Saturday, October 07, 2017

Two Poem Drafts and Two Poem Re-Drafts


The ivy lodges on the tree,
freshly green;
the spring rains nourish it.
At Osaka,
where lovers meet,
I thought I saw you,
elegant beneath the clouds.
Your memory clings like vine
to my mind's bough.


The world is a deep sea;
waves of air above me do flow.
Beneath deep space they go,
which is a sea, I know, of light
through which the stars swim at night.
To the ends of our sight we see,
out and out, only sea.


The air is hot and dry,
obscured by storms of dust.
Unending realms of sand
parch with fatal thirst.
Yet even on this desert planet
water can be found:
dew in secret places,
springs in sacred places,
pools by wind-worn rocks.

I dreamed:
This desert was a beach;
mist was in the air.
Great waves of philosophy
broke against the shore.

The Battle

God came to me, rebuked me for my life of sin
and showed to me a way in which we both could win;
I heard His offer out, but in the summit of my pride
I chose to win alone. God I crucified.

I hanged Him on the tree, and on the tree He died.

But God does not just die; He rises to live again,
and soon returns, rebuking me for my life of sin.
Frustrated with His returning, that He does not simply die,
I choose myself again, and Him I crucify.

I hang Him on the tree again; on the tree He dies.

He returns and comes again, each time so vital, bold,
that I can only crucify by growing yet more cold.
Where our ending finds us is where we did begin;
we either taste the grace of glory or crucify with sin,
crucify forever or someday just give in.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Dashed Off XXI

market price, affective price, dignity-relevant price, dignity

intrinsic vs extrinsic meaning of a cathedral (e.g., Holy Sepulcher is the greatest of churches in terms of its intrinsic meaning, but it is not as great in its centrality as St. Peter's, which in a sense is the world's basilica)

necessity as an excuse and necessitation for deontic Box

the serious error argument for common ancestor (identical harmful mutations in widely separated species)
- has to consider constraints (mathematical, physical, chemical) that may increase chance of independent repetition or convergence
- somewhat complicated by functional variation over time

Competence requires courage for reasoned risks.

"Everyone knows that man is obliged in many instances to help his fellows with a simple, plain loan." Vix pervenit

legitimate profit in the context of lending
(1) loan without interest receiving free gift of thanks
(2) loan without interest as sine qua condition for participating in profitable contract
(3) loan with interest under legitimate extrinsic title concerning loss, risk, or service
(4) loan without interest with donation or grant for the service of lending

the oak park principle of civilization-building

how much of the work of 'representation' in psychology and neuroscience can be done by appeal to feedback and adaptation?

The machinery of modern civilization does not suffice to uphold civilization.

Spaemann's futurm exactum and Whitehead on God

representation compatibilism // free will compatibilism

inference to the best explanation as the structure of fictional worlds

particular judgment Sir 11:28
general judgment Wis 5:1-2

the functioning of hte peiorem rule for hybrid modal logics

Scripture as vocabulary-building
the Election of Israel as a historical precondition for speaking well of God

Holy Scripture
(1) Author: God as remote author, man as proximate (instrumental) author
(2) Exemplar: Divine Ideas as remote exemplar, Divine providential scheme in history as proximate exemplar
(3) Formal Character: Text as Tradition
(4) Material Character: Text qua sign with respect to its object (spiritual sense), text qua sign with respect to that by which it is a sign (literal sense)
(5) End: historical purpose of text as proximate end, salvation-historical purpose of text as remote end
-- all together thus constituting the text as disposed for teaching and grace (as instrumental mover)
-- which then is actually used as instrument for teaching and grace by the Holy Spirit as prime mover

tropological sense : anticipatory good :: anagogical sense : culminatory good

jury authority as an essential part of a healthy judiciary

pramanas as specific cases of ways of teaching (the kind that validate knowledge)

the pramanas as operative in the sacraments as signs

Schopenhauer's claim that the works of poets pasture peacefully side by side shows a remarkable ignorance of poetry.

Nationalism tends naturally to encourage revivals of paganism.

Hope is not merely a matter of probabilities.

a pramana as a stable layer of our experience of the world

the clerical aspects of logic and mathematics (keeping track of relevant things)

Metaphor often depends crucially on discernibility between one thing and another. Indeed, arguably it always does -- otherwise it would often be false literal speech.

chrismation // consecration of altar

"To walk straight to God is to walk in love." Cabasilas

arthapatti as a major principle in the interpretation of art

brevity as itself a form of pedagogical power

Empires generally excel at short-term solutions and little victories.

Hedonism is a philosophy of treachery.

an account of 'credence' that are more like voting than like balancing (nothing prevents such an account)

The Church is infallible in its general sense because it is united to the Word, and is infallible in the articulation of that sense because it is moved by the Spirit. It is authoritative even where not infallible because in reflecting on itself it reflects on a sign of higher things and on an icon whose Exemplar is in heaven, one that was caused to exist by divine authority to show divine things.

Trust is an excellent thing when armored with caution.

the maieutic work of the Holy Spirit

practical politics as the layering of reasons people already have

Consensus in physics is based on three things: deference to mathematics, assumption of the relevance of the mathematics, broad agreement on kinds of acceptable evidence.

methods as systems of practical maxims

Practical situations partly determine one's assumptions for one.

retaliatory vs presuppositional resistance to a position

Full rectification of names requires recognizing relation to exemplars.

Christ as tianxia zhicheng

Social interaction requires relatively little actual prediction of the behavior of our fellow human beings. What we don't bother to predict, or don't expect to be able to predict, or don't think it in any way possible to predict, is a far larger amount than the things we occasionally try to predict.

Moral self-culture is more about the present than the future.

Determinism tends to force a spectator-centered ethics.

free will compatibilism in psychology // design compatibilism in biology

It's interesting that we have mereological analogues for so many positions on mind and body. INdeed, we often talk about the problem mereologically. But totum in toto et in qualibet parte raises an interesting set of questions about our grounds for doing so. Likewise, we get into questions of alternative kinds of parts -- virtual, potential, hylomorphic, subjective.

Retorsion arguments are sensitive to the precise characterization of the universe of discourses.

New heritage grows from the ruins of old heritage.

When hazard is everywhere, anyone may fail; but the timid will certainly do so.

afterlife myths as different representations of philosophical posterity in the history of philosophy

Rigorous grasp of first principles can only be hardwon.

"The gates of the Mysteries are far more august and beneficial than the gates of Paradise." Cabasilas

It is one of the most important facts of human society that if something is considered an important value, or an important moral guidelines, people will try to use it to hide and 'spin' their evil deeds. The higher the thing, the more terrible the evils people try to mask with it.

Scottish common sense theory of evidenceNyaya-influence pramana theory
external and internal sensepratyaksa
causal inferenceanumana
-- the parallels are weakest for arthapatti and upamana
-- abhava would be folded under the others for Scottish
-- first principles and demonstration would be folded under others for Indian

gravity (boundary-fleeing) and levity (boundary-tending) in dynamic mereotopology

Upamana cannot reduce to mere perception, inference, testimony, or memory of likeness. therefore it seems we should see it as transfer of likeness to the new. Since it always involves descriptions, this suggests that it is in particular a transfer of description involving likeness. Since all pramanas are about actual existence, it is a way of linking actual existents, and the knowledge is of the link itself, newly recognized between this actual existence and others. Thus upamana is language-based classification (this is quite clear with dharmamatropomana, but is also found in other forms).

prudence as intrinsically maieutic

Each pramana yields a different sort of sameness.

self-governance, trade, security from violence

What makes something a tally? One possibility: a tally is an indefinite positing operation (indefinite in the sense that something is posited without knowing more than that). A difficulty here is that distinct tallies must posit distinct somethings. A possibility: a tally is a successor relation.

ringing the changes of conceptual variations

Dialogue without self-reflection is deceit.

Newman's Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent as an argument beforehand against the Principal Principle (the sun rising tomorrow, etc.).

flaw-finding and value-finding aproaches in argument

Truth is friend to truth.

- a religious order concerned with the press, the way some are concerned with schools and with hospitals

History has taken a wrong year every year since the dawn of the human race. Fortunately, that is not the only thing to be said.

polytheism as tending in practice to the principle of might makes right

the seven words of the Cross as summing up the Jewish experience in the history of Israel

People always try to solve philosophical problems by politics, whether it be that of the polis, or the patria, or the imperium, or modern liberalism.

The catholicity of the Church is the catholicity of Christ, its unity is the unity of Christ, its sanctity is the sanctity of Christ; but its apostolicity is its being from Christ and of Christ, proceeding from Him.

the one who is Christ sends || the many are sent as one
the holy Christ sanctifies || sinners are sanctified
the implicate universality of Christ || the explicate universality of the Church
apostolicity provides the links
(the apostolicity of the Church establishes a doctrine of appropriation for the unity, sanctity, and catholicity shared by the Church and Christ -- the unity, co-sanctity, and co-universality of the Head and the Body)

We reflect on ourselves by introspection, by inference, and by prediction.

three theories of corporate bodies (Michael Phillips)
(1) concession: corporations are artifacts of positive law
(2) aggregation: corporations are a nexus of contracts among individuals
(3) real entity: corporations are emergent agents

To be a citizen is not merely to be under a law to but also to contribute to a good the law serves.

Since human beings need the invisible to represented through the visible, such representation is necessarily part of our service of God.

Kantianism as a dualism of everything

(1) The invisible is cognized through the visible.
(2) The obligatory is a sign of what is sublime.
(3) The supernatural works through the natural.

prayer as the liberal art of faith

The solemnities of the Church are sensible representations and expressions of the intrinsic unity, sanctity, catholicity, and apostolicity of the faith.

Icons represent Christ in the saints and both express and occasion the prayers of the Church.

mimesis and catharsis as part of the normal functions of tradition
- note the role of the notion of hubris in heresiology, as well as pity and fear

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Descartes on Virtues

An interesting passage for understanding Descartes's ethical views, from his dedication of the Principles of Philosophy to Princess Elisabeth:

There is a vast difference between real and apparent virtues; and there is also a great discrepancy between those real virtues that proceed from an accurate knowledge of the truth, and such as are accompanied with ignorance or error. The virtues I call apparent are only, properly speaking, vices, which, as they are less frequent than the vices that are opposed to them, and are farther removed from them than the intermediate virtues, are usually held in higher esteem than those virtues. Thus, because those who fear dangers too much are more numerous than they who fear them too little, temerity is frequently opposed to the vice of timidity, and taken for a virtue, and is commonly more highly esteemed than true fortitude. Thus, also, the prodigal are in ordinary more praised than the liberal; and none more easily acquire a great reputation for piety than the superstitious and hypocritical. With regard to true virtues, these do not all proceed from true knowledge, for there are some that likewise spring from defect or error; thus, simplicity is frequently the source of goodness, fear of devotion, and despair of courage. The virtues that are thus accompanied with some imperfections differ from each other, and have received diverse appellations. But those pure and perfect virtues that arise from the knowledge of good alone are all of the same nature, and may be comprised under the single term wisdom. For, whoever owns the firm and constant resolution of always using his reason as well as lies in his power, and in all his actions of doing what he judges to be best, is truly wise, as far as his nature permits; and by this alone he is just, courageous, temperate, and possesses all the other virtues, but so well balanced as that none of them appears more prominent than another: and for this reason, although they are much more perfect than the virtues that blaze forth through the mixture of some defect, yet, because the crowd thus observes them less, they are not usually extolled so highly.

In her letter of August 1644, after she received a copy of the dedicatory letter, Princess Elisabeth agreed that the basic principle of ethics is being guided by using your understanding as well as you can and acting on the good you discover from it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Philosophy and the Virtue of Temperance (Re-Post)

This is re-posted from last year.

One of the ways to read Plato's Gorgias is as an argument that the practice of philosophy requires the virtue of temperance (sophrosyne, self-control), and vice versa. This contrasts with rhetoric and sophistry, which have no such connection. In fact, the rhetors in the Gorgias end up explicitly affirming a number of things that are inconsistent with the virtue of temperance. The reason for this has to do with the distinction between what seems good and what is really good.

Gorgias claims that rhetoric is valuable because it is concerned with speeches that persuade, without educating, on matters of right and wrong in the city; as Socrates notes, this means that rhetoric deals with what seems good rather than what is really good. This is affirmed when Polus argues that orators are powerful because they do what they like (i.e., what seems good to them). Socrates, however, denies that what people like (i.e., what seems good to them) is what they want (i.e., real good), although, of course, since he likes provoking Polus, he states it in the most paradoxical way he can find. For instance, Socrates claims that people who do wrong and are never punished for it are to be pitied, while being wrongly punished is always a happier life than doing anything wrong; Polus will be boggled at this kind of view, in which someone could suffer terribly and have a happier life than someone who gets everything they like. Callicles in turn argues that success, the good life, the life worth having, consists of desiring as much as possible and having the phronesis (intelligence) and andreia (manliness or courage) to achieve your desires, and denies that restraining your ambitions when you could achieve them is anything but either weakness or stupidity. Socrates will argue that all of these claims are incoherent.

But more than this, all of this argument, while about self-control, is also about philosophy. This is actually made clear in multiple ways. Early on, in the discussion with Gorgias, Socrates says that he hopes Gorgias is a man like himself: someone who would prefer to be refuted than to win an argument. The claim here is entirely analogous to Socrates' later claims about punishment, because both refutation and punishment are kinds of correction. Winning an argument is a matter of appearing good; but being right is a matter of real good. Not being punished is a matter of appearing good; being just is a matter of real good. In order to be the philosophical kind of person, rather than the kind of person we later learn (despite Gorgias' facile claims otherwise) the rhetors are, you must be willing to make a distinction between merely apparent good and real good. The oratorical conception of success is concerned with winning the argument, getting away with it; the philosophical, with improving the argument, improving oneself.

It's more than just a matter of aims, though. Socrates' argument against Callicles that the good life needs self-control doubles as an argument that the good life needs philosophy. (It is one of the standard marks of Plato's philosophical brilliance that he can make an argument about one subject also at the same an argument about another subject.) Socrates argues that the good and the pleasant (i.e., what seems good because it satisfies desire) can't collapse into each other. Callicles' view that we should desire as much as possible and satisfy those desires in neverending progress requires exactly this kind of collapse. But if we hold this view, we start getting very weird results: we should itch as much as possible, letting our desire to scratch grow as large as possible, in order to maximize the pleasure of scratching; soldiers should let fear, i.e., our desire to run away, grow as big as possible and then have the manliness/courage to satisfy that desire. Callicles tries to get out of this by saying there are better and worse pleasures, but this just breaks his argument against self-control: if some pleasures are better than others, we should sometimes control ourselves so that we get the better pleasures rather than the worse pleasures. Good needs to be discovered and accommodated; it cannot be imposed by force of will.

If real good and apparent good can't be collapsed into each other, though, then we have to reflect seriously about what real good is -- which is philosophy. Thus if the good life requires self-control, as Socrates argues, the good life requires philosophy.

If this is the case, though, it applies to reasoning as much as it does to anything else in life. Winning an argument is merely seeming to be good. Rhetoric may be able to give you that appearance. But the good of reasoning does not boil down to the appearance of winning the argument, however nice that might be; the good of reasoning is having a good argument that gets you something true, and what counts as that good must be discovered. Philosophical reasoning is temperate reasoning, in which you control and restrain yourself in order to find real good in reasoning rather than merely apparent good. Someone who falls back on mere rhetoric is someone who has committed himself to 'might-makes-right' in rational matters. There is a kind of very general moral realism about reasoning implicit in philosophy itself; if you reject the idea that good in reasoning is independent of our preferences, then in Socratic terms you are no philosopher at all: you are a sophist.

Note that the moderation here is not one of tone. Plato's Socrates argues respectfully with those who argue respectfully, but vehemently and polemically against those who argue vehemently and polemically. But Plato's Socrates is also quite clearly put forward as someone who insists that there is a real good of reasoning, and that it is discovered and not imposed by force of will. Because of that, we have to restrain ourselves, not running after merely apparent good but seeking that real good. That is philosophy.

Crucified Seraph

Today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. From his Praises of the Virtues (pp. 132-133):

Hail, Queen Wisdom! The Lord save you,
with your sister, pure, holy Simplicity.
Lady Holy Poverty, God keep you,
with your sister, holy Humility.
Lady Holy Love, God keep you,
with your sister, holy Obedience.
All holy virtues,
God keep you,
God, from whom you proceed and come.
In all the world there is not a man
who can possess any one of you
without first dying to himself.

From St. Bonaventure's Major Life, Part I, Chapter XIII, Section 9 (p. 735):

O valiant knight of Christ! You are armed with the weapons of your invaluable Leader. They will mark you out and enable you to overcome all your enemies. It is for you to bear aloft the standard of the High King, at the sight of which the rank and file of God's army take heart. And you bear, nonetheless, the seal of the supreme High Priest Christ, so that your words and example must be regarded by everyone as genuine and sound beyond all cavil. You bear the scars of the Lord Jesus in your body, so that no one should dare oppose you. On the contrary, all Christ's disciples are bound to hold you in devout affection. God's witness in your favor is beyond all doubt; the sacred stigmata were witnessed not just by two or three, which would have been enough, but by a whole multitude, which is more than enough, and they leave those who are unbelieving without excuse. The faithful, on the other hand, are confirmed in their faith and raised up by confident hope and inflamed with the fire of divine love.


Quotations from St. Francis of Assisi, Writings and Early Biographies: English Omnibus of Sources for the Life of St. Francis, Brown et al., trs., Habig, ed., Franciscan Press (Quincy, IL: 1991).

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

O World Invisible, We View Thee

The Kingdom of God
by Francis Thompson

O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air--
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumor of thee there?

Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars!--
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

The angels keep their ancient places--
Turn but a stone and start a wing!
'Tis ye, 'tis your estrangèd faces,
That miss the many-splendored thing.

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry--and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry--clinging to Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water,
Not of Genesareth, but Thames!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Infant's First Smile

I conjecture, therefore, that the moment in which intelligence awakens to activity is marked by the infant's first smile.

By this ineffable expression of its joy, the infant seems to hail the light of the day which is dawning upon him. His reasonable soul rejoices in the truth which it recovers, and springs forward, as it were, to clasp it. How great, how solemn a moment to the human soul, must be the first act of its intelligence, the sense of a new and boundless life, the discovery of its own immortality! Is it possible that an event so stupendous and so startling to the infant, though the adult can form no idea of it, should not be manifested externally by signs of exuberant joy? You are right, then, O mothers, who watch so eagerly for your infant's first smile, who try to induce it, who welcome it with such trembling joy in every fibre of your being. You alone are the true interpreters of those first utterances of infancy which, in the shape of a smile, break from the lips and the eyes and the whole countenance of the little intelligent being; you alone understand its mystery; you understand that from that hour he knows you and speaks to you; and you, the first object of human intelligence, you alone know how to answer this language of love, and to make yourselves the image and type of the truth which is intelligible, and which shines by its own light.

Antonio Rosmini, The Ruling Principle of Method Applied to Education, pp. 60-61. Rosmini's idea is that infants have first a purely sensory period, beginning in the mother's womb, in which they are, so to speak, swept on by the world, and then, stimulated to have a sense of wanting other sensations, they begin to become mental agents -- and Rosmini's proposal is that the sign that this has begun is the infant's first clear expression of delight, which establishes that they have attended to and recognized something so as to be delightedly startled at it. From this point on, with this smile, he thinks, the infant's intellectual life begins its steady development.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Little Flower

Today is the memorial of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, also known as The Little Flower. She was the youngest daughter of Ss. Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin, born in 1873. She had something of a troubled childhood; her mother died when she was 4, she was heavily bullied at school, she was often sick. However, she improved greatly as she grew older and eventually entered the Carmelite order in 1888. She died at the age of 24, on September 30, 1897, and was canonized by Pius XI in 1925. I find it a somewhat amusing irony that her feast follows immediately after St. Jerome's; they are personality-wise direct opposites in many ways. But they are both Doctors of the Church, and have more in common than one might think.

From a letter to her sister Céline:

October 20, 1888.

MY DEAREST SISTER,—Do not let your weakness make you unhappy. When, in the morning, we feel no courage or strength for the practice of virtue, it is really a grace: it is the time to "lay the axe to the root of the tree," relying upon Jesus alone. If we fall, an act of love will set all right, and Jesus smiles. He helps us without seeming to do so; and the tears which sinners cause Him to shed are wiped away by our poor weak love. Love can do all things. The most impossible tasks seem to it easy and sweet. You know well that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them. What, then, have we to fear?

You wish to become a Saint, and you ask me if this is not attempting too much. Céline, I will not tell you to aim at the seraphic holiness of the most privileged souls, but rather to be "perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." You see that your dream—that our dreams and our desires—are not fancies, since Jesus Himself has laid their realisation upon us as a commandment.

The Image of a Complete Community

Association demands of its components only this, that they undertake a function which contributes to achieving its constitutive purpose. Association lays no claim upon their entire inner being. But matters are otherwise with the genuine community. Within the community, and thus within the individuals that belong to it, there lives an inclination to reach out beyond themselves toward a complete unification. Before it stands the image of a complete community that can't be achieved by any earthly community -- can't in principle, not just accidentally. However, the possibility of complete community becomes insightfully given, on the basis of what can be achieved in the midst of the earthly community toward overcoming absolute loneliness. Consequently, an inner incompleteness clings to every earthly community, and an inclination beyond itself.

[Edith Stein, "Individual and Community", Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities, Baseheart & Sawicki, trs., OCS Publications (Washington, DC: 2000), pp. 285-286.]