Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dashed Off XVII

This ends the notebook that was finished May 2, 2016.

Note the occasional Byzantine tendency to see the sacraments as genera (e.g., Chrismation as covering both chrismation proper and dedication of a church; communion as covering communion proper and consecration of chrism; hagion schema as including orders and consecrated virginity; baptism as including baptism and holy water rites; penance as including penance and unction). There seems to be no standard classification, which is additional reason not to take it strictly literally; but it conveys something genuine and important.

rites and subjective parts of sacraments

chrismation as giving a vesture of incorruption and a seal of perfection
as confirmation against impure and evil spirits

Ps 31 and the sacraments of the initiation

catechesis: confirmation :: spiritual direction : confession

1 John and chrismation

Baptism tends toward Beatific Vision.

The resurrection of the children of God is not a mere physical renovation but a mode of union with God.

Baptism - Beatific Vision
Confirmation - Theosis
Eucharist - Membership in Christ
Matrimony - Marriage of the Lamb
Orders - New Jerusalem
Reconciliation - ?
Unction - Resurrection

The Church is a Temple made of temples.

monastic consecration as an intensification of baptismal responsibility

Unction anticipates our roles as prophets, priests, and kings in the world to come.

Arguments are linked to truth by way of accounts of universe of discourse.

"All Truth is Antient, as being from Eternity in the Divine Ideas" (Astell)

Whether something is well defined is always relative to an end of inquiry.

the role of philosophical system rediscovery in new discovery

the role of patience in inquiry (e.g., in archeology or geology)


Everyone in the Church is benefited by anyone receiving communion, assuming they do so worthily; it is not a matter of receiving benefits only from one's own communion.

Charity transfigures reciprocity, makes it more proactive, turns it into something suitable for the sons of God, and makes it reflect the Trinity itself.

Law tends by nature to unification.

thought-trials decomposing conjectures into subconjectures

The testing of teaching against Scripture is something that must be done together. (II Constantinople)

degenerating problem-shift in the history of philosophical problems

global & not local: problem for conclusion, not premises
local & not global: problem for premise, not conclusion
global & local: problem for premise and conclusion both

weeping and gnashing of teeth & the end of hypocrisy (Mt 24:51)

While people take opposing views in discussion, it is commentary that solidifies people into schools.

indulgences & the exponentiation of merit

Indulgences work on the principle of the unity of the Church (thus the Pope's relevance to them).

Ontological arguments for God's existence can be transformed into ontological arguments for an actual world by a slight shift.

The probability that lottery ticket T will win the lottery is not the same as the probability that Jane, who has T, will win the lottery, because the latter introduces additional causal structure. Consider (1) Jane gives T away just before the drawing; (2) Jane gives T away right after the drawing without knowing T won; (3) Jane loses T before she can claim the prize; (4) Jane is disqualified for independent reasons; (5) Jane dies before the drawing's end; (6) Jane decides to treat T as belonging to someone else before T has won; (7) jane forgets about T and never learns it has won.

sedevacantism as cafeteria Traditionalism

the wariness that naturally grows from honesty

the irascible as yang, the concupiscible as yin

Victory, like pleasure, can easily pall when light or very common.

memory storage requirements for civilization -- A large population is better able to preserve skills because (1) division of memory labor -- there is only so much one person can learn and recall; (2) increased chance of redundancy, thus reducing skill loss through death; (3) availability of those who can learn this or that skill in particular, thus reducing skill loss through nonteaching.
- This does not, of course, consider externalization of memory storage (libraries, etc.). This can be significant, but mostly by intensifying (2); it can't compensate much for limits in (1) or (3).
- the 'primitive' life in fact is just the small, scattered population life, in which survival skills have to be prioritized over other skills in a limited, high-competition memory state. Thus the 'primitive' life is often found among nomads, tiny villages in isolation, etc.; the opposite arises by linking population in stable and systematic ways.

Since the formal structure of utilitarianism has little to do with ethics (one could talk about greatest torture of the greatest number, the most sales most widely distributed, etc.), the quality of utilitarianism depends entirely on the correctness of its account of the good.

the intrinsically utilitarian structure of most universalisms (utilitarianism // universalism in itself, but in many cases the general arguments for the latter are just nonhedonistic nonpreferentialistic versions of arguments for the former; the universalist tends to argue that moral providence must be governed on the principle of the greatest happiness for the greatest number, with the happiness including heaven and the resources of omnipotent omniscience; this is a theological utilitarianism

expected foiling of expectation as part of the joy of story

All sacrifice is human sacrifice, although some is by symbol or by proxy, by metonymy or by metaphor.

Kant's moral arguments for theism require God to be extrinsic to happiness, etc. The real tendency he is misdescribing is to the Beatific Vision and the union with God it involves.

Plausibility as broadly causal (fitting things into a causal context).

We identify contiguities by causal inference (movement into and from, etc.).

We believe men because what they say tends to be true, or to be at least close enough for practical purposes, under most conditions; we believe God because He is Truth.

"without hell there is no consequence to concupiscence that is proportionate to concupiscence itself" (Chastek)

(1) prophet, priest, and king
guarantee of the kingdom of God
(2) whole armor of God
to tread on serpents and scorpions and on all the power of the enemy
(3) gifts of the Spirit
participation in eternal life

kinds of sacramentalia in relation to sacraments
(1) material instruments for the sacraments
(2) adjunct facilitators for the sacraments
(3) potential parts of sacraments
(4) symbols of the sacraments

potential parts of
(1) baptism: signing with holy water, sign of the cross
(2) confirmation: anointing for reception of converts, blessing with holy oil
(3) reconciliation: nonsacramental confession
(4) matrimony: formal betrothal, reaffirmation of vows, consecration of widows
(5) holy orders: minor orders, liturgical ministers
(6) unction: funerary rites
(7) eucharist: blessed bread

the problem of counterexamples in the context of the sui generis

ontological arguments as revelation arguments
Note that Anselm (Pros 1) and Malebranche make them explicitly so.

Dialogue with Trypho 106 possibly identifies Mark under the description 'memoirs of Peter'; 103 also attributes a claim in Luke to 'the memoirs which I say were drawn up by His apostles as those who followed them' (Cp Apology 66 on the bread -- cup prob. from Mark, although possibly from Matthew).

Irenaeus Adv Haer (3.1.1) "while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the church"

humility to others as the root of genuine compassion

Pleasure, considered solely as such, is incapable of being any kind of common good, for it is the most private good of all.

An argument that the words of institution are more essential than the epiclesis: the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in the Institution Narratives themselves.

Judas Iscariot as type of unworthy communion (cf. Vianney)

(1) Suppose we consider whether to join the Church and receive its authority;
(2) What is lost if we do? I am imposed upon, but in no way that I might not be any way.
(3) What is gained, even if it is a merely human institution? I am enriched by the participation; if there is a future state, I am prepared for it, and if there is none, my life now is made greater and more exalted.
(4) What is lost, if it is the divine community and I reject it? What could be a greater affront to divine majesty, and how could one appear in His presence having abused the divine goodness? Moreover, is it not absurd to run the risk of eternal opposition to the Good simply to avoid being imposed upon.
- (cp. Mary Astell, CR sect 41)
- like all Wager arguments, it (1) assumes context for the division and (2) is more properly seen as an argument for inquiry, driving with practical reasons toward the attempt to discover speculative reasons.

freedom, immortality, and God as regulative ideas of politics

"really one should write philosophy only as one writes a poem" Wittgenstein

The four notes of the Church are all clearly discernible in the first Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles united together in prayer, who then speak with universal tongue.

ST 3.68.11ad1 on God's grace to children in the womb
St 3.68.11ad2 and children as parts of their mothers

Note Aquinas's harsh assessment of the Protevangelium of James -- ST 3.35.6ad3

HoP & philosophy as human tradition

the bold humility of hope

the softening of anger into humor

Religion is constituted not just by states of mind but also by states of society.

A society always suggests a larger order within which it is intelligible.

Attributing a 'principle of causational synonymy' to Aristotle seems clearly to be overreaching -- when he says things like it, it is always either of particular examples or in a highly restricted and limited discussion; or it is taken so broadly and generally as to indicate only that causes cause effects because their forms make such effects possible.

baptism : confirmation : ordination
Baptism : Transfiguration : Ascension
Resurrection : Pentecost : Last Judgment

Beyond physiological reflex and the tendency to favor the part that has it, pain is actually not much of a motivator. Fear motivates, grief motivates, joy motivates; they have more distinct focus. Pain and pleasure are indistinct motivators, to the extent that they are even motivators.

"No nation remains civilized without the constant presence and activity of the powers that originally civilized it, any more than creatures continue to exist without the immanence of the creative act which produces them from nothing." Brownson

"Art, in the hands of the saint, ministers to virtue; in the hands of the sinner, to vice." Brownson

Good fortune often begins with trouble.

"And how could we ever love, unless we ourselves were loved first?"

Love is a fire burning away impurity.

Love of neighbor does not necessarily aim at 'a conscious and reciprocal relationship that is positively meaningful, allowing for deep sharing'. It does require acting in such a way that is at least consistent with friendship of virtue; but it does not necessarily require even that we be open to such a thing a tthe moment.

All human beings are at least partially resistant to divine love -- i.e., we, attached to lesser goods and tending to pride, tend to want to do our own thing. Original sin is a tendency to resist union with God -- or, rather, in the strict sense it is the privation of the effective tendency to be as we should be in order not to resist God.

All genuine prayer is a seeking for light.

Moral certitude without virtue is the source of some terrible things; but one must be careful, for there are many different kinds of moral certitude, which do not all work the same way.

Note Peirce's (late) sign classification in respect to Immediate Interpretant: Ejaculative (suggestive), Imperative, Significative (indicative, cognitative).

gray areas between interjection and command (Shoo!)

The interpretant proceeds from the sign and dwells in the sign.

The object of the sign that is marriage is Christ's union with His Church; the interpretant is the prayer, practice, and teaching of the Church on marriage. (Or is the latter rather the grace, with prayer, practice, and preaching bein gthe collateral information? But arguably grace is the object of the sign, sacraments effecting what they signify. -- The effects of marriage in the Church, however, are surely interpretant effects -- devotion and reverence for sacred things, further actions & practices, deeper understanding.)

sacramental character as dynamical interpretant

"anything that the sign, as such, effects may be considered as the Interpretant." (Peirce to Paul Carus)

union with God as the final interpretant of all sacraments
sensible appearance : immediate :: grace received/ sacramental character : dynamical :: union with God : final

A scientific specimen is not given but educed from a material for it.

The seven philosophical works of mercy
(1) to enlighten the ignorant
(2) to reflect on the thoughts of others
(3) to counsel the doubtful
(4) to correct those in error
(5) to endure correction well
(6) to put truth above glory and pride
(7) to solve problems that need solving

the utilitarian structure of divine hiddenness arguments (maximizing relationship)

overdetermination & overlap

speculative grammar: what is true of signs that they may mean (i.e., be signs)
logic proper: what is true of signs that they may be true (hold of an object)
speculative rhetoric: the laws by which one sign leads to another

"It is not sufficient to say that testimony is not true, it is our business to explain how it came to be such as it is." Peirce

(1) To function as law, purported law must be consistent as a directive and reasonably feasible.
(2) Consistency and feasibility are assessible only on principles of practical reason.
(3) Consistency as directive and feasibility are rationally assessible and concern means-eand reasoning.
(4) Whether a purported law functions as a law depends on its relation to principles of practical reason, not just the sources of law.

The vice of obstinacy and the vice of laziness both have forms that mimic the virtue of faith.

travel and 'sentiment recollected in tranquillity'

the capacity of storytelling to turn evil to good, by embedding it in a greater context

The martyrs refusing to sacrifice to the emperor were the ultimate repudiation of 'Believe as you will, but obey,' which underlies all modern government.

the liturgical commonwealth & the obediences of the Western Schism

the fourfold aspect of the Kingdom of God: Christ, Scripture, Church, Heaven

the baptism of John as a figure of catechesis

No one can rightly recognize the goodness of God who does not also recognize the power and wisdom of God.

"the sense is essential to our knowledge of the truth, but the words indifferent" Augustine, on divergences in wording among the Gospels

Claims about the roles of moral principles are moral principles.

"For every sin, and more particularly impurity, pride, and worldly interest, is a prejudice that shuts out the light of truth, keeps men obstinate in error, and hardens their minds against conviction." Astell (CR 258)

People do not revolt because things are bad; they do not even revolt because things are continually bad. They revolt because amid bad things, it seemed that improvement was begun, but that promise of better things was taken away. People revolt not at present bad, however bad, but out of the frustration of a future good, apparently in hand, that is suddenly denied.

omnipresence and providence and the antecedent credibility of the Incarnation (cp. some of Athanasius' arguments against the Gentiles)

evasion of miracles by feigning hypotheses

Much of contemporary Biblical scholarship is merely an exercise in historical epistemology masquerading as an exercise in investigation of historical events. That is to say, it never gets beyond (often muddled and weakly considered) epistemological questions except by a leap that is never justified, or justified entirely by unsupported hypotheses, or justified in a dubious and patchwork way.

Science fiction more properly involves representations of science than science itself.

Music on My Mind

Chisu, "Yksinäisen keijun tarina". A keiju is a fairy; the song's title is something like "Tale of the Lonely Fairy". The basic plot of the story is that the fairy has had difficult times; but when she tries to express her sorrow, she's dismissed -- she can fly, she has it good, how can there possibly be a miserable fairy? So she dies, and other mythical creatures regret not having been more neighborly. It's very upbeat for a Finnish story, actually.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

Here in Texas we are currently preparing for Hurricane Harvey, which is driving directly for the Texas coast and recently was upgraded to a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale (wind speeds of 111-129 miles per hour). It will likely land near Corpus Christi tonight, although, of course, the outermost bands of the storm have already begun progressing inland in waves. Austin is deep enough in the Heart of Texas that we're not likely to get worse winds than 30-35 miles per hour; what we can expect is flooding for several days and perhaps some downed power lines. Since I live near the top of a ridge, the flooding is unlikely to be a serious problem for me -- most of Austin would have to be under water before it became a problem -- but as I live on the edge of Austin, power outages of uncertain duration are a real possibility, so I've been doing some minor preparation for that. If I lived in Houston or along the coast, I'd frankly be going on a weekend vacation right now. Fortunately, this is not Texas's first rodeo when it comes to major hurricanes, and we have none of the obvious engineering problems that made Hurricane Katrina such a disaster for New Orleans, so the infrastructure should hold up -- to the extent that it can, since we can still expect at least a couple of billion dollars in damage even at the very most optimistic. The big worry, of course, is oil; if the oil refineries are hit badly enough, there will be a cascade of further bad effects through the entire American economy. Really serious flooding could require months of recovery. We will just have to see.

UPDATED LATER (6:10 pm): And Harvey just got upgraded to Category 4, winds over 130 miles per hour.

UPDATED LATER (8/26, 1:40 pm): Harvey has been dropping in intensity all morning, and is now a tropical storm. This is what always happens with hurricanes, especially those that drive straight over land as Harvey did, and (despite how it might sound) does not actually reduce the danger -- hurricane-force winds can damage a lot, but with hurricanes the most serious damages, and often the most serious fatalities, tend to be from flooding, and the danger of flooding increases when hurricanes begin losing force. This storm is still long from over; it will be wandering over South Texas for a while yet.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Thomistic Account of Rationality (Re-Post)

This is a slightly revised re-posting of a post from 2013.

The Thomistic account of rationality -- I'm not talking about its philosophical psychology, but its account of rational thought -- is an interestingly nuanced one. It is famously summarized in Aquinas's preface to his unfinished commentary on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics (although there are other places in which it comes up). In this preface, he is talking about logic, of which the Posterior Analytics considers the summit or peak (namely, demonstrative reasoning, the kind that gives real knowledge). And he notes that logic is structured according to the various acts of reason, and on the basis of this gives a very famous account of the books of the Organon, the foundation of most medieval logic. We start with a general division:

There are three acts of reason, of which the first two belong to reason insofar as it is some kind of understanding (intellectus).

(1) One act of intellect is the understanding (intelligentia) of indivisibles or simples, according to which it conceives what the thing is. And this action is called information of the understanding or intellectual imagination. And to this action of reason is ordered the teaching that Aristotle hands down in the book of Predicaments (= Categories).

(2) The second action of understanding is intellectual composition or division, in which the true or the false is found. And this act of reason is served in the teaching that Aristotle hands down in the book of Perihermeneias (= De Interpretatione).

(3) The third act of reason concerns that which is proper to reason, to wit, discursively going from one thing to another (discurrere ab uno in aliud), such that from what is known one comes to cognition of what is unknown. And this act is considered in the remaining books of logic.

So here we have the basic structure of logic as a rational science: reason starts from basic objects of understanding, organizes these into things that can be true or false, and uses these to discover even more. The first part of logic, then, concerns what we might call concepts or terms; the second, what we might call propositions; and the third what we might call inferences or deductions.

So far, so good. But the third part of logic ends up being more complex than one might have originally assumed, because the act of reason it considers can be necessary, or probable, or fundamentally flawed. If we consider the necessary kind, we have what Aquinas calls logica judicativa, which is also called analytics because it analyzes or resolves things into their principles. This has two parts:

(3a1) The certitude of the judgment, which is had by resolution, is either from the form of the deduction as such, and to this is ordered the book of Prior Analytics, which is about deduction simply speaking;

(3a2) or it is also from the matter, because the propositions posited are self-evident and necessary (per se et necessariae), and to this is ordered the book of Posterior Analytics, which is about demonstrative deduction.

Prior Analytics is the logical discipline concerned with what it means to say that one claim definitely follows from another; whereas Posterior Analytics concerns what it means to say that we come to know, in the most proper sense, conclusions on the basis of their premises. Thus both of these have to do with knowledge: conditional knowledge in the case of the former and knowledge simply speaking in the latter.

If we consider the kind of reasoning that can be called, in a broad sense, probable, Aquinas calls this logica inventiva -- 'inventiva' primarily means 'having to do with discovery'. The word is usually translated in this context as 'investigative', but this doesn't quite capture it: this part of logic doesn't merely look into things -- it actually discovers them. Discovery is not all about necessities and certainties; we are at a level less than knowledge here. We are often not in the realm of knowledge but of belief (fides) or opinion:

(3b1) ...and to this is ordered topics or dialectics. For the dialectical deduction that Aristotle considers in the book of the Topics comes from the probable.

But sometimes calling it belief or opinion is a little strong: what we get is not a definite, albeit imperfect, acceptance of one side of the question, but rather a leaning or inclination to one side. This act of reason Aquinas calls 'suspicion'; as in 'I suspect that the answer is such-and-such'. This gives us a second part of logica inventiva:

(3b2) Sometimes, however, belief or opinion is not completely formed, but a kind of suspicion, because it is not wholly inclined to one part of a contradiction, but more inclined to that one than this one. And to this is ordered Rhetoric.

We can have an even more tenuous result of our inquiry, though:

(3b3) Sometimes a mere estimation according to some representation inclines toward some part of a contradiction, in the way that food is made to be abhorred by a man if it is represented under the likeness of something abhorrent. And to this is ordered Poetics, for the poet is drawing to some virtue by some wholesome representation.

It is not customary with us to consider rhetoric and poetics as part of the rational sciences, or as concerned with deduction, but it was commonplace in the Middle Ages. In rhetoric and poetics, as in analytics or dialectics, we move from one thing to another in such a way as to discover the unknown on the basis of the known. This is a process subject to some uncertainty, and thus in itself only deals with probabilities, in a large sense of the term. Dialectics deals with the probable in the strict sense: the things that happen for the most part, the conclusions where we have almost eliminated all the possible alternatives, etc. But we can also have reasoning that deals with the probable in a looser sense. In rhetorical deduction we are determining whether things fit with general opinion, whether they seem like they might be likely, and so forth. And in poetic deduction we are concerned with imaginative representation -- what is imaginatively plausible, what is attractive and repulsive, and so forth. Both rhetoric and poetics have an especially practical aspect, and the very fact that the reasoning they consider are the weakest kinds of reasoning is the source of their practical strength. They don't strictly have to consider truth or falsehood in the usual sense. Rhetoric is realm of reasoning where we are concerned with 'good enough for practical purposes'; poetic is the realm of reasoning where we are concerned with 'good enough for imaginative representation'.

Aquinas doesn't develop the idea of poetic deduction or inference at length, but he is almost certainly thinking of Avicenna here. In Avicenna's account, we are all very familiar with poetic deductions or syllogisms: that is what metaphors are. Metaphors are the enthymemes of poetics. And Avicenna argues at some length that you can expand every metaphor to a syllogistic deduction. The premises of these syllogisms may well be false in the strict sense, but Avicenna also holds that this is not an impediment here: what poetic syllogism requires is imaginative assent, what we might call acceptability of the representation; and this is true of the conclusion, as well. For whatever reason, Avicenna always uses a particular Sufi example, which certainly livens up his discussion of poetic syllogisms: "A rose is a mule's anus with dung in the middle." The point of this is not that this is some scientific account of a rose. The point rather is that this is a representation of the rose as worthless, and it is the kind of representation that will be acceptable if, for instance, you are a Sufi discussing the value of transient and earthly things in comparison to the value of eternal and divine things.

Aquinas never commits to anything as elaborate as Avicenna, and one suspects that if he had ever commented on the Poetics he would have made some modifications. But it does seem that the general idea is operative here, and it's almost inevitable that it would be: both Avicenna and Averroes treat Aristotle's Poetics as a logical book. Borges has a famous little short story in which he depicts Averroes trying to figure out the Poetics without any knowledge of what drama is. It's not a very accurate depiction of the Averroist approach to the Poetics, but it is certainly true that the approach of the commentators is very different from what we would think the obvious one. We approach Aristotle's Poetics as about creating and performing dramatic situations. But the Islamic commentators thought that this was a secondary feature of the work; for them, what the Poetics primarily describes is the way in which a mind manifests ideas, to itself or another mind, in and through imaginative representation. Avicenna might conceivably take liberties, but Averroes is a very literal commentator. If he reads it as a text on reasoning, it's because the work really can be read as a text on reasoning. It certainly is the case that this reading require some generalization of Aristotle; but this easily done, since all it requires is that we read Aristotle as discussing general truths through the specific examples provided by Greek culture. Arabic culture is in many ways radically different, but you can see that some of what Aristotle says about tragedy would obviously carry over to Arabic poetry. Further, we have scattered comments from Aristotle himself that encourage this kind of reading, such as his discussion of metaphor, or the famous claim that poetry is more philosophical than history because it is more universal.

In any case, we need rhetoric and poetics both for the full Thomistic account of rationality. We are still missing one part, though. That is, full accounting of rationality requires us to diagnose fundamentally flawed reasoning.

(3c) The third process of reasoning is served by that part of logic that is called sophistics, which Aristotle considers in the book of Elenchuses (= Sophistical Refutations).

And this gives us our complete set, which is, to recap:

  1. Logic as concerned with understanding: Predicaments or Categories
  2. Logic as concerned with judgment or propositions: Interpretation
  3. Logic as concerned with discursive reasoning
    • Necessary / Judging
      1. Formal knowledge: Prior Analytics
      2. Formal and material knowledge: Posterior Analytics
    • Probable / Discovering
      1. Belief or opinion: Topics or Dialectic
      2. Suspicion: Rhetoric
      3. Imaginative representation: Poetics
    • Defective: Sophistical Refutations

These aren't found hermetically sealed off from each other in actual reasoning. To achieve demonstration (analytics) requires extensive dialectical reasoning (dialectics), which itself may have originally grown out of thinking with imaginative representations (poetics) filtered according to social commonplaces and common opinions (rhetoric), and may require extensive diagnosis of flawed reasoning (sophistics). In fact, putting it this way shows something of the power of reading Aristotle's surviving works this way, because this is precisely how Aristotle operates: he takes ideas whose origin in Greek culture is the theological poets (as Aristotle himself recognizes), who influenced common opinion (which Aristotle considers), which was manipulated by the Sophists (whose arguments and persuasive speeches thus have to be addressed) and which serves as part of Aristotle's dialectical method of considering the major opinions on a subject before working to sort them out, all to the end of achieving knowledge. And one has only to look at Aquinas's discussion of Aristotle's historical accounts in the Metaphysics to see that he is certainly aware of this kind of multi-layered investigation in Aristotle.

The Thomistic account of rationality is thus:

(a) pluralistic: It does not reduce rational thought to one kind of thinking, but recognizes that one may be rational in very diverse ways.

(b) systematic: The pluralism does not lead to a hodge-podge, but is highly structured, both as to its principles, which are the kinds of rational activity themselves, and as to its intrinsic end, which is demonstrative knowledge.

(c) practical as well as theoretical: The rational sciences cover both practical reason and speculative reason; there is no sharp division here, and practice can be as logical as pure reason. This is most obvious in cases like rhetoric or poetics, where the practical is always important, but there are practical and speculative forms of all of them.

(d) an account of inquiry itself: All parts of inquiry have some place in the logical scheme; none are left out. This is a result of the inclusion of constructive and corrective, as well as probative, parts.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Making the Punishment Fit the Crime

There are some limits to what ordinary men are likely to say that an ordinary man deserves. But there are no limits to what the danger of the community may be supposed to demand. We would not, even if we could, boil the millionaire in oil or skin the poor little politician alive; for we do not think a man deserves to be skinned alive for taking commissions on contracts. But it is by no means so certain that the skinning him alive might not protect the community. Corruption can destroy communities; and torture can deter men. At any rate the thing is not so self-evidently useless as it is self-evidently unjust and vindictive. We refrain from such fantastic punishments, largely because we do have some notion of making the punishment fit the crime, and not merely fit the community.

G. K. Chesterton, "The Mercy of Mr. Arnold Bennett", Fancies Versus Fads.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Evening Thought for Tuesday, August 22

Thought for the Evening: Apaideusia

In the Eudemian Ethics, Aristotle has an interesting passage on people engaging in fake philosophy:

...because to say nothing at random but use reasoned argument seems to mark a philosopher, some people often without being detected advance arguments that are not germane to the subject under treatment and that have nothing in them (and they do this sometimes through ignorance and sometimes from charlatanry), which bring it about that even men of experience and practical capacity are taken in by these people, who neither possess nor are capable of constructive or practical thought. And this befalls them owing to lack of education—for in respect of each subject inability to distinguish arguments germane to the subject from those foreign to it is lack of education. (1217a)

The word translated here as 'lack of education' is ἀπαιδευσία; one can indeed translate it as 'lack of education' or 'lack of training', but this often makes it sound as if it were just a claim that those who have it are ignorant, when in reality something deeper is certainly meant. Paideia was the cultivation of those qualities that made one suitable for civilized life. To lack paideia is not mere ignorance, but the kind of ignorance we might call barbarism. The person Aristotle is criticizing in the above passage is someone who has learned the philosophical knack for argument-giving, but uses it in what we might call a cargo-cult way; they have no real sense of good and bad argument, or of relevance in argument, because this is something that can only be had by cultivation -- and, indeed, can only be had fully by cultivation that involves participation in a community. They do not put forward arguments as participants in a community of inquirers; they put them forward because they are ignorant of how such a community works or because they are trying to ape the effects of being in such a community, without the actual work required to be so. Their imitation may be very good; but they are imitating the outward appearance, and not the internal character, of real rational argument.

Aristotle uses the term elsewhere. It shows up in the Rhetoric (1391a), where Aristotle talks about nouveaux riches, and how there vices with regard to money are often greater than those of old money because they are apaideutic with respect to wealth. I think this is arguably more than just a happenstance of using the same word; new-money people in Aristotle's example haven't learned to restrain themselves so as to be respectable in society, whereas the old-money aristocrats have. Likewise, those doing the imitation philosophy, having come into the wealth of reasoned argument, have not cultivated the habits of restraint that make one part of the community of inquirers.

The most important use of the term, however, is in the Metaphysics. Aristotle notes that order requires paideia (1005), and then goes on to give his most famous example of the kind of person who exhibits apaideusia: the person who demands that one prove the principle of noncontradiction:

But we have just assumed that it is impossible at once to be and not to be, and by this means we have proved that this is the most certain of all principles.Some, indeed, demand to have the law proved, but this is because they lack education; for it shows lack of education not to know of what we should require proof, and of what we should not. For it is quite impossible that everything should have a proof; the process would go on to infinity, so that even so there would be no proof....And I say that proof by refutation differs from simple proof in that he who attempts to prove might seem to beg the fundamental question, whereas if the discussion is provoked thus by someone else, refutation and not proof will result.The starting-point for all such discussions is not the claim that he should state that something is or is not so (because this might be supposed to be a begging of the question), but that he should say something significant both to himself and to another (this is essential if any argument is to follow; for otherwise such a person cannot reason either with himself or with another);and if this is granted, demonstration will be possible, for there will be something already defined. (1006a)

The person who demands that the principle of noncontradiction be proven does not understand how proof actually works. If he says nothing in support of his claim, Aristotle tells us that it's absurd to argue against him, because for all that he's actually contributed to reasoned discussion, you might as well be arguing with a plant; on the other hand, if he does say something in support of the claim, then, as quoted above, one can give a proof by refutation based on the fact that he says "something significant both to himself and to another", without which no one can reason. I think both prongs here flow directly from Aristotle's diagnosis of such people as apaideutic: they are either not reasoning (and thus might as well be a vegetable) or, in reasoning, they are not really familiar with what reasoning requires -- the importance of things like meaningfulness and relevance and communicability for it, and the things that follow from these. They have not developed the habits required to participate in the community of reasoners. They are barbarians in the land of reasoning.

There are also a number of passages in which he does not use the word apaideusia, but does talk about paideia in ways that are clearly relevant -- such as the famous passage in the Nicomachean Ethics (1094b) in which he says that it belongs to the trained to recognize the right amount of exactness to seek in inquiring into different topics. And he goes on almost immediately with an illuminating explanation:

To criticize a particular subject, therefore, a man must have been trained in that subject: to be a good critic generally, he must have had an all-round education. Hence the young are not fit to be students of Political Science. For they have no experience of life and conduct, and it is these that supply the premises and subject matter of this branch of philosophy. And moreover they are led by their feelings; so that they will study the subject to no purpose or advantage, since the end of this science is not knowledge but action. And it makes no difference whether they are young in years or immature in character: the defect is not a question of time, it is because their life and its various aims are guided by feeling; for to such persons their knowledge is of no use, any more than it is to persons of defective self-restraint. But Moral Science may be of great value to those who guide their desires and actions by principle. (1095a)

This passage puts together the bits we've already seen. To make good judgments in a particular field requires paideia in that field, to make good judgments generally requires good general training. You must, in particular, be familiar with the materials that "supply the premises and subject matter" and must have a sort of discipline, a self-restraint, that makes study advantageous by letting it be guided by principle rather than the passions.

Various Links of Interest

* Kenneth Pearce, George Berkeley and the power of words, at the OUP blog

* Miriam Burstein, Mill's Inaugural Address and the Contemporary University (or Not), at "The Little Professor"

* Richard Marshall interviews Michail Peramatzis about the notions of dependence and priority in Aristotelian metaphysics

* Geoffrey K. Pullum, Fear and Loathing of the English Passive, discusses the many wrong and misleading things said about passive voice in English

* A. C. Thompson, Sikhs in America

* Pius XI, Mit brennender Sorge

Currently Reading

Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji
Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness
Gaven Kerr, Aquinas's Way to God
Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity
George R. R. Martin, A Feast for Crows
George R. R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

Monday, August 21, 2017

Music on My Mind

Ajda Pekkan, "Bambaşka Biri".

Three Poem Drafts

The River

A long and ashen river runs
in caverns never touched by sun,
where sorrows sleep and dream of death
in darkness never touched by breath,
and hope is lost, and vernal grass
will never grow as ages pass;
the fish are blind, the waters cold,
the air is chill and stale and old,
and to a lake of murky deep
the river stealthily will creep
until the world has met its end
and flames upon the earth descend.
I sailed that river long ago.
Its wending course I fully know,
and there I lost my beating heart,
where cold and darkness never part.

Human Power

The fake omnipotence of men
like magician's trick is made.
The drama, spectacle, and show
is full of sound and lights that shine;
a flurry, rush, and active pace
distracts from instruments of power;
a patter, endless flow of words
a veil imposes on the work;
and where they strive to make you look
is never where the secret lies:
a spark, a crash, a showy sign,
and you are shackled, made to serve.

Summer Bezels

Honeysuckle scent,
inebriating bee-wine,
hovers, just a hint,
a wisp of beauty.

The warm evening breeze,
summerlit beneath the stars,
blows on my bare ear,
softly, like your kiss.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bernardus Claraevallensis

Today is the memorial of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church. A member of the Cistercian order, he built a reformed monastery in the Val d'Absinthe, which he named Claire Vallée, which later transmogrified to Clairvaux. He became extraordinarily influential, and was one of the earlier saints to be formally canonized by papal process, when Pope Alexander III canonized him in 1174. He was named a Doctor of the Church in 1830 by Pope Pius VIII.

From a letter to a monk named Adam:

If you remain yet in that spirit of charity which I either knew or believed to be with you formerly, you would certainly feel the condemnation with which charity must regard the scandal which you have given to the weak. For charity would not offend charity, nor scorn when it feels itself offended. For it cannot deny itself, nor be divided against itself. Its function is rather to draw together things divided; and it is far from dividing those that are joined. Now, if that remained in you, as I have said, it would not keep silent, it would not rest unconcerned, nor pretend indifference, but it would without doubt whisper, with groans and uneasiness at the bottom of your pious heart, that saying, Who is offended, and I burn not (2 Cor. xi. 29). If, then, it is kind, it loves peace, and rejoices in unity; it produces them, cements them, strengthens them, and wherever it reigns it makes the bond of peace. As, then, you are in opposition to that true mother of peace and concord, on what ground, I ask you, do you presume that your sacrifice, whatever it may be, will be accepted by God, when without it even martyrdom profiteth nothing (1 Cor. xiii. 3)? Or, on what ground do you trust that you are not the enemy of charity when breaking unity, rending the bond of peace, you lacerate her bowels, treating with such cruelty their dear pledges, which you neither have borne nor do bear? You must lay down, then, the offering, whatever it may be, which you are preparing to lay on the altar, and hasten to go and reconcile yourself not with one of your brethren only, but with the entire body. The whole body of the fraternity, grievously wounded by your withdrawal, as by the stroke of a sword, utters its complaints against you and the few with you, saying: The sons of my mother have fought against me (Cant. i. 5). And rightly; for who is not with her, is against her. Can you think that a mother, as tender as charity, can hear without emotion the complaint, so just, of a community which is to her as a daughter? Therefore, joining her tears with ours, she says, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me (Isa. i. 2).

Charity is God Himself. Christ is our peace, who hath made both one (Eph. ii. 14). Unity is the mystery even of the Holy Trinity. What place, then, in the kingdom of Christ and of God has he who is an enemy of charity, peace, and unity?