Saturday, May 28, 2022

Logres I

Book I: The Devil's Son

Chapter 1

In all this realm between heaven and hell is found both shadow and light, which wax and wane like the moon, going in and out like the tide. Ever and anon the devils scheme, and ever and anon grace brings new tidings, and men and women are found to serve both, until the judgment comes.

In ancient days there was fought a great siege of a mighty city that ruled the regions west of the Hittite Empire, which had long before been founded by Truwis and his son Wilus, great men whom the people there believed to be descended from the gods they worshipped. The Truwisans were defeated by the cunning of their foes; their city, splendid beyond imagination, was burned, and those of its people who were not slaughtered fled. Among these was a prince named Aineias, whose people settled in a land called Latium; there his son, Ascanius, founded the city of Alba Longa and married a local king's daughter, who soon was with child. As the people in that region of the world were much given to divination, Ascanius paid a diviner to read the lightning and thunder so that the future of the child might be known. The diviner consulted the storm and his books and concluded that the child would be a boy and would kill both his parents. In rage, Ascanius, thinking that the diviner was seeking to foment sedition, slew the diviner, but when the child was born, his mother died in childbirth. The child was named Brutus, and he grew strong and adventurous. But one day, seeking to refine his skills in archery, at which he excelled, the young man accidentally slew his father with an arrow and was banished from those lands. 

Wandering far and valiantly, he gathered around him a band of fellows, also of Truwisan lineage. One night he fell asleep on the porch of a temple to Diana and had a dream of a fair island to the north and west. With his men, through many adventures, in Spain and Gaul and Brittany, he eventually came to the island and settled there. This island was known as Albion, and the followers of Brutus who settled there were known as Bruti, and they were founders of the British nation. Brutus divided the island among his three sons, Locrinus, Albanactus, and Camber, and his chief warrior, Corineus, whom he loved as a brother. To Corineus he gave the southwest, and it became known as Kernow. Locrinus received the south and east, which became known as Logres, and Albanactus the north, which became known as Alba, and Camber the west, which became known as Cambria. But Brutus himself settled on the river Tamesas in the southwest, and the region there was called Trinovant. These peoples prospered and grew many and fierce, for they fought among themselves but were protected from the wide world as if their island were a fortress on the sea. 

But any fortress may be reached, and there came a time when a great power crossed the sea to the island and conquered the peoples there. These new people were also descended from Aineias, being themselves Latins from the land of Latin; and their chief city was Rome. Under Julius Caesar the Roman legions seized the island in a mighty grip. The strongest tribe in those days was the people of Trinovant, under the King Cassivelanus. Cassivelanus's father, Lud, had built a mighty fortress on the river Tamesas, known as Caer Lud, which the Romans called Londinium, and from this base they were able to cause great suffering to the Romans. Nonetheless, Cassivelanus was in a feud with his brother, Mandubracius Androgeus, and when the latter allied himself to the Romans, they defeated Cassivelanus. In thanks, Julius Caesar gave to Mandubracius the responsibility of collecting tribute from the tribes of Logres and Cambria. Caesar returned to Rome, and the Trinovantines grew less, but the tribes had discovered that relations with Rome made them wealthy, and they continued to give tribute in exchange for trade and self-governance, so that under Augustus the tribute received was very great.

Eventually the Romans returned to Britain, and the armies of Vespasian defeated the tribes that allied against them. The most powerful of the tribes in those days were the Cantiaci, and the region they ruled was known as Kent. They then set up over Kent a king, named Cogidubnus, who ruled the neighboring Regni tribe and had allied with them. But from those days the Romans themselves took an ever greater share of the rule of the island, eventually setting over it three military governors. The senior of these was known as Dux Britanniorum and his junior governors were known as Comes Britanniorum and Comes Littoris Saxonici per Britannia. The Romans grew weak, however, and eventually a general named Magnus Maximus took the Roman armies in Britain and invaded Rome itself. He became emperor, but the island of Britain was then little defended, and was in great disorder until God had mercy. 

The times were very dark and shadowed. Tribe fought against tribe, and brother against brother. Foreign peoples raided the coasts of the land. The greatest scourge of all, however, was the Saxons, for there came a time when a usurping king of Kent, named Vortigern, invited a large band of Saxon mercenaries to settle in his kingdom in order to shore up his support. 

As those days drew near, the prince of demons, seeing that the shadow was great upon all lands, and wishing to seize again the world which Christ had saved, took counsel with his demons and determined to bring about the kingdom of Antichrist.

Chapter 2

There was in Brittany, in northern Gaul, in a region near to the forest of Broceliande, which is said to stand on the border of all worlds, a wealthy baron who owned many cattle and whose wife did traffic with the fiends. Upon a day the demons came to her and asked her how he might rule the soul of her husband.

"That is no great mystery," said the woman. "There is nothing on this earth for which he cares more than his wealth. Destroy his cattle and he will surely sin."

Then the devil caused a terrible sickness to fall upon the herds, and men marveled to see the cattle drop dead in the fields. The wealthy baron grew furious and took out his anger on one and all. Then the devil caused another illness to take the baron's horses, and, delighted in the wrath this caused, continued to work to destroy him. In the dark of the night, as everyone was sleeping, he strangled the baron's infant son, and the next day, as all the house was in anguish, he whispered in the ear of the baron's wife until she went out to the barn; she tied a cord around a beam and the other end around her neck and hanged herself. Then in great grief the wealthy baron grew ill, and in great anger he refused confession, unction, and viaticum, and he died and was delivered unto the lands of hell, leaving behind him three daughters.

But the devils, like the wicked, spare nothing that they are able to devour, and the fiend turned his thought to the destruction of the three young women. He knew of a young man in town, dissolute in ways and half of the devil's party already, and he whispered in the young man's ears until he came to one of the three sisters and spoke the enticing words that the devil put in his heart, seducing her. Then the devil whispered again in his ear, so that he boasted all over town of his deeds. But soon the matter came to the attention of the magistrates, for in those days in that land it was the law that a woman guilty of fornication should be put to death unless she was a prostitute for hire. Then the young man, fearing that he too would be put to death, fled in cowardice, and the young woman was brought before the bench and condemned to be put to death by being buried alive.

Then a hermit in the forest, a young man whose name was Blasius or Blaise, hearing of these things, came to the two sisters who remained. They told him all their tale and then one of the sisters said, "And thus, you see, good sir, that the gods hate us."

But Blaise replied, "There is but one God, and God hates no creature; such things can only be the malice of the devil." Then he advised them to keep themselves free from evil deeds, lest they give an opening to their devour, and to pray that they might be delivered. They did not understand him, and so he taught to them creed and catechism. The elder of the two sisters heard him well, and studied in the Christian way, and learned from him how to love and fear God. Then Blaise, having given much thought to the problem, said to her, "In these matters we are outmatched, but, regardless of the devil's doing, I will not leave you without such help and counsel as I can give."

Then the fiend, ill-pleased, whispered in the ear of a woman in the town, who then came to the younger sister and said, "Does your sister love you as she ought? For a woman such as you, who has seen such hard things, surely deserves more joy than is shown in your face."

And the younger sister said nothing, but on a later day the woman asked her again the same question, and she sighed.

"Alas," she said, "my sister and I used to be quite close, but ever since the death of our father she has given all her time to the holy man, Blaise."

"Ah," said the woman, with the devil in her ear, "I know well what this is about, for a woman who has a man has great joy, and a woman without one has none. One as fair in body and face as you could have any man she pleased."

"How can you speak this way," said the young woman, marveling, "seeing that my sister was killed for such things?"

"But your sister had neither counsel nor friend," said the other woman, "and that is all. Listen to me, and you will have delight without penalty. But mark my words: a woman is made for no other end than to have the fellowship and comfort of a man."

And they spoke no more of these matters that day, but the sister thought of them. After a week she asked the other woman about it again.

"The error your sister made was in taking comfort in only one man," said the woman, "for one man may always leave you. But who does not select one, may have many, and comfort and protection at all times, and wealth in great store; and under the law of this land, one who has many men cannot be put to death." With this and other such things, the townswoman persuaded her, and she began to work for the townswoman by giving herself to many men.

All of this was done in secret, and the eldest sister did not yet know anything of it, but such things cannot be kept secret. The rumors eventually reached her ears, and, confronting her sister, learned that it was true. Then she was greatly grieved and told the tale to Blaise, who was astonished, and said, "The devil is busy about you; may God keep you!"

"May he indeed," said the eldest sister, "but how may I protect myself from so great an adversary?"

The Blaise said, "Pray often during the day. As for the night, we are told that the devil hates light, so look always to have a light when you sleep."

And for two years after, she followed Blaise's advice, and the devil did not approach. But he had not ceased to work for her torment, and he whispered in the ear of her sister, until one day the younger sister came to her and they argued, and the younger sister beat her older sister with her hands in wrath. Afterward, the elder sister fell weeping onto her bed with great anger in her heart, and she did not pray and she did not set a light. Then the devil raped her in the night and by devilish art made her to conceive, although she had been a virgin. And the child in her womb was conceived by the devil with the destiny to be the Antichrist.

And the young women on waking, and realize in horror and distress that she had been raped, prayed to the holy Virgin for aid, looked for the man who had done it. Every door in the house, every window in the house, was locked, and no one could have entered anywhere. Then she went at once to Blaise her confessor, who said, "What is the trouble? For you seem greatly afraid." And she told him all her story and asked for penance.

Blaise listened to her, but could not give credence to what she said, for it was something of which he had never heard, and he said, "How can I give absolution if you will not confess honestly?" But she swore the she spoke of truth, and Blaise, baffled, took thought about what to do. Then finally he said, "Whatever may be the case, the only sin on your part which you have told me is that you let anger master you so as to give the devil entrance, for which your penance for that shall be to avoid meat on Saturdays. I understand nothing of this, but my promise holds; whatsoever the devil may do, I will not fail to give you such help and counsel as I can."

Then she accepted her penance, and he blessed her with holy water, and she went home. But from that time Blaise began to have dreams of death and destruction.

It soon became clear to the people of the town that she was with child, and they asked her who the father was. When she did not know, for she had never known a man, they took her for a fool. Then she went to Blaise again and told him of what had happened, and she was so earnest that he marveled. Then he asked her again to tell her whole story, and he wrote it down, including the day and hour at which everything had occurred, and said, "When the child is born we shall know better the truth of these things. But we must beware, for the law of this land is harsh and unyielding. If you are taken captive by the magistrates, send for me and I will give what help I can."

And in a few weeks, as Blaise had said, the judges brought her before the court to answer. Then Blaise came before the court and argued that she should not be judged at all until the child was delivered. This they agreed, but wished her to be held in a strong tower until that time.

"Then let her have two strong women as companions, to help with the delivery, and that she not be worried with anything until she is strong enough again to go about on her own."

So they took her to the tower. But the town was currently receiving refugees fleeing from wars, and among them was a man not right in the head, and they passed him sitting on the side of the road. When he saw her, he gave a great shout, saying, "Do none of you see? She bears the desolation of all things. She bears the Antichrist." And Blaise would ponder this often in the days to come.

Before the young woman was locked in the tower, he said to her, "Do not be afraid, but trust to God. When the child is born, send for me immediately for baptism."

She then lived in the tower until she delivered a son, and Blaise came. And when he entered the room, the infant, not even a day old, spoke, saying, "And are you not the hermit Blaise who will set down in letters the feats that I will do in raising a great kingdom?" Both Blaise and the mother were greatly afraid, and it came to Blaise's thought that if this child was the Antichrist, many would be saved if the child were drowned. 

Then Blaise took the child, carrying him down to the river nearby. There he baptized him in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and then prayed, "Lord God, if this child is indeed given a destiny by the devil, I ask that he will by your grace instead undo the devil's work."

And the infant said, "The destiny you ask for me is a lonely prison." But Blaise shushed him and carried him back to the mother, who named the boy Merlin.

Chapter 3

The young woman sought to stay in the tower as long as she could, but in ten months it was clear that her time for judgment drew near. Then she took her child in her arms and wept, saying, "Fair son, alas, our time will soon be over, and I will be put to death for your sake. I do not deserve it, but I have no defense, because only God knows the truth."

Then the child, who had not spoken since his baptism, looked long at her and said, "Mother, you will not die because of me." And she was so startled by his speech that she dropped him and he cried. Then the women attending her came running, and when they heard her story, they tried to get the child to speak, but he continued to cry. 

She said to them, "Tell him that I will be burned because of my sins." 

And when they did, the child stopped crying and said, "You are lying, and you should repent, for you have more sins than my mother, for you are gossips and rumormongers." Then the women went out and told the story everywhere. The mother of Merlin was summoned before the magistrates, and she asked for Blaise, who came. She came weeping, but the child Merlin was merry and laughing as he came to court. Many people also came, out of curiosity.

"Hush, child," said the women, "for your mother will be put to death for you."

"No one in all the kingdoms of all the world can harm her," he said.

The magistrates then asked the child many questions in private, but he gave no answer, merely laughing at them. And the mother, wearing a smock and a mantle, took the young child in her arms and stood in the court awaiting the word of the judges. They questioned her again and refused to believe her, for no woman can have a child without the fellowship of a man, and they passed the sentence of death and began to debate the means.

But at this, Merlin leaped from his mother's arms, and angrily said to the judges, "Her death is not deserved, for she has done nothing wrong, and if you were to put to death even those in this courtroom who are guilty of adultery and fornication, there would be no end of killings. Ask the hermit Blaise if my mother is innocent."

Then Blaise, astonished, told the whole story as he knew it. Then Merlin said, "You have written the very day and hour of all these things happening; bring it forth." Then Blaise brought his writing forth into evidence. Nonetheless, the judges were reluctant to set her free, for it seemed to strange to them.

Then Merlin in anger said to the chief judge, "I know who my father is better than you know who your father is, and your mother knows better the one who is your father than my mother knows the one who is mine." Then, when the judge called him an insolent child, Merlin continued, "By your laws, your mother deserves death more than my mother, for you were the bastard child of a man with whom your mother committed adultery." And the judge grew very wrathful, and demanded that both mother and child be burned, and the other judges did not say nay.

"You shall accomplish nothing," said Merlin, "for you have no power."

Then Merlin and his mother were set in prison for five days. When they were brought before the judges again, this time for false accusation, the chief judge mocked him, saying, "It seems we do have power over her. Now you must apologize for dishonoring a good woman."

"You are not so wise as you think," said the child. "By law, those accused of false accusation may be allowed a test to prove that it was not false. Bring your mother forth and go with her into the final chamber, and I will take counsel with my mother along with God and the hermit." Then, before the judge could speak, he turned to the crowd gathered, and said, "If I deliver my mother from this judge, will you seek any further harm against her?"

Then the crowd, astonished, shouted, "Nay!" And the judges, taken at surprise, had no choice but to allow the test.

Then in a private chamber, the judge asked his own mother who his father might be, and she replied, "Who else could be your father than the one I have said, my husband, who died so long ago?"

Then Merlin said to her, "You shall tell the truth, and not these lies, for I know that his father is still alive." 

And she was abashed, and replied with anger, "Who, then, could it be?"

Then Merlin said, "No sooner had the one who begat this judge lain with you than you, teasing him, said that you were perhaps with child. Then he said you should never give birth to his child, for he feared that you were trying to pass off another man's child as his own, and he set down in writing the day and time for future reference. Is this not true? But if you will not acknowledge it, I have many worse things to say." But she would not acknowledge it, so he continued. "At the time that these things happened, you were estranged from your husband, and so to hide the fact of your adultery, you made peace with him. But you continued to lay with the other man, and you were with him just this past night, and he brough you part of the way here."

Then the woman was visibly distraught. Then the judge, seeing this, said, "Mother, whoever my father may be, I am your son, and I will act as your son; only tell me whether what this devil-boy says is true." Then she, weeping, acknowledged it.

Then the judge turned to Merlin and asked who his father was.

"My father is a prince of the powers of the air," said Merlin, "as you yourself have thought, and because of this I know your mother's works, because I can know anything done, anything said, anything that has passed. But the good Lord had wish to save me from my mother's true penance and the absolution of this priest by the authority of the Church, and because of this I know things that are to come. And that you may know this, I tell you that the man with whom your mother has lain will, on hearing this, flee for his life, and the devil, whom he has always served, will lead him to water to be drowned."

Then they came forth from the chamber, and the judge told the people that the child had saved the mother by good argument. Then all things happened afterward as Merlin had said, and the judge marveled.

And Blaise wondered at all this, and asked Merlin many questions, until the boy laughed and said, "You may ask and I will answer, but at least believe what I say; for I shall teach you the love of Christ and life everlasting, by stories that you shall remember."

"It seems clear that you are indeed the devil's son," said Blaise, "and thus I worry that you are a deceiver."

"By providence, good and evil are mixed in this world," said Merlin, "light intermingled with shadow, and I am the devil's son, but I am christened. And the devil purposed that Antichrist should come; but God has set me as a wall to prevent it, for as long as I shall live. By nature I know the designs of the devil; therefore by grace I may prevent them. Grace I do indeed have, for my mother is a good woman and sacraments I shall have from you. But you must do something for me."

Then Blaise said, "If it is worthy, I will do it."

Merlin replied, "You must then write all that I shall tell you in a book. I shall tell you such things as none others know, and those who read shall learn the ways of God."

"I will gladly write it," said Blaise. "But I adjure you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, that you never at any point deceive me, or require of me anything against the laws of God."

"This I promise," said Merlin. "And let us begin it, for this shall be important."

Then Blaise gathered his writing materials, and Merlin began. "In the days of Augustus, Jesus Christ was born to the holy Virgin Mary for to the east in the holy country of Judea, which was ruled by Herod as a client of the Romans. Recognizing that his time drew near, he gathered with his disciples in an upper room for Passover meal. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke it, saying, 'This is my body, given to you; do this in memory of me.' Then, taking the cup after the meal, he said, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, as often as you drink of it, in memory of me.' Betrayed by Judas Iscariot into the hands of his enemies, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried in a tomb provided by a rabbi, named Joseph of Arimathea. Christ rose from the dead, and after his resurrection appeared in a great flash of light to Joseph as he was praying on the sabbath. And Joseph fell to the ground, trembling, but was lifted up.

"'Are you the rabbi Elijah?' he asked.

"But Christ said to him, 'I am not Elijah.' And when Joseph asked him who he then was, Christ replied, 'I am Jesus, whose body you asked of Pilate, whose body you wrapped in clean linen, whose body who laid in your own tomb. Peace to you! I give to you a gift in thanks of your kindness.'

"Then Christ gave to Joseph of Arimathea the cup he had blessed at the supper before his betrayal. He became devout follower of Jesus, and was imprisoned; but the cup of Christ sustained him throughout his imprisonment. Eventually, approaching the end of his life, Joseph gave the cup to his son, also named Joseph, and this  Joseph became a companion of St. Aristobulus, who on one of his journeys came to the island of Britain, to a region known as Avalon, and there founded a monastery and a shrine for the cup, which became known as the Holy Grail. But the regions all around were heathen, and therefore it was kept in secret from generation to generation."

And he spoke of many more marvels, both things that were and things that were yet to come. Then Merlin said, "This book shall be long in the making, for I have many more things that I must tell you. Men shall seek me out to slay me, but shall not, and you shall go to Avalon, where hides the Holy Grail. And there you shall continue to write the things that I shall bring you."

to be continued

Friday, May 27, 2022

Wager Arguments

 Pascal's Wager is one of the most famous arguments in the world, although it's usually not understood correctly. It's perhaps not surprising it is garbled; the argument is found in the Pensees, which are just notes for a work that was never fully written, and it is spread across multiple notes. In addition, Pascal's Wager is often confused with a similar (and derivative) wager argument, that found in the Port-Royal Logic. (The most obvious distinguishing characteristic is that wager arguments derived from the Port-Royal Logic include hell or infinite misery in the wager. This is a mutation not found in the original wager, and other wager arguments derived directly from Pascal's do not have it.) To simplify matters greatly, the actual wager argument is an argument against a particular kind of position, namely, that we should not believe that God exists on the ground that there is no way to know. It is not, contrary to a common popular presentation of it, an argument that God exists; it is an argument that we do in fact have reasons to believe that God exists (practical reasons), and that people making this claim are motivated not by rational considerations but by passions. We can roughly characterize the whole thing as having three stages:

(1) Even if we assume that there are no theoretical reasons for believing that God exists, we nonetheless have practical reasons for doing so. This is because we re motivated in inquiry not just by truth and error but also by happiness and misery. If we wager that God exists and are right, we can gain complete happiness; if we wager that God exists and are wrong, we do not thereby lose what we did not have anyway. Therefore wager that God exists. Ah, but the interlocutor says, gain and loss are not the only things to consider in a wager; we might wager too much. Well, the wagerer says, the happiness we could gain is infinite happiness, and we don't have a corresponding loss if we are wrong, so we can stake anything that would be reasonable to wager in return for infinite happiness. But what we stake is always going to be finite, compared to that infinite gain. Therefore wager that God exists. Ah, says the interlocutor, but it's not just gain, loss, and stake that we need to consider; we also need to consider certainty, and the uncertainty is infinite. But, the wagerer notes, the beginning position makes the uncertainty the same on both sides, so our risk is the same, either way, and therefore can't affect the wager. Therefore wager that God exists.

(2) But, says the interlocutor, even if this were the better wager, this is not how you gamble safely; you try to see the 'inside tip'. Well, says the wagerer, this gets us into the theoretical reasons that people actually give, that were simply dismissed out of hand by the original position. 

(3) But these reasons are inadequate actually to make me believe, says the interlocutor; I think believing on the basis of them would require me to stultify myself. Well then, says the wagerer, we should start with the fact that we now know that it's not lack of reasons but psychological inability that is creating the inability to believe. But we are not mere slaves to our passions. Since we now recognize that there are reasons to believe, we know that the reason you don't believe is fear, worry, etc., arising from how your passions respond to the idea. The thing to do then is to stop overthinking it. Act on your practical reasons to believe; stop worrying about being stupid by getting out and doing the things that can reshape your passions.

All this is very rough, of course. But it gives us enough of the idea, and we can call (1) the Calculation Step, (2) the Inquiry Step, and (3) the Practice Step of Pascal's Wager. The Port-Royal version has a slightly different Calculation Step, and its Inquiry and Practice Steps are mostly implicit (although the Practice Step is at least strongly implied simply from structuring it as a wager), but we can characterize it in much the same way.

However, this structure is quite general, and we can run wager arguments in other contexts besides the existence of God. Locke recognized this (Essay II.xxi); he adapts the Port-Royal Calculation Step to argue that "morality, established upon its true foundations, cannot but determine the choice in any one that will but consider". If we act on a well-founded morality, our potential gain is infinite, our stake only finite; if we do not act on it, our potential loss is infinite in comparison to what is only a finite savings in the stake.  Locke also very clearly has the Inquiry and Practice Steps, although in a sense his structure opens the Calculation Step earlier in the chapter, then develops it in parallel with the Inquiry and Practice Steps, then sums up with the complete Calculation Step in section 72.

But we can have wager arguments that do not have to go out to infinite happiness or misery. Consider a position that we should suspend judgment on induction because we have no reason to think that the future will resemble the past. Someone could build a wager argument against this:

(1) Calculation Step: Even if we assume that we have no theoretical reasons to accept that the future will resemble the past, we can have practical reasons to do so. If we act on the belief that we can predict the future from the past, we can live a life, with all the good that comes with that, which is a gain; if we simply suspend judgment on it, it seems that we would have to suspend serious living, which would be a loss -- all our projects, our art and science and social relations and education and so forth, involve the belief that we can know something of the future from the past. But, even setting aside any goods that might come from these, all of these things (art and science and society and education and so forth) are goods themselves. So wager that we can learn for the future, from the past.

(2) Inquiry Step: Nonetheless, we do in fact have reasons to think that the future will resemble the past; even if they aren't regarded as probative, we definitely do have reasons. There is a coherence to the belief that the future will resemble the past; it hangs together well. There are mathematical and logical limitations to how different the future could be from the past, which implies that at least some minimal structure must endure. And if we assume this belief, we can live our life and while doing so look further into possible theoretical reasons for believing it.

(3) Practice Step: Thus the position with which we started seems to be a case of overthinking -- we are considering all possibilities, and because we can't sort all the possibilities, we give up. We are worried that we're missing something. So, given that we've seen that we have reasons to accept the view that the future will resemble the past, we know that our worry is just that, a passional response, and the thing to do is to stop being shut up in our own heads and live our lives, which will involve wagering that the future resembles the past. Yes, we might be wrong in particular cases, but we will have a life, and we can try to learn what we need to learn in order to be less wrong.

A great many other things could be defended in the same way from various kinds of analogous skepticisms: the reliability of our memory, the integrity of our reasoning, the existence of a world independent of us, the existence of other people, and so forth. In each case we might have to modify things here and there to fit the topic, but some kind of wager can be run for each. Again, in these wager arguments we do not establish the truth of what is defended; rather, we establish the reasonableness of it as a working assumption, and usually the unreasonableness (arising from overthinking the matter) of not taking it as a working assumption, by noting that we have practical reasons for it, that given these we can accept or at least investigate the theoretical reasons for it even if they aren't always probative, and that any inability to accept is not a based on the reasons but on the passions, which are often better handled by training rather than arguing.

Dashed Off XII

 God uses our mortality to transcend our mortality, and our variability to transcend our variability.

Justice springs from love and knowledge.

orders of angels and facets of wisdom

'the pious people who do penance for their own sins by putting other people into sackcloth'

Foucault often seems on the strongest ground if you treat his historical arguments less as historical arguments and more as well-fleshed-out analogical arguments.

Republics collapse into oligarchies of wealth or oligarchies of family.

In politics we should oppose anything done without a willingness to make distinctions, no matter the intentions.

Deliberate doubt always favors prejudices.

Shankara in Upadesa Sahsri: Brahman and Atman are related like face and reflection of face in a mirror; we are reflections of Brahman, distinguishable yet in some way not different.

A 'view' is as much about where you are standing as about what you see.

"It is authority alone which moves fools to hasten to wisdom." Augustine

mercy -> forgiveness -> life

active wit vs. modish conversation

'reading, that richest, highest, and noblest source of intellectual enjoyment'

exercitium sacrae scripturae: lectio, disputatio, praedicatio

All reasoning from from conceiving and to conceiving.

Jacobine: Mt Jas Jd
Petrine: Mk 1Pt 2Pt
Pauline: Lk Acts Pauline Letters
Johannine: Jn Rv Johannine Letters
--Hb is traditionally associated with Pauline; it is very Jewish like Jacobine, but Hellenistic Jewish like some of Johannine.

-- Clement is the earliest source to use Hb (1 Clem 34:2-5 uses Hb 1:3-4, and some probable allusions elsewhere); as both 2 Clem & Hermas seem to know it, this suggests it was sent to Rome.
-- Clement Al is the first extant person to hypothesize that Hb is Pauline; he attributes the idea to "the blessed Presbyter", probably Pantaenus (Eusebius HE 6.24). He suggests in particular Paul + Luke. The attraction is that there are affinities to Luke-Acts, but some of this is probably due to common use of LXX and both having a higher literary style of Koine.
-- Tertullian (de pudicitia) attributes to Barnabas; he quotes Hb 6:1-8)
-- Its association may also be due in part to mention of Timothy (13:23)

The bishop exists to further the unifying love of the Church, the priest that the faithful may better know their God, the deacon that the works of the Church may be well-ordered.

unintelligible propositions
-- due to knower
-- due to proposition
-- -- contradictory simply
-- -- contradictory in a certain sense

'the exercise of charity, the search of knowledge, and the enjoyment of quiet'

That which is more invariant is more real.

Leibniz Equivalence
Norton: Diffeomorphic models represent the same physical situation.
Jacobs (2021): Symmetry-related models are physically equivalent.
Greaves & Wallace (2014): Two states of affairs related by a symmetry transformation are really just the same state of affairs different described.
-- the negation of LE is 'model literalism' (distinct models represent distinct states of affairs even when symmetry-related)

"That mankind is a community, that we all stand in relation to each other, that there is a public end and interest of society which each particular is obliged to promote, is the sum of morals." Butler

Forgiveness arises from good will, not lack of resentment. The latter is an effect of forgiveness, sometimes with the aid of time.

'those only can be properly liberal, who are just and oeconomical'

the cartography of possibility

"Every action must be due to one or other of seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reasoning, resistance, dsire." Aristotle (Rhetoric 1369a)

-- nature
-- -- steady
-- -- -- nature proper
-- -- -- reasoning
-- -- occasional
-- -- -- resistance
-- -- -- desire
-- second nature
-- chance
-- compulsion

"Punishment is inflicted for the sake of the punisher." Aristotle (Rhetoric 1369b)
"the object of wonder is an object of desire" (1371a)
"It is also pleasant to complete what is defective, for the whole thing thereupon becomes our own work." (1371b)

pathological pursuit of proof of being good
(1) when pathology is in excess in the pursuit
(2) when pathology is in the type of proof
-- -- (2a) bad social proof
-- -- (2b) bad material proof
(3) when pathology is in the conception of being good

Opposition presupposes some sameness of general kind.

liberality vs magnificence of mind

Pursuit alone vests no property right.

Ancient thinkers often treat time-measurements less as measurements and more as classifications (i.e., less like dating devices and more like curricular or period designations).

the Third Way and God as transcending the genera of necessary existents

(1) Altruism is not of itself moral
(2) Restrictive norms are not of themselves moral.
(3) Sympathy is not of itself moral.
(4) There are combinations of these that are not moral.

Claims in contingent matter are capable of functioning as implicit arguments.

"Men do not reflect and act upon collections of meaningless symbols or nonsense rhymes." Margaret MacDonald

To say that a legal system is not just is to say there is a *jus* higher than what is found in that legal system.

What determines what you can do, determines what you must do.

The end of the human race is living as human beings.

It is pointless to try to clarify a field by asking whether its propositions are tautologies, empirical generalizations, value statements, etc., because every field necessarily uses all of these.

causation, remotion, and eminence as the foundation of every realism

The pseudodemos is constructed in and by public opinion.

instruments of pleasure vs sources of happiness

(1) that the cosmos can be conceived as a unified change
(2) that the cosmos can be conceived as a unified composite
(3) that the cosmos can be conceived as a limited durable
(4) that the cosmos can be conceived as a hierarchy of being
(5) that the cosmos can be conceived as an ordered system of causes

efficient causes
(1) bringing about form: perfective (perficiens)
(2) preparing matter: dispositive (praeparens seu disponens)
(3) operates for the end of another: assisting (adjuvans)
(4) proposes form for another to use: advising (consiliens)

four tasks of medicine (Engelland)
(1) safeguard integrity and existence of the whole body
(2) treat patient's experience of inordinate pain
(3) restore functioning of inoperable parts
(4) promote long-term functioning of whole and parts

medicine more concerned with our natality than our mortality (Engelland)

Most television series are structured on the pattern of procedurals, in part because they are very popular (so most writers learn to write scripts from them) and because their success depends on a relatively clear episodic structure, so they set a standard for structure to which others refer.

A pattern of aggressive retaliations is always a sign of deep misery.

By faith we recognize created being as an expression and triumph of love.

Mary as united with Jesus by connection of dignity, authority, and power

All the sacraments exhibit 'physical causality' and 'moral causality', but in some the latter is more important and in some less. Really, though, the physical/moral distinction here is based on an analogy (to nature and will as causes) and nothing else, and the analogy seems to break down at times in this context.

sacraments as
signs: extrinsic formal
medicaments: efficient dispositive
armaments: efficient dispositive
containing and conferring grace: efficient instrumental

donatists of argument

archive -> kinds of problem -> philosophical questions -> philosophical arguments

"Proverbs are, as has been said, one form of evidence." Aristotle (Rhetoric 1376a)
"Things that cause friendship are: doing kindnesses; doing them unasked; and not proclaiming the fact when they are done, which shows that they were done for our sake and not for some other reason." (1381b)
shame as "a mental picture of disgrace" (1384a)

elements of ceremonial rites
(1) combination of incidents
(2) signs of moral purpose
(3) form of expression
(4) accessories of language (e.g., music)
(5) thought appropriate to context
(6) appearance to others

Genesis: preparation for Israel
Exodus: formation of Israel as Elect
Leviticus: cultic structuring of Israel
Numbers: administrative structuring of Israel
Deuteronomy: suzerainty covenant with Israel
Joshua, Judges, Ruth: preparation for Israel as kingdom

postulate : practical :: opinion : theoretical

Thursday, May 26, 2022

New Poem Draft and Two Poem Re-Drafts


The night sky is whirling high above,
endless suns that blind our thought;
we think we know it through the telescope,
but scarce can know the splendors rising there.

With liquid words I strive to bare my soul,
with poetry that pours out from the heart;
outside a man, inside a universe,
how can you know the galaxies within?

I ache now to let you know my mind,
this bright splendor demands to overflow,
but, my mouth now open, I cannot speak;
no speech, no song, conveys my heart and soul.

How can I find the words to capture fields
of suns so bright, like dust upon this stream,
each blazing out in songs I cannot sing,
and what you know of me is but a gleam.

I wish you could see it, I wish I could show
the oceans running through me full of stars that glow,
an abyss of light within me, mute infinity,
but you will never know the universe within;
you will never know the universe I am.

Stormy Day 

Darkening clouds growl and crash,
tongues of storm, lightning splash,
cavalry across the sky;
bolting stallions madly dash,
unafraid to blaze and die. 

Worlds are hurled by roaring wind,
wild bacchanals descend;
these showers flood;
no roof, no shield
can from the dripping drops defend,
each drop a wish on pavement-field. 

Those wishes wash my words away,
no language left, just heart to pray.

Trajan by Baptism 

The rule of the lion is rule over pride,
where killed is the evil which gnaws one inside,
where found is the godhood which in one has died,
where blood washes all, and one's death is new life. 

The wolves in their mourning howl out their lack
as they trace in the snow the shadow of track,
in harry and hunt and the strength of the pack,
as blood washes all, and one's death is new life. 

For never is given to man's mortal eye
by wings of his own to sunny vales fly
or else he will fall with Icarus-cry--
but blood washes all, and one's death is new life. 

And only by others is blood gladly shed,
and only by one who most painfully bled
can ever arise the soul of the dead,
when blood washes all, and one's death is new life.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Intro Phil Condensed

 As I've been transitioning from Spring term to Summer term, I have been dealing with a bit of a challenge in trying to get my five-week condensed summer course in order. It's an Introduction to Philosophy course for two hours a day, MTWTh throughout June, and is supposed to be roughly equivalent to a normal sixteen-week course. I've done several condensed Ethics courses in the past several years, but the last condensed Intro I did was so long ago the syllabus is really not usable anymore; my condensed Ethics is just a condensed version of my ordinary Ethics, but my sixteen-week Intro is very much not condensable, so I've had to restructure everything quite a bit. Essentially, the two-hour class is best done by splitting each class into two, an A part and a B part. Here's the schedule for the course that I've more or less ended up with:

Course Calendar 

 This schedule is tentative and liable to change; for changes, consult the schedule in Blackboard. N indicates a reading from the Norton anthology. 


 May 31
A: Introduction
B: Background to Gorgias 

 June 1
A: PLATO I (Knowledge)
--- Meno (N 137-142)
B: Gorgias Reading Group I 

 June 2
A: PLATO II (Platonic Myths)
B: Logic Lesson: Terms 


 June 6
 A: ARISTOTLE I (Change)
B: Gorgias Reading Group II
Week I Quiz due today by the beginning of the class

 June 7
B: Logic Lesson: Propositions 

 June 8
A: ARISTOTLE III (Knowledge)
B: Gorgias Reading Group III 

 June 9
--- The Five Ways (N 13-18)
B: Logic Lesson: Syllogisms 


 June 13
--- Aquinas on Law (reading to be provided in Blackboard)
--- Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (reading to be provided in Blackboard)
B: Gorgias Reading Group IV
Week II Quiz due today by the beginning of class

 June 14
--- Meditation I (N 264-268)
B: Logic Lesson: More on Syllogisms 

 June 15
A: RENE DESCARTES (Mind and Body)
--- Meditation II (N 312-319)
--- Elisabeth of Bohemia, Correspondence with Descartes (N 320-321)
B: Gorgias Reading Group V 

 June 16
--- Anselm of Canterbury (N 8-12)
--- Gideon Rosen (N 476-485)
B: Logic Lesson: Even More on Syllogisms
Philosophical Analysis due today at the end of the day.


 June 20
--- Sceptical Doubts (N 166-177)
B: Gorgias Reading Group VI
Week III Quiz due today by the beginning of class

 June 21
--- Shepherd on Cause (reading to be provided in Blackboard)
B: Logic Lesson: Basics of Propositional Logic 

 June 22
A: DAVID HUME II (External World)
--- Of Scepticism with Regard to the Senses (N 269-284)
B: Gorgias Reading Group VII 

 June 23
--- Shepherd on the External World (reading to be provided in Blackboard)
B: Logic Review
Gorgias Character Paper due today by the end of the day

 WEEK V (assorted topics; these are especially tentative) 

 June 27
A: Pascal's Wager
--- The Wager (N 68-71)
B: Mengzi and Xunzi on Human Nature
Week IV Quiz due today by the beginning of class

 June 28
A: Aesthetic Paradoxes
--- Aaron Smuts, The Paradox of Painful Art (reading to be provided in Blackboard)
B: The Nyaya School on Pramanas 

 June 29
A: Mill's Harm Principle
--- On Liberty (N 1086-1096)
B: Poinsot and Peirce on Signs 

 June 30
Final Presentations will be given in class today.
FINAL DEADLINE: All work for the course due by the end of class today

Monday, May 23, 2022

Renaissance Popes XV: Marcellus II

 Birth Name: Marcello Cervini degli Spannochi

Lived: 1501-1555

Regnal Name: Marcellus II

Regnal Life: April 1555 - May 1555

Cervini was born in Montalfano, near Macerata, and studied at Siena and Florence. He is said to have started his career in the priesthood through pressure from his father, Ricciardo Cervini, the Apostolic Treasurer of Ancona, who was an enthusiast of astrology and interpreted his son's horoscope as indicating that he would attain high ecclesiastical honors. This was not too difficult; the elder Cervini was a friend of Pope Clement VII, so he was able to get young Marcello a position in the Curia. While there he worked on an off-and-on-again project of the Renaissance papacy, calendar reform. In 1527, Marcello fled Rome at the Sack of Rome, but eventually received a position with Alessandro Cardinal Farnese, who became Pope Paul III in 1534. 

Cervini was ordained in 1535 and made an apostolic protonotary, and in 1539, while he was on a diplomatic mission, Paul III made him a cardinal. He continued to do diplomatic work for the Pope, and became active in Renaissance humanist circles. When Paul III finally managed to get the Council of Trent up and running, Cervini was chosen as papal legate along with Cardinal Pole and Cardinal Del Monte. When the council settled on 'parallel decrees', paralleling doctrinal decrees with reformational decrees,  Del Monte primarily handled the reform side, Cervini largely handled the side of the council devoted to doctrine. Cervini did not have a background that focused all that much on theology, but he had an interest in patristics and played a significant role in the drafting of the decrees on Scripture and justification. Some of his work consisted in helping bishops track down books that they needed consult; his humanist background meant that he already had a strong commitment to going back to original sources, and had connections to facilitate doing so. Thus it is perhaps unsurprising that in 1550 Julius III (who of course was Del Monte) appointed him Librarian of the Holy Roman Church; in that position he oversaw a significant expansion of the library. He also used his position to encourage and aid scholars and artists.

The papal conclave when Julius died was as divided as the several previous conclaves had been, but the cardinals, wanting to avoid the previous deadlock, agreed from the beginning on an election capitulation in which they all agreed that, whoever was elected pope, they would maintain neutrality in European politics and avoid going to war against any of the Christian powers. Once that was agreed, the election became easy. Charles had attempted to exclude Cervini from consideration, but the Imperial faction of the cardinals did not think it worth fighting when the French faction proposed Cervini as an alternative to their first choice, Cardinal Este (who was suspected by Cardinal Carafa of trying to buy votes so lost the vote of the stricter reformers); Cervini was well respected by both sides. So he was elected and became Marcellus II. It was already the beginning of Holy Week when he was elected, so he cut short most of the ceremonial involved in becoming pope in order to participate. The money that was saved from this economy he split into two portions, one for the needs of the Holy See and one to be distributed to the poor. He clearly had an intense ambition to expand the reform of the Church. He set about having all of the reform documents that had been issued before gathered up and collated so that further plans for reform could build on what had already been done, or complete what had not been completed. As further components of his very preliminary plans for reform, he made clear that he intended to enforce residency on bishops, extend the influence of the Jesuits, require Jews to distinguish themselves from Christians, and add sodomy to the list of crimes investigated by the Inquisition. 

How far any of this would have gone, or what further turns and modifications might have been, is unknown. He had had occasional had bouts of sickness in the previous years, and as Holy Week advanced, he grew more and more ill. Others warned him not to overwork himself, but he largely ignored them. He died in the early morning of May 1,1555,  having been pope for less than twenty-two days.

It can be argued that the death of Marcellus was one of the most significant factors for the future course of Renaissance reform. Marcellus was zealous in what he considered the work of reform, but his zeal was often tempered by his humanist background, his love of art and literature. His natural instinct had always been to find ways to cooperate with people. He could also have been counted on to work hard to maintain political neutrality. The pope who succeeded him was from a different mold entirely: a strict reformer with little interest in art or literature, a forceful personality, the kind who is not inclined to be moderate and is not particularly concerned about making enemies, out of an absolute conviction of being right. On the other hand, while Marcellus's reforming plans were big, we do not know if he would have been able to follow through on them. His successor, on the other hand, was the kind of man who would take a sledgehammer to anything that stood in the way of his plans.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Fortnightly Book, May 22

 Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála Orczy de Orci was born in Tarnaörs, Hungary, in 1865, the daughter of Baron Félix Orczy de Orci and Countess Emma Wass de Szentegyed et Cege. Political troubles and the possibility of revolution led to the family leaving Hungary eventually and arriving in England, where Emma eventually studied at London art schools. It was in the course of her art training that she met her future husband, the illustrator, Henry George Montagu MacLean Barstow. They were quite poor, and both had to work to maintain their household. Baroness Orczy found that she had some talent at writing, although her early work had an uneven success, her detective-fiction short stories originally doing better than her historical-fiction novels.

One of the short stories she had written blended her writing interests, being a historical fiction story about the French Revolution that had detective fiction elements. She and her husband worked together to compose a play based on it and sold it; at the same time, Baroness Orczy worked on a novelization. The play had a weak start, but the producer to whom she had sold it was a fan, and so, with parts of it rewritten, he took it to another theater, where it lasted for four years, and by the end of that time had broken theater records and was one of the most popular plays in Britain. The novel was published just as the play was taking off, and as the play's popularity took off, so did the novel's. The play and the novel were, of course, titled, The Scarlet Pimpernel. The combination of the two made Baroness Orczy very wealthy.

But Orczy did not stop with that novel. She created what we would think of today as a literary universe -- she wrote a large number of related works (novels and short stories, mostly), both new Scarlet Pimpernel stories and spin-offs about various characters met by the hero, including the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, who worked with the hero to save people from murderous revolutionaries. In addition, by the time of Orczy's death in 1947, there had been movies and new adaptations into stage plays, and she only just missed by a few years the introduction of the Scarlet Pimpernel into television.

For the fortnightly book, I will be reading A Scarlet Pimpernel Collection, which contains four of the Scarlet Pimpernel books:

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905)
I Will Repay (1906)
The Elusive Pimpernel (1908)
The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1919)

The fourth of these is itself a short story collection with eleven short stories:

"Sir Percy Explains"
"A Question of Passports"
"Two Good Patriots"
"The Old Scarecrow"
"A Fine Bit of Work"
"How Jean-Pierre Met the Scarlet Pimpernel"
"Out of the Jaws of Death"
"The Traitor"
"The Cabaret de la Liberté"
"Needs Must--"
"A Battle of Wits"

So off we go in a game of espionage and secret identities, as the Scarlet Pimpernel saves aristocrats and their families from the murderous guillotine of the French Republic!