Saturday, December 24, 2022

Doxa en Hypsistois Theou

 It happened in those days that there went out an edict from Kaisar Augoustos to enroll the whole empire. This enrollment happened principally when Kyrenios was ruling Syria. And everyone was journeying to be enrolled, each to their own city. Ioseph went up also then from Galilaia, out of Nazareth, to Ioudaia, to David's city, which is called Bethleem, because he was from the family and lineage of David, to register with Mariam his betrothed, who was with child.

It happened then, in their being there, that the days of her producing were completed, so she produced her firstborn son and swaddled him and laid him in a trough, for there was no place in the guest room. And shepherds were camping in the same area, keeping guard at night over their flock. And a messenger of the Lord befell them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they feared with great fear.

And the messenger said to them, Do not fear! For see! I evangelize you with great joy that will be to every kind of people! For today a deliverer has been produced for you, who is Lord Christ, in David's city. And this is the sign to you: You will discover a baby swaddled and lain in a trough.

And suddenly there was with the messenger a throng of the heavenly army praising God and saying: 

Glory in the highest
to God;
and on earth,
peace in glorified men!

And it happened as the messengers went away from them into heaven, the shepherds were saying to each other, let us travel until Bethleem, and let us see this word that has come to be, which the Lord has declared to us.

And they went hastening, and discovered Mariam and Ioseph and the baby laid in the trough. Having seen, they thus declared the utterance that had been told them about this childling. And everyone having heard, wondered about the things told them by the shepherds. And Mariam was collecting these utterances, conversing in her heart. 

And the shepherds turned back, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told to them.

[Lk 2:1-20, my very rough translation. Katalyma, which is often translated as 'inn' but which I have translated as 'guest room', is found in another place in Luke -- Luke 22:11, describing where His last passover would be held. The praise of the heavenly host is very hard to translate, but it is more structured than most translations make it. We start with doxa, glory or fame or splendor, and we end with eudokias, an unusual adjective from the same verb; there is also the parallel with glory being in the highest (the Highest or Most High, Hypsistos, is very often a name for God, translating the Hebrew Elyon, so the first part may well have the meaning, 'Glory in God to God') and peace being in men. I also think it's noteworthy that the shepherds simply assume that what the angels proclaimed has come to pass; they don't go to see whether it's true, they go to see the fact that God declared to them. The series of actions is: fear, hear, go, see, proclaim, return.]

Friday, December 23, 2022

All 'Glory Glory' Given to Thee

A Christmas Carol
by Christina Rossetti 
The Shepherds had an Angel,
The Wise Men had a star,
But what have I, a little child,
To guide me home from far,
Where glad stars sing together
And singing angels are? –

Lord Jesus is my Guardian,
So I can nothing lack:
The lambs lie in His bosom
Along life's dangerous track:
The wilful lambs that go astray
He bleeding fetches back.

Lord Jesus is my guiding star,
My beacon-light in heaven:
He leads me step by step along
The path of life uneven:
He, true light, leads me to that land
Whose day shall be as seven.

Those Shepherds through the lonely night
Sat watching by their sheep,
Until they saw the heavenly host
Who neither tire nor sleep,
All singing 'Glory glory'
In festival they keep.

Christ watches me, His little lamb,
Cares for me day and night,
That I may be His own in heaven:
So angels clad in white
Shall sing their 'Glory glory'
For my sake in the height.

The Wise Men left their country
To journey morn by morn,
With gold and frankincense and myrrh,
Because the Lord was born:
God sent a star to guide them
And sent a dream to warn.

My life is like their journey,
Their star is like God's book;
I must be like those good Wise Men
With heavenward heart and look:
But shall I give no gifts to God? –
What precious gifts they took!

Lord, I will give my love to Thee,
Than gold much costlier,
Sweeter to Thee than frankincense,
More prized than choicest myrrh:
Lord, make me dearer day by day,
Day by day holier;

Nearer and dearer day by day:
Till I my voice unite,
And I sing my 'Glory glory'
With angels clad in white;
All 'Glory glory' given to Thee
Through all the heavenly height.

Dashed Off XXXI

 convention (Hume)
(1) sense of common interest
-- (a) felt in own breast
-- (b) remarked in others
(2) carrying in concurrence with others into a general plan, or system of actions
-- (a) which tends to public utility
[Note that you get a very different definition depend ing on whether you take 1a, 1b, and 2a to be components of the definition or clarification of the components.]

obsessio-epiphania structure in cinema

divine prime mover -> God is a precondition for both time and space

The whole universe is built on little things.

Number-words are often not used univocally.

"that which is the very essence of the passions -- subjection to the power of others." Stael
"Everybody imagines he has been in love, and almost everybody is mistaken in this opinion."
"The spirit of party is the only passion which erects he destruction of all the virtues into a virtue, which lays claim to glory from all those actions which men would labour to conceal, if they were performed from motives of personal interest."

If an institution fails, then either
(1) it was designed incorrectly;
(2) it was operating outside appropriate conditions;
(3) it was not properly maintained;
(4) it was sabotaged in its operation.

Locke's idea of substance, despite its limitations, still has the function of indicating that there could be more to something than the ideas we have about it. This is an essential function without which we can make sense of very little.

potential, virtual, and actual arguments
HoP and the eduction of virtual arguments

The People is a special moral/juridical person, one that specifically has to be a person of persons.

Zech 9:12 // Is 61:7

humanitarian respect, civil friendship, neighborliness (hospitableness)

PSR in reasoning itself (e.g., superfluity arguments, parsimony, etc.)

Hegel thinks that divine omnipotence commits one to Spinozism.

Liberal societies often begin deteriorating because of the difficulty of guaranteeing equal rights -- e.g., everybody has to have the same right to protest, but people don't actually want everyone to have equal right to protest, preferring that the right kinds of groups have more of a right to protest, and this becomes corrosive because people don't agree about what the right kinds are.

"Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob." Madison (Fed #55)

Episcopal gradation is a gradation of communities.

humanity as a family of peoples

household, civil society, realm

Act according to the maxims of a philosopher king in a just society.

Many things are attributed to democracy that are more correctly attributed to subsidiarity.

Liturgy of Hours as heartbeat of the Church

effect -> cause inference failures
(1) impossibility of cause in itself
(2) defect of proportionality in this case
(3) defect of implication

not-Diamond, False, and not-Box approaches to arguing for atheism

What Scotists call univocity indicates participation or co-participation.

courtesy exchanges
(1) purely symbolic exchanges
(2) favor exchanges
(3) token exchanges

evidence inventories as part of probable inference

Instruction grows to knowledge within the soil of belief.

The notion of 'a reasonable chance of success' is more causal than probabilistic -- it is primarily about implementability.

the domestic aptitude for working with other families

It is important to understand that the devil can imitate an angel of light better than you can, and that the wicked are better at faking goodness than the good at being good.

faith in reasoning, trust in evidence, cooperative inquiry

atheism as a kind of transhumanism, building man without a trace of God or religion (cf Del Noce)
-- of course, this would not be quite right for Comtian or Feuerbachian forms of atheism

"Truths of the natural order cannot be drawn as pure consequences from the truths of the gospel either in the scientific, philosophical, or political fields. Otherwise, if it were a matter of pure and mechanical deduction, how easy the Christian's life would be." Del Noce
"It is impossible to explain Marx's own doctrine through historical materialism."

Trinitarianism is what you get when you immerse yourself in Scripture in communal prayer with the Church. The same is true of Chalcedonian Christology.

law enforcement vs citizen security approaches to policing

Good statesmanship is inherently polymathic.

analogization between humanitarian traditions as a source of moral progress
-- indeed, humanitarian traditions are a source of moral analogies generally (e.g., nonlegal uses of 'due process', nonmedical uses of 'triage', etc.)

Liebniz's view of infinitesimals is similar to the view that takes them to be relative nothings (nothings secundum quid) -- negligible as if nothing relative to a given level of analysis but not at their own.

the three aspects of literal sense
(1) plain meaning
(2) sense under canons of construction
(3) intertextual sense

caused differences that are not changes
(1) existence vs. nonexistence
(2) difference in kind
(3) difference in space
(4) difference in being signified

arguments against creation itself being delegatable
(1) proportionality: Creatio ex nihilo bridges infinite gap between being and nonbeing and thus requires a power that is not in any way finite.
(2) instrumentality While instruments move through a higher power, they achieve the effect through their own. But the power of creatures is to actualize potential; thus creation is wholly outside their power.
(3) primacy: the more widely a principle underlies something, the more directly it proceeds from a higher cause; secondary causes presuppose something caused by the first cause, but creation is cause of the whole being itself. Thus the only cause that can properly have caused being itself as its effect is the first.

the underdog trope as the central trope of American cinema

Interpretation of revelation is one form of interpretation of testimony.

What the more composite does more compositely, the more simple does more simply.

Tribes are expansive domestic societies, with incipient elements of civil society, that can function as juridical persons.
Tribal authority is juridical patria potestas. This means that the tribe has (among other powers) inherent educational authority that cannot be trampled on by the civil state, and a right in some kinds of matters to act in loco parentis for children, arising from its nature as a unified greater family. Likewise it has authority associated with its right to pass down the tribal inheritance.

deep fuzzy repetitive: woof-woof-woof
high sharp repetitive: eep-eep-eep
deep sharp repetitive: whap-whap-whap
high fuzzy repetitive: eegh-eegh-eegh

You are a supporting character in many more stories than you are a main character. One of the things one learns in both family and friendship is that the supporting role is sometimes more important to one than the main role, a more precious performance.

When we talk about good overbalancing evil, we are not talking addition and subtraction, but contextualization: an evil is overbalanced by being part of a framework that is good.

The universe suggests both order and boundlessness, both unity and hierarchy.

hummocks and flarks

Equality is always either interchangeability or sharing an order in a hierarchy. Interchangeability cannot ground worth; we have a specific worth in a hierarchy, and equal worth *as something* in such a hierarchy: human beings under God, or above uncivilized beasts, or united beneath a higher cause, or some such. It is the hierarchical contrast that gives equality a substantive content rather than treating equals as indifferent tokens.

If we were not born equal, we could not become equal; all equality springs form our natural equality.

In the divine nature, there is no confusion, no change, no division, no separation.

After-the-fact accountability is often not accountability at all, particularly in political situations.

remotion as an intellectual expression of the fear of the Lord

alienable right -> inalienable right -> divine moral order

quasi-causality as instar-causality

categorical real substance: human person, tree, etc.
transcendental real substance: God
categorical rational substance: partial substance, genus, species
transcendental rational substance: juridical person?

Thursday, December 22, 2022


And as Elisabet heard Mariam's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb and Elisabet was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a great shout and said, "You are to be praised among women, and the fruit of your belly is to be praised. And why should the mother of my Lord come to me? See! For as the sound of your greeting entered my ears, the infant leaped exultantly in my womb. And she is to be blessed who has believed that there will be a completion to what the Lord has spoken to her."

 And Mariam answered: 

My soul greatens the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my Savior.
For He has concerned Himself
with the lowliness of His servant-girl.
See! From now on, all ages will bless me
because the Mighty has done great things in me,
and His name is holy,
and His mercy to generations on generations
to those in awe of Him.
He exercises strength with His arm,
He has scattered the reasonings of haughty hearts.
He has deposed mighty men from thrones
and elevated the lowly.
The needy He has filled with goodness,
and the rich He has dismissed empty.
He has aided Israel His servant, remembering mercy,
as He said to our fathers,
to Abraham and his descendants perpetually.

[Luke 1:46-55, my rough translation. Megalynei is an interesting word; it literally means to increase or make great. The word can figuratively mean 'extol', i.e., 'expound the greatness of', as it certainly does here, but the repeated play on 'great', 'lowly', and 'mighty' through the song shows that the word was very deliberately chosen as a figure of speech due to its literal meaning: The Virgin makes the Lord great in her soul because He has done great things in her.]

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Gem of the Counter-Reformation

 Today is the feast of St. Pieter Kanis, usually known as Peter Canisius, Doctor of the Church. He was born in 1521 and joined the then-new Society of Jesus after having met St. Peter Faber. He became a major figure in the Jesuit response to the Protestant Reformation and is largely credited for slowing and at places stopping its spread in Germany. He was temperamentally averse to polemic and had the opinion that most German Protestants were in honest error, so his approach was to avoid personal attacks on the Protestant Reformers and to focus instead on providing clear discussions of Catholic doctrine. His catechisms became immensely influential; in some places, 'knowing Canisius' became an expression for being properly catechized. He died in 1597.

How many parts and actions are there for the Sacrament of Penance? 

 There are three. Firstly, Contrition, or the sorrow of the soul, the detesting of one's sins, and the aspiring toward a better life. Secondly, Confession, or the explication made of one's sins in the presence of the priest, and thereupon Satisfaction, or taking up the restitution and punishment for one's crimes in order to furnish worthy fruits of Penance. 

 [St. Peter Canisius, A Small Catechism for Catholics, Grant, tr., Mediatrix Press (2014), p. 64.]

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Links of Note

 * Christopher P. Miller, Contra-Bartholet: Rights of Children vs. Rights of the State

* Paul Symington, Powerful Logic: Prime Matter as Principle of Individuation and Pure Potency (PDF)

* Giorgio Lando, Metaphysical Modality, without Possible Worlds (PDF)

* Matilda Gibbons, Andrew Crump, MeghanBarrett, Sajedeh Sarlak, Jonathan Birch, Lars Chittka, Can insects feel pain? A review of the neural and behavioural evidence

* Michelle Mason, Moral prejudice and aesthetic deformity: Rereading Hume's "Of the Standard of Taste" (PDF)

* Uriah Kriegel, The Poetic as an Aesthetic Category (PDF)

* Brian Kemple, Re-Thinking Education

* Nabeel Hamid, Physicotheology in Kant's Transition from Nature to Freedom (PDF)

* Levi Durham, Beauty as a Guide to Truth: Aquinas, Fittingness, and Explanatory Virtues (PDF)

* Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, The Contradictions of Adam Smith, interviews Glory Liu on her recent book about Adam Smith; contrary to what one might expect from the title, the interview is really about how contradictions attributed to Smith are often artifacts of assumptions made by interpreters.

* Elena Comay del Junco, Aristotle on Comparison (PDF)

* Peter Totleben, The Palamite Controversy: A Thomistic Analysis (scroll down)

*  Roosevelt Montás, Anika Prather, Aeon J. Skoble, and Jennifer A. Frey, Why Read the Ancients Today?

* Joshua Kelsall, 'Trusting-to' and 'Trusting-as': A qualitative account of trustworthiness (PDF)

Monday, December 19, 2022

Peer Review

 There has been quite a bit of discussion about peer review and its disappointments in the past few years, some of it good, some of it bad. (For a recent example of a good discussion, see Adam Mastroianni, The rise and fall of peer review.) However, there is an error that commonly arises in many of these discussions, whether good or bad, and it is the view that peer review was ever supposed to indicate a high quality of research or argument, or that it was supposed to 'catch bad research', or anything like it. Even a little common sense would show the absurdity of this -- how could it possibly do any such thing, given that it is not even structured in a way that could give reasonable guarantees of such a result? If you want a filter to indicate very good research, or even to eliminate bad research, you would very obviously have to design it to work in a very different way from the way peer review has ever worked.

When you publish formally in a peer-reviewed journal, the point is not that you have reached the top tier of research quality -- very few formally published works are that -- nor is that you have even reached some kind of satisficing threshold. Publication is itself never supposed to be the end of the process, but a particular kind of beginning to a public process of discussion and further examination. The point of pre-publication peer review was always to make sure that published papers had done certain things (exactly what might vary according to the field) that would facilitate further discussion and examination of the research or argument presented in the paper. To the extent that it served as a filter at all, it was because journals used it to narrow down the number of papers they received; but even so, the whole point was to narrow it down to papers that had done what was needed and appropriate to make further discussion, rebuttal, refutation, etc., easier.

I find it odd that so many academics don't seem to have ever learned this. But I'm often surprised in this way; I think there was a period of time during which early Boomer-era academics simply assumed that new graduate students would pick up all the details by osmosis, so nobody actually learned the reasons for why things are done the way they are done. (Certainly, looking back on my own graduate experience, I think it was indeed common for faculty to just assume that graduate students would pick up most things by proximity.) The result is that we get a lot of cargo-cultism about academic matters that is, frankly, more dangerous than any problem with peer review as such.

It is not at all surprising that peer review fails to guarantee quality of research; if that were the standard, it was always going to fail to do that. Nonetheless, I do think that the argument that pre-publication peer review (which is not very old) has largely failed to do what it actually is supposed to do -- facilitate discussion and response -- is a very good one. Perhaps some of the problem is the cargo-cultism -- it's certainly the case that it's a rare pre-publication reviewer whose assessment is a judgment of whether the paper has done what would be useful for public discussion -- but I think it's also the case that having had the system in place for a while, we've discovered a lot of non-obvious ways in which it tends to be self-defeating. It is slow, for one thing. It clogs up communications very badly; in many fields (like philosophy) it regularly leads journals having only out-of-date papers because the actual discussion, through other channels, has already gone well beyond the paper by the time the paper is even OK'd for publication. It is also tedious, requiring academics to do a large amount of mostly uncredited professional service for it even to work as it currently does. It is very inconsistent, and it often leads to authors having to modify papers in ways that are arbitrary or pointless. There's no real way for peer reviewers themselves to be held accountable to standards that are in any way consistent across the entire field. Just considering the idea of pre-publication peer review, none of these were obvious, but they recur again and again, no matter what anyone tries to do to reform the process. There is indeed a very good argument that pre-publication peer review is a failed idea, starting from peer review's actual purpose.

We also don't live in the twentieth century any more, a fact that some academics seem to have difficulty with. There is no longer any need to keep paper costs down for journals -- even if you have a paper journal, you can have a web-only set of papers -- and journals themselves are no longer the easiest way to keep up with research in many fields. After a review to make sure it fits the house format and perhaps a few other very basic standards (e.g., providing the raw data for scientific research papers), pretty much everything can be published, and a system of post-publication peer review can do far better than any system of pre-publication peer review at facilitating discussion and examination.

Light and Darkness

 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have stared at with eyes, what we have observed and our hands have handled, about the Reason of life -- and the life was manifested, and we have stared at and witness and announce to you the perpetual life which was with the Father and manifested to us -- what we have stared at and what we have heard, we also announce to you so that you also may have communion with us. And our communion is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. And we write these things so that our joy might be fulfilled.

And this is the message we have heard from Him and we announce to you: that God is light and there is no darkness at all in Him. If we should say that we have communion with Him and should walk in darkness, we deceive, and do not do the truth. If however we should walk in the light as He is in the light, we have communion with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son purifies us from every kind of sin. If we should say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we should confess our sins, He is faithful and just, so He may forgive our sins, and might purify us from every kind of injustice. If we should say that we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His Reason is not in us.

My darlings, I write these things to you so that you might not sin. And if any should sin, we have an intercessor with the Father, Jesus Christ the Just. And He is reconciliation for our sins, nor for our sins alone, but for the sins of the whole universe. And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we are vigilant with His commands. The one saying, "I know Him," but not being vigilant with His commands, is a liar, and in him there is no truth. But whoever may be vigilant with his reason, in him devotion to God has been completed. By this we know that we are in Him: The one claiming to remain in Him ought to walk in just the way that He has walked.

O you to whom I am devoted, I am not writing to you a new command, but an ancient command, which you have possessed from the beginning. The ancient command is the reason you have heard. On the other hand, I am indeed writing to you a new command, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is departing and the true light even now shines. The one claiming to be in the light but hating his brother is even now in the darkness. The one devoted to his brother remains in the light, and there is no stumblingblock in him. However, the one hating his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and he does not know where he is going because darkness has blinded his eyes.

I am writing to you, darlings, because your sins have been sent away through His name. I am writing to you, elders, because you have known the one who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, youths, because you have conquered the evil one. I am writing to you, children, because you know the Father. 

I have written to you, elders, because you have known the one who is from the beginning. I have written to you, youths, because you are mighty, and God's Reason remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

[1 John 1:1-2:14, my very rough translation. Note that I translate 'logos' as Reason throughout; it is usually translated, due to the influence of Latin translations, as Word.]

Sunday, December 18, 2022

And We Look for Our Crown

The Fourth Sunday in Advent
by Reginald Heber

 The world is grown old, and her pleasures are past;
 The world is grown old, and her form may not last;
 The world is grown old, and trembles for fear;
For sorrows abound and judgment is near. 

 The sun in the heaven is languid and pale;
 And feeble and few are the fruits of the vale;
 And the hearts of the nations fail them for fear,
 For the world is grown old, and judgment is near. 

 The king on his throne, the bride in her bower,
The children of pleasure all feel the sad hour;
The roses are faded, and tasteless the cheer,
For the world is grown old, and judgment is near. 

 The world is grown old,-but should we complain,
 Who have tried her and know that her promise is vain?
 Our heart is in heaven, our home is not here,
And we look for our crown when judgment is near.