Saturday, April 30, 2022


* Peter Blair, The Kingdom of Truth, on Dietrich von Hildebrand 

* Bernardo Andrade, Peirce's Imaginative Community: On the Aesthetics of Inquiry (PDF)

* J. Joel Alicea, The Moral Authority of Original Meaning (PDF)

* Alexandra Bradner, The Cruelty of the Adjunct System. The issues and severity are actually extremely variable; but there are no general safeguards in place, there is an immense amount of complicity in practices that shouldn't exist, and there is a remarkable amount of exploitation and even sometimes bullying scattered through the whole system. Part of the problem is that the adjunct system by its nature is a secondary system, designed for situations that require more flexibility than full-time professorship, like when you hire professionals from the community to teach a class, or have talented teachers with life situations that limit their ability to contribute, but it has become the primary system, and is therefore fulfilling a role for which it is extremely poorly designed.

* Kyle S. Hodge, How Universal Generalization Works According to Natural Reason (PDF)

* David Dyzenhaus, Why Positivism is Authoritarian (PDF). It does seem at least very difficult to design a legal positivism that does not have authoritarian tendencies.

* Manvir Singh, Primitive Communism, and why the assumption that early human societies were communistic is difficult to sustain.

* Clay Matlin, W. E. B. DuBois and the Aesthetics of Emancipation

* Daniel Waldin, What the Creator of Parks and Recreation and The Good Place Gets Wrong about Ethics

* Daniel Wood, A community of seed savers has a recipe to revive rare varieties of collard greens

* Sarah Byers, Augustine and the Philosophers (PDF)

* Tiddy Smith, Animism, at the IEP

* Mohammad Saleh Zarepour, Arabic and Islamic Philosophy of Mathematics, at the SEP

* Stefano Bacin, The Perfect Duty to Oneself as a Moral Being (PDF), an interesting exploration of an idea in Kant that is both relatively original and interesting in its implications.

* Daniel Werner, The Self-Seeing Soul in the Alcibiades I (PDF)

* Yuan Yi Zhu, Why is Canada euthanising the poor?  

Best of All Possible Worlds

 A. W. Moore discusses Leibniz's optimism (i.e., the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds) in The New Statesman. It's interesting, and nicely laid out, but I think it fails as a discussion of Leibniz (although not necessarily in other ways, e.g., as a discussion of a particular view of the world). When Leibniz talks about the 'best possible world', he means the world-history that simultaneously optimizes simplicity of means and richness of effects -- simplicity and richness being criteria for assessing decisions and plans precisely as decisions and plans. Moore technically recognizes this but makes the mistake of assuming that Leibniz thinks of this as a matter of trade-offs between simplicity and richness rather than as a standard that requires trade-offs among other goods; and his argument does not actually do any justice to Leibniz's idea here.

It's worth taking a moment to consider that this is why Voltaire's Panglossian reply does not actually work against Leibniz, because Pangloss regularly ignores both simplicity of means and richness of effect and talks about utility to human beings, which Leibniz regards as a good but not the highest good, or even a particularly relevant good for most things. Moore makes the same error:

Here it’s important to appreciate that even the most trivial improvement in things would be enough to make the world better overall – provided all else were equal. All it would take is a slightly more intense sensation of pleasure whenever you bite into a peach – or, for that matter, when you bite into a peach just once.

But from a Leibnizian perspective, why would a "slightly more intense sensation of pleasure" mean that the world-history in which it happens is better? That is, a world-history is an order, so its goodness needs to be assessed by order-relevant criteria (like richness and simplicity), but why would you think the proper standard of assessment for the entire order of the world is whether it optimizes the pleasantness of a bite of peach? 

It's sometimes put forward as an argument against consequentialism that it's extremely easy to formulate crazy consequentialisms, like an ethics in which you should maximize paperclips. The point in the case of consequentialism is usually that you can't guarantee you've found a non-crazy consequentialism unless you know whether actually maximizing whatever it is that your consequentialism requires you to maximize would actually give us a good world. An analogous concern is relevant here. For his argument to work, Moore has to assume at least one of two things. The first is that the pleasure of peaches should be maximized in any and all situations, which is a crazy consequentialism, raising various specters of horrors as now candidates for your best possible world, like a world in which a bite of peach is like heroin and in which the human race eventually goes extinct because the peaches are so good everything else is subordinated to eating them. The second possibility is that there is no quality of a world as world, so that saying that a world is 'better' is just saying that one part of it is better than it might be. This already assumes that it is pointless to frame the matter in terms of 'possible worlds' rather than just particular possible events, since there is no longer any assessment at the level of a world. Everything needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and the criteria for assessment would have to change on a case-by-case basis, since obviously the way in which a bit of peach is better is not the same as the way a student essay is better, and so on for all distinct cases. What is more, it's not clear what the point of this is, because it seems that our assessment would become completely incoherent if we did this, since things can then be 'better' in mutually exclusive ways according to mutually exclusive standards. Maximizing the taste of a peach is better if you are only interested in the pleasure of a peach; it is not better if you are instead interested in accentuating the taste of cream. A taste of potato salad would be a better taste if you really livened up the flavor, it would not be better if you are using potato salad to provide rest from the lively flavor of barbecue -- the blandness is precisely what makes potato salad one of the best barbecue sides.

A more subtle example of the same error is found later in Moore's argument:

Any satisfactory answer to this question had better not ride roughshod over our instinctive abhorrence of the Lisbon earthquake or any of the other horrors and afflictions that blight the lives of human beings. If it does – for instance, if the answer sets greater store by mathematical elegance in the laws of nature than by the relief of human suffering – then it really just changes the subject.

But it doesn't. The direct and obvious point is that there is no reason why one would think that the entire world-history must be devoted completely and definitively to relieving human suffering; Moore needs to establish that our instinctive abhorrence indicates a standard relevant to the whole world and not just to being human. One indirect way to see why it doesn't is to look at the fact that when philosophers try to build an argument from evil, they often have to qualify it by saying that they are talking about 'gratuitous evil'. That is, what actually does the work in most philosophical arguments from evil is irrationality, not evil as such. Our gut reaction is against the evil, whether it's suffering or some other kind. But you can't build a rational argument about how the whole world should be on the basis of your gut reactions to particular parts of it. If you're mad at God for the Lisbon earthquake, even if that's a natural response for a being like yourself, the bare fact that you are naturally angry does not mean that the entire order of the world should have been different.

Moore, I think, is making a mistake that is often made, namely, assuming that a theodicial argument only succeeds if it makes terribly bad things turn out not to be terribly bad things. But one of the reasons why Leibniz is going this elaborate way around in talking about possible worlds is that this is one of the things he wishes to avoid. He doesn't want to deny that there are bad things in the world; he wants to deny that the world itself is bad. He doesn't want to deny that there are things in the world that no wise person would choose for their own sake; he wants to deny that the world itself is one that no wise person would choose for its own sake. He wants to say something like: Yes, you are absolutely right that this or that evil is a terrible thing; you are mistaken in thinking that this recognition is a direct insight into whether this world in which it occurs was worth choosing. You need an argument to move from one to the other. This is why Moore's appeal to Brothers Karamazov doesn't work; it's not an argument, and is indeed just a flat statement that you won't accept any argument at all, that you will in fact insist that there is a problem regardless of anything else that might be said.

(It's also, as a side issue, often forgotten that one of the major themes of The Brothers Karamazov is that Ivan's view is not, in Moore's words, a trump card. Ivan's view is set over against Alexei's view, and Alexei, not Ivan, is the hero of the novel. To put very crudely, Ivan's anger is that God is not a devoted socialist. That's one attitude you could definitely have to evil; but one point of the novel is precisely that there are multiple attitudes you could have, Ivan's is not Dmitri's is not Alexei's, and that the world looks different from each one.)

Friday, April 29, 2022


 Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church. (She comes across as a very serious saint, but Euphrosyne, which means 'joy' or 'merriment', was apparently a family nickname for her, because she was always laughing as a child.) From one of her letters, to Brother Matteo di Francesco Tolomei, OP:

Dearest son in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood, with desire to see you seek God in truth, not through the intervention of your own fleshliness or of any other creature, for we cannot please God through any intervening means. God gave us the Word, His Only-Begotten Son, without regard to His own profit. This is true, that we cannot be of any profit to Him; but the reverse is not the case, because, although we do not serve God for our profit, nevertheless we profit just the same. To Him belongs the flower of honour, and to us the fruit of profit. He has loved us without being loved, and we love because we are loved: He loves us of grace, and we Him of duty, because we are bound to love Him. We cannot be of any profit to God just as we cannot love Him of grace, without duty. For we are bound to Him, and not He to us, because before He was loved, He loved us, and therefore created us in His Image and Likeness. There it is, then: we cannot be of any profit to Him, nor love Him with this first love. Yet I say that God demands of us, that as He has loved us without any second thoughts, so He should be loved by us. In what way can we do this, then, since He demands it of us, and we cannot give it Him? I tell you: through a means which He has established, by which we can love Him freely, and without the least regard to any profit of ours; that is, we can be useful, not to Him, which is impossible, but to our neighbour. Now by this means we can obey what He demands of us for the glory and praise of His Name; to show the love that we have for Him, we ought to serve and love every rational creature, and extend our charity to good and bad, to every kind of people, as much to one who does us ill service and criticises us as to one who serves us. For God is no respecter of persons, but of holy desires, and His charity extends over just men and sinners.

I find this line of thought fascinating: That, because we have a duty to love God Himself, our way of loving God freely and as it were by grace is to love our neighbor. (Obviously we have in general a duty to love our neighbor, but I take it that the point is that in the case of our neighbor we can find ways to be useful to our neighbor, which means we can construct and select the ways we do it that are relevant to each and are profitable to them, for the love of God.)

Dashed Off IX

This ends the notebook completed in May 2021.

 - Pesachim 54a8-11 -- Seven things created before the world: Torah, repentance, Garden of Eden, Gehenna, Throne of Glory, Temple, name of the Messiah.
- Bereishit Rabbah 1:4 -- Six things preceded the world's creation, two created (Torah, Throne of Glory), four decided to be created (Patriarchs, Israel, Temple, name of the Messiah)
-- these can be considered a way of talking about predestination.

The moral life requires an eschatology to give it energy.

Wealth is a kind of relatability with respect to society; it always faces, in part, the community, and many wrongs with regard to wealth involve injuring this face.

Empires consolidate as proposition nations.

Note that 'seeming red under normal conditions' differs depending on whether we are talking normal for a non-color blind person assessing swatches by eyes or for a physicist assessing spectra by instrument.

opacity and lucidity of sign (e.g., how easily a given person can read a text) -- always relative to a particular cognitive power

the antecedent (in Himself) and consequent (common good of creation) sovereignty of God

Political sovereignty is not an absolute power but a power arising from completeness of common good.

Given Bodin's definition of sovereignty, nobody could be sovereign except Christ. 

While sovereignty is not formally divisible, it clearly is functionally so; not in its essence but in its energies, so to speak.

There is a sort of contagion of controversy by which otherwise unexceptionable things become controversial by association with controversial things. This is a more dangerous contagion than an epidemic.

All societies need situations in which all parties leave aside their weapons, literal or figurative.

outlawry as juridical exile vs as juridical death

Every form and nature involves an intrinsic orderability or relatibility to others.

Bodies can be collocated because location is relative to boundary, and two bodies may fall within one circumscribing boundary.

circumscriptive, definitive, and repletive presence in a place

the dissemination and accreditation functions of academic publication and the problem with unifying them

Injustice hides under sloppy uses of terms.

'constantly accomplish the paschal mystery within us'

We praise the Lord most properly within the Church (Ps 22).

To love God properly requires belief in Christ and love of neighbor (1 Jn 3).

Jn 15:1-8 uses 'remain' 8 times.

Authoritative insignia are not merely signs of authority but expressions of it; the same is true of signatures and seals.

the divine properly
the divine associatively (metonymy)
the divine translatively (metaphor)

Shankara and Vacaspati both hold that Samkhya must be rationally refuted rather than merely dismissed, out respect for the founding sages or at least out of regard for the influence of their reputation.

Money's value is affected by its presence and absence, in terms of how these affect risk and expense of use (Azpilcueta).

extrinsic formal causes: exemplar/idea, object, value

natural, stipulative, and customary valuative vehicles

"Most things are sold by weight and measure -- but everything is sold by money." Juan de Mariana

Christ's Passion : intrinsic title to grace :: sacrament : extrinsic title to grace

'Enthusiastic consent' is a male sexual fantasy, not a basis for sexual justice.

1 Sam 8:15 and the general problem of the state

scientia : natural realm :: ars : moral realm
--if we take this to be true, what domains are related to the other intellectual virtues? Is it prudence & art : moral and scientia & intelligentia : natural. Then one would expect sapientia to pertain to their unified root

exemplar : substance & quality :: object : relation :: structural mode? : quantity (& situs?) :: design/plan : action/passion :: measure : when & where :: adjoined form : vestment/habitus

All of the categories are implicit in the formal cause.

clockable when (time), aeonic when, repletive when

Money is made by market (or through markets, when deliberate).

the smorgasbordism of liberal Christianity as a false imitation of catholicity

"I am myself by knowing my own death." Nishida
"Philosophy begins with the self set on living truly."

People talking about intrinsic goodness/badness regularly confuse 'bad if considered only on its own' and 'bad by nature'. These are not the same.

the unity of the Church and the holographic character of the Church (each particular church models the universal church)

It is a grave error to disparage a good introductory work for being introductory; even virtuosi sometimes need to return to their scales.

"The Church is not merely a teaching, but a feasting-place: not a lecture-room but a banquet-hall." Wiseman
"It may be observed that truth presents us ever with two classes of evidence. The first consists of the great and direct proofs on which it rests; the second of those innumerable and unprepared convergences of argument that meet in it from various points. The former will bring us to the truth; but the latter often more sensibly secure our conviction."

We can define by causes because the formal cause can reflect other causes.

To recognize something as a change rather than merely a difference is already to recognize it as causable.

(1) The world as such is a really possible composite whole.
(2) Real possibility of a composite whole posits an efficient cause.
(3) There is an efficient cause of the world as such.

An efficient cause is that which is prior of distinct beings in essential and positive community.
-- condition/occasion/sine qua non/removens prohibens are either not essential or not positive.

the coextensiveness of 'caused' and 'composite'

causa simpliciter (the four)
causa secundum quid (E.g., dispositio materialis)

God is His own active potential; prime matter is its own passive potential.

historical/narrative explanations // explanations by material cause

substance is to accident primarily as final, secondarily as material and efficient
soul is to body primarily as formal, secondarily as final and efficient

An 'ethics for our time' is always in practice a justification for our own vices.

"The marvel performed as a type cannot be greater than its fulfillment: the latter must be the greater." Wiseman

Mark's three external-rite healings (7:34, 8:23, 6:13) as all types of unction

"virtue is the road to happiness" Aquinas (SCG 3.58)

The contemplative life is higher than the active in part because it is more like the Church Patient.

readiness to encounter & readiness to appear

formal & instrumental design
-- formal design is found only in a cognitive power; instrumental design, in things, presupposes formal design
-- natural, stipulated, and customary design
-- instrumental design seems to be of more than one kind (e.g., the design in signification and the design in the thing)
-- a blueprint is design as a sign of a design

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Renaissance Popes XII: Clemens VII (Part II)


The papacy of Pope Clement VII after the Sack of Rome consisted of a large number of crises developing in parallel all over Europe; attempted solutions and reforms put in place prior to the Sack moved too slowly to address the changing situations, and new problems arose faster than the papacy could address them.

In 1524, Pope Clement had sent Cardinal Campeggio to Germany to try to find some solution to the Lutheran problem. He was met with a largely hostile reception, although the Diet of Nuremberg heard him out, and, being asked by him to do so, presented him a list of grievances. They were willing to begin enforcing the Edict of Worms, but they wanted a national council empowered to deal with all matters related to the reform of the Church. Campeggio was, slowly, able to talk them down from this to a German assembly, less than formal council, that would be empowered to do some things, but his hope had been to get them to give up the idea entirely. The Lutherans, on the other side, were vehemently against any such move. The cardinal also investigated problems in the churches throughout Germany, and was given the authority by Clement to enact what reforms he deemed best. Clement had also been able to convince Charles V to insist more vehemently on the enforcement of the Edict of Worms; Charles nonetheless recommended to Clement that he summon a general council, which he suggested could take place at Trent, a relatively minor town that was under Imperial authority but within the sphere of Italian influence. Campeggio was eventually recalled, despite a number of successes, in part because the Curia seemed to be of the opinion that his work had been disappointing, and in part because they seemed to have gotten the impression from other sources of information, despite Campeggio's attempts to disillusion them, that Lutheranism was largely in a state of collapse. In reality, things were getting worse. In 1526, at the Diet of Speyer, the Lutheran princes were able to get the suspension of the Edict of Worms. Germany began to heat up in the aftermath, and things nearly entered a stage of full civil war when Philip, the Landgrave of Hesse, became convinced, on the basis of a forged document, that the Catholic princes had made a league against the Lutheran princes. He hastily formed a counter-league and prepared for war. Fortunately, Martin Luther, who, despite being no friend to the Catholic side, was consistently against any kind of German civil war, and Philip Melanchthon, who saw immediately that there were signs that the document was probably forged, were able to talk the Lutheran league into opening a discussion with their fellow princes, on which they discovered that there was no Catholic league. The problems that arose between the Holy Roman Empire and the Papal States in 1527 exacerbated the tensions.

Meanwhile, a reformation movement was building around Huldrych (often Ulrich) Zwingli in Switzerland. In 1523, he participated in a disputation over reform in Zurich, and was so successful that the city government of Zurich voted to reorganize on Zwinglian principles. Massive changes were implemented over the next several years, as the city seized church properties, made the priests civil servants, implemented a policy allowing priests and religious to marry, and simplified the churches with a policy of iconoclasm. This also set off a chain reaction, as multiple cantons in swift succession followed suit. Some cantons, however, remained opposed to Zwinglian movement; the five alpine cantons (Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Zug) were especially opposed, and in 1524, as Zwinglianism spread, formed the League of Five Cantons. The difference threatened to split the Swiss Confederation wholly, as the Zwinglian and the anti-Zwinglian cantons each sought foreign allies to shore up their positions. The tensions escalated until in 1529, a Zwinglian pastor was burned at the stake in Schwyz, leading Zurich to declare war and invaded, meeting the army of the League of Five Cantons at Kappel, between Zurich and Zug. The other cantons were able to force a mediation in the Swiss parliament, with the result that the First Kappel War had no battles. The resolution that was developed, however, was satisfactory to neither side, and especially not to the Catholic side. It was inevitable, perhaps, that they would come into conflict again. In 1524-1526, the Three Leagues, which was associated with the Confederation by defense alliance, fought the Musso War with the Duchy of Milan. It had ended with a treaty, but one that had no real force. Milan invaded in 1531, and the Three Leagues called on the cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy for help. The Three Leagues, however, were Zwinglian, and the Catholic cantons refused to help unless the Three Leagues would repudiate Zwinglianism. In retaliation, Zurich and Bern embargoed the alpine cantons. This led to the Second Kappel War on October 9, 1531. The advantage in this case was sharply in favor of the Catholics, who won; Zwingli died in battle on October 11, and the Second Territorial Peace that ended the war made Catholicism the default, although it allowed most communes that were already Protestant to remain so if they wished. Zwinglianism carried on under the leadership of Heinrich Bullinger, Zwingli's successor in Zurich, but its expansion slowed considerably. Notably almost everything that had been done to block the spread of Zwinglianism had occurred at the levels of canton and town, as Catholic city governments implemented a vigorous reform program and anti-Zwinglianism. The broader Church had almost no influence over the matter, with the result that there was one way in which Protestant and Catholic cantons were very like: the religion was now entirely under the authority of the local governments. In a sense, all of the Swiss cantons had broken from Rome, and none of them considered themselves particularly beholden to the pope; the only difference was whether they voluntarily continued to be Catholic as part of their local traditions or went over to Zwinglianism.

Orvieto had had a long history as a refuge of popes; it was an easily defensible hilltown with a well-built citadel. As Clement arrived in the aftermath of the Sack of Rome, he had practically nothing beyond a small loyal retinue, having to borrow everything from others. He grew emaciated, and his clothes grew tattered, because he could not afford new ones. A few cardinals started trickling in; they were at first the ones who had, for one reason or another, nowhere else to go. And even this was a strain on his resources; Orvieto was a minor provincial town and a great many things had not been maintained properly; they even had to ration drinking water until new wells could be built. As time went on, more trickled into the town, and the Curia was able to begin running again, slowly.

Yet there was one thing Clement still had that was truly beyond all price. He was pope. Even if we consider only the temporal side, the pope, as leader of the Papal States, had played an absolutely crucial role in the balance of European power. It was the most stable Italian power, not large enough to be a major threat to the big players, but significant enough to be able to tip the balance now and then. France and the Holy Roman Empire had grown to rely on the possibility of negotiating papal support for their various projects. Each was more likely to negotiate with the pope than with each other; when they wanted to avoid a particular kind of conflict, the pope was commonly the mediator; politically the pope served as a buffer between empires. With the States of the Church in chaos, there was a gaping hole in European politics that everyone needed to be filled. France and England were practically begging for papal endorsement of their league against the Holy Roman Empire; after the Sack of Rome, such an endorsement would give them a glow of righteousness, whatever they did. Charles needed a papal alliance to restore his reputation as a defender of the faith. Both sides wanted the pope on their side. But Clement was a little bitter over both the Empire's handling of the matter and the rather belated and inadequate support France and England had provided, and a perhaps overly cautious man to begin with, the events of the previous year had made him more cautious still. Clement was reluctant to jump into the fray again. Nonetheless, it should not be doubted that there was steel in Clement's character, and one of his firmest resolutions is that all the cities of the Papal States must be restored to the pope. Slowly things began to settle down in Rome, and, returning to Rome, Pope Clement summoned all the cardinals back. And once there, Clement chose a side and made an alliance with the Emperor, in part because it was clear that several members of the League (particularly Ferrara and Venice) were intent on seizing and holding lands of the Papal States, whereas the Emperor, in the face of the League, could be counted on to back at least a large portion of the papal claims. And, despite having had a number of successes against the League, Charles was indeed willing to make quite considerable concessions if they would stabilize the situation. Nonetheless, something fundamental had changed. The Italian powers, including the Papal States, were now fully within the sphere of authority of the Empire. 

In 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent pulled together an army of at least 100,000 men, perhaps as much as three times that, and marched to Vienna. The Ottoman armies were well supplied and well trained, and they had what was at the time perhaps the most advanced artillery division in the world. However, the Ottoman Empire was to face a set of problems that perpetually plagued on its European front, the first of which was that the weather patterns were very different from those which obtained through most of the Ottoman Empire. As the army marched, heavy rains soon nullified its artillery advantage as the massive cannons became stuck in the mud and had to be left behind. Much of the army's camelry also became useless, because the camels were not used to operating in this kind of weather and often became sick and died. And while the logistical system of the Ottoman army was one of the wonders of the world, it was stretched almost to the breaking point in trying to reach Vienna across such difficult terrain. Nonetheless, they had a number of victories on the way, all of which strengthened the Ottoman control of Hungary, and they reached Vienna on September 27. The Viennese had managed to scrape together perhaps 20,000 people, a large number of them peasants and farmers. The Ottoman forces were easily able to lay siege to the city, but their attempts to sap the walls were repeatedly defeated by sorties, and on October 11, heavy rains started falling again. The next day, the sultan called a council, and the decision was made to try one last major assault. (It's very likely, given Suleiman's usual strategy, that he had concluded that he could not take the city, but wanted to severely damage the defenses so as to weaken it for a return in the next few years; but as it happens, he was prevented from completing this plan.) When the final assault was beaten back, the Ottoman forces withdrew. Getting back to Constantinople in the heavy rains was even worse than the march to Vienna had been, but the Austrians were not in any position themselves to press an advantage, and except for sickness and accident, and at the beginning having to fight off a few minor raids, the army had nothing to stand in their way. While it did not have the end  he had hoped, the campaign was not a failure for Suleiman -- it brought Hungary much more firmly into Ottoman control, and gave the Empire a better sense of what would be needed to seize Vienna. In Europe, news of the Siege of Vienna led to closer relations between Charles and Clement; to seal this, Clement crowned Charles formally as Holy Roman Emperor the next year.

Also in 1529, another Imperial Diet was held, also at Speyer. This Diet undid everything done by the previous Diet of Speyer. Charles and Clement had agreed to hold a general council, so the Diet prohibited any further innovations for the purposes of reform until it could meet, and it also insisted on the enforcement of the Edict of Worms. In response, the Lutherans entered an appeal, the Letter of Protestation. The Protestation insisted that the Lutheran princes could not in good conscience accept the decision of the second Diet of Speyer; that the decision of the previous Diet of Speyer, which said that every state in the Empire should govern itself in this matter, should be upheld; that papal charges against the Lutherans had been refuted definitively from scripture; that the evangelical Mass (i.e., the Lord's Supper as practiced by the reforming movements) was Biblical; that princes should be allowed to require the evangelical Mass for the purposes of order even if the papal Mass were morally acceptable; that while it would be all very well to insist that Scripture be preached according to the interpretation of the Church, since the disagreement was precisely about what the Church is, the princes should have the right to insist that preaching be according to the text of Scripture alone; that on these grounds they regarded the decree of the second Diet of Speyer on reformation to be null and void, although they would be willing to comply with some of the other decrees, such as the one legislating capital punishment against members of the Anabaptist movement; and that they bound themselves to uphold their Protestation. Thus Protestantism, in the strict and proper sense was born; 'Protestant' became the term for princes, and then followers of princes, who upheld the Protestation of Speyer; it was only later that the term was extended to include other reformation movements (like the Anabaptists).

In the next year, the Imperial Diet was held at Augsburg. For the Diet, the Elector John of Saxony asked Philipp Melanchthon and Johannes Brenz to formulate a statement of Lutheran principles, based largely on Melanchthon's previous attempt (with Martin Luther and Justus Jonas) to formulate such a statement, the Articles of Schwabach. The Protestants attempted to have the statement read in public; the emperor refused, but during the Diet the Saxon representatives read it out loud anyway. The statement, which is now known as the Augsburg Confession, would become one of the key documents Lutheranism. Given both his temperament and the situation, it seems very likely that it was Melanchthon's attempt to insist on Lutheran essentials while being as irenic and generous as possible; as Martin Luther (who was a still an outlaw and therefore not in attendance) is said to have said in mild criticism when he read a draft, it didn't mention purgatorial superstitions and didn't attack the pope as Antichrist. In response, a Catholic commission, heavily guided by Luther's old enemy, Johann Eck, responded with the Confutatio Augustana. The Emperor gave the Lutherans until 1531 to respond. Melancthon would respond the the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, which became an instant bestseller. Meanwhile, Philip of Hesse and John of Saxony, worried that Charles might start responding with force, established a defensive alliance with each other, which would become the Schmalkaldic League.

The Augsburg Confession was not the only Protestant document submitted to the emperor at the Diet of Augsburg. Representing the much more Zwinglian cities of Konstanz (Constance), Lindau, Memmingen, and Strasbourg, Martin Bucer and Wolfgang Capito submitted what became known as the Swabian Confession, or sometimes the Tetrapolitan Confession or the Strasbourg Confession. Cracks had been appearing among the German reformation movements; in 1529, Luther and Zwingli had been unable to come to a common position on the nature and status of the Lord's Supper. The Zwinglians therefore wished to avoid the danger of their views being sidelined. Nonetheless, the Swabian Confession was also intended to be an irenic document, although in this case more to keep open the possibility of union with the Lutherans. It continued to have some influence, and Philip of Hesse and John of Saxony allowed any princes into their alliance who could affirm either the Augsburg Confession or the Swabian Confession.

While all this was going on, Clement and Charles were engaged in an ongoing argument about the best way to move forward with a general council. Charles wanted a full reform council that would also give a full assessment of the Lutheran situation; Clement wanted a council that  would primarily be focused on the Turkish threat and on unified action against the Lutherans, believing that the Lutherans had already shown that they would not actually accept any conciliar decision. Charles in the meantime found that the slowly growing Schmalkaldic League was not supportive of action against the Turks, which they did not regard as an immediate priority, which became a significant because in 1532, Suleiman was on the March again. And here we see an unexpected advantage to the Protestants that arose from the fact that the Renaissance reformation, of which Charles was a major supporter, took response to the Turks to be a major item of reform and the Protestant reformation did not: it gave them leverage. At the Diet of Ratisbon, Charles was willing to make concessions in return for support against the Ottoman Empire. The papal representatives vehemently opposed this, but Charles granted the League toleration, and, whatever his precise view of it, Clement seems to have at least understood and accepted this when the news came back to him of it. Meanwhile, Clement's attempts to pull together support for unified action against the Turks were failing, in exactly the ways that attempts of previous popes to do the same had failed. As it happened, Suleiman was stalled at Güns, and so never made it to Vienna. Thus the Renaissance reformation continued to spin its wheels in its attempt to address the Ottoman problem, but the Protestant reformation advanced.

Elswhere, things were also going bad. In 1521, Sweden had broken out into rebellion against the extremely unpopular King Christian II (who at the time was the King of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under the Kalmar Union). Among the several rebel leaders, one particularly had begun to stand out, Gustav Vasa. Several notable victories massively expanded the rebel army under his command. On June 6, 1523, Gustav Vasa was appointed King of Sweden by the Swedish parliament. A peace treaty was reached with Denmark, now under King Frederik I, in 1524. An incidental byproduct of this was that the archbishop of Uppsala, Gustav Trolle, an important supporter of King Christian, was exiled. Gustav Vasa proposed a candidate for replacing him, Johannes Magnus, to Rome. Clement, however, had regarded the expulsion of Gustav Trolle as illegal, and therefore refused to confirm Johannes Magnus. Gustav Vasa, furious, installed him anyway, and began a process of breaking away from the influence of Rome. In 1527, which is usually as the year that the Swedish Reformation began, the Swedish parliament legislated that the king should have extensive powers over the Swedish church. Given so much power, Gustav Vasa began the Reduction, seizing church property and selling much of it for revenue -- first all episcopal property, then all monastic property, and, much later, parish property. However, Johannes Magnus was a devout Catholic, and was very disturbed at the spread of Lutheranism, particularly given that the new king often lent an ear to the Olaus Petri and his followers. So Gustav Vasa got rid of him by sending him off on a minor diplomatic embassy to Russia and replacing him in the see with Laurentius Petri in 1531. This, along with the ongoing Reduction, led to a rebellion of Catholics against Gustav Vasa, the Third Decarlian Rebellion. The rebellion had some bite, because Gustav Vasa was busy at that time trying to block the attempts of Christian II to retake the throne, but in 1533, this all settled, he offered to negotiate with the rebel leaders. When they came to negotiate, he met them with an army and squashed the rebellion, executing several of the leaders. Meanwhile, Johannes's brother, Olaus Magnus, had gone to Rome to explain the situation, and eventually, in 1533, Clement would conclude that Johannes Magnus was actually a good candidate for the see, and so for the sake of peace, he confirmed Johannes Magnus as the archbishop of Uppsala. However, by this point, it was far too late.

Henry VIII of England had married Catherine of Aragon in 1509; since she was his brother's widow, it required a papal dispensation from Pope Julius II. In 1525, however, Henry began having an affair with Anne Boleyn. Henry, who wanted a male heir that Catherine had not been able to provide, became determined to get an annulment so that he could marry Anne. In 1527, he sent William Knight on a mission to ask Clement for an annulment, on the grounds that Julius's dispensation had been obtained on false pretenses. The mission was a failure, because the Sack of Rome had recently happened, and the pope was still effectively a prisoner in Castel Sant'Angelo; it was extremely difficult even to get in to see him. Given the circumstances -- the pope being effectively a prisoner of Emperor Charles, who was Catherine's nephew -- the king seems to have concluded that the matter was likely hopeless. Thomas Cardinal Wolsey attempted to oblige the king by summoning an ecclesiastical court to decide the matter, but Clement was starting to recover by this point and recalled the papal legate, forbidding any marriage until the matter could be properly addressed. So in November of 1529, Henry summoned Parliament. It began removing legal privileges of clergy and redirecting revenue from the Church to the state, then over the next several years, it went on to reinstating Praemunire (i.e., making it a crime to appeal to any foreign authority against the courts of England) and prohibited any religious appeal to Rome. It also declared Henry's and Catherine's marriage invalid, declaring thereby that Princess Mary, their daughter, was illegitimate, approved Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn, and required an oath to support their offspring, on pain of treason. As a result, Clement excommunicated Henry on July 11, 1533. As a result, Parliament continued over the next several years to create legislation to undermine papal authority in England, a somewhat complicated matter because England had historically had an unusually close relationship with the papacy.

In 1533, Clement visited France because his cousin's granddaughter, Catherine de Medici, was marrying Henry, the son of Francis I. While there he found much about which to worry with regard to the spread of Lutheranism in France, and issued a bull against French Lutheranism, as well as authorizing the bishop of Paris to begin proceedings against Lutheranism in his diocese. It would have very little effect. In Italy, as well, both Lutheranism and Zwinglianism were spreading, and attempts to deal with this were largely ineffective. Clement, in any case, would have very little that he could do; he was ill for much of 1534, and in June, it took a turn for the worse. He recovered, but relapsed again, and kept doing this until he died on September 25, he died. One of his last acts was to commission Michelangelo to paint The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.

Pope Clement VII is often called the most unfortunate pope, and it is true that he had more than his share of tragedies and catastrophes to endure. The things with which he had to deal while pope had been building for a long time, and there was no way to shunt their momentum aside at an instant. Clement is sometimes criticized for his mistakes, but this is to overlook that the entire political and religious terrain had become so slippery that everyone involved made serious mistakes -- Francis, Charles, Henry, the Protestant reformers, they all made disastrous and nearly disastrous missteps at one point or another. Nobody really understood anything that was happening. And we can see this in the fact that, at the beginning of Clement's reign, there was one major approach to reform -- the standard Renaissance approach, in more papal and more conciliar varieties that nonetheless largely agreed on principles -- battling two minor counter-reformations that seemed to have some serious force, one associated with Saxony and the other with Switzerland. By the end of his papal reign, there were mutually exclusive reformation movements all over Europe, each backed by different political players operating on different principles. The Renaissance consensus about reform had collapsed into chaos. The rivals of the old-fashioned Renaissance reformation backed by the emperor and the pope were multiplying, and they were faster and more adaptable.

Yet the whole terrain was in continual flux, and changes were beginning to take shape that would show that the Renaissance movement for reform, despite its setbacks, had not lost its ingenuity.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A Poem Draft


The children are not playing now,
their voices long since still.
The world now lies in sleep like grave,
lacking thought and will.
The gripping night, devoid of light,
now blankets field and hill
as shadows filled with sorrows fall
on river, stream, and rill.

The silence of the nightfall
buzzes in my trembling ear.
The wind that blows around me
speaks of chill and pain and fear.
The breezes call through empty halls
for lost loves, gone but dear,
as shadows filled with sorrows fall
on rivers far and near.

The water in its cataracts
weeps with a griever's moan;
it murmurs in its memory
poured over silent stone
of things that die and are gone by
like blood upon the bone
as shadows filled with sorrows fall
where rivers flow alone.

Monday, April 25, 2022

The Oath of Maimonides

 Thy eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures. May the love for my art actuate me at all time; may neither avarice nor miserliness, nor thirst for glory or for a great reputation engage my mind; for the enemies of truth and philanthropy could easily deceive me and make me forgetful of my lofty aim of doing good to Thy children. 

 May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain. 

 Grant me the strength, time and opportunity always to correct what I have acquired, always to extend its domain; for knowledge is immense and the spirit of man can extend indefinitely to enrich itself daily with new requirements. Today he can discover his errors of yesterday and tomorrow he can obtain a new light on what he thinks himself sure of today. 

Oh, God, Thou has appointed me to watch over the life and death of Thy creatures; here am I ready for my vocation and now I turn unto my calling.

The above is a standard version of what is usually known as the Oath of Maimonides. In the traditional oath ceremonies for medical degrees, it is one of the occasional alternatives to the Hippocratic Oath in its traditional or modern form; it seems to be somewhat more common for pharmacists than the physicians. 

The Oath is an abbreviated form of a longer work, known as "The Daily Prayer of a Physician", which historically has been attributed to Maimonides. In reality, while those acquainted with Maimonides' actual medical and ethical works seem to agree that it is entirely consistent with the views of Maimonides, it seems quite certain that he is not actually the author. Most people attribute it to Markus Herz (1747-1803), and I've told students that, myself. Herz was a student of Immanuel Kant, and later a regular correspondent with him, and a friend of Moses Mendelssohn. 

However, Fred Rosner in 1967 went through the evidence ["The Physician's Prayer Attributed to Moses Maimonides", Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 41, No. 5 (September-October 1967), pp. 440-454] and shows that Herz is probably not the author either. As Rosen lays it out, the first version of it shows up in German in 1783, with no indication of an author, and the title, "Daily prayer of a physician before he visits his patients: From the Hebrew manuscript of a renowned Jewish physician in Egypt from the twelfth century".  The first Hebrew version shows up in 1790; this version attributes it to Markus Herz, and says that Herz requested its translation into Hebrew. Very probably what happened was that Herz sent the 1783 version to the Hebrew periodical requesting a translation of it, and the editor took this to imply that Herz had written it. It's still possible that Herz might be the author of the 1783 German version; he almost certainly did not translate it from a Hebrew source (as seen in the fact that, first, he asked that the German version be translated into Hebrew, and, second, that he asked someone else to do the translation for him). It might have been a bit of romantic literary fiction, along the lines of some of Hamann's works; the full "Daily Prayer" touches (briefly) on a number of philosophical issues of the day, like intellectual progress. But it's also possible that Herz did not write any version of it at all, and merely passed it along because he thought it worthy of wider dissemination. 

In any case, the Oath of Maimonides derived from it has had a significant influence on medical ethics, and one can sometimes see in later codes and pledges clear evidence of its influence, particularly in its emphasis on the importance of continuing always to improve one's knowledge.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Music on My Mind


Tria Marrano, "Maramao Perché Sei Morto". (You can find the English translation of the lyrics here.) This is a slightly modernized version of a song that comes up in Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna. The original foxtrot was composed in 1939, and became one of the most famous songs of Italian Swing. The story goes that Panzeri and Consiglio, the composers, were inspired by lyrics that had been recorded in an incident from 1831, in which a crippled man went through Rome singing the chorus and was arrested on the charge of mocking the recent death of the Pope (Pius VIII). The story that the song tells is of a cat who has died; the title means precisely that, "Maramao, Why Have You Died?" What it has to do with the Pope is somewhat obscure, although one of the lines is "Bread and wine you did not lack." Nobody knows how this chorus originated, but it's often thought that it was originally a nursery rhyme. In any case, when the version by Panzeri and Consiglio came out, sung by Trio Lescano, Panzeri was accused by the Fascists of writing the song mocking the death of one of Mussolini's relatives. Panzeri denied it, saying that the song had been written before the death, but the Fascists censored it, anyway. Thus it became famous as an anti-censorship song.

Probably the most famous version is that of Nicola Arigliano, which is pretty swingin'.