad situations that can arise through rationalization. And if it were true that "moral and philosophical thinking were, to a substantial extent, highly biased post-hoc rationalization" one would at least be reasonable to worry about the intellectual integrity and courage of people engaging in the moral and philosophical thinking, or to hope that there are things in place to compensate for the potential bad effects. But is it epistemically bad? Aren't we just trying to beef up our sense that rationalization is morally bad by finding ways it could be epistemically bad, too, in the way that people try to beef up their moral conclusions by saying that the bad thing is also unhealthy? There are likely some goals that are interfered with by some kinds of rationalization. But there are possible reasonable goals that can be interfered with by much more reputable kinds of reasoning than rationalization. And as I note above, it makes very little sense to suggest that our processes of inquiry, dialogue, and critique are so fragile that they can't handle or compensate for small, often undetectable, differences in motivations.

Maronite Year XVI

The Season of Epiphany that begins with this Feast is highly variable, because it has a fixed beginning but its end is ultimately determined by the variable feast of Easter. It may be as little as one week or as many as seven. Most of these currently celebrate a revelation of Christ, and as the season proceeds, the revelations expand outward: to John the Baptist, to the Apostles, to Nicodemus and the Judeans, to the Samaritan Woman and the Samaritans, to the Royal Official and all peoples. The weekdays of the weeks of Epiphany alternate an A liturgy and a B liturgy; the A liturgy focuses on the revelation to John the Baptist and the B liturgy focuses on the revelation to the Apostles. You'll notice, incidentally, that John the Baptist is very prominent in the Maronite liturgy.

Sometimes the three weeks of commemoration to follow are treated as being part of the Season of Epiphany, as well. Since Easter falls early in 2016, there is only one Sunday of Epiphany and the three commemoration Sundays before we begin to prepare for Easter.

First Sunday after Epiphany
2 Corinthians 10:1-11; John 1:29-34

John by the river saw Jesus
and proclaimed with true prophecy:
Behold the holy Lamb of God!
He takes away all of our sins;
I came that He might be revealed,
forgiveness radiant on the river.

O Son of the Almighty God!
You stooped to receive Your baptism.
The Father proclaimed You His Son.
The Holy Spirit like a dove
in power rested on Your head,
divinity radiant on the river.

With Your baptism You have clothed us,
the robe of glory you give to us,
the seal of the Holy Spirit,
the promise of holy rebirth
in water and in the Spirit
with Your light radiant on the river.

We do not fight with human strength;
we wield weapons of the Spirit.
The darkness has already lost;
with a glance from God light poured down
in magnificence and glory,
through His grace radiant on the river.

May divinity dwell in us
through the Spirit's descent on us;
may our minds receive Christ's great light.
Through Word and Spirit God made all;
Word and Spirit He gave to us
in splendor radiant on the river.