Saturday, April 27, 2024

Links of Note

 * David Torillos-Castrillejo, Philosophical Reflection on Beauty in the Late Middle Ages: The Case of Jean Gerson (PDF)

* Marius Ion Benta, The Multiple Realities of Paul's Mystical Experience: A Phenomenological Perspective in the Anthropology of Religion (PDF)

* Patrick J. Casey, What is 'lived experience'?, at "Aeon"

* Mark Vernon, The enchanted vision, on love as a cosmic quality, also at "Aeon"

* Alexandre Billon, "The only organ of contact with reality is love", on love as a sense of reality, at "Le Substack de Alexandre"

* Alberto Oya, Religious Fictionalism and the Ontological Status of God (PDF)

* John Michael Greer, The Secret of the Sages, at "Ecosophia"

* William H. Harwood & Paria Akhgari, Heroes and Demigods: Aristotle's Hypothetical "Defense" of True Nobles (PDF)

* Matthew Duncombe, Diodorus Cronus, at the SEP

* Gregory Salmieri and Benjamin Bayer, How We Choose Our Beliefs (PDF)

* William Cronon, The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature

* Sinan Dogramaci, Evolutionary Explanations of Our Reliability (PDF)

* William F. Vallicella, Intentionality in Locks and Keys?, at "Philosophy in Progress"

* Don Garrett, Hume's Geography of Feeling in A Treatise of Human Nature (PDF)

* William L. Bell, Rights Reclamation (PDF)

* Edmund Waldstein, He Misses Someone He's Never Even Met, on David Foster Wallace, at "Humanum"

Friday, April 26, 2024

Dashed Off IX

 The practical and theoretical sciences interpenetrate, each a means to the ends of the other.

Treating humanity as an end in itself requires treating human beings as united by a moral world.

The natural human being is already a human being who is being morally formed.

Sympathy is morally effective mostly as a bound rather than as the substance.

Human reason is naturally rhapsodic and only becomes systematic with much effort; and, given a system, it becomes rhapsodic again.

To say that the past is necessary is just to say that, for the present and future, they cannot be understood without the past; present and future cannot have an exemption or exception with respect to the past; the past is, so to speak, with the present and future, without exception.

Free will is an expression of a particular kind of intellectual goodness.

The success of science at providing unifying explanations for differing domains is a sign of infinite intelligibility as a final cause of intellect.

Actuality intrinsically suggests possibility and necessity.

Any actual thing doing anything suggests other things it could be doing.

Our ability to use experiments to understand the world depends on our ability to recognize the values (for theory, for confirmation, for research, for discovery) a given experiment exhibits.

No theory of sublimity is adequate that cannot include the sublimity of love.

Hooker's four tests of ceremony
(1) intrinsic reasonableness
(2) antiquity
(3) Church Authority
(4) dispensation in dispensable matters

Much of both learning and teaching is trying to find ways to do small things well.

S4.2 and Minkowski spacetime

Classification is a large part of the logic of discovery; we classify then fill gaps, classify and identify anomalies, classify and test membership, classify and compare classifications.

"Conscience and self-love, if we understand our true happiness, always lead us the same way. duty and interest are perfectly coincident, for the most part in this world, but entirely and in every instance if we take in the future and the whole; this being implied in the notion of a good and perfect administration of things." Butler

sench, sink; quench, quink; drench, drink
and thench him until he thinks

"No regularity will ever be found which can make a true substance out of several beings by aggregation." Leibniz

The argument from fulfilled prophecy is essentially a kind of argument from coherence.

objective causation as disposing to end

Human beings generally feel a craving for incorporation into a greater humanity, as if we are missing an integration that we feel should be there.

We may fall in love aesthetically or romantically or socially.

No particular possible worlds model can capture all possibilities.
(1) Different interpretations, different questions/propositions, different truth values;
(2) Something like a diagonal argument representing possible worlds by binary strings (if lists are finite)?
(3) Superpossibles
-- quantum uncertainty and the limits of our precision in forming possible worlds models?

Many universalist arguments only establish that heaven is a higher-order perpetuity than hell, as transfinite to infinite, as plane to line. They then jump to the conclusion that the lower-order perpetuity is not a perpetuity at all.

the palaetiological problem and historical Jesus studies

forms of testimonial evidence of Resurrection
(1) empty tomb stories
(2) appearance stories
(3) ecclesial power stories

the parabolic method in Trinitarian theology

Acts of the Apostles as a work on baptism

Paul mentions baptism in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians; it is also mentioned in Hebrews and 1 Peter.

The Father together with the Son brings forth the Spirit.
Reading 1: {The Father together with the Son} brings forth the Spirit.
Reading 2: The Father {together with the Son brings forth the Spirit}.
The 'Greek' view is something like 2-only; the 'Latin', taking the Son as mediate principle, accepts both.

The brief mentions of prophets in the New Testament seem to suggest that their role in the early Church was primarily to facilitate and ease conversion.

If we think of searches (or tests) that can be organized into ensembles of searches, then every ensemble allows us to identify 'search necessity' and 'search impossibility' for the ensemble. Suppose ensemble is e. Then Diamond-e(p) = p comes out true given at least one search in the ensemble; Box-e(p) = p comes out true for every search in the ensembles. We can then iterate modalities. Suppose set of ensembles S that includes e. Then Diamond-sBox(p) = p is the result of every search in at least one ensemble in S; Box-sDiamond(p) = p is the result of at least one search in every ensemble in S. We can perhaps relate this to probabilities.

A possibility: possible worlds frameworks cannot adequately model cases where Diamond -> Box is verified.

The intellect finds peace in what is immutable.

Seeing-as is selective; it implies other possibilities.

figures of speech as recraftings of language suitable for particular purposes

8:27-8:33 as the central idea of Mark's Gospel

Of Mark's fourteen uses of 'Son of Man', two refer to humanity in some fashion, three directly allude to Daniel, nine directly connect the term to the Passion.

"A citizen must always be regarded as a colegislative member fo the state (that is, not merely as a means, but at the same time as an end in himself...." Kant

We live in an ocean of grace, like fish in the sea.

The Book of Odes plays the role it does in Confucianism in part because an unpoetic people are poorly adapted to coherent participation in rites.

All of Kelsen's argument for disentangling justice and law is based on an absurdly defective, even laughable, understanding of justice. This is quite a regular feature of legal positivist arguments on these matters; legal positivism seems often motivated by caricatures of ethics.

Law is a regulative order; some of regulation is correction; some of correction is punishment; some of punishment is coercive use of force.

An account of law that does not recgonize legislative declarations of holidays as laws is already highly defective.

Most human-made laws are concerned with classification rather than coercion.

If only juristic persons existed in law, there would be no connection to social facts such that law could be anything more than a kind of fiction on paper.

Law hypostatizes.

Nothing prevents there being two states to a single territory except a common taste for orderly boundaries and distinct boxes.

It is necessary to see the state as a particular mode of cooperation.

The behaviors of states clearly assumes that there are tacit interstate obligations and rights.

Rhetoric is the field devoted to operationalizing and realizing logical principles.

A system of norms can only function as a system of norms when recognized as such by reason, under rational principles; nothing is a norm except in the context of reason.

Society cannot be sustained by only deserved good; it requires undeserved good.

Our usual experience of positive law is not as coercive but as a shared standard for coordination.

Humanity itself forms the framework of law.

When churchmen think of themselves as 'dialoguing with the world', they are more often dialoguine with phantoms in their heads.

Physicists often have to use colloquial terms analogically.

Scientific explanations often cannot use terms univocally because they have to order colloquial versions of terms to more rigorously defined versions of terms that are treated as more fundamental.

thought experiments as "distillations of practice" (David Gooding)

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Civil Disobedience

 Rupert Read has an article at Aeon on climate-related civil disobedience. Its argument is somewhat difficult to follow because Read is never very precise about what one would be disobeying, but it also, I think, shows some sloppiness in Read's understanding of civil disobedience:

The classic philosophical debate around civil disobedience (or nonviolent direct action) asks: is there a right to engage in this form of conscientious law-breaking, under circumstances of deep wrong, where conventional methods of addressing that wrong have failed or are unavailable? It’s widely accepted among philosophers that there is such a right: it is virtually unknown for philosophers to argue against it; even an extremely mainstream liberal individualist such as John Rawls argues for it. And the climate crisis fits the bill for the exercise of this right. Because it is a case of a huge and urgent injustice – a threat to the very viability of ongoing human civilisation, an existential risk – where conventional methods have been tried and failed, and moreover where vulnerable unborn future generations are not able to stick up (let alone vote) for themselves to try to redress the matter. 

All of this is an argument that there is no need to debate this particular matter, which is "basically settled". It is, I think, clear that appeal to "vulnerable unborn future generations" is not anything about which anything has been "basically settled at all"; this, despite the fact that I probably have a view closer on this particular to Read's than most philosophers. But, that aside, Read seems to  misconceive the role of injustice in civil disobedience. The two (relatively) uncontroversial rights to engage in civil disobedience are (1) when a law requires you, yourself, to do something morally wrong and (2) when a law is inconsistent with your specific rights and responsibilities as a citizen. Anything beyond these is certainly controversial, regardless of the injustice in question, and, indeed, has to be, because of the 'civil' part of 'civil disobedience', which essentially means 'as a citizen'. If you disobey a law, it doesn't matter what injustice you claim is associated with it; you aren't engaging in civil disobedience unless you are doing so in your capacity as a citizen. In a case where this is not so, disobedience could, perhaps, still be justifiable -- that is itself controversial -- but it wouldn't be civil disobedience. 

Marchers in Birmingham, for instance, were specifically trying to call attention to provable violations of the rights of citizens in Birmingham, and the law they specifically disobeyed -- the law governing parade permits -- was being deployed to prevent the exercise of their freedom of assembly and speech, by being used in such a way as specifically to prevent them from calling attention to the violations. The protest was also, as Martin Luther King, Jr., noted in the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", for the explicit purpose of trying to force the city to negotiate over its continued imposition of segregation; also in view (more indirectly and less immediately) was its failure to provide reasonable protection to citizens against the racist domestic terrorism that had earned Birmingham the nickname of "Bombingham". This kind of disobedience is clearly civil disobedience. The whole point was citizenship; the whole action was an attempt to act as citizens; the actions taken were carefully calibrated to leave open alliance and cooperation with other citizens; the whole problem was the failure of the city to take citizenship seriously, and the response was specifically to hold the structures of government responsible to the power of citizens; the intent was at least in part to uphold rights and protections that in the long term would also benefit all citizens, not incidentally, but precisely as citizens.

It is very difficult to fit most climate-oriented disobedience of laws into this kind of model. The laws disobeyed are often not being used specifically to harm anyone's role as a citizen and do not, in themselves or as applied, require anyone themselves to do something unjust; the injustice to which activists point is often diffuse and not specifically tied to citizenship; the actions are often not defending citizens against government action but bullying other citizens. To the extent that these are the case, one can call into question how much the disobedience is civil disobedience at all. This is not, of course, to say that civil disobedience is impossible on climate-related topics; but civil disobedience is an action of citizens, as citizens, on behalf of all citizens, and something can only be justified as civil disobedience to the extent that it is so.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Universal Capacity to Wonder

 I argue that philosophy is a universal intellectual activity that has been pursued by peoples of all cultures and that the propensity to raise fundamental questions about human experience can be found in peoples belonging to different cultures, even though the answers may be different, despite our common humanity, and may not all be equally compelling. Yet, our common humanity, which inclines human beings to adopt similar (or nearly similar) responses to experiences of various kinds, tends to lead thinkers to be exercised about fairly similar questions or puzzles and to reflect on them in search of answers or explanations. The human capacity to wonder is not only boundless but universal. The context of our wonder is of course human experience. We wonder about the nature of the universe and our place in it, about who or what we are, the existence of some ultimate being, the nature of the good life, and about many other aspects of our experience that are beyond our ken and are, thus, not immediately rationally explicable by us. Wonder leads some individuals in various cultures to raise fundamental questions and, in this way, to engage in philosophical reflections.

[Kwame Gyekye, An Essay on African Philosophical Thought, Temple University Press (Philadelphia: 1995) pp. xiv-xv.]

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Philosophers and Poets, Bores and Murderers

 “I’ve had the most interesting talk of my life!” she exclaimed, taking her seat beside Willoughby. “D’you realise that one of your men is a philosopher and a poet?” 

 “A very interesting fellow—that’s what I always say,” said Willoughby, distinguishing Mr. Grice. “Though Rachel finds him a bore.” 

 “He’s a bore when he talks about currents,” said Rachel. Her eyes were full of sleep, but Mrs. Dalloway still seemed to her wonderful. 

 “I’ve never met a bore yet!” said Clarissa. 

 “And I should say the world was full of them!” exclaimed Helen. But her beauty, which was radiant in the morning light, took the contrariness from her words. 

 “I agree that it’s the worst one can possibly say of any one,” said Clarissa. “How much rather one would be a murderer than a bore!” she added, with her usual air of saying something profound. “One can fancy liking a murderer. It’s the same with dogs. Some dogs are awful bores, poor dears.”

Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out, Chapter IV.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Links of Note

 * Emily FitzGerald, How to Practice Embodied Pedagogy, at "The APA Blog"

* David A. Ciepley, Beyond Public and Private: Toward a Political Theory of the Corporation (PDF)

* Peter West, Philosophy is an art, on Margaret Macdonald, at "Aeon"

* T. Parker Haratine & Kevin A. Smith, Anselmian Defense of Hell (PDF)

* Chris Matarazzo, The Tao of the 80s Girl, at "Hats and Rabbits"

* Mark Sentesy, Are Kinetic and Temporal Continuities Real for Aristotle? (PDF)

* Daniel Dennett has died. His early work was always interesting; I think around about Freedom Evolves it became much more hit-and-miss. He was always one of the great philosophical communicators of his generation, though.

* Hao Dong, Leibniz as a virtue ethicist (PDF)

* Jeremy Skrzypek, Objects and Their Parts: The Problem of Material Composition, at "1000-Word Philosophy"

* Eric L. Hutton, On Ritual and Legislation (PDF)

* Richard Y Chappell, Utopian Enemies of the Better, at "Good Thoughts"

* Gregory Salmieri, David Bronstein, David Charles, & James G. Lennox, Episteme, demonstration, and explanation: A fresh look at Aristotle's Posterior Analytics (PDF)

* Freya Möbus, Socrates on Cookery and Rhetoric (PDF)


 Passer Mortuus Est
by Edna St. Vincent Millay 

Death devours all lovely things;
 Lesbia with her sparrow
 Shares the darkness,--presently
 Every bed is narrow.  

Unremembered as old rain
 Dries the sheer libation,
And the little petulant hand
 Is an annotation. 

 After all, my erstwhile dear,
 My no longer cherished,
 Need we say it was not love,
 Now that love is perished?

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Doctor Magnificus

 Today is the feast of St. Anselm of Canterbury, also known as Anselm of Aosta and Anselm of Bec, Doctor of the Church.

For injustice is not the kind of thing which infects and corrupts the soul in the way that poison infects and corrupts the body; nor does it do something in the way that happens when a wicked man does evil deeds. When a savage beast breaks its bonds and rages about wildly, and when a ship—if the helmsman leaves the rudder and delivers the vessel to the wind and the waves—strays and is driven into dangers of one kind or another, we say that the absence of chains or of a rudder causes these events. [We say this] not because their absence is something or does something but because if they had been present they would have caused the wild animal not to rage and the ship not to perish. By comparison, when an evil man rages and is driven into various dangers to his soul, viz., evil deeds, we declare that injustice causes these deeds. [We say this] not because injustice is a being or does something but because the will (to which all the voluntary movements of the entire man are submitted), lacking justice, driven on by various appetites, being inconstant, unrestrained, and uncontrolled, plunges itself and everything under its control into manifold evils—all of which justice, had it been present, would have prevented from happening. 

 [Anselm of Canterbury, De Conceptu Virginali, Chapter 5, Jasper Hopkins, tr.]