Thursday, December 18, 2014

Judas the Lion-Prince, the Avenging Rod

The Feast of Lights
by Emma Lazarus

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening's forehead o'er the earth.
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Blow the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn;
Chant psalms of victory till the heart takes fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born.

Remember how from wintry dawn till night,
Such songs were sung in Zion, when again
On the high altar flamed the sacred light.
And, purified from every Syrian stain,
The foam-white walls with golden shields were hung.
With crowns and silken spoils, and at the shrine.
Stood, midst their conqueror-tribe. five chieftains sprung
From one heroic stock, one seed divine.

Five branches grown from Mattathias' stem.
The Blessed John, the Keen-Eyed Jonathan,
Simon the fair, the Burst-of-Spring, the Gem,
Eleazar, Help-of-God; o'er all his clan
Judas the Lion-Prince, the Avenging Rod,
Towered in warrior-beauty, uncrowned king,
Armed with the breastplate and the sword of God,
Whose praise is: "He received the perishing."

They who had camped within the mountain-pass,
Couched on the rock, and tented neath the sky,
Who saw from Mizpah'a heights the tangled grass
Choke the wide Temple-courts, the altar lie
Disfigured and polluted — who had flung
Their faces on the stones, and mourned aloud
And rent their garments, wailing with one tongue,
Crushed as a wind-swept bed of reeds is bowed,

Even they by one voice fired, one heart of flame,
Though broken reeds, had risen, and were men,
They rushed upon the spoiler and o'ercame,
Each arm for freedom had the strength of ten.
Now is their mourning into dancing turned,
Their sackcloth doffed for garments of delight,
Week-long the festive torches shall be burned,
Music and revelry wed day with night.

Still ours the dance, the feast, the glorious Psalm,
The mystic lights of emblem, and the Word.
Where is our Judas? Where our five-branched palm?
Where are the lion-warriors of the Lord?
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Sound the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn.
Chant hymns of victory till the heart take fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born!

Music on My Mind

Mary Lou Williams and the Roots, "The Devil -- Chorale Vocal".

The Devil never rests come day, come dusk, come dawn;
You compromise and end up sold in parts.
So don’t it strike you funny when you look him in the eye --
The Devil looks a lot like you and I.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Watch Is Long Betimes and Late

by Christina Rossetti

This Advent moon shines cold and clear,
These Advent nights are long;
Our lamps have burned year after year
And still their flame is strong.
'Watchman, what of the night?' we cry,
Heart-sick with hope deferred:
'No speaking signs are in the sky,'
Is still the watchman's word.

The Porter watches at the gate,
The servants watch within;
The watch is long betimes and late,
The prize is slow to win.
'Watchman, what of the night?' But still
His answer sounds the same:
'No daybreak tops the utmost hill,
Nor pale our lamps of flame.'

One to another hear them speak
The patient virgins wise:
'Surely He is not far to seek' –
'All night we watch and rise.'
'The days are evil looking back,
The coming days are dim;
Yet count we not His promise slack,
But watch and wait for Him.'

One with another, soul with soul,
They kindle fire from fire:
'Friends watch us who have touched the goal.'
'They urge us, come up higher.'
'With them shall rest our waysore feet,
With them is built our home,
With Christ.' – 'They sweet, but He most sweet,
Sweeter than honeycomb.'

There no more parting, no more pain,
The distant ones brought near,
The lost so long are found again,
Long lost but longer dear:
Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard,
Nor heart conceived that rest,
With them our good things long deferred,
With Jesus Christ our Best.

We weep because the night is long,
We laugh for day shall rise,
We sing a slow contented song
And knock at Paradise.
Weeping we hold Him fast Who wept
For us, we hold Him fast;
And will not let Him go except
He bless us first or last.

Weeping we hold Him fast to-night;
We will not let Him go
Till daybreak smite our wearied sight
And summer smite the snow:
Then figs shall bud, and dove with dove
Shall coo the livelong day;
Then He shall say, 'Arise, My love,
My fair one, come away.'

2 May 1858

The first half of the penultimate stanza approaches perfection: an immense amount said in twenty-two ordinary words.

Anne Jaap Jacobson on Mind and Representation

Anne Jaap Jacobson has been doing some excellent guest posts at "The Brains Blog", broadly related to her recently published book, Keeping the World in Mind. The series:

Introducing Anne Jaap Jacobson

(1) "Let Me Quickly Wash My Hands One More Time" (the role of dopamine in perception and action, which serves as a useful set of research for the rest of the discussion)
(2) Anxiety about the Internal (what is meant by 'representation' in cognitive neuroscience and in contemporary philosophy of mind)
(3) Representations in the History of Philosophy, and a Bit about Red Pandas (Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume; as well as the problem of fakes)
(4) Human Errors and My Errata (issues of error and the need for consideration of the mind as in some sense necessarily social)

This is all great discussion; I particularly liked the discussion in (3) of how Aquinas and Hume, despite radically different views of mind, nonetheless share some very basic ideas that are not generally found in contemporary philosophical discussions of mental representation.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Links of Note

* Philosophers' Carnival #170 at "Philosophy, et cetera".

* Whewell's Gazette, Vol. 26. There are several links for George Boole, who died December 8, 1864.

Among the other topics, I found James C. Rautio's The Long Road to Maxwell's Equations particularly interesting.

* Philip Stratton-Lake on Ethical Intuitionism at the SEP. Sadly, it manages to mention neither Butler nor Whewell despite the fact that Butler is a major factor in the importance of ethical intuitionism in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and despite the fact that Whewell is one of the most important intuitionists of the nineteenth century; but, admittedly, it is a big subject.

* MrD on why the trolls were after Marie Curie in 1911.

* Jennifer Fitz notes some very obvious problems with a recent article by Candida Moss and Joel Baden, in which they manage to get a theological term wrong and mischaracterize the Catholic position on infertility despite having a forthcoming book on "Biblical Perspectives on Procreation and Childlessness": first post, second post. Michael Bradley at "Ethika Politika" also discusses some tendentious aspects of the piece.

* A letter between Camus and Sartre has been recently rediscovered.

* David S. Oderberg, Hume, the Occult, and the Substance of the School (PDF).

* Lorraine Daston, Wonder and the Ends of Inquiry


* A fascinating discussion of Thomson's violinist argument by Gina Schouten.

* The O Antiphons in Middle English

Love and Kindness

I might, indeed, have learned, even from the poets, that Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness: that even the love between the sexes is, as in Dante, "a lord of terrible aspect." There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness (in the sense given above) is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object--we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object become good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering.

C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, Collier (New York: 1962) pp. 40-41. The meaning of kindness as used here is glossed as "the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy" (p. 40).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Rough Timeline of the Maccabean and Hasmonean Eras

All dates are BC; many dates are approximate.

323 Death of Alexander the Great. The empire is divided; Antigonus takes Greece, Ptolemy takes Egypt, and Seleucus takes Syria.

220 Simon the Righteous (Sirach 50:1-21) becomes High Priest.

218 Hannibal crosses the Alps in Italy.

217 Battle of Raphia (3 Macc. 1; Daniel 11:11?): Ptolemy IV Philopator defeats Antiochus III, ending the Fourth Syrian War between Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria.

211 Hannibal begins his march on Rome.

207 Rome manages to turn back Hannibal at Metaurus River.

202 End of Second Punic War when Scipio defeats Hannibal at Zama.

198 Judea becomes part of the Seleucid kingdom in the Fifth Syrian War. Onias III (2 Macc. 3:1-40), son of Simon the Righteous, becomes High Priest.

196 The city of Smyrna, threatened by Antiochus III, appeals to Rome for aid.

191 Rome and its allies defeat Antiochus III at Thermopylae and Corycus.

176 Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascends to the throne.

174 Jason, brother of Onias, attempts to become High Priest by bribing Antiochus (2 Macc. 4:1-7).

171 Menelaus offers a bigger bribe to Antiochus in order to become High Priest (2 Macc. 4:23-26); Jason flees.

170 Onias murdered through the machinations of Menelaus (2 Macc. 4:30-38). Antiochus IV initiates the Sixth Syrian War.

168 Antiochus IV is turned back in his invasion of Egypt by the ultimatum of Rome. A rumor spreads that he has died, and Jason attempts to overthrow Menelaus. Antiochus discovers this when returning and interprets it as a revolt (2 Macc. 5:11-14). He begins a crackdown on non-Hellenizing Jews (2 Macc. 6:1-12).

167 Abomination of Desolation (Daniel 11:31): Antiochus Epiphanes sets up an idol in the Temple. Jews begin to rally behind the family of Mattathias (1 Macc. 2:27ff.). The Maccabean revolt begins. Mithridates of Parthia takes advantage of the Seleucid confusion to seize the strategic city of Herat; Antiochus leaves the handling of the Maccabees to Lysias and goes to war against the Parthians himself.

Antiochus dies of illness while on (successful) campaign against Parthia. Rededication of the Temple under Judah Maccabee.

163 Lysias comes against the Maccabees with a vast army and elephants; Eleazar Maccabee dies in heroic attack (1 Macc. 6:42-46). Lysias lays siege to Jerusalem, but on hearing that one of his rivals is attempting to take advantage of Lysias's absence, Lysias offers Judah Maccabee peace terms: persecution of Jews for their faith and practice will end as long as they remain politically loyal to the Seleucids. Judah accepts. A split begins to develop between Hellenizing and Hebraic Jews, leading to civil war.

161 Antiochus V Eupator overthrown by Demetrius I Soter.

162 Alcimus is made High Priest by Demetrius I Soter.

160 Judah Maccabee killed in battle by combined forces of Hellenizing Jews and Selucid reinforcements sent by Demetrius I Soter. Hebraic remnant begins to rally around Jonathan Maccabee.

152 Civil war develops in the Seleucid kingdom between Demetrius II and Alexander Balas (later Alexander Epiphanes). Both sides seek an ally in Jonathan Maccabee; Jonathan temporizes, developing relations with both sides. Jonathan Maccabee appointed High Priest by Alexander Epiphanes (1 Macc. 10:15-20).

146 Rome destroys Carthage.

143 Jonathan Maccabee seized by the Seleucids. Simon Maccabee takes control of the rebel factions and the rebel army and the Seleucid army set to face off. A snowstorm intervenes, forcing the Seleucids to retreat; they execute Jonathan.

142 Civil war breaks out in the Seleucid kingdom again; both sides again attempt to get the help of the Jewish rebels. Simon Maccabee negotiates the independence of the Jewish people and the Hasmonean realm of Judea begins (1 Macc. 14:41).

135 Simon Maccabee is murdered through the machinations of his son-in-law; his son John Hyrcanus becomes High Priest and ruler of the Hasmonean realm, but only by cutting deals with the Seleucid kingdom that effectively make the Hasmonean realm a puppet state.

128 Antiochus VII dies, and the Hasmonean realm again achieves independence. As it consolidates and expands, we see also the rise of the Pharisees.

104 Aristobulus, son of John Hyrcanus, begins to call himself king. Tensions between the Hasmonean Dynasty and the Pharisees begin to mount.

103 Alexander Jannaeus becomes king.

100 Julius Caesar born.

94 Alexander Jannaeus, in contempt of the Pharisees, pours a water offering to himself rather than God; observers begin to riot, leading to their massacre. The Hasmonean Kingdom undergoes civil war between supporters of the Pharisees and supporters of the Sadducees. The Pharisees win and, believing they have made their point, let Alexander take the throne again. He throws a banquet in honor of the Pharisees; 800 come. When they are drunk, he seizes them and crucifies them, killing their families as well.

Alexander Jannaeus dies. His pro-Pharisee wife, Salome Alexandra, becomes queen.

67 Salome Alexandra dies. Her sons, Hyrcanus II (with the support of the Pharisees) and Aristobulus II (with the support of the Sadducees) both claim the throne. Aristobulus II manages by good luck to surprise Hyrcanus II in a way that forces him to concede. Hostilities between the two soon break out again, however.

63 Rome gets involved. Pompey rules in favor of Hyrcanus II. When Aristobulus II refuses to concede, the combined forces of Hyrcanus II and Rome overwhelm him. Despite intensive fighting, Rome wins; Judea becomes a province of Rome, Hyrcanus II is made High Priest, and his ally Antipater (father of Herod the Great) is put in charge of the province.

57 Antigonus son of Aristobulus escapes from Rome and returns to Judea.

40 Antigonus declared king by Parthia. Herod appeals to Rome, and is recognized as king of Judea by the Roman Senate.

37 With the help of Rome, Herod recaptures Jerusalem and executes Antigonus. The Hasmonean Dynasty ends, the Herodian Dynasty begins.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Unworthy of Man

I must, however, be of opinion, that the sentiments of those, who are inclined to think favourably of mankind, are more advantageous to virtue, than the contrary principles, which give us a mean opinion of our nature. When a man is prepossessed with a high notion of his rank and character in the creation, he will naturally endeavour to act up to it, and will scorn to do a base or vicious action, which might sink him below that figure which he makes in his own imagination. Accordingly we find, that all our polite and fashionable moralists insist upon this topic, and endeavour to represent vice as unworthy of man, as well as odious in itself.

David Hume, Of the Dignity or Meanness of Human Nature.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Music on My Mind

Larry Sparks, "Bitterweeds". Unfortunately only an excerpt. But you can hear the original version of the whole song sung by Barbara Wilkinson at SongSpace. I think Wilkinson's song is likely to become a classic: a clear, easy to sing, and memorable story.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rosmini on Causes and Happenings

'Every happening has a cause that produces it.' This proposition means exactly the same as the following: 'It is impossible for our intelligence to think a happening without thinking a cause that produced it.' To show that 'a happening without a cause cannot be thought', we must show that 'the concept of a happening without a cause involves contradiction.' Once this is demonstrated, we will have deduced the principle of cause from the principle of contradiction.

The demonstration is as follows: to say 'What does not exist, acts' is a contradiction. But a happening without a cause means 'What does not exist, acts.' Therefore a happening without a cause is a contradiction. The proofs follow.
As regards the major: to conceive mentally an action (a change) without an ens, is to conceive without conceiving, which is a contradiction. Indeed, the principle of knowledge states: 'The object of thought is ens'; therefore without an ens, we cannot mentally conceive. To conceive an action without conceiving an ens that performs the action, is to conceive without conceiving. Therefore to apply the action to something that does not exist is a contradiction in terms, which was to be proved.

As regards the minor: a happening is an action (a change). If this action has no cause, it is conceived by itself, without belonging to an ens; there is then an action without ens or, which is the same, what does not exist, acts. Thus the minor is proved (cf. 350-352).

Antonio Rosmini, New Essay Concerning the Origin of Ideas, Volume 2, Part III, Chapter 2. To put the argument in another format:

Major: 'Something that does not exist, acts' is a contradiction.
(1) What is conceived is conceived as a being.
(2) An action conceived without being conceived as a being acting, is not conceived as a being.
(3) Therefore, an action conceived without being conceived as a being acting is a contradiction.

Minor: A happening without a cause entails that something that does not exist, acts.
(1) A happening is an action.
(2) An action conceived without a cause is not conceived as a being that acts.
(3) Therefore, a happening conceived without a cause is not conceived as a being that acts.

The section references to 350-352 is from Rosmini's criticism of Kant in Volume 1. There Rosmini argues that 'what happens' conceptually includes the notion of 'cause', and thus the judgment is analytic and not, as Kant would have it, synthetic. As he puts it:

The following, therefore, is the sequence of our conceptions:

1. We conceive coming into existence, a concept which includes that of change.
2. The concept of change contains that of new operation.
3. The concept of new operation contains that of prior existence.
4. The concept of prior existence contains that of cause.

Conclusion: A happening without a cause is a contradiction.

SZ sz ZS

Siesta of a Hungarian Snake
by Edwin Morgan

s sz sz SZ sz SZ sz ZS zs ZS zs zs z

I am currently in the last week of term, so I am envying the Hungarian snake's dormition.