Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Quick Trip to Scotland, Part IV

For our next day, we crossed the Firth of Forth to the Kingdom of Fife to see Falkland Palace. Falkland Palace came about by James IV and James V reworking an older castle in grand Renaissance style. It is known for having the oldest extant Real Tennis (also known as Court Tennis) court, created in 1539. A fire partly destroyed the Palace after Cromwell's troops occupied it, and it sat there in ruins for a very long time. In 1887, the fantastically wealthy 3rd Marquess of Bute, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, father of the Marquess of Bute who bought The Georgian House, purchased the building and began extensive renovations. He made a genuine effort to maintain historical integrity of the castle, with the result that bits and pieces of the Palace are quite old. The Marquess of Bute still owns it, but in 1952 the actual operations were turned over to the National Trust for Scotland. Since, as I mentioned before, I'm a member of National Trust for Scotland USA, I got in free.

Falkland Palace, of course, is in the little village of Falkland, which is also famous for its square, with the Bruce Fountain, dating from 1856:

A picture of the Palace itself:

They didn't allow photography inside, given the age and delicacy of some of the materials. However, you can see a photograph of its chapel, for which the Palace is famous, on the Falkland Palace website, about halfway down the page. The Falkland Chapel Royal is the only royal chapel in the United Kingdom that is Catholic, which I believe it has been since 1896.

After Falkland, we went to Glamis Castle, owned by the Lyon family. (Glamis is pronounced as if the 'i' weren't there.)

Glamis was the place King Malcolm II was murdered; at that point there was a royal hunting lodge. This is the historical foundation for what is actually Glamis Castle's greatest claim to fame. When William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, he made Macbeth the Lord of Glamis, although the historical Macbeth was never anywhere near the castle: "All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!" It was probably the northernmost Scottish castle of which he could be sure his audience had heard, since Lord Glamis was probably at the English court around about that time. The castle is also famous as a haunted castle. According to one story, in the fifteenth century one of the Lords Glamis, or else one of their family members, usually known as 'Earl Beardie' was addicted to gambling. The servants begged him to stop gambling on Sunday; Earl Beardie swore an oath and said that he did not care about that; he'd play until doomsday (or with the Devil himself, according to one version). A dark-haired stranger showed up shortly afterward and began to play with Earl Beardie, late into early Sunday morning, and they have been playing ever since. Another story attached to Glamis is that in every generation of the family, a monster is born and bricked up in the walls. In the chapel there is a seat reserved for the 'White Lady', usually said to be the ghost of Janet Douglas, Lady Glamis, who in the sixteenth century was burned (due to a false accusation by the king) for witchcraft, and who is said occasionally to appear there to pray.

After Glamis, we headed back south to Scone Palace, near Perth, which is also, of course, mentioned in Macbeth. (As with a lot of Scottish names, the 'o' is pronounced as if it were a 'u'.) Scone Abbey was the place kings were crowned, sitting on the Stone of Scone which had been brought there by King Kenneth MacAlpin. In 1559, John Knox whipped up a mob that came to Perth and sacked it. The Abbey was highly damaged, but continued to function until it was given to William Ruthven as a secular estate. The Ruthvens rebuilt the abbey to be a nice palace, but they were charged with treason in 1600 and the Palace was turned over to the captain of the king's guard, David Murray, who became the first Lord Scone.

Coming in to Scone, we found a Scottish celebrity. It's a Heilan Coo!

The shaggy Highland cow, with its double coat of hair and weird hairstyles, is always popular. They also have peacocks:

On Moot Hill, the place associated with the coronation of kings, there is a nineteenth-century mortuary chapel, in front of which they've put a mock-up of the Stone of Destiny:

And back to Edinburgh, and that was a day.

to be continued

Scottish Poetry XXX

On the Massacre of Glencoe
by Sir Walter Scott

“O, tell me, Harper, wherefore flow
Thy wayward notes of wail and woe
Far down the desert of Glencoe,
Where none may list their melody?
Say, harp’st thou to the mists that fly,
Or to the dun deer glancing by,
Or to the eagle that from high
Screams chorus to thy minstrelsy?”

“No, not to these, for they have rest,--
The mist-wreath has the mountain crest,
The stag his lair, the erne her nest,
Abode of lone security.
But those for whom I pour the lay,
Not wildwood deep, nor mountain gray,
Not this deep dell, that shrouds from day,
Could screen from treach’rous cruelty.

“Their flag was furled, and mute their drum,
The very household dogs were dumb,
Unwont to bay at guests that come
In guise of hospitality.
His blithest notes the piper plied,
Her gayest snood the maiden tied,
The dame her distaff flung aside,
To tend her kindly housewifery.

“The hand that mingled in the meal
At midnight drew the felon steel,
And gave the host’s kind breast to feel
Meed for his hospitality!
The friendly hearth which warmed that hand
At midnight armed it with the brand,
That bade destruction’s flames expand
Their red and fearful blazonry.

“Then woman’s shriek was heard in vain,
Nor infancy’s unpitied plain,
More than the warrior’s groan, could gain
Respite from ruthless butchery!
The winter wind that whistled shrill,
The snows that night that cloaked the hill,
Though wild and pitiless, had still
Far more than Southern clemency.

“Long have my harp’s best notes been gone,
Few are its strings, and faint their tone,
They can but sound in desert lone
Their gray-haired master’s misery.
Were each gray hair a minstrel string,
Each chord should imprecations fling,
Till startled Scotland loud should ring,
‘Revenge for blood and treachery!’”

And that ends this series.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Dashed Off XV

This ends the notebook that was finished at the end of February, 2017.

Appeals to authority are appeals to experience.

Pragmatism is right that there is, as Peirce says, an inseparable connection between rational cognition and rational purpose; but its conception of both sides seems defective.

Our sensory experience does not include merely 'things sensed' but also 'ways we came to sense them'.

Our senses feed into our experience only insofar as they already give us invariances.

Given how Peirce describes meaning & intellectual purport of symbols, it follows that they are, while constrained, infinite under those constraints.

the relevance, truth, and structural cogency of a given account of historical philosophy

intrinsic contradiction
contradiction with the known
contradiction with the not yet known
consistency with the known
requirement by the known
intrinsic necessity

the Zeitgeist of ancient Greece as moderate will to power
- it is this that Socrates opposed

conservation laws as totality-designating principles

Theses attacked by Zeno as absurd:
(1) Everything is composed of units.
(2) There is a void.
(3) Space and time are discrete.
- Zeno seems to take these as the foundations for the idea that things are moved.

[philosophical stages of a problem]
sophist stage (verbal maneuvering)
Socratic stage (dialectic = laying bare problem)
Platonic stage (dialectical ascent = transforming the perspective)
Aristotelian stage (reducing to principle and method)

Plato as Socrates 'beautified and rejuvenated' (2nd Letter)

Morality covers both the universal and the particular.

infused virtues as synousia with God

"For what warrant have we for trusting our mental faculties unless there be one in their number which is cognizant of eternal truth?" (Ward)

If you have a well-formed conscience, its dictates are of value to me as they are to you; the difference being only that to you they are definitive and to me they are advisory.

holy synod // well formed conscience

the Notes of the Church as ways the Church reflects God

"That the very idea of a Law implies a Lawgiver, is a proposition with which I am not prepared to concur; but that it predisposes the mind, in a most signal and peculiar degree, for the *reception* of that idea, cannot surely admit of doubt." (Ward)

What matters more than what a saint does is why the saint does it. But certainly sometimes simply imitating what a saint does is a way to start getting a sense of why.

We can have a perfectly sensible sense of 'private judgment' that does not involve equating it with pride, that, on the contrary, allows a private judgment that is not pride at all; but it is also clearly true that pride is a kind of private judgment.

scientific experiment as requiring a cultivation of the aesthetic sense of order and of the aesthetic sense of novelty

We can recognize that an experiment might not be well suited for drawing conclusions, even though the right conclusions could be drawn from it, and that an elegant experiment makes things clear in a way that a clumsy one does not.

A diocese should be a home to faith and devotion, which is why bishops should be cautious about things that might squelch the latter; they make the diocese unhomely.

dianoetic vs noetic epistemic operators
pistic vs eikastic doxastic operators

When the Skeptic speaks of following appearances, he elides the fact that not all appearances are of the same kind.

exemplarity as arising from the fact that intellects can have 'forms other than their own'
- likewise, equivocal causal powers can in a certain sense have 'forms other than their own', so one would expect exemplarity there, as well

"There is none so worthless whom Love cannot impel, as it were by a divine inspiration, towards virtue." Symposium 179c7-8

evaluating arguments by
relevance : UD & terms :: truth : judgment :: validity : quantity & quality

being like God
Theatetus 176b1-3; Republic 613a7-b1; LAws 715e7 and following

"The State in which the law is above the rulers, and the rulers are the inferior of the law, has salvation and every blessing which the gods can confer." Laws 715

The mimetic theory of art makes the most sense if you are a Platonist (who has a rich enough treasury of things to imitate), and makes less and less sense the farther you stand from Plato.

development of doctrine in natural religion

Reliance on authority inevitably tends to create a sort of eclecticism, built out of bits and pieces of explicit statements of authority that are interwoven by means of various things form other sources to help interpret those explicit statements, pulled in precisely because of that help.

Protestants have tended to use 'private judgment' to refer to what would have to be judgments of faith; but judgments of faith are not private.

simultaneous catholicity, successive catholicity

Rejection of the visibility of the Church proper is not consistent with the actual portrayal of the Church in the New Testament, nor with its typological representation in the Old, which is social, and involves communication of signs.

Butlers argument for visible Church: Analogy II ch 1

"It is clear then, that the Churches of Christ all held communion in various ways; aiding each other, exchanging salutations, admitting those who brought letters of commendation to the assemblies and rites of the church, seeking for mutual advice. This was all instituted by the Apostles in accordance with the will of God." (Palmer, summarizing what is explicitly mentioned in the NT)

schism proper
estranged communion
imperfect or implicit communion
perfect and explicit communion

patriarchal obediences

appropriate administration of sacraments as a second-order note of sanctity (which means a system of orders itself of a kind suitable for cultivating or assisting holiness, according to the service of signs themselves appropriate to holiness)

sophistication and coherence of sacramental economy (as a language of signs) as a second-order note of sanctity
-How suitable is it to the Kingdom of God (how much sense does it make of 'Kingdom of God' as a description)? How inter-referential and mutually supporting is it, when fully functioning as intended? How rich is it as a symbol of divine grace?

Popular election of ministers, taken as sufficient in itself, is not consistent with the actual portrayal of the Church in the New Testament, nor with its typological representation in the old, which is hierarchical and by divine positive law through apostles/prophets.

Reasonable claim of apostolic succession grounds presumptively the claim that particular churches are part of one Church, although this presumption may be defeated by clear signs of schism or heresy.

the three fundamental elements of papal authority
(1) primacy of honor
(2) tribunal of appeal
(3) presidence in charity
Taking each of these to be understood in such a way as to be an appropriate means to uphold the faith and sacraments, and to maintain the harmony of the churches, and taking them both individually and in common, and taken them both themselves and as they redound on the ordinary episcopal and patriarchal privileges, one can go very, very far.
(There are, of course, powers and rights it will not include, such as customary rights that grow up organically, e.g., presidency of episcopal conference of Italy, or specific rights that have implicitly or explicitly been recognized by ecumenical councils like the right of legates and the right to have suburbican dioceses, and rights of secular authority, such as those over Vatican City State; but these are adjunct or derivative. There is a good arugment that the three above, taken in all combinations, are the essential components of papal authority itself.)

Cinematic swordfights need to be choreographed as stories told through fights.

In Kantianism all moral arguments are perverted faculty arguments, where the faculty is reason (or sometimes reason + other faculties).

Intemperance is might-makes-right of character.

the intrinsic rights of bishops
(1) to uphold the sacraments
(2) to proclaim the faith
(3) to advise those in their charge
(4) to hold synods
(5) to be free of secular interference in ecclesial matters

We reflect each others' dignity, like Indra's net.

The Beatific Vision is revelation in the purest and most proper sense. Any account of revelation not taking it into account is thereby shown to be defective.

Everyone's accounts of lying pinpoint exactly their views of the value of reason.

Philosophy stands above clique and intrigue only insofar as it is a humanitarian tradition, deeply rooted and thus transcending every age.

Honesty in journalism requires a memory for repetition in coverage over long periods.

of will's end and nature's end in use of nature: perversion of nature
of will's end and nature's end, where will and nature are separate: frustration of will
of import of action and import of word in one act: performative contradiction
of import of action and import of word in distinct acts, where deliberate: hypocrisy
of import of action and import of word in distinct acts, where unintentional: ?
of import of distinct actions: instability
of object of intellect or sense and object of sense: illusion
of distinct objects of intellect, in distinct acts of intellection: self-contradiction
of distinct objects of intellect, in one act: incoherence/confusion
of object of intellect and import of action: deception
(some refinement probably needed for these)

Just as we often have forewarning of deficiency and excess of food, so we often have forewarning of moral defect or excess -- but it is also not always transparent to us that or of what we are being forewarned, just as languor or crankiness may be forewarning of too little food without being recognized as such.

Sympathy should not be used as a system of punishment.

motherhood as first hospitality

The baptism of infants signals the infinite value of infants, capable of being heirs of God's kingdom.

doxographies as empirical approximations of intellectual space

The people complaining most loudly on behalf of the public are never the ones who most take the public's interest to heart.

Placation arguably only makes sense of motivations in religious sacrifice once one has a stable system of sacrifice in place. (One needs to know what might placate.) The root motivation of sacrifice seems more likely to be related to generosity. People who are anxious do not give things up unless they think it will help; but the generous give freely. Once there are habits of giving, these can be turned to other ends.

We have a moral obligation to treat sacraments as holy and never merely as a means to profane things.

Matrimony is a means of extending charity (1) by requiring unions, to be sacramental, that go beyond an immediate circle; (2) by requiring unions to fit the preconditions for love of children; (3) by holding up standards of fidelity suitable for charity in the marriage itself; (4) by providing a model of spiritual motherhood and fatherhood, and for consecrated life; (5) by providing the graces and the pedagogy for realizing the union of Christ with His Church.

St. Augustine's doctrine of original sin is based on the sacrament of baptism and its exorcisms. No rejection of the doctrine that does not consider these is theologically adequate.

Herder's principle: Whatever can take place among mankind, with the sphere of given circumstances of time, place, and nation, actually does take place.
- As he notes, this involves seeing history as governed by fixed laws, and removes anything beyond focus on discernible facts and these laws.
- He also takes this as unaffected by agglutination of peoples.
- And he insists especially on its showing the transitoriness of flourishing -- reach the pinnacle, and there is no way to go but down.
- From this last he concludes that health and duration are not measured by height of glory but by center of equilibrium -- the balance of powers -- and when it is pushed to a higher excellence than this, downfall often follows (always, unless some countervailing violence pushes it back into equilibrium).
- A worry with the principle is how the modal collapse is justified.

True moral law must take into account all things, have an authority unlimited in scope, and, of course, be good in and of itself. It thus must reflect and converge on the power, wisdom, and goodness of God.

"The solitary man is not the man of nature." Gerdil
"The dependence of men is not contrary to the nature of man."

Aristotle Metaph 990a34-b8 and the two-world objection in Hume's Dialogues

the finite active participability of the human mind

Aristotle MM 12-8b26-32: We cannot have friendship with God because (1) God does not return love and (2) we cannot properly love God. A great deal can be learned by recognizing why there is something to these claims and why they are not strictly true.

vulgarity, magnificence, and meanness in liturgy

Citizenship is in and of itself an authority to assemble.

modalities as transcendentals
true or false, necessary or possible, necessary or true or possible, etc.
- this cannot be true of all modalities, some of which are categorical

matrimony as a recognition of the infinity of the other

"Sophisms produce revolutions, and sophists are succeeded by hangment." Donoso Cortes

the ecclesial hierarchy as the civic hearth of the infinite republic

A possible thesis: Sunni Islam tends to drive cultural history prior to Islamization into oblivion, because of its structure; this is different from the Shia structure, which absorbs in part the prior cultural history. There is more of every age of Persia in Iran than there is of every age of Egypt in Egypt.

Vice narrows the possibilities available to choice; virtue expands them. Some of this latter is direct, and yet more is indirect (e.g., by interlinking virtuous acts of different people). Some of this is an actual expansion or narrowing on an occasion, but most of it is over time and in tendency.

the liberal doctrine of legitimacy as an offshoot of divine right (Donoso Cortes)

Reason is neither universally adequate, nor absolutely independent, nor supremely sovereign; but its value is immeasurable nonetheless.

It is reasonable to limit the harm of human evil and to aid people in overcoming it; it is unreasonable to think you can end human evil, or that you gain anything by trying to punish it all. In a fallen world, toleration is a principle without which society is impossible.

the harm principle as anti-solidary

Property is appropriated socially; the reasons for extending possession beyond actual present physical possession are all social and even actual present physical possession requires social recognition to be possession as property.

The solidarity of humanity depends on the solidarities of family, of people, and of religion.

An artistic medium should in a proper sense be that in which materials are mixed or made suitable for artistic ordering.


I've noticed recently a lot of people giving elaborate arguments for why this or that justifies 'incivility'. I'm not really sure there's much to be made of the trend on its own; you can always tell when people are getting desperate and clutching at straws in politics by the fact that they stop to try to convince you at great length that they would be righteous for doing what by definition decent people try to avoid when possible. People who honestly think they have righteous cause don't beg for approval.

But in a sense my cynical view of the underlying motivations is neither here nor there. What I've noticed, though, is a common mistake in discussions, namely treating 'incivility' as if it were something symmetrical to 'civility'. But this is not possible. A general state of civility can be a coherent and unified thing, but 'incivility' is a term that covers a lot of very different things, and it is useless to talk about incivility unless you specify what, precisely is meant. Are we talking about insults (as if they didn't already exist in spades)? Death threats? Occasional harassment? Harassment campaigns? Vandalism and destruction of property? Burning people's houses or businesses down? Lynch mobs? Assassinations? The differences matter. And against whom in what contexts? It can hardly be the case that the argument is for a general state of incivility to everybody all the time. Is it to everybody one disagrees with? Some subset of them, marked out by some particular criterion? What restrictions are there as to time and place? The differences matter again.

Civility in the strict and proper sense is the behavior required to maintain the normal operations of civil society: people keeping the peace in small and big ways by acting in a way appropriate to living together. The ways one can fail to do this are legion; if you don't specify which you mean in particular, and the conditions and restrictions on it, it is impossible to say much on the question.

Scottish Poetry XXIX

by Alexander Anderson

Bow thou to Genius, and thy worship give
To our Magician, who, with wondrous wand,
Walk'd through the realms of fiction's fairy land,
And bade the past in sweetest colours live:
Bow thou to him while ever luminous,
Within thy heart, sweet forms upstart and say—
We, too, will worship at his shrine this day,
For in him we have life, as he in us.
Hearing these voices that from boyhood's years
Have kept their friendship on unchanged, canst thou
Refuse thy homage to their master now,
Who through the halo of the past appears
Simple, serene, and wise, and king alone
Of realms a world's praise has made his own?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Quick Trip to Scotland, Part III

Some castle or other has stood on Castle Rock since the twelfth century. Since the sheer basalt Rock rising over striated valleys can only be approached on foot from the East, it has always had an immense strategic and tactical value, although it can only be held against seige when it has an excellent store of water. As modern warfare progressed, however, it became less and less essential for defensive purposes, and in the nineteenth century the shift began of treating it less like a military asset and more like a national monument, although a garrison continued there until the 1920s. Currently it is most famous for housing the Honours of Scotland -- the regalia of the monarchy. (They can't be photographed.) Rising in the west above the Old Town, it orients everything else.

The approach to the castle was a bit of a mess, since they were doing construction for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

As you get to the gate, you can see the well-known statues representing Robert the Bruce (left) and William Wallace (right). You also get the Scottish motto, Nemo me impune lacessit, or, as the Scots translate it, Wha daur meddle wi' me?

The castle grounds themselves are not very intuitively laid out, and everybody just mills wherever, so it's not straightforward to find anything. But the views are very nice.

They have a cemeteries for dogs that have been adopted by the regiments in one way or another:

There is Mons Meg, the massive cannon built in the fifteenth century by King Philip the Good of France and gifted to James II, King of Scots. It is one of the largest cannons ever made. It was seized by the English in 1754 and only returned to Scotland by the persuasion of Sir Walter Scott. I couldn't get a good picture of it because everyone was always crowded around it, so here's one from Wikimedia Commons:


The most important building on the castle grounds is St. Margaret's Chapel, generally thought to be the oldest building in Edinburgh. Queen St. Margaret was the wife of King Malcolm from 1070 to 1093; she died at Edinburgh Castle, which at the time was the royal palace. The chapel was built by her youngest son, King David I, and stands on the highest point of the castle grounds. It is currently freestanding, although there is evidence from the masonry that it was at one time probably connected to another building on one side.

It ceased to be used more than occasionally when the royal living quarters were moved from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace in the 1530s, and in the Scottish Reformation it was turned into a gunpowder shed, which it continued to be until restoration began under Queen Victoria. Now it is a working chapel again, although mostly for things like weddings. It holds about twenty people.

There's also a nice equestrian statue of Sir Douglas Haig, Expeditionary Commander of the Western Front in World War I. The Castle is a great place if you are interested in military history; essentially, it functions as a military history museum, more than anything. I didn't take very many pictures of the exhibits, in part because they were usually quite dark and it's best not to use flash in museums.

After the Castle, we headed north. Along the way I caught a quick picture of a plaque commemorating the birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell. (The building is offices now, so there isn't anything there except the plaque.)

Our destination in going north was The Georgian House in New Town. In the eighteenth century, Edinburgh was in fairly bad shape. As I previously mentioned, Edinburgh's growth pattern was unusual because the fights with the English led to its confinement within its medieval walls much longer than was usually the case elsewhere, and its burgeoning population did not spread out. In the middle of the 1700s, there were about 70,000 people crammed into the long 143 acres of Old Town. (For reference, Vatican City State is about 108 acres and the National Mall in Washington DC is about 309 acres. There are about 11,000 residents of Old Town today.) The buildings throughout Old Town are noticeably very tall, rarely less than five stories, and this is not a new thing. Twelve large families might share one building. The inevitable problems of crowding were very acute. The city had a good supply of water, but no plumbing; it all had to be carried by water caddies (usually elderly women in need of a wage) up flights of stairs. Sanitation was as awful as you could imagine -- hence the city's nickname of Auld Reekie. The North Loch was noxious and swampy and full of sewage. The Union, however, gave a breathing space, and in the eighteenth century the North Loch was, in stages, drained and turned into a canal of running water rather than a stagnant marsh-lake. The idea was hatched to build, from scratch a New Town to serve as a residential area, an entirely planned town. A design competition in the 1760s led to James Craig being the architect in charge.

The New Town design also let Edinburgh do an elaborate bit of sucking-up to the English after the Jacobite Rebellions. Its main thoroughfares were George (named after the King, George III), Queen, and Prince Streets. The roads linked St. Andrew's Square and St. George's Square, after the patron saints of Scotland and England. (St. George's Square was later changed to Charlotte Square -- named after the Queen -- to avoid confusion with another George's Square.) Two important secondary streets were called Rose Street and Thistle Street, for the floral symbols of England and Scotland. The buildings were done in strict Georgian style -- indeed, while the individual buildings were often admired, the New Town itself was often criticized for being boring and repetitive. But it became the place to live if you were at all high society.

The Georgian House is actually No. 7 Charlotte Square. Being on Charlotte's Square itself, it was for the cream of the cream; only St. Andrew's Square was a more impressive address. Charlotte's Square (the statue is Prince Albert and dates from the 1870s):

The basic layout is that there are several houses together, but they are fronted in such a way that the whole thing looks like a massive palace:

No. 7 was first bought by John Lamont, Chief of Clan Lamont. He moved in in 1796. The Lamonts had the residence until they sold it in 1817 to Catherine Farquharson of Invercauld, a wealthy widow. She was in the house until 1845, when it was bought by Lord Neaves, a who lived there until 1889, when The Reverend and Mrs. Alexander Whyte bought it. In 1927, it was bought by the Marquess of Bute, who had bought No. 5 and No. 6, as well. (No. 6, Bute House, is today the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland.) In 1966, it passed into the hands of the National Trust for Scotland, who restored it as an eighteenth century residence, and it became The Georgian House. Since I'm a member of the National Trust for Scotland USA, I got in free. It's a fairly well done museum; I would certainly recommend it to anyone visiting Edinburgh with children, because it has all sorts of little activities to keep kids interested -- you can even dress up in period costumes, if you like. The volunteers in each room were overflowing with information about details like the furniture; most of which, I'm afraid, was a bit lost on me. But it was interesting to get an overall sense of how the well-to-do lived in the period.

One of the best views in New Town is the intersection of George Street and Castle Street. Looking one way we see Thomas Chalmers, the theologian, philosopher, and political economist most famous for his Bridgewater Treatise, On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man:

And in the other direction you see the Castle:

And that more or less finished our day and the bulk of what we did in Edinburgh itself.

to be continued


Today is the feast of St. Irenaeus. He is thought to have been born in Smyrna. The young Irenaeus was a priest during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius; his predecessor in the episcopacy of Lyon (Lugdunum, as it was called at the time) was martyred toward the end of that persecution. As a new bishop he had to perform the hard work of consolidation, which he did admirably. He wrote a number of works, all in Greek, but of the original Greek only fragments remain. His major works, Against Heresies and Proof of the Apostolic Preaching are, however, known in very early Latin translation. His tomb was completely destroyed in the sixteenth century by the Huguenots. It was at one time charged against him that he exaggerated in his descriptions of the Gnostics, erecting straw men to knock down, but further discoveries have consistently shown the charges to be exaggerated; even if one disagrees with him about certain matters, he clearly made a serious effort to be accurate. He has traditionally been listed as a martyr, but we have very little information about his late life, and the first extant attributions of martyrdom to him are several centuries later. From Adversus Haereses, Book I, Preface:

Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. One far superior to me has well said, in reference to this point, "A clever imitation in glass casts contempt, as it were, on that precious jewel the emerald (which is most highly esteemed by some), unless it come under the eye of one able to test and expose the counterfeit. Or, again, what inexperienced person can with ease detect the presence of brass when it has been mixed up with silver?" Lest, therefore, through my neglect, some should be carried off, even as sheep are by wolves, while they perceive not the true character of these men, -because they outwardly are covered with sheep's clothing (against whom the Lord has enjoined us to be on our guard), and because their language resembles ours, while their sentiments are very different,-I have deemed it my duty (after reading some of the Commentaries, as they call them, of the disciples of Valentinus, and after making myself acquainted with their tenets through personal intercourse with some of them) to unfold to thee, my friend, these portentous and profound mysteries, which do not fall within the range of every intellect, because all have not sufficiently purged their brains. I do this, in order that thou, obtaining an acquaintance with these things, mayest in turn explain them to all those with whom thou art connected, and exhort them to avoid such an abyss of madness and of blasphemy against Christ.

Scottish Poetry XXVIII

The Captives
by William Knox

(Psalm cxxxvii.)

By the rivers of Babel we sat in our sorrow,
And wept when we thought of our Zion afar;
For no joy came to us with the beam of the morrow,
And no quiet arrived with the eve and her star.

And oft, when the winds through the willows were sighing,
We hung up our harps with a tear on their chord;
For there they that carried us captive from Zion
Required us to sing them a song of the Lord.

But how—while the rod of oppression waved o'er us,
While we toiled for the hands that compelled us to roam,
While a journey of bondage lay darkly before us—
Could we sing for the spoilers that wasted our home!

O Salem! dear Salem! if I do forget thee,
May my right hand be shrunk as it sweeps o'er the chord!
O city of God! when I cease to regret thee,
May my tongue be struck dumb mid the song of the Lord!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Seal of All the Fathers

Today is the feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Doctor of the Church. From his commentary on the Gospel of John (6:69):

The Word of God the Father, after all, did not come down into a man as the grace of the Spirit comes down on one of the holy prophets, but he himself truly became flesh, as it is written, that is, he became man. He is indivisible, then, after the union, and he is not divided into two persons, even though we recognize that the Word of God is one thing and the flesh in which he has come to dwell is another. Since the whole chorus of holy apostles confirms for us the faith concerning these matters, in that they say that they have "come to know" that he is "the Christ, the Son of God" in the singular, we will not accept, if we think rightly, those who ignorantly dare to institute something new beyond this.

[Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, Volume I, Maxwell, tr., Elowsky, ed., IVP Academic (Downers Grove, IL: 2013) p. 258.]

Scottish Poetry XXVII

Be a Man
by Robert Allan

Whatsoe'er thine earthly lot,
Be a man! be a man!
Foot it bravely; falter not;
Manlike let thy work be wrought.
Yea, with energy and thought
Round thy plan.

Does the world with thee go hard?
Still endure, still endure!
Not a jot of faith discard;
Equity and right regard;
And the eternal bright reward
Shall be sure.

Up! at every hazard be
A true soul, a true soul!
What of virtue is in thee
Keep thou that intact and free;
Yea, maintain reality
Sound and whole.

What and if thou canst not please
Men in place, men in place?
Better, like old Socrates,
Drink the hemlock to the lees,
Than regard opinion's breeze
And be base.

Thee bad triumphs would but bring
To thy fall, to thy fall;
Thou to-day might'st be a king,
One for whom loud paeans ring,
And to-morrow a base thing
Scorn'd by all.

See what Time to thee, Time's heir,
Has brought down, has brought down
High example, knowledge fair—
All in thee rich fruit to bear;
All to make thee nobly wear
Manhood's crown!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Quick Trip to Scotland, Part II

Edinburgh is known as the Athens of the North, partly for its monumental architecture and partly for its centrality to the Scottish Enlightenment. So, to see Edinburgh from this angle, we signed on for a walking tour focused specifically on the Scottish Enlightenment, through Mercat Tours. It was very good.

The High Kirk of Edinburgh, more commonly known as St. Giles' Cathedral and sometimes called the Mother Church of Presbyterianism, was never a cathedral at all except for a very brief bit in the seventeenth century; in the Middle Ages, the bishop's seat was in St. Andrews. It nonetheless had importance as the most important church of one of Scotland's most important cities. It is very recognizable due to its crown steeple.

Outside of St. Giles' we find the Mercat Cross of Edinburgh:

'Mercat' is just a variation of 'market', and a mercat cross indicating the town market was one of the requirements that Edinburgh had to meet in order to be a royal burgh. Across from the Mercat Cross is a statue of Alexander and Bucephalus, by Sir John Steell, the same person who did the sculpture for the Scott Monument. I didn't get a good picture of it, but here is a picture from Wikimedia Commons:

Alexander & Bucephalus by John Steell

St. Giles' was a thriving Catholic cathedral into the sixteenth century. And then on July 7, 1559, the Town Council of Edinburgh picked a new preacher famous for his fiery sermons. His name was John Knox, and with him the Reformation came to Scotland in fierce earnest. The bell and the candlesticks were scrapped to make guns and the lectern for scrapmetal; the metal accoutrements of the relic of St. Giles, along with the relic itself, were sold to goldsmiths; the interior was converted to multiple preaching halls.

Near the church are a number of notable statues. There is Adam Smith:

And, a bit farther on, there is David Hume. looking a little on the gaunt side and very improbably dressed like Cicero:

If you look a little closer, you can see that his big toe is polished from people rubbing it:

Apparently people rub his toe so that his intelligence will rub off on them, a most remarkable irony that I'm sure Hume would attribute to his principles of association. I'm reminded of a comment by Hume himself: "Superstitious people are fond of the relicts of saints and holy men, for the same reason that they seek after types and images, in order to inliven their devotion, and give them a more intimate and strong conception of those exemplary lives, which they desire to imitate" (T; SBN 100). Hume thought that superstition tended to be favorable to the domination of a 'priestly power'; one wonders what priestly power would be supported here.

Both the Adam Smith and the David Hume statues were done by Alexander Stoddart, who did the James Clerk Maxwell statue. I think the Hume statue ends up being a significant failure in comparison to the Smith and Maxwell statues, both of which are well done. Hume would certainly like the comparison with Cicero, but it's very much more a sculpture of an affectation than of Hume himself. Besides, it doesn't really look like him. The Smith statue, however, is hard to get a good picture of; I have several from different times, and the light never quite strikes it right.

From the area around the Kirk we walked briefly to the University of Edinburgh -- which was closed at the time, so there wasn't really anything to see -- and then up to Calton Hill and the Old Calton Cemetery. The big attractions of the cemetery stand out and are easy to find:

David Hume wanted a monument that would have just his name and years of birth and death, and so that is what Robert Adam, the architect, designed for him.

However, it was a family mausoleum, and Hume's niece was also buried there, with the additional irony that above Hume's name was later placed a very Christian sentiment, to mark her interment there: " "Behold, I come quickly, thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

There's a street (right by the Scott Monument) called St. David's. It's often thought to be named after Hume rather than any actual St. David, because one of Hume's occasional nicknames when he was alive was "St. David". It seems Hume can hardly be commemorated without some irony attaching to the commemoration.

Next to the Hume Mausoleum is the American Civil War Memorial, often popularly known as the Scottish-American Soldiers Monument. It was funded by Americans, and is the only memorial for the American Civil War outside the United States; it commemorates Scottish American soldiers who fought for the Union. Six soldiers are interred there.

Nearby is the memorial stone for David Allan. Allan was an important painter and illustrator (he illustrated the works of Robert Burns). He was originally buried in an unmarked grave, but because of his importance the stone was put up about eighty years after his death.

Again nearby is the Political Martyrs' Monument.

It commemorates Thomas Muir, Thomas Fyshe Palmer, William Skirving, Maurice Margarot, and Joseph Gerrald, who were advocates for universal suffrage and got sent to a penal colony for their advocacy. The monument itself was planned by Joseph Hume, an associate of James Mill and Jeremy Bentham.

The grave of John Playfair is also found in Old Calton Burial Ground.

Playfair was actually buried in an unmarked grave; the plaque was put up in 2011.

From Old Calton Cemetery you can see the monuments on Calton Hill, which is where we went next.

The most prominent monument on Calton Hill is the Dugald Stewart Monument; Dugald Stewart, of course, was a philosopher teaching at the University of Edinburgh. He was very influential at the time, although much less widely read today. He serves as a good reference point for the late Scottish Enlightenment.

Also on Calton Hill is the John Playfair Monument, which was undergoing some renovation. Both the Dugald Stewart Monument and the John Playfair Monument were designed by William Henry Playfair, who was John Playfair's nephew.

Always easily visible on the hill is the Nelson Monument, which commemorates the victory at Trafalgar. It's an upside-down telescope.

Nearby is the Scottish National Monument. Designed by Charles Robert Cockerell and William Henry Playfair, it was intended to be a new Pantheon dedicated to Scottish soldiers who died in the Napoleonic War, a culminating crown of Edinburgh's status as the Athens of the North. Enough money was pulled together to start building the monument in 1826; fundraising became increasingly difficult, and they ran out of money in 1829 and it was never completed. For this reason, it gained the nicknames of Scotland's Disgrace and Edinburgh's Folly. One of our guides on a later trip told us that Glasgow offered to help pay for the monument on condition that the Glasgow coat of arms be put on the monument, and Edinburgh indignantly refused. In any case, Calton Hill serves as a sort of gravestone for the Scottish Enlightenment, with the Dugald Stewart Monument commemorating Edingburgh's last great Enlightenment philosopher and the National Monument showing the petering out of Edinburgh's ability to fulfill its self-proclaimed Neo-Athenian role.

Calton Hill is great for views of the city.

After the Enlightenment tour ended, we went to Edinburgh Castle, which I will save for the next part.

to be continued