Friday, October 05, 2018

Dashed Off XXIII

"If we do not know what we receive, we shall never wake into love." Teresa of Avila

Catholic citizens should be integralist about their own political power as citizens; it is another question whether this always requires, or is even always benefited by, this or that form of large-scale integralism.

Partisanship puts pressure on the mind to conflate ends and means.

Hope is a power of repair.

Note that Hume ends the History with the moral that the English constitution is not particularly rooted in ancient tradition, and that its excellence is in great measure happenstance.

The proud may be broken; the humble never.

already = not-still-not

reductio ad absurdum as a limit to doubt

"...humility has this excellent quality, that no work which is done in a humble state leaves any distaste in the soul." Teresa

The infused virtue of humility involves having a glimpse of how one looks from the divine perspective.

Liberalism, as generally practiced, trains people to see no higher goals in religion than emotional comfort and fulfillment of spirit. People too mired in its democratization lose their ability to make sense of people who see in religious practice absolute submission, or infinite compassion, or union with God, as someone used to thinking only in finites has difficulty making sense of the thought of those concerned with the infinite. This is a symptom of a broader problem with liberalism, its tendency to finitize all values.

NB that while Hume argues that the use of organs indicates mind-dependence of perceptions, Shepherd argues that it establishes the dependence of the perception on mind-independent objects.

taking subject-object to have primacy over act-potency leaves us with no real change, only differences (difference of object under difference of notice)

blasphemy laws based on offense vs blasphemy laws based on sublimity
-- Whatever one's view of the latter, the former is an abominable mongrel that consists of trivializing something while still being punitive about it, as if one made human dignity to be nothing more than a subjective preference while still putting people in jail for murder, treating murder as nothing but a violation of preferences. It turns solemn justice into petty malice.

Reproducibility is important for experiment because it allows one to move from talking about this physical event to an abstract object. Reproducible events can, qua reproducible, be treated abstractly as having a single structure and character across reproductions.

Rhetoric uses logical ideas under relative qualification.

People have no motivation or incentive to be active citizens if their power keeps being infringed. Other things can be relevant factors, but civic apathy or quietism is often linked to how unstable and uncertain people take their power to be.

The best pedagogy requires seeing things at once more abstractly and more concretely.

God as 'that true Virtue, from which all virtues spring'

How often the evidence is there before us and we do not even recognize it as evidence!

There can no more be a sharp separation between ethics and metaphysics than there can be one between practical and speculative understanding; whatever the distinction, there must be perichoresis.

while, when, and where as binary modal operators (symmetric)

squares of opposition for all of Llull's dignitates

the eclectic as intermediary between the occasional and the systematic
-- the occasional as our normal mode of philosophizing

popular consent as material ground of positive authority, reason as formal ground of authority, God as exemplar ground of authority

"Because God is the creator of the natural simplicities in minds and bodies, He has the simplicity which belongs to Him by nature as an activity." Palamas

quarantine rules // conflict of interest rules

A hypothesis: where (a) Box and Diamond are D-modalities; (b) the square of opposition is exhaustive in its order, such that its elements are disjunctively convertible with being; and (c) there is a dependency of some kind of Diamond on Box; then one may use Diamond to argue for the existence of God as the ground, principle, or prime of Box.
uncaused, opposing conditions existing, opposing conditions not existing, causable
necessary, impossible, possible, possible-not
intrinsic good, privation of good, admitting of good, admitting of privation of good
intrinsically true, intrinsically false, able to be true, able to be untrue

God as counter-skeptical guarantee // God as conserving cause

One may always move from an exclusive Diamond to an inclusive Diamond by disjunction with Box.

existence proofs: infinite regress, Diamond to Box, reduction to contradiction, accumulation of diagnostic marks

It seems that atheistic arguments from evil can only be ad hominem (in Locke's sense), never ad judicium. Are there exceptions? (An ad jud argument would need a way to ground knowledge of what God would do, even though the argued-for is that there is no God.)

All good we know in our everyday experience permits evil of some kind.

the problem of curial cliques
-- one element to this is that curial positions are basically spoils system (contrast with patriarchs and bishops), with both the advantages and disadvantages that follow from that.
-- this is perhaps intensified by the fact that cardinals, as electors, endure, thus giving a stable body of people competing, in a broad sense, for key positions and whose projects depend on position capture; this leads to networks and thus cliques.

An effect of separation of powers is sequester of faction (functional decentralization).

Conjecture and refutation is effective only to the extent one has relevant accessible invariances.

Increasingly I think any discussion of modal logic should begin with the principle of noncontradiction.

the illative and aspirative aspects of worship

"the Church prolongs the priestly mission of Jesus mainly by means of the sacred liturgy" (Mediator Dei)

Sexual shame is rooted in the fact that sex involves much more than reproduction. Stripping it away requires treating sex as nothing but the physical process of reproduction, whether one thinks of it under the label 'reproduction' or not.

One of the greatest mistakes you can make is to assume that the world's critique of Christianity is coherent to begin with.

perception of signs as precondition for inference

the involution of moral life

Practices and procedures in politics adapt to accommodate regular and widespread responses of shame, pity, and reverence, where these responses lead t, or threaten to lead to, focused protest.

By perception we have an evidential point of view on which we can draw; by inference we draw on possible points of view related in definite ways to our own; by testimony we draw on the points of view of other people.

"our Reason is akin to the Reason that governs the Universe; we must assume that or despair of finding out anything." Peirce EP2:502

NB Peirce criticizes Hegel for not properly recognizing the distinction between essence and existence, leading to a kind of nominalism -- while the project of a phenomenology is an important one, Hegel conflates what actually forces itself on the mind with all that can be available to consciousness.

Seven mental qualifications of a philosopher (C. S. Peirce, CP 1.521-39)
(1) The ability to discern what is before one's consciousness
(2) Inventive originality
(3) Generalizing power
(4) subtlety
(5) Critical severity and sense of fact
(6) Systematic procedure
(7) Energy, diligence, persistency, and exclusive devotion to philosophy

rootedness in experience, rigor, and organization as the three features of system; systems as characterized by the modes and manners of these three features

Sanctity in this life is always partly aspirational.

An important and too often forgotten aspect of music is its tactile character: vibrations through the body, bodily responses like jolts, etc.

All complete explanation is in terms of something not more limited.

Tribute and homage to others is an essential part of the actual aesthetics of life.

"In all the things that so great and wise a God has created, there must be many beneficial secrets, and those who understand them do benefit, although I believe that in each little thing created by God there is more than what is understood, even if it is a little ant." Teresa

Love is a prerequisite for genuine stillness of mind.

The practice of prayer is fundamentally a matter of putting one's mind on God and coming to see all other things in light of Him, so that this becomes the normal course of thought.

Moral progress is possible only relative to a tradition.

If all earthly things may be a glass to see heaven through, so too may the saints and saintesses; they are not less glass than trees and mountains.

"It is the mark of a noble nature to be more shocked with the unjust condemnation of a bad man than of a virtuous one." Coleridge

"The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind." Livy

What are called the 'gray areas' of consent are in fact just the cases in which consent is operating normally -- to get more than this, consent must be sharpened by special procedures.

Aristotle was more thoroughly empirical than many modern philosophers who consider themselves empirically minded; the latter often have endless tissues of assumptions they cannot empirically justify.

plain truth and figured truth and riddled truth

diffusion of powers of governance

humor as a means of denaturing wickedness

Liberal Christianity often seems like Cain, wishing to offer grains and fruits rather than a bloody lamb, and not always the best and finest.

miracle as divine riddle

Faith proposes to reason a richer principle, a greater happiness, and a more universal society than reason can see clearly on its own.

Human beings are a species much given to trophy-taking and trophy-giving.

Of all the gifts brought by faith, to be able to be free of the shackles of worldly politics, to be able to see outside its walls, is not a small one.

facts as beings of reason

introspection // organizational auditing

Descartes's 'primitive notions' are kinds of perceptible.

perception that X is like something previously experienced vs. perception that X is something previously experienced

each potential part of justice as grounding a distinct region of rights (although these regions are capable of overly due to interaction of virtues)

To say that Christ disclaimed all civil power is like saying the Emperor declines to take up the office of Headman of the Village; why would an Emperor insist on being a mayor?

The meaning of ritual is determined by its structure and the meaning of its constituents.

evidence as a reason for assigning a modal status

The course of government in the post-medieval era makes clear that there needs to be an eleemosynary branch of government, in check and balance with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. (Note, for instance, the tendency of republics to become dictatorships by way of executives pushing populist welfare expansions in exchange for increase of power, as in Venezuela and elsewhere.)

Poem Re-Draft and New Poem Draft


The human heart we know right well,
a bit of heaven, a bit of hell;
we are taught it in the psalter.

The Church must suffer death and lies
that Christian hearts may sympathize
with every sinner's falter.

They who pray by work and rest
find Church all places east and west,
the heart itself their altar.

A soul restored upon the Cross
must preach the truth, no thought of loss,
though heretics will palter.

The Church that lives by faith and love
is ruled by none but God above;
our law is not its halter.

Wilting Rose

I saw a wilting rose.
Its petals, almost closed, were curled,
half open and half furled,
and every petal pearled with dew --

and thus I thought of you,
whose trouble deep and true has formed
in weeping and in storm
a sadness still informed with grace.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Jottings on Evaluating Philosophical Systems and Schools

Philosophers usually spend their time evaluating arguments, but arguments link up to other arguments to form systems, and systems themselves come in families of systems ('schools' we could call them, without too much abuse of a term that is already used for something loosely like what is meant here) and it's an interesting question of how one can evaluate an entire philosophical system, and beyond that, an entire school of systems. One would, of course, want to avoid the temptation into which people often fall of assuming there is one line of evaluation ('Thomism is better than Scotism'; 'Analytic philosophy is better than continental philosophy'; or whatever else, for which the obvious next question is, 'For what sense of 'better', as measured by what standard?').

It's difficult to do this in more than a rough way, but it seems reasonable to identify both internal and external standards of evaluation.

Internal standards of evaluation are about how arguments and positions in the system relate to each other, and there seem to be two key issues here: consistency and tightness. Consistency is obvious, of course, but tightness of system seems often to be admired. Very few people are Spinozists, for instance, but many people admire how each part is linked to every other part by clear and definite steps -- there aren't parts that are there by mere speculation or guesswork or rough analogy. This contrasts with something like Romanticism, whose very nature guarantees that it is loose -- unsystematic, we might even say, although one can detect some rather elaborate system-building even in the most aphoristic Romantic. The Romantics are system-builders, undeniably, but one part relates to another part often only by analogy or by speculation; we are left with a bunch of fragments that clearly have connection to each other, but the connection is often loose and sometimes rather uncertain. Another example is comparing phenomenology and Thomism. When St. Edith Stein, who had studied under Husserl, started her study of Thomism, she found that it took quite a bit of adjustment, because in phenomenology one uses, over and over, the same method for everything, whereas St. Thomas just uses whatever method will make progress with the problem he's looking at. Because of its unity of method, phenomenology is tighter than Thomism.

People tend to assume, I think, that consistency and tightness go together, but this does not particularly seem to be true. Logical positivism is much tighter than ordinary language philosophy, but has consistency problems that the latter does not have. Locke is tighter than Novalis, but Novalis has a consistency of his own. Spinoza is much tighter than Leibniz, but arguably not more consistent; trying to catch Leibniz out in a contradiction is bold and likely to fail, and even if you succeeded it probably wouldn't much affect Leibniz's overall approach. Tightness of system makes consistency more shiningly clear; but it can also propagate inconsistency through the system. Most people are inconsistent sometimes; in a very tight system, inconsistency sometimes easily turns into inconsistency all the time. Looseness of connection isolates failures of consistency.

External standards can be of various kinds, but pragmatic value is one that comes up often -- how useful is it for some other field or area of human life? Obviously, the question of importance is 'useful for what', but if you ask these questions, you often get interesting results. For instance, most philosophers of mind today would probably, in the abstract, take usefulness to neuroscience to be a sign of quality for an account of mind. But if we ask what school in philosophy of mind has contributed most, and contributed the most important things, to neuroscience, there is no doubt whatsoever: the answer is substance dualism. Tell a materialist philosopher of mind that and he will think you are joking, so you have to grab them by the neck and drag them through the actual historical evidence, but there's no real room for doubt. Hylomorphists contributed a few things, particularly early on; materialists have supplemented, particularly in recent decades; but modern neuroscience owes its existence primarily to substance dualists from Descartes and Steno to Sherrington and Eccles. It was they who did the major early work on the structure of the brain, it was they who did most of the foundational work on nerves, neurons, and synapses. And it is not difficult to see why -- if you are a substance dualist, you take brain events to be related to mental events, but since you don't identify them, you are not under any pressure to interpret this brain event as that mental event, and can just follow the neural evidence wherever it goes. It allows the inquiry to have full importance while minimizing the temptation to pre-impose interpretations on the evidence. Substance dualism is structured in a nearly ideal way for the study of the brain, as Platonism is structured in a nearly ideal way for the study of mathematical structures, as Romanticism is structured in a nearly ideal way for thinking about artists. Depending on what you were doing, you could probably find a school that would be more useful for this or that particular purpose; but it would be hard to find one that was more flexibly useful for a wide variety of related purposes.

One reason all of this is interesting to consider is that it touches directly on the question of what one builds philosophical systems for -- what kinds of systematicity in philosophy are desirable, and why?

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Voyages Extraordinaires #5: Les Enfants du capitaine Grant

On the 26th of July, 1864, a magnificent yacht was steaming along the North Channel at full speed, with a strong breeze blowing from the N. E. The Union Jack was flying at the mizzen-mast, and a blue standard bearing the initials E. G., embroidered in gold, and surmounted by a ducal coronet, floated from the topgallant head of the main-mast. The name of the yacht was the DUNCAN, and the owner was Lord Glenarvan, one of the sixteen Scotch peers who sit in the Upper House, and the most distinguished member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club, so famous throughout the United Kingdom.

Lord Edward Glenarvan was on board with his young wife, Lady Helena, and one of his cousins, Major McNabbs.

The DUNCAN was newly built, and had been making a trial trip a few miles outside the Firth of Clyde. She was returning to Glasgow, and the Isle of Arran already loomed in the distance, when the sailor on watch caught sight of an enormous fish sporting in the wake of the ship. Lord Edward, who was immediately apprised of the fact, came up on the poop a few minutes after with his cousin, and asked John Mangles, the captain, what sort of an animal he thought it was.

Captain Harry Grant, with his ship Britannia, has vanished, but a message in a bottle has been recovered. The message is heavily water-damaged, but Captain Grant's family and friends decide to do whatever they can to find him. It is an adventure that will take them, and the hapless geographer, Jacques Paganel, to South America, then to Australia, then to New Zealand, in a desperate attempt to decipher the message correctly and find Captain Grant before it is too late.

In English, The Children of Captain Grant is often title In Search of the Castaways, but is also often called Voyage Round the World. As is often the case with Verne, translations are a bit hit and miss, often being abridgements and modifications as well as translations. The best translation online is the three-volume George Routledge and Sons Voyage Round the World; Alexander Pruss has hunted down the three volumes and given the links here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Evening Note for Tuesday, October 2

Thought for the Evening: Cockburn on Space

The early modern period saw a great interest in trying to give an explanation of space. Probably the most famous are those of Descartes (a continuum of physical extension or body), of Newton (presentation in the immobile divine sensorium), and of Leibniz (a system of relations between substances), and of partisans on different sides of the dispute, but there are quite a few attempts to look at the topic in a different way. One interesting one that has not been looked at in any detail is that Catharine Trotter Cockburn, who is unusual in that she is a rationalist with a strong Lockean influence.

Cockburn's suggestion for understanding space starts with Locke in a place that you might not expect. In the Essay (Book III, Chapter VI, Section 12), Locke has an argument for angels: "in all the visible corporeal world, we see no chasms or gaps" so that "we shall find everywhere that the several species are linked together, and differ but in almost insensible degrees", so we have reason to think there are probably numerous kinds of minds more perfect than our own:

And when we consider the infinite power and wisdom of the Maker, we have reason to think that it is suitable to the magnificent harmony of the universe, and the great design and infinite goodness of the Architect, that the species of creatures should also, by gentle degrees, ascend upward from us toward his infinite perfection, as we see they gradually descend from us downwards: which if it be probable, we have reason then to be persuaded that there are far more species of creatures above us than there are beneath; we being, in degrees of perfection, much more remote from the infinite being of GOD than we are from the lowest state of being, and that which approaches nearest to nothing. And yet of all those distinct species, for the reasons above said, we have no clear distinct ideas.

Cockburn takes the underlying idea of a "great chain of beings" (her phrase) and adapts it in a different direction. We have reason to think there are bodies, i.e., material substances, and minds, i.e., immaterial substances, and there are obvious obstacles (as noted by Descartes and others) to reducing one to the other. But this is quite a sharp division -- there appears to be a chasm between senseless material substance and intelligent immaterial substance, and if we do not find chasms in nature, then we would expect some spectrum of gradation between them -- which would have to be something like each. This is Cockburn's suggestion for the nature of space: "an immaterial unintelligent substance, the place of bodies, and of spirits, having some of the properties of both" (p. 97). However, as with Locke's gradation argument, Cockburn's gradation argument on its own gets us something for which we don't have a clear idea.

Obviously a major concern with understanding this proposal is what Cockburn means by 'substance' and, unsurprisingly given the rest of her argument, what she has in mind is a Lockean notion of substance as an unknown something to which qualities may be attributed; as Locke says (Essay Book II, Chapter XXIII, Section 2):

The idea then we have, to which we give the general name substance, being nothing but the supposed, but unknown, support of those qualities we find existing, which we imagine cannot subsist sine re substante, without something to support them, we call that support substantia; which, according to the true import of the word, is, in plain English, standing under or upholding.

This is, Locke says, an "obscure and relative" idea; we know that there has to be something to which we are attributing the qualities, but as we only know of this something indirectly, by knowing that we can attribute these qualities to it but can't just be the qualities themselves, it is a we-know-not-what. It's this that Cockburn has in mind. That might seem very weak, but in fact one of her concerns is to deny the view that space is nothing at all, or else just something in the mind; on the contrary, she argues, space is real and has qualities attributable to it. We don't know much more about it than this, but the qualities it does have would make it fit right into the gap between mind and body, as a real thing that is not material (and thus not a body) and yet not intelligent (and thus not a mind).

To argue this she needs more than just the argument from gradation, because a very common position historically is that any immaterial substance would ipso facto be an intelligent substance. (Of course, historically, most of the people who held this had a much more robust conception of substance than Locke does.) Cockburn thinks that the standard (broadly Cartesian) arguments that all thinking substances are immaterial are probably right, although like Locke she holds that we can't rule out that God could create thinking matter, but she denies that immateriality implies thinking. This makes sense given the Lockean conception of substance: immateriality just tells you the kind of qualities not attributable to the unknown something that is mind (it's not a shape, it has no length, it has no resistance, etc.); nothing requires that this implies that the only qualities that can be attributed to an immaterial substance are cogitative.

On the basis of this, Cockburn is inclined to be skeptical of the common view at the time that space is infinite -- the only infinity that could be relevant is a negative infinity of having no bounds, and this seems to be the sort of thing that only applies to things that are abstract (number, mathematical extension, etc.), not something that can be attributed to a "real actual complete existence" (p. 105). What leads people to call space infinite, Cockburn thinks, is that it is indefinite -- we don't know what could be setting bounds to space itself. But this is a claim about what we can conceive, not about space:

As I cannot conclude space to be nothing, because we know not what it is, neither can I conclude it to be infinite, because we are ignorant what can set bounds to it. May there not be many ways of setting bounds to space, that we know nothing of? It may be bounded by its own nature, or by the will of God, or by some kind of beings, that we are not acquainted with. (p. 105)

Thus, since there may be things that can bound space, and negative infinity seems only to apply to abstract objects like number, not real particular existences, she thinks we have no reason to call space infinite. She notes, though, with some amusement, how much out of our depth we are in discussing it, given that some people have claimed that space is nothing, others that it is infinite, and yet others that it is divine; it is certainly a remarkable thing that some have argued that it is not real and others that it is supremely so!

[Catharine Trotter Cockburn, Philosophical Writings, Sheridan, ed. Broadview (Peterborough, ON: 2006).]

Various Links of Interest

* Sabine Hossenfielder, Hawking temperature of black holes measured in fluid analogue, explains an interesting example of experiment-through-analogy.

* Edward Conze: A Study in Contradiction, at "Jayarava's Raves"

* Catarina Dutilh Novaes has an interview on the radio program, "The Philosopher's Zone", on mathematical proof and beauty.

* James V. Schall, Understanding Law with Thomas Aquinas

* Dan Hitchens, Ex-FBI agents to help investigate Cardinals on abuse and corruption. Something like this is certainly necessary; it has to be done properly, but something like it is needed. There were some people claiming that this would be in violation of article 80 of Universi Dominici Gregis; but this is obviously absurd -- the relevant section only addresses people involved in papal elections, and only prevents them from actions that suggest that civil authorities have the right to exercise some kind of veto in papal elections, so it is not even remotely relevant. Nor, contrary to some reporting elsewhere, does the explicitly stated plan seem to be to try to influence papal elections to begin with: the planned report is supposed to be on voting members of the College in general. But if this does manage to get off the ground, I suppose we can expect some bishops trying to claim it is a canonical violation. I would prefer something with more oversight than this seems likely to have, though.

* David Oderberg, Opting Out: Conscience and Cooperation in a Pluralistic Society

Currently Reading

Jules Verne, Family without a Name
Jean-Luc Marion, Being Given
Catharine Trotter Cockburn, Philosophical Writings
Lloyd Humberstone, Philosophical Applications of Modal Logic
Jules Verne, In Search of the Castaways

Monday, October 01, 2018

Sensible, Rational, Social

Let man be allowed as a sensible being, to choose natural or sensible good, and even to be under a moral obligation of so doing; but let him likewise be allowed in his other capacities to have other views, and to be under other obligations. A rational being ought to act suitably to the reason and nature of things: a social being ought to promote the good of others: an approbation of these ends is unavoidable, a regard to them implied in the very nature of such beings, which must therefore bring on them the strongest moral obligations. To ask, why a rational being should choose to act according to reason, or why a social being should desire the good of others, is full as absurd, as to ask why a sensible being should choose pleasure rather than pain.

Catharine Trotter Cockburn, "Remarks upon an Essay on Moral Obligation", Philosophical Writings, Sheridan, ed. Broadview (Peterborough, ON: 2006) p. 119

Little Flower

(Reposted from 2017.)

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.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus

(Reposted from 2017.)

Today is the feast of St. Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, better known as St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church. An ascetic who apparently only became a priest because he was forced to by his bishop, Paulinus II of Antioch, he spent time in Constantinople with St. Gregory of Nazianzen before going with Paulinus to a synod in Rome under Pope St. Damasus I. His brilliance was recognized immediately, and Damasus arranged for him to stay at Rome. There he got along quite well with women and no one else; as he encouraged women to become ascetics, the Romans became quite hostile to him. It doubtless did not help that he was frank, caustic, and abrasive. He was eventually forced to return to Antioch, at which point he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Egypt. He spent the last, long phase of his life in a cave near Bethlehem, a small community of ascetics gathering around him, and died September 30, 420.

From his famous Helmeted Introduction to the Book of Kings:

While these things may be so, I implore you, reader, that you might not consider my work a rebuke of the ancients. Each one offers to the Tabernacle of God what he is able. Some offer gold and silver and precious stones; others, linen and purple, scarlet and blue. It will go well with us, if we offer the skins and hair of goats. For the Apostle still judges our more contemptible parts more necessary. From which both the whole of the beauty of the Tabernacle and each individual kind, a distinction of the present and future Church, is covered with skins and goat-hair coverings, and the heat of the sun and the harmful rain are kept off by those things which are of lesser value. Therefore, first read my Samuel and Kings; mine, I say, mine. For whatever we have learned and know by often translating and carefully correcting is ours. And when you come to understand what you did not know before, either consider me a translator, if you are grateful, or a paraphraser, if ungrateful, although I am truly not at all aware of anything of the Hebrew to have been changed by me....

But I also ask you, handmaidens of Christ, who have anointed the head of your reclining Lord with the most precious myrrh of faith, who have in no way sought the Savior in the tomb, for whom Christ has now ascended to the Father, that you might oppose the shields of your prayers against the barking dogs which rage against me with rabid mouth and go around the city, and in it they are considered educated if slandering others. I, knowing my humility, will always remember these sentences: "I will guard my ways, so I will not offend with my tongue; I have placed a guard on my mouth, while the sinner stands against me; I was mute, and humiliated, and silent because of good things."

Dion, "The Thunderer". The lyrics are from a poem by Phyllis McGinley. Jerome was indeed no "plaster sort of saint", but he gave people's minds a "godly leaven", and by his very existence shows that "it takes all kinds to make a Heaven."

Fortnightly Book, September 30

In the early nineteenth century, trouble was brewing in Quebec, as Francophones increasingly protested the Anglophone-heavy representation of the colonial government. The upper echelons were appointed by the Crown, but as there was no native nobility, the inevitable result was the capture of most of the government by wealthy trade-oligarchs. When a major economic downturn occurred in 1836, the underlying resentments against the colonial government began to heat up, and when a number of reform proposals were shot down, the leader of the reformers (known as Patriotes), Louis-Joseph Papineau, began organizing a paramilitary resistance. Revolution began in earnest in 1837. The Patriote militias were soon crushed by the British army, but the events would have a formative influence on the character of Quebec.

The next fortnightly book is Edward Baxter's 1982 translation of Jules Verne's Family Without a Name, Voyages Extraordinaires #33, published in 1889. A summary from the cover:

Even amongst his closest friends, only a few known that the man they call, simply, "Jean" is really the elusive and charismatic Jean-sans-nom, the Patriote leader with a price on his head. Only two people -- his mother and his brother -- know the terrible secret of his true identity and why it must go with him to the grave. And the woman he loves must never learn that the money he uses to buy weapons for the underground Patriote cells is bloodmoney.

As Baxter notes in the introduction, Verne never visited Canada except briefly on a visit to Niagara Falls, and everything in the work is based on impressions Verne got from reading books and the novels of James Fenimore Cooper. As a result, this is a work of historical fiction that is much more fiction than historical, with very little more drawn from the history than the historical frame and some of the geography (with which Verne also takes liberties). But Verne was very interested in independence movements, and especially in those movements that involved heroic self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds, and there is no question that La Guerre des patriotes had plenty of that.