Saturday, May 11, 2024

Two Poem Drafts

 I Am Not the Sort of Man Who Can Be Known, O Beautiful One

I am not the sort of man who can be known, O beautiful one;
you can study a thousand years and not be nearly done,
and when at the end of a long and memory-forgotten age
you will have reached to the last volume's final page,
you will look back, and all the former books will be but dust
and those in steel covers will be fragmented to rust.
In that far future, amid great cities ruined and past,
perhaps you may think that you know me at last,
but the libraries of my volumes are like the heavens and their stars,
and you will have but begun on a journey long and far.
I am not the sort of man who can be known, O beautiful one,
though your study last the lifetime of a young and blazing sun.

Middle Age

The day of life is bright and clear
but drowsy is the air;
the breeze at times is cool on skin
but hot the sunlight-flare.
With half a day of work to do
I barely keep awake,
and all the energy I draw,
the laughing sunray takes.
When back I look to dewy dawn,
I wonder at the time
when breezes cool with vigor blessed
auroral lights sublime.
When futureward to evening dim
I look to day grown old,
I wonder at my lassitude
in brilliant noonday gold.
But noon is now, and over-hot;
I sweat and want to sleep,
and wonder how to last the day
and fall into a heap.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Apostle of Andalusia

 Today is the feast of St. Juan de Avila, Doctor of the Church. An always timely point from one of his letters:

The Israelites who journeyed through the desert had appetites so disordered that they could not enjoy the manna "containing in itself all sweetness," which God sent them. Their blindness was so great that they did not find fault with themselves, or with the evil condition of their health, but with the food, which was of the most savoury kind. They asked for some other sort of viand with which they thought they would be better satisfied and pleased:—it was given them, but at the cost of their lives. We are to learn by this that even if the things of God are not always agreeable to us, still we must not wish for what is contrary to them, however delightful it may seem to us, for without doubt it would poison our souls. We should rather rid ourselves of the disgust we feel for religion, and then, when the appetites of our soul are healthy, we shall feel a right and pleasant relish for the food God gives His children.

[St. John of Avila, Letters of Blessed Juan de Avila, pp. 90-91.]

Dashed Off XI

 resemblance, contiguity, and causation as elements of design (cp. Morehead)

It is almost always the worst people who spend time dwelling in detail on the sins of others.

Metaphors are possible due to our ability and need to think of one thing on the model of another, so that the term 'metaphor' is sometimes used for the latter.

When Nietzsche says that truth is a "mobile army of emtaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms", it is natural to focus on the depreciation of truth, but Nietzsche is primarily intending the exaltation of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms as the coin of thought, with truth as their residual trace when their nature is forgotten, the bones of departed metaphors.

"Literal meaning" and "literal truth" are both figures of speech.

The universe itself transcends human understanding because there is so much to its intelligibility. This is the reason for the temptation to pantheism, for in this the universe is like God.

Here in the region of dissimilitude, our understanding of ourselves is always imperfect and defective.

To be done in a Christian way, physical and spiritual almsdeeds must be done as expressions of or as symbols of Christian truth and salvation.

Missionary work seems often like a capacitor; it must 'build up' and then 'leap across'.

It is a mistake to confuse reserve with insincerity.

spinning coin analogy for quantum phenomena

"There is no Appetite in human Nature more prevalent, nor more universal, than that for Honour and Respect. And the Pleasure arising from it is of the most refined Kind; Honour and Respect being by Nature, a voluntary Tribute paid to intrinsic Merit. Hence it is, that no other Passion is more friendly to Virtue. But tho' all Men are fond of Respect, the Bulk of Mankind, unable or unwilling to purchase it at such a Price as that of real Merit, endeavour to secure it to themselves at a cheaper Rate." Henry Home

In everything human beings desire naturally, they seek an order and system, and where they do not find one naturally or even not sufficiently consistent to their need and taste, they create an artificial order an system.

honors annexed to office, estate, family, person

(1) What ceases to exist does so either from a destructive cause or the removal of a sustaining cause.
(2) What is influenced receives the act of what influences.
(3) What coheres does not cease to cohere save by a difference of causes.

In narratives, we fit people to story-roles, and these story-roles are sometimes inherited and sometimes formed within the story.

When scripture speaks of God's knowledge of the heart, it often uses the concept of testing, which is not a passive reception but a kind of making. (For instance, Dt. 8:2, 2 Chr 32:31.)

unction & undischarged obligations to God

In Philemon 8-9, Paul identifies three grounds for his appeal on the basis of love: that he is Paul, that he is an elder, and that he is a prisoner for Christ Jesus.

The fugitive slave interpretation of Philemon first clearly arises in Chrysostom's argument against the view that the letter is on a trifling matter.

slavery as natal alienation and human natality

As the rude mechanicals in A Midsummer Night's Dream represent the subreal theatrical, the fairies represent the superreal theatrical: the artificial and the fay, between which is found the natural theatrical of romance, and all going awry as theatricals do.
-- We are the audience for the fairies, who are the audience for the gentles, who are the audience for the mechanicals, all within one play.

In politics as in other things, it is the dose that makes the poison.

Cowering in a bunker will not actually make you feel safe.

Fewer communities, fewer rights.

'Impossible worlds' are possible logical objects; what makes such logical objects 'impossible' is their being associated with truth-valued propositions of a kind, just as the case with 'possible worlds', not their being logical objects. What motivates distinguishing possible and impossible worlds is aligning existential quantifier and possibility operator for purposes of modeling one on the other.

If one models worlds as sets of propositions, one can model propositions as sets of worlds -- the latter takes individual propositions to have meaning within systems of propositions.

Almost all puzzles and paradoxes about possible worlds can be resolved simply by recognizing that possible worlds are not possibilities but beings of reason we use in models of them.

goodness : final cause :: truth : objective cause :: beauty : exemplar cause

incipit/desinit : immutability :: proper part : simplicity :: before/after : atemporality :: boundary : nonlocality

commission to The Adam // Great Commission

What is contingent is necessarily compossible with what is necessary.

What is adiaphoric is necessarily compossible with what is obligatory.

Designed objects often involve relative coincidences, i.e., things that are coincidental, if you focus only on the power of the parts.

"Wherever a relation such as that of *signifying* holds, tehre is a basis for reasoning." Stebbing
"... *to signify* requires (1) what is signified, (2) the signifying sign, (3) the interpreter of the sign as signifying."
"It is impossible to think without using signs, for to think is to go beyond what is sensibly presented."

The only reason we take 'energy' to refer to one thing (have uniqueness of reference) is our belief in the conservation of energy.

The use of metaphor is no more or less 'emotive' than the use of literal language.

While facts are neither true nor false, purported facts may be.

Where bivalence fails is in conditional truth values, truth values as inferred from something (as when I proposition's being true make E false, but leaves O undetermined).

Possible worlds are not merely possible objects, but actual (logical) objects representing the merely possible.

relevant logic as a logic of information flow

Systems that are highly unified are represented as if they were substances, on the model of substances.

The change in the changed is the act of the changer.

creation as the sphere of influence, jurisdiction, and templum of God

sacred proper
sacred by contiguity to sacred
sacred by resemblance to sacred
sacred as effect of sacred

Logicism, formalism, and intuitionism each have portions of mathematics to which they apply well.

the history of philosophy as the phenomenology of bounded ideality

"The sacred is always manifested through something...the sacred expresses itself through soemthing other than itself...." Eliade

"The works of human art are imitations of those of divine art." Aitareya Brahmana 6.27

Phenomenology of religion often weakens itself by not actually looking at religion or religion's objects but at subjective effects of them; it tends to be a phenomenology of religious penumbra.

the readiness to appear-through

the phenomenological method of free variation as a study of the possible and the necessary

exemplary prophecy vs emissary prophecy (Weber)

"A causal uniformity is an abstraction since it connects sets of recurrent characteristics belonging to events which do not recur." Stebbing
"Every hypothesis springs from the union of knowledge and sagacity."
"Measurement is the process of manipulating objects in order to assign ratios to represent some property of these objects."
"The result of the operation of measuring is, then, expressed as a ratio of the measuring object to the measuring appliance, and hence, ultimately to the standard unit."

Constant conjunction is not a causal relation but an effect.

principative and ministrative modes of virtue

"Prudence and politics are the same virtue, but they have different being." Aristotle NE 6.8, 1141b25

"The efforts of the poetic fancy to represent to itself the nature and development of things divine and human precede, excite to, and prepare the way for philosophical inquiry." Ueberweg

The ultimate state of involuntary servitude is to have to die for someone else's convenience.

Every law has to be interpreted (a) in light of reason (b) in light of the good of the community (c) in light of the originating intent (d) in light of the manner in which it formally becomes law. To ignore any of these four is to distort the law.

Constant conjunction, as an effect, requires a cause, and it is not possible to interpret constant conjunction as a causal relation without implicitly taking the cause to be in the antecedent; without such an assumption, nothing about constant conjunction even looks like a cause-and-effect squence.

"A demand for justification is normally taken to imply a *discrepancy with some acceptable standard*. And a satisfactory justification is one which neutralizes the apparent discrepancy by showing it to be consistent with or deducible from, the relevant standard." Max Black

Part of our certainty in deduction is inductive; the logical forms do not change on us.

We can deductively prove the viability of induction for simple cases of simple enumeration: There are three things, A, B, C; A is X, B is X, C is X; therefore all of these are X.

When Newton speaks of evanescent quantites, he literally means they are in the process of vanishing. Newton's unique contribution -- and it is unique, because mathematicians did not follow him in this in developing the calculus -- was to think of mathematical objects as kinds of motion. Lines were literally motions of points, limits were literally final motions, and so on.

Rites may be treated as words, and words as rites.

propositional vs. predicate incipit and desinit

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Lewis Carroll's Game of Logic

 I was amused to see this video of two mathematicians trying for an hour to figure out from scratch how to play Lewis Carroll's Game of Logic:

They struggle a lot, in part because they are pretty clearly rusty with syllogisms, although they begin slowly to make serious headway once they realize that Carroll's literal diagrams are square Venn diagrams. This is an important aspect of them; one reason why Carroll developed literal diagrams is that he wanted diagrams that would do what Venn diagrams but scale better to larger problems, leading to the famous Octoliteral Diagram in Symbolic Logic:

That's for a Sorites with eight distinct terms.

However, the Game of Logic is played only with Triliteral Diagrams (for premises) and a Biliteral Diagram (for the conclusion); the goal of the game is to take a pair of premises on the Triliteral Diagram and reduce it to a conclusion on the Biliteral Diagram. In other words, you are doing basic syllogisms; you'll have three terms (x, y, and m), which can have either positive or negative forms (Carroll prefers to designate negative forms with an apostrophe, like x', y', and m'). Your premises will share a middle term (m) and in effect you get the Biliteral Diagram by pulling out the middle term from the Triliteral Diagram.

The Triliteral Diagram looks like this (if we mark what terms each compartment covers):

The whole Diagram is the universe of discourse, and we are just dividing the universe of discourse according to the positive and negative versions of the terms. If the Universe is "Dogs", then in the upper left outer corner we have X Y Not-M Dogs; in the upper left inner corner we have X Y M Dogs, in the lower right outer corner we have Not-X Not-Y Not-M Dogs, and so forth, whatever our terms X Y and M may be.

To actually play, we use two counters. One counter is a DOESN'T EXIST counter (Grey, in the Game); the other counter is a DEFINITELY EXISTS counter (Red, in the Game). Those are my terms, rather than Carroll's, but they are accurate, because one counter something definitely exists in the universe, while other says something definitely doesn't exist in the universe, given your premises.

Suppose you have a premise, No X are M. If no X are M, we have to put a DOESN'T EXIST counter in any box that has both X and M. That would be the upper inside boxes in the center. If you had a different premise, Some X are M, however, that tells you that there is definitely an X that is M in this universe, BUT it doesn't tell you whether this is Y or Not-Y. So the DEFINITELY EXISTS counters get put on lines -- if Some X are M, then it has to go on the line between the two upper inside boxes, because we know there is something in the X M boxes, but we don't know yet whether it should go in the Y or the Not-Y box.

This is where the dynamics of the game come in, because the DEFINITELY EXISTS counters like sitting on the fence, but the DOESN'T EXIST counters are bullies, and are always knocking the DEFINITELY EXISTS off the fence into a box. If I have

No X are M

then, as said, before, that will put DOESN'T EXIST counters in the upper inside boxes. If I add to this the premise

All Y are M,

this will do two things: it will put DOESN'T EXIST counters in all Y Not-M boxes, but, according to the Game rules, it will be a DEFINITELY EXISTS counter on a line between Y M boxes (because it doesn't tell us anything about X or Not-X). The Y Not-M boxes are the left outside boxes, and we'll put DOESN'T EXIST counters in those. The Y M boxes are the left inside boxes; we put a DEFINITELY EXISTS counter on the fence between the two.

But the first premise told us that the upper left inside box had a DOESN'T EXIST counter in it. DOESN'T EXIST counters are bullies; they knock DEFINITELY EXISTS counters off the fence, so we move our DEFINITELY EXIST counter from the line between the two Y M boxes into the Not-X Y M box (i.e., the lower left inside box).

To get our conclusion, we turn this Triliteral Diagram into a Biliteral Diagram. A Biliteral Diagram looks like the Triliteral Diagram with the center boxes (M and M') taken out, leaving only the big quadrants. The rules for reducing a Triliteral Diagram to a Biliteral Diagram are simple:

(1) If both parts of a quadrant in the Triliteral Diagram have DOESN'T EXIST counters, put a DOESN'T EXIST counter in the same quadrant of the Biliteral Diagram.

(2) If a DEFINITELY EXISTS counter is definitely in one of the quadrants (not on the fence between two quadrants), put a DEFINITELY EXISTS counter in the same quadrant of the Biliteral Diagram.

(3) All other counters (DOESN'T EXIST counters that only cover part of a quadrant, DEFINITELY EXISTS counters that are on a fence between two quadrants) disappear.

Thus the whole Game of Logic is just ordinary syllogisms, where the Game rules have the same effect that rules of syllogisms do, although Carroll has his own particular interpretation of categorical propositions. In Carroll's interpretation, in the Triliteral Diagram:

"All S are P" gives you two DOESN'T EXIST counters and one DEFINITELY EXISTS counter;
"No S are P" gives you two DOESN'T EXIST counters;
"Some S are P" gives you one DEFINITELY EXISTS counter;
"Some S are not P" gives you one DEFINITELY EXISTS counter.

You can also get completely coherent games if you change these interpretations so that "All S are P" only gives you two DOESN'T EXIST counters (this makes the Game work a bit more like how syllogisms are treated in predicate calculus, by removing affirmative subalternation), or so that "No S are P" gives you two DOESN'T EXIST counters and one DEFINITELY EXISTS counter (this makes the Game work a bit more like traditional Aristotelian syllogisms, by adding negative subalternation). 

You can learn more about the Game of Logic from Carroll's own book on it (the one that the mathematicians were having trouble with in the video above), The Game of Logic.

Their Gray Thoughts, Their Strange Thoughts

 "I Know the Stars"
by Sara Teasdale 

I know the stars by their names,
 Aldebaran, Altair,
 And I know the path they take
 Up heaven's broad blue stair. 

 I know the secrets of men
 By the look of their eyes,
 Their gray thoughts, their strange thoughts
 Have made me sad and wise. 

 But your eyes are dark to me
 Though they seem to call and call
 I cannot tell if you love me
 Or do not love me at all.

I know many things,
 But the years come and go.
 I shall die not knowing
 The thing I long to know.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Seasons of the Soul

I am currently mired in the first stages of end-of-term grading, but one thing that I have been thinking about recently is what might be called 'seasons of the soul'.

We have what are called passions, things that we undergo on particular occasions because something moves us to undergo them. There are many different kinds of passions, but an old tradition recognizes a list of four principal passions, called so because they are those passions to which other passions tend, and therefore mark general categories of passion or of the kinds of processes that unfold in passions: hope, fear, joy, and sorrow. They are usually distinguished according to possession versus anticipation of object on the one hand and goodness or badness of object on the other:

hope: anticipated good
fear: anticipated bad
joy: possessed good
sorrow: possessed bad

'Hope' in this scheme is sometimes replaced by 'desire'; whatever the term one uses, the essential idea is being moved toward an anticipated good. Again, there are other passions besides these four -- love, hatred, daring, anger, despair being commonly mentioned ones -- but these are the ones that are in some sense most directly related to any possible object of passion.

Passions are, as the name implies, passive, forms of being-affected by something. When the passions are involved in active responses to things, we call this passion-action complex an 'emotion', although in practice English does not distinguish passions and emotions at all, resulting in what I think is an almost universal confusion about human motivation on every single topic to which it is relevant. 

Passions and emotions are occurrent and occasional. But we also speak of 'moods'. A 'mood' literally is a way the mind is; in Germannic languages, the word and its cognates were always originally associated with something like what the Greeks called thymos, the heart, the natural courage, the capacity for zeal, but in English this has been generalized. It is very difficult to pin down, but I think we can see it as the overall tenor of an entire extended process of passions and emotions. A melancholy mood will cover many different kinds of passions and emotions; it can even include joyful passions and celebratory emotions. But the overall movement of the passions and emotions in a melancholy mood carries a theme of sedateness tending to sorrow. In a melancholy mood, you might expect sorrow to be recurring and joy, while possible, to be dampened. In an irascible mood, you would expect anger, at least incipient anger, to be recurrent and joys and hopes to be dampened. A pleasant mood would tend toward passions associated with good objects and have dampened versions of any passions with bad objects. And so forth.

But it seems that there is something beyond moods, which is what I am calling 'seasons'. As moods are the overall tenor of an entire extended process of passions and emotions, seasons are the overall tenor of a somewhat coherent process of passions, emotions, and moods for an extended part of our lives.  Human beings have lives with joyful seasons and sorrowful seasons, irritable seasons and hopeful seasons, seasons of fear and of love and of hatred. Some seasons are tempestuous, some are quiet. Because they last relatively long periods -- anything from weeks to decades -- I think seasons play a significant role in our life-choices. The kinds of choices we tend to make in a joyful season are very different from the kinds of choices we tend to make in a sorrowful season. Tempestuous seasons result in different patterns of choice than quiet seasons, and hopeful seasons in different patterns than fearful seasons. And, of course, since seasons are the overall tenor of very complex things, they can have all sorts of variations and subtleties that over a period affect our choices. For that reason, getting a sense of the season you are currently living through plays a significant role in making prudent decisions.

Monday, May 06, 2024

A Very Concise Demonstration

 The Mathematician in Love
by William Rankine 

I. A mathematician fell madly in love
With a lady, young, handsome, and charming:
By angles and ratios harmonic he strove
Her curves and proportions all faultless to prove.
As he scrawled hieroglyphics alarming. 

 II. He measured with care, from the ends of a base,
The arcs which her features subtended:
Then he framed transcendental equations, to trace
The flowing outlines of her figure and face,
And thought the result very splendid. 

 III. He studied (since music has charms for the fair)
The theory of fiddles and whistles, --
Then composed, by acoustic equations, an air,
Which, when 'twas performed, made the lady's long hair
Stand on end, like a porcupine's bristles. 

 IV. The lady loved dancing: -- he therefore applied,
To the polka and waltz, an equation;
But when to rotate on his axis he tried,
His centre of gravity swayed to one side,
And he fell, by the earth's gravitation. 

 V. No doubts of the fate of his suit made him pause,
For he proved, to his own satisfaction,
That the fair one returned his affection; -- "because,
"As every one knows, by mechanical laws,
"Re-action is equal to action." 

 VI. "Let x denote beauty, -- y, manners well-bred, --
"z, Fortune, -- (this last is essential), --
"Let L stand for love" -- our philosopher said, --
"Then L is a function of x, y, and z,
"Of the kind which is known as potential." 

 VII. "Now integrate L with respect to d t,
"(t Standing for time and persuasion);
"Then, between proper limits, 'tis easy to see,
"The definite integral Marriage must be: --
"(A very concise demonstration)." 

 VIII. Said he -- "If the wandering course of the moon
"By Algebra can be predicted,
"The female affections must yield to it soon" --
-- But the lady ran off with a dashing dragoon,
And left him amazed and afflicted.

William Rankine was one of the primary nineteenth-century contributors to thermodynamics, developing a unified theory of heat engines, creating the Rankine temperature scale, establishing the first widely accepted definition of 'energy', coining the term 'potential energy', and more. He was apparently also a very good musician and singer, and sometimes wrote his own songs, of which this comic example is the most famous. 

Sunday, May 05, 2024

Links of Note

 * Dwayne Moore, The Argument from Reason and the Dual Process Reply (PDF)

* Santiago Chame, The Non-kinetic Origins of Aristotle's Concept of Ἐνέργεια (PDF)

* Edmund Waldstein, The So-Called 'New Natural Law Theory', at "The Josias"

* Mark Fisher, What would Thucydides say?, at "Aeon"

* James Chamberlain, Hume's 'General Rules' (PDF)

* The Stone of Destiny was a doorstep, at "The History Blog"

* Diane Mantagna interviews Edward Feser on Dignitas Infinita, at "The Catholic Thing"

* Mark Agrios, A Very Elementary Introduction to Sheaves (PDF)

* Hedda Hassel Mørch, Phenomenal Powers (PDF)

* Freddie deBoer, Why Doesn't AI Want to Show Me Jesus Washing the Feet of His Disciples?

* Elle Griffin, No one buys books, at "The Elysian"

[ADDED LATER: John Michael Greer has an interesting post on Griffin's essay, Lenocracy in Extremis: The Case of Publishing, at "Ecosophia".]

* Francesca Bellazzi, Biochemical functions (PDF)

* Christine Norvell, Work and Leisure: A Pieper Primer, at "Front Porch Republic"

* Nicholas Colgrove, Defending the Doctrine of the Mean Against Counterexamples: A General Strategy (PDF)