Saturday, August 31, 2019

Giorgio Lando's Mereology

I've been reading Giorgio Lando's Mereology, which is his argument for what mereological monism, i.e., the position that Classical Extensional Mereology is the complete and only theory of parthood as such. It's quite good, and very nicely argued. It's very definitely wrong, but it's very nicely argued.

Lando's case has three primary parts, not counting supplementary parts concerned with addressing particular problems and objections, which we can summarize as Paradigm, Principles, and Projection.

(1) Paradigm: Lando puts a lot of weight on starting with a paradigmatic or prototypical kind of parthood, one that is relatively uncontroversial and easy to recognize and in common use. Lando takes the obvious cases of parthood with which we deal to be closely connected to spatial containment; this spatial parthood, as he often calls it, is his paradigmatic form of parthood.

(2) Principles: Taking this paradigmatic form of parthood, we can identify its principles, and Lando argues that CEM is the correct characterization of this kind of parthood, i.e., that parthood paradigmatically follows the basic principles of CEM. To do this, he has to rule out apparent counterexamples even in the context of spatial parthood; he does this a number of ways, but an important way is by making a distinction between selective and nonselective parthood. Selective parthood violates the transitivity principle of CEM; for selective parthood, A can be part of B and B can be part of C without licensing the conclusion that A is part of C. For instance, a biologist will tend to say that the organelles in a cell are parts of the cell but not want to say that they are parts of the tissue made up by the cell. Nonselective parthood is strictly transitive. Lando argues that all selective parthood boils down to nonselective parthood with additional principles.

(3) Projection: Recognizing CEM as encapsulating the governing principles of paradigmatic parthood, we can extend our notion of parthood to include any candidates for parts that also meet the same principles.

This is a reasonable and useful way to argue. The fundamental problem is that it all is dependent on the choice of the paradigm, and while Lando selects the paradigm that gets his conclusion, it is not a particularly good choice of a paradigmatic notion of parthood. Let's consider, for instance, three of his examples that get counted as displaying a "spatial" notion of parthood:

(b) The leg is part of the table.
(c) I want to eat a piece of that cake.
(e) Many components of my car are expensive to replace.

Lando says of all of these that "space is involved"; this is to be taken not in the sense that the things are merely localizable in space but that "a kind of spatial parthood is involved" (p. 19). In particular, there is a correspondence between the instance of parthood and "another instance of parthood that subsists between the corresponding regions of space". He calls this a principle of harmony, and gives another example. If x is a thing and region(x) is the region of space occupied by x, then we can say that the heart is part of the body when region(heart) is part of region(body). I presume that he means region(x) to be a movable designation, because we normally think of bodies as moving in and out of regions of space and not carrying their regions of space around with them. So the idea is that if the heart is part of the body, whatever region the heart may happen to occupy at a given time is part of whatever region the body may happen to occupy at that same time. This means that the idea is actually spatiotemporal. And note that it is the region(heart) being part of region(body) that is actually so. Despite Lando's tendency to collapse the two at times, it is the parthood relation between the regions that has the properties on which Lando is building CEM, not the parthood relation between things like hearts and bodies, which is merely linked to parthood between regions by a claim that they co-occur, a very weak link.

And it's not clear that it's really true. We have no problem saying that if your heart is cut out that part of your body is no longer inside your body; this violates his principle of harmony. Lando would perhaps take this to be a sign of metonymy, but the problem is that all of his actual real-life examples have features like this. Take for instance example (b), the leg and table. I have been putting a table from IKEA together, and you come in, and not having seen what I was doing, pick up the stick of wood that I have put out of my way for a moment as I take a break. "What is this?" you ask. "It is part of the table I am putting together," I reply. This violates the principle of harmony. Indeed, the leg is not even attached to the table.

Take (c), the cake example. "I want a piece of that cake," you say. So I cut you a piece and give it to you. "What are you eating?" asks a friend who comes by. "I am eating a piece of that cake," you say. This violates the principle of harmony, because the piece of cake is no longer even in the vicinity of the cake. And, as with the table leg, the piece of cake is no longer even attached to the cake.

Take (e), the car example. The same thing applies.

Literally all of Lando's examples fail his harmony test if we consider the matter generally. It's true that often there is a harmony, but that does seem to boil down just to the fact that these things are localizable in space.

The most plausible candidates for a 'paradigmatic' or 'prototypical' kind of parthood are all cases where parthood has some sort of functional character to it, broadly construed. When we talk about a foreign object lodged in a tree, and how that differs from the actual parts of the tree, we are recognizing the tree as a whole having a functional integrity that is not purely characterizable in terms of space. What is more, while the degree varies, all of the real-life cases seem actually to be selective. They do allow some kind of transitivity, but only a relative transitivity, they are transitive relative to whatever kind of functional integrity or functional mode of parthood is considered. That's why the biological example makes perfect sense: the organelles of a cell are not parts of the tissue in the way the cells themselves are, so transitivity gets broken. It's not broken completely, because you can still reason transitively, but only as long as you are staying within the same kind of parthood.

As I've said, while he sets things up as if he were talking about ordinary parts and wholes, really what he ends up doing is talking about the mereology of spatiotemporal regions. That makes sense, because spatiotemporal regions are the kinds of things that most obviously have the features Lando needs to make his case -- most notably, we assume almost universally that all regions of spacetime, considered as such, are on a level and pretty much the same kind of thing. This is because a 'spatiotemporal region' is something we get when we take physical objects and abstract away everything except their measurements in space and time as determined relative to other things. There's not much to differentiate parthood if you abstract away everything except an idealized geometrical specification. Thus it is unsurprising that parts receive Lando's seal of authentication to the extent that they act like they are precisely identifiable geometrical objects. The problem for Lando's method, though, is that this kind of parthood is not in any way a plausible candidate for something 'paradigmatic' or 'prototypical'. It is quite clearly something that we got by abstraction and idealization, and it is quite clearly a case that allows us to have things like unrestricted transitivity and unrestricted composition by removing all the reasons not to have them and then taking the barebones of our reasoning to the limit.

If we really started with plausible candidates for paradigmatic cases of parthood we would start with selective parthood, and we would take parthood at least sometimes to require functional or causal elements (parts are not merely there but have something integrating them as parts). This, of course, is what Lando wants to avoid, because it would mean that the mereological monist is probably wrong and that mereology is therefore going to get very, very complicated. But there seems nothing to prevent someone from picking a different 'paradigmatic parthood' from the one that Lando has picked, which so conveniently leads to Lando's conclusions; and the result would in some cases certainly lead to a very different kind of conclusion, and there are many candidates that are much more plausible starting-points.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Dashed Off XVIII

This ends the notebook finished in July 2018.

position: moral judgments express beliefs (cognitivism)
Either (1a) the beliefs are sometimes true or (1b) never true = error theory.
If (1a), then either (1a1) such judgments are not just about human opinions, or (1a2) they are only about human opinions = judgment dependence theory.
If (1a1), then the other things are either (1a1a) natural facts or (1a1b) 'nonnatural' facts = moral nonnaturalism.
If (1a1a), then these natural facts are either (1a1a1) reducible to other natural facts or (1a1a2) are special kinds of natural facts = Cornell Realism.
If (1a1a1), then they are reducible either (1a1a1a) to analytic connections = analytic functionalism or analytic descriptivism, or (1a1a1b) to nonanalytic connections = moral reductionism.
-- There is an argument to be made that all are good for some subdomain of moral beliefs and none for all.

Moral noncognitivists confuse accounts of secondary functions with accounts of primary character; cognitivists tend to confuse some subset of moral beliefs with the whole.

the base conversation of philosophy and its eddies and waves
the self-organization of the base conversation of philosophy

the supersalience of obligations

Ideal standards are higher-level truths about possibilities.

If the 'argument from queerness' in metaethics worked, a counterpart would also work againsts possibilities and counterfactuals.

There is a common sort of belief-conservatism that, not a belief itself, is a reluctance to regard beliefs outside a certain circle.

Instead of thinking of resemblance, contiguity, and causation as relating ideas, Hume would have been better served to think of resemblances, contiguities, and causations as the ideas themselves.

Liberties are governed by good taste.

Any society of genuinely free people will always have a concern for upholding the customs, sentiments, and cultural myths of those people.

reconstruction of the proximate problem for a position as a HoP technique

An adequate theory must function semiotically as a complete description of that to which the theory is supposed to apply.

objective immortality (God), collective immortality (Church), individual immortality (self)

Discussion of freedom of speech is too often on market principles and not enough on personalist principles.

While other sounds can be music-like, music is always taken as being from a source, and, what is more, directly or indirectly from an intentional source.

the two aspects of music qua listened-to: concatenation and architecture

The saints in heaven fulfill both the commandment to love God (by union with Him) and to love neighbor (by intercession) in the highest degree.

evangelism as intercessory prayer

The three major moral relativisms -- subjective, objective, and might-makes-right -- are each inconsistent with free society in different ways.

position: free will attributions are true
Either (1) it is sometimes true or (2) it is never true = error theory = hard determinism.
If (1), either (1a) the possibilities are sometimes substantive in themselves, or (1b) they are purely attributive = compatibilism.
If (1a), either (1a1) they are so as nondeterministic natural facts or (1a2) 'nonnatural facts.
If (1a1), then either (1a1a) they are reducible to more basic natural facts, or (1a1b) they are a special kind of natural fact.
If (1a1a), they are either (1a1a1) rigorously reducible (by strict correspondence) or (1a1a2) only loosely (more vague, like reducing 'fatigue' to bodily processes).
--- libertarianism is (1a); radical libertarianisms are either (1a2) or (1a1b).

by-which, through-which, and to-which truthmakers

Philosophers of science often use 'mechanism' when they mean 'mediation/mediating event'.

Formulating empirical canons requires presupposition of logical principles.

As the account of common good, so the account of human dignity.

Lullian art as recombination plus filtering by appropriateness to mind

descriptions of God in Kabbalah as actually descriptions of our knowledge of God

Perhaps patron saints (exemplar, emblematic, etc.) should really be classified in terms of aspect of salience in prayer: example, event, link to something analogous; or resemblance, contiguity, and presentation of ideal).

By its orative mode, Scripture works as a transformative agent within us. Scripture works upon as as an external transformative agent by its preceptive mode (authoritative imposition), by its revelative mode (manifestative doctrine), and by its exhortative and exemplificative modes (enticing counsel).

Interests do not ground rights but only negotiating positions.

"Pride is a dreadful sophist." Marcus Aurelius

'Natural habitat' should be defined relative to function, not vice versa. (The 'natural' can only be read as 'natural to'.)

"Not to have a criterion for picking out some happenings as relevant and others as irrelevant is simply not to be in a position to write history at all." Danto

Experimental replication always presupposes a system of standardizations.

A physical equation is a description of a family of causal actions (or interactions), e.g., causing force to be such causes either mass to be such or acceleration to be such, according to this pattern; causing force to be such is causing mass or acceleration or both to change in such a way.
-- What equations describe in experiments is thoroughly causal.

systems of lie, forcing people into dishonesties to survive (Havel on Communism, Douglass on slavery, Orwell on totalitarianism, etc.)

Transitivity of parthood requires univocity of parthood.

We cannot think very specifically about potentiality without thinking in terms of either the (immediate) actuality or the exemplarity to which it is related.

Stripping hylomorphism of prime matter seems to push it toward a monadology.

Fusions being entirely arbitrary, it is unclear what non-ad-hoc reason one could have for requiring them to conform to weak supplementation. Why not have a fusion of only one thing (a sum of x and nothing) or a fusion with nothing but such a fusion as its part, etc.? Why not allow limit cases? Indeed, why not allow the empty or null fusion (the sum of nothing and nothing).

To engage in business solely for profit is like engaging in sex solely for pleasure; if it really is the sole end, the whole work is sterile and hostile to persons. Profit should be to business like the bloom on youth. The natural ends of business are to make and do good.

purgative, illuminative, and unitive approaches to the sacrament

Good diffuses itself. // Everything actual acts.
-- it seems we could have a version for all coextensive transcendentals, e.g., Truth manifests itself. Both one and beauty are tricky, perhaps; think about this.

Grace gives us a new kind of role in divine providence.

Every argument has further ramifications.
(1) Functional ramifications: Every argument relates to the fulfillment of some preferences in some way, either impeding (creating a problem with desiderata for a solution) or facilitating (creating a question of next step, if there is a remained, or consolidation, if not).
(2) Conditional ramifications: Every argument has uncontrolled effects (e.g., logical implications) and carry you along to them.
(3) Informational ramifications: Every argument creates new alternatives and thus opportunities for decision.

the Lateran Councils as repudiating various attempts to subordinate the Church

Determinism confuses the way we know (abstracting from irregularities) with the way things are.

There is nothing like factional politics to teach us how close everyone is to irrationality.

Human nature has an intrinsic dignity; it is adorned by an extrinsic dignity through law; it receives a dignity both intrinsic and extrinsic in grace, which elevates both human nature and law.

the internal liturgy of the soul
-- The sacraments link the external liturgy with the internal.

thought-provoking vs thought-stilling uses of music

Subminimal accounts of external world
(1) Suppositional
(2) Conflational
Minimal (Pre-Causal) = Humean = (1) + (2)
Causal (Minimal + Causal account)
Exemplary (Causal + Principle of resemblance)

structuring principles of our experience of the external world
(1) supposition (coherence)
(2) conflation (constancy)
(3) causation (activity)
(4) exemplation (exemplarity)
-- perhaps (5) valuation

progressivism as secularized enthusiasm (in the eighteenth century sense)

Something's being actual, as such and on its own, explains some possibilities, but something's being possible, as such and on its own, explains no actuality.

Probabilities must always depend on some actuality or actualities giving the possibilities a specific weighting.

The picturesque is the object of an act of collecting/framing/composing.
the picturesque as that which pleases generally in light of the concept 'picture'

All Kantian schemata are cognitions of time, or at least specifically temporal cognitions.

The modern age is the age of obfuscation; it is what we do best.

"How could that which does not make a man worse, make life worse?" Marcus Aurelius

It is impossible to discuss real-life moral judgments without running into linked aesthetic judgments.

"One and the same thing is capable of being universally and constantly pleasing only if it is morally right." Seneca

Mistreatment of pets is morally wrong because pets are direct contributors to the common good of the human race; this is why they get semi-human treatment. Other animals are more indirect contributors, and yet others are contributors only in the sense of being part of an environment that is part of the common good qua environment. This is all independent of attitudinal reasons for treating animals well (e.g., the Kantian, and correct, notion that treating animals well is part of treating humans with respect).

It's pointless to define a possible world as a maximally inclusive conjunct of propositions unless one gives the standard relative to which its inclusion is maximal.

necessary and sufficient conditions are modalized and should not be interpreted in terms of the material conditional (cp Akram, "Burn All Your Textbooks")

"Natural laws never retain full, stable force outside Christianity." Rosmini
"The human person is an end because of the divine element which informs it."
"Restoring the correct use of language is one of the means of helping towards mutual understanding in many difficult matters."

The Church is (1) a family society in the supernatural order and (2) a cosmopolitan society in the supernatural order and (3) a monarchical society anticipatory of the higher society of heaven.

The sacrament of marriage is a bridge between the family in the natural order and the family in the supernatural order.

Virtue is the only thing that is preparation for all disasters.

"It is necessary both that we should be our own masters and also that our salvation should be of God." Nazianzen

NB that Augustine does not say that the intention in sex in Christian marriage must be to generate children, but that the intention in generating children must be to give them to be regenerated in On Marriage and Concupiscence ch. 5. The use of sex for gratification of lust rather than desire of offspring is a bad use, but desire of offspring is itself merely natural, and the evil of the bad use does not eliminate any good, anymore than being lame undoes the good of what you can nonetheless do despite being lame. And sex for pleasure Augustine recognizes as permitted, despite imperfection, in the marriage, because the marriage itself maintains the end.

Billot's argument against 'physical' causality in the sacraments is absurd; one might as well argue that material things cannot be instruments of divine acts because divine acts are spiritual "which of its nature excludes dependence on the material."

The causation of the sacrament involves both exitus and reditus; every sacrament is a circle of sorts.

Calvin's account of the sacraments is literally that they exist that we might beg.

Scripture tells us that there was a virtue in Christ's humanity that went out and healed, and Ephesus says that Christ's flesh has vivifying power. What is more, real presence must be causal, but it cannot be merely moral. Thus the causality in the major sacraments must be more than merely moral. (Merely moral causation is that of the sacraments of the Old Law and of some sacramentals.)

"Vice mimics virtue." Cyril of Jerusalem

Trent rules out occasonalism for the major sacraments (which must both contain and confer grace).

moral causality
(1) occasional
(2) communicative
---- (a) meritorious
---- (b) juridical

the sacramental economy as the 'property and effects' of the Incarnation (and more, of course, but Christ's 'ownership' of the sacraments, their belonging to him as pertaining to his person, is important)

The causality of the major sacraments is instrumental, inflowing, pedagogical, and meritorious.

The prayers of the Church are moral instruments of grace whereby Christ, by virtue of or in light of the covenant of His Passion, merits the gifts of the Lord for us.

The sacraments are moral causes insofar as they are prayers.

The sacrament of matrimony is to the natural office of marriage as excellent wine is to good water.

No one has ever given adequate consideration to matrimony as perfective instrument of grace.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Music on My Mind

Kathleen MacInnes, "Gaol ise Gaol i". It's a rhythm song; it's the sort of thing you would sing when working on some big cooperative task that requires that everybody keep time, so while it has lyrics, they can be anything that keeps the time. In Scotland they were often called waulking songs, because waulking, which is part of how tweed is made, and how it is made waterproof, required a lot of women beating wet cloth for an extended period of time.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Doctor Gratiae

Today was the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church. From De Trinitate, Book XIV:

This trinity, then, of the mind is not therefore the image of God, because the mind remembers itself, and understands and loves itself; but because it can also remember, understand, and love Him by whom it was made. And in so doing it is made wise itself. But if it does not do so, even when it remembers, understands, and loves itself, then it is foolish. Let it then remember its God, after whose image it is made, and let it understand and love Him. Or to say the same thing more briefly, let it worship God, who is not made, by whom because itself was made, it is capable and can be partaker of Him; wherefore it is written, "Behold, the worship of God, that is wisdom." And then it will be wise, not by its own light, but by participation of that supreme Light; and wherein it is eternal, therein shall reign in blessedness. For this wisdom of man is so called, in that it is also of God. For then it is true wisdom; for if it is human, it is vain.

"The Atheist's Mass"

Thinking about the nature of gratitude, and the very different forms its expression can take, I started thinking about one of Balzac's most famous short stories, The Atheist's Mass. In it a student discovers that his notorious atheist of a professor, who often criticizes organized religion and the Catholic Church in particular, has for twenty years been paying for and attending Mass four times a year. Is the atheist a secret Catholic? When the student gets the story out of the professor, it turns out that that he is not, but that gratitude to a good man is a powerful thing. If you've never read it, it is worth reading; and it is in any case a good depiction of someone expressing sincere gratitude in a purely symbolic way.

'Tis Joy, to Move Under the Bended Sky

Oh What Doth It Avail in Busy Care
by Henry Alford

Oh what doth it avail in busy care
The summer of our days to pass away
In doors—nor forth into the sunny ray,
Nor by the wood nor river-side to fare,
Nor on far-seeing hills to meet the air,
Nor watch the land-waves yean the shivering spray?
Oh what doth it avail, though every day
Fresh-catered wealth its golden tribute bear?
Rather along the field-paths in the morn
To meet the first laugh of the twinkling East,
Or when the clear-eyed Aphrodite is born
Out from the amber ripples of the West,
'Tis joy, to move under the bended sky,
And smell the pleasant earth, and feel the winds go by.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Grateful-That Kind of Gratitude

One kind of expression we find when people talk about gratitude is the grateful-to kind of expression, sometimes called prepositional gratitude:

John is grateful to Mary for her song.

Another kind of expression about gratitude is the grateful-that kind of expression, sometimes called propositional gratitude:

John is grateful that things went so well.

In his SEP article on Gratitude, Tony Manela gives the consensus on which philosophers discussing gratitude have converged:

A consensus is emerging that analyses of the concept of gratitude should be concerned only with the phenomenon expressed by the prepositional sense of the term (Carr 2013; Gulliford, Morgan et al. 2013; Manela 2016a; Roberts and Telech 2019). The consensus is based on the observation that the propositional sense of “gratitude” is more or less identical to another concept: the concept called appreciation or gladness. To say that I am grateful that it did not rain on my wedding day, for instance, is just to say that I am glad it did not. To say that I am grateful that my cancer went into remission is just to say I am glad that it did and that I appreciate the extra life and health that state of affairs entails.

This does indeed seem to be the current consensus, but a consensus of philosophers is not flock of homing pigeons, and I think this is a case in which consensus has converged on the wrong idea, for wrong reasons, to the detriment of the field. Gratitude-that is a form of gratitude. It is not equivalent to appreciation or gladness, which is an identifiably distinct response. Propositional gratitude is related to prepositional gratitude as indefinite to definite, or incomplete to complete. Obviously these get into a number of different issues; here I only give a few points related to them.

I. To say that I am grateful that it did not rain on my wedding day is very different from saying that I am glad that it did not rain on my wedding day, and what is more to the point, feeling grateful that it did not rain is a distinct feeling from feeling glad that it did not rain. One way we distinguish feelings of this sort is by their families of characteristic acts, and the characteristic acts of gratefulness and gladness are different. If I am glad it did not rain, the natural and normal way to express this is well known to everyone -- smiling, or laughing, or celebrating. Gladness disposes to celebration, in a broad sense of the term, even if this remains somewhat inchoate or does not fully develop. But if I am grateful it did not rain, I am saying that the feeling I have is disposing me to act graciously in a way that culminates when developed in thanking, and my expressions of being grateful that it did not rain will be related to thanking, even if they do not result in full-blown giving of thanks; for instance, I might take on myself a special responsibility to make sure this good fortune does not go to waste. We don't generally think of gladness or appreciation as themselves generating responsibilities, but being grateful that something has happened is very often associated with at least a basic kind of responsibility-taking. Being glad that you are alive is a great thing; but being grateful that you are alive calls for responsibility and action.I may be glad that a rock is in a given location, but this does not suggest any particular course of action with respect to the rock; if the rock is about to be destroyed I may be disappointed, but any protest will be based on the feeling the rock's being there is giving me. If I am grateful that the rock is in that location and the rock is about to be destroyed, however, I will have greater motivation to do something to stop its destruction; my protest, moreover, will not be based on my feeling of gratitude but on the reason why I am grateful for its being there.

We may say the same of appreciation. I can appreciate the trees being colorful, but if I am grateful that the trees are colorful, this suggests some deeper reason than talk of appreciation suggests.

Further, suppose that I say I am glad or appreciate that such-and-such happened, and then discover that someone arranged it. I might then be grateful to them, but I also might not; it depends on what it is. Appreciation or being glad about something may be a reason to be grateful to someone who arranges it, but it is not always so. But if I am grateful that such-and-such happened, and discover that someone arranged it, this in and of itself is always at least some reason to be grateful to them; my gratefulness seems then to find an object, my disposition to thank now has an occasion to become active in thanking specifically. There might be something impeding, it might not be universal -- but the move from one seems more straightforward with propositional gratitude than with appreciation.

There are, of course, relations among these things. For instance, one of the responsibilities that the gratefulness-that kind of gratitude might lead me to take on is deliberate appreciation; that something regularly makes me glad may be a reason to be grateful that it does so. But they are not the same; even at first glance there seems room to make a distinction between them.

II. Manela argues the identity of propositional gratitude and appreciation at greater length in his article, "Gratitude and Appreciation". He does consider there the proposal that being grateful that something happened involves a tendency to return just like being grateful to someone for something. ('Tendency to return' is perhaps not the right phrase for the thankful tendency actually associated with gratitude, but whether or not there is some better phrase will likely not change much.) His response to it is that while being grateful to someone for something entails some such tendency to return, but cases of being grateful that something occurred do not. If, to take a somewhat simpler example than he uses, John is not grateful that it did not rain on his wedding day, we would not call him an ingrate. I'm not sure that this would always be true, but let's assume it. How is it really different from many cases of being grateful to someone for something? We are benefited by people all the time; in many of these cases we would take gratitude to be a good response but not necessarily regard someone as an ingrate if they did not feel grateful. (Indeed, many of our gratitude practices are designed to function even if they are not backed by feelings, but only the abstract recognition of the value of a properly grateful response.) Likewise, if we say that John is grateful that it did not rain on his wedding day, but never makes a return, we would not say he was an ingrate. But it's been noted since Seneca writing on benefits that gratitude does not always require return in a robust sense; sometimes a thankful spirit ready for an opportunity (which depending on the circumstances may not ever come) suffices. And there are many circumstances in which we might be grateful to someone but have no way to render return. For instance, I might really need some kind of information, and find that someone did it a hundred years ago, and feel gratitude toward them for doing it. No return directly to them is possible. We might then as a substitute simply appreciate them in memory, or, recognizing that no direct return is possible, we might just leave it at our thankful feeling toward them. When we render grateful returns, we often decide what is an appropriate return on the basis of features of the benefactor or their situation; sometimes those features render return impossible or moot or merely mental. This is particularly relevant here. Since being grateful that something occurred does not have a benefactor directly in view, the kind of thing that would normally specify a particular way to render return is not there, so you often wouldn't expect anything definite. The obvious way to think of it is to think that gratitude-that is generally a sort of gratitude that is running without what is required to result in a complete grateful expression.

(It is not especially relevant to my argument here, but Manela also has some responses to positions arguing that some of the features he attributes to prepositional gratitude are not strictly required; for instance, the idea that perhaps you can be grateful to inanimate objects. He tries to dismiss this as being due to anthropomorphism, but as far as I can see, this is simply irrelevant. OK, suppose it's due to anthropomorphism; it's still the case that someone is grateful to an inanimate object. Manela tries to conclude that it needs to be an agent to be warranted, but warranted or not, it's still an actual case of being grateful to an inanimate object -- and he doesn't actually establish that it is unwarranted, because he has not established that anthropomorphism is unwarranted. There is in fact a case of undeniable prepositional gratitude that almost always involves some degree of anthropomorphism already -- for instance, if you are grateful to a dog for saving you from a fire. Since this is an animate case, I take it that Manela would allow it, but we can hardly help anthropomorphizing animals, and there seems to be no problem with that, at least to a moderate degree, for most practical purposes. And, as I've noted before, on some quite respectable account of emotional expression in art, the natural world, even inanimate objects and scenes are rationally counted as genuinely expressive even though we know that no actual emotion is expressed, due to sharing features with human expressions, so some things that would likely be counted by Manela as anthropomorphism would on those views be rational and warranted. Manela seems to think that there is some fact about gratefulness that floats away from our actual cases of gratefulness, so that we can dismiss some of the latter as not 'real' gratefulness. But this seems entirely arbitrary,and runs the risk of somewhat dishonest characterization of actual human experience, falsifying the real responses of people by pretending their responses are some abstract scheme of what he assumes to be a more rational way to respond.)

All of this is just Manela arguing that there are significant differences between the two, but he also argues specifically that gratefulness-that is just appreciation. His argument mostly just consists of him identifying general similarities and doubting that there could be a distinction between the two. I've already questioned whether propositional gratitude is really unconnected to a tendency to return in the way appreciation is, but let's assume that Manela is right here. There are others, as I've also noted: Being grateful that something is the case is often in practice associated with responsibility in ways that mere appreciation is not; they seem to be related to motivation differently; gratitude-that seems to flow immediately into gratitude-to when a benefactor is discovered, whereas appreciation does not seem to have the same natural flow. And most importantly, we regularly express it in terms more appropriate to gratitude than mere appreciation.

III. Manela tells a number of stories to try to motivate his account of the differences between prepositional and propositional gratitude. Of course, in a sense all that anyone does when they tell stories like this is to try to convince someone that an idea makes a kind of narrative sense, which is a weak, albeit sometimes important, foundation. We can point to a number of things in actual practice that need to be taken seriously. For instance, the fact that we use the word 'grateful' at all in this context is relevant. Nor is it the only gratitude-relevant word we use. Consider the word 'thankfully': "I went to his house and, thankfully, he was there." That's very definitely a gratitude-expression, and that's very definitely describing propositional, not prepositional, gratitude. People who are expressing propositional gratitude will sometimes say things like, "It was a gift from the gods", despite not believing in gods, or "The fates have looked kindly on me", despite not thinking that there are fates. And people expressing propositional gratitude will sometimes verbalize it with nothing more than "Thank you!" despite not speaking to anyone particular. Now some of these may be linguistic relics of cases where people were actually expressing prepositional gratitude (to gods or God), and Manela in fact attempts to say precisely this, but it again is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that people who are definitely not expressing prepositional gratitude still take them to be appropriate verbal expressions of their experience. And there are lots of them. This in itself suggests that people are recognizing some close kinship between prepositional and propositional gratitude, one that they do not necessarily associate with gladness or appreciation.

Manela wants to say that all of this is conflation; this response should be seen as what it is -- an attempt to take a vast quantity of evidence against his view and pretend that it is not really there, as if vast portions of the human race were unable to use the word 'gratitude', and indeed most other gratitude-expressions, correctly. It's entirely reasonable for people to respond to his arguments with nothing more than, "We know what we mean, and we are using the word because it is appropriate; stop calling us liars or fools."

IV. It is widely recognized that we can have a spontaneous impulse to gratitude in the face of some things that we find beneficial, prior to consideration of a benefactor. William Whewell, for instance, says, "While enjoying the bounties of nature, the sentiment of gratitude spontaneously rises up in the unperverted heart." He is very clear that this sentiment is prior to concluding that there is any benefactor. And, as he notes, this is insisted upon by Kant, too: Kant holds that, in a moral state of mind, faced with beauty, we can naturally feel a need to be grateful, which becomes gratitude. That is, the origin of the gratitude is not direct consideration of benefactors, but a spontaneous feeling, perhaps arising from another feeling (like moral sentiment) or a recognition of an analogy (the world seems like a gift), and this in itself results in gratitude. Both Whewell and Kant hold that there is a relation to benefactors here, but it lies in the fact that when we feel gratitude, we look for a benefactor. The gratitude comes first; and then in light of that we recognize someone as benefactor, or else suppose or posit that there is a benefactor. Both Whewell and Kant think this is a reasonable way to follow through on our spontaneous impulse of gratitude. But the gratitude would be there even if the situation were more like that depicted by Marvin Gardner in The Flight of Peter Fromm, i.e., if we concluded that there was no benefactor at all, because it did not first depend on identifying a benefactor.

V. It makes sense to hold that gratitude-that is an inchoate or incompletely formed version of the kind of gratitude that we get in gratitude-to. I've already noted the ease with which gratitude-that often flows into gratitude-to. Manela focuses on cases where you can have gratitude-that without gratitude-to, but this would not be surprising; nothing requires that the process always complete. Indeed, in some of Manela's cases it would be common for people to assume that the character is deliberately blocking or impeding, or at least not removing an impediment, to completion, and thus is blameworthy. It would make sense of why Whewell and Kant think being grateful that something is the case leads us naturally to look for a benefactor to which we could be grateful, and why Gardner thinks that it could raise that temptation even if it is resistible. It would make sense of people who don't believe in gods, or fates, or God, still think it natural to express their gratitude-that in these terms, and the durability of that language. It would make sense of the occasional cases in which people do try to render some kind of return, even if purely symbolic or by a kind of role-playing, given their propositional gratitude.

Virtuosius Est Bonum in Bonitate

[M]any goods are present in things which would not occur unless there were evils. For instance, there would not be the patience of the just if there were not the malice of their persecutors; there would not be a place for the justice of vindication if there were no offenses; and in the order of nature, there would not be the generation of one thing unless there were the corruption of another. So, if evil were totally excluded from the whole of things by divine providence, a multitude of good things would have to be sacrificed. And this is as it should be, for the good is stronger in its goodness than evil is in its malice, as is clear from earlier sections. Therefore, evil should not be totally excluded from things by divine providence.

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles 3.71.6.

Monday, August 26, 2019

King and Priest

Today is the feast of Melchizedek in the Roman Martyrology. Melchizedek is notable in a number of ways; for instance, he is the first person in the Bible who is explicitly called a priest.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Gen. 14:18-20 NIV)

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. (Psalm 110:1-4 KJV)

This "King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him"; and to him Abraham apportioned "one-tenth of everything." His name, in the first place, means "king of righteousness"; next he is also king of Salem, that is, "king of peace." Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. See how great he is! (Heb. 7:1-4a NRSV)

According to one common Jewish tradition, Melchizedek was Shem, son of Noah; 2 Enoch makes him Noah's nephew. Christians seem largely not to have been interested in these legends, although I'm told that Jerome somewhere mentions them. Philo interprets Melchizedek as a symbol of the Logos, which in a way we find in the book of Hebrews, as well, and the latter, of course, is the primary influence on what Christians have thought about him. The second thing that caught their attention was the bread and wine (in some modern translations bread and raisin-cakes), which has generally been read as a type of the Eucharist; Clement of Alexandria seems to be the first person to have discussed this explicitly:

Righteousness is peace of life and a well-conditioned state, to which the Lord dismissed her when He said, "Depart into peace." For Salem is, by interpretation, peace; of which our Saviour is enrolled King, as Moses says, Melchizedek king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who gave bread and wine, furnishing consecrated food for a type of the Eucharist. And Melchizedek is interpreted "righteous king;" and the name is a synonym for righteousness and peace.

Cyprian is a major influence on this line of thought in the West; from his Letter 62 to Caecilius:

Also in the priest Melchizedek we see prefigured the sacrament of the sacrifice of the Lord, according to what divine Scripture testifies, and says, "And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine." Now he was a priest of the most high God, and blessed Abraham. And that Melchizedek bore a type of Christ, the Holy Spirit declares in the Psalms, saying from the person of the Father to the Son: "Before the morning star I begot You; You are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek; " which order is assuredly this coming from that sacrifice and thence descending; that Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God; that he offered wine and bread; that he blessed Abraham. For who is more a priest of the most high God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered a sacrifice to God the Father, and offered that very same thing which Melchizedek had offered, that is, bread and wine, to wit, His body and blood?

Alit of Old the Olive-Bearing Bird

by Henry Alford

On thy green marge, thou vale of Avalon,
Not for that thou art crowned with ancient towers
And shafts and clustered pillars many an one,
Love I to dream away the sunny hours;
Not for that here in charmed slumber lie
The holy reliques of that British king
Who was the flower of knightly chivalry,
Do I stand blest past power of uttering;—
But for that on thy cowslip-sprinkled sod
Alit of old the olive-bearing bird,
Meek messenger of purchased peace with God;
And the first hymns that Britain ever heard
Arose, the low preluding melodies
To the sweetest anthem that hath reached the skies.

Alford was a prodigious polymath, talented in drawing, in music, and in writing, whose most famous works were his hymns and his eight-volume New Testament in Greek, which rigorously collated all the manuscript readings available to Alford.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Fortnightly Book, August 25

The next fortnightly book is the Nibelungenlied. A Middle High German epic, it was written about 1200 by a poet whose name we do not know, and, of course, it is one of the major surviving literary works that deals with the Germannic family so dysfunctional its dysfunction passed into unforgettable legend; other works on the same topic that I have done for fortnightly book were Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and GudrĂșn and the Volsunga Saga in Jackson Crawford's translation. As with both of those works, the author of the Nibelungenlied is attempting to organize prior materials that were often contradictory into some kind of coherent narrative.

I'll be reading the Penguin Classics edition, translated by Arthur Thomas Hatto.