Saturday, May 30, 2020

La Pucelle

Today is the feast of St. Jeanne D'Arc. From "Joan of Arc, in Rheims", by Felicia Hemans:

–She unbound
The helm of many battles from her head,
And, with her bright locks bow'd to sweep the ground,
Lifting her voice up, wept for joy, and said,–
"Bless me, my father, bless me! and with thee,
To the still cabin and the beechen-tree,
Let me return!"

Oh! never did thine eye
Thro' the green haunts of happy infancy
Wander again, Joanne!–too much of fame
Had shed its radiance on thy peasant-name;
And bought alone by gifts beyond all price,
The trusting heart's repose, the paradise
Of home with all its loves, doth fate allow
The crown of glory unto woman's brow.

John Everett Millais - Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc, by John Everett Millais

Friday, May 29, 2020

Dashed Off XI

An experiment has (1) an introduction of something (2) into a boundary that bounds (3) process-parts and (4) structure-parts, and from this (5) educes a measurement. Kinds of experimental failure: introduction contamination (1); boundary collapse (2), eduction contamination (5), unaccounted-for defect of structure (4), unaccounted-for defect of process (3).

The Church's attitude to politics should often be: Everything of value saved from a burning house is a gain.

memorative - combinatorial - inductive - analogical - deductive - narrative

-- no possible naturalistic proof of naturalism
-- either simply investigate the natural (and thus no need to naturalize metaphysics) or develop metaphysics on the evidence you have for it, whatever it may be (and thus no need to naturalize metaphysics). 'Naturalizing metaphysics' simply shows you to be an idiot in two directions.
-- naturalism is a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too philosophy

Lombard's Sentences can be seen as a treatise on sacraments:
---Bk 1: Fruition (God)
---Bk 2: Use (Creation)
---Bk 3: Christ
---Bk 4

"We properly call 'sacrament' that which is a sign of God's grace and the appearance of invisible grace, in such a way as to carry its image and to be its cause." Lombard

The sacrament of matrimony, through conjugal acts and other acts of friendship between the spouses, remits venial sin. (Note that this is different from cases where the sacrament makes what would be a mortal sin merely venial; matrimony as a sacrament remits venial sins in general through its acts.) See Thomas Aquinas on 1 Corinthians (sect. 329). This is due to the role of charity, which remits venial sins, in the sacrament.

No Catholic, without grave sin, may treat the tribunal of mercy as subordinate to any human tribunal or magistrate.

nonsacramental confession // nonsacramental anointing for healing
-- the primary difference is only that we have an individual moral obligation to confession, even if there is no opportunity for the sacrament

genuine repentance where absolution cannot be received in sacrament // baptism of desire

Beginning a dialogue in itself posits that general relativism is false.

When I see a brown table, I am not 'appeared to brownly'; nothing about the act of appearing is brown in mode; what I find is a brown-desk appearing, not an appearing that is a brown kind of activity, whatever that would be.

God called the patriarchs to form a people (baptism), strengthened them with prophets (confirmation), and formed a priesthood for them (ordination).

Prayer is not something 'in our heads' but an interaction with our environment in light of the object of prayer, an attending with body and soul.

Unction affirms the place of the sick in the Body of Christ.

the logical agent as represented by a system of operations

life, the good life, eternal life

funerals as an adjunct to baptism

Even under natural law, marriage is a sign of the union of the divine and the human, and of the fruitfulness of the world God has created.

Matrimony confers a grace, an office, and a remedy.

Alexander of Hales holds that penance, like matrimony, is an uplifting of something prior to the Fall: namely a preservative medicine. (He takes this to be the reason why the two don't have an immediately obvious sensible element.) Unlike marriage, the uplift (adding the power of the keys) adds a modification, a relation to temporal punishment, which is why it requires a new minister and marriage does not.
-- Alexander's view of penance makes sense if one thinks of the original relations of Adam and Eve as union with each other (marriage) and subordinating union with God.

When we say that God creates all things visible and invisible, we are not excluding things audible and inaudible; and likewise when we say that sacraments are visible signs of invisible grace.

In the Eucharist, by being united to Christ people are united to each other; in Matrimony, by being united to each other people are united to Christ.

baptism : unction :: eucharist : matrimony :: interior : exterior

Henry of Ghent, the four powers a person can have over the same thing
(1) fas (equity by nature)
(2) licitum (law)
(3) ius (equity giving claims)
(4) necessitas (opportuneness)
-- from the Decretum; look more closely

W. P. Boring (2010): Both Bonaventure and Aquinas read Augustine as rejecting a purely Platonic epistemology and thus as being (generally) more consistent with Aristotelian epistemology than with Plato. Aquinas (ST 1.84) takes Augustine, like himself, to walk a middle road: the key to this is the agent intellect, which is required to make phantasms actually intelligible. Bonaventure (DQ4) reads Contra Academicos as taking Platonic epistemology to result in Academic skepticism, and thus rejecting it with the latter; the key again, is the agent intellect. They are, however, considering different questions. More precisely, what Bonaventure takes as a unified question, Aquinas takes as multiple questions. Both contrast with Henry of Ghent, who replatonizes Augustine.

By the sacrament of matrimony, God makes the Church a society suitable for union with Christ.

Nestorianism as implying a false idea of motherhood

The Virgin's being Mother of God is a reflection from the Hypostatic Union; it is not structured like the Hypostatic Union.

"The most holy Virgin is truly the precious ark which received the whole treasure of sanctity." Gregory Thaumaturgos

Mary's plenitude of grace as plenitudo redundantiae

intercession in Scripture
Abraham: Gn 18:23ff
Moses: Ex 32:11
Job: Job 42:8
Paul: Acts 27:34ff
Oniah and Jeremiah: 2 Macc 15:12ff

Prayers go up in the midst of the angels:
Angels offer prayers Tobit 12:12; Rv. 8:4
Angels rejoice over repentance: Lk 15:10

Joseph's bones: Ex 13:19
Elisha's bones: II Chr 13:21
Jesus' garment: Mt 9:20ff
Peter's shadow: Acts 5:15
Paul & cloths: Acts 19:11ff

Gospel, Cross, Icons, and Relics as major material elements of the Tradition of the Church (II Nicaea)

If the Cross is sacred because it bore Christ, so Mary is sacred because she bore Christ. If the Ark of the Covenant was sacred because the Spirit of God came upon it, so Mary is sacred because the Spirit of God came upon her.

The great heresy for economics is to think that there is no distinction between reasonable and unreasonable price in an exchange.

Not mere markets, nor merely open (often misleadingly called 'free') markets, but open markest of free and informed people making exchanges that are mutually beneficial and consistent with common good, to the exten that this can be done.

two notes of human labor, which all economic policies must respect: labor is personal and labor is necessary (Leo XIII)

money as measure of value → medium of exchange → generic capital

Capital has no use beyond the bare using of it. It is remarkable how many economic theories ignore this.

Legitimate interest is protective of the equality and mutual beneficiality of the exchange; it is negotiated, not imposed; and it is open and not secret, being explained that the benefit may be known.

4 distinct leftist movements
Left-LARPists ( Stupid Young Things ( Worker-Left ( Old Guard Left

development of doctrine
(1) ratiocinative
--- (a) in explication
--- (b) in implication
--- (c) in insinuation
--- (d) in practical effect
(2) expressive
--- (a) translation
--- --- (1) new vocabulary
--- --- (2) new language
--- --- (3) new genre
--- (b) illustration
--- --- (1) new analogies
--- --- (2) new examples
--- (c) application
--- --- (1) new activities
--- --- (2) new contexts

technical writing
(1) work-guiding
--- (a) problem-solution breakdown
--- (b) reference
(2) background-building
--- (a) practice breakdown
--- (b) causal account

indigenic vs. cultigenic tradition-bearers
(With respecting to handing down the Passion, sermons on the Passion are indigenic; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is cultigenic.)

All extrinsic denomination has some intrinsic ground or reason making it possible; asusming, of course, that the extrinsic denomination is not merely applied in error.

Substance both subsists and substands; the problem with the Lockean notion of substance is that it only really considers substance as substanding.

Abelard holds that God creates genera, as a human artisan makes particular works.

what the senses show, what they imply, what they suggest

the four elements of the conception of divine in American civil theology
(1) governance
(2) mercy
(3) observation
(4) distance
-- this is, I think, a more accurate way of framing than in "America's Four Gods" (Froese & Bader); when you look at actual people, it's a matter of emphasis, and many people think divine providence cuts across the borders (they are, as it happens, right).

Much of what calls itself liberalism is in fact pseudo-democratism.
constructed pseudo-demos, fictive demos

Irony requires recognizing different points of view; it is an inherently social figure of speech.

the distinctive, obligative, configurative, and dispositive aspects of the sacramental character as a sign

Baptism : King :: Confirmation : Prophet :: Ordination : Priest

But I, I Cannot Read It

The Song of the Strange Ascetic
by G. K. Chesterton

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have praised the purple vine,
My slaves should dig the vineyards,
And I would drink the wine.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And his slaves grow lean and grey,
That he may drink some tepid milk
Exactly twice a day.

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have crowned Neaera’s curls,
And filled my life with love affairs,
My house with dancing girls;
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And to lecture rooms is forced,
Where his aunts, who are not married,
Demand to be divorced.

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have sent my armies forth,
And dragged behind my chariots
The Chieftains of the North.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And he drives the dreary quill,
To lend the poor that funny cash
That makes them poorer still.

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have piled my pyre on high,
And in a great red whirlwind
Gone roaring to the sky;
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And a richer man than I:
And they put him in an oven,
Just as if he were a pie.

Now who that runs can read it,
The riddle that I write,
Of why this poor old sinner,
Should sin without delight-
But I, I cannot read it
(Although I run and run),
Of them that do not have the faith,
And will not have the fun.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Police Brutality

People are quite reasonably upset about police violence in the aftermath of the recent case of George Floyd being killed during a traffic stop. We go through this recurring cycle, though, and it raises the question of what to do about it; anger on its own clearly accomplishes nothing. A number of different proposals have been made, some sound, some obviously stretching. The ones that I think are particularly sound are:

(1) Statutory strengthening of Bill of Rights protections. Over the years, courts have, case by case, created a long series of exceptions to protections against warrantless searches, expanded what counts as probable cause, reduced guarantees of due process, etc. Some of these qualifications and modifications, if they were solitary, could perhaps be justified as part of what counts as reasonable application of law, but the actual result is that our 'criminal justice protections' have become a swiss cheese riddled with loopholes. The most obvious example of a court-doctrine that needs to go, and could easily be removed by statutory means, is qualified immunity, which on its own effectively hollows out most of the protections of citizens when police are involved.

(2) Encouragement of community policing. There are quite a few reasons to think that police usually work better when they are not imposed from without but part of its ordinary functioning.

(3) Treating police as the last line, not the first line, in law enforcement. The fundamental absurdity of much of the police violence that we see is that it derives from traffic policing. There is no good reason for that. But it's easy to see why it happens; police pull someone over for X -- or sometimes even just 'suspicious behavior' -- and then something else gets added to X, and then it snowballs from there. There's a good argument from this that traffic police should be generally confined to traffic violations; if they actually see reason to do more, they should pass your information on to other cops to investigate. Some people have argued that traffic stops should be eliminated entirely; others have argued for other things. But they all recognize what is in fact one of the key problems: that the move to the police being involved is in these cases too swift. Police are being treated as the first step in enforcing the law when in reality they are poorly suited for it, and should be the last resort.

There are a number of proposals that are popular but that I think are highly misguided. Police unions are a popular target, because you can convince conservatives that a union is a problem even if it is a police union and you can convince progressives that a police union is bad even though it's a union. But this is an artifact of our habits of discourse. Police unions are not the source of the problem; they are just doing what all unions do: in this case, making sure that members are as protected as possible. They happen to be much more effective about it than most unions, but it's hardly a criticism of a police union that it's doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing, or that it's protecting the rights of its members too well, and all the reasons for having any unions at all are also reasons for having police unions. It's true that police contracts are often heavily loaded with extraordinary protections, but this is not really surprising: if the protections can be had, a union is negligent in not making sure its members have it. The contracts are just what the law allows; the complaints people have about them are really complaints about the laws as interpreted by the courts. They are a symptom, not a source of the disease.

Another popular proposal is to elect and appoint more minority officials. There are independent reasons why you might do this, but you have only to look at the cases that come up to see that this does not usually seem to have any effect on police violence. Nor is it surprising that it wouldn't. The offices that people are talking about are not the reason why we have the problem; it's like trying to reduce assault by electing nicer people to water commissioner. The two have no direct relation to each other. The root problem is judicial handling of police accountability. Anything that does not bear on that is not going to do much. Some offices do have some connection to this, but as long as the courts handle police accountability poorly, the resulting incentive-structure will inevitably push people in the wrong direction, regardless of who they are or what their intentions are. Political currents when backed by the courts are very strong, and hard to push against. Judicial problems are usually only solved by legislative acts, although since courts work by cases, you can sometimes reduce them by reducing occasions for relevant cases to come up.

But such distractions aside, there are very specific things that could be done, and that for the most part would be easy to do, and that people even keep proposing; and yet not only do they not get done, we seem to get farther and farther from doing them. I have no idea what the reason for that is.

The Same Desire and Mystery

The Sea-Limits
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Consider the sea’s listless chime:
Time’s self it is, made audible,—
The murmur of the earth’s own shell.
Secret continuance sublime
Is the sea’s end: our sight may pass
No furlong further. Since time was,
This sound hath told the lapse of time.

No quiet, which is death’s,—it hath
The mournfulness of ancient life,
Enduring always at dull strife.
As the world’s heart of rest and wrath,
Its painful pulse is in the sands.
Last utterly, the whole sky stands,
Grey and not known, along its path.

Listen alone beside the sea,
Listen alone among the woods;
Those voices of twin solitudes
Shall have one sound alike to thee:
Hark where the murmurs of thronged men
Surge and sink back and surge again,—
Still the one voice of wave and tree.

Gather a shell from the strown beach
And listen at its lips: they sigh
The same desire and mystery,
The echo of the whole sea’s speech.
And all mankind is thus at heart
Not anything but what thou art:
And Earth, Sea, Man, are all in each.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Music on My Mind

Scruton's Notes from Underground depicts a people trying to hold on to their extremely rich cultural and artistic heritage as the Communist regime slowly strangles it to death. Due to Scruton's love of music, there is an implicit soundtrack to the novel. Here is the first part of the First Series of one of the works mentioned early on, Leoš Janáček's On an Overgrown Path, here played by Alain Planès:

Monday, May 25, 2020

Beda Venerabilis

Today is the feast of St. Beda of Jarrow, Doctor of the Church, better known as the Venerable Bede. A poem attributed to him:

Bede's Death Song
tr. by Craig Williamson

Before he departs on that inescapable journey
Down death's road, no man is so wise
That he knows his own end, so clever or unconstrained
That he need not contemplate the coming judgment,
Consider what good or evil resides in his soul,
What rich reward or bounty of unblessings
Will be offered in eternity when his time runs out.

[Craig Williamson, The Complete Old English Poems, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia: 2017) p. 1051.]

One Got in Chancery

I was thinking about various accounts of judicial power this morning, and suddenly realized the meaning of the verse in the Ten Little Indians rhyme (in the version found in And Then There Were None):

Five little Indian boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

I'd read that many times, but it never really registered before: the reason the one gets subtracted from five is that courts of law and Chancery courts are different courts. Chancery courts are equity courts; they are concerned with remedy that falls short of grace or pardon (which historically is reserved to the Crown) but goes beyond (the historically much stricter) common law. So while Chancery is law in a very broad sense, the boy who gets appointed to the Court of Chancery leaves law in the narrow sense. I have read that rhyme many, many times, and it somehow never clicked, despite its being obvious if you know what 'Chancery' means. It's somewhat strange the way realizations come up sporadically and spontaneously, and things that did not click before suddenly one day just do.

In any case, it's easy to miss in the U.S., which still technically has the law/equity distinction, but whose equity courts and law courts have (except in a few jurisdictions) melded together, so that most American courts are equity courts with legal power (a reason for many complaints against them, actually, since courts of law have to apply law strictly but equity courts have quite expansive powers to create a remedy to fit the individual situation). This was a slow process, though. Thomas Jefferson has a letter from 1785 that gives a good summary of the differences between Chancery and law as it had been inherited by the United States (and also the argument for not uniting their functions).

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Fortnightly Book, May 24

Ever since Roger Scruton's death in January, I've been thinking about doing his novel, Notes from Underground, as a fortnightly book, and I think this is a good time, since I will be very busy these next two weeks moving into summer term, and the book is not a long one.

In 1978, Julius Tomin, a Czech philosopher who was quietly holding philosophy seminars in his apartment as part of the loose network of groups trying to maintain lines of education that were not held in the stranglehold of the Communist censors, wrote a number of letters to Western philosopher asking for their help. Due to the difficulty of correspondence across the Iron Curtain, only one of those letters got through, to the Oxford philosophy faculty; the Oxford faculty voted to send financial assistance and two volunteers, which happened to be Kathy Wilkes and Steven Lukes. Wilkes became convinced by her experience that there was a profound need for this, one that would require a much greater response, and so she began organizing it when she returned. This became the Jan Hus Educational Foundation, which started to have branches in France and Germany as well. Quite a few major philosophers were involved, and Scruton was one of them. One of the things Scruton did was to set up a system where Czech and Slovak students could study for the Cambridge Diploma and Certificate in Religious Studies, because Cambridge when setting up the program had done so in a way that made it possible for students to qualify remotely (he had tried a large number of avenues, but this was the one in which he could get a university to accept secret, remote examinations); as a result, there were a number of Czechs and Slovaks who were secretly working their way through the Cambridge program. And, of course, he like a number of others actually went to hold philosophy seminars and help build a means for university education in the underground movement. The Czechoslovakian police caught on fairly quickly that there was something going, and there is an honor roll of academic philosophers in the 1980s who were detained, interrogated, temporarily jailed, escorted out of the country: Wilkes, Newton-Smith, Kenny. The most famous case was that of Derrida, who was arrested on drug trafficking charges and only got out because the full diplomatic machinery of France went into motion to get him out. Scruton himself was detained briefly in 1985 and then permanently banned from the country.

Scruton was struck by the fact that the brave young men and women who were involved in these clandestine educational movements did not fit the common image put forward in the West of an underground dissident in a totalitarian regime. Dissidence, he later said, was a social status that required particular conditions that most students didn't meet; they were as excluded from that world as from the Communist one. He went on to say:

Long after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the registration of our underground university as the first on the register of charities in post-communist Moravia, I remained obsessed by what I had known in those times of love, sorrow and fear. After many attempts – because there was so much to say – I hit on a simple story-line, and the novel wrote itself. I should emphasize that the characters are entirely imaginary, though one or two of them are based on people I knew.

Thus the novel is Scruton's attempt to capture, in fictional form, the state of life of those students who were being overlooked by the Western media.

Generation and Adoption

...[A] supernatural generation is made known to us by faith. Christ receives power from the Father analogously to the way the human child receives power from his genitor and is made heir of all paternal riches. Christ calls human beings to be his companions as hereditary, adoptive sons. Hence, the origin of visible and invisible ecclesial society. Divine power was communicated to Christ in a natural way that is, relative to the two natures through the generation of the Word and the Word's union with Christ's humanity. The communication of Christ's authority to other human beings is not made by a bond of nature but an act of his will called forth by the likeness of nature.

The great difference between ecclesial and civil society is seen especially in the unique, totally special mode by which ecclesial society receives its form, namely, 1. in generation of the child by the father, and 2. in adoption; in other words, in the union of the two modes natural and willed through which one person's power is communicated to another.

[Antonio Rosmini, Rights in Civil Society, The Philosophy of Right, Volume 6, Clear & Watson, trs., Durham House (Durham: 1996) p. 124.]