Monday, September 01, 2014
The problem with Shapiro's plan positivism is that it lacks any real sense of ongoing plan evaluation; it also assumes, without good reason, that legal plans are the broadest and most encompassing plans (that, e.g., there are no broader moral plans).
Ruth as an exemplar for penitents
Mary as Virgin and Mother a sign of Christ as God and Man
"Oil gave itself to the sick that they might gain by it all helps, as the Anointed who gave Himself to gain by Him all glories." Ephrem, Hymn on Virginity 4.5
In Confirmation & Unction alike it is made clear that our destiny is Messianic, the first in life, the second in reward.
"To think is excellent; to pray is better; to love is everything." Elisabeth Leseur
The body of work requires the breath of prayer.
To ask why, given baptism, you would have confirmation, is like asking why, given that you can put anything you wish in an introduction, you would write the book.
the two major problems with universalism:
(1) distinguishing its arguments from problem of evil arguments in general
(2) accounting for universal contrition
--> Universalists typically err with regard to (2) in accounting only for the possibility of universal satisfaction
Mt 25:41 // Rv 20:10
The contrast to the New Jerusalem is the lake of fire.
Rv 22:14-15 & counternatural sins
baptism - Trinity
eucharist - Incarnation
marriage - Church
unction - Resurrection
confirmation - Holy Spirit
ordination - Heaven's worship
penance - judgment
justice in soul, justice in exchange, justice in society
Mathematical contact is simply equivalence; physical contact is a causal notion.
problems as discrepancies between what a goal-directed system is capable of and what the scope of its intention/disposition is (cp. Fisch)
Abot 6:5 - "Greater is Torah than both the Priesthood and the Monarchy."
Aristotle's virtues as aspects of solidarity
The logic of the sacraments is confluence of analogies constrained by revealed truths.
Infused virtues are in some sense more inward than acquired virtues.
Positive laws do not settle what ought to be done; but people may settle what ought to be done out of respect for positive law.
Tradition is preserved by (1) direct reception (2) natural repetitions (3) rational deduction from evidence. Natural repetitions arise from constraints (physical, rational, social, those involved in the sense of faith, etc.).
'Hallowed be your name' is a prayer for martyrdom-if-it-comes-to-that, i.e., all that I have is on the line for the sanctification of your Name. (cp Berakhot 19b; Ta'anit 24b; Sanhedrin 106b)
The pains of purgatory are greater than ours because they are more clear.
Satispassion is more like baptism than like penitential practice.
"Those who are in hell can receive the reward of their good." Aquinas
overlap as the actual parthood relation in intransitive parthood
incipit and desinit as boundary operators
clocks as boundary markers
There is no point *in* Scripture that gives us a complete rendering of salvation history, even in just essentials; salvation history is given *by* Scripture. Likewise there are things more clearly given by Scripture than in Scripture, e.g., the Trinity or that which was defined by Chalcedon.
What we actually get in dogmatic definitions are not isolated dogmas but upsurges or pleats in the fabric of the whole dogmatic faith with which the Church is garbed.
naive physics as the medium of physical evidence
machines are constructed of pairs of elements (Reuleaux)
One could Platonize Kant's autonomy formulation into: Act according to intelligible good and not merely sensible good.
hole : space :: pause : time
hole : body :: pause : change
What is professed through faith is possessed through sacrament.
The Church prays to share in Mary's Assumption.
Human beings do not merely use signs; we vest ourselves with them, sometimes strictly literally (uniforms, regalia, pins), sometimes more loosely.
Since hell is hardened impenitence, the sacrament of reconciliation is always a victory over hell, an act of anti-hell, and thus a taste, one small taste, of heaven.
Heaven being what eye has not seen nor ear heard, we can never *imagine* anything better than a limbo of hell plus things that can be taken as symbols of something more.
It is the nature of hell not to be able to think of anything better than a very nice hell.
Faculties are necessary for absolution because confession is a tribunal.
When most people talk about whether this or that ecclesial proclamation is infallible, they are really asking not about infallibility (a feature of intelligible teaching by a teacher, not of proclamations or formulations) but about juridical imposition.
the elements of hagiography: facts, virtues, gifts, and miracles (these are not completely separable)
While heroic virtue may arise in other ways, the normal beginning of it is in heroic repentance.
semiosis as analogue of the giving of grace
Peirce: if mere possibilities may nonetheless be in some sense real, "it can no longer be granted that every conditional proposition whose antecedent does not happen to be realized is true."
ceremonial law as an antidote for misuse of sign and symbol (Mendelssohn)
The fear of the Lord is that which protects and respects the image of God.
Torah as a planting of the eternal in the midst of the world
Ps 150 & the parallel between the sanctuary and heaven
ssu & sollicitudo
The prosocial functions of beliefs are always tied to their truth, although one must consider partial truth and approximate truth.
The capacity to invoke supernatural and preternatural agents is closely linked to human dignity.
All natural potencies are also obediential potencies.
dreaming as epistemological experiment, as psychological evidence, as ethical venue
the digressions and delays used by scholars to extend the joys of inquiry
"One is punished by the very thins by which one sins." Wisdom 11:16
Torah as imperishable memorial
Consensus is an artifact of social interactions.
eudaimonia as providing the formal character of rational action
the practical syllogism in deliberation vs the practical syllogism in command
the sacramental character must be stirred into flame 2 Tim 1:6
Real composition, as opposed to colligation by the mind, has a causal aspect.
(1) The act of one thing can sometimes be in another.
(2) Two things can have one and the same act.
(3) Even if to act and to be acted on are the same, they need not be the same in respect of their account.
the sensible/intelligible thesis as the key thesis of Neoplatonism
being kind and patient with ideas
work as an instrumentality of prayer
making one's death holy in advance
"Moral virtues are the effective condition for the rationality of acting subjects." Rhonheimer
Prudence is the excellence in us pertaining to normativity as such.
We can ask of any theory of normativity: What does this make of prudence?
temperance as the preserver of prudence (sozain phronesin) EN 6.5
the pursuit of beauty as an aid to prudence
The objects of our actions are in some way part of us.
Jealousy poisons interpretations.
the possibility of love as the seed of love
fade-out as tension-relieving transition
external world // other minds // induction
Modern mathematics as the logic and hypothetical metaphysics (using transcendental argument) of quantity (extension and measure) rather than just the study of the category of quantity (it starts with quantity but spreads out from there). One can see philosophical phenomenology as trying to do the same with quality.
As canon Scripture regulates, as prayer Scripture is appropriated, made one's own.
Probability begins with the construction of possibilities.
Given the sins of humanity, true charity will have among its modes a piacular mode.
the sense of the ridiculous as a guide (however limited) for inquiry
-> restraint of passions and their corresponding biases (cp. Hutcheson)
Christ's atonement as piacular, eucharistical, and federal (testamentary)
A government, to be stable, must limit the extent to which it harms either the property or the reputation of those subjected to it.
marriage as a generator of almsdeeds (acts of mercy)
recognition of the importance of the middle term as used for extrapolating probable arguments for a newly encountered position
explanation as a kind of middle term
plausibility as first reasonableness
the scientific community as
(1) requiring resources
(2) requiring interaction (collegiality)
(2a) patience/good temper
(2e) indignation against abuses
(3) requiring drive
potential parts of a virtue as having integral parts analogous to the integral parts of the principal virtue
Utilitarianism takes right and wrong to be a purely empirical matter; Kantianism takes it to be a purely rational matter; but in the lives of saints and heroes we seem to find something of both.
Ex 17:8-13 as an image of prayer
the saints as being the means for an abundance of reconciliation
What unifies a people must be able to tolerate a diversity of interpretation.
representative government a "semi-sacramental idea" (Chesterton)
the potential parts of justice as touching on aspects of the piacular
faith : Mansfield Park :: hope : Persuasion :: love : Pride and Prejudice
True love is that which makes the virtues shine.
Sublimity is linked to morality by carrying us outside ourselves.
All and each of Austen's works can be seen as exploring aspects of prudence: common sense, moderation, overcoming of bias, solicitude, counsel, constancy.
the importance of 'the restraint of sentiments which were not in themselves illaudable"
the Land as symbol of Torah // the Land as symbol of world to come
Positions in the metaphysics of mathematics have analogues in the philosophy of law.
theological virtues : end :: infused moral virtues : means
virtues : being an agent :: gifts : being an instrument
While all virtues are linked to natural law in some fashion or other, natural law is most closely linked to justice.
'one', 'holy', 'catholic', and 'apostolic' as the four ways in which the Church exhibits wholeness
prayer of intercession as the especial expression of the communion of saints
the law as a network and instrument of agency
paradox of thrift as highlighting the fallacy of composition
Human prayer involves witnesses.
the sacrament of marriage as a school of prayer
lives that are just, useful, and symbolic of beautiful ideals (cp. Mill)
1 Cor 11:26 & eucharist as the sacrament of preaching
meditation on history as a spiritual practice
implausibilities as the aporiai of historical scholarship
the property of the Church as a patrimony of the poor
the contrition/confession/satisfaction structure as having analogues in the other sacraments (seems esp. clear for marriage & eucharist)
the sacraments as first movers of the liturgical commonwealth, moving as the beloved moves the lover (of course, it's Christ through the sacraments)
-> formed as a body, we begin to form customary law
sacrament : impression :: doctrine : idea
a utility theory of hope and despair rather than pleasure and pain (a utilitiarianism of hope)
Taking pain to be an intrinsic evil is confusing sign and signified.
Jer 17:3 the Lord, the baptismal pool of Israel
The fact that psychopaths and the vicious are put on a level with the virtuous, and only overruled by being outnumbered, is a greater weakness of utilitarianism than is generally recognized. (It's not blatant weakness, and utilitarians can work up defenses to more simplistic pressings of the matter, but it is a weak point.)
Platonic recollection // doctrinal development
Aptness to dwell on creatures of one's own imagination is an impediment to constancy.
motives of credibility
(1) confirming wonders
(2) confirmed wisdom
(3) consistent fruitfulness in good
(4) intrinsic beauty
Miracles, surpassing the ability of nature alone, symbolize doctrines surpassing the ability of natural reason alone.
Tronto's definition of care makes it indistinguishable from prudence (attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness are all aspects of prudence).
Schopenhauer's positivism is his first false step in criticizing Kant.
Schopenhauer's 'Harm none but rather help all people, so far as you can' is reducible to the first principle of practical reason.
simplex sigillum veri -- note that the seal, while confirming, requires already possessing (everyone has the experience of things becoming simple once you understand things in the right way)
the sense of investment, the sense of property, the sense of enterprise, the sense of discipline/saving
Motives affect the classification of consequences.
Our capacity for faith, hope, and love indicates three main lines of human dignity.
'Disinterest' in Kant's account of taste is functionally linkable to the fact that beauty pleases merely on the contemplation, and not due to some further incentive.
The Deleuze-Guattari conflation of hierarchies and arborescent structures, and of both with dichotomies, is a serious error.
Measurement is not mere quantity but quantity with respect to a relation (this is why a positivist can treat it as a kind of classification).
Cain & Abel : the Maker kills the Drifter for not being inferior
Checks and balances only work properly when combined with direct responsibility to constituency.
All knowledge is of shared being and by the sharing of being.
piacular guilt as a sign of human dignity
proper admiration of Henry Crawford: "as a clever, pleasant man" Jane to Cassandra 2 March 1814
Exemplarity clearly has some affinity with life.
panpsychism & the World Soul as confusing ways of talking about angels
Occasionalism treats the entire world as if it worked like the mind.
baptism - Immaculate Conception
confirmation - Annunciation
eucharist - Dolors
unction - Assumption
penance (qua tribunal) - Intercession
grotesque : comic :: sublime : tragic
grotesque : rude/primitive :: picturesque : sophisticated technique
the role of novelty in the grotesque
grotesque : pity :: sublime : awe
the grotesque as analogous to the paradoxical
Ruskin - grotesque composed of the ludicrous and the fearful, leading to two tendencies of grotesque (sportive and terrible)
The grotesque is that in the comic that is suggestive the sublime.
the relation between the grotesque and the gruesome
suitability of the grotesque as symbolism of the divine
(1) divine names
(2) miracles & grace // lusus naturae
(3) providence (and the place of the bad/ugly in it)
The grotesque presents its incongruity on its face.
sublimity & deity Seneca Letter XLI
"Philosophy has no business supplying vice with excuses." (Seneca)
Note that Kant's ethical commonwealth can only exist among people united in a political commonwealth (from which, however, it is distinct).
the grotesque as a way in which the ugly can be part of the beautiful
Sensorimotor capability just is the rudiment of tool use.
Models presuppose minds for which they are models.
the High Priestly Prayer as a precis of salvation history
the handing on of the Lord's Prayer in Baptism and Confirmation
The pastoral function of the priest subserves the sacramental.
Mathematics is not a closed, or indeed a single, system.
Godel's qualified argument against mechanism is in reality an argument for mathematical creativity.
Law is powerful enough that even the possibility of it is powerful.
a menagerie of ideas
The cultivation of social justice requires the expansion of opportunities for giving and receiving what is good.
Understanding is not merely an organization of some material.
In a whole constituted by an end, the parts will have their proper ends, the less important parts will have the more important parts as their ends, and all parts will have the whole as their end.
-> Arguments are wholes constituted by ends.
the contrast between Elinor & Lucy SS 24: "Elinor spoke it with the truest sincerity" "replied Lucy, her little sharp eyes full of meaning"
Catechesis is the most important ecumenism. Nothing interferes with union so much as ignorance and neglect of doctrine.
if baptism : passive magisterium and orders : active magisterium, this suggests an intermediate magisterium corresponding to confirmation; think about this
Ethics on analogy with | analogous varieties
mathematics | platonistic, logicist, intuitionist (constructivist), formalist?, predicativist?
physics | realist, instrumentalist (empiricist anti-realist), historicist, social constructivist, pragmatist
medicine | realist-rationalist, realist-empiricist, anti-realist-rationalist, anti-realist-empiricist
utility-based prudential guidelines
office-based prudential guidelines
desert-based prudential guidelines
particular measurements as mereological locations
Feuerbach: "In relation to the inner life, grace may be defined as religious genius; in relation to the outer life as religious chance."
All three sacraments of indelible character purify, illuminate, and unify; but to baptism is appropriated purification, to confirmation illumination, and to orders unification.
metaphors & jokes: striking congruities and startling incongruities
Sacramentalia are ways we not only participate in liturgy but vest ourselves with it. We put the liturgy on, both literally and figuratively.
The treasury of merits is Christ Himself.
Provability is always relative to conceptual resources; proof is an end the attainment of which depends very much on the means available.
the modern superstition of the Mandate of History
Feuerbachian atheism is vulnerable to Cartesian subversion.
the play of thought wrapping around logical structure
Christian hope as divine temperance in us
It is in humility that the natural human being most reflects divine immutability.
the suitability of Christian moral principles of historical study: the goodness of human vocation and natural tendency, original sin, historical study as a practical problem falling under natural law insofar as it touches on common good, the piety of history
If it takes a village to raise a child, the saints are the village for the baptized.
exchangeable, exchange, market
creation as proto-Incarnation
It is fundamentally important to the Catholic process of canonization that it is not a personalized list of favorites. Saints are to teach, and how they perform this function is a matter of how the Church as a whole takes them.
virtue, character, witness of character
the heavens // covenant
thy name : faith :: thy kingdom : hope :: thy will : charity :: give us : temperance :: forgive us : justice :: lead us not : prudence :: deliver us : fortitude
Christlikeness is not merely a resemblance but a signification.
gratitude as community-forming (Feuerbach)
utilitarianism, effective altruism, and the bureaucratization of ethics
The problem with the at-wake-up account of dreaming is that what most plausibly acounts for this set of images at wake up is that they were already there to be taken that way; particularly as environmental factors not at wake up but before (e.g., rumble of thunder) can sometimes be identified as plausibly in the causal chain -- in such cases the at-wake-up view gives us a causal gap.
Dennett's upload account of dreaming is pure Cartesian theater.
philosophical issues in dreaming // philosophical issues in paradox of fiction
The un-Marian is an indicator of the pseudo-Messianic.
"Law in general is human reason, inasmuch as it governs all the inhabitants of the earth" Montesquieu
the theory of capital vices as a theory of cascade failures
Plato: Widely Recognized as Authentic
Phaedrus: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV
Gorgias: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV
Timaeus: Part I, Part II
Menexenus: Part I, Part II
Phaedo: Part I, Part II
Republic: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV
Plato: Heavily Disputed
The Platonic Letters: 7,8
Plato: Usually Regarded as Spurious
The Platonic Definitions
The Platonic Letters: 1,5,9,12 ; 2,4,10,13 ; 3,6,11
The Platonic Epigrams
Memorabilia: Book I, Book II, Book III, Book IV
Some Thoughts Toward Reading Plato's Dialogues
The Golden Villain of Athens
Sydenham's Scheme for the Platonic Dialogues
Hermocrates: A Non-Reading
The Last Days of Socrates
Philosophos: A Non-Reading
A Philosophical Bendideia
Life in This Present Hades
Still to do
Plato: Parmenides, Philebus, Protagoras, Minos, Laws, Epinomis
Xenophon: Oeconomicus, Hiero, Cyropaedia, Cynegeticus (probably), Anabasis (probably), Agesilaus (possibly), Constitution of Sparta (possibly), Hellenica (possibly, but probably only if I can do Thucydides' History as well), Hipparchikos (if time allows), Hippike (if time allows), Poroi (if time allows)
Aristophanes: The Clouds
Plutarch: Socrates' Daimonion, Life of Socrates (possibly)
Apuleius: The God of Socrates (possibly)
Libanius: Defense of Socrates (probably)
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Having discussed the community of good and philosophical education in the excellent city, Socrates can return to the point he began at the beginning of Book V, before he was interrupted by Polemarchus and Adeimantus. However, as is often the case, the digression is not wholly digressive, since in the course of it Socrates already began what he had said he was going to do: explore the relation between justice in the city and justice in the individual. The just city and the just individual have both been developed in lockstep, so now he has only to consider the other kinds of city and the kinds of individual that are like them. He does this by looking at how the kallipolis can degenerate into timarchy, timarchy into oligarchy, oligarchy into democracy, and democracy into tyranny. (So much is coming together in these books that there is simply no way to summarize it all. I will merely note a few highlights.)
The kallipolis, being a truly just city in which all parts work for common good, has no intrinsic tendency to deteriorate (and thus neither does just character), but in a world of time and change nothing can happen perfectly. Over time, mistakes happen; if they are not corrected quickly enough, they accumulate. The disparity between being good and seeming good becomes more serious, as merely seeming good occasionally gets rewarded and actually being good gets shortchanged or even penalized. The temptation to focus on seeming good rather than being good becomes greater. When the individual gives into this temptation, he or she becomes a timarchical soul, and when the city's policy becomes dominated by such individuals, it becomes a timarchy.
Each city after the kallipolis has, in addition to the extrinsic cause of degeneration (accumulation of errors), an intrinsic tendency to degenerate. The timarchy, based on love of victory and honor, is driven by appearances, which are dependent on either luck or resources. Mere drive to accumulate resources is depreciated, but in practice a timarchy has a secret drive for accumulating these resources as means. As this expands in the face of difficulty, it tends to approximate more closely to a drive for accumulating resources just to increase resources. When this dominates city policy or individual life, the result is oligarchic.
Oligarchies are driven by the desire for having more, but they make a distinction among desires: some desires are taken to be dominant and preferable to others, namely, those closely linked to accumulation. An oligarch will exercise considerable self-discipline if profit is on the line, but doing this in practice requires a split life. This manifests as a divide between the accumulating part (in the city, the rich) and the part that sacrifices for the sake of accumulation (in the city, the poor). For this to work, the rich city must give the poor city reason to think that it is benefiting from the arrangement: bread and circuses. But over time, the poor city demands more and more. Eventually it demands, and keeps demanding, more than the rich city can actually give. The poor overthrow the rich and redistribute everything. In the individual, the same overthrow happens; the individual grows tired of sacrificing so many pleasures, and begins to pursue not merely secure pleasures but luxurious pleasures.
This is democratic life, devoted to letting as many parts pursue as much as they can. In the city, this means letting each individual do whatever he or she pleases, as much as possible -- this 'as much as possible' is determined by allowing any pursuits that are harmless and disallowing what is harmful to other pursuits. This makes for an apparent win-win situation for everyone, but in reality it can only work as long as there is perfect agreement about what is harmless and what is harmful. The democratic life by its nature, however, has nothing that can guarantee this agreement. Disagreements about which pleasures are harmless and which are harmful accumulate; coherence is actually maintained only by force -- people with shared standards gang up on those who do not conform to those standards and pressure them to back down into an at least superficial conformity. At some point, however, some part or other of the city has the means to pander to a large portion of the city, and thus can go as far as it wants in eliminating opposition, and then we have tyranny. The tyrannical soul is the one that indulges its strongest desires without any significant restraint.
|City||Governing Principle||Coherence in Pursuit of Good||Dominant Element in Soul||Motivating/Restraining Factor (=What Counts as Progress)|
|Kallipolis||Philosophy/Virtue||Completely One City||Reason||Being Good|
|Timarchy||Honor/Reputation||Approximately One City||Thymos (Spirit)||Seeming Good|
|Oligarchy||Profit||Two Cities (Rich & Poor)||Necessary Appetite||Accumulation|
|Democracy||Toleration||Each Individual a City in Loose Alliance||Luxurious Appetite||Diverse Pleasure|
|Tyranny||Rule||Every Individual a City at War||Brutal Appetite||Arbitrary Force|
But when these characters are put on the large scale of a city, we can clearly see ways in which this is a real degeneration. The city, or the individual, becomes increasingly incoherent, descending into increasing conflict. Moreover, despite the apparent proliferation of pleasure as the degeneration continues, the more limited the pleasures become; less and less of the individual, or the city, is actually given any satisfaction. It becomes less and less a matter of every part working for the best good of every part and more and more a matter of constant struggle of every part even to have good at all.
But this is sufficient ground for answering the challenge Glaucon and Adeimantus had originally proposed, namely, to show that justice was better in itself as well as in its consequences. This is summarized in the Myth of the Beast of Many Heads: when the human head (reason/lovers of wisdom) unites with the lion head (spirit/lovers of honor) to cultivate the multiform beast (appetite/lovers of wealth), all parts benefit, because reason or philosophical rule is the only thing that can take into account the good of every part. If other parts try to dominate, the good of reason is necessarily shortchanged and, equally necessarily, the rest can achieve only an imperfect coherence -- parts start working against each other. When the multiform beast dominates, it can't even maintain coherence in itself, much less the whole, and everything gets shortchanged, even harmed on its own terms, except, in the end, by luck. What is more, it has by the same token become clear that only where philosophical education is involved is there any clear grasp of what is genuinely good or not; the degenerate states are precisely states in which other things are allowed to interfere with, and take precedence over, understanding.
* One way to understand the idea behind the division of constitutions is to see them as answering a significant question: How can a city be as effective as Sparta, but in the realm of virtue? The kallipolis is in this sense a very idealized Sparta, one devoted not to victory and war but to wisdom and justice; it is therefore governed not by warriors but by those who are to wisdom what warriors are to victory, i.e., philosophers or lovers of wisdom. The timarchy is the Spartan self-image. The oligarchy is the imitation Sparta set up by many oligarchs in various cities, including Athens. The democracy is the Periclean vision of Athens. But this is all quite crude; the correspondence is not intended to be exact, because all real cities consists of populations that are mix of the citizens of these ideal cities, and the overall policy of the city is determined by whichever kind of citizens happens to dominate.
* The description of the rise of the tyrant in 565c and following appears to be a highly idealized depiction of the rise of the tyrant Pisistratus in the sixth century BC (the tyranny thus created was ended by the return of democracy, which is depicted -- albeit in a deliberately ironic and incorrect way -- in Hipparchus.
* The mathematical argument for the philosopher having a life 729 times more pleasant than the tyrant's is notoriously difficult to follow. However, 729 is significant in that it is both a square and a cube (3 x 3 x 3 = 27 x 27). Thus the tyrannical man's happiness is flat, but the philosophical man has a volume of happiness; he is quite literally more well-rounded in his pleasures. 729 also seems to have had some significance for the Pythagoreans as a symbol of human life, which seems to be the point of the comment at 588a. Notice, however, that Glaucon seems more amused than convinced by the argument, that Socrates immediately puts the emphasis not on the pleasure but on gracefulness (euschymosyne), beauty (kallei), and excellence/virtue (arete) -- the pleasantness is just a sign of these things, and in these things the philosophical life is immeasurably greater.
* Notice that, in fact, education has not stopped being the main theme of discussion: the degeneration series is presented as a degeneration in education, and the conclusion of the whole is in part that when dealing with children we should "establish a constitution in them, just as in a city, and--by fostering their best part with our own--equip them with a guardian and ruler similar to our own to take our place" (590d).
Socrates returns to the discussion of music, poetry, and physical education, by discussing how the argument to this point has confirmed his original arguments about the foundational education for the just city. The governing issue throughout the previous books has been that of the disparity between appearance and reality; thus it shows that the key principle of education needs to be that of getting the student to grasp what is really good and not what is merely an imitation of it. The problem with much of what passes for education (in terms of music, poetry, physical education) is that rather than being concerned with what is really good, it has a democratic character -- it is devoted to pleasing as many as possible. Thus it takes on the features of democratic life, and only manages to reflect justice and goodness in the very indirect way democratic life does. Participating in it plays more to our multiform beast than to anything else, and this can cultivate a degenerative imbalance in our lives. But we should be guided instead by what is really good; "we mustn't be tempted by honor, money, rule, or even poetry into neglecting justice and the rest of virtue" (608b). This is a matter of health of life: just as disease is disorder of body, so vice is disorder of life, and they both tend toward destroying what has them.
But this provides a context for looking at the relation between justice and Hades, which was first raised in Book I and was restated by Adeimantus. The soul, what it is that makes us alive, is itself apparently indestructible, being the sort of thing that in philosophy can have kinship with indestructible truth and goodness. In facing the challenge raised by Glaucon and Adeimantus, Socrates had to find a way to describe justice independently of its appearance and reputation; but it is nonetheless true that justice does have a good appearance and reputation among gods and men, and we should expect the gods to favor it in the long term. When we do we see that not only is injustice degenerative in itself, unjust people are like those who run very well for the first part of a race but fail to run well the longer the race gets, sometimes even failing in this life itself, among human judges, but especially failing after it when the judges are divine.
Thus we come to the Myth of Er, which manages to pull together strands from many other afterlife myths found in plate (e.g., the Myth of Judgment in Gorgias, or the Myth of the Chariot in Phaedrus). Part of the point of it is to depict a way of seeing each choice as having great weight and importance. Every just choice lays out a direction of progress that extends out much farther than we might imagine, and the farther one goes in that direction, the greater the difference in value between a just and an unjust life. Injustice requires extraordinary myopia.
Thus we come to the final conclusion of the dialogue, summed up by Socrates:
But if we are persuaded by me, we'll believe that the soul is immortal and able to endure every evil and every good, and we'll always hold to the upward path, practicing justice with reason in every way. That way we'll be friends both to ourselves and to the gods while we remain here on earth and afterwards--like victors in the games who go around collecting their prizes--we'll receive our rewards. Hence, both in this life and on the thousand-year journey we've described, we'll do well and be happy. (621c-d)
* Notice that the good life is, Aristotle-like, understood as a choice of a mean between extremes (619a).
* The afterlife myth here is given the justification that seems to be the usual justification for afterlife myths in Plato (cp. Gorgias especially); it is less about what actually happens after one dies than about providing a way to see more clearly the soul "as it is in its pure state" (611c).
Quotations are from Plato, Republic, G. M. A. Grube and C. D. C. Reeve, trs. Hackett (Indianapolis: 1992).
Along with a reputation for writing books that sold, she also gained a reputation for casually dropping inflammatory comments in interviews on everything from women's suffrage (wasn't impressed by it) to care of children (thought that they were less important than spouses) to reincarnation (dabbled in past lives therapy without entirely committing to its being really possible) to her views on the human race (said once that human beings were God's big mistake). She was vehemently anti-Communist and highly suspicious of big government. You can see her FBI file online; she repeatedly claimed to be harassed by Communists (which is probably true in the limited sense that outspoken authors tend to be harassed by kooks opposing the positions they take) and the Internal Revenue Service, which she regarded as an instrument for the usurpation of power and the control of the populace. But it's always difficult to determine how much of this side of her was utterly serious and how much of it was dramatic hyperbole. Probably a bit of both, since there is no doubt that she put a high value on saying things frankly and yet also relished controversy. It's also true that expressing herself very vividly is something at which Caldwell excelled.
I've read a lot of her works, but the fortnightly book is one I hadn't read before. It is on my shelves as an inheritance from my grandparents' library, but they had it as an inheritance as well, since it has the name of my great-grandmother (my mother's mother's mother) inside the cover. Never Victorious, Never Defeated was a bestseller for 1954. I know very little about it, beyond the fact that it is about the railroad industry in America between the Civil War and (I believe) World War II. It is usually paired with Captains and the Kings (which I have read and have on my shelves, and which is quite a good book). It is sometimes compared with Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, but I doubt beforehand that there is more in common between the two books than the railroad industry and a suspicion of big government -- we will see.
On the title page, Caldwell has placed a poem, her own, explaining the title:
Man is never victorious, never defeated,
The cheater yields up his loot to the cheated,
Wisdom and folly can never be parted,
The waters return to the hills where they started.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
The rocky shore of the Lake of Lucerne, opposite Schwyz. The lake here forms a bay, with a hut a little way from the shore. A fisher-boy is rowing his boat. Across the lake the green meadows, farms and villages of Schwyz can be seen, lying in bright sunshine. To the left of the spectator, the peaks of the Haken can be recognised, veiled in mist; to the right, in the far distance, icy mountains. The herdsman's melody and the musical chiming of cowbells are heard before the curtain rises, continuing for some time afterwards.
FISHER-BOY (singing in his boat. Melody of the ranz des vaches.)
See how the lake so invitingly gleams,
And there on the bank how the fisher-boy dreams;
A music he hears then,
A fluting so fair,
Like voices of angels
In heavenly choir.
Summary: Switzerland seems almost idyllic, but a storm is beginning to gather over the regions of Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Uri. The Swiss are in an unusual situation within the Empire, being a loose collection of cantons allowed to do their own thing under direct authority of the Emperor and his representatives. The current powers that be, however, are steadily encroaching on freedoms that the locals have had for centuries, and are finding that the Swiss take more than words to convince. In the middle of all this is simple, straightforward William Tell, practically a feature of the mountains himself, excellent hunter and boatsman, and, like many an outdoorsman, Tell just wants to avoid trouble and be left alone.
It is not to be. As the pressure of the government, and particularly the zealous governor, Gessler, grows, he finds it difficult to avoid involving himself on occasion. And by sheer happenstance, he becomes the center of a maelstrom when (in a scene that seems to have been made up by Schiller) he fails to show respect to the governor's hat, hanging on a pole in a field, put there as a test of loyalty. Out of this comes Tell's first amazing feat, when the governor cruelly demands that he shoot an apple off the head of his own son. Tell draws two arrows and achieves the feat with the first.
When Gessler asks why he drew the second arrow, Tell finally admits that the second arrow was for the governor if Tell's son had come to any harm. So Gessler arrests him anyway. The sets up for Tell's second amazing feat, as a storm comes up while they are taking a boat on the way back. Since he is the best boatman in the region, they remove his bonds, but he, seeing a desperate opportunity, makes a great leap from the boat to the shore. There is, incidentally, a little chapel on Lake Lucerne to commemorate the Tellensprung, as it is called.
["Tellskapelle2000" by Roland Zumbühl - From Picswiss. Original uploader was Paenultima at de.wikipedia. Transferred from de.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:AndreasPraefcke using CommonsHelper. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.]
Tell becomes a symbol of revolt -- ironically, since the unbearable incident that drives the revolution is Tell's going above and beyond what anyone could reasonably expect by obeying a cruel and arbitrary order that put his own son at risk. It does so, of course, because in a very public and visible way it shows all the Swiss that Gessler and others like him are not just an inconvenience but a threat to their families. Tell does not, however, lead the revolt, this being a real revolt and not a Hollywood movie. William Tell's only significant contribution after his great leap -- although it is a very significant contribution -- is to speed his second arrow to its destiny in Gessler's heart.
The local citizens join together in a covenant to overthrow the governors. They do not attempt to break away from the Empire, a fact of considerable significance; they see themselves not as rebelling against the Empire but as upholding the Imperial charter that through the centuries has recognized their way of life. This is paralleled in Tell's meeting, at the end, with the Duke John the Parricide, who is on the run after having killed his uncle the Emperor. Tell is horrified at the man, who has killed his own blood over resentment about an inheritance, and, indeed, dared to kill no less than the Emperor. Tell had never originally had any ideas of assassinating a governor; he had just wanted to be left alone. The governor commanded him to endanger his son, and then arrested him even when he obeyed, leaving his wife and sons to fend for themselves; Tell acted on behalf of his family. It was the one oppression more than any man could bear, not a relatively trivial thing like shortchanging a patrimony, and Tell acted against an enemy of his family, not against a member of it.
I was pleasantly surprised by Francis Lamport's translation; verse drama is very difficult to interpret in a way that doesn't end up turgid or awkward, but he does quite well. If you are looking for a good translation, it works well.
Favorite Passage: Stauffacher, one of the leaders of the revolt, gives this passage as part of a long speech. It was a passage that was often censored when the play was performed in the early nineteenth century.
No, there are limits to the tyrants' power.
When a man finds that justice is denied him,
When he can bear no more, then he will look
To Heaven at the last with bold assurance
And claim from Heaven his eternal rights,
Which hang there like the very stars themselves,
Inalienable, indestructible. --
The ancient state of nature will return,
When man to man we stand in weal or woe --
And in the last resort, when nothing more
Remains to save us, we still have our swords.
What is most dear to us we may defend
Against oppression -- We stand for our country,
We stand here to defend our wives and children! (p. 53)
Recommendation: A light tale about deep politics, and especially about the overwhelming importance of the rights that protect one's home and family. Highly recommended.
Quotations from Friedrich Schiller, William Tell: A Play, Francis Lamport, tr. Libris (London: 2005).
Friday, August 29, 2014
The sphere, therefore, and field in which philosophy has to move, or to which it has to apply itself, is no narrow one, hemmed in and confined by any unwarrantable exclusiveness. On the contrary, it must, so far is possible for aught that is human, be complete and perfect. And for this reason also, she must not, as indeed she can not, take her rise in a consciousness artificially parceled out and divided, and, in short, but one half of its true self, and which, being biassed and visionary in its views, is divorced from real life. It can originate only in the mind's greatest perfection and in its full and most undivided entirety, inasmuch as to make this consciousness clear to itself and to others constitutes even its proper function and entire aim.
Friedrich von Schlegel, Philosophy of Language, Morrison, tr., p. 353. The problem he has particularly in mind is the tendency of German philosophers to treat philosophy as if it focused wholly on abstract thought, as if abstract thought and ideas were not only one aspect of the whole of living reason and rational life.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
With however great light of learning and of reputation he may shine, however much he may boast himself to be a precious stone, who endeavors to lead you after him, remember always that that brave woman who alone is lovely only to her husband, whom holy Scripture portrays to us in the last chapter of the Book of Proverbs, is more precious than any precious stones. Let no one say, I will follow such an one, for it was even he that made me a Christian; or, I will follow such an one, for it was even he that baptized me. For "neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." And "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." No one also that preaches the name of Christ, and handles or administers the sacrament of Christ, is to be followed in opposition to the unity of Christ. "Let every man prove his own work; and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden,"—the burden, that is, of rendering an account; for "every one of shall give an account of himself. Let us not therefore judge one another any more." For, so far as relates to the burdens of mutual love, "bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." Let us therefore "forbear one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;" for no one who gathers outside that peace is gathering with Christ; but "he that gathering not with Him scattereth abroad."
The brave woman of Proverbs 31 is the Church, of course.
It's notable that this quotation, which comes from Book 11 of Homer's Odyssey, has come up before. At the beginning of Book III, Socrates is in the midst of criticizing poems about the gods, and he begins to argue that if the citizens of the just city are to be courageous, they should not be told stories from childhood that would make them fear death. In particular, they should not be taught that Hades is filled with terror; rather, life in Hades should be praised. This, of course, is precisely what Homer does not do. When Odysseus talks to Achilles in Hades, he tries to comfort him for the fact that he is dead, but Achilles will have none of it, saying he would rather serve a poor man than be king of the dead. It is this that Socrates quotes in Book VII, and this is the very first passage that Socrates lists for deletion in Book III. As he goes on to say in Book III, it isn't that such passages aren't pleasing, but indeed, rather the reverse; because they are pleasing and poetic, they are not appropriate for teaching a courageous people who should fear slavery more than death.
We are not to speak this way, then, of the afterlife, lest we make people timid. But Socrates speaks exactly this way of the Cave. The Cave, like Hades, is an underworld, and, like Hades, its inhabitants have only a shadow of real life. But the Cave is, so to speak, true Hades, the Hades of which it might truly be said that even servitude outside it is better than autonomy within it. And the difference is important, because we are the inhabitants in the Cave, living our lives according to sensible goods, which are mere shadows in comparison with the intelligible goods that make possible order, mathematics, and virtue. We should be pitied as the Greeks pitied the heroic dead. But unlike the heroic dead, there is a path for us out of this underworld. We only have to stand up, turn around, and walk toward the Good.
Boethius has an interesting adaptation of this theme in Book III, Meter 12 of the Consolation. This is one of Boethius's mythological poems, and the subject here is Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice, of course, died, and Orpheus in grief set out to retrieve her. So beautiful was his music that he touched the heart even of the compassionless king of the dead, who as a single exception allowed the return of Eurydice to the land of the living. But, of course, there was the condition that he could not see her dead. You know the story: Orpheus failed, because he looked back at the very last moment and she vanished away before his eyes. And the moral that Lady Philosophy draws is clear: in pursuing the Good, we must not only walk out of the Cave, we must not even look back until we are free in the sunlit realms.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The above is quite clearly a painting of the Vision at Ostia, which I've talked about before.
And we came at last to our own minds and went beyond them, that we might climb as high as that region of unfailing plenty where thou feedest Israel forever with the food of truth, where life is that Wisdom by whom all things are made, both which have been and which are to be. Wisdom is not made, but is as she has been and forever shall be; for "to have been" and "to be hereafter" do not apply to her, but only "to be," because she is eternal and "to have been" and "to be hereafter" are not eternal.
[Augustine, Confessions Book IX, Chapter 10]
The distinction between the philosophers and the 'philodoxers' opposed to them turns out to be a distinction between those who do not merely stop with individual splendid or good things, but consider and reflect on the splendid itself or the good itself, and those who never get beyond the many, wandering from one to another without cease. If the guardians are to shape the just city, however, they must have a clear model according to which they can shape it; thus we must have philosophers, lovers of wisdom, not philodoxers or lovers of opinion, leading the city.
This raises the question of what natures are philosophical, which must be known if the just city is to be constructed properly. Glaucon and Socrates agree that the philosopher is a lover of learning of all kinds, a lover of truth rather than falsehood, who gives learning and truth a higher priority than pleasures of the body. One who gives learning and truth such an honored place will not be afraid of bodily death, will associate with others so as to learn, will learn swiftly, and will have thoughts that are measured and orderly.
Adeimantus notes, however, that people will reply that in reality most philosophers become kooks, and even the decent philosophers are largely useless. Socrates notes that something can be useless not because it fails to be of value but because others do not make use of it. As for philosophers becoming kooks and cranks, or even vicious, the important question is how the kind of nature we are starting with becomes corrupted. Even vigorous plants and animals, perhaps especially the vigorous ones, will go bad if it is outside its proper milieu. If you give a promising young man a bad upbringing, a bad education, you can hardly expect him to grow in a proper philosophical way, except "by divine dispensation" (493a). Socrates sharply criticizes the sophists -- it is one of the most direct attacks on the profession in the dialogues -- for only being concerned with teaching opinions of the majority and yet daring to call it wisdom, when the majority themselves are philodoxers more than philosophers.
Education and constitution are closely tied, then, and Socrates complains that no political constitution in ancient Greece seems to be the right one for the kind of philosophical education needed by the guardians. And the education tends to be backward -- people learnf philosophy early on, and then no more; whereas they should get lots of physical and mental exercise early on so as to prepare them for philosophy. And what constitutes a genuine philosophical education, rather than a false one like that given by the sophists?
Socrates gives us several images in succession in order to convey what this philosophical education might be. We start with the Analogy of the Sun and the Divided Line. But these are in a sense merely preparatory for what is, after the Myth of Atlantis, the most famous Platonic Myth of all.
* The discussion of the corruption of a philosophical nature so closely tracks what we know of Alcibiades that he is almost certainly in view.
Some of the descriptions of the kinds of people who do manage to "consort with philosophy in a way that's worthy of her" (496a) are also quite specific. Socrates, who manages it because of his divine sign, and Theages, who manages it because his physical illness reduces the chances of temptation, are specifically named. Are the other descriptions describing particular people? If we were to interpret the passage at (496a-e) on the hypothesis that there are particular people in view, do we know enough to identify them, even if only tentatively? The first kind the "noble and well brought-up character" who is exiled, sounds a lot like Xenophon, who was, in fact, exiled, although the word here could mean that he fled rather than was exiled. Others of Socrates' students were forced to flee or were exiled, but Xenophon is the only one who had a significant philosophical after-history. Paul Shorey, in the notes to his translation, suggests that besides Xenophon (Socratic), Plato could have Anaxagoras (pre-Socratic) or Dion (post-Socratic) in mind. It would be tempting to take the description of the great soul (megale psyche) to be Plato himself (the attitude described fits the descriptions of Plato in the Platonic epistles, for instance), except for the fact that Athens in Plato's day wasn't even a small city by our standards today, much less for the ancient Greek world; its full population would certainly have been several hundred thousand people, and may have been as much as half a million, although only about forty thousand people would have been citizens in the strict sense of the term. Any other guess would require knowing more about the fates of Socrates' students than we do. Several of Socrates' students fit the profile of people from other crafts, such as the Simon the leatherworker who was supposedly somehow connected to Phaedo and who (according to that philosophical gossip mill, Diogenes Laertius) was the first person actually to write down Socrates' arguments. All of this is speculative, of course, but it is interesting speculation and, moreover, it reminds us that for both Socrates and Plato the arguments in the dialogue were about real life and real people.
* Peter Losin, Plato's Analogy of the Divided Line, argues for a somewhat different interpretation of the Line than is usually given. He gives a salutary warning worth keeping in mind when interpreting all of Plato's images in this middle part of the dialogue:
...we must remember that the sun, the line, and the cave are images (Rp 509A9, 517A8). As they are developed Glaucon is repeatedly asked to imagine or picture things (508B9, 508D4, 508D10, 514A2, 514B7-8); and they are qualified by some of the most explicit caveats in all of Plato's writing (see 505A1-4, 506C6-D5, 507A1-5, 517B7-C5). Socrates himself warns Glaucon against taking his spatial language too literally at 529A9-C2. So we must not be overly literal in reading what Plato so explicitly cautions is not to be taken as a straightforwardly literal account.
The Allegory of the Cave is about the education of guardians, but it is worth also recognizing that it continues to answer the question of why philosophers can have the bad reputation of being useless despite being (if Socrates is right) so necessary to the good government of the city. And, of course, since the description of the city is a model for individuals as well, and guardians in the city represent reason in the individual, everything here is also arguing about what is required to give reason its proper role in one's life. If anyone asks why one should consider Plato a philosophical virtuoso, Book VII of the Republic more than suffices as an answer.
One of the key points is that education is not about putting knowledge into people. It depends on the fact that everyone already has the capacity to learn. Moreover, it requires the full person: "the instrument with which one learns is like an eye that cannot be turned around from darkness to light without turning the whole body" (518c). And the object of study that matters is the good itself. This is the kind of study that is necessary if the guardians are to have a clear model on which to base their shaping of the just city. But, of course, to shape the city they must also "share the labors of the city, each in turn, while living the greater part of their time with one another in the pure realm" (520d). To this end they need to be trained in music, poetry, athletics, and the crafts, including mathematics; but most importantly they need dialectic, which allows them to go beyond the merely hypothetical to actual principles.
Dialectic is a dangerous subject, however; it needs to be introduced carefully:
I don't suppose that it has escaped your notice that, when young people get their first taste of arguments, they misuse it by treating it as a kind of game of contradiction. They imitate those who've refuted them by refuting others themselves, and, like puppies, they enjoy dragging and tearing those around them with their arguments. (539a-b)
Dialectic needs to be practiced instead with a love for truth and in a way that shows the goodness of philosophical life; otherwise it is counterproductive. It needs to be learned slowly and it must culminate, somewhere down the line, with understanding the good itself.
Thus we have completed the description of the beautiful city, and the character of those who live lives appropriate to it. Plato will now go on to tear it down.
* If you haven't ever watched Orson Welles's narration of the Allegory of the Cave, you obviously must:
* Notice that Socrates explicitly emphasizes that his account of education applies to women as well as men (540c).
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
The Whispers, "And the Beat Goes On". A surprisingly interesting video to watch, incidentally, considering that it is from before the "Billie Jean" era in which Michael Jackson began turning music videography into an art form. Prior to Jackson's reconceiving of music videos as short films to frame music, music videos were usually just recordings of stage performances; the result usually ranges from bland to awful, but this one turns out quite well. I think it works because the choreography is excellent; the separation imposed by the camera lens blunts the interest and excitement of any performance, but there's enough of it here that some survives.
The term has started for me, so I'm juggling a number of things at the moment; I don't know if it will slow things down around here, but I mention it in case it does.
A golden age--
a mineless age, a ploughless age,
no evil deed or wish,
each in its place, devoted,
prosperity and piety interlinked,
theft like monsters a nursery tale,
hunger a stray unease in a dream:
the rain is upon the fields,
and it is a needed rain;
the crops grow up,
and they are needed crops;
the people are of good mind.
The heart with a leap in the night
is bold in its rising and roar;
I crouch like a lion and wait,
then leap in a rush at your smile
with kiss and with stealing of breath.
Friends Like You
To cope with strife takes will,
but a happy hope may fill a hapless life
from God's goodness and high throne.
These are good, golden and great:
mastery of fate, a charming wife, a sure home,
a heart that soars the vast sky beyond storm,
a lasting share in glory's gleam,
a wise wish by wise words informed,
and friends like you.
Great things are prone to fall, says Plato--
ah, but yet not all!
Mountains stand and years will not forget.
And yet -- and yet! -- mountains too that fate have met,
mountains too to time are held in thrall.