Saturday, July 09, 2016

Rome, Naples et Florence: September 1816, Part II

A bit behind on this! My second course of the summer just started and I had underestimated how much re-working I needed to do for it.

The previous outing

We are currently on page 8.

[Milan, 24 septembre]

We finally get to Italy! Transports de joie, battements de coeur.

At least for the first day, I think, we can give Stendhal some sympathy in his enthusiasm; he comes into Milan tired from a long journey, and the Teatro alla Scala is the first proof of the worthwhileness of it all. And it is true that it was one of the greatest opera houses of the day, and like every great opera house, it is a bit of royal glory.

La Sacra ammantata dalla neve

[25 septembre]

Unsurprisingly, he then makes sure to attend a performance at the «premier théâtre du monde», in particular a performance of La testa di bronzo. He is enthusiastic about it; in fact, he will not stop talking about it for most of his stay in Milan.

What I can find about this opera is interesting. La Scala had a contest in order to find new librettists, and in 1816, it chose Felice Romani, who was just starting out. (Felice Romani would become a very famous librettist.) For the music, it chose Carlo Soliva, also a novice, who was about twenty-five. Soliva was known for writing his operas in the style of Mozart, which will be why Stendhal will keep comparing him to Mozart. La testa di bronzo was wildly popular, with 47 performances in 1816-1817. And Soliva would never top that. Mozart not long afterward fell out of fashion and Soliva would go on to have a respectable career as a composer of chamber music and choral pieces. There is a video with excerpts from La testa di bronzo (and an analysis of the libretto), at YouTube, so you can get a sense of what Stendhal is geeking out over.

The reviewer at the Edinburgh Review finds Stendhal's ecstasies at Milan a bit excessive:

...when he gets to Milan, and sees the Scala, he is beside himself.... This is the first impression; but the second is still more violent; and he concludes a page and a half of rapture by saying that he is 'intoxicated and transported while he writes.' Night after night he goes to the same place, and his transports suffer no sensible abatement; for he goes on raving about the actors, actresses, decorations, and orchestra, the whole time of his stay at Milan.

[26 septembre]

In the brief mention of Desio (added for later editions), Stendhal is probably thinking in particular of the Villa Tittoni Traveris.

La Sacra ammantata dalla neve

We get more of La Scala, and why it is the «premier théâtre du monde». The end of the entry, I think, involves a nice turn of phrase: «Le degré de ravissement où notre âme est portée est l'unique thermométre de la beauté, en musique». That's a very Romantic view, of course, the notion that the only measure of beauty is transport of the soul. And it raises interesting questions about the relative importance of the Romantic thermometer (emotional intensity) and the Classical measuring-stick (rational order). In any case, unless Stendhal is a faulty thermometer, everything about La Scala is very, very beautiful.

[27 septembre]

Stendhal goes through the story of La testa di bronzo, enthusiastically. It is perhaps notable that all of this is toned-down from what Stendhal originally published.

Is it a work of genius? Stendhal asks.

[28 septembre]

It is a work of genius, he insists. I don't know why it took him a day to answer the question, but presumably he put some thought into it.

«Cela plus beau comme les plus vives symphonies de Haydn», he says; one of the comparisons that the reviewer in the Edinburgh Review refers to in discussing how over-the-top Stendhal's raptures are. As noted above, we can give Stendhal the comparisons to Mozart; Soliva was a famously Mozart-ish composer. But his comparison to Haydn does seem to rest on a rather slender thread.

We are done with September, but not with Milan or La Scala. Or La testa di bronzo. Or Carlo Soliva. But fortunately, Stendhal will discover other things to talk about in Milan in October. I'll pick up on page 13 in two weeks.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Dashed Off XIV

The modern age gets much of its texture from the tendency of people to think pleasure must be pursued unless it is obligatory not to do so. This is why it can seem libertine one moment and intrusively intolerant the next.

It seems plausible that some potential parts of a virtue would have greater affinity to some quasi-integral parts than others. Think about this & whether it would, or could, establish a principle of extrapolation in the classification of virtues.

Note that while John and Mark mostly record different events, the overall narrative chronology of each is very similar (the two major exceptions being the cleansing of the temple and the anointing with oil, with John clearly making a thematic point) -- i.e., the fit of various ministries and missions is quite close.

Wealth seems to lead people to overestimate their quality of life.

evolutionary trees as etiologies of types

Every age overassimilates thought itself to its preferred intellectual genres and formats of intellectual communication.

temperance as the virtue suitable to trying things out

exploitation of workers by government agencies

usurious taxation: taxing without regard to specific service, risk, or expense

Assessing scientific progress requires considering many distinct lines of progress.

true induction as a discovery of the potential through the actual

Whenever someone speaks of free will, substitute (what is really the same) 'love with understanding'. Strange views will sometimes emerge.

intemperance as the overflow of craving

health as a means to effective virtue

statistical pareidolia

Most of statistics is classificatory.

the intrinsic ecclesial responsibility for preserving and reconstructing records

Baptism : baptism :: Transfiguration : confirmation :: Ascension : ordination

The priest is to (1) prepare the faithful to take their place with Christ; (2) intercede for them; (3) administer sacraments by which they may receive grace. Each of these reflects a work of Christ Ascended.

The efficiency of resource allocation is always relative to a goal.

Institutions are structured by expectations.

The veil of ignorance gets us only to the least unhelpful system that operates on the assumption that human beings are interchangeable.

Prediction, and what can be predicted, is always relative to means of measurement.

philosophical systems as interactions of design solutions

Beauty opens out to sublimity.

'Aristotelian propositions' as switches

Medical decisions must not only focus on health as their primary end but must do so realistically, recognizing that health can be subordinate to other ends.

One who is noble does before saying; in doing, says.

Moral luck is weightable luck.

classification as a way of solving multiple problems simultaneously

Descartes's argument can be seen as an argument that the capacity for doubt requires the existence of God (or, what amounts to the same, that the free will required for inquiry into truth requires the existence of God).

Consequentialism is intrinsically biased in favor of those who have the physical and social means of manipulating consequences.

Note that Rashi reads the woman in Pr 31 as Torah: woman of valor = Torah; husband = Holy One; wool & flax = Mishnah & Midrash; food = teaching; dressed in crimson = circumcision or commandments; children = students of Torah.

Rashi glosses the key of the House of David (Is 22:22) as 'The key of the Temple and the government of the House of David'.

Social movements, carried on long enough, always have elements that metastasize.

the twofold primacy of the sacraments and the Life of Christ for liturgy and liturgical law -- note that if the latter is understood broadly to include sacramental anticipation of Christ in OT and Christ as Head of Mystical Body and His anticipated coming again in glory, then the primacy of the Whole Life of Christ

obedience as self-sacrifice (Montessori)

goods capable of encompassing other goods

(1) care for divine things (seek ye first...)
(2) rendering to others what is due to them in the economy of salvation (be perfect as...)
(3) endurance as witness of divine things (take up your cross...)
(4) love of the beauty of divine life (Rejoice...)

It is curious that Whewell's Moral Ideas amount to Justice in the broad sense (Benevolence, Justice, Truth, Order) and Temperance (Purity), particularly given the fact that he criticizes the traditional list for not being complete. What is more his two preferred supplementary principles, for Zeal/Earnestness and Moral Purpose seem to be associated with Prudence.

Hope as the means to victory over pain
victory over ignorance, victory over pain, victory over evil

Revelation 5 as establishing the principles of Christian liturgy

Every gift is a sign of the giver who is principle for it.

Almsdeeds of the Church are signs of salvation.

well-being as participation in a network of positive fulfillment of the needs of human life (successful participation in the active work of being human) -- note convergence of the Aristotelian and the Confucian here

virtues as the principles of the operative networks of human life

Exodus 34:6-7 as the essential nerve of the Old Testament -- it is explicitly referred to in Nm 14:18; 2 Chr 30:9; Neh 9:17; Ps 86:15; Ps 103:8; Ps 111:4; Ps 145:6; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; poss Mic 7:18

Focus on replication emphasizes effect production and minimizes all things not relevant to effect, including normal features and natural invariances. Thus replication is important for establishing that an effect exists and what the effect is -- but it puts us in a weak position for explaining it properly.

(1) All things are known representationally; therefore idealism or something like it; therefore skepticism allowing idealism or immaterialism.
(2) All material things are known representationally; mind is not known representationally; therefore immaterialism

The Holy Spirit is the author of Church teaching, the witness to Church teaching, and the expositor of Church teaching. By the first we know that Scripture is authoritative; by the second we know what Scripture is; and by the third we know that Scripture may be correctly understood, and what errors to avoid in understanding it.

to be ordered, rational, and restrained

Respect for women derives from respect for motherhood and for virginity, as the schools of this respect. Where neither mother nor maiden is respected, women in general tend not to be repsected -- these are not the whole, but they are the minimal crystals from which the rest grows.

Innocence alone protects only against obvious evils.

Everyone including saints resist God; in this life we all drag when it comes to divine vocation. But we may lessen our resistance.

Human beings construct meaningful relations discursively: being socially rational animals, it is inconsistent with our nature to have meaningful relationships that are instantaneous rather than reasoned out.

Human meaningful relationships are mediated (1) by signs and (2) by institutions and social structures.

For every atheistic argument that is not a priori, ask what kind of history it requires.

Scientific inquiry continually faces new problems of how to go beyond mere trial and error -- as possibilities increase, one needs more.

Proper liturgy is a sacred action of union with God.

The devil's preferred method is to attack the weakness in our strength -- not our bare weakness, nor, head on, our full strength, but that in our strength that can run out of control.

Inquiry is itself a good.

authority as a union of wisdom, power, and goodness (note that in practice any of these three can be indirect and/or derivative -- e.g., the authority of the politician may not be from his own wisdom, power, goodness, but those of the makers of the constitution, or the people, or whatever happens to be relevant)

interpretation, translation, and arbitration networks in teh Chruch

If Epicurean atoms work like dust motes or water droplets, you would in fact expect them to swerve. And it seems likely (cp Lucretius) that this is indeed the root of the idea.

beauty in each part, sublimity in the whole

Safety, like efficiency, is relative to ends.

rule of law, triage, regulated civil service, comity of authorities, solidary practices, honest market, hortatory forum, protections of human dignity, humanitarian traditions, due process

the Church as a seedbed and greenhouse for the formation and cultivation of humanitarian traditions

5 soil-forming factors; climate, parent material, topography (relief) organisms
edaphological concept of soil: medium for plant growth
principles of soil fertility: drainage, tillage, organic matter, lime, fertilizer
relief : statics :: climate : dynamics
perhaps - :: climate : thermodynamics
Time seems to be a soil-forming factor only in the sense that some things deteriorate or transform by inherent factors, or do so by external factors not in the main traceable (as in erosion through occasional wind or deposition through microtremors). These kinds of factors are mostly characterized statistically or by long-term probabilities for the aggregate; thus rates; thus time as the primary hold on this slow but ever-changing bubbling activity of the soil in its immediate environment.

the teleology of a problem within a system of problems

vice filiation as indicating (or paralleling?) high-probability failure cascades in the transformation of ethical positions
- it's certainly the case that the doctrine of the mean indicates areas of potential confusion allowing such shifts.

Paul clearly attributes miracle-working to himself (2 Cor 12:12, Rm 15:18, Gal 3:5) and to others (1 Cor 12:28). Christ identifies miracles as signs of his divine mission (Mk 2:10, 11:2-7; Jn 10:38).

Mk 6:13 establishes oil as a sign of instrumental work in the Holy Spirit

H.E.G. Paulus's account of the life of Jesus makes it even more fantastically astounding than the traditional account. This tends to be true of mistaken-natural-event interpretations of miracles -- they trade small, relatively modest miracles for a truly massive preternatural miracle constituting the life of Christ itself.
Mythological interpretations have an analogous problem, except with preternatural moral miracle rather than a mix of preternatural physical and moral, but it is less obvious because (1) the miracle would be purely moral rather htan an integration, and moral real allows more flexibility; (2) moral miracle is less obvious and apparent simply by its nature and conditions.

quantity & parts outside of parts ('outside' is situal -- relation with respect to whole and other parts -- rathe rthan local)

relatedness (referentiality)
(1) subject in which the reference is present
(2) term to which the reference is directed
(3) foundation by which the reference is constituted truth as the stabilizing and supporting skeletal structure of happiness

Practical philosophy only reaches its natural destination when it contemplates the fullness of civilization.

Overflow (redundantia) reflects purity, and transfigures it.

Jewish purity laws as focused on table, household, and sanctuary

The human mind delights in generic forms combined with distinguishing surprises.

-- jurisdictional overlap and 'overlap in one respect or way but not in another'

To talk only of scientific method overlooks the civilizational factors required to make it viable.

Gnome Ann

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Re-Post: Sterne and Fun with Argument Classification

[This is a re-post, with some revision and expansion, of a post from May 2010.]

My uncle Toby would never offer to answer this by any other kind of argument than that of whistling half a dozen bars of Lillibullero.—You must know it was the usual channel through which his passions got vent, when anything shocked or surprised him;—but especially when anything which he deemed very absurd was offered.

As not one of our logical writers, nor any of the commentators upon them, that I remember, have thought proper to give a name to this particular species of argument, I here take the liberty to do it myself, for two reasons: first, That, in order to prevent all confusion in disputes, it may stand as much distinguished for ever, from every other species of argument—as the Argumentum ad Vericundiam, ex Absurdo, ex Fortiori, or any other argument whatsoever:—and, secondly, that it may be said, by my children's children, when my head is laid to rest,— that their learned grandfather's head had been busied to as much purpose once as other people's;—that he had invented a name,—and generously thrown it into the TREASURY of the Ars Logica, for one of the most unanswerable arguments in the whole science. And, if the end of disputation is more to silence than convince,—they may add, if they please, one of the best arguments too.

I do, therefore, by these presents, strictly order and command, That it be known and distinguished by the name and title of the Argumentum Fistulatorium, and no other;—and that it rank hereafter with the Argumentum Baculinum and the Argumentum ad Crumenam, and for ever hereafter be treated of in the same chapter.

As for the Argumentum Tripodium, which is never used but by the woman against the man;—and the Argumentum ad Rem, which contrariwise, is made use of by the man only against the woman,—as these two are enough in conscience for one lecture —and, moreover, as the one is the best answer to the other—let them likewise be kept apart, and be treated of in a place by themselves.
[Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, i. xxi.]

Argumentum fistulatorium means, roughly, 'argument by piping'.

Ad verecundiam, ex absurdo, and ex Fortiori are, respectively, argument from authority, from the absurdity of the position, and from the truth of a stronger conclusion. They are legitimate, and would have been fairly standard argument classifications.

All the rest are jokes, but argumentum baculinum was already a very old joke by Sterne's time; it occurs when you resolve an argument by beating your opponent with a club or a stick. Sterne might have Henry Fielding's joke essay on argumentum baculinum in mind here, and another possible background source is Spectator 239 -- although, again, it is an old joke. Remarkably, later lists of fallacies (which are descendants of the argument-classifications Sterne is mocking) by humorless authors will often seriously list argumentum ad baculum as an actual fallacy, namely, one in which you try to end a conversation by threatening someone.*

Argumentum ad Crumenam would be appeal to the purse; it is also a joke argument-form that was later taken to be a serious one, and is later toaken to involve claiming that your view is better because you are richer. [In fact, Sterne's use of the phrase is to mean arguing by betting that something is true.] Fielding's essay makes a similar joke, but calls it argumentum pecuniarum; the Spectator does as well, without labeling it. I don't know of any source earlier than Sterne who uses this phrase, so it's possible that Sterne invented it on the spot.

Argumentum Tripodium and Argumentum ad Rem are bawdy jokes, involving references to genitalia. The second one is rather clever; literally it means something like, 'argument to the point or purpose', i.e., a relevant argument, and so he manages simultaneously to be bawdy and make the age-old and otherwise tired joke about how only men stick to the point.

* Sterne, however, is not listing fallacies; it was Whately in the nineteenth century who adapted earlier lists of argument-forms to discussion of fallacies. In Sterne's day ad verecundiam et al. are simply treated as kinds of arguments, with no implication that they are bad arguments. (Whately recognized this; later textbook authors following him did not.) If we look at the Logic of Isaac Watts, which is probably the best 18th-century logic textbook written in English, he takes argumentum ad verecundiam to be a logical common-place or topos -- i.e., one of the ways you would come up with the middle terms to build an argument is by drawing them from the sentiments of "some wise, good, or great man". The whole point of Sterne's joke is that there is no suggestion of fallacy at all.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Three Poem Re-Drafts

Sooner or Later

Sooner or later we meet face to face
with the hard, bitter truth of life's urgent chase:
There is never a winner. We will all lose this race,
no matter our talent, no matter our pace.

"Sooner or later: yes, but how long?
This race may not go to the swift or the strong,
but we think some may win." There we are wrong.
The bells in the tower toll loss in their song.

"But maybe the race is not meant to be won!"
Time is the swiftest; no feet can outrun
the pace of its step. "But look at the sun
and tell me it's pointless, even when done.

"Maybe the race is supposed to be lost!
Where is the worth in the work without cost?"
And if by the storm we are endlessly tossed,
our hearts will grow cold with an undying frost.

But maybe the point is to learn how to lose,
how to let go the past, every wound, every bruise,
how to capture true joy, or (better yet) choose
a life with more colors than victory's hues.


Where am I, but here?
Fresh, cool wind pours on my face;
Frost-bright moon shines in my eyes.
Swift fish play, splash, in the lake.
High stars sing hymns in the skies.
Where are you, but here?

Where are you, but here?
Breeze-blown leaves shush in the trees,
Small birds trill flutes in the dark.
Sweet blooms raise scent for the bees.
Shy deer eat shoots in the park.
Where am I, but here?

The Thieves of Night

The thieves of night have stolen sleep.
I abetted them.
The moon is high, my heart is hot,
the world is evendim;
I wonder if you walk somewhere
beneath the sickle slim
of moon that hunts the wayward stars.
Unslept, I wonder where you are.

With ink of night I write a verse.
I understand it not --
my heart unknowing lyrics writes
with subtle pen of thought,
but at the end oblivion
will come and take the lot;
my thoughts are stolen with my sleep --
I seek in vain the paths you keep.

The night itself is stolen, too;
I aided con and heist:
the bait is laid, the trap is set,
the prey thereby enticed.
The spring is sprung, the teeth close down
with ruthlessness of vise:
the dawn! And yet my thoughts still stray
to wonder if you'll chance my way.

Art Crime

This article arguing that all stolen art is on a level seems to make the error of assuming that the only consideration is whether a crime was originally committed, and not also (for example) the moral obligations of current possessors, the length of possession, the conditions of its being seized, the general curatorial responsibility for maintaining art, and the like, and also not to make an adequately sharp distinction between what is obligatory and what is merely good. On small scales and for individual pieces these don't always make much of a difference, but on large scales the moral interactions are rather more complicated. (Although it does seem a very good idea for museums to explain how each item in their collection came into their possession.)

Consider just one kind of complication. The bulk of the major churches of northern Europe, all of which are themselves highly expensive works of art, and the subsidiary art belonging to them, as well as monasteries, were seized from the Catholic Church by Protestant governments. Is this a theft or is it a legal shifting of jurisdiction (albeit under a legal regime that would certainly be regarded as absurd today)? If the latter, how does it differ from the appropriation of the Elgin marbles by the Ottoman Empire -- which had unquestioned legal control at the time? And whose shared heritage matters? Salisbury Cathedral and its clock are part of the shared heritage both of all the English people (most of whom are no longer Catholic) and of all Catholics throughout the world. I raise these points not because I think it's reasonable to demand that the Church of England give back all the seized churches -- this would be an unreasonable and pointless demand requiring the modern C of E, consisting entirely of people who did not actually cause the problem, to do something massively difficult from which they would not benefit at all -- but because whose heritage, whose tradition, whose jurisdiction, whose culture is in play is not a straightforward question.

But the single most important take-away is that it is possible to grow up to be a Professor of Art Crime, which admittedly makes for a more striking CV in every way. (A small field, though.)

Classification and the (Non)Primality of 1

Chances are, when you were told in your elementary school days what prime numbers are, you were told (as I was) that the number 1 is prime. The usual definition given is that a prime number has no positive divisors other than 1 and itself, and this is certainly true of 1. But in fact this has never been universally accepted among mathematicians, and seems only to have been widely accepted (as far as I can tell) for a brief period from the late nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century.

The ancient Greeks did not regard 1 as a prime number; they didn't regard 1 as a number, so they would have regarded the idea of 1 being a prime number as absurd. (1, they thought, was the source or principle of number -- it is not a number because it is what you use to make numbers out of. If 1 is not a number, then you can explain how you get numbers; otherwise, it's a bit of a mystery.) On the authority of the Greek mathematicians (and above all Euclid himself), pretty much nobody in the ancient or medieval West would have even thought of the primality of 1 -- someone proposing it would have sounded like they were making up new definitions for no good reason at all.

It's only about the sixteenth or seventeenth century that significant mathematicians occasionally start treating 1 as a prime number, and this slowly increases over time. The reason is primarily due to the idea that all positive numbers should be either prime or composite. (Those who are interested can look over some of the basic evidence in Caldwell, Reddick, and Xiong, "The History of the Primality of One: A Selection of Sources", which is available free online; there is commentary by Caldwell and Xiong in another paper, also freely available.)

The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic, however, has been the determining issue. The basic idea of the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic is that all whole numbers greater than 1 have a unique prime factorization -- for instance, the unique prime factorization for 25 is 5x5, that of 12 is 3x2x2, and so forth. This idea, extremely important since Gauss, has played an increasingly large role in the mathematician's conception of what whole numbers are. If we take 1 to be a prime number, though, there are no unique prime factorizations. You can still get the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic, without that much difficulty, just by adding additional 'except for 1'. But if you do that, then you have to add the exception every single time you use it -- and the importance of the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic is such that this might be a lot. So the very practice of mathematics has pushed against the idea that 1 is prime; taking it to be prime is extra work that doesn't get you anything important, but only makes it harder to reason smoothly and communicate simply -- only a little bit, to be sure, but it's a little bit that can add up very quickly. The rough and basic is described in the following Numberphile video:

What interests me about all of this is that it's a straightforward case of classification in mathematics. There's a lot of classificatory work in mathematics, but it tends to get overlooked when we are talking about how classification in general works. The question of whether 1 should be classified as prime, however, strikes me as a good example of what Whewell has in mind in discussing the primary elements of classification.

Whewell takes the basic regulative principle of all classification to be that it enables the assertion of true and general propositions, or, as he also puts it, general propositions (of science) should be possible. This is the end or goal of classification, and it is according to Whewell the measure of progress in classificatory sciences. Whewell is usually thinking of botany, zoology, and his own field of mineralogy, but it is a perfectly general point, and recognized as such by Whewell himself. In Aphorism VIII Concerning the Language of Science, Whewell gives an entirely general version of it: "Terms must be constructed and appropriated so as to be fitted to enunciate simply and clearly true general propositions". He calls this "the fundamental principle and supreme rule of all scientific terminology", and he goes on to say that it "applies equally to the mathematical, chemical, and classificatory sciences." Classification is the foundation of terminology, and both classification and terminology subserve the ends of rational inquiry.

Interestingly, Whewell recognizes that this general principle could lead to situations in which different contexts might require us to go in different directions. His example is that of whether whales should be counted as fish, and his answer is that it just depends in context on which happens to be more useful to expressing true general propositions, and it could be that in biology we should say No, while in law, however rational or rigorous, we should say Yes, because the relations that matter for true general propositions in law are not necessarily those that matter for true general propositions in biology.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Rule of Law, We Hardly Knew Ye

Multigrade Loves

C. S. I. Jenkins has an interesting paper at Ergo called "Modal Monogamy" which concerns the position that the only possible romantic love relationships are dyadic and exclusive (that's the 'modal monogamy', which is a horrible name for it). Jenkins argues (correctly) that such a view is both poorly motivated and inconsistent with actual facts about human behavior. One could add, I think, that it involves a conception of how love works that is dubious at best -- this idea that love is like a pipe between people, hermetically sealed off and easily discernible from all the other pipes. In reality, love by its nature diffuses and reflects onto other loves, and is refracted into different kinds of love. We see this quite clearly with other kinds of love than romantic love. Love of mother and father is not perfectly separable from the love they have for their children, for instance. Even if we stay at the level of purely romantic relationships, this self-diffusion of love is one of the very things that requires regimentation of relationships by custom and mutual understanding in the first place -- to keep it from diffusing badly.

In the course of the discussion, Jenkins suggests, although no more than suggests, that it is reasonable, given all of this, to conclude that (romantic) love is a multigrade relation. A relation is unigrade if it always has the same number of relata ('adicity' is the technical name for this number). Thus 'x is after y' is a binary relation; afterness will be a unigrade relation if every case of afterness is a binary relation. In topology, betweenness is a ternary relation ('x is between y and z'); it is unigrade because this always has to be the case. A relation is multigrade if it can relate a different number of relata in different circumstances. So if romantic love is multigrade, and R is the relation of mutual romantic loving (I add the 'mutual' because it simplifies things somewhat for exposition), we could have one case of L(x,y), 'x and y are related by loving (each other)', and another case in which the relation is L(x,y,z), 'x, y, and z are related by loving (each other)', where this is not taken just be shorthand for L(x,y) & L(y,z) & L(x,z).

I think Jenkins's suggestion is, in fact, correct of the actual relation of romantic love, and true of love in general, in fact. A parent loves his or her child; suppose he or she has another child; it makes no sense to count 'loves of children', and say that he or she has added a new and distinct love of child to a previous love of child. A friend loves a friend; suppose a new friend of them both joins them, now a Three Musketeers; this is not in any way adequately analyzable into each person having two loves-of-a-friend. Romantic love is not any different, whether the result happens to be tragedy, farce, or something else. (Jenkins pretty clearly has active polyamory in mind, as in n. 16, but there are obviously many other ways one can end up in such situations, including many in which one did not intend or want to end up in such a situation.)

There are a number of relations that seem to be very difficult to analyze in a purely unigrade way. For instance, very general relations, because they are very general: Let R be the relation of being related; then you can have R(x,y), R(x,y,z), R(w,x,y,z), and so on for any number of things -- and it has to be the same relation that can have all of these adicities. Interpersonal relations often also seem to be resistant to analysis entirely in terms of unigrade relations; because human beings are capable of structuring their relationships with each other in highly complicated ways.

There are arguments that all relations should be either unigrade or at least reducible to unigrade relations, but I've yet to come across a good one. The main one I know of, for instance, which is based on work by David Armstrong, manages both to confuse self-identity with identity across situations and to beg the question by treating adicity as intrinsic to all relations. Perhaps somewhere there's one worth taking seriously, but I've yet to find it. And the prima facie evidence against the idea is quite strong.

Monday, July 04, 2016

A Free Land or the Traitor's Block

One of the Signers
by John Greenleaf Whittier

O storied vale of Merrimac
Rejoice through all thy shade and shine,
And from his century's sleep call back
A brave and honored son of thine.

Unveil his effigy between
The living and the dead to-day;
The fathers of the Old Thirteen
Shall witness bear as spirits may.

Unseen, unheard, his gray compeers
The shades of Lee and Jefferson,
Wise Franklin reverend with his years
And Carroll, lord of Carrollton!

Be thine henceforth a pride of place
Beyond thy namesake's over-sea,
Where scarce a stone is left to trace
The Holy House of Amesbury.

A prouder memory lingers round
The birthplace of thy true man here
Than that which haunts the refuge found
By Arthur's mythic Guinevere.

The plain deal table where he sat
And signed a nation's title-deed
Is dearer now to fame than that
Which bore the scroll of Runnymede.

Long as, on Freedom's natal morn,
Shall ring the Independence bells,
Give to thy dwellers yet unborn
The lesson which his image tells.

For in that hour of Destiny,
Which tried the men of bravest stock,
He knew the end alone must be
A free land or a traitor's block.

Among those picked and chosen men
Than his, who here first drew his breath,
No firmer fingers held the pen
Which wrote for liberty or death.

Not for their hearths and homes alone,
But for the world their work was done;
On all the winds their thought has flown
Through all the circuit of the sun.

We trace its flight by broken chains,
By songs of grateful Labor still;
To-day, in all her holy fanes,
It rings the bells of freed Brazil.

O hills that watched his boyhood's home,
O earth and air that nursed him, give,
In this memorial semblance, room
To him who shall its bronze outlive!

And thou, O Land he loved, rejoice
That in the countless years to come,
Whenever Freedom needs a voice,
These sculptured lips shall not be dumb!

The signer in question is Josiah Bartlett, of New Hampshire; Bartlett was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts. In publication, Whittier provided a note of explanation:

Written for the unveiling of the statue of Josiah Bartlett at Amesbury, Mass., July 4, 1888. Governor Bartlett, who was a native of the town, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Amesbury or Ambresbury, so called from the “anointed stones” of the great Druidical temple near it, was the seat of one of the earliest religious houses in Britain. The tradition that the guilty wife of King Arthur fled thither for protection forms one of the finest passages in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.

Radio Greats: The Fourth of July (Yankee Yarns)

Alton H. Blackington was a photojournalist who loved New England and who was also a passionate pursuer of human interest stories. He liked the weird, the silly, the heartwarming stories people told about their heritage. (Old-fashioned parts of New England have an almost unlimited number of such anecdotes, full of ghosts and clever tricksters and silly greenhorns and extravagant exaggerations drolly passed off as undeniable fact.) And he had a knack for re-telling them. Yankee Yarns, running from 1943 to 1951, was the distillation of all these traits.

"The Fourth of July", from 1951, tells a tale of some boys from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, who decide, after the town passes a law prohibiting noise on the night of Fourth of July, that they will make a big to-do anyway. They end up causing a bit more bedlam than even they were expecting to cause....

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Fortnightly Book, July 3

This Fortnightly Book might possibly end up a three-week 'fortnight', but we will see; it's a long work, but at the same time it's not written to be read with deep study.

It is Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. As is well known, the work is an experimental novel on a massive scale, playing with every feature of what it is to be a novel. It has no beginning, middle, or end; Tristram keeps changing his mind about where the beginning of the tale should be, it does not consistently maintain any thematic, chronological, or even narrative order, and the digressions multiply faster than the narrative can make progress. It incorporates nonverbal elements as part of the narrative, taking advantage of features of books as physical objects: the black page, the blank page, the marbled page, the squiggly line, the diagram, diversity of fonts, organization of text on the page. It misplaces and loses chapters. It is crude and erudite simultaneously. It plagiarizes in such a way that the plagiarized passages take on new meaning in their context.

Laurence Sterne was an Irishman who became an Anglican priest and spent much of his life in North Yorkshire. He had a fairly undistinguished career, but then, in the midst of a big dispute in ecclesial politics, he wrote a satire of the parties involved and published it, called A Political Romance. People found it hilarious. It also pretty much ended any chance of advancement in the Church and was suppressed, with most of the copies destroyed. But it was, again, hilarious. So at the age of 46, Sterne started devoting himself to writing. In fact, he essentially wrote the first volume of Tristram in three months, in early 1759; the first two volumes were published later the same year, the third and fourth volumes in 1761, the fifth and sixth volumees in 1762, the seventh and eighth volumes in 1765, and the ninth volume in 1767. The book was sometimes panned by critics, but it was highly popular -- the books were just the right size to slip into one of the big coat pockets of the time, so people could read them whenever they had a dull moment.

The height of his career was perhaps his journey to France, in which he discovered to his pleasant surprise that he was a celebrity there. He was invited to give the sermon for the opening of the English embassy in France, and he gave it to a packed house with people like d'Holbach, Diderot, and David Hume (who was also visiting France on celebrity tour at that time). Sterne joked that he would convert France from deism to Shandeism; but the sermon itself, on how even our noble motives are often intermingled with baser ones and the need to interpret the motives of others charitably, is a serious one. (And I suspect an indirect attack on deistic and atheistic attempts to cast aspersions on Christian motives. Sterne was not a sterling curate, more inclined to ribald jest or outright woman-chasing than pious meditation, more inclined to dwell on frivolity than on saintliness, but he was a sincere one.)

The tune "Lillibullero" plays a significant role in the work, so here it is to start it all off:

Lero Lero Lillibullero
Lillibullero bullen a la
Lero Lero Lero Lero
Lillibullero bullen a la

"Lillibullero" became popular as an anti-Catholic satire mocking the Jacobites of Ireland by parodying their own words and songs, using an Irish tune -- and it would, of course, have been sung with a mock Irish accent. (Wikipedia has the lyrics.) It became enormously popular. And it is perhaps a good fit for the novel, this Irish tune loved by the English because it was turned into a parody of the Irish by personating an Irish caricature and using fake Irish words.

Maronite Year LVIII

Eighth Sunday of Pentecost
Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 12:14-21

The source of life has set us free
from the source of sin and death.
No judgment looms for those in Christ,
who throw away fleshly ways
and seek that which alone can save.
For to undo our failing
the Father sent His Son to die.
Natural wisdom brings death;
life requires the Spirit's thoughts.

Who does not receive Christ's Spirit
thus cannot belong to Christ;
if we have the Spirit, we live.
O Lord, you raised up Your Son
through the power of Your Spirit;
if Your Spirit dwells in us,
we know You will also raise us.
And You will draw us to You,
clothing us in robes of glory.

O Word of God, beyond all praise,
mind and tongue fail before You
on Your day of resurrection!
You have enlightened nations
with the hope of Your salvation.
You saved us from death itself.
A royal priesthood You make us.
Though we were foolish sinners,
You clothe us in robes of glory.