Saturday, November 23, 2019

Definition Problems

A few days ago, the ACLU tweeted this:

It's an interesting Humpty-Dumptyism, because it's something that all but a few would have regarded as gibberish twenty years ago and that the vast majority of people regard as gibberish now, and in fact they are right -- on its own, it is gibberish still. Without knowing the account being assumed, there is no way to understand what it's saying. There is no definite commonly accepted meaning to the words 'man' and 'men' as they are being used here, and the word can't be used merely ostensively without being incoherent or pointless. If by 'mockingbird' I can arbitrarily decide to mean 'whatever imitates something else', which strictly speaking I could, then 'Mockingbirds that are not birds are mockingbirds' either means 'whatever imitates something else, even if it is not a bird, imitates something else', which is trivially true but makes no substantive point, or it means 'Whatever imitates something else, even if it is not a bird, is a kind of bird from family Mimidae', in which case it is incoherent. In neither case does it actually say anything about mockingbirds, and you would certainly regard me as speaking nonsense if I went around saying such things without telling you how I was using the term. What's needed is an actual, independently established, account of 'man' that would make the slogans some kind of technical usage. There is no such account, however. Despite the ACLU tweeting this, this is not how 'man' has generally been taken in law, for instance. Nor has there been any attempt elsewhere worth taking seriously.

There has been some work of note trying to work out an account of 'woman' in analogous situations in feminist philosophy; feminist philosophers have from the beginning recognized the above problem, and thus have proposed various projects of ameliorative inquiry or analysis (in colloquial terms, finding a better or more adequate definition or account than the ones in use). The most influential of these is Sally Haslanger's definition of 'woman' as something along the lines of 'a member of a social class that is unified by a particular form of social subordination based on presumed or perceived female role in biological reproduction'. The work of Haslanger and the handful of people who have agreed with this definition to establish has been heroic; I doubt very much anyone could do any better. Nonetheless, it has run into the problem all ameliorative analysis faces: it only pleases those who already wanted something exactly like it. It has not pleased those who want a trans-inclusive definition of woman (because whether you count as woman according to it depends entirely on whether other people presume or perceive you to be, and it would mean that becoming a woman is volunteering for social subordination) and it hasn't really please anyone else, either. It at least has the rhetorical inconvenience that if we started using it, we would have to say that one of the goals of feminism is to try to make it so that there are no women. Even granted that it might be a beneficial improvement in some abstract sense, part of the point was to get a way of thinking about the matter that could actually be used in public without being mocked for self-parody.

Of attempts to go beyond Haslanger, the only work I've seen that even has any serious promise is that of Katherine Jenkins, who argues (rightly, I think) that a trans-inclusive definition of woman has to be in some way a double rather than a single concept. Jenkins's definition is (without getting into technicalities, which can be found in her paper) disjunctive: a woman is someone who is either a target for subordination due to supposed physical features presumed to be indicative of female role in biology or who has a psychology formed to guide them through situations in a way appropriate to such women as a class. I don't think this actually does what Jenkins wants it to do, since the appearance of 'women' in the second disjunct seems effectively equivalent to saying that transwomen are women only in a secondary and derivative sense. The derivativeness might be tolerable given Jenkins's aims; I don't think the secondariness is consistent with Jenkins's aims in the analysis. It also has analogous rhetorical inconveniences, and because of that I don't expect it to be to come into any serious widespread use. I suspect, in fact, that the only way to get the kind of inclusivity Jenkins wants is to posit womanhood as a primitive indefinable with a double exemplification, physical or psychological; and while this is consistent with aims that could be considered feminist, it is not consistent with feminism as actually practiced, for the same reasons that essentialism and the eternal feminine are not popular with actual feminists.

Even if accepted, however, none of this really gives a platform by which one could do something similarly with men; they both would seem to require that becoming a man is deliberately becoming a member of a class that by definition subordinates women, which does nothing to clarify what people in that category are actually trying to do.* If you want 'men' to cover trans and cis as subcategories, you need an account of why the adjective in 'trans men' is not alienans, conveying the sense not of being but of merely trying to be. But that requires actually having a definition that makes sense of everything you are trying to do.

But, of course, the point of the ACLU is neither to say anything true nor even to say anything coherent. It's more like trying to wish something as the definition without actually doing the defining. The point of such slogans is to rally-cry; it's about in-group formation. The whole point is to use a nonstandard usage; there would be no point in going around saying "Men are men, too" if you just used 'men' in the way most people usually do. I suppose they are admirably open about doing it, since they as much as say it with the claim about belonging. The point is to convey something like 'We are in the group that uses 'man' in this uncommon way as a shibboleth for being in this same group with trans and non-binary men, excluding everyone who uses it in the common way.' But using the club handshake is not a substantive position about anything, and doesn't itself solve any real problems.

* It's not essential to the reasoning, but it is also, I think, contrary to the 'sense of the room' one gets in most contexts. It would seem to make F-M transitioning more problematic than M-F transitioning, the latter of which could perhaps be treated as a kind of solidarity (which I think many trans women do see it as). If you look at transgender conflicts and controversities, however, they are overwhelmingly about trans women, M-F transitioners. There are very few transgender controversies about mens' bathrooms or mens' sports; trans men are not in general seen as a potential threat or as having any kind of unfair advantage in competition.

As another side issue, a problem with all the ameliorative definitions on the table is that they are all passive rather than active; it's pretty obvious that to cover trans cases you'd need the definition to have an active structure, like Ramon Llull's definition of the human being as animal homificans, the humanifying animal, the animal that humanizes itself and other things. You'd need 'woman' to include something that could be characterized as woman-ifying (womanizing is already taken, unfortunately), and similarly you'd need some kind of activity that specifies what it would mean to be man-ifying. But I am skeptical of the idea that you could come up with any suggestions of woman-ifying and man-ifying activity that would be both plausible to people at large and consistent with the ameliorative aims in question.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Dashed Off XXIV

This starts the notebook that was begun in September 2018.

To see why things don't work is immensely useful.

The homily is the preeminent form of preaching precisely because it is structured by the liturgical year and is in service to the liturgy.

The testimony of the Holy Spirit is recognized first and foremost in His actions in and through the Church.

Calvin's argument that the pictorial kind of image is only to entertain fails to account for the pictorial (and not historical) images of the ark of the covenant and of the Temple.

The iconographer must, by means of the visible, paint the invisible.

This is the thing with tradition: great trees that grew for centuries can be cut down in an hour, and the cutting cannot be undone. All one can do is replant.

"Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant, then it tries to silence good." Chaput

The two pillars of intellectual greatness are rigorous abstraction and humane tradition.

rites as 'marking the Way' like signs that mark treacherous spots at fords (Xunzi 17.11)

God is love (1 Jn 4:8,16) and love is from Him (4:7), such that God's love is primary and principal (4:10); God is unseen but is known by His abiding in love (4:12).

(1) Love admits of more and less.
(2) What admits of more and less does so insofar as it approaches or recedes from what is as such (a maximum).
(3) Therefore there is love as such.
(4) Love is a simple (pure) perfection.
(5) What is a simple perfection is in itself immeasurable.
(6) Love as such is immeasurable.

The act of the first mover is love.

Confucian rectification of names rightly recognizes that society and practical life are built on classifications.

"...those natures which are not susceptible of highest degree are not perfections." Leibniz (DM 1)

Commensal, mutualistic, and parasitic relations between ecclesial and state institutions.

HoP is good for teaching that interpretation is an evidential process of approximation, and thus can be right/wrong and can also come in degrees.

Being gentlemanly presupposes a framework within which giving respect gets respect.

In the Eucharist, our gift to God is transformed by God into God's gift to us.

The Eucharist is in the fullest sense a sacrifice because it is address, oblation, consecration, and commemoration all at once.

Calvin explicitly assimilates the eucharist to baptism (Institutes IV.17.14), which is why his account of the real presence in the Supper always sounds like the real presence of the Spirit in baptism.

religious attributions
admit of universal causal argument: deity, preternatural
admit only of local causal argument: tutelar

beyondgrave attribution complexes
(1) chiefly tutelar: Hades, Osiris
(2) tutelar-preternatural: Ma'at, Grim Reaper, Angel of Death
(3) deity-preternatural: Death in a death cult
(4) deity-tutelar-preternatural: God as Judge
inworld vs beyondgrave attributions

superpersonal, at-least-personal, and impersonal tutelars and 'HADD'
agency detection -> tutelar attributions
abstraction -> preternatural attributions
? -> deity attributions
Obviously Descartes argues that deity attributions can derive from nothing except God causing as to have them

Essay Toward a More Complete Philosophy of Religion
(1) Limit and Beyond
--- (a) Religions ritually tend to focus on boundaries/thresholds.
--- (b) Otto on the numinous
--- (c) kinds of beyondness-attribution
(2) Tutelar Attributions
--- (a) agency-candidate detection
--- (b) design arguments
--- (c) the Democritean account?
--- (d) tutelar separation
--- --- (1) difficulty of equation (Greer)
--- --- (2) argument from evil
(3) Preternatural Attributions
--- (a) abstraction
--- (b) abstract entities
--- (c) interaction with abstract entities
--- --- (1) subjective
--- --- (2) exemplar
--- --- (3) directly causal
--- (d) concrete indefinites (partial abstractions)
--- (e) allegorization
--- (f) Neoplatonism
(4) Deity Attributions
--- (a) There is no obvious psychological derivation for deity attributions (failure of Lockean account).
--- (b) The Cartesian Argument
--- (c) The Traditionary Argument
--- (d) A Mediation Argument (tutelary-preternatural mediation)
--- (e) Global Cause Argument
--- (f) relation to ontological argument
(5) Interaction of Attributions
--- (a) examples in polytheistic contexts
--- --- (1) preternatural tutelars
--- --- (2) Neoplatonic
--- (b) examples in monotheistic contexts
--- --- (1) Christ
--- --- (2) Sri Guru Granth
--- (c) examples in popular arguments
--- (d) examples in philosophical arguments
(6) Inworld vs Beyondgrave Versions
--- (a) Death as another threshold
--- (b) NDE's and senses of presence
--- (c) Beyondgrave attributions cut across all three.
--- --- (1) Tutelar: Hades, Osiris, Angel of Death
--- --- (2) Preternatural: Death
--- --- (3) Deity: God as having power over the realm of the dead
(7) Kinds of Meeting
--- (a) inspiration (suggestive)
--- (b) revelation (saturated)
--- (c) miracle/wonder
--- (d) union
(8) Basic Responses
--- (a) Address (speaking)
--- (b) Oblation (giving)
--- (c) Consecration (setting apart)
--- (d) Commemoration (remembering)
(9) Rites and Rituals
--- (a) performatives
--- (b) symbolic representation of liminal and superliminal (allegorization)
--- (c) liturgical knowing
--- (d) Neoplatonism
--- (e) Neoconfucianism
(10) Institutions and Practices
--- (a) initiation and adeption
--- (b) community loyalty (Royce)
--- (c) liturgy and semiotic economy
--- (d) askesis
(11) Religion and Civilization
--- (a) Politics (civil religion & theology)
--- (b) Aesthetics
--- --- (1) Greek drama
--- --- (2) iconoclasm
--- (c) Ethics
(12) Religion and the Religion-like
--- (a) proper mode: Cicero and Aquinas on religio
--- (b) disenchantment mode
--- --- (1) Hopi disenchantment rituals
--- --- (2) Santa Claus
--- --- (3) Feuerbach
--- (c) as-if mode
--- --- (1) Santa Claus
--- --- (2) State Shinto
--- --- (3) Irish Murdoch
--- (d) fictional mode
--- --- (1) symbolic representation
--- --- --- (a) Aslan
--- --- --- (b) Crystal Dragon Jesus tropes
--- --- (2) imaginary religion (e.g., Jedi)
--- --- (3) religion imitation

It is remarkable that philosophers assume that abstract entities are inert, given that nobody normally talks about them as if they were.

When people talk about Confucianism as a religion, it is clear that the elements they take as religion are not particularly derived from Confucius himself, nor even from ruism generally, but from ancestor veneration.

Nonpopulist regimes tend to depend on economic incentives overwhelming other incentives; they tend to fall by assuming they automatically will do so.

contrast counterfactuals vs intervention counterfactuals

Christ, rising from the dead, through the eucharist (Luke 24:30) makes us to rise in heart (Luke 24:33).

narrative participation in pilgrimage, tourism, souvenirs

Composition fallacies conflate wholes/parts in Boolean and in Classical Squares of Opposition; but the inference goes through if there is a bridge principle.

civil rights as artificial armor for the juridical person

"My loved one is the abbreviation of the universe, the universe the elongation of my loved one." Novalis
"Love is the final goal of world history, the unum of the universe."

Every hegemony manufactures an acceptable rebelliousness in order to defang dissent.

Actual reasoning about conflicts of interest involves counterfactual reasoning about causes of distortion in judgment. But there's also a set of distinctions applied to this (evitable/inevitable, serious/nonserious), and these seem to posit a rational spectator as a reference point.

testimonial drift vs testimonial selection
-- the two elements of testimonial drift are memorial and communicational

A church building should be designed in such a way as to recognize the importance of sacraments, of icons, and of relics.

Nietzsche's point in TI VI.7 that men were considered free that they might be judged and punished is right insofar as freedom is a precondition for rational judgment and punishment, but defective in that it makes it impossible to understand why anyone would have ever conceived of the latter to begin with, because it is specifically this kind of judgment and punishment that is concerned, and not, for instance, merely retaliatory feeling.

the referential & acousmatic aspects of poetry

We experience the expressiveness of music in three ways: in the feel (e.g., tempo or sharpness of beat), in the imagination, and in the reason; and each aspect has different features -- associative, interpretive, etc.

Rejection, and often major revision, of free will requires the rejection of common conceptions of causation. This is recognized by Spinoza, Hume, and Nietzsche, but is regularly overlooked by those who want to have their cake and eat it too.

holiness of life as expressiveness (the life expressive of the divine)

The sacraments are divine holiness arousing human holiness through holy signs established by the holy promises of God Most Holy.

Sacraments are not merely signs of holiness but signs expressing holiness, communicating holiness.

hypermetacognition as a means for imitating genius?

While Journet associates the doctrinal power with Christ as King and the sacrament power with Christ as Priest, it seems better to regard them as each different expressions of the union of Prophet, King, and Priest in Christ.

character : Priesthood :: Gifts : Prophethood :: juridical status or rights? : Kingship

Christ ascended and in session as the proximate exemplar cause of the Church
-- the Church Triumphant as complete exemplate, the Church penitent as completing exemplate, the Church Militant as beginning (incipient) exemplate
-- Israel in OT as seminal exemplate

Locked room mysteries play with interpretation: under one interpretation of the room, the thing was impossible; under another, it was possible. But in the best locked room mysteries, both are in a sense true.

Arousal theories of expression are a poor fit for hymns.

music as a way of dancing without dancing

the last Oracle of Delphi (to Julian the Apostate):
"Tell the emperor the Daidalic hall has fallen.
No longer does Phoebus have his chamber, nor mantic laurel,
nor prophetic spring; and the speaking water has been silenced."

"If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly, if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all." C. S. Lewis

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Gifford Lectures

On this blog, I've long kept a list of Gifford Lectures and a project of reading them. But it's surprisingly difficult to compile and keep an adequate list of them. The usual lists are those of Davidson and Jaki; both are imperfect even for the time they cover, and, of course, they only do the Lectures up to the time they made their list. Sometimes it's uncertain whether a lecturer who was appointed actually lectured; sometimes it's uncertain whether a book they published actually gives the content of their Gifford Lectures, rather than just being a work they published after them. In addition, some lectures get published versions immediately; some slowly; some (like Daube's, which were only recently published) long after the death of the lecturer, which adds an additional complication. The published versions also may or may not share the same title as their lectures. So I was not hugely surprised to read ombhurbhuva's post on Paton's Gifford Lectures and realized that it wasn't on any of my lists, although it is listed on the Gifford Lectures website. Given this, and since I've read a few more since 2016, when I last updated, and also have read Mildred Cranston's comments on the older list, it's time for an update.

The Gifford Lectures are one of the most prestigious honors in the philosophical world. Provided for at four Scottish universities by Lord Gifford in his will after his death in 1887, they are intended to be broadly popular lectures on subjects relevant to natural theology (in the broad sense of the term) and the foundations of ethics, and lecturers can lecture on any topic of their choice as long as it has some kind of relevance to those topics. The general expectation is that the lectures will themselves serve as a foundation of a book on the same topic.

Bold indicates that I have read it; ambiguous cases (e.g., I've only read parts, or don't remember if I actually read it), I have simply not bolded. * indicates that, for whatever reason, I have it on my own shelves. If you notice any omissions or errors, let me know; there are definitely gaps in the past decade for them all, and Edinburgh's tendency over the past years to divide up the lectures has made it exponentially more difficult to keep track. There is a great deal of confusion about dates for Gifford Lectures, because some sources give year of appointment, some year of delivery, and some year of publication. In addition, sometimes the dates in the sources turn out to be impossible.

1888-1890 J. H. Stirling, Philosophy and Theology
1890-1892 G. G. Stokes, Natural Theology
1892-1893 O. Pfleiderer, Philosophy and Development of Religion
1894-1896 A. C. Fraser, Philosophy of Theism
1896-1898 C. P. Tiele, Elements of the Science of Religion, Volume I; Volume II
1900-1902 W. James, *The Varieties of Religious Experience
1903-1904 H. M. Gwatkin, The Knowledge of God and Its Historical Development
1905-1906 S. S. Laurie, On God and Man
1908-1909 R. Flint
1909-1910 W. W. Fowler, The Religious Experience of the Roman People
1910-1912 B. Bosanquet, The Principle of Individuality and Value ; The Value and Destiny of the Individual
1913-1914 H. Bergson
1915-1916 W. M. Ramsay, Asianic Elements in Greek Civilization
1919-1921 G. F. Stout, Mind and Matter, God and Nature
1921-1923 A. Pringle-Pattison, The Idea of God in the Light of Recent Philosophy ; The Idea of Immortality
1926-1927 A. S. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World
1927-1928 A. N. Whitehead, *Process and Reality
1928-1929 J. Dewey, The Quest for Certainty
1930-1931 N. Soderblom, *The Living God
1932-1934 E. R. Bevan, Symbolism and Belief ; Holy Images
1934-1935 A. Schweitzer
1937-1938 C. S. Sherrington, Man on His Nature
1938-1940 R. Niebuhr, *The Nature and Destiny of Man
1940-1941 O. Kraus
1947-1949 C. Dawson, Religion and Culture ; Religion and the Rise of Western Culture
1949-1950 N. Bohr
1950-1952 C. E. Raven, Natural Religion and Christian Theology
1952-1953 A. J. Toynbee, An Historian's Approach to Religion
1954-1955 R. Bultmann, History and Eschatology
1956-1957 A. Farrer, The Freedom of Will
1957-1959 W. Kohler
1959-1960 R. D. Maclennan
1961-1962 J. Baillie, The Sense of the Presence of God
1962-1964 D. Daube, *The Deed and the Doer in the Bible; *Law and Wisdom in the Bible
1964-1966 D. M. Mackinnon
1966-1968 H. D. Lewis, The Elusive Mind ; The Elusive Self ; Freedom and Alienation
1968-1970 W. H. F. Barnes
1970-1971 E. L. Mascall, The Openness of Being
1971-1973 PANEL (A. Kenny, H. C. Longuet-Higgins, and C. H. Waddington) The Nature of Mind ; The Development of Mind
1973-1974 O. Chadwick, The Secularization of the European Mind
1974-1976 S. L. Jaki, The Road of Science and the Ways to God
1976-1977 J. P. Jossua, Pierre Bayle ou l'obsession du mal
1977-1979 J. C. Eccles, The Human Mystery ; The Human Psyche
1979-1980 N. R. Smart, Beyond Ideology
1980-1981 S. H. Nasr, Knowledge and the Sacred
1981-1982 I. Murdoch, *Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals
1982-1983 D. Daiches, God and the Poets
1983-1984 M. A. Arbib and M. Hesse, The Construction of Reality
1984-1985 J. Moltmann, God in Creation
1985-1986 P. Ricoeur, Oneself as Another
1986-1987 J. H. Hick, An Interpretation of Religion
1987-1988 A. MacIntyre, *Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry
1988-1989 R. Panikkar, The Rhythm of Being
1989-1990 M. Douglas; M. Midgley, Science as Salvation
1990-1991 J. Barr, Biblical Faith and Natural Theology
1991-1992 A. Schimmel, Deciphering the Signs of God
1992-1993 M. Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought
1993-1994 J. Polkinghorne, Faith of a Physicist
1995-1996 G. A. Cohen, If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich?
1996-1997 R. Sorabji, Emotion and Peace of Mind
1997-1998 H. R. Roston III, Genes, Genesis, and God
1998-1999 C. M. Taylor, Living in a Secular Age
1999-2000 D. Tracy, This Side of God
2000-2001 O. O'Neill, Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics
2001-2002 M. Arkoun, The Unthought in Contemporary Islamic Thought
2002-2003 M. Ignatieff, The Lesser Evil
2003-2004 J. W. van Huyssteen, Alone in the World?
2004-2005 @ S. Toulmin; M. Anstee; N. Chomsky, Illegal but Legitimate
2005-2006 J. B. Elshtain, *Sovereignty: God, State, and Self
2006-2007 S. Conway Morris; J. Riley-Smith
2007-2008 A. Nehamas, On Friendship; R. M. Veatch, Hippocratic, Religious, and Secular Medical Ethics
2008-2009 D. Eck; J. Sacks
2009-2010 P. Churchland, Braintrust; M. S. Gazzaniga; T. Eagleton
2010-2011 G. Brown; P. Harrison, The Territories of Science and Religion
2011-2012 S. Sutherland; D. MacCulloch; J. Al Khalili
2012-2013 B. Latour, Facing Gaia; S. Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature; R. Williams, The Edge of Words
2013-2014 O. O'Neill; R. D. Williams; C. O'Regan
2014-2015 J. Waldron; H. Nowotny
2015-2016 K. Tanner; S. Jasanoff
2016-2017 R. English; J. Stout
2017-2018 A. Fuentes; E. H. Ecklund
2018-2019 M. Beard
2019-2020 M. Welker

1888-1892 F. M. Muller, Natural Religion ; Physical Religion ; Anthropological Religion ; Theosophy or Psychological Religion
1892-1894 W. Wallace, Lectures and Essays
1894-1896 J. Caird, The Fundamental Ideas of Christianity
1897-1898 A. B. Bruce, The Providential Order of the World ; The Moral Order of the World
1900-1902 E. Caird, The Evolution of Religion ; The Evolution of Theology
1903-1905 E. Boutroux, Science and Religion in Contemporary Philosophy+
1907-1908 A. C. Bradley, Ideals of Religion
1910-1912 J. Watson, The Interpretation of Religious Experience
1913-1915 A. J. Balfour, Theism and Humanism
1916-1918 S. Alexander, Space, Time and Deity
1919-1921 H. Jones, A Faith that Enquires
1922-1923 A. J. Balfour, Theism and Thought
1923-1925 W. P. Paterson, The Nature of Religion
1927-1928 J. S. Haldane, The Sciences and Philosophy
1929-1931 J. A. Smith
1932-1933 W. Temple, Nature, Man and God
1935-1937 W. M. Dixon, The Human Situation
1937-1938 W. E. Hocking
1938-1940 J. Laird, Theism and Cosmology ; Mind and Deity
1946-1948 R. B. Perry, *Realms of Value
1949-1950 H. H. Farmer, Revelation and Religion ; Reconciliation and Religion
1952-1954 J. Macmurray, The Self as Agent ; Persons in Relations
1955-1956 L. Hodgson, For Faith and Freedom
1959-1961 C. F. Weizsacker, The Relevance of Science
1962-1963 C. W. Hendel
1965-1967 H. Butterfield
1971-1972 R. W. Southern
1974-1975 B. G. Mitchell, Morality, Religious and Secular
1979-1980 S. Brenner
1981-1982 S. Clark, From Athens to Jerusalem
1981-1982 C. J. Larner, The Thinking Peasant
1982-1983 A. J. Sanford, Models, Mind and Man
1982-1983 P. Drew
1983-1984 A. D. Galloway
1984-1985 C. Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience
1985-1986 D. M. MacKay, Behind the Eye
1986-1987 PANEL [N. Spurway, ed., Humanity, Environment, and God]
1989-1990 G. Steiner, Grammars of Creation
1991-1992 M. Warnock, Imagination and Understanding
1993-1994 J. S. K. Ward, Religion and Revelation
1995-1996 J. H. Brooke and G. Cantor, Reconstructing Nature
1997-1998 R. J. Berry, God's Book of Works
1999-2000 R. McInerny, Characters in Search of an Author
2000-2001 PANEL [A. Sanford, ed., The Nature and Limits of Human Understanding]
2002-2003 S. Blackburn, *Truth
2004-2005 L. E. Goodman; J. Hare; Abdulaziz Sachedina
2007-2008 D. Fergusson, Faith and Its Critics
2008-2009 C. Taylor
2009-2010 G. Vattimo, Of Reality
2012-2013 V. Ramachandran
2014-2015 J. Marion, *Givenness and Revelation
2015-2016 P. Schmidt-Leukel
2016-2017 S. Carroll
2018-2019 J. Butler

1888-1890 A Lang, The Making of Religion
1890-1891 E. Caird
1894-1896 L. Campbell, Religion in Greek Literature
1899-1901 R. A. Lanciani, New Tales of Old Rome
1902-1904 R. B. Haldane, The Pathway to Reality
1907-1909 J. Ward, The Realm of Ends
1911-1913 J. G. Frazer, The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead
1914-1916 J. A. Thomson, The System of Animate Nature
1917-1919 W. R. Inge, The Philosophy of Plotinus
1919-1920 L. R. Farnell, Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality
1926-1928 A. E. Taylor, The Faith of a Moralist
1929-1930 C. Gore, The Philosophy of the Good Life
1932-1933 R. R. Marett, *Faith, Hope and Charity in Primitive Religion ; Sacraments of Simple Folk
1935-1936 H. H. Henson, Christian Morality
1936-1937 W. Jaeger, The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers
1937-1938 W. G. De Burgh, From Morality to Religion
1938-1939 J. Bidez, Eos
1939-1940 R. Kroner, The Primacy of Faith
1946-1948 E. Brunner, Christianity and Civilization
1948-1949 A. M. Macbeath, Experiments in Living
1949-1951 H. J. Paton, The Modern Predicament
1951-1953 B. Blanshard, Reason and Goodness ; Reason and Belief
1953-1955 C. A. Campbell, On Selfhood and Godhood
1955-1956 W. C. Heisenberg, *Physics and Philosophy
1956-1958 V. A. Demant
1958-1960 G. H. von Wright, Norm and Action
1960-1962 S. Runciman, The Church in Captivity
1962-1963 H. Chadwick
1964-1966 J. N. Findlay, The Discipline of the Cave ; The Transcendence of the Cave
1967-1969 R. C. Zaehner, Concordant Discord
1970-1971 W. H. Thorpe, Animal Nature and Human Nature
1972-1973 A. J. Ayer, The Central Questions of Philosophy
1975-1976 R. Hooykaas, Fact, Faith, and Fiction
1977-1978 D. Stafford-Clark
1980-1981 G. Vlastos
1982-1983 D. G. Charlton
1983-1984 J. Macquarrie, In Search of Deity
1984-1985 A. Grunbaum
1986-1987 A. Flew, The Logic of Mortality
1988-1989 W. Burkert, Creation of the Sacred
1990-1991 H. Putnam, Renewing Philosophy
1992-1993 A. Peacocke, Theology for a Scientific Age
1994-1995 N. Wolterstorff, Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology
1996-1997 M. Dummett, Thought and Reality
1998-1999 M. M. Adams, Christ and Horrors
2000-2001 S. M. Hauerwas, With the Grain of the Universe
2001-2002 P. van Inwagen, The Problem of Evil
2004-2005 A. Plantinga, Science and Religion
2006-2007 M. Rees
2010-2011 R. Scruton, *The Face of God
2012-2013 D. Alexander, Genes, Determinism and God
2014-2015 L. Zagzebski, Exemplarist Moral Theory
2016-2017 M. Rea
2018-2019 M. Johnston

1889-1891 E. B. Tylor$
1891-1892 A. M. Fairbairn, The Philosophy of the Christian Religion +
1896-1898 J. Ward, Naturalism and Agnosticism
1898-1900 J. Royce, The World and the Individual
1900-1902 A. H. Sayce, The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia
1905-1906 J. Adam, The Religious Teachers of Greece
1907-1909 H. Driesch, The Science and Philosophy of Organism
1909-1910 W. Ridgeway
1911-1913 A. Pringle-Pattison
1913-1915 W. R. Sorley, *Moral Values and the Idea of God
1917-1919 C. C. Webb, God and Personality ; Divine Personality and Human Life
1921-1922 E. W. Hobson, The Domain of Natural Science
1924-1926 W. Mitchell, The Place of Minds in the World
1927-1929 E. W. Barnes, Scientific Theory and Religion
1930-1932 E. Gilson, *The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy
1935-1936 W. D. Ross, Foundations of Ethics
1936-1938 K. Barth, The Knowledge of God and the Service of God according to the Teaching of the Reformation
1938/39, 1946/47 A. D. Nock
1947-1948 J. Wisdom
1948-1950 G. Marcel, The Mystery of Being
1951-1952 M. Polanyi, Personal Knowledge
1952-1954 P. Tillich, Systematic Theology
1956-1958 H. A. Hodges
1960-1962 H. H. Price, Belief
1963-1965 A. C. Hardy, The Living Stream ; The Divine Flame
1965-1966 R. Aron
1966-1968 T. M. Knox, Action ; Layman's Quest
1969-1970 A. T. van Leeuwen, Critique of Heaven ; Critique of Earth
1972-1974 H. Arendt, The Life of the Mind
1975-1977 J. Z. Young, Programs of the Brain
1979-1980 F. C. Copleston, Religion and the One
1981-1983 A. Hultkrantz
1983-1984 R. Swinburne, The Evolution of the Soul
1984-1985 F. J. Dyson, Infinite in All Directions
1987-1988 A. Plantinga, Warrant: The Current Debate ; Warrant and Proper Function ; Warranted Christian Belief
1989-1990 I. G. Barbour, Religion in an Age of Science ; Ethics in an Age of Technology
1992-1993 J. Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture
1994-1995 A. Broadie, The Shadow of Scotus
1997-1998 R. Stannard, The God Experiment
2000-2001 J. S. Habgood, The Concept of Nature
2002-2003 E. Stump, Wandering in the Darkness
2003-2004 J. Haldane, Mind, Soul, and Deity
2007-2008 S. Pattison, Seeing Things
2009-2010 A. McGrath, A Fine-Tuned Universe
2012-2013 S. Coakley, Sacrifice Regained
2014-2015 D. Livingstone, Dealing with Darwin
2015-2016 M. Siddiqui
2018-2019 N. T. Wright, Discerning the Dawn
2019-2020 L. Sideris

+ Mildred Cranston, in her The Teleological Argument in the Gifford Lectures, argues that there's no evidence that Fairbairn's The Philosophy of the Christian Religion and Boutroux's Science and Religion in Contemporary Philosophy actually overlap their Gifford Lectures.
$ Cranston notes that while Tylor never published his Lectures, they were abstracted in Balfour, et al., Anthropological Essays Presented to Edward Burnett Tylor.
@ E. Said was originally appointed, but died before he could deliver them; Toulmin, Anstee, and Chomsky instead delivered a series in memoriam.

Of course, not all of them 'stick' equally well; and there are some that I really didn't like, although perhaps a few of them would improve on second reading. Some of the ones I liked quite a bit, and would recommend quite generally, are (in no particular order):

William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
Nathan Soderblom, The Living God
H. D. Lewis, The Elusive Mind and The Elusive Self
Stanley Jaki, The Road of Science and the Ways to God
Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals
David Daiches, God and the Poets
Alasdair MacIntyre, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry
Arthur Balfour, Theism and Humanism and Theism and Thought
George Steiner, Grammars of Creation
R. R. Marett, Faith, Hope, and Charity in Primitive Religion
Warren Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy
Etienne Gilson, The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy
Jaroslav Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture
William Wallace, Lectures and Essays on Natural Theology and Ethics
Otto Pfleiderer, Philosophy and the Development of Religion

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Abyss & Sea 5


Disan returned to his rooms, elegant but sparsely furnished. He looked around as he readied for bed and felt vaguely unsettled. Perhaps it was the discussion, perhaps it was the room itself, which seemed familiar to him, somehow. He did not expect to get to sleep easily, but he must have been more tired than he had thought, because he went to sleep almost immediately. But when he woke in the middle of the night, reflected on the earlier discussion. The essentials need to be held close to the chest. Yes, and what essentials were the High King and the Princess hold close so that Disan himself would not see them? There is a feature of certain conversations whereby they flow around gaps without acknowledging them, and Disan had had the clear impression throughout of something being unmentioned.

Antaran had mentioned the Court of Night earlier that day, and it had arisen again; and Elea's pendant was, she had said, something from the Court of Night. And we laid this rule and this alone on them: that they should not take from the Court of Night anything unless we permitted it. Disan's mind went back to the stories his grandfather, Belan, had told him of those days, and they rose like tableaux in his imagination: the Golden Dragon and the Black Dragon fighting in the distant sky, with the lightning around them and their voices like thunder and the wind of their wings gusting everywhere like a storm; the Unicorn-King rearing on the hill, silver against the dark night, a blazing light seeming to pour from his head and reach to the stars; charging and retreating in shifts during the days and nights of fighting against an enemy that seemed never to tire and to be endless in number; the chanters, too, chanting in endless shifts until they were hoarse, spreading over the land an enervating mist, sending glamors here and there to disorient the foe, and, finally, cracking the ground and walls around the Unbreachable Gate so that it fell outward with a noise like the screaming of a great beast. But in all of the stories King Belan had told, Disan could not recall one that said what had happened when they had won.

Musing on such things, Disan drifted off to second sleep.

The morning fast-breaking consisted of strawberries and cream. The strawberries were such as only grow in Tala, as large as a fist, yet firm and vibrantly red, with small achenes and a taste finely balanced between tart and sweet and a scent that was intensely fresh in the way only the best strawberries are. Disan liked them so much that before heading out to meet the High King, he hunted down the steward to arrange to buy a crate and send them to those of his men who had stayed with the ship.

The primary event for the day was a visit to the great amphitheater that Antaran had recently finished building to see the games, but, of course, the involvement of a royal court makes any such thing vastly more complicated. An entire procession had to be organized, complete with relevant protocols. Antaran and Disan, as reigning kings, took the forefront of the procession, Disan having the honor of riding as passenger in the chariot of the High King himself. It was a splendidly crafted two-wheeled vehicle of bronze and copper, brightly gleaming in the sun, and drawn by two high-stepping and long-legged steeds. There was room in it for three, but Antaran had an impatience with being driven, so insisted on driving it alone with Disan; they were followed by two chariots in parallel carrying the guards of the kings. After them came another chariot of similar design, carrying the Princess of Tavra and two of her guards, one driving and the other, one supposes, on watch. Then came a long line of notables of various kind and eminence, each in their place.

The procession went out to the Oracle of the Sun, where the kings, the princess, and various high nobles left it to enter the domed building. It was cylindrical, supporting a large coffered dome of concrete and shining orikhalh rising above its cella, the largest such dome in the world. At the top of the dome was an oculus to the sky, into which the sun would directly shine in the middle of the day. It was an old building, possibly older than the Porphyry Mountain itself, and its style of architecture was old enough to be foreign; it was impressive, but from the outside seemed small and oddly proportioned in comparison to the kinds of buildings that had since come to be preferred. Inside there was no furniture on the floor at all; it was simply a round room. But it was the most holy of all the places in the Great Realm. The Orikhalh Tablets, the highest of high laws, adorned the walls all around. The air seemed full of the air of higher things. Here the pacts and the covenants were formed. Here the first High King had sworn before Illimitable Heaven and the Powers of the world to uphold the law of the Tablets. Here was the place where each and every king and queen of the Great Realm became king or queen, anointed in the noonday sun before the laws writ in imperishable orikhalh. Disan had last been here for his own anointing as king. Baia too had been anointed as queen here, two years later, although Disan had not been able to attend -- it was written in the Orikhalh Tablets that at least one anointed king or queen, as long as there was one, must be within the borders of each kingdom.

Every anointed king or queen visiting the Oracle of the Sun renewed their vows before the Tablets, so this is what Antaran and Disan. Another time, it might have been moving, but recalling the discussion of the night before and Antaran's dismissal of the Tablets made the holy vow seem profaned and cheapened, and made Disan himself feel low and hypocritical.

Afterward, they proceeded to the amphitheater. Disan had never seen it finished before, and he was staggered at the size of it; it could easily have held fifty or sixty thousand spectators, perhaps more. When he mentioned this to Antaran, the High King beamed.

"Yes," he said, "it is as splendid as my father and I could make it. We wanted it to be an omen for the great things that we will achieve in the future."

The kings and the princess had the best seats of all, the royal pavilion, which, though small, gave them more room than the ordinary spectators had. People had been arriving since early morning, and inside there was a large a tightly packed crowd. It was crowded enough that it would no doubt become very hot as the day went on; the royal pavilion had an awning, and high above the vast stadium there was an awning mounted on an elaborate rigging that Disan, Sorean and lover of ships by nature, could not help admiring, but during midday many of the seats with a better view would no doubt be directly in the sun. The place was also very noisy, not only from the crowd but from the music. There were musicians in every tier of the amphitheater; those in the highest seats surely could not see the arena itself very well, nor hear much of anything at all, but they had trumpets and drums and other musical instruments of strange kinds we no longer have in our degenerate days, and as events happened below the musicians played according to cues that were signaled up the stands by flags. Those too far away to have much of the experience could nonetheless capture some if it by sign, in the reactive sounds of the crowds below, in the flags, the different signals of which the the regular attendees knew by heart, in the musical accompaniment.

When they entered, there had been some sort of chariot racing going on below; as the kings and princess sat, some trumpets rang out, apparently as a signal to finish, because in a few minutes the arena had cleared. Then a deep sound resounded forth, not a trumpet but a great shawm, rumbling through the stadium. There was a moment of silence and then a flurry of similar flags, all large and red and shaped like a long isosceles triangle, sprang across the tiers like a leaping fire from signaler to signaler. Brightly sounding trumpets began echoing in response.

"Ah, the hunt!" shouted Antaran above the noise, clapping his hands. A number of armored archers and spearthrowers came out on the field; there was a pause; and then there was a roar of enthusiasm from the crowd as large sleek shapes suddenly darted out of the gate, blurs of orange and white and black, great tigers roaring with rage. Swiftly ran the cats; swiftly flew the arrows; then flew the spears. The arrows struck home again and again, but it usually required several arrows to bring down one, and one of the tigers, swifter than the rest, had almost reached one of the archers before brought down by a spearthrower's spear. A steady stream of animals followed, with the hunters and weapons occasionally changing: lions, jaguars, wild boars, wolves. One of the most popular contests pitted a bear against three men with nets and long spears. But the one the crowd loved most was a hippopotamus against a dozen men with assorted weapons. The hippopotamus severely wounded two of the men before it was taken down, although not fatally; when, with the help of their companions, they rose and limped off the arena, the cheers and shouts of approval from the crowd rose to deafening volume.

Eventually the music shifted, becoming richer and more complex. Square yellow flags began springing up the tiers. Servants brought the royals wine cooled in special pots and roasted chickpeas and pastries. The entertainment moved from hunt to fight. First there were individual and small group fights. The fighting was intense and complicated, although from his excellent seat Disan, familiar with real fights, could tell that some of it was choreographed. After the small fights, a great battle was staged. Here and there throughout there were men with lion masks, from which Disan guessed that the battle was representing the defeat of the Rogue King of Andra, who was said to have, over a thousand years ago, raised an army against his fellow kings.

After the battle, there were dancers and acrobats, signaled by blue rectangles and a music that was much more leaping. Then the shawn rumbled out again and green trapezoids were raised, and the crowd, while not quiet, became much more hushed. Fighters came out and fought, and Disan could see that it was not choreographed; they were competent but clumsy, the blows were much more like what you would see in a real fight, and the movements of the fighters carried an air of intensity. Then one of the fighters ran the other through with his sword. Disan, mouth open, half-rose from his seat, but as the crowd roared with approval and excitement, he sank back down.

"What is this?" he shouted to Antaran over the noise.

"The fights of the condemned," Antaran shouted back. "Murderers and rapists and the like in fights to the death."

Disan watched with a sick feeling in his stomach as a succession of men fell to their deaths to the enthusiastic screaming of the crowd. That they were criminals did not console him at all, because when a murderer dies, he does not die with 'murderer' blazed across him, but simply dies as a man dies. After the twelfth man fell, the shawm rumbled out again, and there was a pause on the floor. Then golden equilateral triangles raced up the tiers and the music became much more festive and enthusiastic.

"Prize fight between volunteers," shouted Antaran to Disan. "The survivor gets a wagon full of gold and a small pension for life."

Indeed, they brought out, under heavy guard, precisely such a wagon, displaying its contents to those in the crowd close enough to see. Two fighters came out and began to fight. They were both clearly well trained and the fight went on quite long, to the great pleasure of the crowd. Eventually, however, the sword of one crossed the neck of the other, who then fell face down, his blood soaking into the sand that covered the arena floor. The survivor raised his sword and a considerable portion of the crowd rose in a kind of standing ovation, shouting their excitement. The day had reached its thrilling consummation.

As they went back to the Porphyry Mountain, Disan was heavy with thought, enough so that Antaran, even though busy driving the chariot, asked him what was wrong.

"How long have men been dying in the amphitheater?"

Antaran seemed surprised at the question. "Almost since it was finished. The opening was a great hunt in the morning -- you should have seen it, over a thousand animals died -- followed in the afternoon by a mock naval battle. But it was not long afterward that the fights of the condemned began; those condemned to death anyway were given the option of mortal combat in the arena, with their family being paid for it, and paid more the more fights they survived. The prize fights are new, but they have become the most popular attraction." After a few minutes of silence from Disan, he said, "Why do you ask?"

"I did not know that we killed men for entertainment in the Great Realm."

"It is all quite decent, I assure you. Nobody enters unless they consent; it is all voluntary, even the murders and rapists. And, as I said, we pay the families very well. The family of the man who lost the prize fight will receive almost as much as the man who won it. A man of skill who is not afraid to die can make his family quite wealthy, and if he can survive and do more than one, become wealthy himself. The man who won it today was fighting his third; he has wealth enough now to last a dozen lifetimes." When Disan said nothing, Antaran looked at him strangely. "I do not understand you, Disan. You have been to war abroad. Of all the people in that amphitheater, you are almost certainly the one who has killed the most men."

"As you say, that was in war," said Disan, "to defend allies who might otherwise be destroyed by marauders. To do it in an arena for a crowd, seems...." He struggled a moment to find a word to express what he wanted to say, could not, and finished lamely, "...inappropriate for the greatness and glory of which we boast."

Antaran freed one of his hands and put it firmly on Disan's shoulder a moment. "You are not alone in thinking this, my friend," he said. "Our ancestors fought dragon and khalkythra. They faced the terrors of the night-world, did deeds of immemorial glory. Our grandparents fought no less than the Court of Night itself and won. And here I am," he continued, with perhaps a bit of bitterness, "and the best I can do is preside over games. At least you have seen the world. But we will change things, you and I and Elea; we will do things such as to astound even those who came before us."

At the Porphyry Mountain, Disan took his leave from the High King and the princess and went to bed early, without eating. He did not sleep, however, but tossed and turned for a very long time, unable to settle his mind. Finally, he rose again and lit a lamp. Something about the room still unsettled him, and he stared at a tapestry hanging on the wall for a long while before walking over to it and pulling it back. At least, that is the way it seemed at the time, and perhaps that was the way it was; but Disan later did not know whether anything that followed had been real or a dream. Behind the tapestry was a door.

So Still, So Chill, So Fair

Maiden and Moon
by Julia Stockton Dinsmore

Once in a dream I saw the full moon fall
Like a dead leaf adown the dusky air,
Blown to the outer darkness otherwhere;
And stormy nights like this the dream recall,
When from the black clouds' silver-broidered pall
The white disk gleams, so still, so chill, so fair.
Dead! in her youth, perhaps, but wandering there,
A ghost that nightly haunts our living ball.
Pale sister moon, what broke thy virgin heart
And left thee wrecked and desolate in space?—
Love of some central sun too far above,
Too ardent, else? Silent and cold thou art,
Shrouded in mystery; but thy pure face
Is radiant with the lingering light of love.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Cringe and Cope

Perhaps a little on the paraphrastic side.

Cringe of cringe, saith the Preacher,
cringe of cringe; everything is cringe.
What do you get from hustling everywhere?
Generation comes, generation goes,
the earth keeps staying.
Sun rises, sun sets;
exhausted, it ends up at the beginning.
Wind goes south, wind goes north;
it blows around, and is back again.
Rivers flow to the sea, the sea's never full;
the water cycles back.
Everything is hustling,
more than words can tell,
more than eye can see,
more than ear can hear.
What was, will be.
What was done, will be done.
Nothing's new anywhere.
Have you heard the buzz,
"This is the new thing"?
It's long been old hat.
We don't remember the way things were;
new generations won't remember the way they are.

I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
I studied to learn all about everything.
God has given everyone some pointless job.
I have seen everything everywere,
and, you know what?
Everything is cringe and cope.
What is broken can't be fixed.
What is missing can't be figured out.

I told myself, "I've learned a lot,
maybe more than anyone else in Jerusalem,"
and became a man in the know,
and I set out to know intelligence and stupidity.
I found that this is just cope.
Being smart is cope,
learning is frustration.

I told myself, "I'll try out pleasures."
You know what? This is also cringe.
I said of laughter, "This is crazy,"
and of pleasure, "This is pointless."
I thought about how to get drunk --
I was still being smart --
and about how to be stupid,
so I could find what would be worth doing.
I built great things.
I built houses and planted vineyards for myself.
I built myself gardens and parks, planted with fruit trees;
I built myself ponds to water them.
I had servants, more and more,
and more wealth than anyone else in Jerusalem.
I got silver and gold and the world's treasures.
I got live music and an entourage.
So I was greater than anyone else in Jerusalem,
and I was still being smart.
What I wanted, I got.
I didn't deny myself anything,
and I enjoyed the challenge.
And when I looked at what I had gained,
and all that I had hustled to get,
I found that it was all cringe and cope,
with nothing worth getting anywhere.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Structure of Apologizing

Some people have been discussing this paper on apologizing, which notes that there is some (limited) evidence that apologies don't tend to result in less punishment, and may in fact lead people to want to increase the punishment. This is actually consistent with a number of other things we know; there is a lots of evidence that in one way or another suggests something like this. If your goal is to avoid punishment, or to reduce it, apologizing is not a way to do that. What I've found surprising is that so many people find this surprising whenever a new bit of evidence shows this to be the case.

Apologizing always has the following logical structure, which can be done in lots of different ways but are all conditions for it to be a genuine apology:

(1) You admit that you have done something that deserves punishment.
(2) You recognize that the person to whom you are apologizing has the right or authority to punish you.
(3) You 'turn yourself in', so to speak, to be punished.

That's it. It's why you should never, ever apologize if you are not genuinely willing to be punished; apologizing is giving people permission to punish you. It always has been. It's also why a certain kind of toxic personality is always trying to force people to apologize: once you've apologized to them, you've given them power. It's the venomous dialectic of our day, in fact, that people who want power over you are always trying to get you to apologize for something; they will even make something up for you to apologize about, if that's what it takes.

So why, then, do people so often assume that apologizing will naturally lead to lessening of punishment? In reality, you would obviously expect that refusing to apologize would tend to deter people from bringing the full force of punishment, by making clear that if they want to punish you, they have to fight you, while you'd expect apologies, which make clear that you are open to being punished and will not fully resist, to lead to more and harsher punishment. And this is exactly we find in many cases. So what's the reason people are astonished that permitting people to punish you often leads to more and harsher punishment?

Of course, it depends on the audience. People are sometimes mind-boggled by the willingness some have shown in the past for forgiving televangelists for their indiscretions when they apologize. But they know their audience, a broadly evangelical group who have been raised to believe that repentance is very, very important, that it takes some courage to do and therefore can in that sense be admirable, and that mercy to those who repent is a duty. In such a context, apologies are brave expressions of repentance which require that one act mercifully; in that context, apologies are obviously to be encouraged and so obviously you want people to be punished more harshly if they don't apologize than they do. Things can get a little more complicated when we insist on sincerity of repentance, but in fact the kind of people who believe all these other things are also inclined to think that we have a duty to give people the benefit of the doubt. Outside that context, people will take apologies for what they are: confessions of wrongdoing in which the wrongdoer agrees to be punished, and thus either not affecting the punishment or giving more reason to punish.

If you want a society in which apologies are taken seriously rather than being ignored or being treated as reasons for intensifying punishment, you have to build it. People have to be raised to stay their hand in the face of apology. I suppose the fact that so many people are surprised by the ineffectiveness of apology to reduce punishment is a sign that many still are. But you have only to look around to see that this seems to be a dwindling minority. In such a society, the rules are: Don't apologize unless you are genuinely sorry; never apologize to someone you don't want to have power over you; do not tolerate people demanding apologies for minor or made-up reasons. It's the only way to survive.

The Solacing Cerulean of the Sky

November's Ruth
by Julia Stockton Dinsmore

O mother earth! the autumn hours fly;
While yet 'tis warm I lean upon thy breast;
In failing grass with more than springtime zest,
Feel for the violets short-stemmed and shy;
The motley leaves lisp their last lullaby,
The sunshine seems the light of peace and rest
And over me extends from east to west
The solacing cerulean of the sky.
As some fond friend who says farewell and goes,
Seeing the loved one left begin to grieve,
Turns back to give one smile, one last caress,—
After the frosts and ere the fall of snows,
The parting season grants this brief reprieve,
Days whose strange sadness seems like happiness.

This is some very skillful use of alliteration.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Fortnightly Book, November 17

Irving Stone (born Irving Tennenbaum) is most famous for his intensively researched biographical novels. While I was puzzling over what book to pick for the next fortnightly book, my happened to light on his Love Is Eternal, a book which was in my grandparents' library and which I hadn't really looked at. It sounds like a love story, I thought, and apparently it is, but it is also, somewhat improbably, a novel about Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd. I suppose that makes it rather distinctive, so we'll see if the awkward and homely Illinois lawyer and his short and emotionally troubled wife is the stuff of eternal romance. The reviews for it are actually quite favorable, so it might well be an interesting fortnight.