Saturday, September 16, 2023

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows


Opening Passage: 

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said “Bother!” and “O blow!” and also “Hang spring-cleaning!” and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, “Up we go! Up we go!” till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

Summary: The Mole gives up spring cleaning to enjoy the spring, and by good fortune meets the friendly and sensible Water Rat, with whom he quickly becomes good friends. Rat teaches him how to boat on the river and introduces him to other animals. One of these other animals is Toad of Toad Hall, a wealthy, irresponsible, bombastic, conceited, very affable fellow. Toad turns out to have a fatal weakness: he becomes addicted to recklessly driving motor-cars. While this problem is developing, Rat introduces Mole to the Badger, who lives in the Wild Wood. (Narnian Talking Animals are of coruse modeled on the animals in The Wind in the Willows, and Badger is the most obvious point of similar, because he would fitly comfortably in either world.) As Toad's obsession with motor-cars gets him into increasing trouble, Mole, Rat, and Badger hold an intervention for him, to prevent him from reaching the apparently inevitable end of either death or ruin. The intervention fails completely, however; Toad takes a final joyride in another person's car and is caught, with the result that he is brought before the Magistrates, who take a dim view of his entire action. Poor Toad is thrown in jail. He eventually escapes in disguise and makes a fugitive flight across the country in order to get home, where money and being well liked will provide some protection. When he gets back, he finds that Toad Hall has been taken over, and will need the help of Mole, Rat, and Badger to get it back. In the meantime, Mole and Rat meet the great god Pan, and Rat, with Mole's help, has to fight off the temptation to become a seafarer.

Much of the story can be seen as exploring the struggle between the restlessness and thirst for adventure we often feel in mundane and domestic matters and the homeliness of home. Mole gives in to the restlessness and it becomes in some ways the best thing he ever did, because it results in his having excellent friends. Toad only ever gives in to the restlessness and it lands him in prison. Rat has to fight off the restlessness because it is really contrary to who he is. I think Chapter VII, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", where Mole and Rat meet Pan, shows both of the two impulses tangled together. Pan's piping is the music of the wind in the reeds and the rushes; it calls forth to adventure, but paradoxically, coming to Pan is also like coming home to animals, a paradox that is neatly captured by perhaps the most famous passage in the chapter:

“Rat!” he found breath to whisper, shaking. “Are you afraid?” 

 “Afraid?” murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. “Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet—and yet—O, Mole, I am afraid!” 

 Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.

But there is another reconciliation of adventure and home that we find throughout the book: friendship. Friends are an adventure in which we are at home, and a home which is full of adventures. Whether it is Mole and Rat drifting down the river and then having a picnic, or the two enjoying Badger's excellent hospitality, or the three looking out for Toad as he returns home from his flight, having friends is one of the ways to satisfy both the restless thirst for adventure and the deep need for being at home.

Besides reading this work, I also listened to an audiobook version (from Blackstone Publishing, narrated very well by Mary Woods), and I'm glad I did so. In many ways, this is really a tale meant to be read aloud rather than silently -- preferably with friends, of course, but in any case aloud. Many of the poetic descriptions found in the book work best in the living voice. 

Favorite Passage:

One morning the girl was very thoughtful, and answered at random, and did not seem to Toad to be paying proper attention to his witty sayings and sparkling comments. 

 “Toad,” she said presently, “just listen, please. I have an aunt who is a washerwoman.” 

 “There, there,” said Toad, graciously and affably, “never mind; think no more about it. I have several aunts who ought to be washerwomen.” 

 “Do be quiet a minute, Toad,” said the girl. “You talk too much, that’s your chief fault, and I’m trying to think, and you hurt my head. As I said, I have an aunt who is a washerwoman; she does the washing for all the prisoners in this castle—we try to keep any paying business of that sort in the family, you understand. She takes out the washing on Monday morning, and brings it in on Friday evening. This is a Thursday. Now, this is what occurs to me: you’re very rich—at least you’re always telling me so—and she’s very poor. A few pounds wouldn’t make any difference to you, and it would mean a lot to her. Now, I think if she were properly approached—squared, I believe is the word you animals use—you could come to some arrangement by which she would let you have her dress and bonnet and so on, and you could escape from the castle as the official washerwoman. You’re very alike in many respects—particularly about the figure.” 

 “We’re not,” said the Toad in a huff. “I have a very elegant figure—for what I am.”

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Dashed Off XXVIII

 Applying plans requires a good sense of 'That will do well enough'.

Contracts are fundamentally nonverbal interactions that are partially verbalized.

On Jenkins's account of agender identity, nothing prevents anyone from being an 'agender man' or an 'agender woman', if (like most people) you don't think manhood or womanhood is reducible to 'internal map'. The same is true of 'genderfluid'. This account therefore does not rule out that these are just modalities of 'man' and 'woman'. 

Even when considered only as signs, sacraments are formed of *many* signs.

The world-points of physics are not in a one-to-one correspondence with the world-points of the perceptual world. They are, however, often close enough to use such a correspondence as a loose approximation. 

"An object is considered the designatum of a sign production of a certain person if there is a procedure which assigns the greatest weight to it in relation to that sign production. The meaning of the sign production is considered the more safely ascertained, teh more the weight of the object in question surpasses the weight of the other objects for the same sign production." Carnap
--> An obvious problem with this is the assumption that there is always only one object, whereas multi-object sign productions are very common. (It's interesting to think of how a satisficing rather than maximizing version might work.)
--> Weightings would obviously have to be relative to interpretant and in particular (but not solely) to the interpretant associated with the sign producer. At the very least, it seems likely there will be many procedures relevant to possible relevant interpreters.

"The reporting relation (between a report and its state of affairs) is to be constructed together with the sign production relation (between a word and the designated object), since the two constructions relate to, and support, one another." Carnap

A weathervane is a sign of the way it is pushed; its being pushed this way may be a sign of the direction of the wind; the direction of the wind may be a sign of the coming of a storm.

On Carnap's account of 'the purely quantitative world of physics', all experiments are outside the 'world of physics'. 

Experiments are cultural objects and rely on the manifestation and documentation relations, among many others.

As there is no single temporal order, a real object's position in temporal order, or even whether it has one, depends on the clock used.

Carnap often talks as if one could construct levels fairly directly, but what would actually have to happen is construction of ways of relating (like sense organs or measuring devices) which would then be used to construct objects at the relevant level. (Thi sis perhaps obscured in Carnap's examples by, e.g., his ambiguous use of 'my body' and similar things as cranes and scaffolding without acknowledging that this is a different -- and new -- function.)

"Unquestionably, there are phenomena of faith, religious and otherwise, and of intuition; they play an important role, not only for practicla life, but also for cognition. Moreover, it can be admitted that, in these phenomena, something is 'grasped', but this figurative expression should not lead to the assumption that knowledge is gained through these phenomena. What is gained is a certain attitude, a certain psychological state, which, under certain circumstances, can indeed be favorable for obtaining certain insights." Carnap

"The evil person is like a fracture in our human world, through which we catch glimpses of the void." Roger Scruton

the need for co-phenomenology (dealing with structures of consciousness from a *plural* first-person view)
-- experience sharing
-- co-intentionality (collective, shared, distributed)
-- body as intersubjective media
-- shared normativity
-- shared emotions
-- the human ability to appraise on the part of others (including groups)

Our feeling-material is inherently sympathetic and our feeling-forms are inherently communicable.

feeling-from (queasiness, uneasiness) vs. feeling-toward (grief, love)

A group works as a unity to the extent its nature as a group analogizes to a hylomorphic composite.

Liturgy by definition is a cooperative project.

kinds of sharing a mood or vibe
(1) resembling modalities of experiencing and acting
(2) mutual feeling and acting on behalf of or from the posit of the other's perspective
(3) A' sexperience of being with B while B feels and acts
(4) A responding or reacting to B's experience and acting insofar these are taken by A to represent B
(5) shared objects under shared descriptions

membership-feelings and proto-representation

Team or joint reasoning is not somethign that emerges from complete individual reasoning; it is our default mode of reaosning, and reasoning on one's own requires the development of special skills.

Human beings personify virtually everything, so it is obviously absurd to claim we cannot act in ways that treat groups as personified.

The very structure of the New Testament gives what might be called the preliminary canonical structure of Church: from Christ through the Apostles, organized as supervised churches, with both formal and informal structures and offices, oriented toward final consummation. This preliminary structure is filled in by: typology, prophecy, solutions in the New Testament to particular problems, historical application of Scripture to historical problems, diffusion of local customs.

Our basic first-person perspective does not seem to distinguish singular and plural very sharply; we tend, for instance, to speak and act for others as well as for ourselves, and children have to learn how to handle cases in which they can't.

Monarchy and tyranny are the only forms of government that are really generous to mediocrity.

the world as physical framework, the world as vital environment, the world as material and medium for reason

reasons to keep watching a movie
(1) inductive: interesting so far
(2) deductive: intrinsically interesting idea being unfolded
(3) abductive: interest in where it suggests it is going
(4) nonductive: nothing more interesting to do

What Campbell's monomyth gets right is liminal crossing.

Equality is only valuble if it is the kind of equality compatible with respect for one's neighbor.

The sinner is to be loved as potential saint.

forms/stages of political philosophies
experimental -> revolutionary -> tribalist/nationalist -> intertribalist/internationalist -> universalist -> reactionary -> experimental

"Divine love is the end of which all the inspiration and all the miracles which ever were in the world were but the means. Those were only certain means of grace, but divine love is the grace; it is itself the sum of all grace." Jonathan Edwards

baptismal & confirmational character : soul :: eucharist : Church

conscientious objection & the principle of least means in statecraft

Note Edwards's arguments throughout the Miscellanies that the angels were only confirmed in holiness at the Ascension. (They often correctly recognize some kind of exaltation, but this is not enough for Edwards's conclusion.)

Anything written on the page must be translated from death to life.

The counterfactual is indefinite by nature, but it can be imagined on the model of a collection of definite things based on causes, logical consistencies, and extrapolated regularities (in various combinations).

In evangelism, those fish are caught who swim near where the nets can go.

common intelligibility as a postulate of community

Hohfield's privileges would be better thought of as permissions and his powers as legal responsibilities and his immunities as exemptions.

Every right is direct to an object considered as good, and is had within a community.

Rights are only as defeasible as the laws that form them.

receiving the created things of the world eucharistically

Most of what St. Paul says he clearly expects others already to know, and also often does not expect his claims would receive any serious challenge form another apostolic line.

(I) Syllogism of Synthetic Medicine: (1) The phenomena we know of this disease are such and such; (2) In case of similar phenomena, such and such method of treatment was found beneficial and another hurtful; (3) Therefore follow the first and not the second method.
(II) Syllogism of Analytic Medicine: (1) The internal and formal causes of the present disease are these or those; (2) Such and such method of cure diminishes or destroys these causes; (3) Therefore that method is sutiable for the treatment of the present disease.

"We say, therefore, that every effect produced in the human body must be considered as the product, not of the agent alone, but of two concurrent causes, the *agent* and the *reagent*. Here *action* is continually accompanied by *reaction*, and the consequent state of the body is merely the result of this action and its accompanying reaction." Rosmini
--> As he notes, this directly implies that no medical effect can be predictable without knowing the state of the body being treated, and imprecision or uncertainty in the latter increases the imprecision and uncertainty of the prediction.

Concern for the happiness of one's neighbor is largely built out of local interests, idioms, allegiances, and patriotisms.

2 Maccabees 2:17 -- the inheritance (kleronomian), the kingship (basileion), the priesthood (hieroteuma), the consecration (hagiasmon)
Romans 9:3-4 -- the adoption (huiothesia), the glory (doxa), the giving of the law (nomothesia), the service of God (latreia), the promises (evangeliai), the fathers (pateres), Christ according to the flesh (Christos to kata sarka)

To reason back from exemplate to exemplar requires assessment of the defective causes relevant to the derivation of exemplate from exemplar.

the probationary/progressive link (stages of a progressive scheme are probationary)

love, joy, and peace as the three modes of Christian prayer

love as an act of charity : faith :: joy as an act of charity : hope :: peace as an act of charity : charity

In romance, the romantic object is made the foreground of a decorative context.
romantic situations as cultural objects, manifesting ideas in mind and documented by dinnres, gifts, flowers, etc.

formal documentations (actions) and material documentations (objects used in actions)

the sacramental economy as an expressive sign of divine holiness

People need more than bare truth; they need ways to express it and apply it.

General Account of Scriptural Text
(1) Testimony as Causal Connection
-- (a) Text as Effect
-- (b) Efficient Causes in Testimonial Connection
-- (c) Defective causes in Testimonial Connection
(2) Testimony as Personal Connection
-- (a) Text as Sign Presented
-- (b) Text as Common Ground (Communication)
-- (c) Testimony as Assurance
-- (d) Text as Manifestation and as Documentation
(3) Custodial Care of the Text
-- (a) Sharing
-- (b) Preserving
-- (c) Teaching
-- (d) Studying
-- (e)  Refractions and Reflections in Other Literature and Art
(4) Reception of the Text
-- (a) Text as Community-Forming and -Shaping
-- (b) Textual Reception as Discipline
-- (c) Textual Reception as Inspiration
-- (d) Textual Analysis and Interpretation
(5) Text as Objective Cause
-- (a) Text as Sign of Object
-- (b) Modes of Presenting Objects
-- (c) Symbolism and Objects as Signs of Objects
-- (d) Shared Objects
-- (e) Motivating Objects
(6) Text as Dispositive Cause
(7) Text as Occasional Cause
-- (a) Divine Communal Movement
-- (b) Divine Individual Movement

Pentecost is not strictly the birth of the Church but its confirmation.

Simply looking at the gospel alone, Augustine's characterization of Mark as an abbreviation is extremely plausible -- Mk does come across at times as an abbreviated summary for a new audience. It's the extrinsic evidence that causes problems for the idea.

The body itself is a practical articulation of our experience.

every conservation law as identifying a PSR for a restricted domain.

Oppression is not some vague miasma but always very specific things.

'Folk theology' is narrative, symbolic, and concerned with patterns and anomalies. This is ineliminable; no matter what further discipline or refinement, this serves as our universal default.

Every passion has a sympathetic mode. We not only feel anger, we can feel angry for others; we not only feel joy, we can feel joy for others.

Christ often heals only because of faith, but it is notable that he does not only heal because of the faith of the one healed.

Something's being a sign of power does not exclude it from being a sign of wisdom or goodness.

"The works of Jesus CHRIST are not arguments of power, we know not waht: they are arguments of the very power he pretended to; because samples of that very power." Turnbull
--> As Turnbull rightly notes, this line of reasoning is entirely independent of any account of what miracles or how they relate to laws of nature.

Human beings can so to speak 'resonate' with those with whom we deal often; we sometimes in this context say that the virtues and vices of others 'rub off' on us.

We learn about people by taking their actions as samples.

Both Mark and John, in different ways emphasize the extraordinary confusion Jesus caused in those around him.

The essential principle of apocalyptic is deeper meaning; it posits deeper meaning to history and exhorts the reader to look for deeper meaning.

Mark 1:1 should be taken very seriously; it is precisely what the gospel shows.

Jesus' temptation in the wilderness as itself a symbol of the Incarnation

pseudo-marks in drawing (extrapolated lines, negative-space lines)

"A conserved quantity -- energy, momentum, etc. -- is an infintie potential and so has minimal actual." Chastek

the Esther vocation of Christian rulers: giving fellow Christians room to defend themselves

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Links of Note

 * James Kalb, The State of Catholicism, at "Chronicles"

* Jack Trotter, Remembering Hilaire Belloc , at "Chronicles"

* Jans Lemanski, Can Non-Causal Explanations Answer the Leibniz Question? (PDF)

* Thomas Nagel, Leader of the Martians, at "London Review of Books", looks at the life of J. L. Austin during World War II.

* Chris Tweedt, Absolute Identity and the Trinity (PDF)

* Landon D. C. Elkind and Richard Zach, The Genealogy of 'v' (PDF)

* Miranda Aldhouse-Green, The secret life of Druids, at ""

* Thomas A. Blackson, Believing for Practical Reasons in Plato's Gorgias (PDF)

* Michael Gibson, Chariots of Philosophical Fire, at "City Journal", discusses the role of Oxford in twentieth-century philosophy.

* David P. Hunt, On Augustine's Way Out (PDF)

* Quote Investigator looks into the sources for the quotation, "When People Cease To Believe in God, They Do Not Then Believe in Nothing, But in Anything."

* Hashem Morvarid, Avicenna on common natures and the ground of the categories (PDF)

* The Project Gutenberg Open Audiobook Collection

* Stuart Ford, Preambles Before the Preamble: Rediscovering the Preamble's Role in Constitutional Interpretation (PDF)

Wednesday, September 13, 2023


 Today is the feast of St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church. From Homily 5 on the Gospel of John:

Moses in the beginning of the history and writings of the Old Testament speaks to us of the objects of sense, and enumerates them to us at length. For, In the beginning, he says, God made the heaven and the earth, and then he adds, that light was created, and a second heaven and the stars, the various kinds of living creatures, and, that we may not delay by going through particulars, everything else. But this Evangelist, cutting all short, includes both these things and the things which are above these in a single sentence; with reason, because they were known to his hearers, and because he is hastening to a greater subject, and has instituted all his treatise, that he might speak not of the works but of the Creator, and Him who produced them all. And therefore Moses, though he has selected the smaller portion of the creation, (for he has spoken nothing to us concerning the invisible powers,) dwells on these things; while John, as hastening to ascend to the Creator Himself, runs by both these things, and those on which Moses was silent, having comprised them in one little saying, All things were made by Him. And that you may not think that he merely speaks of all the things mentioned by Moses, he adds, that without Him was not anything made that was made. That is to say, that of created things, not one, whether it be visible or intelligible was brought into being without the power of the Son.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023


 In logic, subalternation is the operation in which from a universal proposition you can infer a particular proposition with the same terms and quality -- e.g., from "All X is Y" you can always get "Some X is Y". As is well known, this plays a role in  the traditional Square of Opposition, but is not found in the modern Square of Opposition.  It's worth thinking through the implications of the difference.

(1) The characteristic principle of subalternation is "Some S is S". Whenever "Some S is S", you always have subalternation, assuming that the rest of your logic is not modified. This is easily shown. For instance, in TFL, in which "All X is Y" is represented as -X+Y and "Some X is Y" is represented as +X+Y, subalternation uses the principle:


The premises add to the conclusion and the particular conclusion derives from one premise that is particular, so it is valid. Likewise in SYLL, in which "All X is Y" is represented as X -> Y and "Some X is Y" is represented as X <- * -> Y:

X -> Y   [premise]
X <- * -> X [subalternation principle]
X <- * -> X -> Y [concatenation]
X <- * -> Y [simplification]

Likewise, Lukasiewicz showed that you can derive the whole of Aristotle's syllogistic just from

All A is A
Some A is A

as well as Barbara and Datisi syllogisms.

Modern predicate logic, then, is a form of logic in which it is assumed that "Some A is A" need not be true -- that, for instance, "Some dogs are dogs" is not necessarily right. The traditional logic assumes that "Some A is A" is a necessary truth.

(2) Besides subalternation, the other relations of opposition are contradiction, contrariety. and subcontrariety. Any Square of Opposition that has both contradiction and contrariety will have subalternation. Suppose that A ("All S is P" is contradictory to O ("Some S is not P") and contrary to E ("No S is P") and that E is contradictory to I ("Some S is P") and contrary to A. Then from the truth of A we can include that E is false, since contraries cannot both be true; from E's being false we can conclude that I is true, since contradictories cannot both be false. The same reasoning follows for subalternation of O from E, if we start with E.

Thus in the modern Square of Opposition, which still has the same contradictories but lacks subalternation, contrariety must be lacking as well, which it is. In the modern logic it is assumed that "All S is P" and "No S is P" can both be true; in the traditional logic this is assumed to be impossible.

(3) The fundamental reason for the modern Square's difference is a very curious and quite arbitrary choice that was made to treat particular propositions as existential propositions (they imply that the subject term exists) and universal propositions as conditional propositions (with "All A is B" being translated as "If something is A, it is B"). Conditional propositions can be true even if their antecedent is false, so universal affirmative and negative propositions are not contraries, and you can't get "Something exists that is A and is B" from "If something is A, it is B". 

This weird division between universal and particular is logically consistent (although you have to tweak the rules of inference slightly), but it is far from being the most natural way to build the Square -- the most natural way to build the Square of Opposition is to assume either that they all imply the existence of their subject terms or that none of them do. Both of these assumptions give us something consistent (Aristotle, using mereological analogies, seems to have assumed that the subject term always in some sense exists, although he is fairly generous about what counts as existing, and free logic assumes that none of the categorical propositions are existential), and in both we can have subalternation. It's only when our account of universal propositions is not unified with our account of particular propositions that subalternation becomes impossible to accept as a logical rule. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Sunday, September 10, 2023


 To say that something is 'potential' is to say that it has a particular sort of relation by which the actuality of something is possible for it. It is, in short, a relative term. Because of this, it can actually be applied to very different things as long as the relation is maintained.

Sometimes when we say that something is potential for X, we are saying that it is related to X by a lack of actuality that X's actuality could complete; X's actuality is only a possibility that can happen to it. This is potentiality in the strictest sense; in this sense something is potential precisely insofar as it is lacking in actuality. This potentiality is, so to speak, the capability of the thing that has it to be caused in some way.

However, at other times, we mean instead an actuality that can be the source of the actuality of other things, so that X's actuality is possible insofar as it is related to that source. Thus we might say that the sun has the potential to bring forth life; this bringing forth of life is not the actualization of any lack in the sun but something whose actuality is possible because the sun's superabundant activity is what can actualize it.

These two potentialities are very different, but often confused; recognizing the distinction can clear up many difficulties, not just with respect to discussions of the potential but similar discussions of power and disposition and capability and the like.