Saturday, March 12, 2022

Dorothy L. Sayers, Murder Must Advertise


Opening Passage:

"And by the way," said Mr. Hankin, arresting Miss Rossiter as she rose to go, "there is a new copy-writer coming in today."

"Oh, yes, Mr. Hankin?"

"His name is Bredon. I can't tell you much about him; Mr. Pym engaged him himself; but you will see that he is looked after." (p. 1)

Summary: Death Bredon is the new copy-writer at the advertising agency of Pym's Publicity Ltd, a replacement for the previous copy-writer, Victor Dean, who had fallen down an iron stairway in the building and died. Bredon is actually Lord Peter Wimsey, who has been brought in by Mr. Pym to investigate the matter; Pym is a cautious man who wants to avoid anything that could reflect badly on the company. And it becomes clear quite quickly that there is something fishy about Dean's death. As Bredon, Wimsey slowly gathers relevant clues: a partly finished letter suggesting the possibility that Dean was blackmailing someone; a carved stone scarab; a slingshot; various bits of office gossip and side scandals that might or might not have some relation to the main problem. Following up on these clues will lead him to a drug ring and all the concomitant murders that go with that, and he will have to discover exactly what role Pym's Publicity plays in all this, and who at Pym's is involved.

The detective story, which is cleverly done, doubles as a satire of advertising, which is brilliantly done. Advertising has many similarities to drug dealing, a similarity that becomes very obvious when it comes to something like cigarette advertising; in both your concern is to convince people that they might need something that they don't particularly need and that might actually be bad for them, and the best successes are when you turn one purchase into a gateway purchase: you convince people to buy something that causes a problem for which you can convince them to buy something else. There is also an inherent hypocrisy -- advertisers rarely have any commitment to the products for which they are advertising, just as successful drug dealers generally do not indulge in the drugs they sell. But advertising is a much wittier profession than drug dealing, which allows any number of puns and jokes, culminating in Bredon developing a campaign for Whifflets cigarettes. The campaign, one character says, will be the biggest thing since the Mustard Club -- a bit of self-reference, since one of Sayers's biggest successes as an advertisement copy-writer was the Mustard Club, a campaign for Colman's Mustard, a fictional club that was treated as if it were real, with spoof newsreels, membership handbooks, and humorous characters who would pop up in different contexts.

The book figures as an example in Sayers's The Mind of the Maker in a way that I think is interesting:

In Murder Must Advertise I undertook (not very successfully) to present a contrast of two “cardboard” worlds, equally fictitious — the world of advertising and the world of the post-war “Bright Young People”. (It was not very successful, because I knew and cared much more about advertising than about Bright Youth, but that is by the way.) I mentioned this intention to a reader, who instantly replied: “Yes; and Peter Wimsey, who represents reality, never appears in either world except in disguise.” It was perfectly true; and I had never noticed it. With all its defects of realism, there had been some measure of integral truth about the book’s Idea, since it issued, without my conscious connivance, in a true symbolism

While it gives some insight into the aleatory aspect of fiction-writing, it also tells us something of the importance of truth versus appearance to the story. The mystery detective, of course, is the person who looks beyond the appearances to try to find the truth; the advertising world and the drug culture of the partying Bright Young Things are all about appearances that hide the truth. But in the modern world, we always have the latter with us, in some form or other. Anything performing the function of the former is much more rare.

Favorite Passage:

"In any case, we've got to do something." Mr. Armstrong emerged from the argument with a slightly flushed face. "It's not use telling people that the cost of the advertising has to come out of the quality of the goods. They don't care. All they want is something for nothing. Pay? Yes, of course they pay in the end, but somebody's got to pay. You can't fight free gifts with solemn assertions about Value. Besides, if Whifflets lose their market they'll soon lose their quality too -- or what are we here for?"

"You needn't tell me that, Mr. Armstrong," said Mr. Pym. "Whether people like it or not, the fact remains that unless you continually increase sales you must either lose money or cut down quality. I hope we've learnt that by this time."

"What happens," asked Mr. Bredon, "when you've increased sales to saturation point?"

"You mustn't ask those questions, Bredon," said Mr. Armstrong, amused.

"No, but really. Suppose you push up the smoking of every man and woman in the Empire till they must either stop or die of nicotine poisoning?"

"We're a long way off that," replied Mr. Pym, seriously. (pp. 282-283)

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


Dorothy L. Sayers, Murder Must Advertise, HarperPaperbacks (New York: 1995).

Friday, March 11, 2022

Dashed Off VI

the streaming-through of people & things as the fundamental aesthetic experience of present-day architecture

Not comforts but cultivations make up civilized life.

'Male' and 'female' have distinct etymologies; the spelling is convergent.

juridical duties
(1) to self
(2) to others
--- (a) qua individuals
--- (b) qua co-members
--- (c) qua humanity
(3) to God
--- (a) directly
--- (b) indirectly

"All knowledge whatever comes from observation; but different sciences are observational in such radically different ways that the kind of information derived from the observation of one department of science (say natural history) could not possibly afford the information required of observation by another branch (say mathematics)." Peirce

(1) in itself (substance)
(2) in another
--- (a) so as to be in it (quality, quantity)
--- (b) so as to be to yet another (relation)
--- (c) so as to be of yet another (sex principia)

agent intellect as the seed of all disciplines

What remains of us in human society after our deaths is found only in memory and family. When someone deserves a reward that is beyond what can be given in his life, one can only fulfill one's obligation to him by commemoration or heritable gift. All societies use both, but states tend to be constrained by their structure; thus aristocracies tend toward heritable gift, while republics go all in for commemoration, because these are what their governments are already set up to give.

3 differences between objective cause & exemplar cause, which are both extrinsic formal causes (John of St. Thomas)
(1) An exemplar is that in whose likeness an exemplate comes to be.
(2) An exemplar is so by way of origin.
(3) An exemplar is efficacious and thus a cause of existence, but an object only formally specifies.

The action of the end is the action of the agent.

semiotic causality as objective causality, not as principal object but as substitute/proxy object

indulgentia: gentling, sweetening, mild-making, yielding, favoring, lightening, forbearing, releasing

the treasury of the Church and the Church as Bride of Christ
the treasury and the Church as moral cause of grace

church treasury (for relics) as symbol of the Treasury of the Church (for satisfactions)

Is 3:13 -- The Lord rises to sue, He stands to prosecute the people; the Lord will take to court the elders of the people.

Aquinas on essential parts of the universe
(1) The principal good of creation is assimilation to God.
(2) Complete assimilation of effect to cause is when the effect imitates the cause according to the way the cause produces (like a hot thing heating a heated thing so that the latter becomes hot).
(3) Creation is intellectual and volitional.
(4) Thus completion of the universe *requires* intellectual creatures.
(5) But intellectual act is not properly a physical act.
(6) Thus there have to be incorporeal creatures.
(7) Human beings are only incompletely intellectual.
(8) Therefore there must be incorporeal creatures higher than human beings (i.e., they are essential parts of the universe). These would be either fundamental (celestial) movers or angels or both.

It is impossible for there to be complete contingent good without fragile goods.

gradus rerum determined by act and potency

"The completeness of the universe requires that it contains all grades of creatables, but not all creatable creatures." Cajetan (Comm in Sum Th. 1a.50.1)

Albertus Magnus takes the perpetual motion of the heavens to require a self-mover. All extrinsic movers are moved, only intrinsic movers (being conjoined) could cause perpetual motion; everything moved leads back to a  prime mover that moves itself by an intrinsic power. This self-mover has to be composite, though (that is, as self-mover it is really the moving prime mover moving the moved first heaven).

Quantity, from matter, gives substance intrinsic measure; quality, from form, gives substance intrinsic order.

the view of the Liber de sex principiis (as interpreted by Albert)
(1) substance
(2) intrinsic to substance (quantity and quality)
(3) extrinsic but frequently based on the intrinsic (relatio)
(4) extrinsic and frequently from the extrinsic (sex principia)
-- although elsewhere he seems to suggest that action and passion are more (3) than (4), but perhaps this can be reconciled by thinking in terms of degrees
-- inhere vs. assistere

Albert ST 1 tr 14 q 66
(1) esse simpliciter (substance)
(2) esse in (quantity and quality)
(3) esse ad
--- (a) itself ad aliud (relatio)
--- (b) from comparison (sex principia)

Most of people's political views are explained by 'nearest port in a storm'.

design as formal cause implying/suggesting exemplar cause
-- the nature of this 'suggesting' is of course a key issue

Every subject is both intersubjective and supersubjective.

external formal cause
(1) by finality
(2) by specification
(3) by limitation/constraint

the Word as the meritorious cause of creation
-- in a sense this is how Malebranche frames it, or is at least close to how he does so
-- related to taking divine glory as the end of creation

substance : unity :: quality : sanctity :: quantity : catholicity :: relation : apostolicity

The Church is plagued by old men trying to manufacture hipness.

Scholarship is not just about using evidence but tracking it.

Salvation-history multiplies the modes of worship, represented in the history-derived titles of the divine. To discover that the Creator is also the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is to discover a new way to worship.

the substance vs the trappings of the republic

commemoration as a way of building the august, the political sublime

three aspects of all investigations: strengthening investigative ability, removing error, clarifying concept

The Cross establishes that sin and death are finite.

Our Father... [Father]
hallowed be thy name [Son]
Thy kingdom come... [Spirit]
Give us this day... [Eucharist, Church]
Forgive us... [Judgment]
Deliver us... [Eternal Life]

It is remarkable how often the word 'progress' is used to justify accepting defects.

The problem of evil lies only in this, that what seems good and what is good are not necessarily connected.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Common Sense as a Test of Theory

 Marcus Arvan has an article, Common sense leads philosophy astray, in which he argues that common sense should not be a standard philosophy is tested against. It fails, and it fails almost immediately, because Arvan's argument does not rely on any rigorous experimentation or technical logic but entirely on commonsense assumptions about how evidence and theory work. Reject common sense as a standard against which philosophical argument has to be measured and Arvan's argument against common sense as a standard against which philosophical argument has to be measured can't get off the ground.

This is actually not a minor or surprising point; Duhem makes a similar point about physical theories, which he argues always have to be tested against common sense. But what about the cases Arvan mentions in his third point:

Third, better methods—specifically, scientific methods—have a long track record of refuting commonsense beliefs that people once (falsely) took to be knowledge. For example, it was once taken for granted, as commonsense knowledge, that the Earth is flat and stationary—yet we now know from scientific inquiry that the Earth is spherical and revolves around the Sun. The history of science is full of examples like this. Darwin’s theory of evolution, Einstein’s theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.—all refuted commonsense beliefs about the world that people thought to be knowledge.

There are many problems with this line of thought. Here are three in particular.

(1) What Arvan is doing in part is eliding 'belief' and 'commonsense belief' without properly distinguishing the two -- a 'commonsense belief' has to be something we can generally share in the interpretation of common experience, and when you try to press what 'commonsense belief' quantum mechanics is supposed to have refuted, for instance, it always turns out to be a very technical claim that requires Newtonian mechanics to state correctly. Even assuming that scientific theories occasionally refute commonsense beliefs, this is necessarily accidental; scientists are typically trying to refute scientific theories, and it's very common when they look at looser claims that they have to make extensive assumptions to operationalize the claim so that it's even something they can bring their experiments or observations to bear on. And all of the theories that Arvan mentions get results that some people consider counterintuitive by going to extremes outside of common experience -- extreme smallness, extreme swiftness, extreme lengths of time, vast expanses beyond what any one person can easily explore.

(2) While Arvan correctly elsewhere distinguishes commonsense belief and commonsense knowledge, he fails to take it with proper seriousness here. No one expects that commonsense belief would be infallible -- it's not commonsense knowledge. What Arvan needs to argue is that commonsense belief is not presumptively approximately right. That is, the claim of importance is not 'If something contradicts commonsense belief, it must be wrong' but claims like 'If something contradicts commonsense belief, it needs the support of an especially rigorous or evidence-heavy argument' or 'If something contradicts commonsense belief, one needs a well-supported error theory for how commonsense belief went wrong'. We don't have to take commonsense beliefs to be the criterion of truth in order to take them as something we need to test our arguments and claims against.

(3) But more seriously than all of these is the primary point that Duhem makes about common sense and science: all scientists test their theories against common sense. How might a scientist test something? By taking measurement. How do you take such a measurement? Well, you have a measuring device that you assume, on the basis of common sense recognition of the stability of things, is not going to suddenly act in a completely different way from usual without a cause, and you look at its output (in whatever form that might be) and you trust, on the basis of common sense recognition of the senses as evidence, that your senses are giving you something at least approximately accurate assuming that there is no interfering cause, and  you record the measurement on the commonsense assumption that your recording device (whether memory, paper, or anything else) will accurately retain what you are recording on it as long as nothing makes it not do so, and you examine your measurements and you ask, "Do these measurements make sense?" on the basis partly of prior scientific theories and partly of common sense about what kind of answers you could be getting with that kind of measurement, and then if they don't make sense, you might check for all those interfering causes by using commonsense assumptions about how causes can interfere with measurements, and then (since measurements generally cluster rather than exactly hit every time), you draw your conclusions about how these measurements should be interpreted as measurements, which you don't always do by rigorous logical argument within a formal system but often by commonsense principles of argument.  You can talk about the theory of relativity refuting common sense all you want, and it is still the case that all of the evidence for it can only be gathered by relying on common sense, and if someone proposes alternative possibilities for how to gather and interpret the evidence, one of the ways you determine whether they are a crackpot or not is whether their proposal even meets the basic standards of common sense. If someone claims that all the evidence for relativity is forged in undiscoverable ways by an evil deceiver, physicists are going to dismiss this, not on the basis of physical theory, but on the basis of common sense.

Arvan has a number of arguments, of course; some of them are simply wrong. (Filmer's religious opinions were not 'commonsense religious beliefs' but extremely controversial and often not widely shared even among Christians, much less human beings generally.) I think the best of them is this one:

Second, appeals to commonsense in philosophy are a demonstrably unreliable method for distinguishing genuine knowledge (and truth) from mere belief (and falsehood). How do I know this? As Jason Brennan points out, philosophers disagree wildly over philosophical issues. Take any philosophical debate you like—consciousness, free will, morality, epistemology, justice, etc.—you will find a wide plurality of mutually incompatible arguments and theories. Because mutually incompatible claims cannot be true, it follows that virtually all philosophical arguments and theories are unsound, having false conclusions.

This is for the most part true enough, but to regard it as relevant here seems to be relying on a number of assumptions that are dubious at best, and, I think, certainly false: for instance, that almost all of these philosophical theories are well-supported by common sense itself, for instance, or that almost all of the disagreements among philosophers are completely within the field of things that can be adjudicated by appeal to common sense alone. It is true that, just as physicists all assume common sense when they are taking readings, philosophers all assume common sense sometimes. But they all use evidence and logic sometimes, too, and that on its own doesn't do anything about philosophical disagreement. Philosophers often miss evidence, and they often miss logical steps or are arguing with loose, nonrigorous arguments, and they often fail to consider various facets of common sense about our common experience, and they often talk about things that are difficult in that it takes a lot to work through all the ramifications of all of these things, and all of this suffices to explain divergences even if philosophers use common sense, evidence, and logic.

Common sense is definitely a test of theory; biologists, chemists, physicists, and mathematicians have to rely on it as a test as much as, perhaps more than, philosophers. It is not a criterion of truth, and commonsense beliefs can be proven wrong, as Arvan says, although he grossly exaggerates how often they are. (One can in fact argue that common sense is extremely good on the basis of how rarely it is proven completely wrong, how it virtually always takes our very most brilliant science to do it, and how limited the resulting refutations are.) They also don't have unlimited scope; lots of fields eventually reach a point that is well outside the kind of common experience that common sense interprets, although they all do so from a platform within common experience. But these limitations don't in any way reduce the value of common sense as a test, even if under 'common sense' we include a lot of the gray areas. If a position seems to violate common sense, that needs explanation and the position needs to be supported by arguments for why it should be regarded as true despite the apparent violation of common sense. And this is not surprising. Common sense is evidence, namely, what non-crazy people find most useful in attempting to navigate common experience, and apparently violating it is apparent inconsistency with some of the evidence.

A Particular Form with Infinite Content

Human personality, and therefore every individual human being, is capable of realizing infinite fullness of being, or, in other words, it is a particular form with infinite content. The reason of man contains an infinite possibility of a truer and truer knowledge of the meaning of all things. The will of man contains an equally infinite possibility of a more and more perfect realization of this universal meaning in the particular life and environment.

[Vladimir Soloviev, The Justification of the Good,  von Peters, ed., Catholic Resources (Chattanooga, TN: 2015) p. 220.]

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

On Mahoney on 'Protestant Christian Supremacy'

 Jon Mahoney has a forthcoming article, Protestant Christian Supremacy and Status Inequality, that is interesting, not so much because it is any good but because I suspect that it is an example of a genre of which we will likely see a great deal in the future. Mahoney says:

Protestant Christian identity confers status privileges; it correlates with opportunities to serve in public office, especially at the national level; it serves as the paradigm for religious identity against which other religious identities are compared and judged; it is a significant source of exclusionary immigration policy; and it renders white supremacy, patriarchy, and anti-LGBTQ prejudices and policies more impactful.

The argument for everything in this paragraph is rather handwavy. For instance, Mahoney notes that nearly half of all Presidents have been Episcopalian or Presbyterian, but gives no indication of how this establishes such a thing as "Protestant Christian identity"; he claims that Protestant Christian identity is "at the core of how many Americans imagine their nationality", but gives no particular reason why we should think so. Protestants are an extremely diverse group, by nature; he says nothing about how a Southern Baptist and an Episcopalian are supposed to have a single identity that would work in a plausibly causal way to do these things. At one point he tries to argue that court cases exhibit Protestant Christian bias by pointing to claims by Justice Scalia, who was famously not Protestant and on a court that famously has been tipping Catholic and Jewish for some time now. Such is par for the course; Mahoney is not actually doing serious analysis, but trying to do social philosophy with cartoon caricatures. This is, I say, something that seems to be increasingly common.

But the thing that really puzzles me is the practical upshot. Most of Mahoney's examples are not particularly great examples of what he claims, but we can find a case that one could very well interpret as "Protestant Christian supremacy", namely, the rise of government-funded schools in the United States. In at least many states, support for this move was due to fears about Catholic schools. Many local communities were largely Protestant, but Catholic schooling was expanding and also had a reputation for quality, much like it does today, and there were worries about how this put Protestants at disadvantage. This gave a great deal of impetus to supporters of public schools, and basically the schooling system we often got was a public school that accommodated Protestant practices but not Catholic or Jewish, or that accommodated the former directly but the latter only by special exemptions, or any number of minor variations on these. In addition, Blaine Amendments were passed and made part of state constitutions primarily in order to prevent state educational funds from flowing to Catholic schools. A general result is that Catholic (and other religious) schooling became more expensive, because Catholic schools had to compete with public schools that are funded out of vast tax revenues and because it creates a situation in which states can impose regulations on schools while both giving public schools additional aid to comply and denying any such aid to religious private schools, a large percentage of which are Catholic. All of this was done fairly explicitly in some parts of the country, you don't need to read between the lines, just look at the political campaigns, legislative debates, and other various shenanigans associated with the development of the public school system. It was by no means the only factor, but saving Protestant America was definitely one factor.

So let us assume for the sake of argument that this all gives us a good reason to attribute the public school system to "Protestant Christian supremacy".  And, whether one wishes to attribute it to "Protestant Christian supremacy" or not, and despite the fact that our culture is much less Protestant than it used to be, it's pretty clear that the ethics, view of society, etc., that is taught in a typical public school is even today much closer to liberal Protestantism than to Catholicism. What then? What are we supposed to do with this? Are we to conclude that the public school system needs to be dismantled, so that we return to a mix of homeschooling, apprenticeship, and schoolhouses supported by sectarian or community associations? Mahoney gives us no answers -- the entire practical advice he gives about this supposed problem is that we need to make it part of the discussion. So we've made it part of the discussion. What then? 

Public schools are not explicitly Protestant; as time has gone by, they have slowly done a better job at accommodating Catholics, or Mormons, or Jews, or Muslims, or Jehovah's Witnesses, or what have you. There are communities that are not very Protestant at all, being dominantly Catholic or Mormon, that use the public school system without any problem. Protestants did use public schools as an indirect way to cause problems for Catholics (and explicitly), but it's not as if Catholics have received no benefits from the existence of public schools. So one could argue that perhaps the inequality is not severe enough given the overall benefits to require dismantling the whole thing. But then we'd still need to know what to do about it. What possible practical policy could you implement to get you the result that the practices and curricula of your public schools were at some hypothetical equilibrium point in the midst of all the possible sects in the whole nation, giving none of them any advantage over the others?

Perhaps, though, this is just tied to my difficulties with understanding how the egalitarianism is supposed to work at all. We seem to be required to have a democratic society in which the direction of the society is determined neither by consensus (since practically speaking we can only very rarely get that) nor by majority (since this creates biases in favor of the majority) nor by the more politically active demographics (since this creates biases in favor of the politically active subpopulations) at all. I don't even know what that would be. Even in a very smoothly functioning society, in which majorities and active subpopulations make extensive concessions to minorities and less active subpopulations, the tenor of the society is still going to have majority-aligned biases and active-subpopulation-aligned biases, and you'll still get inertia in which society still functions in a groove laid down by a no-longer-majority or no-longer-active group because it's a lot of work and agony to make new grooves all the time. These discussions always want to talk about the case-by-case inequalities; but they propose alleged explanatory factors that are necessarily society-wide, without ever telling us what a society without any such factors would look like. 

One worries, indeed, that the purpose of a concept like "Protestant Christian supremacy" is not to give any explanation at all, but to give a justification for attacking Protestants. In practice it sometimes seems to work that way. But in this case, perhaps not. I've noted before that, while individual academics can be creative, academia gets its results not by creativity but by being a combinatorial machine that runs through huge numbers of variations of ideas in both parallel and series. Fashion and precedent feed in the inputs, and the whole system just explores different variations on them by going through the possible combinations. 'White supremacy' has had some fashionable purchase, so it's perhaps inevitable that the combinatorial wheels will roll, and we get endless explorations of an 'X supremacy' sort. Perhaps someone has somewhere started writing a paper on right-handed supremacy. Eventually you might even find some excellent ideas. But you also get a lot of unhelpful things.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

And in My Very Life Your Colours Live

March, 1879
by Constance Naden

Ye little birds, that chant your love so loud,
Your careless hearts are not so glad as mine,
For he who sings because the sun doth shine
Is robbed of joy by every murky cloud;
And ye, sweet heralds of the summer crowd
Of unremembered flowers, whose tints combine
To light the meadows—ye grow pale and pine,
When by cold winds your radiant heads are bowed. 

From you, from all fair creatures of the earth,
I do but gain the beauty that I give;
Your form, your music, in my soul have birth,
And in my very life your colours live;
And when the sunlight fades, and ye depart,
I hold your joy within my secret heart.

Monday, March 07, 2022

Petition and Beatitude

 In his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount (Book 2, Section 11), St. Augustine gives a correspondence between the petitions of the Lord's Prayer and the Beatitudes, one which St. Thomas accepts (ST 2-2.83.9 ad 3).

Hallowed be Thy NameBlessed are the poor in spirit...
Thy Kingdom comeBlessed are the meek...
Thy will be done...Blessed are those who mourn...
Give us this day our daily breadBlessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness...
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtorsBlessed are the merciful...
Lead us not into temptationBlessed are the pure in heart....
Deliver us from evilBlessed are the peacemakers...

This is actually a reasonably tight fit, for each one. Mourn and Meek are switched in order; I don't know if anything particularly hinges on that, but since the meek inherit the earth, I think one could argue that it would in fact make more sense to associate Meek with Will ('on earth as it is in heaven').  The correspondence between Daily Bread and Hunger-and-Thirst is very nice, as is the correspondence between Forgive and Merciful, and, more subtly, Temptation and Pure-in-Heart.

Two Poem Drafts

 Evening Tea

I drink my tea on a silent evening
as stars come out in a rhythm slow.
One by one they shyly gather
and greet the friends that with them glow.
Nocturnal children of the darkness,
like bats they sleep in burning day
then flit about as the twilight blushes
and on the ebon pathways play.
I drink my tea on a quiet evening;
the moon, perhaps, will be rising soon.
I almost think I hear it coming,
humming a thinly argent tune.
I sit, but inside my heart is dancing
as steam is rising from my cup.
Soon I shall see the lunar rising
and wake the lonely midnight up.
The ballet of the hallowed heavens
I echo in my heart and soul.
I drink my tea on a silent evening;
above me endless circles roll.


The wind speaks quietly of you, Taras;
it kindly recalls your name's great story.
East and West, all of us are kith and kin,
born from sorrowful Adam, sharing fates,
one family, the household of free souls,
though some there be who wish to forget it.
Yet still again the memory returns
when the slave unchained, wind on his bright face,
rises and undoes the tyrant's cold rule.
For all of us are before God's throne,
and in that high throneroom hope of freedom
never dies but always has a new life.
On earth below the wheatlands are stained red;
alas, it is the blood of innocents
but the wind remembers an old promise
that the tyrant's throat will be slit.
The wind speaks quietly of you, Taras;
it blows across the Dnipro waterway.
On the far side of its depths there is hope.
The gilded fields of wheat still grow upward.
The steppes are still unending in their scope.
On monk's hill your relic was buried,
that the airs of your homeland might keep you.
The wind speaks quietly of you, Taras.
There is hope where freedom is well planted,
and there is freedom where poets still hope.

Sunday, March 06, 2022

Links of Note

 * Carlo Rovelli, Back to Reichenbach (PDF), on philosophy of time

* Nathanael Stein, Imagination, expectation and "thoughts entangled in metaphors" (PDF)

* Michael Walschots, Hutcheson's Theory of Obligation (PDF)

* Liam Kofi Bright, Our Time Comprehended in Thought, on philosophy of culture

* Katherine Blunt, America's Power Grid Is Increasingly Unreliable

* Dominic Legge, Do Thomists Have Rights?, argues that (contrary to a lot of claims, including by Thomists) Aquinas has a reasonably clear conception of 'subjective rights'.

* Taylor Patrick O'Neill, Vatican II and the Lasting Influence of Garrigou-Lagrange's Mystical Theology

* Timothy Yenter, What Hume Didn't Notice about Divine Causation (PDF)

* Jozef Muller, Hate and Happiness in Aristotle (PDF)

* Zee Perry, On Mereology and Metricality (PDF)