Saturday, February 10, 2024

Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island


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 (A notable irony is that Vice-Admiral John Benbow originally made his career and became famous hunting down pirates; his fame led to inns and pubs being named after him.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
" 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.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Let My Future Radiant Shine

by Edgar Allan Poe 

At morn -- at noon -- at twilight dim --
Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!
 In joy and wo, in good and ill --
 Mother of God, be with me still!
 When the Hours flew brightly by,
 And not a cloud obscured the sky,
 My soul, lest it should truant be,
 Thy grace did guide to thine and thee;
 Now, when storms of Fate o'ercast
 Darkly my Present and my Past,
 Let my Future radiant shine
 With sweet hopes of thee and thine!

In some versions, there's another stanza at the beginning:

Sancta Maria! Turn thine eyes
Upon the sinner's sacrifice
Of fervent prayer and humble love,
From thy holy throne above.

This is the original version, which we get in the short story, "Morella". It seems to have been printed independently at different times with or without the stanza, and varying between the titles, "Hymn" and "A Catholic Hymn"; I'm not sure at all what the exact publication history is, although I'm pretty sure the shorter version is the later revised version. In any case, the times in the first line of the shorter version are the times of the Angelus. The 'wo' rather than 'woe' in the third line is not an error.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

The Herculaneum Papyri

 There has been some discussion in a number of places of the recent announcement of the Vesuvius Challenge 2023 Grand Prize, which was given for proof of successful scanning and reading of a one of the carbonized Herculaneum scrolls without unrolling it. The Vesuvius Challenge was to recover at least 85% of the characters from four passages of at least 140 characters each; given the state of the scrolls, no one was even sure whether it could be done. The Grand Prize winners -- Youssef Nader, Luke Farritor, and Julian Schilliger -- were able to offer multiple passages for a total of over 2000 characters. I thought I would informally compile some of the basic background information here; everything I say here can be found in many other places, although some of it is very scattered.

Herculaneum was a town near Pompeii that, like Pompeii, was buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. It was accidentally rediscovered in 1709. Herculaneum is interesting in that it was a much wealthier town than Pompeii, essentially a seaside community for wealthy Romans. Most of it has not been excavated, but of what has, the most important is what is usually known as the Villa of the Papyri. We don't know who owned it, although the best guess at present is that it was the property of the Piso family (which is significant for reasons we will see later); it was an extremely grand, palatial building. The Villa of the Papyri gives us the single largest collection of ancient statues from Rome, but, as the name suggests, far more valuable was the discover in the 1750s of a very large collection of papyri. Papyrus does not generally survive well in a Mediterranean climate, but here was ironically saved by the volcanic eruption, which carbonized the scrolls and buried them in low-oxygen conditions much more favorable to their survival. All of the scrolls seem to have been in storage -- it's usually assumed that they were stored in order to move to safety, but for all we know, it could very well be that it was no longer a library in active use at all.

We don't know for sure how large the original collection was; some of it may not have survived at all, and the surviving papyrus is all very easily damaged and destroyed. We know for a fact that many scrolls were destroyed or damaged in excavation (some were just thrown away as debris) and many others have been destroyed or damaged by attemtps to read them since the eighteenth century. What does survive ranges from fragmentary scraps to more-or-less intact scrolls. The question of how to unroll the actual scrolls has always been a problem. Physically unrolling them tends to destroy them, and once everything inside becomes exposed to air, it begins deteriorating. Early on, Abbot Piaggio of the Vatican Apostolic Library was the first person actually to manage to unroll one, rather than just slicing it into fragments, by inventing a machine that unrolled it so slowly that it took four years to unroll. But it was always risky business; one wrong move, and the whole thing could crumble, and every scroll being quite different, methods that would work for one would be disaster for antoher. Once you unroll them, of course, you then have the difficult task of deciphering what they say. This is made quite challenging by the fact that most of the scrolls are written in carbon-based ink on a now-carbonized papyrus. And, of course, the clock is ticking, because, exposed to the air, the barely legible ink begins to break down and fade.

Modern techniques have not actually put us much further, running into the same problems. Even our best physical unrolling methods are risky gambles that can destroy the scroll. So the focus has switched to scanning and then using computer algorithms to interpret the results. Researchers still run into difficulties on both points. Our usual best scanning methods for something like this can give us a good picture of internal structure of the scroll, but are usually unable to distinguish carbon-based ink on carbonized papyrus. However, we do get something; X-ray phase-contrast tomography can get us some way toward distinguishing even the carbon-based ink, although not very crisply or always very consistently, and some of the scrolls have turned out to use an ink that was not purely carbon-based (using lead, for instance), which gives better results. Even then, however, the internal structure of a carbonized scroll is extremely complicated, often well beyond what our available computer programs have been able to handle. So for the past decade or so, major effort has been expended on developing programs capable of interpreting these really messy, complicated scanning results by analyzing the data to detect ink and 'digitally unroll' the entire thing. There have been many failures along the way; when the Vesuvius Challenge was announced, there was no general expectation that it would succeed. The announcement on February 5 was exciting because the recent push had results massively better than expected.

The content of the most recent scroll -- currently about 5% read -- has not been released yet, but it is a work on Epicurean philosophy, very possibly a previously non-extant work by Philodemus of Gadara, who lived in the first century BC. This is not unexpected. The collection from the Villa of the Papyri has been known almost since the beginning to be a collection heavily focused on Epicurean philosophy, with a significant portion being works by Philodemus. And it has generally been thought for quite a while that at least part of the collection is Philodemus's own library; some of the lectures by him that have already been deciphered have corrections that go beyond mere corrections; if not Philodemos's own corrections, they are very likely those of a student who knew him.

Outside of the papyri, Philodemus is not known except for some epigrams and some very brief and passing mentions by Cicero and by Diogenes Laertius. Cicero attended lectures by Zeno of Sidon, who was Philodemus's own teacher, and may have known him directly, although they are unlikely to have had any extensive acquaintance, since Philodemus was associated with Julius Caesar's father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, who became one of Cicero's political enemies.

How the collection ended up in Herculaneum is not strictly known. There are three major hypotheses that have been proposed.

(1) Philodemus had an Epicurean school in Herculaneum, so that the Villa of the Papyri was his. This is the least likely of the three. The Villa of the Papyri, remember, is palatial even for the Roman equivalent of a wealthy seaside resort; the owner would have had to have been one of the wealthiest men in Italy. One of the epigrams by Philodemus that has survived is an invitation to Piso to attend a dinner at Philodemus's shack; this is almost certainly an exaggeration, but it emphasizes the point that Philodemus was a philosopher in need of patrons to support his lifestyle.

(2) The Villa was owned by L. Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus. This is far and away the most likely possibility. The Piso family was a wealthy family with extremely good connections, and Piso himself is known to have been a patron of Philodemus. If the collection was just in storage because it was not being used actively, this would explain other features of the find, and would also make sense on this hypothesis -- the Piso family would have inherited Piso's own philosophical library, and would have therefore had reason to keep it even if they were not using it.

(3) It's just possible the Villa was owned by someone else; in which case they were collectors of Epicurean philosophical texts, and at some point acquired what seems to be Philodemus's own library.

In any case, Philodemus was not a major philosopher, as can be seen by the fact that we only barely have any mention of him elsewhere, and in a number of his works he is simply presenting the views of his teacher, Zeno of Sidon; his primary significance is that he seems to have done an extraordinary amount of research into the works of Epicurus and other major figures in the Epicurean school, making him perhaps the best possible source for understanding the doctrines and debates of Roman-era Epicureanism. However, as such a conduit he has had some influence on the course of philosophy since the discovery of the Herculaneum Papyri. David Blank has a nice discussion of Philodemus's philosophy, with some interesting discussion of the Herculaneum Papyri themselves, in his 2019 SEP article on Philodemus.

The Wikipedia article on the Herculaneum Papyri is actually quite helpful, and I found it very useful for keeping various things straight.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Links of Note

 * Bartosz Żukowski, Richard Burthogge's Theory of Cognition as a Prefiguration of Kantian Idealism (PDF)

* Justin Smith-Ruiu, Creative Writing as Philosophy, at "Justin Smith-Ruiu's Hinternet"

* Sara Bernstein & Daniel Nolan, Creeped Out (PDF), an attempt at a philosophical analysis of creepiness.

* Kathleen Murphy-Hollies, The Know-How of Virtue

* Rob Alspaugh, Aquinas on Benefit of the Doubt, at "Teaching Boys Badly"

* Editorial: U.S. Colleges are overusing -- and underpaying -- adjunct professors, at the LA Times

* Lorne Falkenstein, Hume on 'Genuine,' 'True,' and 'Rational' Religion (PDF)

* Andres Ayala, The Absolute Primacy of the Intellect in Aquinas: A Reaction to Fabro's Position (PDF)

* Megan Basham, Follow the Money to The After Party, at "First Things"

* Daniel Rubio, In defense of qua-Christology (PDF)

* Nathan Salmón, On What Exists (PDF), discusses Quine's theory of ontological commitment

* Kenny Pearce, Xunzi and Le Guin on Ritual and Social Structure

* Nicholas Dunn, Kant on Moral Feeling and Practical Judgment (PDF)

* Jason W. Carter, Fatalism and False Futures in De Interpretatione 9 (PDF)

* Francis FitzGibbon, Jurors' Consciences, at "LRB Blog"

* Nick Riggle, Aesthetic Value and the Practice of Aesthetic Valuing (PDF)

* Brendan Hodge, A school of vocations, at "The Pillar", looks at the state of Catholic schooling

Monday, February 05, 2024

Sunday, February 04, 2024

The Bore

  It is very difficult duly to delineate a bore in a narrative, for the very reason that he is a bore. A tale must aim at condensation, but a bore acts in solution. It is only on the long-run that he is ascertained. Then, indeed, he is felt; he is oppressive; like the sirocco, which the native detects at once, while a foreigner is often at fault. Tenet occiditque. Did you hear him make but one speech, perhaps you would say he was a pleasant, well-informed man; but when he never comes to an end, or has one and the same prose every time you meet him, or keeps you standing till you are fit to sink, or holds you fast when you wish to keep an engagement, or hinders you listening to important conversation—then there is no mistake, the truth bursts on you, apparent diræ facies, you are in the clutches of a bore. You may yield, or you may flee; you cannot conquer. Hence it is clear that a bore cannot be represented in a story, or the story would be the bore as much as he. The reader, then, must believe this upright Mr. Bateman to be what otherwise he might not discover, and thank us for our consideration in not proving as well as asserting it.

John Henry Newman, Loss and Gain, Part I, Chapter 2, "The Bore".

Nussbaum on Living Morally

 Yascha Mounk has a very good interview with Martha Nussbaum:

Again and again in writing about liberal education, I find people telling me that they never realized that you could actually argue on behalf of a position that you don't hold, that you could actually have a classroom debate where you’re assigned the beliefs you do not actually agree with. But to me, that's a crucial contribution, not just to one's life, where it's good to be wide awake and know why you're doing what you're doing, but especially to our political culture. We're not just yelling at one another across a great void, but we're trying to sort out why. And then that classroom debate is going to be a model that people could take into the larger society.