Friday, October 06, 2023

Dashed Off XXIX

 In our extant Norse stories, Thor is associated with thunder and lightning only once (the duel with Hrungnir).

Norse myths treat the gods as warrior-aristocrats, not as allegories; they have certain associations, but no attempt is made to treat them in a manner wholly consistent with any kind of 'portfolio' of divine authority. Instead, they are like nobles with special skills.

the hierarchy of generous giving, converging at the limit to God, who gives not for profit but only wholly out of goodness

Every kind of inquiry posits a kind of freedom appropriate to it.

"Most people are other people." Wilde

the Ring of Gyges as a warning about pedagogy

Snorri thinks Alfheim is in Asgard; this may also be true of Vanaheim.
Niflheim and Asgard are under two of the three roots of Yggdrasill; Muspell *might* be under the third, although this is never stated.

The slavering of the bound Fenris, his mouth propped open by a sword, is called 'hope', the only thing in Norse myth associated with hope.

Odin, Honir, Lothur: Lothur is most probably another name for Loki (Odin is often called 'Loki's friend', but also 'Lothur's friend', and the Odin, Honir, Loki trio is also common).
Lopt is another name for Loki; it probably has some connection to 'praise' (as 'Loki' itself may).

All falsehood has some form of likeness to the truth.

"Inasmuch as man gives himself to the study of wisdom, so much does he have already some part of true beatitude." Aquinas

In the long run, no one can hold what he does not love.

Postmodernism is more a speculative posit than an actual thing.

The stability of promises is affected by how composite the promiser is; the simpler, the more stable the promise can be.

The end of philosophy is a way of life that is divine, eternal, and that to which all of human life is proportioned.

suspension of disbelief vs abeyance of disbelief

play as exercise in discovering and handling nonscheduled use of instruments

Rashi takes 'under the sun' in Ecc 1:3 to be toil not devoted to Torah (the Torah being associated with light, Pr 6:23). This continues through the passage.

Sighing of sighings, all is sighing.
There is no profit to toil, but one should enjoy one's lot.

Self-evident truths must be republished from time to time; it doesn't matter how self-evident something is, if people don't think about it when it is relevant for preventing or diagnosing mistakes.

Does Matthew parallel Christ's life and Israel's?
Birth : Call of Abraham :: Flight to Egypt : Exodus :: Baptism and Temptation : Wandering in the Wilderness :: Sermon on the Mount : Sinai ??
-- this is at least suggested for the Flight by 'Out of Egypt'.

In Matthew's version of the Temptation, Jesus first protects himself from temptation of need by quoting Scripture; in response, the devil tempts him again by quoting Scripture. Jesus quotes Scripture in response, but one that particularly highlights his person, so the devil responds with a temptation in terms of his person. In Luke's version, on the other hand, when Jesus quotes that man shall not live by bread alone, the devil tempts him by offering much more than bread alone. When Jesus clarifies that the true 'more' is worship of God, which is reserved for God, the devil responds by a challenge to his person and mission with respect to God, which Christ responds to with a quote referencing his person.

Matthew shows Jesus as inhabiting the world of Torah in a unique way. (Jesus as personation of Torah)

"We are hestitant about divine things, and therefore require outward symbols." Peter Martyr Vermigli

As we believe in order to understand, so we signify in order to believe.

Ephesians 2:6 -- Christ's Session is also our session by way of Christ.

By faith we recognize things, but faith does not consist in any recognition by us.

free will as from God to God

Very few communities simply emerge; usually, we either enter one that already exists or we deliberately cooperate with others to construct it.

Our belonging to a group is never wholly a matter of our own responses.

the face or countenance as deontic possibility
We relate to other people, even casual strnagers, as subsisting deontic possibilities. To enter into a community is to enter into a field of deontic possibilities.
These deontic possibilities imply freedom in those with whom we interact, a range of non-necessitated possible action. They also imply the possibility of mutually free cooperative action.
A person is something with whom you can join.

"'Tis goodness alone that can create or lay any foundation for truth." George Turnbull

In history as in everyday life, to condemn before taking pains to understand is the mark of a fool.

The Christian scholar is ultiamtely judged as scholar not on the extent of his scholarly contribution but on the purity and honesty of his scholarly intention.

Logic is the skeleton of inquiry but ethics is the living flesh.

Ancient and modern historians alike use fictional techniques, but in general ancient historians use them in in 'chunkier' ways, while modern historians are very concerned to interweave them.

Every attempt to ban harmful speech also bans harmless speech in its vicinity, whether because it shares the same topic, or because it reflects on the bad even while valuing it as bad, or because it uses the same means or venues, or because it sounds similar to the ear of the ignorant and uninformed, or because the mechanisms of enforcement lack surgical precision and are clumsy, or because errors lurk in application that have not yet been discovered, or because people with agendas abuse the system.

To be a Christian is by nature to be a student.

The Holy Spirit is the Magisterium of all magisteria, the most magisterial Magisterium. The Church participates in the Spirit's teaching in various ways, and thorugh this is itself magisterial.

The historian can't avoid fictional techniques because the historican needs to appeal to the imagination in order to give people the resources for understanding.

"that Harmony and Consistency of Affections and Manners which create Peace and Joy within, and command Respect and Love from all around" Turnbull
"Nature did nothing in vain, whether in the material or moral world: Whatever Foundations it hath laid for Art to work upon, are well intended."

On philological grounds, Thor's original name must have been something like Fjorgynn; while this name is found in extant Norse poetry, it is not anywhere associated with him, suggesting that he may have been detached from his name at some point.

" body is recognized by its power to give me 'double sensations'." Merleau-Ponty
"There is an erotic 'comprehension' not of the order of understanding, since understanding subsumes an experience, once perceived, under some idea, while desire comprehends blindly by linking body to body."

All genuine intellectuals are intellectual in different ways. If you are an intellectual, you are a strange bird, and one intellectual is an alien species to another.

The Norse seem to have had a measure of time, marriage-night, which was three nights long.

'Life isn't fair,' the hero said,
'but we can make it fair
with a bit of work and care,'
as he chopped off everyone's head.

People become bigots for causes they think are righteous, and that the causes are thought righteous is taken as proof that they are not bigots.

Repentance, which builds our mortality, is completed only in death.

"We are delighted with Analogy, we are exceedingly charm'd with Unity amidst variety; and hence we are determined to seek after Unity and Regularity, or, in one word, settled Analogies and general laws." Turnbull

Dignity is not struggle, but there can be dignity in struggle; the dignity, however, derives from virtues and aspirations.

Who has no force or power is impeded from aspiring.

We can only find dignity through other things to the extent we already have dignity within.

Rage is the emotion of a wounded animal; it is not the expression of an unbreakable spirit, but a broken one. It must not be confused with just indignation or the surge of thymos in the face of aggression or domination.

Anger is something that can only be used if kept within well defined bounds.

Symphonies of any kind are only possible through discipline.

The love that can be used as a resource for something else is an imperfect love. Perfect love, complete love, is not exhausted by any usefulness.

A perpetual temptation of social movements is to treat simple flowerings of life as if they did not really matter.

When people say 'system', one should often just translate it as 'a bunch of stuff together', because that is often what is meant.

It is by order that a member of a society is able tot act on the basis of that society.

"Nature may be imitated two ways, by ingenious Arts; and in Life and Manners. And Man will be found fitted for both these kinds of Imitation by teh same Powers, Faculties, and Senses that render him capable of contemplating and understanding Nature." Turnbull
"There is implanted in our Minds not only a strong desire of understanding Nature's Methods of Operation, and all its various Appearances, but also a very strong Disposition to imitate Nature, emulate it, and vie with it; and thus to become as it were Creators ourselves."

desire for knowledge : prudence :: social feeling : justice :: sense of greatness : fortitude :: sense of beauty and decorum : temperance

(1) Reason posits itself. (Reason is always an end for reason.)
(2) Reason posits a world. (It posits itself as within a rational system.)
(3) Reason posits a community. (It posits itself as with other reason, as communicative.)

Reason posits rational system because it aims for understanding.

Being, insofar is it is good, summons us to love.

Creation, by imitation, manifests procession as an aspect of God.

Through Scripture and through participation in the Church, we see our philosophical reasonings in new light.

created world as a whole, as a cosmos
Ps 8:6, Is 44:29 Jn 1:10, Rm 1:20, Acts 11:24, Col 1:16, Eph 3:9, Rv 4:11, 1 Cor 8:6, Rm 11:36

"The aim of creation is history." Karl Barth

Reid on first principles: "They require not proof, but to be placed in a proper point of view."

We have a sort of defeasible obligation to take human testimony as serious evidence.

It is easy to participate in ceremony without feeling, but some feelings find no adequate expression outside of ceremony.

"The cosmos created by God exists as such in light." Barth
"In the heart of nature light is the symbol of the revelation of grace."
"Time is the natural predicate of light, and therefore of divine self-revelation."

No one is more dangerous than the pure of heart.

manifestation, distinction, and adornment as the three aspects of covenant

Most things that are wrong are wrong not in themselves but because they are inappropriate to their circumstances.

Counterfactuals do not generate only one sphere of resembling possible worlds.

conscientious objection and the dignity of causality

"A philosopher ought, no doubt, to be above vulgar prejudices, but he cannot, with safety to his own character, set himself above the common sense of mankind. His business is not to confound the ignorant and unthinking with paradoxical opinions, but to pursue his inquiries, until he arrive at things in which men of judgment can rest." Oswald

Beattie criticizes Hume on his racism because Beattie himself is egalitarian, but also because common sense philosophy is itself egalitarian, and opposes skepticism like Hume's on egalitarian grounds, defending the right of pauper as well as of philosopher, of black as well as white, to judge, through our common humanity.

The parts of a work of art do not have to be useful to us, but they do in some way have to be useful to the work of art.

"The Artist cannot bring all Nature into his Piece; he must therefore imitate the Whole of Nature in his Work, by chusing a noble, a great, and a beautiful Plan, and by adapting and disposing every particular part of his Piece in the manner that may best suit to the main End of the Whole." Turnbull
"For if we reflect upon the End and Use of Samples or Experiments in Philosophy, it will immediately appear that Pictures are such, or that they must have the same Effect." Turnbull

A work of art is a chaos coaxed into being a cosmos.

A first principle of Catholic ecumenism is that even Peter's shadow heals.

NB that the pastoral requirements imposed on the Gentiles by the Council of Jerusalem are imposed so that Jewish Christans would not be forced to separate from them.

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Schlegel on Faith, Hope, and Love

 Properly, the three elements of higher life are inseparable; and it is therefore extremely difficult to propound any invariable law applying to individual cases, as to the order in which these three grades of internal development must or ought always to succeed one another. Essentially they are one and indissoluble. As faith and hope are based upon love, so is love dependent on both the former; and this is as true of genuine love on earth as it is of that which lives in a higher domain. If its faith be hostilely disturbed, then it loses its hope also, and the very root of its existence. If hope is entirely cut off, it does not, indeed, lose thereby faith itself, and its object, but it preys on itself. 

[ Friedrich von Schlegel, Philosophy of Language, Morrison, tr., pp. 478-479.]

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Eite oun esthiete, eite pinete, eite ti poieite

 Whether therefore you eat or drink or anything you do, do all to God's glory. Be harmless to Jews and to Greeks and to God's church, as I also always in all things please, not seeking my own advantage but that of the many, that they may be healed. Be my imitators in the way I too [am] Christ's. I praise you in that in all things you have remembered me and are holding down the traditions that I have traditioned to you. And I want you to remember that Christ is the head of every man, and the man head of woman, and God head of Christ. Any man offering prayer or prophesying down on [the] head, shames his head; any woman offer prayer or prophesying with the head uncovered, shames her head, for it is one and the same with having been shaved. For if a woman does not cover, let her be shaved, and if shameful for a woman to be shaved or sheared, let her cover. For indeed a man ought not to cover the head, being the image and glory of God; and the woman is man's glory. For man is not out of woman, but woman out of man. For likewise man was not formed through the woman but woman through the man. Through this, the woman ought to have authority upon the head, through the messengers. Nevertheless, neither is woman separate from man, nor is man separate from woman, in the Lord. For just as the woman is out of the man, so the man through the woman, but all things out of God. Decide for yourselves: is it fitting for woman to offer prayer to God uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man is tressed, it is dishonor to him, and if woman is tressed, it is her glory? For the tress is given to her in place of a veil. If any seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do God's churches.

[1 Corinthians 10:31-11:16, my very, very, very, very rough translation. The chapter division here, I think, is very misleading; 11:1 cannot be correctly understood at all except in terms of what comes immediately before, and I think the end of 1 Corinthians 10 is essential as well to the rest of the passage. To say that some of the Greek here is difficult is an understatement. The word kata used of the head, literally means 'down', but it's one of those prepositions that can mean a number of things. In the sentence about men offering prayer and prophesying, considering only it, it could mean 'against', but 'kata' is also a part of the word later used for uncovered, akatakalypto; in this usage it means not-covered-down, in something like the way we would say 'not covered up'. Most translations therefore take it to indicate a covering; I'm not wholly convinced that this is so, and suspect that there is some difficult double sense here, but I don't have a better account. The point about shaving is often taken to be related to the fact that a shaved head was the penalty for an adulteress or prostitute; if this is the case, Paul's concern might possibly be wives acting in a way that Jews and Gentiles would both have associated with unmarried women (and perhaps of a rather unrespectable kind) or at least in a way inconsistent with what would have been seen appropriate for a married woman -- the words 'man' and 'woman' throughout could be translated 'husband' and 'wife'. If I were doing a less wooden translation here, I would be inclined to do this; but for my purposes here, I did not want to commit without something more definite in the passage. But it's worth noting that St. Augustine in discussing this passage argues that St. Paul is specifically referring to marriage customs, and not making any general comments about women, whom, of course, he argues are equally in the image of God.

Literally nobody knows what the angels (messengers) are doing in the passage, in part because Paul doesn't explain it at all, but quite clearly takes it to be obvious. That might suggest that we should see it as a reference to human messengers, and some have suggested that it means envoys from other churches. That would fit with the previous comment about being blameless with respect to the church and the later comment about the custom of the churches; but while others in the New Testament use the word this way, that's not usually how Paul uses it. Some people have the view that it's a comment about hierarchy -- angels being higher than us in the hierarchy -- but Paul quite clearly stated the hierarchies he had in mind, and the angels weren't mentioned then. It was a common Jewish belief (and has always been the Christian belief) that the angels were involved in worship, and this is definitely a context in which worship is involved, and indeed, the whole context has to do at least broadly with matters of worship, which is why I translated with 'offering prayer' rather than just 'praying', since it seems to be clearly indicating specifically a kind of prayer that, like prophesying, would serve a formal function in church life. If that's in view, Paul may be indicating the dignity of the occasion; some suggest he is saying that we should imitate the angels in worship, but that seems to me to make even less sense of the passage, particularly if we translate in terms of 'husband' and 'wife'. Again, Paul quite clearly is taking it to be obvious, since it's part of a rhetorical argument that keeps emphasizing things as obvious, and I think this is the primary, even if not very informative clue: whatever he means has to be either obvious from context, in which case church envoys are probably meant, or from a very common belief, which may or may not be the case with any of the proposals about angels.]

Monday, October 02, 2023

Learning to Love

Nietzsche is very uneven, but one of his very best passages is section 334 of The Gay Science, on learning to love, using music as an example:

One must learn to love -- This is what happens to us in music: First one has to learn to hear a figure and melody at all, to detect and distinguish it, to isolate and delimit it as a separate life. Then it requires some exertion and good will to tolerate it in spite of its strangeness, to be patient with its appearance and expression, and kindhearted about its oddity. Finally there comes a moment when we are used to it, when we wait for it, when we sense that we should miss it if it were missing; and now it continues to compel and enchant us relentlessly until we have become its humble and enraptured lovers who desire nothing better from the world than it and only it.

So the basic steps here are:

(1) learning to hear, in a way that detects and distinguishes it;
(2) toleration and patience with its strangeness;
(3) loving it.

Nietzsche continues:

But that is what happens to us not only in music. That is how we have learned to love all things that we now love. In the end we are always rewarded for our good will, our patience, fairmindedness, and gentleness with what is strange; gradually, it sheds its veil and turns out to be a new and indescribable beauty. That is its thanks for our hospitality. Even those who love themselves will have learned it in this way; for there is no other way. Love, too, has to be learned.

Allowing for Nietzsche's tendency to hyperbole, I think this is quite insightful. These steps are generally how love develops for all forms of art, including many things that we don't always think of as arts, like those concerned with argument or social interaction. It's a bit less clear, contrary to Nietzsche's confident claim in the second paragraph, that this is true of all kinds of love; I think there is a good reason, particularly when the love concerns people, to think that some love precedes the learning for it.

[Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Walter Kaufman, tr., Vintage Books (New York: 1974) p. 262.]

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Fortnightly Book, October 1

 Michael F. Flynn passed away on September 30, 2023. Born in Easton, Pennsylvania, he received his B.A. in mathematics at La Salle University and his M.S. in topology at Marquette University, and had a career as an industrial statistician specializing in quality control. He had an extensive and quite successful career as a science fiction author, and of course, he was active online. I had many, many interesting discussions with him on a wide variety of topics.

For the fortnightly book, therefore, I will be doing my very favorite of his works, In the Country of the Blind. The book was originally published in 1990. It was revised in 2001, to make a few modifications and particularly to update names -- like changing 'DataNet' to the term that actually ended up becoming common, 'Internet'. I'll be re-reading the revised edition, which also includes an essay by Flynn, "An Introduction to Cliology", on various ways in which mathematics can be applied to social phenomena.

The essential idea behind In the Country of the Blind is that in the nineteenth century a number of American mathematicians were intrigued by Charles Babbage's work both on the application of statistics to social phenomena and on the mechanization of mathematical reasoning; they formed the Babbage Society, which discovered how to predict the future mathematically, and has been operating behind the scenes ever since. When Sarah Beaumont, a real estate developer with a talent for computer programming, stumbles onto evidence of their existence, the world will never be the same again....

The Little Flower

 Today is the commemoration for St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face, also known as Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church. From The Story of a Soul, Chapter 1:

For a long time I wondered why God showed partiality, why all souls don't receive the same amount of graces....

Jesus consented to teach me this mystery. He placed before my eyes the book of nature; I understood that all the flowers that he created are beautiful. The brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily don't take away the perfume of the lowly violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.... I understood that if all the little flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose its springtime adornment, and the fields would not longer be sprinkled with little flowers....

So it is in the world of souls, which is Jesus' garden. He wanted to create great saints who would be compared to lilies and roses. But He also created little ones, and these ought to be content to be daisies or violets destined to gladden God's eyes when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wants us to be....

I understood that Our Lord's love is revealed as well in the simplest soul who doesn't resist His grace in anything, as in the most sublime of souls....

[St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul, Robert J. Edmonson, tr., Paraclete Press (Brewster, MA: 2006), pp. 2-3.]