Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Countless Rays of Heavenly Glory

We Are Wiser Than We Know
by Charles Mackay

 I. Thou, who in the midnight silence
 Lookèst to the orbs on high,
 Feeling humbled, yet elated,
 In the presence of the sky;
 Thou, who minglest with thy sadness
 Pride ecstatic, awe divine,
 That e'en thou canst trace their progress
 And the law by which they shine, --
Intuition shall uphold thee,
 E'en though Reason drag thee low;
 Lean on faith, look up rejoicing --
 We are wiser than we know. 

 II. Thou, who hearest plaintive music,
 Or sweet songs of other days;
 Heaven-revealing organs pealing,
 Or clear voices hymning praise,
 And wouldst weep, thou know'st not wherefore,
 Though thy soul is steeped in joy,
 And the world looks kindly on thee,
 And thy bliss hath no alloy, --
Weep, nor seek for consolation;--
 Let the heaven-sent droplets flow, 
They are hints of mighty secrets --
We are wiser than we know. 

 III. Thou, who in the noon-tide brightness
 Seest a shadow undefined;
 Hear'st a voice that indistinctly
 Whispers caution to thy mind:
 Thou, who hast a vague foreboding
 That a peril may be near,
 E'en when Nature smiles around thee,
 And thy Conscience holds thee clear,
 Trust the warning-look before thee --
Angels may the mirror show,
 Dimly still, but sent to guide thee --
We are wiser than we know. 

 IV. Countless chords of heavenly music,
 Struck ere earthly Time began,
 Vibrate in immortal concord
 Through the answering soul of man:
 Countless rays of heavenly glory
 Shine through spirit pent in clay --
On the wise men at their labours,
 On the children at their play.
 Man has gazed on heavenly secrets,
 Sunned himself in heavenly glow,
 Seen the glory, heard the music, --
We are wiser than we know.

Bonaventure for Lent XIII

Now no one despises the supreme Principle or its command in itself, but only because such a person either wants to acquire or fears to lose something other than God. This is why all actual sin may be traced back to these two roots, namely fear and love. They are the roots of evil deeds, even though they are not equally primary.

For all fear has its origin in love, since no one is afraid of losing something unless that person loves it.

[Bonaventure, Breviloquium 3.9.3-4, Monti, tr., Franciscan Institute Publications (St. Bonaventure, NY: 2005) p. 122.]

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Harp of Narekavank

 Today was the feast of St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church. He was born in the Kingdom of Vaspurakan, on the border between modern-day Turkey and Iran, around Lake Van, a very large salt lake. This area was one of the major cultural centers of medieval Armenia. He spent most of his life at the Monastery of Narek (Narekavank), which had one of the Armenian Church's major schools, where he taught theology.

From his Litany for the Church: 

 Treasure of profound goodness, desired, discovered, and concealed, absolute fullness that gathers everyone, never wanting, hardly differing from heaven above: Your altar extends beyond its space--into the inaccessible ether, your boundaries are marked by the fiery hosts beyond the chasm; immeasurable image of compassionate care, glorious throne of the King on high, beyond imagination. Please accept our prayers of petition with befitting incense offered in this place, the holy church, we plead. 

 [Gregory of Narek, The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek, Terian, tr. Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN: 2016) p. 93.]

Links of Note

 * Eveline Groot, Public Opinion and Political Passions in the Work of Germaine de Staël (PDF)

* Terry Eagleton, Seeds of What Ought to Be, at "London Review of Books", reviews Richard Bourke's Hegel's World Revolutions.

* Qiong Wu, Alethic modality is deontic (PDF)

* Paul Shrimpton, 'Conscience Before Conformity': What the White Rose Students Can Teach Today's Young Scholars, at "National Catholic Register

* Stephen Harrop, Wisdom and Beatitude in Spinoza and Qoheleth (PDF)

* William Briggs, David Deutsch Rediscovers the Worst Argument in the World. ('The Worst Argument in the World' is a name given by David Stove to arguments of the general form, "We can only know things in such-and-such relation to us, therefore we cannot know things in themselves.")

* Ian Williams Goddard, A logic and semantics for imperatives (PDF)

* Richard V. Reeves, Why Some Are More Equal Than Others, reviews Darrin M. McMahon's Equality: The History of an Elusive Idea, at "Literary Review".

* Alexandre Billon, Why Are We Certain that We Exist? (PDF). This yields an account that is at least in the general vicinity of Malebranche's.

* Damion Searls, Translating Philosophy: The Case of Wittgenstein's Tractatus, at "Words Without Borders" 

* Jonathan Ichikawa, A Euthyphro Problem for Consent Theory (PDF)

* Abigail Tulenko, Folklore is philosophy, at "Aeon"

Bonaventure for Lent XII

  Concerning the origin of the capital sins, this is a brief statement of what we must hold: that actual sins have one source, two roots, three incentives, and a seven-fold head [caput] or 'capital' sin. The one source is pride, of which it is written: pride is the beginning of all sin. The two roots are a fear that badly restrains and a love that badly desires. The three incentives are the three things this world contains: the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life. Finally, the seven-fold head is: pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony. and lust. Among these, the first five are sins of the spirit, the last two, sins of the flesh.

[Bonaventure, Breviloquium 3.9.1, Monti, tr., Franciscan Institute Publications (St. Bonaventure, NY: 2005) p. 121.]

Monday, February 26, 2024

Bonaventure for Lent XI

 Enter into yourself, therefore, and observe that your soul loves itself most fervently; that it could not love itself unless it knew itself, nor know itself unless it summoned itself to conscious memory, for we do not grasp a thing with our understanding unless it is present in our memory. Hence you can observe, not with the bodily eye, but with the eye of the mind, that your soul has three powers. Consider, therefore, the activities of these three powers and their relationships, and you will be able to see God through yourself as through an image; and this indeed is to see God through a mirror in an obscure manner.

[Bonaventure, Itinerarium Mentis in Deum 3, Boehner, tr. The Franciscan Institute (St. Bonaventure, NY: 1956) 63.]

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Fortnightly Book, February 25

 The next fortnightly book is Sigrid Undset's Saga of Saints. I don't know much about it; it seems to have been published in 1934. It looks at the history of Norway through the stories of the Norwegian saints. The chapter titles are:

1. The Coming of Christianity to Norway
2. Saint Sunniva and the Selje Men
3. Saint Olav, Norway's King to All Eternity
4. Saint Hallvard
5. Saint Magnus, Earl of the Orkney Islands
6. Saint Eystein, Archbishop of Nidaros
7. Saint Thorfinn, Bishop of Hamar
8. Father Karl Schilling (Barnabite)

Karl Schilling is the only post-Reformation Norwegian in the list. Indeed, I wonder if Schilling, now Venerable Karl Schilling, might have been one of the purposes of the book; his cause was only officially opened in 1946, so Undset may have in part wanted to give his story a wider audience, putting it in a broader context. In any case, it should be an interesting Lenten read.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Mortimer J. Adler, Philosopher at Large

 Introduction

Opening Passage:

Reading the Autobiography of John Stuart Mill at the age of fifteen while in the editorial office of the old New York Sun led me to the discovery of Socrates; and this, in turn, formed my early resolution to try to become a philosopher. Though I had not completed high school, I managed to get into Columbia College, where, a year after I entered, John Erskine introduced a course of readings in the great books of Western civilization. That series of fortuitous circumstances, with the addition of one more accident, equally benign, set the stage and pointed the direction for all that subsequently happened in my life. Not quite all, perhaps, but all that belongs to the record of work done and things accomplished. (p. 1)

Summary: Mortimer Jerome Adler was born in Manhattan in 1902; he dropped out of school as a teenager in the hope of becoming a journalist. While reading in order to improve his writing, he became interested in philosophy and went on to study at Columbia University (then Columbia College). He did quite well, for the most part, but refused to satisfy the physical education requirement, which was a swimming test. Adler eventually did learn to swim, at least enough to be serviceable, but never took the swimming test or earned his bachelor's degree. At Columbia, however, he became interested in the General Honors program, developed by John Erskine, which focused on reading a number of classics. Erskine had come up with the idea in providing educational opportunities to soldiers while on a tour of duty in Germany; in what would become a recurring pattern in Adler's own life, he had managed to get the program introduced at Columbia over the vehement resistance of a large portion of the faculty. Adler did well in the program, although perhaps not in a way that would indicate how important it would be for his career; well enough that he was able to get a position as a lab assistant in the Psychology Department and was invited to co-teach a General Honors seminar with his fellow student Mark Van Doren. 

It was while teaching the course with Mark Van Doren that he developed his discussion-focused approach to the classics and first began referring to the course as a 'great books course'. This is in a sense the first major step to the creation of the Great Books movement. The second occurred in the mid-twenties when Adler became involved in the People's Institute. There he met two other people with broadly similar interests, Scott Buchanan (Assistant Director of the People's Institute and later the founder of the St. John's College Great Books program) and Richard McKeon (who, having studied under Etienne Gilson, became a central figure in the revival of interest in medieval philosophy in the United States). The third was meeting and becoming friends with Robert Hutchins, with whom he had an even greater affinity. When Robert Hutchins became President of the University of Chicago at an unusual young age, he was full of visions of reform -- and part of this was an interest in Adler's ideas. He brought Adler to Chicago, over the resistance of a great many of the longstanding faculty at Chicago (he had to hire him as a professor in the law school, where Hutchins as former dean still had some influence, because there was so much resistance to both Hutchins and Adler everywhere else), and together they became allies in a losing fight against many of the Chicago faculty. But in the course of the fight, many of the ideas for developing a Great Books program would become consolidated and developed.

One of the interesting things through it all is a look at a very different academic world than currently exists. It's a world in which university presidents were seen as major intellectual leaders at the national level, in which faculty had a much greater say in how their courses were run than they do today, in which the Faculty Senate was still the real practical authority in a university, in which universities were run like little republics rather than like corporate firms, in which administrative bureaucracy had only a fraction of the role and importance that it currently does. While Adler's course of becoming a professor of law in one of the nation's major universities without a degree, entirely on the strength of some prior work on the philosophy of legal evidence and the enthusiasm of the university president for his pedagogical ideas, was unusual, it was very much a world in which such things could happen. That world is certainly gone. Over and over Adler gets away with things that today would certainly get an academic at the same stage of career fired today. But of course, while the old academic world had many irregularities, it also had a great deal of creativity.

Nonetheless, some things never change, and one of the things that never change is that academics hate, hate, hate being pressured to do something other than what they are used to doing. The Hutchins era at the University of Chicago was an explosion of ideas and plans, and they were all resisted by the faculty who consistently did not like any of the new ideas about how to do things. It did not help that it was the heyday of pragmatism as a philosophy of education, and the plans of Hutchins and Adler were definitely pragmatist. They were seen as regressive and (even worse!) suspiciously Catholic-looking. Despite repeatedly insisting that it was untrue, Hutchins was regularly accused of trying to run the university on Thomistic lines (and I note that Hutchins's Wikipedia page still after all this time still claims that he was trying to reform the university "along Aristotelian-Thomist lines" despite all of Hutchins's protests that his approach was much more general and inclusive than that). Nonetheless, in academia repeated failure sometimes has the same results as success, and the Hutchins plans, repeatedly rejected at the University of Chicago, had significant influence, both direct and indirect, elsewhere. Likewise, after many struggles, the Great Books movement expanded massively for a while after the Second World War, and then began to dwindle; but its effects have often endured.

Adler, of course, eventually became more involved in the creating of The Great Books of the Western World, and a large part of the book is devoted to the story of his development of the Syntopicon, the topic-based index to the set. Adler, in fact, is obsessed with lists and files and indexes; his entire intellectual biography is in a sense a history of lists and files and indexes. But this would stead Adler very well. Given that universities were not particularly welcoming to many of his ideas, his ability to continue doing philosophy outside the standard academic bounds depended crucially on his obsessive focus on order. Philosopher at Large comes from the title of a poem by Mark Van Doren that was dedicated to Adler; one way to take it is precisely as 'philosopher who is not confined but roams among the people'. A significant concern Adler has throughout his career is how to facilitate the education of people, and in practice much of his answer was that you have to build the intellectual infrastructure for it, which he did by his lists and indexes and by cooperating with others to host discussions of great books.

This is very much an intellectual biography; large numbers of biographical details only get passing mention, and many of them in the very last chapter. Personal life only gets discussed to the extent that it is tangled up in one way or another with Adler's lifelong pursuit of solutions to the problem of how to have a truly democratic system of education, which means that, outside his college years (a time when personal and intellectual are unusually tangled), it only occasionally gets mentioned at all. I suspect a reader just sitting down to it, expecting an ordinary biography, would mostly just get the impression that Adler was a very strange bird. Which he was; he lived in a time when people had a lot of tolerance for intellectuals and academics being strange birds, and his obsession with order and method certainly go well beyond what would normally be expected of even most methodical human beings. But the book is really a biography of an approach to education, one that happened to be located in Mortimer Jerome Adler, and when you recognize this, much of it is an interesting exploration of what it means to educate and to be educated.

Favorite Passage:

...While schools of all sorts, from kindergarten to the graduate school, are educational institutions, education should not be identified with schooling. Rightly conceived, education is the process of a lifetime, and schooling, however extensive, is only the beginning of anyone's education, to be completed, not by more attendance at educational institutions in adult years, but rather by the continuation of learning through a wide variety of means during the whole of adult life. Schooling can and should be terminated at a certain time, but education itself cannot be terminated short of the grave.... (pp. 232-233)


Recommendation: It's an odd work, but interesting in its own way; and, particularly if you are interested in matters of education, Recommended.


***

Mortimer J. Adler, Philosopher at Large: An Intellectual Autobiography 1902-1976, Collier Books (New York: 1977).

Bonaventure for Lent X

 ...since the Father brings forth the Son, and through the Son, and together with the Son brings forth the Holy Spirit, God the Father through the Son and with the Holy Spirit is the principle of everything created; for if He did not produce them eternally, He could not produce through anything in time; and therefore He is rightly called the "Fount of Life" by reason of this production within the trinity. "As He has life in Himself, so He grants to the Son to have life in Himself," etc. Therefore it follows that eternal life consists in this alone, that the rational spirit, which emanates from the most blessed trinity and is a likeness of the trinity, should return after the manner of a certain intelligible circle -- through memory, intelligence, and will -- to the most blessed trinity by God-conforming glory.

[Bonaventure, Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity (q. 8 ad 7), Hayes, tr., Franciscan Institute Publications (St. Bonaventure, NY: 2005) p. 266.]

Friday, February 23, 2024

Dashed Off IV

Who loves, seeks out relevant challenges, striving to overcome them for the sake of the beloved. Who loves, seeks to be useful to the one loved.

Human beings lead place-structured lives; we are locative animals, and our memory for places is both very strong and very fine-grained. This is why the method of topical memory works so well; this is why we can walk or drive to familiar places without much thought.

the brain as neuronic indexing system

For the most part, we remember classifications more than particulars.

Centralization often creates a sort of learned helplessness.

The precise measurement of time requries assessment of counterfactuals.

the Seventh Letter as arguing for the importance of faithful friendships to establishing rule of law

processes of traditioning
(1) imitation of known patterns
(2) abstraction and application of principles from prior experiences and events
(3) critical appropriation of external in light of what is consistent with what is received
(4) rigorous analysis and inference
(5) search for anticipatory hints relevant to current problems
(6) maintenance and protection of archive
(7) revival of interest by persuasive means

While their communion is defective, the apostolic sees do maintain a kind of transtemporal communion in that they at least intend to maintain communion with prior versions of each other -- up to Nicaea, up to Ephesus, up to Chalcedon, up to Second Nicaea, or as the case may be. (This is reflected, for instance, in their calendar of saints.)

church architecture as a memory palace for theology

All inquiries depend on things not earned in the inquiry itself.

asceticism as a two-pronged process of respecting the integrity of the soul and respecting the integrity of the body, including teh holy destinations of each

iconodoulia as an expression of love of neighbor

the Good as 'the greatest study'

the Gospel of Mark on the doxastic scandal of Jesus

baptism : letter :: confirmation : signature

'a metaphysics of light and a sociology of shadows' (Ricoeur)

"If sensation is to appear in some way intelligible, the mind must establish itself at the outset in a universe which is not a world of ideas." Marcel
"It is obvious that if I am somebody, a particular individual, I am only so at once in connection with and in opposition to an indefinite number of other somebodies."

"If a person uses religion as a means to experience peace and harmony, he will never acquire that peace and harmony." von Hildebrand
"Disrespect for truth, when not merely a theoeretical thesis, but a lived attitude, patently destroys all morality, even all reasonability and all community life."
"What, precisely, distinguishes the true philosopher from the mere schoolmaster is the consciousness that the plenitude and depth of being surpass incomparably the range of true insights he may have." 
"In order to be great, an artist must have an artistic conscience."

Most of the annoyances of life, even serious ones, are just that, annoyances, and not injustices.

"In a Pope no fault is so small that the nations do not think it enormous." Pius II

The initiation of wise and noble things generally comes from coopreations.

"The transformation of the world of objects into the world of signs is founded on the ontological presupposition that it is possible to make replicas: the reflected image of a thing is cut off from its natural practical associates (space, context, intention, and so on), and can therefore be easily included in the modelling associations of the human consciousness." Lotman

Our respect for rights is modulated by honor; one upholds the rights of the dishonorable, but certainly not in the same way as the honorable.

A fact is constructed by the attempt to articulate something true.

"The historian is a prophet turned to the past." Schlegel

Scientific inquiry always begins kludgy.

indelible chracter as like a lens

the externa world as part of the teloi of our sense organs
-- sensory organs have a world-oriented and a thought-oriented (cognitive) telos

internal referentiality to another: potentiality, participation, finality
mediating referentiality to another: objectivity/intentionality, value
external referentiality to another: signfication, systematicity, design

the body as intrinsic jurisdiction (this is perhaps the grain of truth in self-ownership accounts)

We may cause by receiving a final cause from another or by positing a final cause for another.

Zikkaron in Hebrew seems to suggest perpetuation by sign.

Tribal government is always a part of human government, but tribal articulation can be in greater or lesser degree.

weddings as shared sacred experiences

"Enoch pleased God and was translated into paradise that he may give repentance to the nations." Sir. 44:16
-- Enoch's translation as a type of Christ's ascension

"The principles of faith are fear, mereit, and repentance." Asatir 7:24

People often say 'facts and logic' when they mean 'classifications and rules'.

Bereshith Rabbah 17: Dream is th eunripe fruit of prophecy.

prophethood as part of our destinate condition, but lost with original jutstice, only had since sporadically and incompletely by divine grace

Zelazny's Roadmarks as a depiction of authorial process in writing

Maimonides Guide 40: prophecy vs plagiarism

Maimonides: the bat-kol as like an echo of prophecy, which comes to those not prepared for prophecy

"It is clear that everything produced must have an immediate cause which produced it; that cause again a cause, and so on, till the First Cause, viz. the will and decree of God, is reached." Maimonides, Guide 48

The Structure of The Guide for the Perplexed
Part I: Preliminaries -- Negative Theology (the intellectual discipline required for interpreting the Mysteries of the Chariot and of Creation)
Part II: Preliminaries -- General Account of Prophecy (positive knowledge required for interpreting Chariot & Creation)
Part III: The Mysteries of the Chariot and of Creation

"Man has free will; it is therefore intelligible that the Law contains commands and prohibitions, with announcements of reward and punishment." Maimonides
-- This summarizes part of the Mu'tazilite position, but the point seems shared by the Jewish position M. describes; the difference of the two is in the ground of reward and punishment -- divine Wisdom for Mu'tazilites, divine justice and human merit for Jews.

-- Maimonides takes it to be significant that Job, while said to be righteous, is not said to be wise.

It is a natural impulse to want to harmonize the saints; done badly, it falsifies, but done well, it is the enrichment of the Church.

-- black holes can be completely specified by mass, charge, and spin
-- the analogy between thermodynamics and black hole mechanics (entropy // area of event horizon, temperature // surface gravity)

"Not every natural License, or Poewr of doing a Thing, is properly a *Right*; but such only as includes some moral Effect, with regard to others, who are Partners with me in the same Nature." Pufendorf

The major principle governing Christian response to any culture is that human nature is disordered, that the human person is out of true and errant.

the government-funded class

The Church teaches the same truths by means both fallible and infallible.

Bonaventure for Lent IX

 Since the First Principle is most exalted and utterly perfect, it follows that in it are found the highest and most universal properties of being to the highest degree. These are the one, the true, and the good, which are not associated with being in its supposits but with its very principle. For 'one' describes being as numerable, and this is because it is not susceptible of division in itself; 'true,' as intelligible, and this by virtue of being inseparabel from its proper form; and 'good,' as communicable, and this by reason of being inseparable from its proper operation. This triple indivisibility has a logical ordering in that the true presupposes the one, and the good presupposes the one as well as the true. Thus it follows that these three qualities, as being perfect and transcendental, are attributed to the First Principle to the highest degree, and, as having an orderly reference, are attributed to the three persons.

[Bonaventure, Breviloquium 1.6.2, Monti, tr., Franciscan Institute Publications (St. Bonaventure, NY: 2005) pp. 45-46.]

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Three Poem Drafts

 The Consolations of Discomfort

A deer is bounding, forest-hidden,
a hunter races forth with speed.
On hill, through dale, pursuit unending,
a rest I seek to quell my need.
The wind, inconstant, plays and teases
through boughs and leaves of restless trees,
and I, inconstant, ever-driven,
am seeking emptiness to please.
The bow sends out a sudden arrow;
the deer untouched it passes by;
this craving, driving, heart's own yearning
through paths of empty air will fly.
I stumble, stutter, and am clumsy
as feet are aching, worn and sore;
the pain is like a close companion,
a memory of something more.
Exhaustion makes my heart grow humble
as weariness impedes my pride,
reminds me of my ache-filled folly,
of Adam old who has not died.
The legs exhausted homeward wander;
in ache I wish to reach my end.
The weary roads are swiftest highways
and heavenward most surely bend.


Morris in Ashdown

The boots are on and the bells a-song
where the feet are quick on the Ashdown lawn;
the flutes are bright and the banners white
as the sticks a-play in the dawning light
make the day aflame in the morning.

The world that sings as the white flags fling
is a holy thing and a court for kings;
and you and I with our hats a-fly
are the truly crowned 'neath a splendid sky
as the day is bright in the morning.


On Montale's Translations of Shakespeare

With blandishment on thereby gilded peaks
the eye of morning shines in sovereign sway,
flirting with meadows green and gold,
by some strange alchemy turning base to noble.
Then fumes rise and cloud that heavenly brow;
the star in shame flees desolately westward,
hiding in obscurity its now-veiled face.
--- At dawn I knew the sun; and victory,
his victory, shone brightly upon me,
but only for one hour, alas, he stayed,
thus rapt into twisted and entangled clouds.
I contemn him not; surely a sun terrestrial
is allowed to darken like a sun celestial.

Bonaventure for Lent VIII

 Would you obtain patience to bear up against adversities, be assiduous in prayer. Would you obtain strength to overcome trials and temptations, be assiduous in prayer. Would you become acquainted with the subtle deceits of Satan in order to avoid them, would you cheerfully persist in the service of God, and tread the paths of mortification and affliction for his sake; woudl you renounce all carnal desires, and wholly betake yourself to a spiritual life, be assiduous in prayer. If you wish to destroy evil thoughts, be a man of prayer. If you are desirous to enrich your mind with holy reflections, and your heart with virtuous, fervent, and pious desires, be a man of prayer. If you are willing to strengthen your good purposes with manly resolution and steady perseverance, be a man of prayer. In a word, whether you mean to extirpate vice from, or implant virtue in your breast, make prayer your constant study.

[Bonaventure, Life of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Chapter XXXVI), in Saint Bonaventure: A Collection, Aeterna Press (2016) pp. 155-156.]

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Weeds

 As much as legislators and founders of states ought to be honoured and respected among men, as much ought the founders of sects and factions to be detested and hated; because the influence of faction is directly contrary to that of laws. Factions subvert government, render laws impotent, and beget the fiercest animosities among men of the same nation, who ought to give mutual assistance and protection to each other. And what should render the founders of parties more odious is, the difficulty of extirpating these weeds, when once they have taken root in any state. They naturally propagate themselves for many centuries, and seldom end but by the total dissolution of that government, in which they are sown. They are, besides, plants which grow most plentifully in the richest soil; and though absolute governments be not wholly free from them, it must be confessed, that they rise more easily, and propagate themselves faster in free governments, where they always infect the legislature itself, which alone could be able, by the steady application of rewards and punishments, to eradicate them.

[David Hume, Of Parties in General.]

Bonaventure for Lent VII

 Not only is Wisdom capable of knowing [all things]: it is the very principle of knowing. Therefore, it is called 'light,' as being the principle of knowing all that is known; 'mirror,' as being the principle of knowing all that is seen and approved; 'exemplar,' as being the principle of all that is foreseen and disposed; 'book of life,' as being the principle of knowing all that is predestined and reprobated. For divine Wisdom is the 'book of life,' considering things insofar as they proceed from God; 'the mirror,' considering things as they follow their course;  and the 'light,' from all these perspectives simultaneously. Now under the concept of 'exemplar,' we also use other terms, such as 'idea,' 'word,' 'art,' and 'reason.'

[Bonaventure, Breviloquium (1.8.2), Monti, tr., Franciscan Institute Publications (St. Bonaventure, NY: 2005) p. 50.]

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Bonaventure for Lent VI

 The manifold meaning of Scripture is also appropriate to its source. For it came from God, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, who spoke through the prophets and the other holy people who committed this teaching to writing. Now God speaks not with words alone, but also through deeds, because with God to say is to do, and to do is to say. All created things, being the result of God's action, point towards their cause. So, in Scripture, which has been handed on to us by God, deeds no less than words have meaning.

[Bonaventure, Breviloquium, prol.4, Monti, tr., Franciscan Institute Publications (St. Bonaventure, NY: 2005) p. 15.]

Monday, February 19, 2024

Links of Note

 * James Kalb, Remembering Augusto del Noce, at "Chronicles"

* Ariel Melamedoff, Modal Metaphysics and the Priority of Causes in Hume's Treatise (PDF)

* Barbara M. Sattler, What About Plurality? Aristotle's Discussion of Zeno's Paradoxes (PDF)

* Sandrine Bergès, Against power, at "Aeon", on Sophie de Grouchy's political writings

* Eugene Chislenko, The whitewashing of blame (PDF)

* Jonathan Rée, Like a Top Hat, at "London Review of Books", reviews Émile Perreau-Saussine's intellectual biography of MacIntyre

* Shane Duarte, Leibniz and Prime Matter (PDF)

* Eveline Groot, Public Opinion and Political Passions in the Work of Germaine de Staël (PDF)

* George Yancy, What Can Deaf Philosophy Teach the World -- and How Will It Change It?, at "truthout", interviews Teresa Blankmeyer Burke

* Stefano Bacin, Morality as Both Objective and Subjective: Baumgarten's Way to Moral Realism and Its Impact on Kant (PDF)

* Luka Ivan Jukic, Why Scotland lost its tongue, at "Engelsberg ideas"

* Howard Sankey, Taxonomic incommensurability (PDF)

* Jakub Jirsa, Divine Activity and Human Life (PDF), on Aristotle's account of eudaimonia

* Edward Feser, Avicenna, Aquinas, and Leibniz on the argument from contingency

* Devinder Pal Singh, Concept of God in Guru Nanak's Hymns (PDF)

* Richard Y Chappell, Philosophy's Digital Future, at "Good Thoughts"

Bonaventure for Lent V

 The procedure of Sacred Scripture -- unlike the other sciences -- is not confined by the laws of reasoning, defining, or making distinctions, nor is it limited to only one aspect of the universe. Rather, it proceeds, by supernatural inspiration, to give us human wayfarers as much knowledge as we need to achieve salvation. And so, in language that is sometimes literal, sometimes symbolic, as in a kind of summa, it describes the contents of the entire universe, and so covers the breadth; it narrates the course of history, thus comprehending the length; it portrays the excellence of those who will ultimately be saved, thus manifesting the height; and it depicts the misery of those who will be damned, thus plumbing the depth, not only of the universe, but of the very judgments of God. In this way it describes the breadth and length and height and depth of the entire unvierse, insofar as it is expedient to have knowledge of it for salvation.

[Bonaventure, Breviloquium (prologue), Franciscan Institute Publications (Saint Bonaventure, NY: 2005) pp. 3-4.]

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Oh Woe to Sin, and Therefore Woe to Me!

 Retribution
by James Furneaux 

 "As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women."--1 Samuel XV. 33. 

 Oh woe to sin, and therefore woe to me!
 God ever punishes though He forgive.
 Oh, who would dare to sin could he foresee
 Stern Retribution (who would cease to live
 But for man's crimes) avenging one by one
 Each evil thought and word and action done.
 Let him who thinks of sin mark David's fall,
 His penitence and punishment, his flight,
 The never failing sword, and most of all
 His secret sin repaid in Israel's sight.
 When all his visitations I recall   
(The man of God's own heart) a fearful light
 Across my shuddering memory seems to creep,
 I think upon my secret sins -- and weep.

Lent, Feb. 1844

Saturday, February 17, 2024

On Historical Reasoning

 Gavin Evans, There was no Jesus, at "Aeon", provides a very good example of the sort of pseudo-history that is found in Jesus-Mythers, so it's worth taking a moment to consider how historical evidence works, the historical evidence in the case of people like Jesus and Socrates (the latter being a comparison case brought up by Evans), and the problems with the general kind of argument that Evans is attempting to make.

Historical inference is fundamentally based on a few general inferential patterns. The first, and by far the most important, of these, is causal. We have an effect; from the effect, we conclude the cause. In historical matters, the effects are usually things like texts and monuments. The kind of causality is testimonial (in a broad sense in which monuments as well as texts testify to something). Also quite important is the fact that in historical matters the causes are usually causal chains and networks of various and indeterminate kinds. Because of these facts, an immense amount of historical scholarship is devoted to study of possible defective causes in the chain. 

In a causal inference involving testimony, we have an effect that does not merely indicate its cause but says something (directly or indirectly) about it. If I pick up a newspaper and read about something happening in the Persian Gulf, I have an effect, the newspaper with the article about the event in the Persian Gulf. For this to be at hand, it had to arrive there; it had to have been printed; and there had to be someone or some group of people who wrote the article. Now, if I take the article at face value, it tells me something about its own causal chain. In particular, it tells me that, if I trace back the causal network that led to its being read by me, among the causes in that network, I will find the newspaper office, the reporter, the sources mentioned in the article, and (most importantly) the Persian Gulf event itself.

Of course, we know that while testimony often informs us, it also often leads us astray. Whenever it does so, it is because the causal network is defective for some reason. There are many reasons or causes that make testimony defective. For instance, someone could have printed up the newspaper as a joke, a satire, an attempt to confuse me, or any number of other things. The newspaper may have made a mistake in printing the story (e.g., a search-and-replace function accidentally changed 'Red Sea' to 'Persian Gulf' right before it went to print). The editor may have revised the story badly or with malicious intent so that it appears to say something that was not intended. The reporter may be misinformed, or deluded, or lying. The reporter's sources may be misinformed, deluded, or lying, or they may have misinterpreted some other event, or they may have jumped to conclusions, or any number of other things. So again, there are many possible defective causes that make a testimonial causal network faulty. 

Crucially, they are not equally likely. It is much more likely that the reporter is misinformed than that the reporter is deluded; it is much more likely that the reporter made a mistake than that the entire newspaper did; it is much more likely that the newspaper is genuine than that someone is trying to mislead me. Some of these differences in probability are due to the need to be consistent with other causal inferences. For instance, I might find the story in other newspapers, and so need a causal explanation that can account for more than just this particular newspaper. Much of this coherence of causal explanation is probabilistic, but causal inferences of the right kind can even rule out particular defective causes entirely, just as they can sometimes establish with certainty that there is a defect. But there are two other major kinds of inferential patterns that also have a large effect on assessing how likely or unlikely defective causes may be. The first is extrapolation by analogy; the second is interpolation into a profile. In analogical extrapolation, of course, we are reasoning on the ground that similar things happen elsewhere; in profile-interpolation, we are reasoning that something coheres with an overall pattern.  In the newspaper case, genuine newspapers reporting on events are relatively common in our experience but fake newspapers intended to mislead are rare; in a reputational field like journalism there are penalties for getting caught lying, so reporters usually have at least some incentive not intentionally to report easily discoverable falsehoods, and a reporter who is caught lying once is often found to have been doing it either for a very specific reason (like money) or habitually; certain kinds of events tend to happen in the Persian Gulf (or so other testimony has suggested) and other events tend not to do so; if this event happened, it may make sense or not depending on other things I know or think I know about what is happening in the region. None of this is definitive, but cumulatively extrapolation and interpolation play a significant role in historical reasoning.

The most perfect testimony occurs when the combination of these kinds of inferences manages to rule out any relevant defectives, but testimony is still very good as testimony if even the more likely possible defective causes are not very likely at all. Much testimony is a little more spotty than this -- there are often gaps in our knowledge such that particular kinds of defective causes are still seriously possible. Human beings in general and historians in particular still use such testimony extensively, but these kinds of situation are precisely one of the things that historians look for, because it is by dealing with such issues that progress occurs in a field like historical scholarship. 

Suppose we take someone like Socrates. Nobody proposed as a purely abstract hypothesis, "Maybe there was a guy named Socrates in Athens during the Peloponnesian War." We start with what the texts and monuments seem to say. We have lots and lots of texts that refer to Socrates. Those texts are often based on other texts, and so forth, and this goes back a very long way. The causal networks here are immensely complicated -- we have different manuscript traditions, all of which have their possible defective causes, and those go back to originals that had an original context. But some of these texts, as part of their own testimony, or due to the testimony of other texts, go back to people who are testified to have lived more or less at the time: Aristophanes, said to be a contemporary of Socrates; Plato, Xenophon, Antisthenes, and a few others, said to be students of Socrates; Aristotle, said to be a student of Plato; and so forth.

An interesting feature in this case is that, if this testimony is taken at face value, many of the texts that refer to Socrates are fiction. The earliest extant record of Socrates (again, if the testimony is taken at face value) is Aristophanes' The Clouds, which is quite clearly a fictional work and has always been taken by everyone to be so. Both Plato and Xenophon give us works referring to Socrates that they quite clearly did not expect their readers to take as historical facts. Plato's Apology and a few of the death dialogues and Xenophon's Apology apparently purport to describe historical events, and it is in each case historical events that they did not themselves experience -- according to the testimony we have, Plato was too ill at the time to be a participant, and Xenophon was in exile and attributes all his information about it to Hermogenes. Both Plato's and Xenophon's versions of Socrates's defense speech show signs suggesting that they are not independent accounts; one of them knew of the other's Apology, and it's just a question of which came first. The earliest testimony that we have that avoids these problems is that of Aristotle, who wasn't even born when Socrates is said to have died. And all of our evidence boils down to this: Aristophanes's fictional story, Plato and Xenophon (much of whose testimony is clearly fictional and whose most historical-seeming testimony is about events to which they were only indirectly connected), a few fragments attributed to other students like Antisthenes (whose first definite traces in history are much later), and Aristotle's passing mentions.

And yet there is no serious doubt that Socrates existed. Our attributions for most of these texts are reasonably well founded. The Clouds is a satirical comedy, which makes the likeliest possibilities either that Socrates was real or was dreamed up by Aristophanes to spoof a certain class of sophists, but the jokes that are made are more like the jokes you would tell of somebody people already know than jokes you would make of a purely fictional character, to such an extent that even if we only had The Clouds, we would have excellent reason on the basis of it to conclude Socrates actually existed despite The Clouds being a purely fictional work. But we don't just have The Clouds to explain; we need a causal network that explains the references of Aristophanes and Plato and Xenophon and various fragments and Aristotle. Plato and Xenophon even in their fictional works associate Socrates with figures we have independent reason to think existed; Aristotle clearly assumes that Socrates existed and was not made up by a group of people passing themselves off in fictional works as Socrates's students. But more than that, there is a massive shift and change in the very nature of philosophy between the sophists and the rise of the Socratic schools of philosophy that needs to be explained, and just saying, "Well, a bunch of people got together and decided to write works about a fictional character named Socrates" doesn't explain anything about it. There are so many ripples in the lake, there has to be something that disturbed it, and the texts themselves say that it was Socrates.

Much, much more could be said about this, but let's shift to Jesus. Without question, the earliest evidence we have are the Pauline letters; we then have various other New Testament works; we have the Apostolic Fathers, particularly Ignatius and Clement; we have traditions recorded by Irenaeus and indirectly by Pliny the Younger and Tacitus. Much more disputed is a reference in Josephus's Antiquities. The testimonial causal networks for all of these are quite complex, and probably the most closely and intensively examined testimonial causal networks in historical scholarship. And we have, of course, the existence of Christianity itself, which is an effect that actually ends up being of quite considerable importance in this case. 

Paul represents himself as a follower of Jesus writing with a bunch of other followers of Jesus to yet other followers of Jesus; at least some of the latter are communities that he represents as not originating with himself but with yet other people. He is clear that Christian communities, particularly that at Jerusalem, pre-existed his even becoming Christian. It is clear in several ways that Paul is not the only authoritative member of the entire movement, and indeed, at several points he has to defend his having any authority at all. Paul repeatedly refers to Jesus as having been crucified, claims he was betrayed, identifies a ritual that is attributed to Jesus originating it, and claims Jesus was the son of a woman and a descendant of David. Thus the purport of the testimony of Paul is that Jesus existed. Given that Paul's letters were preserved, there must have been communities that preserved them, which makes it very unlikely that the addressing of letters to already existing Christian communities is purely a fictional device; the fact that we have the letters at all is an effect that needs to be considered in our causal explanation. Given that, it is unlikely that most of the people explicitly named in the Pauline letters are fictional. Thus already, less than thirty years after the alleged death of Jesus, there are multiple communities around the entire Roman Empire acting as if Jesus had existed, an effect that needs to explained, and is most easily explained by assuming that there was someone named Jesus who existed; every other explanation runs into problems with explaining how the Christian movement actually ends up clearly existing so early after the alleged death of the one whom the movement explicitly treats as its founder. It's worth underlining that Paul, despite being later, the Pauline letters, even the stripped down 'authentic Paul' of most liberal scholarship, are in and of themselves excellent reasons to think that Jesus probably existed. They are certainly better evidence of Jesus than Aristophanes is of Socrates, because it's even more obvious that Paul cannot himself be simply making Jesus up, since there's no reason to think the letters are intended to be fiction and it's obvious that if the Pauline letters are authentic at all that they are addressed to people who already knew what Paul was talking about and who did not get all their information from Paul; they are arguably better evidence than either Plato or Xenophon alone (although Plato and Xenophon together are a different matter -- but the relevant analogy in that case would be to Paul and all the other New Testament authors). Is this definitive? No, hence the 'probably'. Can you make a just-so story resulting in the Pauline letters that does not imply that Jesus existed? Certainly, because we cannot definitively rule out all the defective causes in the apparent testimonial causal network; but it would in fact be a just-so story, certainly less supported by the actual evidence we have than one in which Jesus existed.

But here's the thing, Paul is not our only source. We have all the other New Testament writings; they are later, yes, but they are, each alone and all together, effects that need an adequate cause. The New Testament writings were not uniformly preserved; different communities preserved different collections of writings, so we have good reason to think that the whole New Testament was not a single package. And several of them are different enough from Paul that they seem to represent different traditions. We have the Gospels, which purport to tell us about Jesus's life and associate Jesus with people we have independent reason to think existed, like Pontius Pilate. The testimonial causal networks for each are complicated and there's a lot we don't know. They are not completely independent; but the dependence itself tells us more than it might seem -- virtually all of the possible permutations of the Synoptic Problem have been considered, and in every single one we get multiple traditions for each that have to be earlier than the Gospel itself. For instance, if we assume Markan Priority, Luke and Matthew depend on Mark; but neither of them can only depend on Mark. In some cases, Matthew and Luke agree, or almost agree, independently of Mark. Thus on Markan Priority there are at least five lines represented by the three Synoptic Gospels: Mark, at least one source for Mark, at least one source of the Luke-Matthew agreement (often called Q), at least one source for things distinctive to Luke, and at least one source things distinctive to Matthew. Similar things happen regardless of what solution you give to the Synoptic Problem. (This is why Evans's complaint that Q might not exist is irrelevant; sure, but that's because it's only required if standard Markan Priority is assumed. Change the solution, you get a different set of apparent causal lines. But in every single case, you get multiple lines.) Whichever solution is accepted, the multiple lines are effects that need a cause, not just individually but also in the fact that there are multiple lines. And the simplest explanation is, again, that there were multiple traditions about Jesus, and that there were multiple traditions about Jesus because Jesus existed.

And so it goes. You can just-so any particular evidence, but the explanation for each that is most probable is that Jesus existed, and the explanation for having multiple evidences that is most probable is that Jesus existed. There is just no room for doubt; all the multiple effects we have point to Jesus having existed, and none point to Jesus being fictional. We see some of the latter aspect in the fact that Evans keeps bringing up the dating of New Testament texts as if it cast doubt on Jesus existing, but we can only even hypothesize dates for any of the New Testament writings by coordinating at least some of them as being at least reasonably historically accurate for at least most things. No date for any New Testament text survives the assumption that all the texts are false; every date requires us to assume that there was a fairly extensive Christian community from early on. If you are going to hypothesize dates, you can only do so by assuming things that are most easily explained by Jesus having existed. Again, the fact that this is not immune to just-so storytelling does not change the overall tenor of the evidence. You cannot reject a conclusion based on the most obvious reading of the evidence in favor of a hypothesis that is directly supported by none of the relevant evidence. In history, as in Newtonian physics, you don't evade induction by feigning hypotheses; if you want to claim that all the evidence on the table is misleading, you need the causal inferences giving you reason to think it so, not the bare fact that you can make up a story in which it might happen, which proves nothing at all beyond that you can make up stories. And you have to cover it all, because all it takes to have good reason to think that something or someone exists is one good causal inference.

And all of this is without even considering even more elaborate extrapolations and interpolations beyond those simply associated with the texts themselves, like the fact that in most other cases in which we have a religion that claims to have a historical founder living at a particular time, there does in fact seem to be a historical founder living around that particular time. No other messianic movement in Judaism itself has ever been so self-originating as to base itself on devotion to a purported Messiah who was a fiction the movement itself completely made up. If Christianity were different, that is a difference that would also need to be explained. There is no need to make a 'case' that Jesus exists; the likelihood of his not existing on the evidence we have is so low that we can take it as morally certain that he did.

This is, I reiterate, not an exhaustive look at the evidence; there are so many things that would have to be explained if Jesus didn't exist that they easily narrow down the possible conclusions to the point of reasonable certainty. Even on a lot of very skeptical assumptions, like the assumption that most or even all the New Testament is pseudepigraphal and fictional, the most likely conclusion is that it is fictional pseudepigraphy by a community that traces itself back to an actual man named Jesus.

So, let's turn to Evans's argument and see some of the problems that he doesn't solve in trying to make the argument.

(1) As is very common in these kinds of history-skeptical arguments, Evans fails to grapple with one of the major difficulties that has to be faced by anyone doing historical work of any kind: time does a number on your evidence. People leave extensive traces in the world, but those traces begin to deteriorate almost immediately, and it all will tend toward vanishing. Traces don't deteriorate at the same rate, which is why, for instance, ancient monuments are so important. It is also why various accidents of preservation loom so largely in ancient historical work; these accidents of preservation, like being buried so that oxygen, moisture, and bacteria can't easily break things down, become our primary connections to the past the farther back we go. One of the effects of this is that as we go back, it becomes less and less certain how representative our evidence is; and since arguments from silence depend at the very least on knowing that the evidence we have is representative, the more difficult it is to build a successful argument from silence.

Our best evidence suggests that Euripides wrote over ninety plays. We have nineteen full plays, one of which we don't know for sure is authentic, and a few scattered fragments; a few of the full plays survived in an anthology (often called the Select plays or the School plays) and most of the rest are from one volume of an alphabetically arranged multivolume collected works of Euripides (often called the Alphabetical plays), which is why nearly half of them begin with H or I. Because of this, it would be very difficult to argue that Euripides never considered a theme or responded to an event; if our extant evidence doesn't indicate that he did, that's all we can say, that our evidence doesn't indicate that he did. But it doesn't follow from the fact that our evidence doesn't touch on something that Euripides didn't. We can try to bolster the argument by extrapolation or interpolation, but it's not going to get us very far, and certainly not with certainty. This is a common issue with using arguments from silence in ancient matters.

Evans tries to lay the groundwork for the argument with an argument from silence which fails conspicuously to wrestle with this problem:

You’d think that a cult leader who drew crowds, inspired devoted followers and was executed on the order of a Roman governor would leave some indentation in contemporary records. The emperors Vespasian and Titus and the historians Seneca the Elder and the Younger wrote a good deal about 1st-century Judea without ever mentioning Jesus. That could mean simply that he was less significant an actor than the Bible would have us think. But, despite the volume of records that survive from that time, there is also no death reference (as there was, say, for the 6,000 slaves loyal to Spartacus who were crucified along the Appian Way in 71 BCE), and no mention in any surviving official report, private letter, poetry or play.
Would you in fact be reasonable to think that, though? If the Gospels are right, Jesus' public ministry lasted only about three years. It occurred entirely in Galilee and Judea, the latter being a semi-autonomous province on the edge of the Empire. The sources we have that talk about Judea are often clearly not concerned with giving us detailed information about the Judeans themselves or their various religious differences, and the source we have from the period that does make the most effort to do this, Josephus, gives us a picture of Judea in a considerable amount of religious ferment at the time (and is also one of the sources that might have indirect reference to Jesus, but let us assume that the references are later glosses by Christians that made it into the text). But the biggest problem is that there is no "despite the volume of records that survive from that time"; the original records we have surviving from that time are a tiny proportion of the records that actually existed, and most of what was happening in the Empire we can only reconstruct by extrapolation and interpolation, some of which is very shaky. Compared to most ancient events, we do know quite a bit about what directly concerned the emperors and the city of Rome; but even there, we're quite patchy. A lot of what we know about most of the internal politics of Rome itself from this period depends entirely on Tacitus and Suetonius, each of whom selects his matter with his own ends in view. In the broader Empire, there are plenty of people whose names are on monuments, and thus were undeniably of some local importance, about whom we know practically nothing else. We can be reasonably sure that there were lots of important people in the Roman Empire about whom we know nothing at all. An argument from silence to a particular conclusion won't work here; we can't establish the precondition for making such an argument work: that if it had happened, it would probably be in the surviving evidence. The most we can say is that the Roman sources that have survived don't register it, not that it didn't happen, or even that it wasn't registered. A serious historian might be disappointed (being a historian requires a willingness to be disappointed by the state of the evidence), but would hardly try to build a direct case on it.

We run into a similar conspicuous failure to face the nature of our information about the ancient world in another argument in discussing Paul; but it also touches on another problem with this kind of argument, so I'll turn to that.

(2) Skeptics of historical events and personages regularly exaggerate when it comes to describing what the evidence tells us. For instance, Evans says:

If Jesus lived and died in Paul’s lifetime, you might expect he’d refer to Jesus’ ministry on earth – to his parables, sermons and prayers – and that his readers would want this crucial life story. But Paul offers nothing on the living Jesus, such as the stories or sayings that later appear in the gospels, and he provides no information from human sources, referring only to visionary communication with Jesus and to messianic Old Testament quotes.
This is an argument from silence, and again we cannot establish the precondition required for making such an argument. The Pauline letters themselves indicate that we do not have all of Paul's letters, and they regularly make reference to things that Paul preached in person or took his readers already to know without giving us any detailed run-down of what they were. Nor are letters normally places in which we go into detail about things that the receivers would already have to know, and all of Paul's letters are addressed to communities that are already Christian. But more seriously, the claim is false. Paul does say things about the living Jesus. We learn that Jesus existed and was Jewish (Romans 1:3), that he appointed apostles, and that he was crucified, having been betrayed. 1 Corinthians explicitly attributes sayings to Jesus -- 1 Cor. 7:10-11 attributes to him a saying on marriage that is paralleled in other sources, and 1 Cor. 11:23-25 attributes to him words on the night when he was betrayed. If you add 1 Timothy, we learn that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate and we have a case in which the Jesus seems to be quoted without explicit attribution (1 Tim. 5:18, which parallels Luke 10:7).  There are other cases that are less obvious but obviously would have to be at least considered; for instance, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 possibly preserves echoes Jesus' eschatological sermons and parables -- it's attributed to "the Lord" and has undeniable parallels to Jesus' preaching in the Gospels. There is no reason why one would suppress this obvious evidence. 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians are almost universally considered authentic; 1 Timothy is often considered inauthentic, but even that is definitely not a universal consensus, nor is it certain enough that 1 Timothy can be simply ignored. It may be less, and sometimes less certain, than a historian would like, but that is true of everything in the ancient world, and it is just false to say that "Paul offers nothing on the living Jesus".

(3) It's common in skeptical arguments about history for people to mishandle analogical extrapolation and profile-interpolation, and this is what we find here. As noted above, the potential causes of defects in transmission are various, but they are not all equally likely, and we assess likelihood by extrapolating from other cases and interpolating into our overall picture of events. It is here that the 'criteria of authenticity' play their role in much biblical scholarship, because these are actual rules of thumb for extrapolation and interpolation. They aren't magic, and it would be a serious flaw to assume that they provide direct insight into events (a criticism that was often made of the old Jesus Seminar work), but they make some of the possible defective causes less likely. The criteria of embarrassment and multiple attestation indicate kinds of scenario in which it is unlikely that someone is just making something up, because it conflicts with the usual motivations one would have for making something up or because it would require a conspiracy to do so, which is a much rarer and more complicated causal mechanism; multiple attestation and coherence indicate scenarios in which it is less likely we have mistakes or complete garbling; the criterion of multiple forms indicates another situation, the fact that similar things are found in very different genres of literary transmission, which works like multiple attestation; the criterion of Aramaic extrapolates from general ways in which human beings use language, like the fact that people do not generally attribute and explain foreign language expressions unless they take it to be important to preserve an already existing attribution, or like the fact that back-translation sometimes finds expressions in the Greek that would make more sense in an Aramaic original (like Mt. 23:23-24, which would have been a weird statement to make in Greek but in Aramaic would obviously be punning on the similarity of words for 'camel' and 'gnat'); and so on and so forth. (Probably still the best introduction the many different rules of thumb used as 'criteria for authenticity', including their strengths and weaknesses, is Robert Stein's 1980 paper, "The 'Criteria' for Authenticity", which while not the final word covers a number of key issues on the subject.) 

None of these are proofs, but a reasonable person would not expect them to be; what they do is increasing the probability of some conclusions and reduce the probability of others, by giving us reasons to think that the testimonial chain is not disrupted in this or that way. That they have to be taken cumulatively rather than just individually, or that they are not proofs, or that they do not cover everything, or that they can be misused, or that we can be mistaken in their use, or that they can be used correctly and still get wrong results sometimes, does not make them dismissable. That probable inference is only probable is not a problem for probable inference, and it is especially not a problem for it in historical studies, which often are concerned with things for which there can only be probable inference.

My point here is not particularly to criticize Evans himself; the argument given is not particularly original to Evans. As noted, I'm really more interested in the ways in which it captures a kind of historical anti-intellectualism, in which genuine probabilities are dismissed for only being probabilities, specifically historical claims are made that are not adequate to the actual evidence, various kinds of arguments are deployed without having even probabilistically established that their preconditions are met, and in general the causal structure of historical inference is not taken seriously. This is a pattern of sophistry one finds far and wide, not just in discussions of the existence of Jesus, and it is worth seeing why it is sophistry.

Bonaventure for Lent IV

 Every creature is either a mere vestige of God -- as is corporeal nature -- or an image of God, as is the intellectual creature. Each of tehse gives witness to the trinity. However, that which is but a vestige does so, as it were, from afar. Every creature has measure, species, and order; or unity, truth, and goodness; or measure, number, and weight, which by appropriation correspond to the trinity of persons and thus give witness to the fact that God is a trinity....

But that creature which is an image -- such as the intellectual creature -- testifies to the threefold character of God, as it were, from near at hand, because an image is an express similitude. The intellectual creature has memory, intelligence, and will; or mind, knowledge, and love; mind like a parent, knowledge like an offspring, and love like a bond proceeding from both and joning them together. For the mind cannot fail to love the word it generates....

[Bonaventure, Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity 1.2, Hayes, tr., The Franciscan Institute (St. Bonaventure, NY: 2000) pp. 128-129.]

Friday, February 16, 2024

Bonaventure for Lent III

 [T]he intellect can be said truly to comprehend the meaning of propositions when it knows with certainty that they are true; and to know in this way is really to know, for it cannot be deceived in such comprehension. Since it knows that this truth cannot be otherwise, it knows also that this truth is changeless. But since our mind itself is changeable, it could not see this truth shining in so changeless a manner were it not for some other light absolutely and unchangeably resplendent; nor can this light possibly be a created light subject to change. The intellect, therefore, knows in the light that enlightens every man who comes into the world, which is the true light, and the Word in the beginning with God. 

[ Bonaventure, Itinerarium Mentis in Deum 3.3, Franciscan Institute (Saint Bonaventure, NY: 1956) p. 67.]

Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Morally Educated Man

 The morally educated man, and only this one, is entirely free. Either he is superior to nature as power, or he is in harmony with the same. Nothing which it exerts upon him is violence, for before it comes up to him, it has already become his own act, and dynamic nature never even reaches him, because acting freely he retires from all that it can reach. This mentality, however, which morality teaches under the concept of resignation to necessity and religion, under the concept of submission to divine counsel, demands, if it shall be a work of free choice and reflection, already a greater clarity of thinking and a higher energy of the will, than man is characteristically accustomed to in active life. Fortunately, however, there exists in his nature only a moral predisposition, which can be developed through the understanding, but rather even in his sensuous rational, i.e., human nature, an aesthetical tendency thereto, which can be awakened through certain sensuous objects and cultivated through purification of his feelings into this ideal swing of the mind.

[Friedrich Schiller, On the Sublime.] This "aesthetical tendency" manifests itself in our sense of sublimity (when the relation to nature is one of superiority) or our sense of beauty (when the relation to nature is one of harmony). 

I've recently been taking about the Kantian theory of sublimity in Ethics class, so I've been thinking about theories of the sublime; Schiller has one of the more interesting adaptations of the Kantian theory. And it's Lent, of course. We don't usually think of the appropriate appreciation of the beautiful and the sublime as an ascetic practice, but Schiller is right that both are ways in which we are raised above the merely sensuous, and when you look at actual Lenten practices, you find that people often try to season their self-denials with things quietly beautiful or sublime, which I think is a natural impulse and probably necessary for sustaining even minor self-denials in a large population or consistently across a large portion of life.

Bonaventure for Lent II

 Since this army [of the Church] consists of elements that are subject to weakening, in order that the ranks be perfectly and permanently strengthened, it needs sacraments to fortify, relieve, and replenish its members: to fortify the combatants, relieve the wounded and replenish the dying. Now, a fortifying sacrament strengthens either those just entering the combat, and this is Baptism; or those in the midst of the fray, and this is Confirmation; or those who are leaving it, and this is Extreme Unction. A relieving sacrament alleviates either venial sin, and this is the Eucharist; or mortal sin, and this is Penance. Finally, a sacrament that replenishes does so either on the level of spiritual existence, and this is...Orders, which has the function of administering the sacraments; or on the level of natural existence, and this is Matrimony, which replenishes the multitude of humanity in their natural existence, the foundation of everything else.... 

 And so Baptism is designed for those just entering the fight, Confirmation for those engaged in combat, the Eucharist for those refreshing their strength, Penance for those rising from their sickbeds, Extreme Unction for those who are departing, Orders for those who break in the new recruits, and Matrimony for those who provide these recruits. And so it is evident that the sacramental remedies and armaments are both sufficient and orderly. 

 [Bonaventure, Breviloquium 6.3, Monti, ed., The Franciscan Institute (Saint Bonaventure, NY: 2005), pp. 220-221.]

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

And Sanctify Thy Woe

 Penance
by John Henry Newman 

Mortal! if e'er thy spirits faint,
 By grief or pain opprest,
Seek not vain hope, or sour complaint,
 To cheer or ease thy breast: 

 But view thy bitterest pangs as sent
 A shadow of that doom,
Which is the soul's just punishment
 In its own guilt's true home. 

 Be thine own judge; hate thy proud heart;
 And while the sad drops flow,
E'en let thy will attend the smart,
 And sanctify thy woe. 

 Off Pantellaria. December 23, 1832.

Bonaventure for Lent I

 Now no one possesses God without being possessed by God in a special way. And no one possesses and is possessed by God without loving God and being loved by God in a particular and incomparable manner, as in the case of a bride and groom where each loves and is loved by the other. And no one is loved in this way without being adopted as a child entitled to an eternal inheritance. Therefore , the 'grace' which makes pleasing' makes the soul the temple of God, the bride of Christ, and the daughter of the eternal Father.And since this cannot occur except through a supremely gracious condescension of the part of God, it could not be caused by some naturally implanted habit, but only by a free gift divinely infused. This is most evident if we consider what it truly means to be God's temple and God's child, and to be joined to God as in wedlock by the bond of love and grace. 

 [St. Bonaventure, Breviloquium 5.1.5, Monti, ed. and tr., Franciscan Institute Publications (Saint Bonaventure, NY: 2005), p. 172.]

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Links of Note

 * Roy Sorensen & Ian Proops, Kant and the King: Lying promises, conventional implicature, and hypocrisy (PDF)

* Victoria Smith, Let's at least agree that rape is wrong, at "The Critic Magazine" on the slow crumbling of support for one of the major achievements of twentieth-century feminism, in the dismantling of the basic foundations of feminist anti-rape activism.

* Serdar Tekin, How could Aristotle defend the self-sufficiency of political life while claiming the superiority of contemplative life? (PDF)

* Nathaniel Baron-Schmitt, Thing Causation (PDF)

* Gregory Hillis, How Julian of Norwich's writings on suffering have helped me as a cancer patient, at "America Magazine"

* Karl Pfeifer, A Note on a Cold Case: Wittgenstein's Allusion to a Fairy Tale (PDF)

* Larry Chapp, Holiness and the desperate need for saints "in between", at "Catholic World Report" 

* P. D. Magnus, A Philosophy of Cover Songs (PDF)

* Gregory Sadler, Reason as danger and remedy for the modern subject in Hobbes' Leviathan (PDF)

* Luke Coppen interviews Bishop Erik Varden on St. John Climacus's Ladder of Divine Ascent for Lent, at "The Pillar".

* John Jalsevac, The Intentio of Pastness in Aquinas's Theory of Memory (PDF)

* Jens Lemanski, Seneca's and Porphyry's Trees in Modern Interpretation (PDF)

* Adam Kotsko, The Loss of Things I Took for Granted, at "Slate", on the grave deterioration in literacy skills.

* Karen Bardsley, Mother Nature and the Mother of All Virtues (PDF), on gratitude toward the natural world.

Monday, February 12, 2024

But He Loved a Stone

 A Fable
by Innes Randolph 

There lived a man in olden time
 That loved a stone;
 'Twas veined with lines of tender hue,
 With flowers overgrown.
 He wooed it from the flush of dawn
 To twilight lone;
 T'was wondrous lovely, so he thought,
 But still a stone. 

 He tried to cut his name thereon
 And leave a trace
 Of his great love, so deep that Time
 Should not erase.
 He kissed the unrelenting rock
 From cope to base;
 He gashed his breast in clasping it
 With wild embrace. 

 He sought to warm it with his breath,
That icy stone;
 The coldness chilled him unto death,
Through flesh and bone.
 And so he perished then, and lay
 All pale and prone;
 He thought he loved a woman,
but he loved a stone.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Fortnightly Book, February 11

 The next fortnightly book is Mortimer J. Adler's Philosopher at Large, subtitled An Intellectual Autobiography 1902-1976, which was originally published in 1977. It details Adler's struggle with what he saw as one of the major problems of the age -- what is the kind of education that is genuinely appropriate to a democratic society? -- including his somewhat unusual schooling (he received a PhD despite never having received any lower degree, or even a high school diploma), his involvement in the development of the Great Books movement, his disputes  (both direct and indirect) with John Dewey, and the development of his Institutate of Philosophical Research.

One of the reasons why I picked this is (as sometimes happens with the fortnightly book) a matter of pure happenstance; I had been irritated, as I semi-regularly am, by a kerfuffle online about academic credentials, with the root of my irritation being, as I formulated it to myself, that a degree is not proof of being educated but of having made (one kind of) a recognizable start in being educated. Then I happened to pick up the book, open it to a page near the beginning, and read:

...Those who do not seek advanced degrees should be provided with informal educational facilities for the continued learning in which all adults should engage for a lifetime if they are to become educated men and women. No one can become an educated person in school, even in the best of schools or with the most complete schooling. Schooling is only the first phase in the process of becoming educated, not the termination of it. Of course, that is a truth which no schooolboy is ever likely to understand or acknowledge....

[Mortimer J. Adler, Philosopher at Large, Collier Books (New York: 1992) p. 10.]

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

 Introduction

Opening Passage:

Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof. 

 I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow—a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man, his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cove and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:

 “Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest—
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!” 

 in the high, old tottering voice that seemed to have been tuned and broken at the capstan bars. Then he rapped on the door with a bit of stick like a handspike that he carried, and when my father appeared, called roughly for a glass of rum. This, when it was brought to him, he drank slowly, like a connoisseur, lingering on the taste and still looking about him at the cliffs and up at our signboard.

Summary: Jim Hawkins's family owns the Admiral Benbow Inn, an out-of-the-way place. (A notable irony is that Vice-Admiral John Benbow originally made his career and became famous hunting down pirates; his fame led to inns and pubs being named after him. It's sometimes thought, although not known, that Stevenson got the name from the Admiral Benbow pub in Penzance, which he had visited, because it was the informal headquarters of the 'Benbow Brandy Men', a famous and remarkably effective smuggling gang; the Admiral Benbow pub might actually be the inspiration for Silver's inn, The Spyglass.) One day they receive a temperamental guest, whom they know only as "The Captain", who tips Jim and tells him to be on the lookout for a one-legged seaman. Eventually, The Captain is recognized as "Billy Bones" by another traveler, known as Black Dog; they have a fight, Black Dog flees, and Billy Bones has a stroke. All the excitement contributes to Jim's father dying. Shortly thereafter, a blind man, named Pew, visits and gives Billy Bones the "black spot" with an ultimatum for ten o'clock; Billy Bones dies of apoplexy. Pew and a number of others attack the inn, but are interrupted, and in the excitement Pew is trampled to death by a horse; Jim Hawkins and his mother in the meantime escape, Jim having taken a packet from Billy Bones's sea chest. He shows the packet to Dr. David Livesey and Squire John Trelawney, and they discover that the packet includes a treasure map:

Treasure Island (1909) - Map of Treasure Island

Trelawney fits up a schooner, the Hispaniola, to travel to the island and hires a hardened man of the sea, Alexander Smollett, to captain her. A significant help in finding suitable crew is due to an innkeeper Trelawney meets, John Silver. Learning that Silver has one leg raises Jim's suspicions, which are intensified when one of the associates of Pew is discovered eating at Silver's inn, but Silver is charming and charismatic and quickly puts him at ease. Indeed, Silver does this with everyone; the facility with which he does this is one of the things that makes him one of the most memorable characters in fiction, and extends far enough that he charms the reader as well as  the other characters. He of course turns out to be a pirate -- "gentleman of fortune", as they keep calling themselves -- but he is in a sense everything that makes pirates interesting as a subject of story, and one cannot help but admire the skill with which he quickly adapts to every situation in which he finds himself.

Jim learns Silver's secret, and thus the secret that Silver has packed the Hispaniola with pirates, in what has always been one of my favorite scenes in the story, when Jim accidentally ends up in the apple barrel while trying to get an apple and overhears Silver talking. Many of the crew are old hands who served under the notorious pirate Captain Flint, who buried the very treasure that they are seeking. Having discovered the plot and the plan to mutiny, Jim, Dr. Livesey, Squire Trelawney, and Captain Smollett are prepared when things begin to go south. From that point on, everything is a sort of checkers game between the loyal crew and the mutineers, with the mutineers having the numbers but the loyal crew having the map and a significant portion of the essential supplies. One of the things that struck me this reading is how extraordinarily reckless Jim is; his recklessness is obvious, of course, and it happens to be the case that it ends up giving the loyal crew the advantages they ultimately need, but Jim on multiple occasions does things on an impulse that could easily have led to his death and the death of everyone on the loyal side. In a sense, he plays the opposite role of Silver in the story; Silver is cunningly adaptive and smoothly moves into the optimal position available, regardless of how the board has changed, whereas Jim's bold recklessness keeps forcing everyone on the board to shift suddenly.

There are plenty of other things that could be discussed; Ben Gunn has always been a favorite character of mine, for instance. But what I really noticed in this reading is the structure of the work, which really starts out slowly as Stevenson puts pieces on the board one by one, but after Jim's time in the apple barrel begins to accelerate until the situation is shifting on almost every page, after which it deliberately brings the whole tale to a very quick resolution and denouement. This is probably why it didn't get all that much favorable attention as a serial, but became an overnight sensation as a novel. The slow build-up means that he doesn't have to stop the later fast-paced story to explain anything; the reader already knows the basics and everything else can easily be picked up on the fly.

In addition to reading the story, I also listened to one of the radio adaptations, that of Mercury Theatre on the Air (originally aired in 1938, fifty-five years after the novel's publication):


The fact that the book is not very long and the radio version has a whole hour to tell it means that the adaptation can be fairly faithful. It primarily condenses the preparations to set sail (Jim meets Silver on the voyage) and simplifies the back-and-forth on the island, particularly by stripping out Jim's dangerous cat-and-mouse game with Israel Hands.  I think the decision to keep intact much of the early part of the story -- which, abstractly, would be quite easy to condense -- was a good one, and gives the adaptation a very balanced feel. All in all, it is quite good, although Silver's voice in this version takes some getting used to. (I think the idea was to give his a voice an unctuous, or perhaps a thoughtful, feel, and I think this does work fairly well later in the tale, but early on it just cracks me up.)

Favorite Passage: There are plenty of good passages, but this is one that in this reading struck me as well done:

The captain sat down to his log, and here is the beginning of the entry: 

 Alexander Smollett, master; David Livesey, ship’s doctor; Abraham Gray, carpenter’s mate; John Trelawney, owner; John Hunter and Richard Joyce, owner’s servants, landsmen—being all that is left faithful of the ship’s company—with stores for ten days at short rations, came ashore this day and flew British colours on the log-house in Treasure Island. Thomas Redruth, owner’s servant, landsman, shot by the mutineers; James Hawkins, cabin-boy— 

 And at the same time, I was wondering over poor Jim Hawkins’ fate. 

 A hail on the land side. 

 “Somebody hailing us,” said Hunter, who was on guard. 

 “Doctor! Squire! Captain! Hullo, Hunter, is that you?” came the cries. 

 And I ran to the door in time to see Jim Hawkins, safe and sound, come climbing over the stockade.


Recommendation: Highly Recommended.

Friday, February 09, 2024

Dashed Off III

 Rights are structures of permissibility relative to title and person.

sovereignty as maximal power to permit and obligate with respect to jurisdiction

six categories of rights in the Universal Declaration: security, due process, conscience, participation, nonsubordination, availability
-- conscience & security seem to be the fundamental ones; due process and participation are concerned with foundations of civil society; and nonsubordination and availability with thriving in a civil society

a right consists in:
(1) an obligation
(2) specified by title
(3) which forms a rights-holder
(4) relative to whom others are obligated
(5) within the scope of a jurisdiction

active rights (power, privilege); passive rights (claim, immunity)

"Change and production have formally distinct terms, for the term of change is the form introduced into the matter, but the proper term of production is the whole composite." Scotus

Aquinas's account of the structure of the human action should be seen as primarily 'vertical' rather than successive; deliberation takes place within intention, choice within consent, etc.

Ends and objects of desire are quite different, although what is an object may also be an end.

(1) Obligation: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing...and teaching...
(2) Explicit extent of the authority of obligator: all of heaven and earth
(3) Jurisdiction: all nations to the very end of the age
(4) Title: mission and succession of mission
(5) Rights-Holder: Church (i.e., apostles and successors in mission)
(6) Obligates (from extent of authority and jurisdiction): everyone in all nations until the end of the world
(7) Basic structure of resulting obligation-right:
----- (a) Go
----- (b) make disciples
----- ----- (1) baptizing in the name....
----- ----- (2) teaching to obey 
(8) Derivative rights
----- -----  From (a): right to go (i.e. to do whatever is requred to enable the rest)
----- ----- From (b): right to initiate
----- ----- ----- (b1) into sacramental system by baptism: right to have sacramental system
----- ----- ----- (b2) into practical-doctrinal system by teaching: right to proclaim and practice

Scripture as one of the ways the Church is Apostolic

In general, particular forms of evolutionary naturalism underplay the sheer power of evolutionary explanation, and try to found the 'naturalistic' part on very narrow assumptions about how evolutionary explanation can work. For instance, they will sometimes assume very simple mechanisms only, or strict adaptationism, or a narrow conception of what makes something firt, or some such, in trying to right the explanations to get the particular kinds of conclusion they want.

The context is that which explains the material cause of the text as text.

The attempt to argue on someone else's commitments is very difficult and usually fails.

God as the efficient cause of Scripture by mode of inspiring; the human author as efficient cause of Scripture by modes of devising and compiling (cp. Bonaventure on Wisdom of Solomon)

Auriol's division of the Old Testament
(1) political and legislative: Pentateuch
(2) historical
(3) hymnodic (Psalter, Canticles, Lamentations)
(4) monastical or ethical (Proverbs, Wisdom, Sirach)
(5) prophetic

Thought flows in and thought flows out, and never is it wholly the same.

We never step into the same memory twice.

When the mind is looking at itself, it has difficulty seeing other things clearly.

'the exclamatory awareness of existence' (Marcel)

presence as presenting, presence as presentedness

"Thought, far from being a relation with itself, is on the contrary a self-transcendence." Marcel

body as instrument, body as object, body as sign

Promising either glides up to God or it muddles in a fog of being hardly different from non-promising. Promises matter because they touch Truth; they posit a steadfastness that is as sure as the true.

premises as
self-evident (suitable for demonstration)
proven (demonstration)
evident (demonstration and dialectic)
probable (dialectic)
commonly accepted (dialectic and rhetoric)
plausible (rhetoric and poetic)
suggestive (rhetoric and poetic)
imaginable (poetic)

Simplicity of heart will get you farther in inquiry than erudition.

Nothing is 'visible' to natural selection except relativities, relations.

expressiveness as a sign upon a sign

The Valentinian aeonic theory gets right about the Church
(1) its unity in diversity
(2) the Church here as sign and symbol of the Church on high.
But the aeonic theory is too clunky to handle the first (largely due to the Valentinian love for concretized abstractions) and creates an unacceptable split between visible and invisible, as if they were counterparts rather than really united.

We both are and have ourselves.

self-instrumentalities and reflective interactions with the world

We experience our body as possibilities and necessities of acting and undergoing.

the deontic structures of ambit (moral), jurisdiction (jural), and templum (sacral)

making claims on the world -- the Mine
-- it is important not to jump straight to possessive property; think, for instance, of just claiming a spot for a picnic or for sitting and reading; or cases where one says 'I was in the middle of doing something with that.'

Private property as we know it is one of the last remaining remnants of feudal structure.

the abstract ought of the body (Malebranche) vs the concrete ought of the body arising from personal authority

We experience, in the full sense, within the frameworks of familiarity.

"God takes up the effort of man; when man is striving for an end, God completes it for him. But when God does not complete it, then man's action remains fruitless." Vatsyayana

"Acting according to the nature of things, God, although merciful, produces the diversity of the world with the help of merit and demerit." Vacaspati

"God hasn't expressly explained all the types of Scripture, but has done so much as is sufficient to teach us the language." Jonathan Edwards

divine glory as divine being qua end-for-another

It is notable that when accusing others of being hypocritical or hateful or of some other vice, that very vice is often taking root in the accusers.

reliability of clock as centrality in a network of clocks measuring other clocks
-- this centrality seems functional -- which clocks can most easily be used to explain the relations among other clocks
-- iti s of course possible that a clock highly reliable with respect to one network of clocks may be much less reliable with respect to another

LLMs are mechanizations of groupthink

The present is smeared in both pastward and futureward directions. Arugably it is smeared slightly in a counterfactual direction, as well.

Hobbes's Leviathan ch. 42 depends crucially on the false claim that Ezra was a civil sovereign; but Artaxerxes is explicitly the civil sovereign, and Ezra is given a specific mission in which his only legal powers are to purchase for the Temple and appoint judges and magistrates for the people of Israel.

The right of judging teachings fit for peace is necessarily distributed and cannot be usurped by sovereigns.

Kings are metaphorically pastors; and this authority is de jure civili, not de jure divino.

Every bishop, having primacy as pastor of those in his diocesan authority, has the authority to do all sacred things and govern all sacred matters with respect to the diocese; this authority is not usurped but modulated and regulated by synodal and papal pastoral authorities.

Gn 48:14 -- imposition of hands in blessing in patriarchal context

The power of kings to bless, etc., is a tribal power -- i.e., a power of domestic church given a ruling household in an extended family of families.

the recognition within one legal jurisdiction of the authority of another legal jurisdiction (e.g., full faith and credit)

It is perhaps worth remembering in reading Leviathan that the Papal States were at their territorial height at the time it was published; and Hobbes's argument requires him to recognize the Pope as a Sovereign of those states. What he is trying to do is restrict papal authority to the Papal States, except where the pope is recognized by the local Sovereign as having 'schoolmaster' authority. (And note, despite Hobbes's occasional anti-Catholicism, he firmly denies the Protestant argument that the Pope is Antichrist.)

"Making Laws belongs to the Lord of the Family; who by his owne discretion chooseth his Chaplain, as also a Schoolmaster to Teach his children." Hobbes

IV Lateran canon 3: papal power to absolution from fealty
canon 62: "As for newly discovered relics, let no one presume to venerate them publicly unless they have previously been approved by the authority of the Roman pontiff."
-- note mention of papal plenitude of power in context of indulgences

Christian kings have civil authority from God, but obviously do not have it immediately. 

If the authority of the Pope is 'Didactical' and from God, the Sovereign can have no right to block or interfere with it.

The Civil Powers of the seventeenth century did not spontaneously arise out of a state of nature but were largely formed ni violation of previously existing feudal obligations.

the Platonic Forms as what one 'looks at', if one has a 'love of the sight of truth' (Rep); eidos can be translated as 'a look', the look of the thing as true

"Is not the being of a God reported to us by testimony, handed down by history, inferred by an inductive process, brought home to us by metaphysical necessity, urged on us by the suggestions of our conscience?" Newman

(1) the analogy of nature and religious system
(2) the analogy of natural providence and moral providence
(3) the analogy of natural religion and revealed religion
(4) the analogy of Old Testament and New Testament
(5) the analogy of Scripture and the Church

forms of catechumenate
(1) competentes
(2) indefinite catechumenate
(3) nominal catechumenate
the practice & promise of godparents in effect substitutes for catechumenate in infant baptism

* authorize things that could not be done otherwise without sin: baptism, ordination, matrimony
* forgive venial sins: eucharist, penance, unction
* forgive mortal sins: penancy (properly), unction (conditionally)
* compensate for unintentional transgressions: eucharist, unction

name -> (verbal) definition -> image (representation) -> knowledge -> object itself
(Plato's Seventh Letter)

Prose is an instrument, and therefore its quality cannot be assessed without knowing the end it is supposed to be serving.

activism addiction

English uses 'sometimes' to cover more modalities than temporal ones.

Hobbes's account of philosophy makes it a practical application of theories of generation.

Christian solidarity is cooperately embodying, to the extent and in the ways practically possible, a world alternative to the present darkness, based on Christian principles.
-- Christian solidarity differs from other kinds in its relation to hope, because it arises from and is an expression itself of hope rather than merely expressing itself in hope.

For 'Order and Jurisdiction', we should instead think 'Order and Mission', jurisdiction beign merely one of the more important aspects of the latter.

Liberty without fraternity is a terrible thing, and equality without fraternity is a worse thing.

"Solidarity is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are really responsible for all." John Paul II
"...there is no true solidarity without social participation, without the contribution of intermediary bodies: families, associations, cooperatives, small businesses, and other expressions of society." Francis

totalitarianism as a rejection of mutual dependence

predicate : sign :: subject : object :: universe of discourse : interpretant

radiation is (by way of) clicks in (the universe of) counter-measurements
Christ is (by way of) saint who is (by way of) icon in (universe of) prayers
stop command is octagonal red in traffic-law system
country is flag in custom
cat is c^a^t in English-writing system

heresiology as negative-impression theology

objectward aspect of sign: referential 'hint'
interpretantward aspect of sign: particular interpretability
signward aspect of interpretant: registering capability
signward aspect of object: indicable feature

"As philosophy grew intrinsically less Christian, it swelled with Christian remnants." Maritain
"...one may discover, at each decisive step of modern rationalism, a process of *petrification* of truths and notions of Christian origin..."

the all-simulating animal

"The act of wedded communion has indeed the *object* of propagation, but in addition the *significance* of a unique union of love." von Hildebrand

Positive law presupposes conventions adequate for its formulation and promulgation.

proseuthentes: having gone
mathetousete: make students
panta ta ethne: all the nations/peoples
baptizonetes autos: baptizing them
dideskontes autos: teaching them

Both the baptizing and the teaching in the Great Commission are initiations rather than terminations; they specify discipling rather than having been made disciple.