Friday, April 24, 2020

Dashed Off VII

For the same reason that Carnap relativizes observability to organs of an organism, he should also relativize it to instruments.

Russell's 'supreme maxim in scientific philosophising' amounts to this: fictions are to be substituted for evidence.

Stipulative definitions are always for a purpose, and to be judged thereby.

The internal structure of a method is neither analytic nor empirical.

We can infer from as-if assertions just as well as from real assertions.

"All imperatives are formulae of a practical necessitation." Kant
"An obligation implies not that an action is necessary merely, but that it is made necessary; it is not a question of necessitas, but of necessitatio. Thus, while the divine will is, as regards morality, a necessary will, the human will is not necessary but necessitated."
"Every imperative expresses the objective necessitation of actions which are subjectively contingent."

exemplar : formal cause :: destiny : final cause

Confirmation of theory is just a form of analogy.

management envelope forms of quasi-property (e.g., shell corporations) and quasi-jurisdiction (e.g., titular see)

The correspondence relevant to truth occurs within our thought, given the nature of thought.

modes of the hopeful: receptive, intrusive, liminal, ambiguous

Sin taxes tend to be punishments of the poor for not choosing the recreations of the rich.

In order to begin its work, a discipline does not need to form a definite conception of the subject matter; definition is built by inquiry. It does, however, require that there be something that can assign terms.

"Everywhere the core of the knowledge process turns out to be a rediscovery." Schlick

In creativity as in all else, nest before egg.

Implicit definitions have to be traced back to reality like any other; they are just at a higher level of abstraction (or signification, if you prefer).

Judgments exist so that concepts can be made.

Schlick's account of judgments should have led him to treat them as a subset of concepts (namely those that are signs of relations as existing). This in turn should have led him to handle impersonalia differently. ('It is snowing' would best be seen as having a single term, snowing, designating a kind of relation, and the judgment be distinguished from the concept of snowing only by signifying the existence of what 'snowing' signifies'.)

regularity theory // preestablished harmony

ludics, artistic technics, and etiquette as being semi-ethical by nature

reason-seeking, reason-demanding, reason-giving
(search, challenge, argument)

'I know A as B' is not equivalent to 'I know that A is B'.

"The task of a sign is to be a representative of that which is designated, to act in its place in some respect or other." Schlick

If I say, 'Concept A is similar (almost like) concept B', the predicate is not part of the definition of the subject (if we aren't talking about shared genus or a relative concept) but similarity between concepts is not determined by sensible experience. In short, not all relations between concepts are definitional, in the sense of being part of the definition of at least one of the concepts, even if it is based on those definitions (e.g., this definitional structure has similarities to that). We see this even more clearly in more complicated cases, e.g., A is more like B than C, where 'more like B than C' is not generally part of how A is defined, although the reason for saying it is due to A's definition.

Perception is always of relations.

People will talk about justice for many reasons; but the people who have the most incentive to talk about justice are the unjust.

conflicts of interest as occasions for temptations to failures of integrity

That we have itches we scratch to satisfy does not imply that we scratch in order to get pleasure from scratching; we scratch in order to address the itch.

We draw our knowledge not from bare sensations but from familiarities.

"Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation of His Son; and therefore there abides in it something holy and religious: not extraneous, but innate; not derived from men, but implanted by nature." Leo XIII

certain kinds of saint patronage // attributed arms

A true insight of the linguistic turn is that progress can sometimes be made by pulling back from the arguments in order to critique the problems or questions.

Every experiment, and every experimental design, has to deal with the distinction between the real and the unreal.

In pre-philosophical thought, there is no clear recognition of time as a condition of the real.

The principle of noncontradiction is a principle of both analysis and synthesis.

"A sympathetic understanding of a philosophical system...consists in picturing to oneself just exactly what sense is assumed within that system by each question or assertion of everyday life and science." Schlick
"We see again and again that the positivist directs his critique against a specially constructed concept of the thing-in-itself and then supposes that he has refuted the general idea of such a thing."
"There is no sense organ that senses time; the entire self experiences it."

Concepts are constructed takes on the real.

The phenomena can only be the noumena appearing.

Mathematical concepts must be taken to be such that they can apply to reality. But that they can in fact apply is not a matter of definition (you cannot get it by bare stipulation in the concept itself) nor is it a matter of experience (because many such concepts go well beyond anything we have experienced in actual cases to which they apply).

Conventions may be more or less appropriate.

How to apply a definition is not generally incorporated into the definition.

That something can be is at the same time evident in itself and about the real world.

felt reception vs felt resistance accounts of cause, the external world, etc.

Morale is a necessary part of military strategy because it is directly relevant to loyalty and obedience.

While Dilthey is right that it is the nature of life to attempt to fill each moment with value, it would be an error to conclude that early years are not means to mature years. This is precisely what we take to be the promise of youth.

protection-racket progressivism

When people talk about 'following where the argument leads' they tend to assume that it leads in one way and in one direction. But in fact, given that one may respond to arguments in many ways (ponens, tollens, suspend judgment while checking against other things, etc.), when we follow an argument we do so out of our entire spiritual background, and people for whom that background is different -- different experiences, different educations, different practical and moral goals -- may well take the same argument to lead in very different directions.

Christ's Baptism is not in the genus of our baptism, but it is the exemplar and template.

Johnson (1960): Both 'No synthetic propositions are a priori' and 'Some synthetic propositions are a priori' would, if true, have to be synthetic a priori truths, in the sense of about the world and such that the contradictory is self-contradictory.

Krishna (1961): Synthetic a priori is required in order to have logical derivations involving empirical truths.

Lambros (1975): Logical positivism has four distinct accounts of necessary truths, each of which is a different kind of denial of synthetic a priori. It is the denial that the a priori can inform about the world (and is instead linguistic) either (a) taking the a priori to be rule or (b) taking the a priori to be propositional; if (b), then either (b1) it is true in virtue of conceptual content or (b2) it is true in virtue of syntactic form; if (b2), either (b2a) absolutely (all languages) or (b2b) relativized to some languages. (a) is derived from Wittgenstein, found in Hans Hahn: Logic is not about objects but wholly about ways of speaking about objects. (b1) of some kind is found in Schlick. (b2a) is a standard reading of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. (b2b) is found in Carnap.

Williams (1938): A convention is a habitual way of behaving, not a proposition; an analytic proposition cannot be a convention. Nor can it be a description of a convention; such descriptions are necessarily synthetic. Nor can ti be a rule, command, resolve, etc.

Beck (1957): 'Analytic' is a logical/linguistic term; 'a priori' is epistemological. They should not be elided even if coextensive. The reasons why some people want to say that a principle is analytic *in a particular body of science* are the *same reasons* Kant held them to be synthetic a priori.

'White is this color', pointing to white, seems to be analytic a posteriori.

necessary synthetic a posteriori propositions (reachable by proper induction)

The rights of the child grow up within the ambit of the rights of the parent.

One: Rv 21:9-10
Holy: Rv 21:11, 22-23, 27
Catholic: Rv 21:24-26
Apostolic: Rv 21:12-21

habitus -> mutually reinforcing habitus among more than one person
- Call the latter a consortium. By cultivating a habitus we make possible a consortium among people with the same or corresponding habitus. Thus you can have consortium among people sharing skills, and consortium among people sharing virtues; perhaps even consortium among people sharing some vices. Friendship of excellence is perhaps the highest consortium contributing to common good and human happiness, but only the most eminent among many consortia that do so. Consortium strengthens and refines habitus (or provides opportunity for act) and makes it more consistently effective on the large scale.

Defending only saints is an excuse not to do much.

For attaining beatitude, two things are required: nature and grace." ST 1.73.1ad1

aptitude : skill :: decency : virtue

"Although there are many causes of anything, one is always the completer, which is cause above all, and it is of this that it is said that knowing is when we understand the cause." Albert, IN Post An 1tr2c1.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Music on My Mind

Patty Gurdy's Circle, "Kalte Winde".

Harow! St. George to Our Aid!

St. George and the Dragon
by Dinah Maria Craik

"Dieu et Mon Droit"

What, weeping, weeping, my little son
Angry tears like that great commander
Alexander –
Because of dragons is left not one
To be a new Cappadocian scourge
For your bold slaying
In grand arraying,
Mounted alone, eh?
On Shetland pony
A knight all perfect, a young St. George?

Come sit at my knee, my little son:
Sit at my knee and mend your wagon: -
Full many a dragon
You'll have to fight with ere life be done.
Come, shall I tell you of three or four --
Villanous cattle!
For you to battle,
When mother's sleeping
Where all your weeping
Will not awaken her any more?

First, there's a creature whose name is Sloth
Looks like a lizard, creeping on sleekly
Simple and weakly,
Powerless to injure however wroth:
But slay him, my lad, or he'll slay you!
Crawling and winding,
Twisting and binding:
Break from him, tramp on him
And as you stamp on him
You'll be St. George and the dragon anew.

Then there's a monster - so fair at first,
Called Ease, or Comfort, or harmless Pleasure;
Born of smooth Leisure -
On Luxury's lap delicious nurst;
Who'd buy your soul if you'd sell it — just
To catch one minute
With joyance on it
Or ward off sorrow
Until to-morrow –
Trample him, trample him into dust!

One more — the reptile yclept False Shame,.
That silently drags its feltered length on,
And tries its strength on
Many a spirit else pure from blame;
But up and at him your courser urge!
Smite hard, I trow, hard
The moral coward,
At throne or altar,
Nor once, once falter -
And be my own son, my brave St. George!

St. George and the dragon — ah, my boy,
There are many old dragons left, world-scourges,
And few St. Georges —
There's much of labor and little of joy!
But on with you — on to the endless fight -
Your sword firm buckle,
To no man truckle,
Wave your bold flag on
And slay your dragon.
St. George for ever! God and my right!

Dinah Craik is best known as a novelist, particularly for John Halifax, Gentleman, but like many successful women authors in the nineteenth century, she wrote in a very wide variety of genres, including didactic works and book-length fairy tales. I like this layered handling of the tale of St. George, which is clearly influenced, albeit not slavishly, by Spenser's The Faerie Queene.

Raphael - Saint George and the Dragon - Google Art Project
Raphael, Saint George and the Dragon

St. George’s Day, 1904
by Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley

April 23

The annual meeting of the Guild of St. George, which was founded by John Ruskin, was held at Sheffield on Saturday.

To-day our land remembers him who fought
The Dragon, hails the Cappadocian brave
Who from the loathly thing went forth to save
Pure Innocence, and her salvation wrought.
This is the day a nation’s thanks are brought
By Avon’s shore to God, who Shakspere gave;
To-day we lay Lent lilies on a grave
In Grasmere Vale and think what Wordsworth taught.

And, gathered here in Vulcan’s town to-day,
Where the smoke dragons from their high-built towers
Plague the live air and cheat the poor of sun,
Do not our hearts in loyal memory run
To him who loved pure light and innocent flowers,
And sent us forth all dragon beasts to slay?

Rawnsley is most famous for being one of the founding members of the National Trust, although he was also involved in a number of projects for the preservation of the environment and the support of the working class. He also is one of the people who encouraged Beatrix Potter to publish her stories.

St. George and the Dragon - Briton Riviere
Briton Rivière, St. George and the Dragon, wherein St. George expresses how we all feel sometimes.

St. George for Merry England

This world, it is a wilding world,
a world of sin and shame;
it speaks and moans a sighing word
and hides its very name.
The dragons rise on every side,
they speak with voice of flame;
but still there rides a knight to fight
and counter dragon's claim.

And all the peasants, ground to dust,
now walk a rocky way;
all the princes forfeit trust
and flee the rightful fray,
but heaven's knight on steed of white
with cross upon his shield
will aid and save the countryside,
will fight, and will not yield.

Cowards cower in dust and mud
as serpents devour the land;
forsaking hope they drop the good,
surrender to drake's demand.
But one will fight, and when he falls
will rise and, rising, stand;
his weary face will pale and pall
but his sword is in his hand.

All people who hear, raise up his song,
the song of the man who will live;
with sound of the drum, the harp and the pipe,
high hallels and rhapsodies give.
Through moor and through forest, through fallowing field
he fights for our honor and grace,
he will fight and never will victory yield
for God shines out in his face.

Waters of life will succor him well
and raise him up from the dead
as the tree of life delivers from hell
by the power of God who bled;
and the dragon will fall, its eye grow dim,
from blade by the holy hand led.
To the dust heel, and countenace grim,
will crush the fell serpent's head.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Ἰφιγένεια ἐν Αὐλίδι

I don't know if I'll actually be able to, but I think I will try to watch this livestream (from Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies, lest we think that Harvard has absolutely nothing of value to contribute) live:

Reading Greek Tragedy Online, Wednesdays at 3pm

On Wednesday, April 22 at 3:00-4:30pm ET, join us for a live reading and discussion of Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis, hosted by Joel Christensen (Brandeis) with special guests Adam Barnard and Mat Carbon (Liège). Featured actors include Tamieka Chavis, Tim Delap, Michael Lumsden, Evvy Miller, Richard Neale, Paul O'Mahony, and Eunice Roberts.

The live stream will appear on the CHS homepage. Recordings of past readings are available on YouTube.

I really like Euripides, and Iphigenia in Aulis is a particularly interesting tragedy. The backstory, of course, is that Helen has been abducted by Paris and the Greeks are at Aulis trying to set sail and begin the Trojan War -- but Artemis is angry at Agamemnon and has used her influence on the sea to turn it into a doldrums. They can't sail. The Greeks on the shore are starting to murmur and get rebellious, and a bloody revolt might spring up if they don't get moving. The goddess must be appeased. And what Artemis wants is the sacrifice of Agamemnon's eldest daughter, Iphigenia. So Agamemnon sends to his wife Clytemnestra, telling her to send Iphigenia to Aulis because he has arranged to marry her to Achilles.

The play as it currently ends has a deus ex machina; Euripides is lavish with gods from the machine, but a lot of Euripides scholars want to see this one as a later addition. I wonder if they will include it.

ADDED LATER: That was really, really good, and makes me want to go back and look at some of the previous ones that have been done. (While they didn't do every part of the play, they did present the standard ending, but also talked about the possibility that it is not original.) Highly recommended, when they eventually put the recording in the archive.

ADDED LATER 2: The Iphigenia in Aulis discussion is now available on their YouTube channel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Doctor Magnificus

Today is the feast of St. Anselm, Doctor of the Church. From Cur Deus Homo 2.1:

It ought not to be disputed that rational nature was made holy by God, in order to be happy in enjoying Him. For to this end is it rational, in order to discern justice and injustice, good and evil, and between the greater and the lesser good. Otherwise it was made rational in vain. But God made it not rational in vain. Wherefore, doubtless, it was made rational for this end....Wherefore rational nature was made holy, in order to be happy in enjoying the supreme good, which is God. Therefore man, whose nature is rational, was made holy for this end, that he might be happy in enjoying God.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Music on My Mind

Michaela Anne, "Be Easy". She has an interesting short essay on what it is like to be an indie musician in a situation in which you have to cut off the tour and can't leave the house.

The Root of Schooling

People have been talking about this article in Harvard Magazine on 'the risks of homeschooling'. They've pointed out the delusional absurdity of the illustration, which has public school kids outside playing while homeschool kids are trapped inside, which in practice is usually closer to being the opposite of the truth, particularly in these days when recess is often quite restricted, and noted that the view one occasionally finds of homeschooling not being well-socialized is provably a myth. They pointed out the irony of the mistake (now fixed) the illustrator made in misspelling 'arithmetic'. They've pointed out the common experience that in homeschooling one can cover the same amount of material each day in a much shorter time than schoolteachers can because homeschooling parents don't have to shepherd twenty-five students simultaneously through the same material. There were a great many things to point out.

And all of them are right, but they are also to some extent beside the point because the anti-homeschool agenda is not expressing educational experience or even a coherent educational philosophy but a political agenda. It was not surprising to see that the article was about Elizabeth Bartholet. Bartholet is an activist against any kind of education outside of public schools (to the point of being a kook about it), and it's not surprise we get the political agenda being expressed in her comments:

“The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous,” Bartholet says. “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”

Never mind, of course, that putting teachers in charge of kids rather than parents does literally nothing to stop "powerful people" (she means adults, because being an adult is what in fact gives you power over children) being put in charge of "the powerless" (she means children); we must accept a political regime that many consider a clear step toward totalitarianism in order to avoid a vaguely guessed-at possibility of authoritarianism. (And it is vaguely guessed-at. She vaguely insinuates that children are in greater danger of being abused by parents than teachers, and homeschooled students in greater danger of being abused than public school students, despite the fact that neither of these seems to be true on the evidence that exists. She does not adequately address the widespread problem of authoritarianism in the classroom, and her vague claims about homeschoolers being religious extremists are not well-founded overall -- she herself falls back on 'anecdotal evidence', as if 'anecdotal evidence' of abuse and misuse of power in schools were not also easily available.) Facts are irrelevant to this kind of argument; it is an argument about what Bartholet thinks should be, regardless of the way things are. Public schooling, Bartholet agrees, exists for specific civic ends; that she never establishes that it meets those ends so successfully that homeschooling cannot meet them as well is a side issue. The point is not whether public school is any good at meeting its purported ends, which people like Bartholet never really try to establish; the point for Bartholet is that in a regime allowing full homeschooling, parents (often uneducated parents, as she, Harvard classist to the bone, takes the trouble to insist) rather than people like Bartholet are given authority to judge for themselves whether it is or not. Letting the people decide for themselves is, she insists, anti-democratic. There is no reasoning with a loon like that, because reasoning is not how anyone gets to such a bizarre position.

The fundamental problem with almost all anti-homeschooling positions is that they tend not to recognize a fundamental point, one that is clear enough from the nature of child-raising and is generally recognized by teachers who actually teach children rather than just talk about ways to do so: all schooling is built around parental education. It has been noted since at least Damaris Masham in her arguments for women's education in the seventeenth century that parents, especially mothers, are first teachers. It's generally recognized by those who actually do the teaching in schools that schooling is most effective when education becomes an active cooperation between parents and school personnel. It is generally recognized that parents are the only figures who presumptively have the right to educate their children, even by those who recognize that the state has an interest in regulating education so that it contributes to a citizenry capable of maintaining the responsibilities of citizenship. (Bartholet tries to dance around points like that by making up a conspiracy theory she calls 'parental rights absolutism', a position that parents have and should have absolute power over their children, pushed by nefarious highly-funded ruthless organizations with extraordinary political connections. No one actually has such a view, of course; when she tries to give examples of it, it's always of people just affirming that parents have rights that must be respected. And the notion that the homeschooling movement is some massive political behemoth is actually rather funny. But, again, none of this is based on the actual views or activities of homeschoolers; it's a political agenda, so the goal is to find things said by homeschooling advocates that can be assimilated into the argument.) Schools are a subsidium; they are a back-up system and a support system, and what are they backing up and supporting? It has always been education in the home. Bartholet holds up France and Germany as models, but even setting aside that the French and the Germans allow their state authorities powers that are generally regarded as inconsistent with American principles, she fails to give adequate recognition to the fact that both France and Germany, especially the latter, also have historically treated government-supplied education as a supplement to education in the home. Indeed, you will find Germans who insist that this has always been one of the strengths of the German educational system.

The home is the root of the school. Any argument for compulsory public education that does not start with that recognition is already starting out wrong; an argument for compulsory public education needs to argue for why life in the home is not enough for educating people for civil society, and -- what is often not given -- show that public education does a good job of filling that gap, and -- what is also often not given -- show that it does so to such a degree that the state has a compelling interest in requiring public education rather than getting voluntary cooperation. That's what needs to be done. All this conspiracy-theory thinking about homeschooling as a dark and nefarious political operation reaching out from the shadows (when in reality most people homeschool just because they don't think the public school system is doing a very good job, and their 'political influence' largely just consists in the fact that they are voters in a society in which voters matter and in which other people are sympathetic to the idea that state intervention needs justification) is transparently attempting to rig the discussion so as to be immune to reasons that are actually responsive to what justifies schooling to begin with.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Daring Book

It's really more about the filters academics use to read Austen than about Austen or her novels themselves, but Janet Todd's discussion of re-reading Mansfield Park is interesting:

Mansfield Park is her most daring book. Knowing she had a great popular triumph in Pride and Prejudice, Austen deliberately created a heroine without the endearing qualities that made Elizabeth Bennet universally loved. Jane Austen liked pewter – we have it from her letters – yet not enough to repeat the winning romantic formula when she knew she had a supreme talent for fictional experiment. She wrote of Emma, that she’d created a heroine no one but herself would much like. The opinion better suits Fanny Price, through whom she provokes the reader to address the difficult truth of stubborn integrity.