Friday, July 07, 2023

Dashed Off XXII

 Human societies are structured by favors and obligations.

"Whatsoever has or can have the nature of being, is numbered among the absolutely possible things, in respect of which God is called omnipotent." ST 1.25.3

Will is always with respect to wisdom, whether it is full or defective. Will wholly independent of wisdom is an incoherent notion.

Trust in testimony is already implicit in reason.

unexpected coherences of dogmas as a confirmation of their truth

loan/credit pairs // virtual particles

Elections are not selections of solutions but priortizations of problems to keep in focus.

The greater the wisdom, the greater the freedom.

wellroundedness with respect to duties as important for performing one's duties well

Democratic systems tend to become corrupted to the extent that direct physical and legal harms are justified as responses to hypothetical, speculative, and symbolic harms.

Israel: purgation :: Church : illumination :: New Jerusalem : union

A phenomenon is an instance of objective causation, and to take it as a phenomenon is to treat it as such.

As first good, God is necessarily part of every common good.

Creation is the act of love that makes all our loves possible.

Gardner's analysis of tort law ("Torts and Other Wrongs"):
the law of torts is a law of
(a) civil recourse
(b) for wrongs
(c) in which primarily corrective justice is attempted
(d) in a primarily reparative mode
(e) in response to claims for unliquidated sums
(f) where the duties breached are non-contractual
--> (a) distinguishes from criminal law, (d) from equity law, (f) from contract law, etc.

Law requires a reasonable moral justification for it to function across time.

In a field like law, the distinction between normative and non-normative is purely a matter of what you happen to be doing at a given time.

truth as sough -> normative standards of inquiry

Qualified immunity for police messes with the Fourth Amendment because the Fourth Amendment was historically protected by the possibility of civil lawsuit. The latter had advantage over other protections, like the exclusionary rule, in recognizing a power of the people.

classification of influence-traces in philosophical texts
(1) nominative: direct reference
(2) reiterative: use of same words
(3) testimonial: a person witnesses to influence
(4) allusive: influence explains structure
--> nominative traces may be generic or specific; they may be citations but may also just be references by name

1. History of Philosophy as a Field
2. The Great Coherence: evidence, problem, theme, landscape
3. The Great Conversation: person, influence, network, constraint, dynamics, diffusion, response
4. The Great Tradition: archive, spirit (Geist)

Learning of a cause through its effects, we are delighted in general when we can then experience the cause itself.

Richard of St. Victor's argument for the Trinity works given that God is Love and we understand that charity is participation of this Love, but not on what can be purely known by reason without the help of revelation.

Eternity is the only truly definitive ending to any human story, so all story endings are provisional in feel unless they end with the beginning of acquaintance with eternity (death), the symbol of eternity (marriage), or some close-enough proxy of either. 

elevated authenticity as one mode of great art

Bureaucrats are continually trying to present themselves as revolutionary or visionary.

Human beings are themselves the first scientific instruments.

What we rule, we measure, and we measure in order to rule.

Gustaf Sobin on our own "incadescent dark" age

Concepts do not free us from the jumble of images or the analogies of sensible cogntion, but turn them into sources of light. Rational cognition is guided by the thread of images through mazes that would othewise require immense powers of abstraction, angelic powers.

Everything is incorruptible to the extent and in the way it can be.

Aquinas (De coelo Bk I.287) takes the beginning of the world in time to have the end of manifesting the excellence of the first principle's "power over the totality of being, namely, that the totality of being depends entirely on it and its power is not confined or determined to the production of some given being."

The legislative attempt to reduce judicial discretion led to greater prosecutorial discretion, which resulted in the expansion of plea bargaining; this expansion was facilitated by the explosion of civil litigation following on industrialization, since it eases caseload pressure, and was consolidated by the fact that in so many criminal cases the trial just covers known ground. Legislatures then started assigning harsher penalties, thus designing the law in light of prosecutorial discretion.

The People are the primary and original enforcers of the Constitution.

The excellence of the work of art lies in its suitability for eudaimonia.

grex (Jonas Faria Costa) -- weaker than group, characterized by proximity, openness, asymmetry, and privacy, like people hanging out at coffeeshop or mall
--> the first seems best understood as involving not distance but shared forum or venue, which provides standing potential for grex or group

A standing problem in structuring a court system is the need to be thrifty about resources that courts inevitably eat up.

Our experience of ourselves as persons is as source (principle) and as proceeding.

jurisdictional error // category mistake

the Eucharist as reparation for wrongs done in ignorance

The (fragmentary) Laterculi Alexandrini has a list of Seven Wonders, but only 3 are extant: Artemision at Ephesus, Pyramids, Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus.
Diodorus Siculus mentions in passing the Pyramids (twice), the Obelisk of Babylon, as belonging to the Seven Wonders.
An epigram attributed to Gregory of Nazianzen: "There are seven wonders of the world: a wall, a statue, gardens, pyramids, a temple, another statue, a tomb. The eighth was I, this vast tomb rising high above these rocks; and among the dead I am most celebrated, owing to the greed of they furious hand, murderer."

"Religious virtue is divided into two parts, into that which pertains to the Divine and that which pertains to right conduct (for purity of life is part of religion)." Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses 2.16.6

"These gentile nations are therefore a preparation and prelude to the anticipated Messiah, the fruit. They in turn will all be transformed into the fruit when they acknowledge him and the tree will thereby be consolidated." Judah Ha-Levi, Kuzari 4:23

"Nevertheless, the intent of the Creator of the world is not within the power of man to comprehend, for His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts, our thoughts. Ultimately, all the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth and that Ishmaelite who arose after him will only serve to prepare the way for Messiah's coming and the improvement of the world, motivating the nations to serve God together as Zephaniah 3:9 states: 'I will transform the peoples to a purer langauge that they will call upon the name of the God and serve Him with one purpose." Maimonides, Mishneh Torah (Hilkhis Melakhim, 11:4)

two conditions for summary judgment: no material dispute as to evidence, entitlement to judgment as a matter of law

As a general rule, langauges that use te-based words for tea got their tea by sea (because coastal cities used 'te'); languages with cha-based words for tea got their tea by land (because Mandarin used 'cha'). As with all such general rules, there are anomalies, but all admit of explanation (invasion, interaction of te-languages and cha-languages, etc.).

The K axiom in modal logic makes all the truths of the same modal kind; e.g., if temporal truths (distributable according to times) imply nontemporal truths, it is violated.

Every strong modality is based on a kind of unity.

When we say that God speaks to us, this can take four forms.
(1) verbalization in vision or auditory locution
(2) presentation of appropriate benefits
(3) correction by appropriate penalties
(4) internal inspiration

"Where natural right recognizes what is good (honestum) and prohibits the contrary by way of judgment, natural law does these two by way of obligation and command through precepts." Albert the Great

Albert's definition of kingdom (regnum) [Super Matt c. 5]
A kingdom is
(a) power and lordship, complete in one, animated by justice, ordered by laws,
(b) structured by determinate parts,
(c) strengthened by the force of arms, governing optimally the cities, and equipped with superabundance of external goods and riches for what is needed.

Mass, Christ's Session, and the Plotinian account of prayer

A continual problem with consequentialisms of all kinds is that "You yourself should do X" and "A world with X being done is better if everything else in the world is set up correctly" are not interchangeable or even straightforwardly linked.

"Conversation is not an enterprise designed to yield an extrinsic profit, a contest where a winner gets a price, nor is it an activity of exegesis; it is an unrehearsed intellectual adventure." Oakeshott

"...everyone who bets any part of his fortune, however small, on a mathematically fair game of chance acts irrationally...." David Bernoulli

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Aftermaths of Ecumenical Councils III

 Aftermaths II

Second Council of Constantinople (553)

Second Constantinople was called by Justinian largely to deal with an ongoing problem, the ruptures created in the empire by disputes between Chalcedonians and Monophysites, which had been a problem ever since the failure of the compromise-based Henotikon policy begun by the Emperor Zeno. Justinian had eventually settled a somewhat different approach -- if the Monophysites were worried that Chalcedon was too Nestorian, they could perhaps be brought into the fold by further condemnation of Nestorianism. Monophysites had indeed criticized Chalcedon for not condemning certain works that it had had the opportunity to condemn (indeed, the Fathers at Chalcedon may have deliberately avoided condemning them for practical reasons); and Justinian selected works whose condemnation would best address this concern: writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, some writings of Theodoret of Cyr, and the letter of Ibas of Edessa to Maris. These became known as the 'Three Chapters'. In 551, Justinian condemned the Three Chapters by Imperial edict; Second Constantinople was Justinian's attempt to get a conciliar stamp of approval on his correction/supplementation of Chalcedon. 

First Quarter (553-578)

The council had run into some problems with Pope Vigilius, who, despite being in Constantinople, refused first to attend and then to confirm the council; Vigilius was imprisoned over it, and, being already by temperament a waffler, eventually gave in and confirmed it toward the end of 553. His support almost immediately caused a schism in the West, known as the Schism of the Three Chapters or the Tricapitoline Schism, which would continue from 553 to 715. The major sees of Northern Italy, recognizing that the purpose of Second Constantinople involved an implicit criticism of Chalcedon, refused to recognize the council, and Macedonius of Aquileia broke of communion with Rome and Paulinus I, his successor, began styling himself the Patriarch of Aquileia in opposition to Rome.

The Schism of the Three Chapters would be complicated by the Lombard Invasion, which began in 568. Lombard victory came very quickly, and within a decade they were firmly in control of Northern Italy; Paulinus of Aquileia had had to flee to Grado, the last portion of Northern Italy still held by the Empire. However, the fact that the sees refusing to accept Second Constantinople were mostly no longer under the authority of the Empire meant that there weren't even indirect means by which the council could be imposed on them by the Emperors, thus giving the schism an endurance far greater than it might have otherwise had.

Second Quarter (578-603)

In 579, Elias of Aquileia held the Synod of Grado, which reaffirmed the condemnation of Second Constantinople. In 581, Milan reconciled with Rome, largely through a series of accidents of Church politics in the aftermath of the Lombard Invasion, but by this point the Patriarchs of Aquileia were quite entrenched, since the Byzantines did not want to press the matter in the face of trying to hold their last strongholds in Italy against the Lombards. Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to think that they were not assessing possible opportunities if they would arise, and this eventually clear. Pope St. Gregory the Great, working with the Frankish-born Christian queen of the Lombards, Theodelinda, both worked actively to find means of reconciliation. Two such extraordinarily competent people in key positions cooperating in the attempt to end the schism had a significant effect; while they were not able to bring about union, preference for union began to grow considerably in the Aquileian sees, including Aquileia itself.

Third Quarter (603-628)

When Severus of Aquileia died in 606, Gregory's and Theodelinda's efforts had had such an effect that the Emperor was able easily to nudge the clergy of Aquileia into electing Candidianus who was in favor of ending the schism. This brought the areas under Byzantine control back into union. Nonetheless there were still many dissidents, and they re-entrenched themselves in Lombard-controled areas, including the city of Aquileia itself. Thus there was a new schism; Aquileia in Grado was reunited with the Church, but Old Aquileia continued to condemn Second Constantinople. 

St. Columbanus, who was missionary to the Lombards around this time, would write a letter to Pope Boniface IV noting that he was being suspected of heresy for his support for Second Constantinople, and asking the pope to hold a council to confirm its authority.

Having caused a schism in the West, Second Constantinople had also had disappointingly little effect in achieving its original purpose of reconciling the Monophysites in the East. This inevitably led the emperors to look into alternatives. In 610, Heraclius I came to the throne. It was a troubled time, as the Persians were achieving victory after victory against the Byzantines, to such an extent that they reached the very gates of Constantinople, although Heraclius, with the help and advice of Patriarch Sergius I, was able to turn things around, winning a resounding victory against Persia in 627. (The aftermath of that victory for the Persians was a civil war that left the Sasanid Empire so weak that it would be easily conquered by the Muslim Arabs and thus it can be considered the first step in a completely new phase of Byzantine history.) Backed by Heraclius, Sergius pushed a forward a new attempt to reconcile the Monophysites with the Church, which became known as Monoenergism, the view that Christ has only one activity. This compromise received a great deal of resistance in monastic quarters; and Sergius began to consider how best to deal with this resistance, and whether a modification of the position might succeed.

Fourth Quarter (628-653)

In 633, St. Sophronius, a monk, went to Constantinople on a kind of missionary trip to try to convince the authorities there to condemn Monoenergism. This was unsuccessful, but he was made Patriarch of Jerusalem in 634 and immediately began trying to convince the other patriarchal sees not to accept the compromise being put forward by Constantinople. It was an uphill battle. In 634, Sergius wrote Pope Honorius I, asking him to accept a new compromise position, that the unity of the Church should not be disrupted over the question of whether Monoenergism was true or false, but that everyone should agree at least that Christ had two natures with one will, a position that became known as Monothelitism. Honorius agreed, and gave a somewhat ambiguous approval to the Monoenergistic position, in the sense that his statement does not suggest he had a strong grasp of what it was, since it suggests he thought that the point at issue was whether Christ had two conflicting wills. Regardless, Jerusalem, already overmatched by Constantinople, could not take on both Constantinople and Rome. In 638, Heraclius signed the Ecthesis written by Sergius, which made Monothelitism the official policy of the Empire. However, Honorius died in 638. To enforce the new policy, his successor, Severinus, was not recognized as formally taking office until he signed the Ecthesis. Severinus flat out refused, and for eighteen months there was a standoff. The official representative of the Empire in Italy, the Exarch of Ravenna, Isaac the Armenian, seized the Lateran Palace and the papal treasury. Severinus, meanwhile, had the full support of the clergy of Rome, but could do very little with such limited resources as he had left. (He might have had nothing at all, except for the sheer stroke of luck that he happened to be a Roman by birth and upbringing, and so had both family property and a lot of local connections.) Severinus's papal legates in Constantinople struggled to come up with some compromise. They might have made no headway, but Heraclius was very sick, and so they were finally able to convince him to end the standoff by granting recognition on condition that Severinus at least seriously consider whether he could sign it. Severinus never did sign it, but having the official recognition, he was able to start settling into his office; however, he died two months later. His successor, John IV, was finally elected in 642, and he also condemned Monthelitism. Heraclius had also died in 641, which would end up complicating the Monothelite question.

Through the 640s, the reaction against Monothelitism, this heresy that had developed as a result of the failure of Second Constantinople to do what had been hoped, began to pick up speed. A new opponent arose, one of the most talented theologians of his day, a monk in North Africa whose name was Maximus. St. Maximus Confessor convinced the African bishops to condemn Monothelitism, which they did in 648, forwarding it to Rome for approval, as was their custom. Maximus went with the proposal to Rome, and there he met Pope Theodore I, who had been born in Jerusalem and was at the time in a struggle with Constantinople over Monothelitism.  In 648, Emperor Constans II had issued the Typos, which formally prohibited any dispute or discussion of whether Monothelitism were true or false. Together Maximus and Theodore hatched a plan: since the emperor wouldn't do it, the pope should call an ecumenical council. Thus was born the Council of Rome, also called the Lateran Council of 649. It was literally a revolutionary idea; every ecumenical council up to this point, including a lot of synods that failed to become ecumenical councils despite being intended to be, had been called by the emperor. The Council of Rome condemned Monothelitism, but nobody knew quite what to do with it. Obviously the emperors refused to recognize it as having any authority; in the West, Monothelitism hadn't spread very far, so there wasn't much interest beyond Italy in pushing for it; and even the popes after Theodore were extremely hesitant to try to press the claims of the council to ecumenical authority. Nonetheless, it is not insignificant, because it gave a clear expression to the anti-Monthelite position, put Rome firmly on the anti-Monothelite side, and laid the groundwork for the council in 680 whose condemnation would later become recognized as ecumenical, the Third Council of Constantinople.

Third Council of Constantinople (680-681)

The council took place during a tumultuous time for the Roman Empire. The patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem were only represented by emperor-appointed titular patriarchs, because both sees were vacant at the time due to the Muslim conquest of the Levant by 638 and of Egypt by 646. The council condemned monenergism and monothelitism, and also condemned the now-dead Pope Honorius for heresy on this point, but also accepted Pope St. Agatho's letter that criticized  monenergism and monothelitism but also described the Roman see as having always been orthodox. During the council, the Titular Patriarch of Antioch, Macarius I, attempted to defend monothelitism, but was condemned and deposed for doing so; this seems to have been the reason for the condemnation of Honorius, because Macarius had presented Honorius's letter to Sergius as evidence for the orthodoxy of monothelitism. Throughout the aftermath, Third Constantinople would be bundled with the five previous ecumenical councils, and most of the disputes that arose concerned how that whole bundle of six councils should be enforced or interpreted.

First Quarter (681-706)

St. Leo II became pope in 682, and despite dying within a year played an important role in the aftermath of Third Constantinople. He called a council to confirm its acts and then set about to make sure that the conciliar decision was recognized throughout the West. In doing so, he seems to have taken St. Agatho's letter as his guide, firmly condemning Honorius while teaching that the condemnation was not because Honorius had formally taught heresy but because he had failed to be clear and energetic enough in opposing it. Leo's successor, St. Benedict II, continued Leo's work along the same lines, working especially to get clear affirmation from the bishops of the Iberian peninsula. ( Benedict may have also attempted to get Macarius to retract his previous position so that he could be restored to his see, but does not seem to have been successful. (Benedict may have also attempted to get Macarius to retract his previous position so that he could be restored to his see, but does not seem to have been successful.) The Council of Toledo of 684 affirmed the decision of Third Constantinople. Both Rome and Toledo affirming the council's ecumenical authority played an important role in establishing its decision as a standard in the West.

Beginning with John V in 686, St. Benedict II's successor, the next ten popes were Eastern themselves, which likely also helped to consolidate the authority of Third Constantinople in the West. 

In 692, Justinian II called another council, which later became known as the Council in Trullo or Quinisext Council. His full purpose in doing this seems to be obscure, but the idea seems to have been to draw up a basic guideline for how to enforce Second and Third Constantinople in the Empire. Neither council had given a specific canonical framework for doing so, and Justinian II, wanting a unified Empire as he faced off against the Caliphate, seems to have intended to remedy this. This is seen from the fact that the council seems to have deliberately tried to give a unified framework for canon law.  Not only did the Quinisext Council re-affirm the six ecumenical councils and their canons, it also gave explicit sanction to the canons of several other important councils, such as the Synod of Gangra (340), the Synod of Sardica (343), the Synod of Laodicae (364), and the Third Synod of Carthage (397), and to the decretal letters of a number of important Church Fathers, on top of adding its own canons. Among the canons it added was an explicit insistence that the see of Constantinople should have equal privileges with the see of Rome (canon 36), along with several other canons rejecting Roman customs (canons 13 and 55). Needless to say, Rome firmly rejected the authority of the council, and seems to have been actively angered by the East dumping a large number of new canons into its lap with the assumption that Rome, which had not actually been consulted, and, despite one Western bishop who had pretended to be papal legate, had not been at all represented at the council, would simply rubber-stamp them. Pope St. Sergius I declared the council invalid, condemning it for introducing unwarranted innovations that were then forced on the Church by the emperor. Justinian II did not react well to this, and arrested the handful of Western bishops who had attended Third Constantinople, apparently because they had represented themselves as papal legates despite the pope not knowing anything about them. He also ordered Sergius himself to be arrested, but Sergius many allies even among the Byzantine officials, and resistance to the attempt became violent, only being calmed by Sergius himself. The result, then of Justinian's attempt to create a canonical framework for enforcing the councils up to Third Constantinople was a division in Christendom, not quite a schism but one that generated a large amount of heat; the Trullian canons, including the anti-Roman ones, became the unified canonical framework for the East (often being treated as effectively part of Third Constantinople itself), but a symbol of Imperial oppression in the West.

The bad blood over the Council in Trullo and Justinian's attempt to arrest Sergius continued over the next several pontificates. Justinian attempted to pressure each new pope to affirm the canons, and each one refused. With John VII, who became pope in 705, the emperor tried a compromise, asking him to call a council to go through the canons and accept the ones that Rome was willing to accept, and freely rejecting any canons that Rome was unwilling to accept, but the pope refused. It's unclear why, although he seems to have been afraid both of opposing the emperor directly and of being seen as even compromising on a topic that by this point had become a common cause of anger throughout the Italian peninsula.

Second Quarter (706-731)

In 708, a bishop, Constantine, who had been a papal legate to Third Constantinople, became pope. Two years later, Justinian ordered Pope Constantine to Constantinople, very certainly to guarantee a clear acceptance by Rome of the Trullian framework. Before this point in the dispute, the popes had always excused themselves from going to Constantinople, but the tensions over the Council in Trullo were getting very serious, and it may well be that Pope Constantine was worried that any attempt to do so would have serious repercussions, particularly as he seems to have been broadly pro-Byzantine. Justinian welcomed him in grand style, eager to make a good impression, and the negotiations seem to have worked their way to a sort of almost-compromise in which Justinian vaguely reaffirmed the privileges of Rome and Pope vaguely agreed to affirm the unobjectionable canons, while leaving the points of dispute untouched. Pope Constantine returned to Rome in 711, the last pope to visit Constantinople before its name-change to Istanbul in the twentieth century.

 Unbeknownst to everybody, things were about to change again. Justinian II died in 712, killed by troops in mutiny. The throne was seized by Philippicus. Up to this point, almost all of the problems in the aftermath of Third Constantinople had had to do with Justinian's attempt to enforce orthodoxy by implementing the Trullian canonical framework. But Philippicus was himself a monothelite, and suddenly the Trullian dispute receded in importance as, three decades after Third Constantinople, monothelitism became the official view of the empire. St. Cyrus, the patriarch of Constantinople, was deposed by Philippicus in favor of the monothelite John VI. Pope Constantine of course broke off communion with Constantinople and rejected every attempt by the emperor to impose monothelitism on the West, while also trying to prevent things from boiling over into violence. Fortunately, Philippicus could not hold the throne long; a rebellion occurred and Anastasius II seized the throne. Emperor Anastasius was looking at an empire that was in chaos, so he immediately began undoing the acts of Philippicus. John VI was deposed and replaced with St. Germanus; a letter was dispatched to Rome affirming the new emperor's adherence to Third Constantinople. 

Anastasius II was also unable to hold the throne long. He was overthrown by Theodosius III in 715, but Theodosius III also faced troubles as one of his allies, Leo the Isaurian, declared himself emperor shortly after Theodosius's seizure of the throne. Leo had the upper hand in their struggle and Theodosius abdicated in his favor in 717. Thus Emperor Leo III the Isaurian came to the throne, and with him opens a new chapter of turmoil. Leo was a very competent administrator, but beginning about 726, he began a series of religious reforms, making the use and veneration of icons illegal, on the grounds that they were idolatrous. (Veneration of the Cross and the Book of the Gospels was still allowed.) It's entirely unclear why Leo started this campaign; he certainly does not seem to have consulted anyone, because the entire Church hierarchy seems to have been caught entirely off guard. St. Germanus was deposed at some point, but there was very little immediate response from most bishops, even while the empire was confiscating church icons. People have noted that there were some military debacles at the time, and that there was a volcanic eruption that was widely seen as a bad omen, and that Caliph Yazid II had imposed an iconoclastic edict on Christians in 721, but we really don't know what set Leo on this course. 

Third Quarter (731-756)

St. Gregory III became pope in 731 and almost immediately appealed the iconoclastic edicts; shortly after, he called a council, which condemned iconoclasm. In 740, Leo seized all papal estates that he could easily seize, in Calabria and Sicily, and declared that they now were part of the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople. After a revolt in Ravenna was apparently started by the issue, Leo also sent a fleet to get the Italian peninsula in hand, although it was shipwrecked by a storm, with the result that the Italian peninsula remained firmly iconophile in its stance.

Leo died in 741, and was succeeded by his son, Constantine V. Like his father, he was a competent ruler, and like his father, he was thoroughly devoted to the iconoclastic cause.

In 754, Emperor Constantine summoned the Synod of Hieria; this council declared itself an ecumenical council, but today it is often known as the Mock Synod or the Headless Synod, because no patriarchal sees were represented -- Constantinople was vacant at the time, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were under Muslim rule and not very sympathetic to the iconoclastic cause, and Rome was so vehemently anti-iconcolastic that it wasn't even invited. The synod endorsed the iconoclastic policy of Constantine and did so explicitly on the ground that the doctrine of the Incarnation expounded in the six ecumenical councils prior to it required that there be no mingling or separation of human and divine natures in Christ, so that icons of Christ were often treated as depicting what could not be depicted, which was Monophysitism, but if the excuse was made that only the flesh was represented, that was Nestorianism. There's a kind of logic to the position, but I imagine that quite a few people were baffled at the argument that this very common religious practice was both Monophysite and Nestorian.

Fourth Quarter (756-781)

 Backed by a purported ecumenical council, Constantine began a major iconoclastic campaign, although it may have been more sporadic and symbolic than extensive, although there were certainly some serious crackdowns on some iconophile monasteries. The tumult created was considerable; iconoclasm was very plausible to many people and also very vehemently rejected by many others.

Enforcement of iconoclasm lightened somewhat during the brief reign of Leo IV, Constantine's son, but at Leo IV's death, his own son, also named Constantine, was only nine years old. So Leo's wife, the Empress Irene, became queen regent in 780. This would be the beginning of the end for iconoclasm, which would be formally condemned by the Second Council of Nicaea, which she would call in 787.

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Evening Note for Wednesday, July 5

 Thought for the Evening: Social Ontology

I don't think it can seriously be denied that analytic philosophy is in a crumbling state today. (There are people who would deny it; they are wrong.) Nonetheless, and also regardless of whatever criticisms one might have of analytic philosophy, there are parts of it that are currently thriving in which immensely promising work has been done. I've mentioned modal metaphysics before; that's the obvious one. But the second most important, I think, is social ontology. 

Analytic social ontology derives primarily from John Searle, who branched out to it from speech act theory. It is the theory of 'social entities'. There are things in the world that seem to be real and have real-world effects but which seem to be mind-dependent: money, corporations, nations, political offices, and so forth. Searle's best discussion of this, I think, is "Language and Social Ontology". He takes the origins of social entities to lie in language. Once we have a language, we have commitments, and insofar as these commitments bind us together with reasons, they are what Searle calls deontologies. Society is built out of deontologies that we recognize as things to which we are committed. For instance, if I tell you something in a matter of importance, we both recognize this as involving a normative expectation of truth-telling; we both, in one way or another, have a reason, independent of our particular desires, to give and to demand truth in such a matter. Searle holds that these deontologies are created by collective intentionality which imposes status functions on things. Collective intentionality is what it sounds like -- it's when we are operating together in the stance of 'We' rather than individually in different stances of 'I'. When we do so, we sometimes engage in what Searle calls Declarations, of which a common form is:

X counts as Y in C.

(Searle originally held that this was the only form, but later was persuaded that some cases require a different from, like 'Y exists in C'.) X is a person or object; C are the presupposed conditions. Y is the status function. For instance, pieces of paper count as dollars when they are printed in a certain way by the Mint acting according to statutory and regulative authorization and other conditions. A person counts as the President of the United States on condition that in an election they have received the appropriate number of Electoral College votes as counted by Congress and have not completed a term of office. And so forth. (It's worth noting that both of these examples show the layering of social entities: the Mint, the Electoral College, and Congress are all themselves social entities on which other social entities depend.) Because these Declarations are put forward by general acceptance (collective intentionality) operating within linguistic deontologies, the social entities created by them have deontic powers, which are powers to change social relations as determined by those deontologies. Dollars can get you doughnuts; Presidents can issue commands to the United States military. 

Searle's account is still the general reference point. Almost every part of it has been criticized; but no criticisms have tended to gain general acceptance. Attempts to replace it often also fail; the best attempts are those of Francesco Guala, who proposes that social entities actually are just systems of rules and incentives in equilibrium states. A lot of Guala's work is excellent -- he is the second most important person in the field, without any doubt -- and many of his criticisms of Searle are at least roughly right, but I think his general idea is doomed to fail; when you look at his examples, what he is calling 'incentives' often obviously are explained by social entities rather than explanatory of them. In any case, that's a complicated question.

I think there are a few criticisms of Searle that are particularly important, though. One is that he regularly conflates statuses (which are a matter of how we classify things) and status functions (which are a matter how we use those classifications). These are pretty clearly distinct. When we have 'X counts as Y in C' structures, the Y is often really a status, not itself a function. Second, he assumes that there are no functions in nature, which means that there is a hard division between social ontology and physical ontology. Searle's view of functions is idiosyncratic, and I think it causes problems for his understanding of what kinds of things can be status functions. One of the reasons Guala's rules-in-equilibria account works as well as it does is that it makes no such presupposition about what goes into making status functions. Related to this, Searle ties social ontology entirely to language. The problem is that there seem to be social entities that are prior to language (society itself, for instance), social entities that are created by non-language-users (animals marking out territory, for instance), deontic commitments that are prior to rather than posterior to language (like those involved in reason itself), and originations of social entities that don't involve, even implicitly, anyone declaring anything at all (like an uncrossable body of water being a boundary). Language is obviously the means by which we deliberately and artificially create social entities, and is obviously important for having extremely complicated social entities, but there are other kinds of social entities, and it isn't really clear that Searle's account, inspired by speech act theory, can wholly do justice to them. Social scientists (represented philosophically by Guala) also often complain that Searle's account is useless for the kinds of things that social scientists do; while I don't have a huge amount of sympathy for this (one might as well complain that social science theories aren't very helpful for what philosophers of language do, which is just as true), it is nonetheless the case that attempts to use an account like Searle's to describe things like money keep failing -- you get initially plausible descriptions that break down completely when you look at how money actually has to work in real life.

All of this is interesting (and since all of this has to do with ens rationis, the scholastic in me can't help but be amused at analytic philosophers yet again winding their way back to where scholastic philosophers were by the seventeenth century). I think a recurring problem in the field is the attempt to be 'naturalistic', which trips up much discussion in weird ways. Searle thinks his account is naturalistic (it is not, apparently even by his own understanding of naturalism); Guala thinks his account is more naturalistic (it is not, and appeals to more mysterious things than Searle's); everybody thinks the point is to explain how you can have social reality given that only fundamental physical reality is real. But this is absurd; we don't start with fundamental physical reality, but with social reality, and we have to take the latter already to be real in a very definite sense in order to get to fundamental physical reality at all, because experiments and scientific observations and statistical models are social entities. It would make more sense to ask how, in starting with social ontology, we get to physical ontology. I was recently reading a passage by Lavoisier on simple substances -- the starting-point of modern chemistry, which we now usually call 'elements'. Simple substances, he noted, are not necessarily actually simple; they count as simple substances relative to our experimental observational actions. What makes hydrogen a simple substance is not that it is simply noncomposite but that it is so relative to various chemical operations that we ourselves do. Elements are social entities. Of course, they are not merely social entities -- but few, and arguably no, social entities are merely social entities. When you recognize this, we see it is common; after all, all sciences have experiments and models, and even physicists sometimes have to declare something to be a clock under such-and-such conditions. All the sciences involve exploring physical ontology with a social-ontology framework. There is no hard and fast distinction between the physical and the social here, nor do we have reason to treat the social as merely a secondary and derivative way of talking about the physical. Nor, at this stage, do we have to worry about the question of reduction at all; we just need a good account of social entities themselves. 

Various Links of Interest

* Andrew Chignell, Demoralization and Hope: A Psychological Reading of Kant's Moral Argument (PDF)

* Kevin C. Klement, Frege's Changing Conception of Number (PDF)

* Elizabeth Jackson, Faithfully Taking Pascal's Wager (PDF)

* David A. Simon, Copyright, Moral Rights, and the Social Self (PDF)

* An interesting (and data-focused) exploration of a recent case of academic fraud, at "Data Colada":
Data Falsificada (Part 1): "Clusterfake"
Data Falsificada (Part 2): "My Class Year Is Harvard!"
Data Falsificada (Part 3): "The Cheaters Are Out of Order"
Data Falsificada (Part 4): "Forgetting the Words"

* Ragnar van der Merwe, A Pragmatist Reboot of William Whewell's Theory of Scientific Progress (PDF) -- I think this oversimplifies Whewell's theory of scientific progress; notably missing, for instance, is Whewell's influential idea that one of the elements in scientific progress is the dying off of previous generations, and, contrary to what is said at one point, Whewell doesn't think any scientific theories are really complete, even Newtonian physics -- while Newtonian physics, like every highly successful scientific theory, has uncovered necessary truths that we had previously missed, it is partly based on experimental elimination of possibilities which, however, good, may always in the future be qualified by better or newer experiments. It's also an error, I think, to overemphasize how much relativity and quantum mechanics have changed the field -- it is still the case that any adequate physics has to approximate Newtonian physics 'as a limit case', i.e., under relevantly idealized moderate assumptions, just as it is still the case that any acceptable account of planetary movement has to be one that can be modeled with circles and epicycles. A scientific theory that cannot do these things, cannot be adequate to the phenomena; there are real reasons why Ptolemy and Newton did so well. Nonetheless, this is paper is a very good exploration of the issues involved in a good theory of scientific progress.

* Jason Tosi and Brandon Warmke, The use and abuse of 'moral talk': How moral language can impede moral improvement

* Rob Alspaugh, Honor and Glory, at "Teaching Boys Badly"

* Todd DeRose, Semantic compositionality and Berkeley's divine language argument

Currently Reading

Knut Hamsun, Growth of the Soil
Pope Leo I, Sermons
J. R. R. Tolkien (Sibley, ed.), The Fall of Numenor
Nicholas J. J. Smith, Logic: The Laws of Truth

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Fourth of July

 Today is Independence Day, of course. From a letter of John Adams to Abigail Adams, dated 3 July 1776:

Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was de­bated in America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony “that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States may rightfully do.” You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the Causes, which have impell’d Us to this mighty Revolution, and the Reasons which will justify it, in the Sight of God and Man. A Plan of Confederation will be taken up in a few days. 

When I look back to the Year 1761, and recollect the Argument concerning Writs of Assistance, in the Superiour Court, which I have hitherto considered as the Commencement of the Controversy, between Great Britain and America, and run through the whole Period from that Time to this, and recollect the series of political Events, the Chain of Causes and Effects, I am surprized at the Suddenness, as well as Greatness of this Revolution. Britain has been fill’d with Folly, and America with Wisdom, at least this is my Judgment.—Time must determine. It is the Will of Heaven, that the two Countries should be sundered forever. It may be the Will of Heaven that America shall suffer Calamities still more wasting and Distresses yet more dreadfull. If this is to be the Case, it will have this good Effect, at least: it will inspire Us with many Virtues, which We have not, and correct many Errors, Follies, and Vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonour, and destroy Us.—The Furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. And the new Governments we are assuming, in every Part, will require a Purification from our Vices, and an Augmentation of our Virtues or they will be no Blessings. The People will have unbounded Power. And the People are extreamly addicted to Corruption and Venality, as well as the Great.—I am not without Apprehensions from this Quarter. But I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the Faith may be, I firmly believe.

[“John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776,” Founders Online, National Archives, (Original source: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 2, June 1776 – March 1778, ed. L. H. Butterfield. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963, pp. 27–29.)]

Sunday, July 02, 2023

Peri ton Pneumatikon

 But about spiritualities, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. You remember that when you were nations, to mute idols you were led, as you were seduced. Therefore I declare to you that no one speaking in the Spirit of God says, Accursed Iesous, and no one is able to say, Lord Iesous, save in the Holy Spirit. There are different endowments, but the same Spirit; and there are different services, but the same Lord; and there are different enactings, but the same God enacting everything in everyone. 

To each is given the expression of the Spirit for what is beneficial. Thus, through the Spirit to one is given wisdom's word; and to another according to the Spirit, knowing's word; and to another, fidelity in the same Spirit; and to another remediating endowments in that one Spirit; and to another powerful enactings, and to another proclaiming, and to another spiritual judgment, to yet another families of tongues, and to another translation of tongues. And all these things are enacted by one and the same Spirit, distributing to each his own, as He wishes. Because just as the body is one and organs many, so also Christ; and because in one Spirit we were all immersed in one body, whether Judeans or Hellenes, whether slaves or freemen, and all irrigated with one Spirit.

And because the body is not one organ but many, if the foot were to say, Because I am not a hand, I am not the body's, it is not thereby not the body's. And if the ear were to say, Because I am not an eye, I am not the body's, it is not thereby not the body's. Were the whole body an eye, where the hearing? Were the whole hearing, where the smelling? But God has set the organs, each one of them, into the body as He intended. Were all one organ, where the body? Rather: many organs and one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no use for you, or again, the head cannot say to the feet, I have no use for you. But rather, those bodily organs thought to be weaker are necessary. And those which we think more dishonorable in the body, we clothe with superabundant honor, and our indecent parts have superabundant decency, while our decent parts have no use for it. But God has put together the body, giving superabundant honor to the inferior, that there should not be splitting in the body, but the organs may be anxious for each other. If one organ suffers, all the organs co-suffer, and if one organ is glorified, all the organs co-rejoice. You are Christ's body, and organs by partition.

And thus God has set in the assembly first, ambassadors, second, proclaimers, third, teachers, after that powers, after that remediating endowments, directings, families of tongues -- not all ambassadors, not all prophets, not all teachers, not all powers, not all have remediating endowments, not all speak by tongues, not all translate. Commit to the greater gifts. And yet I show you a supereminent way.

[1 Corinthians 12:1-30, my rough translation, at Cat's request. As is always the case with passages that have lists, one can translate the items in the list a number of ways; as usual, I have avoided the most common ones precisely to avoid the most common ones. This is not because the common ones are bad, but because we are so used to them we glide over them.

The second sentence is obscure. Ethne, nations, is usually translated as 'Gentiles'. What the idols have to do with anything else is initially puzzling. One possibility, which has some attraction, is that Paul has in mind Habakkuk 2 throughout this passage. It's not an immediately obvious connection, by any means, but it is true that a number of themes and images in Habakkuk 2 have analogues here, and one could see Paul's description of spiritual things as standing over against Habakkuk's description of the destructiveness of the proud. This would explain the mention of mute idols, and possibly one or two other expressions in the passage.

It's very easy to read Scripture in a super-solemn tone, but Paul seems to be very clearly making a joke, albeit a joke with a serious point, in the paragraph about the body; almost all translations try to euphemize it, but he really does say that our dishonorables we clothe with the most honor and our indecencies have the most decency. Which is, I suppose a first principle of fashion: if it's shameful, make it very presentable; if you have to hide it, make the covering look especially good. Our decent parts can just be decent on their own; our indecent parts get extra decency added to them in clothing the body. Thus we can say that, in bodily matters, rather than look down on the less impressive parts of the body, the more impressive parts recognize the necessity of the less impressive, and are concerned enough with them to care for them and adorn them. And part of the point of the joke seems to be to emphasize the idea that this is true no matter how less impressive, nor even how much they are potentially embarrassing. And the same is true in spiritual matters.

'Spiritualities' is a literal translation of ton pneumatikon, but I think the English colloquial word 'spirituality' really is in some ways pretty close to what Paul has in mind here. 'Splitting' is schisma, which gives us the word 'schism'. It's easily missed, but schism seems to be Paul's primary concern throughout. How does one say, Anathema Iesous? By saying that other parts of Christ's body are not in the same body with you, or else by insisting that everyone has to have the same kind of spiritual life as you; by cursing (devoting to destruction, banning, completely removing), you are cursing Christ's body, and thus Christ. The word I have translated as 'irrigated with' can also be translated as 'made to drink'; the latter is more strictly literal, but the word is also used for irrigation, and it seems to me that this perhaps goes a bit better with 'baptized', which literally means 'immersed'. But if we take the chapter to be alluding to Habakkuk 2, it might well mean 'made to drink', with the drink of the Spirit being opposed to the venomous drink of the haughty.

The 'supereminent way', of course, is that given in 1 Corinthians 13, the way of charity or love (or devotedness, as I often translate agape in these things).]