Saturday, November 25, 2023

Links of Note

 * Peter DeScioli, How Laws Evolved by Natural Selection, at "Psychology Today"

* Mathis Koschel, The Freedom of Solar Systems (PDF), on Hegel's account of freedom

* Alexander T. Englert, Kant as a Carpenter of Reason: The Highest Good and Systematic Coherence (PDF)

* Graham Priest, Nothing: The Contradiction at the Heart of Being, at "iai"

* Giulia Martina, Smell identification and the role of labels (PDF)

* Peter Glassen, The Classes of Moral Terms (PDF)

* Brendan Hodge, On vocations, asking is key, at "The Pillar"

* Nicholas Stang, Why Should Metaphysics be Systematic? Contemporary Answers and Kant's (PDF)

* Tim Juvshik, On the social nature of artifacts (PDF)

* Arden Ali, Manifestations of Virtue (PDF), on the concept of praiseworthiness

* Timothy Williamson, The patterns of reality, at ""

* Ian Cruise, Hume's Justice and the Problem of the Missing Motive (PDF)

* David Friedell, Abstracta are Causal (PDF)

* Cody Moser and Paul E. Smaldino, Innovation-facilitating networks create inequality, at "Proceedings of the Royal Society B"

* Graeme Turner, No way to run a university: ACU butchers the humanities and its own reputation, at "Tales from the Quadrangle"

* It should be noted that today is the Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Queen, Virgin, and Great Martyr, the patron saint of philosophers, rhetoricians, students, and unmarried women. She would have died in the reign of Maxentius (306-312). The earliest written account of her life is from the tenth century, although it describes the rediscovery of her relics from about a century before then, which is the first historical event that can definitely be associated with her. However, the shortness of time between these and our evidence of her very widespread cultus strongly suggests that her legend had been carried by oral traditions for a considerable amount of time before. The story we have is sometimes thought to be cross-pollinated with that of St. Dorothea of Alexandria, which is possible (stories of Virgin Martyrs have regularly been written to highlight their similiarities with other Virgin Martyrs, so despite historical differences, they often converge on a kind of sameyness of structure and have similar tropes). Some have claimed that her story is influenced by the life of Hypatia of Alexandria, which I think is obviously wrong; all the actual parallels between the two seem entirely derived from the fact that they are both described as women who were philosophers. Aikaterine/Ekaterine, which seem to be the earliest forms, is an odd name, etymologically; it became associated with the Greek word katharos, which means 'pure', but its original meaning is a complete mystery. To such an extent, in fact, that probably the simplest explanation is that her original name was garbled a bit over time; as names are often the most fragile parts of hagiography, such garbling is something that occasionally does happen. But I think it's not sufficiently recognized that the name is also evidence, however limited, of her historicity; nobody merely making up a name would have come up with such a puzzling one, so even if we assume that her name has been garbled by time, that seems at least one reason to think that her basic story (clever Alexandrian Christian virgin fends off important suitor and is martyred for it) goes very far back. In any case, she has been one of the most popular saints in the entire choir of the saints for pretty much as long as we can track devotion to her -- patronage of philosophers and patronage of unmarried women would each on their own make her cultus one of the most culturally significant, so being popularly associated with both has made her quite important. 

Here is the eleventh century Latin version of her legend: Passio Sanctae Katharinae Alexandriensis.