Saturday, September 23, 2017

Music on My Mind

Ngọc Lan, "Niệm Khúc Cuối". A very popular love song. Like a lot of older Vietnamese songs, it has a nice almost-French sound to it without sounding derivative.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dashed Off XX

A sustained assault on Kant's philosophy of religion in this batch of dashed off notes.

if A:B::C:D
(1) B:A::D:C (invertendo)
(2) A:C::B:D (alternando)
(3) A:A-B::C:C-D (dividendo)
(4) A+B:B::C+D:D (componendo)
- (3) & (4) seem to require that the analogy operate within a classification

"The Spirit is the teacher; Scripture is the doctrine which He teaches us." Turretin

the marks that the teaching of the Church is divine
(1) origin
(2) duration
(3) instruments and amanuenses
(4) adjuncts (martyrs)
(5) the sublimity of its mysteries, holiness of its doctrine, and excellence of its examples
(6) style and beauty
(7) internal coherence
(8) end
(9) effects (the gates of hell cannot stand against it)
These marks do not shine out equally in everything the Church does, but considered corporately as a whole.
- This, of course, is taking Turretin on Scripture and applying it to the Church; and lest anyone cry foul at that, note that Turretin quite clearly takes the tradition conversion of the world argument about the Church and applies it to Scripture, and that there are signs he does this in other ways.

the Mencian shoots taken to the cosmic limit

the Syriac 'Book of Women': Judith, Tobit, Esther, Ruth

the gaze of contemplative love between spouses

The almost inevitable flaw in almost every neopagan movement is treating gods as something in which one may dabble.

"Crime is an exacting, inflexible master, against which no one can be strong unless he rebels completely." Manzoni

Some become Catholic from a drive for solidary integrity, some from luring holiness that calls to them, some (like myself) from a mind or will tending to universality, some by intervention of providence or from a direct call.

Who cannot care of the things of the past cannot be trusted with the things of the future.

"Truth is essentially coexistent with the gods, as light is coexistent with the Sun." Iamblichus

The life of Christ is the plot of holy liturgy.

awe as an act of faith

Even in mere bathing we do not merely put water on ourselves: we throw off worry, care, trouble; we make a break in time; we start anew.

our body's physical response to the sublime
- note that this is where the old terror theories come closest to getting things right

conserved quantities & necessity ab alio
conserved quantities // necessary truths // necessary goods (Chastek)

poem as perfect sensible speech (Baumgarten)
poetry as tending toward ideas that are clear and confused (the clarity is a unity of variety)

Christ's Session // Mary's Intercession

beauty of measure, beauty of kind, beauty of tendency

The papacy is not an indelible character but an office with a function, and its authority depends in part on the fulfillment of that function.

Conceptual clarification is a kind of unification.

Hayek's knowledge argument and imperial government

Analects 12:11 -- "Jun jun, chen chen, fu fu, zi zi."

xin & rectification of names (xin combines the person radical and the character for speech)

Good politics is in great measure about rational classification.

Notations encapsulate methods.

Every indelible character gives the capacity to act in some way in the person of Christ, but only the presbyterate and the episcopacy do so in precisely the way Christ is Head of the Church.

our capacity to recognize the sublime in nature as a sign of the union of mind and body

the oscillation of good philosophy between solitary reflection and collaboration

experimentalist, populist, and classicalist axes in language change

the nation as analogized panhellenizing

the major legitimate ends of money-making: support of self and family, productive effects that are needed, self-discipline, and almsgiving

"Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice." Chesterton

generalize, specialize, analogize, aporeticize

the Golden Rule and beautiful action

the importance of timeline-building in HoP
timeline + communication geography -> diffusion of ideas (contiguity and resemblance in tracing influences)

Kantian philosophy of religion is fundamentally anti-Incarnational.

By means of grace we become means of grace.

There is no way to advance from virtue to grace; there are ways to advance from grace to virtue.

Misperception of X is not a failure to perceive X. Likewise, miscommunication is not a failure to receive testimony.

truth-validating vs truth-suggesting cognitions

impressional, semiotic, and comparative aspects of perception

Faith comes by hearing because what is heard is analogous to what is believed.

"Mathematical truths, as soon as we realise them, are seen to be necessary, and we seem to have known them always." Pringle-Pattison

triputisamvit (Prabhakara Mimamsa): each cognition manifests subject, object, and itself

means of knowledge combining with things other than means of knowledge to function in new ways

signs as working like middle terms

Princess Elisabeth's famous set of objections is concerned more with the limits of Cartesian physics than with mind/body union.

(A) pervasion of sign and signified -- Box(s-o)
(B) presence of thing that is sign -- T(t-s)

We may practically employ the ideas of effects of grace by not erring in a certain way -- that is, it is not a matter of doing nothing but a matter of doing only what does not presuppose the adequacy of one's own power or independence of God. It is manifestly obvious that we may have practically employable negative rules of this sort. And we may cognize these effects theoretically by causation, remotion, and eminence, because it is illegitimate to restrict causal reasoning arbitrarily.

Every regulative principle implies constitutive principles.

One may simply adapt Kant's moral postulation of God's existence to a moral postulation of the occasional happening of miracles, i.e., one may argue that it is rational on basis of moral reason to hope that miracles will be done to make it possible to follow the moral law (either individually, or communally a la Cohen). It requires no more than recognizing that God has freedom as well as we, and that to postulate reconciliation of the moral and the physical, as Kant does, is as much to postulate that events can occur for moral reasons as well as physical. This suffices for at least a Babbage-style account of miracles.

The laws of virtue ground all juridical laws.

Kant's 'church' is literally a church without creeds, without hierarchy, without distinctiveness; it is a ghost of a church.

Fulfilling one's duties to oneself and others requires distinctive service to God, both to express symbolically the meaning of these duties and to communicate and even share this meaning with others.

As sons do not relate to their fathers in terms of pure moral duty, which is rather what one would expect of new servants, but instead do so on the basis of historical contingencies shared with their father, so a free, filial faith must be a historical faith.

If holy tradition is a 'leading-string', it is necessary yet; for compared to what we should be, we are not adults, but merely children, however quickly we have grown, and however much we preen ourselves on having grown.

Without shared profession and discipline, human beings inevitably begin to treat morality as purely subjective.

The phenomenon participates the noumenon.

the logic of sweepings clauses & analogy vs available classification

frozen accidents and spandrels in the history of philosophy

By 'information' people often mean nothing more than 'specification of effect'.

apostolic succession
(1) sacramental (of person)
(2) jurisdictional (of see)

similarity as indistinguishability at some level of precision

Chatterjees ordering of priority among the pramanas: perception, memory, nonperception, inference, comparison, testimony, postulation

Social justice means nothing unless it is justice with others.

that exemplar causation in the wide sense implies the existence of exemplar cuases in the strict sense (i.e. productive ideas)

Even for natural reason, standing in the stead of another in matters of virtue is a common thing; for instance, it is common in both good parenting and good marriage. It does, to be sure, require conditions, for parents do not answer for children or spouses for each other in every case; but it does occur.

Confucian five relations as cases of vicariousness

Need is sometimes insight, or the beginning of it, in the same sense that attention is.

Reason must always go further in understanding, or it betrays itself.

To do one's duty properly requires cultivation of an admiration for virtuous actions, especially when they go beyond duty.

miracles as models of artistic creation

artistic inspiration as intuitive schema for grace
the sense of something working through one in one's free act

Timaeus as an account of artisanship

A humanity pleasing to God must be an artistic, or at least productive, as well as ethical humanity.

the principles of mediation and vicariousness in artistic creation

All artistic creation is a surplus over merit.

Salvation cannot be merely moral; it must be sublime, exalting those who receive it.

The Election of Israel is a precondition for understanding the marks of the Church.

Modern Biblical scholarship has, through its history, been an investigation of hypotheses. Some of these have not been unreasonable; but the problem is that there are always more hypotheses.

the Shema as making a claim on moral disposition

(1) the nobility of many hermits, monks, and consecrated virgins
(2) the freedoms granted by celibacy, if given the right context
(3) the miracles of the saints as pedagogical
(4) the ecclesiastical hierarchy as a limit on despots
(5) the often political nature of schism
(6) the quasi-hieratic nature of the Byzantine empire and the ways this aspect helped to preserve it
(7) the constant attempt of secular powers to manipulate the Church for their own ends, e.g., the Avignon papacy
(8) the role of the papacy in negotiations of peace
(9) the benefits arising from the Church even despite the sins of its members

faith giving rise to productive, and not merely practical, works
faith-informed genius and taste

"Taste alone brings harmony into society, because it fosters harmony in the individual." Schiller

the subtle truths in the twilight of obscure ideas

festivity as an appropriate manifestation of hope

church buildings as mirrors of the whole circumambient world

"Once there is religion, it must necessarily also be social." Schleiermacher

'Spirituality without religion' is for disembodied spirits; the ghost of a religion, suitable for ghosts.

ritual as mediating intuition and conception

religion exponentiated
the divine image exponentiated

Intellectual consistency requires a purity of discipline academia does not easily accommodate.

One often finds that a single perhaps is implausible whereas a system of perhapses, at least given the right connection to some evidence, is quite plausible. A story often makes more sense to us than a fragment.

communicating the value of virtue without mere virtue-signaling (i.e., without trying to convince people that one has the virtue by a peacockish display)

Purely formal sciences are heavily dependent on analogical reasoning (for extension, consilience, etc.).

measurement as a method for classifying, where tehre are preestablished mathematical relationships within the scheme of classification
- measurements leading to classifications seem to work by specifying more general relations already in play

Thursday, September 21, 2017


One of my pet peeves is people misusing the word 'encounter' in theological and religious contexts. 'Encounter' in English means one of two things:

(1) A casual meeting, usually brief and usually by chance
(2) A direct hostile interaction between disputants or enemy forces

If you are focused on 'encounter with Jesus', your standards are too low. What people mean when they such things is not 'encounter' but friendship or charity or love. If you mean that, say that.

The problem has become worse recently because Pope Francis likes to talk about encuentro and it gets translated by 'encounter', which in this context is a false cognate; the Pope uses the Spanish word to indicate deliberate acts of solidarity, which is not what the word 'encounter' describes (and by experience talking with people, I am very certain is not what is conveyed to most English speakers by that word, since they can tell from context that it is supposed to be more than a casual meeting but they have no idea what). Deliberate acts of solidarity. That is what the English translations should convey.

ADDED LATER: Incidentally, if you want to translate encuentro as literally as possible, 'finding' is infinitely better than 'encounter'. Not 'encounter with Jesus' -- finding Jesus. Not 'encounter with your neighbor' -- finding your neighbor. Better than that, 'going out and finding', both sides of which the Pope often explicitly emphasizes. Encuentro used of persons is still capable of being stronger and more active than 'finding', but the gap is far less, because 'finding' is a much stronger and more active word than 'encounter'.

Blackstone on Pursuit of Happiness

As therefore the creator is a being, not only of infinite power, and wisdom, but also of infinite goodness, he has been pleased so to contrive the constitution and frame of humanity, that we should want no other prompter to inquire after and pursue the rule of right, but only our own self-love, that universal principle of action. For he has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former; and, if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter. In consequence of which mutual connection of justice and human felicity, he has not perplexed the law of nature with a multitude of abstracted rules and precepts, referring merely to the fitness or unfitness of things, as some have vainly surmised; but has graciously reduced the rule of obedience to this one paternal precept, "that man should pursue his own true and substantial happiness." This is the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law.

Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book I, Part I, Section II.

Natural law theories can diverge from each other in a number of ways, and one of them is what they take to be the fundamental precept. Aquinas, of course, because he takes the fundamental precept to be to reasoning about obligation what the principle of noncontradiction is to theoretical reasoning, holds that it is "Good is to be done and sought, bad to be avoided" when it is applied to the common good of the human race. Suarez follows him in this, although I'm inclined to think he has a narrower understanding of it -- he qualifies it by saying that good should be understood as honestas and the bad as turpitude, which is maybe a way of saying with Aquinas that we get the precept when we apply the principle to common good in particular, but I'm not really sure. Scotus, if I don't misunderstand him, takes the first precept to be "God (as infinite good) is to be loved". Blackstone's "Man should pursue his own true and substantial happiness" is a very different one. It need not be said that all parties would in fact agree with all of these as truths; Aquinas holds that God should be loved, and Scotus that good is to be done and sought, and both that our true and substantial happiness is to be pursued. But recognizing these as true and recognizing them as law are different things (as Aquinas makes quite clear), and you get a rather different view depending on which of these you take as the root precept.

Reading this passage in context, it seems undeniable that Jefferson's use in the Declaration of Independence is ultimately from Blackstone. Jefferson himself does not seem to have liked Blackstone very much at all, but there are too many similarities to be accidental. It's sometimes said to have been an indirect influence; Jefferson is thought to have been influenced by the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was written up by George Mason. This influence is pretty obvious if you look at the first article of the Virginia Declaration. But I'm not sure this completely closes the lid; there are other echoes in the Declaration suggestive of Blackstone, so maybe it's not all through Mason. I don't know.

ADDED LATER: I should have also remarked on Blackstone's rejection of moral rationalism -- the "abstracted rules and precepts, referring merely to the fitness or unfitness of things". This is an approach to ethics that begins with Malebranche; Hume, complaining about it in the footnote for Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Section III, Part II, calls it an "abstract theory of morals".

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Clifford's Sea Captain

In his Ethics of Belief, W. K. Clifford gives his famous example of the negligent sea captain:

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship. He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had needed repairs. Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy. These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this should put him at great expense. Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms that it was idle to suppose she would not come safely home from this trip also. He would put his trust in Providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about the honesty of builders and contractors. In such ways he acquired a sincere and comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy; he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance-money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales.

Clifford from this draws the conclusion that we would recognize the ship captain as responsible for the deaths of those who died and that, in particular, we would say that "the sincerity of his conviction can in no wise help him, because he had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him."

The example is often quoted or alluded to in discussions of the ethics of belief, due to Clifford; but always uncritically, I think. More careful reasoners should pause here, because Clifford's ethical analysis is just obviously bad. First, like everything in the essay, the condemnation is stated in an exaggerated manner; on most ethical theories we could not say "that he was verily guilty of the death of those men" without qualification. Negligent omission, even egregiously culpable negligent omission, does not work like deliberate commission, and does not interact with guilt in the same way. Further, Clifford is playing a rhetorical game in his parting shot at the sea captain; told that someone "got his insurance-money...and told no tales", we would usually take this to suggest that the matter was in fact more deliberate than the sea captain's actions are actually presented as being -- that, in fact, he was at least half-angling toward the insurance money to begin with, particularly given the prior emphasis on expense. But what Clifford needs for his argument is really a clean case -- someone believing badly without the additional unsavory suggestion of things like greed. He needs a sea captain who is, as he previously said, genuinely benevolent, and whose only flaw is this. Otherwise you get cross-interference that blunts the usefulness of the example for the purpose of showing that there are obligations of belief in particular, and not just obligations not to be greedy.

Worse, the ship captain's belief is simply irrelevant here. The sea captain's sincerity of belief does not help him, to be sure, but it is not because "he had no right to believe", but because the belief in question doesn't matter. We condemn the sea captain not because he believed badly; we condemn the sea captain because, given his doubts, he had responsibilities regardless. Likewise, this is why it doesn't matter whether his belief turns out to be right or not: not because he had no right to belief, but because his responsibilities didn't depend on that belief at all. His responsibilities are based on the warning-flags that had been raised; it didn't matter what he in fact believed about the ship.

What is more, if we look at the timeline here, we find that it is poorly suited for Clifford's ultimate point. The timeline is as follows:

(1) The shipowner is preparing to send the ship, knowing that it is old, flawed, and often in need of repair.
(2) He has doubts that the ship is not seaworthy.
(3) He thinks that perhaps he has an obligation to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted.
(4) He tries to talk himself out of this and tries to dismiss some of his worries.
(5) He comes to have a sincere and comfortable conviction that the vessel is seaworthy.
(6) He sends the ship off with light heart and benevolent wishes.

The first thing to note is that the sea captain starts out believing that he might have an obligation, and then actively tries to talk himself out of that until he succeeds at (5). This is important because his actual obligation as a sea captain begins at (2), at which point he still suspects there might be a problem. All that the rest of the case shows, as far as the ethics of it, is that (3)-(6) don't affect this obligation at all -- he still has the same obligation throughout. Further, the real problem with the sea captain's final belief is not that he fails to believe in accordance with the evidence; it is that, thinking he had an obligation, one he actually had, he deliberately tried to convince himself that he didn't. This is where the appearance of the case being one of 'ethics of belief' comes from; it is the unethical nature of the motivation on which he is trying to convince himself not to believe what he does. But this is not about the belief; this is about trying to give yourself a belief with a motivation that is already and independently unethical.

And if we needed another reason to be skeptical of this commonly repeated case, the case is poorly suited just in itself for showing that Clifford's principle (it is wrong to believe on insufficient evidence) is true, because very little evidence is actually mentioned -- the ship is old, not all that well built, and has needed repairs before, and, on the other side, that she has gone safely through a lot of voyages and weathered a lot of storms. Everything else is just referred to as doubt and suspicion. Evidence doesn't play much of a role at all in our assessment of the moral situation -- indeed, once the sea captain has significant doubts, he already has at least some responsibility to double-check and take precautionary steps, even if he's nervously overreading the evidence and a more reasonable assessment of the ship would judge it to be just fine.

Thus the belief, as such, is irrelevant to the moral judgment; the evidence is not given much of a role in the scenario; and the ethical features of the scenario are not strongly tied to either. It's just a poor case.

A Moment's Monument

The Sonnet
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A sonnet is a moment's monument, —
Memorial from the soul's eternity
To one dead, deathless hour. Look that it be,
Whether for lustral rite or dire portent,
Of its own arduous fullness reverent;
Carve it in ivory or in ebony,
As Day or Night may rule; and let Time see
Its flowering crest impearled and orient.

A sonnet is a coin: its face reveals
The soul, — its converse to what Power 'tis due, —
Whether for tribute to the august appeals
Of Life, or dower in Love's high retinue,
It serve; or, 'mid the dark wharf's cavernous breath,
In Charon's palm it pay the toll to Death.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Neuroscience and the Microprocessor

A very interesting paper: Eric Jonas & Konrad Paul Kording, Could a Neuroscientist Understand a Microprocessor? (PDF).

Neuroscience is held back by the fact that it is hard to evaluate if a conclusion is correct; the complexity of the systems under study and their experimental inaccessability make the assessment of algorithmic and data analytic technqiues challenging at best. We thus argue for testing approaches using known artifacts, where the correct interpretation is known. Here we present a microprocessor platform as one such test case. We find that many approaches in neuroscience, when used naïvely, fall short of producing a meaningful understanding.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Lady Mary Shepherd Philosophy Salon

I recently came across a blog by Liba Kaucky called The Lady Mary Shepherd Philosophy Salon, which is devoted to discussion of Shepherd's philosophy. Definitely worth checking out if you are interested in various aspects of Shepherd's work.

Poetry and Prose

Freedom is fullness, especially fullness of life; and a full vessel is more rounded and complete than an empty one, and not less so. To vary Browning's phrase, we find in prose the broken arcs, in poetry the perfect round. Prose is not the freedom of poetry; rather prose is the fragments of poetry. Prose, at least in the prosaic sense, is poetry interrupted, held up and cut off from its course; the chariot of Phoebus stopped by a block in the Strand. But when it begins to move again at all, I think we shall find certain old-fashioned things move with it, such as repetition and even measure, rhythm and even rhyme.

G. K. Chesterton, "The Slavery of Free Verse", Fancies Versus Fads.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rainbow in the Sky

In addition to being the memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, it is also the memorial of St. Hildegard von Bingen, Doctor of the Church, the Sibyl of the Rhine.

From her work explaining the Athanasian Creed (as translated by Nathaniel Campbell):

But God was mindful of the oath he made by the rainbow that he placed in the clouds of the sky (cf. Gen. 9:13-17) when he willed his Son—signified by the rainbow—to be born of untainted virginal nature. He overcame all of his enemies with a powerful assault, as those humans were destroyed by the water of the flood (cf. Gen. 7)—but to a new age of humankind, restored by the water of baptism, Christ appeared like a rainbow in the clouds to reign within the Church. Indeed, the Church of God was joined to the Son of God as circumcision was to the law, whose keeping was a forerunner and prefiguration of the Church. But the new age, gilded by the Church’s ornament, shall never be chided for any fault at all. Moreover, like the rainbow it will never fade from the sky, and when it will be suppressed with fear to the point that it can scarcely see through a single eye, it will again be restored in the Son of God, just as it will also be restored at the time of the son of perdition (II Thess. 2:3). The various colors of the rainbow also signify the powers and virtues of the thousands of saints—in fire’s heat chastity and continence, in purple the martyrs’ martyrdom, in hyacinth-blue the teaching of our ancestors, and in green the virtues of the saints’ good works, which come forth as beams breathed forth by the Son of God like rays from the sun.


Today is the memorial of St. Roberto Bellarmino, S.J., Doctor of the Church, the great polemicist of the Counter-Reformation.

He has an interesting passage in the Controversies in which he summarizes the travails of the Church using the Apostles' Creed. I'm not sure how hard it should be pressed as an intended historical thesis of how things have to unfold (since he clearly thinks there is overlap, and does regard all points as being under continual attack to varying degrees), rather than as an account of the thoroughness with which the Church is attacked on points of doctrine, which has its own natural order, but it does a good job of giving a sense of his sense of the spiritual war. It helps to know first the ordering of the articles, in their traditional enumeration.

1. I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and the life everlasting.

The enemy of the human race, although otherwise he is wont to be totally perverse and a disturber of good order, still he wishes to attack the truth of the Catholic Church not without a certain orderly procedure. Therefore, in the first two centuries from the foundation of the Christian Church, he was totally occupied in trying to destroy the first article in the Apostles' Creed. For what else did they want--the Simonians, the Menandrians, the Basilidians, the Valentinists, the Marcionists, the Manichaeans, and the whole school of the Gnostics--except that there is not one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? But when he did not succeed in that, again at a later time about 200 years after the Lord, the devil established a new front, and he began to attack the second article of the Creed in which the divinity of Christ our Lord is explained....

...But since even then the gates of hell could not prevail against the Church, the devil, now taking a new third approach, began to oppose with even greater strength the third and at the same time the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh articles, because they have a certain connection and relationship with each other.

Therefore he stirred up Nestorius and Theodore of Mopsuestia after the year 400....

All of these, even though different among themselves and using contrary tactics and tricks, strove to destroy and overturn the last five articles of the Apostolic Creed concerning the one and the same mystery of the divine Incarnation, and also of the passion, of the resurrection and of his coming to judge the living and the dead.

He then assigns the schism between East and West to the attack on the eighth article, on the Holy Spirit, and then continues:

But certainly, when our cunning enemy realized that he was accomplishing very little by attacking those articles of faith, which pertain to the divine persons, he then dedicated himself completely to upset and destroy the truths concerning the Church and the sacraments. These two articles -- I believe in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins, with all of his tricks and efforts, with the power of hell he has tried to pervert, and he is still trying even to this day; this has been his strategy since the year one thousand down to the present day; his forces have often been changed, increased and renewed -- by the Berengarians, Petrohrussians, Waldensians, Albigensians, Wycliffites, Hussites, Lutherans, Zwinglians, Confessionists and Anabaptists.

And here we still are, I suppose, still fighting the Battle over the Forgiveness of Sins in the longest and most subtle war.

[St. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, S. J., Controversies of the Christian Faith, Baker, tr. Keep the Faith Inc., pp. 17-19.]

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Dilemma of All Human Philosophizing

It is a bold undertaking to pick out a single pair of concepts from a closed system in order to get to the bottom of them. For the "organon" of philosophy is one, and the individual concepts that we may isolate are so intertwined that each sheds light on the others and none can be treated exhaustively outside of its context.

Such is the dilemma of all human philosophizing: truth is but one, yet for us it falls into truths (plural) that we must master step by step. At some point we must plunge in to discover a greater expanse; yet when this broader horizon does appear, a new depth will open up at our point of entry.

[Edith Stein, Potency and Act, Redmond, tr., ICS Publications (Washington, DC: 2009) p. 5.]

Friday, September 15, 2017

Vehement Fire of Charity

Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Genoa, who devoted her life to the sick and ran a hospital. She died in 1510. Her most famous and lasting work, however, is her Treatise on Purgatory, which is probably the most important early modern discussion of the doctrine. It appeared, four decades after her death, in a book about her life; the authenticity of the attribution to her has occasionally been denied, but the evidence, such as it is, tends to favor it, and there is no particular reason other than the work's late public appearance to reject it. It is usually thought, however, to have had some redaction by others, probably at least organizational. From the Treatise on Purgatory, chapter III:

And because there is no good except by participation with God, who, to the irrational creatures imparts Himself as He wills and in accordance with His divine decree, and never withdraws from them, but to the rational soul He imparts Himself more or less, according as He finds her more or less freed from the hindrances of sin, it follows that when he finds a soul that is returning to the purity and simplicity in which she was created, He increases in her the beatific instinct and kindles in her a fire of charity so powerful and vehement that it is insupportable to the soul to find any obstacle between her and her final end; and the clearer vision she has of these obstacles the greater is her pain.

Since the souls in Purgatory are freed from the guilt of sin, there is no barrier between them and God save only the pains they suffer, which delay the satisfaction of their desire.

[St. Catherine of Genoa and Don Cattaneo Marabotto, The Spiritual Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa, TAN (Rockford, IL: 1989) pp. 303-304.]

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Opinio Copiae inter Maximas Causas Inopiae Est

John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, Chapter 1:

I have dwelt so much on the difficulties which at present obstruct any real knowledge by men of the true nature of women, because in this as in so many other things "opinio copiae inter maximas causas inopiae est"; and there is little chance of reasonable thinking on the matter while people flatter themselves that they perfectly understand a subject of which most men know absolutely nothing, and of which it is at present impossible that any man, or all men taken together, should have knowledge which can qualify them to lay down the law to women as to what is, or is not, their vocation. Happily, no such knowledge is necessary for any practical purpose connected with the position of women is relation to society and life. For, according to all the principles involved in modern society, the question rests with women themselves — to be decided by their own experience, and by the use of their own faculties. There are no means of finding what either one person or many can do, but by trying — and no means by which anyone else can discover for them what it is for their happiness to do or leave undone.

Opinio copiae inter maximas causas inopiae est means 'One of the biggest reasons for being impoverished is thinking you have a lot' (literally, 'belief in abundance is among the greatest causes for scarcity', or 'the idea that one is wealthy is one of the major causes of poverty'). It is a quotation of Francis Bacon, in particular from the preface of the Instauratio Magna; Bacon is talking about knowledge, which is why it comes up here; what Mill says immediately after this is entirely in line with the meaning of the saying. It's worth quoting in context, since Mill is likely assuming that the whole passage would be called to mind by his quotation of the key part:

It seems to me that men do not rightly understand either their store or their strength, but overrate the one and underrate the other. Hence it follows that either from an extravagant estimate of the value of the arts which they possess they seek no further, or else from too mean an estimate of their own powers they spend their strength in small matters and never put it fairly to the trial in those which go to the main. These are as the pillars of fate set in the path of knowledge, for men have neither desire nor hope to encourage them to penetrate further. And since opinion of store is one of the chief causes of want, and satisfaction with the present induces neglect of provision for the future, it becomes a thing not only useful, but absolutely necessary, that the excess of honor and admiration with which our existing stock of inventions is regarded be in the very entrance and threshold of the work, and that frankly and without circumlocution stripped off, and men be duly warned not to exaggerate or make too much of them.

Bacon is concerned with arguing for the importance of doing more along the line of what we call scientific inquiry; this, of course, is not the kind of argument Mill is making. But Mill would see less of a division between what we call scientific matters and political or ethical matters than most people would today; political progress would not be sharply divided by him from scientific progress. Thus it's probably not just incidental that he is quoting philosophy of science in a discussion of government. And the basic line of thought has parallel -- before you could have reasonable thought, men would have to recognize that they really know nothing, and therefore need to learn. But in the political context there is an option that does not exist in the context Bacon is discussing: it is not actually necessary for men to learn all they need to know in order to lay down the law for how women should be women -- they can let the experts decide, namely, the women themselves.

David J. Riesbeck has a very nice little paper on the fact that the Latin quotation has often been mistranslated in notes to editions of The Subjection of Women, and why that matters for interpretation of Mill's argument.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Music on My Mind

Clamavi De Profundis, "The Fall of Gil-Galad".


Today is the feast of St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church. A bold and charismatic speaker, he was both popular and controversial, and died in exile because of it; he is best known today for his homiletic commentaries on Scripture.

From his Homily VIII on Philippians:

Taking these things to heart, let us do everything “without murmuring and disputing.” Is it some good work that thou hast before thee, and dost thou murmur? wherefore? art thou then forced? for that there are many about you who force you to murmur, I know well, says he. This he intimated by saying, “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation”; but it is this that deserves admiration, that we admit no such feeling when under galling provocation. For the stars too give light in the night, they shine in the dark, and receive no blemish to their own beauty, yea they even shine the brighter; but when light returns, they no longer shine so. Thus thou too dost appear with the greater lustre, whilst thou holdest straight in the midst of the crooked. This it is which deserves our admiration, the being “blameless”; for that they might not urge this plea, he himself set it down by anticipation.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Berkeley and the Adventures of Gaudentio (Re-Post)

This is a lightly revised re-post of a post from 2014.

In 1737 a work was published in London, Memoirs of Sgr. Gaudentio di Lucca (in later editions it was sometimes published as The Adventures of Sgr. Gaudentio di Lucca). It was a runaway bestseller; it would be reprinted many times and translated into many languages. Since it was published in the eighteenth century when subtitles do the work of blurbs, you can get some idea of the substance of the work from its subtitle (the humor of its length is probably deliberate): taken from his confession and examination before the fathers of the Inquisition at Bologna in Italy. Making a discovery of an unknown country in the midst of the vast deserts of Africa, as ancient, populous, and civilized, as the Chinese ... Copied from the original manuscript kept in St. Mark's library at Venice; with critical notes of the learned Signor Rhedi, late library-keeper of the said library. To which is prefix'd, a letter of the secretary of the Inquisition, to the same Signor Rhedi, giving an account of the manner and causes of his being seized. Faithfully translated from the Italian by E. T. Gent.. It is a work of fiction originally written in English, and telegraphs that fact fairly clearly. It's quite a good book, relatively fast-moving and surprisingly funny, using intricate layers of narration in a highly effective way despite not being all that long; it's not surprising that it became so popular. Historically, it's of significance in part for being a major part of the transition between Utopia novels and Lost World/Dark Continent adventure stories, a precursor of H. Rider Haggard, and one of the works that, because of its popularity, established some of the genre conventions and possibilities for it.

As the work was published pseudonymously, speculation about its author sprang up immediately, and one name seems to have spread most widely: George Berkeley, the philosopher and Bishop of Cloyne. For most of the late eighteenth century most people regarded it as Berkeley's work. I first came across the name of the novel when reading Sir William Forbes's An Account of the Life and Writing of James Beattie; in a letter to the Duchess of Gordon in 1780, Beattie mentions (toward the end) that he is sending her a parcel of books, one of which is Gaudentio; he praises the description of the African deserts, and says, "The author is no less a person than the famous Bishop Berkeley."

Alas, the work is almost certainly not by Berkeley. Indeed, it's difficult to say why it would have been attributed to Berkeley in the first place. It likely lies in a complex set of associations. The humor is (very) broadly of the sort that would have been associated with Jonathan Swift -- Gulliver's Travels had been published a few years before it, and is probably an influence, although Gaudentio is much subtler and strives to be more realistic than Gulliver (not that that is difficult). The earliest attribution I've been able to trace was a review in Gentleman's Magazine not long after it came out; it's vague, but the sense of it seems to be that the reviewer thought that it was by Swift. However, at some point it became associated with Berkeley. And it is true that if you assume that the work originated in Swift's circle, Berkeley is actually the best candidate, particularly give the relative popularity of Alciphron. He was a close friend of Swift and all his circle, and we know from some of his essays and occasional touches in his published works, especially Alciphron, that he is capable of writing broadly Swiftian humor; Berkeley was a Platonist, so might be thought attracted to the idea of writing a Utopia (this was explicitly given as a reason for attributing the work to him in at least one case); he had considerable erudition, including some knowledge of the Ancient Egyptians, which plays a role here; and perhaps more obviously, Gaudentio has a satirical portrait of a freethinker that would likely remind people of the satirical portrait of freethinkers in Alciphron. In addition, Berkeley was known to have traveled in Europe, particularly Italy, and he was famous for his idealistic plan for a school in Bermuda, giving him an association with exotic travel, even though he never visited Africa or even made it to Bermuda. And it has to be admitted that Berkeley has the writing ability for it; he has a knack for description of scenery and can easily blend philosophical and narrative elements.

On the opposing side, however, is the fact that Berkeley's son denied that Berkeley wrote it, or even read it, and if you don't assume that it originated in Swift's circle, there's not much reason to attribute it to Berkeley. It was hardly the first Utopian novel; it was a genre that sold very well at the time. The humor is perhaps harsher and, occasionally, edges up to risqué (an occasional joke is that the narrator pretends that pages got lost right at the moment the narrative gets into discussion of some sexual topic) a bit more than you might expect of Berkeley beforehand. If there's any connection between the satire on freethinkers in Alciphron and the satire on them in Gaudentio, the former had been published in 1735, so it could easily have been an influence on the latter in just the ordinary way. The question was investigated quite well in Notes and Queries, and the argument against Berkeley's authorship seems fairly probable. After the Berkeley attribution began to collapse, people looked around for whomever could be a possible alternative candidate. One suggestion, derived from a later close investigation published in Notes and Queries, was a certain Simon Berington, about whom we know relatively little, but who was probably a Catholic priest, and certainly from an old Catholic family. Later investigation did seem to show that it was a local family tradition that Berington had written the work. And if we compare Gaudentio to other things we're fairly sure Berington wrote, such as A Popish Pagan, a biting and thorough satire of the controversial work of Conyers Middleton, or the work that James Crossley, the second Notes and Queries researcher, used, Dissertations on the Mosaical Creation, there does seem to be some at least broad kinship of humor ideas between the works, and Crossley points out that when one compares the authors quoted or alluded to in the works, there is a fair amount of overlap. It does seem fairly certain, then.

In any case, if you've never read it, it is worth reading, and it is a book that is good enough that it probably should not be allowed to fall into oblivion. As I mentioned before, for a Utopia novel, it is fast-paced, in an H. Rider Haggard sort of way. There is a lot of humor in the work, ranging from the subtle to the blatantly sarcastic. And Berington's use of narrative layering borders on genius -- reading the story, we are reading a supposed translation and edition of a supposed commentary by an Italian scholar of an account by Gaudentio of his adventures, including stories told to him by natives, as recorded in the transcript of an Inquisition investigation, and each layer gets some good use in the story. We travel with Gaudentio to Egypt, where he meets a man called the Pophar, who takes him to his homeland, the forgotten but mighty, wise, and prosperous civilization of Mezzorania, deep in the heart of Africa, and its glorious capital city of Phor, also called No-om or No-Ammon, in which the long-lost civilization of the Ancient Egyptians has had its greatest flowering.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ad Baculum

Ad baculum is a popular entry on fallacy lists. It originally began as a joke -- argument by beating someone into submission -- but, in a pattern that is surprisingly common in the intellectual matters, the joke began to be treated as serious at some point, and thus ad baculum moved from being a joke-argument to being listed as a real fallacy on fallacy lists. But, of course, this raises the question, what is the fallacy in the fallacy of the cudgel? And this is not a straightforward question, either. Seeking something that goes with the name, people have tended to conflate argument ad baculum with threat. The obvious problem with this, of course, is that threats are not generally arguments. Don Levi in 1999 had a nice paper, "The Fallacy of Treating Ad Baculum as a Fallacy", in which he argued that these kinds of analyses typically founder on a failure to recognize the actual goals of threat and intimidation; he proposed that typically the point is to shut down or prevent argument -- it is not an argumentative move at all.

It is, however, a mistake to conflate ad baculum with threat and intimidation. The original point, of course, was just a joke -- 'Here's my argument, the stick' -- but Isaac Watts had recognized that these kinds of labels, like ad verecundiam, were topoi or commonplaces, strategies for picking a middle term for an argument, and for the same reason, it is certainly the case that if we are to take ad baculum as a serious label, it has to cover something like this. There is indeed a kind of argument that has occasionally been called ad baculum that fits the bill. Three examples I have noted before;

Brian Magee on free will (Confessions of a Philosopher, Random House [1990] p. 152):

I am entirely confident that if you subjected any determinist who is not a psychopath, however amoral his life, to outrageous and cruel ill-treatment, he would become indignant with you and protest that you ought not to treat him in that way. Ought and ought not would spring to life for him then, and he would insist on attributing to you the ability to behave otherwise.

Scotus on contingency (Reportatio IA prol. q. iii art. i; in Philosophical Writings, Wolter, tr., Hackett [1993] p. 9):

And so too, those who deny that some being is contingent should be exposed to torments until they concede that it is possible for them not to be tormented.

And, of course Scotus is adapting Avicenna on noncontradiction (ibid., with a minor change):

Those who deny a first principle should be beaten or exposed to fire until they concede that to burn and not to burn, or to be beaten and not to be beaten, are not [the same].

None of these, incidentally, are fallacious -- the baculine link in each case is relevant and appropriate, providing a legitimate way to reach the conclusion drawn (in all of these cases, that a particular position is not something anyone can consistently accept). Any number of other things could in principle work in the same way, and be recognized as nonfallacious; the baculinism is a rhetorical choice that does not affect the basic functioning of the argument.

This relates to the second conflation that has often confused matters in discussing ad baculum arguments; namely, the failure to make a proper distinction between the argumentative move and the rhetorical approach taken in making that move. Ad baculum, like ad verecundiam and similar labels, designates a rhetorical approach exemplified by the link that constitutes the argument; as with those other labels, there is nothing intrinsically fallacious about it. One gets an ad baculum fallacy when one commits an argumentative fallacy that happens to be in ad baculum rhetorical dress. The actual fallacy will be something distinct -- ignoratio elenchi, in fact, which is why ad baculum, when classified as a fallacy, is always classified as a fallacy of irrelevance.

The Educational Machine

...the pupil is now far more defenceless in the hands of his teachers. He comes increasingly from businessmen's flats or workmen's cottages in which there are few books or none. He has hardly ever been alone. The educational machine seizes him very early and organises his whole life, to the exclusion of all unsuperintended solitude or leisure. The hours of unsponsored, uninspected, perhaps even forbidden, reading, the ramblings, and the 'long, long thoughts' in which those of luckier generations first discovered literature and nature and themselves are a thing of the past. If a Traherne or a Wordsworth were born today he would be 'cured' before he was twelve.

C. S. Lewis, The World's Last Night and Other Essays, HarperOne (San Francisco: 2017) p. 43.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fortnightly Book, September 10

Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, born in 1802, generally went by Alexandre Dumas, Dumas being the maiden name of his Haitian grandmother; his father, who did not get along with his own father, had often used it as well. Dumas worked as a scribe for the Duc d'Orleans, who would later become King Louis-Philippe, and while doing that began to write extensively in a wide variety of genres for extra money. He first became famous for his plays. It was his serialized novels more than anything, however, that solidified his name.

The fortnightly book is The Three Musketeers, the first book in his D'Artagnan Romances, originally serialized in 1844. I once read them all, but it has been quite a few years since I last picked this tale of the Gascon and his three friends in the King's Musketeers, from the 'days of less freedom but more independence'. D'Artagnan himself is actual Dumas's free adaptation of a previous d'Artagnan, that of Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras's Mémoires de M. d'Artagnan, who was himself fictionalizing the real-life Charles de Batz de Castelmore d'Artagnan. The real d'Artagnan provides the most basic features of the d'Artagnan story -- he became captain of the Musketeers of the Guard under Louis XIV and died at the Siege of Maastricht -- but Dumas does not really draw on the real d'Artagnan's life. What seemed to have struck him was instead was Courtilz de Sandras's very heavily fictionalized story of d'Artagnan's early life, on which he then built.

A point that does not seem widely to be known is that Dumas co-wrote a lot of his works, and several of Dumas's most famous works were collaborations of this sort with Auguste Maquet, including The Three Musketeers itself. Dumas did the actual detail-work; Maquet functioned as a plot-designer, researcher, and secretary. This approach seems to have been developed by Dumas in the course of writing plays, since it was standard to pass scripts around for modification. In any case, it was because of the fame he developed in theater-work that Dumas became the big-name draw, and publishers did not want to dilute that with a less-known name. By an agreement Maquet's name was left off the title page, but he was paid very well in exchange. Being also a less profligate man than Dumas himself, Maquet died quite wealthy and Dumas poor and heavily in debt, so one can judge for oneself whether it was a good deal. Dumas's own contribution was not slight; he was not merely touching up another author's work but writing the actual vivid, engaging scenes on the basis of someone else's sketch of a story, and there seems good reason to think that he did this with quite a free hand. Some of his contemporaries accused him of running a novel factory and industrializing literature; but no one, I think, can deny that his own literary talents made a significant contribution to the result.

The edition I am using is the complete and unabridged Bantam Classics edition, translated by Lowell Bair.

Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji


Opening Passage:

In a certain reign (whose can it have been?) someone of no very great rank, among all His Majesty's Consorts and Intimates, enjoyed exceptional favor. Those others who had always assumed that pride of place was properly theirs despised her as a dreadful woman, while the lesser Intimates were unhappier still. The way she waited on him day after day only stirred up feeling against her, and perhaps this growing burden of resentment was what affected her health and obliged her often to withdraw in misery to her home; but His Majesty, who could less and less do without her, ignored his critics until his behavior seemed bound to be the talk of all. (p. 3)

Summary: One may be begotten by an Emperor and yet not be a prince; in Imperial Japan, Princes must be designated. The hero of the Tale is the son of a lower-born Intimate; being beautiful and intelligent, his father favors him for the throne, but it is impossible for political reasons, and thus the Emperor, rather than putting him in the line of succession, grants him a surname, Minamoto, making him simply a high-born commoner; thus he is called throughout the work, 'Genji', which means, more or less, Minamoto Name. Genji will later fall in love with one of the Emperor's wives, Fujitsubo; Genji, frustrated by the difficulties of this forbidden love, goes through a series of love affairs which always fail in one way or another. An indiscretion leads to Genji and Fujitsubo having a child, whom everyone thinks is the Emperor's younger son. The Heir Apparent, Genji's half brother, becomes Emperor, and Genji is caught in an indiscretion again, with one of his half-brother's concubines. While the Emperor does not hold it against him, the discovery having been made, he has no choice but to punish Genji, particularly given how much the Emperor's mother hates Genji. Genji is exiled, and while exiled, he has another affair, which results in a daughter. When the Emperor's mother grows ill, the Emperor pardons Genji; and in time, the throne passes to a new Emperor: the son of Genji and Fujitsubo. As the new Emperor knows that Genji is his real father, he raises Genji to the highest rank.

But, as so often happens, Genji's attainment of the heights is also the beginning of a decline. Having been raised so high, he requires an appropriate marriage, but (as also often happens) the marriage purely to correspond to social status is an utter disaster. They have nothing in common and do not get along particularly well. Genji is really in love with a girl know throughout the work as Murasaki, who reminds him of Fujitsubo; when she becomes sick, he abandons his wife for an extended period of time in order to nurse her back to health. Genji's nephew seduces her, and she has a son with him, Kaoru, who is thought by everyone to be Genji's. Murasaki becomes a nun and eventually dies, and Genji fades away shortly thereafter. We learn something of the next generation, in the last chapters, as we follow Kaoru and the prince Niou, who is Genji's grandson by his daughter, and their rivalry for a beautiful princess. The book ends abruptly in the midst of this story, for reasons unknown, but it is clear enough that, for all the mistakes Genji had made, the new generation does not seem to live up to his greatness.

Such is the basic plot, but it is somewhat misleading to summarize a book like this by its plot, because, while well plotted, it is not a plot-driven book. It is common to call The Tale of Genji 'the world's first novel', and it is true that many of the techniques that would later be common among novel-writers are already found here. But I think this fails to do justice to the work, which is a far more ambitious thing than a novel. It is more like a Scandinavian saga, except, instead of warriors and genealogies, it is structured by courtiers and bureaucratic offices. But even sagas are more interested in the narrative movement than we find here. The story gets told, but that's not where the focus is found.

I think the best analogy for thinking about The Tale of Genji is to think of a vast gallery of paintings. The paintings have an order to them, and you can walk through and get a story. But the paintings are really bound more by theme than by story, and to look at the painting only for what it contributes to the story is not actually to look at the painting. Nor would things really suffer by just wandering around the gallery without much worry about the story itself. And the best way to read the book is arguably not to worry much about the story; just look at the paintings. Perhaps this one will strike today, and another one will strike you when you read it again, but there's no need -- fortunately, because there is no possibility -- to take it all in here and now.

The comparison to painting is not accidental. It is difficult to convey how much, and in how many ways, the picturesque dominates the tale. Perhaps the best way to convey it is to quote an extended passage from "The Bluebell" (Chapter 20):

The snow was very deep by now, and more was falling. The waning light set off pine and bamboo prettily from one another, and Genji's face took on a clearer glow. "More than the glory of flowers and fall leaves that season by season capture everyone's heart, it is the night sky in winter, with snow aglitter beneath a brilliant moon, that in the absence of all color speaks to me strangely and carries my thoughts beyond this world; there is no higher wonder or delight. Whoever called it dreary understood nothing."

He had the blinds rolled up. The moon illumined all before them in its single color, while the garden shivered under the weight of snow, the brook uttered pathetic sobs, and desolate ice lay across the lake. Genji had the page girls go down and roll a snowball. Their charming figures and hair gleamed in the moonlight, while the bigger, more knowing ones were lovely in their varied, loosely worn gowns and their night service wear with the sashes half undone; meanwhile their hair, far longer than their gowns, stood out strikingly against the white of the snow. The little ones were a pleasure to watch running about happily, dropping their fans and showing their excited faces. They wanted to roll their snowball even bigger, but for all their struggles it would not budge. Some of them sat on the east end of the veranda, laughing nervously. (p. 373)

This is perhaps more explicit in description than some others, but virtually the entire book consists of paintable scenes. To a great degree, this picturesque character contributes to the book's pervading sense of nostalgia for lost perfections, which gives everything a sort of thematic unity. Everything is written as if it were a scene painted by the memory long after the events depicted.

The work is very poetic, and a number of things converge to make it so. The first is its picturesque character, already mentioned. Another is that the culture it depicts is built entirely on conventions of indirectness. We see part of this in the convention of never naming anyone directly, out of politeness, but it goes much farther than that. As a rule, men and women do not interact face to face, but through screens and fans -- the page girls dropping their fans and showing their faces in excitement over the snow show their youth by doing so. For a man to see a woman is an extraordinary intimacy, and often indicates something sexual. In addition, there are many things that simply cannot be said directly, so instead of saying them directly, they are constantly alluding to them with impromptu verse or writing poems that are intended to suggest -- by word, by allusion, by penstroke, and by carefully crafted paper -- what they cannot say directly. One of the best characters in the book is the one known as Omi no Kami, the Omi daughter, the lost-and-then-rediscovered daughter of Genji's best friend. She was raised in the country, so when she is brought to court, she does not fit in well at all, in part because she simply does not grasp that there are things you are not supposed to say outright. This leads to several scenes that are utterly hilarious in context.

What we find in The Tale of Genji is a story of beautiful life; it depicts a culture of aristocrats whose lives are almost purely aesthetic. Everyone is very human, with very human failings, including Genji himself; but they take being a flawed human being to a high art, and in this much of the attraction of the story lies.

Favorite Passage: A quick scene with the Omi daughter:

"He's the one, he's the one!" she whispered enthusiastically, loud and clear, on the subject of that most exceptionally stalwart young gentleman. It was very painful.

"Boat upon the sea, if you know not where to go, lost among the waves, let me then row out to you, but tell what port is yours!"

her voice rang out. "You always row your little boat back to the same girl! It isn't fair!"

The shocked Captain was wondering who on earth at the Consort's would ever express herself so crudely when he realized with amusement that this must be the young lady of whom he had heard.

"The boatman you see, though uncertain where to go, plaything of the winds, disdains to approach a shore where he has no wish to go."

he replied. That, they say, silenced her. (p. 543)

Recommendation: Highly Recommended, but you should be aware that this is not only a long work, it is a work that cannot be read quickly.


Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji, Royall Tyler, tr. Penguin (New York: 2001).

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Fields, Orchards, Gardens

Sonnet on September
by William Mann

Amidst the songs of morn, and harvest mirth,
Soft-eye'd December on our plains descends;
Rejoicing Nature gladdens at her birth,
And sweet serenity her steps attends.
Rich magazines of plenty round her rise,
Creation sings the bounties of her Lord;
Fields, orchards, gardens, teem with full supplies,
And earth appears like paradise restor'd.
O plenteous scenes! I'd have ye always last,
O prospects grand! I'd have ye always stay;
Oh! how I wish that troublous times were past,
Oh ! how I long for the millenial day.
Father of mercies, paradise restore,
Let wars, and wants, and woes be known no more.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Dashed Off XIX

"For propaganda to succeed, a society must first have two complementary qualities: it must be both an individualist and a mass society." Jacques Ellul

stages of argument use: entertainment, consolidation, acceptance, diffusion

agent intellect as (ground of) intrinsic potential of philosophy

process of ideation: to sketch, to purify, to glorify

"Each emotion obeys a logic of its own, and makes deductions which no other logic can draw." William James

consecrated religious as signs representing the Church in its devotion (this makes considerable sense of many private revelations to saints)

enlightenment, purification, and transcendence as the characteristics of high philosophical contemplation

Note that James has a correct summary of arguments ex consensu gentium.

"The truth is that any state of things whatever that can be named is logically susceptible of teleological explanation." James

Belief is not thought at rest.

The ordinary magisterium is the Church's natural resistance to discordant innovations.

Private property is a ius sanctum by participation in, and protection of, human dignity.

the ethics that guide science as the ethics of civic life with scientific ends

the ethics required by scientific inquiry (esse) vs that required by good scientific inquiry (bene esse)

"The Church is essentially a popular institution, defending the cause and encouraging the talents of the lower classes, and interposing an external barrier in favour of high or low against the ambition and the rapacity of the temporal power." Newman

Intellectual work is like investment in its effects; sometimes it is sunk, or lost by accident, sometimes it stagnates or slowly declines, and sometimes it expands with a kind of compound interest.

betrothal // catechumenate

-more attention needs to be directed to the study of how arguments are extracted from contexts

Justice makes important the exclusive, the reformative, and the impersonal.

Matrimony "resumit et perficit" the sanctifying grace of baptism (Familiaris Consortio sect. 56).

solidarity: a firm and constant will to care for common good
subsidiarity & curation of common good

baptism : affective catholicity :: confirmation : effective catholicity

the notes of the Church as the standard for episcopal acction

To recognize an independent, continually existing world is to recognize in oneself a potential that can be made actual by an active power other than oneself. The independence and externality are recognized by reflecting on sameness and difference in one's being moved.

loyalty (Royce): thoroughgoing and loving devotion of an individual to a community = willing and thoroughgoing devotion of a self to a cause when the cause unites many selves in one and is therefore the interest of a community

Thoughts that are not thought together are incomplete.

(1) We find in nature things that exist from another, in the sense that we say that they are made to be.
(2) If everything together existed from another, there would be something beyond everything together, which is a contradiction; so some things must not exist from another.
(3) If everything together is not from another, something must not be from another.
(4) Therefore there must be something that is not from another.

Knowledge is not something produced so much as it is something grown into.

The human mind experiences the world around itself as question-raising.

"Consciousness of the body is comparable to the consciousness of a sign." Sartre

Everything Sartre says about freedom is ambiguous between freedom and craving.
Craving is the nothings made to be in the human heart, which forces man to try to make himself rather than to be; it makes human reality seem to be a grasping after oneself.

pride & the tendency to identify self with craving (cp. wrathful Buddhas)

plans as schemes of presumptive possibilities

"Man is an animal that interprets; and therefore man lives in communities, and depends upon them for insight and for salvation." Royce

Mere repetition does not make things more probable; only eliminating alternatives does.

Helen Wodehouse: 'ought' as 'This is what is needed'.

the narrative unity of human civilization

liturgy & Royce's communities of interpretation

Sidgwick seems consistently to underestimate the boldness of Bentham. (He is far from being alone in this.) he also falls back too loosely and lazily on hints and accusations of tautology, as if tautology were not another name for "necessary structure of consistent of reasoning" and as if tautologies and identities were not the sort of thing you need in order to clarify reasoning.

the intelligible structure, the rhetorical utility, and the moral character of an argument

the impossibility of an infinite regress in moral responsibility

ordained priests as sylleitourgoi of the angels
Each angelic order reflects an aspect of liturgy.

Human beings are not capable of infinite precision in their use of terms.

The very notion of an experiment implies that potential can deliberately be made actual in light of preselected ends.

All true devotion is a kind of learning.

We begin our assessments of truth not from single cases but from what usually happens. (This lets us clarify what is actually going on in single cases.)

Suggestions of what is good, drawn together and subjected to immense rational pressure, crystallize into obligations.

In an appropriate rational context, law forms itself like a crystal.

hypotheses as quasi-metaphorical

Any education more than merely casual relies on some notion of authority-to-teach.

The most impressively effective secularization has not been political but the secularization of sexual desire.

Politics is a negotiation of debts.

definitive, constitutive, and exhortative modes of doctrine

HoP and the exemplar causation of arguments

the Cantorian df. of a set: A set is a gathering together into a whole of definite, distinct objects of perception or thought, which are called the elements of the set.

status rationales
- conjecturalis (an sit)
- definitionis (quid sit)
- qualitatis (quale sit)
status legales
- scriptum et voluntas
- leges contrariae
- ambiguitas
Note that status legales deal with possible inconsistencies of law: with originating intent, with other laws, and with itself.

ciphers & analogies; codes & allusions

Aristotle's Rhetoric as a theory of inference from sign

A character in a narrative is constituted by revealed and suggested moral purposes.

Note that Aristotle explicitly allows deus ex machina for contextualizing (knowledge of what is otherwise unknowable).

the dignity of the bench as essential to the effectiveness of courts

unity + apostolicity -- papacy
unity + sanctity -- consensus of Church Fathers
unity + catholicity -- ecumenical Councils
sanctity + catholicity -- sacramental tradition
apostolicity + catholicity -- communion of episcopate
sanctity + apostolicity -- Scripture
-- But, of course, all these things must in some sense bear all four notes.

"The study of history shows us that grave external calamities often release internal dissensions and party quarrels." Ludwig von Pastor

vagueness & indistinguishability of things in other ways distinguishable

Aristotle on the utility of rhetoric
(1) Truth and justice have a natural tendency to prevail; thus lapses tend to be rhetorical lapses
(2) Some cannot be instructed, but something must even so be done toward conviction.
(3) By employing rhetoric on both sides of a question, we may see more clearly what is the case.
(4) As rational creatures we should be ashamed of not being able to defend ourselves by word and reason.

One needs a doxastic logic with tracks-of-belief (potentially multiple for any single believer). This would allow regimentation of beliefs where inconsistency is involved -- inconsistent beliefs lie along different tracks. Which would allow Bp -> ~B~p as being intrinsic to belief, which would be handy, without ignoring the problem of inconsistency. Moreover, this seems to be reasonably connected with explanations of how we can have inconsistent beliefs to begin with -- we don't generally just have B(P&~P), but rather we get to one by one route and to the other by another, and only recognize the contradiction when we compare across routes, not when we are considering a single route.

For any active power, one may distinguish Box and Diamond, as that which is beyond the power or its conditions (i.e., must be presupposed by it) and that which is within its scope. This raises the interesting question of whether every modal Box and Diamond can be taken to imply an active power of some kind.

curation of the museum of thought
collection, conservation, display, and education about historical arguments

respect des fonds as a light-fingerprint approach to archival curation (the archivist is avoiding creating a new fonds)
- this perhaps suggests that it is more important as the fonds is more fragile and more difficult to reconstitute (and less as the reverse).
- respect des fonds also serves as a natural default where there is no agreement on classification - minimal irreversible actions.

archival work as a possible humanitarian tradition

A society needs reasonable hortators more than it needs experts, not because the latter are unimportant, but because a society needs noncoercive reasonableness in ways going well beyond its need for expertise.

the Sitz im Leben of an argument

Allegorization of metaphor arises naturally out of reflecting on the meaning and implications of the metaphor.

Jn 14:12 and the sacraments

miracles associated with Peter's boat: two catches of fish, two calmings of storm, walking on water
- note that discourses involving Peter himself are found in close association with each case

Rhetoric is more naturally seen as dealing with persuasion (and being effective at dealing with it) at the level of audience rather than at the level of the individual.

"The basic pattern of legal reasoning is reasoning by example." Edward Levi

D axiom and infinition
G implies F: no end
H implies P: no beginning
Box implies Diamond: no exception
O implies P: no qualification
- it is the seriality, of course, that we are seeing here. [But note that D axiom does not on its own yield seriality.)

computerization as part of the miniaturization of fabrication

Every active power can be ab alio or non ab alio.
Thus: if we assume for the moment that Diamond and Box imply an active power,
(1) For such-and-such Box [or Diamond], there is an active power.
(2) This active power may be derivative or nonderivative.
(3) If nonderivative, there is a first active power in this line.
(4) If derivative, there is another active power for it.
(5) This cannot regress infinitely.
(6) Therefore there is a first active power in this line.
For instance:
(1) For there to be obligation, there must be an obligating power or powers. Pick one.
(2) This power is from another or not.
(3) If not, there is a first obligating power.
(4) If derivative, there must be an active power activating this obligating power.
(5) This cannot infinite regress.
(6) Therefore there is a first active power serving as principle of obligation in this line.
- A complication arises because one kind of active power may derive from a different kind.

a possible classification of theistic arguments
(1) active power arguments
(2) pure perfection arguments
(3) global-skepticism-blocking arguments
(4) practical requirement arguments

Highly confirmed anticipatory models allow one to identify causes based on deviations from the model. (This is related to Newton's First Law.)

the Golden Rule and commons-building

Things do not consistently replicate without a teleology.

ecclesial design arguments

Lady Susan as the World

upholding the dignity of work
(1) respect for labor
(2) moderation of labor
(3) days for rest and worship (formal recognition of human and divine dignity)
(4) protection from exploitation

the importance of legislative representation for corporate bodies, whether direct or indirect

The proper use of language is service to truth.

stability of adherence to truth, of communication of truth, of cultivation of inquiry

True discursive reasoning is an oscillation of simplicity and complexity.

topics : true :: rhetoric : good :: poetics : beautiful

Always to muse much and ponder deeply.

sources of intellectual authority
(1) clear possession of truth
(2) history of preserving truth
(3) history of protecting inquiry
(4) conventional deference
(5) certified accomplishment
(6) charismatic presentation

peace, exchange, mutual aid

Human perversity is (indirect) adaptive; reason, when enslaved by it, builds defenses for it.

sacrament of confirmation and growing in favor with God and man

Justice &c are right unconditionally, without regard for ulterior results -- but not without regard for ulterior ends.

We regard as right the adoption of certain ends because they are subordinate to other ends.

the Church's capacity to express divine things as a sign of its incorruptibility

wisdom as a thing not seen nor yet in hand, but nonetheless loved

the three intrinsic laws of the liturgical commonwealth
(1) The sacraments must be upheld.
(2) The sacramental system must be handed down.
(3) Sacramental responsibilities must be fulfilled.
- These arise from sacraments as received common good.

Primacy of honor calls for a certain deference and loyalty.

The goodness of virtue and the badness of vice must be communicated or a society becomes corrupted.

"Divine power is not circumscribed by any place and neither is the inexhaustible goodness of the Mother of God. For if the graces were restricted only to her tomb, only a few people would gain them. Now her graces are poured out in every place throughout the world." John Damascene (Hom in Dorm 2.19)

Ontological arguments seem to require an intellectual clarity that is generally beyond human beings to achieve.

power : authority of the Church :: wisdom : infallibility :: goodness : indefectibility

the Incarnation as symbolic theology; the sacraments as symbolic theology

"All speaking of God presupposes God speaking." Edith Stein

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Evening Note for Wednesday, September 6

Thought for the Evening: Psycho-Pass

I finally got around to watching Psycho-Pass, an anime science fiction crime thriller, and can highly recommend it. In the future, Japan is governed by the Sybil System, a supercomputer with a ubiquitous network of psychometric scanners. The entire society is organized so as to reduce stress and mental disorders. Every citizen is continually scanned by the Sybil System and issued a Psycho-Pass, which includes a Crime Coefficient indicating the likelihood of criminal behavior. Anyone whose Crime Coefficient rises too high is hunted down by the Public Safety Bureau and neutralized, either by being stunned and sent to therapy, or by being executed on the spot if they are an imminent or irreversible threat. The means of doing this are guns called Dominators that are part of the Sibyl System. The enforcement work is itself stressful, so it is done by Enforcers who are actually latent criminals themselves - that is, they have the kind of psychological profile that have stably high Criminal Coefficients; they are overseen by Inspectors, with low Criminal Coefficients, who have authority to shoot them at any moment that they deem them to become a threat.

The series follows Akane Tsunemori, a rookie Inspector who is assigned to Division 1 of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the Enforcer, Shinya Kogami. Akane, who has a natural temperament for accepting things as they are, has an unusually low, and unusually stably low, Criminal Coefficient; she and Kogami work together to solve am unusual series of grisly and ghastly crimes, committed by very different people who seem largely unconnected, but as things proceed, it becomes clear that there is an orchestrator behind the scenes, not dirtying his hands with the details but providing others means to do terrible things. What is more, the villain, Shogo Makashima, is an anomaly -- he is not bothered by his crimes, so his Crime Coefficient stays low, no matter what he does. No matter what other evidence there might be, the Sibyl System reads him as non-criminal, and therefore locks the Dominators.

Makashima is a compelling villain -- he is well read and cultured, soft-spoken and charming. Even more, the criticisms of the Sibyl System underlying his crimes are legitimate. The Sibyl System keeps society safe, for the most part, but the universal surveillance has stolen something from them, and the Sibyl System is not exactly trustworthy. A true villain, but with a legitimate complaint, capable of terrible evil and highly rational: it's a perfect combination to drop into an ordered dystopia.

The second season faced a number of problems, and received some rather severe criticisms from critics. The criticisms were well founded. The first season, while exceptionally good, had some pacing problems, which were carried over. In addition, there was insufficient continuity of characters -- too much change, one might say. The villain was inevitably going to be less impressive than Makashima. The series also occasionally lost sight of the fact that it was a psychological crime thriller, and became much more violent. However, it did have a number of interesting ideas -- in particular, introducing the idea of whether a collective group could have a high tendency to criminality even though all of its members had a low tendency. And it ends up being OK, not great like the first season, but OK.

The series as a whole is a deliberate mixing pot of philosophical puzzles and ideas: the Panopticon, the omnipotence paradox, deterrence theories of punishment, brains in vats, gestalt personalities, the nature of just judgment, human experimentation, and more. Quite enjoyable.

Various Links of Interest

* The word 'fascism' has been thrown around a lot recently, so it's worthwhile to re-read George Orwell's 1944 essay, "What Is Fascism?", because nothing has fundamentally changed.

* Philip Pilkington, Utilitarian Economics and the Corruption of Conservatism

* Timothy Hsiao, The Perverted Faculty Argument

* David Hershenov, Ten (Bad, but Popular) Arguments for Abortion

* Philip W. Magness, Houston Flooding in Historical Perspective

* Regan Penaluna, Sexism Killed My Love for Philosophy Then Mary Astell Brought It Back

* Christopher Bartel, Rock as a Three-Value Tradition

* If you are planning on donating for hurricane relief, either for Harvey or upcoming Irma, it's best to avoid the Red Cross. Red Cross does some things well, but they are notoriously bad at disaster relief; they are simply not flexible enough. Both the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, on the other hand, have very good reputations for being able to improvise in a way that increases the chances of people getting the actual help they need, when they need it and in the way they need it.

Currently Reading

Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji
Edith Stein, Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities
Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity
C. S. Lewis, The World's Last Night and Other Essays


By the Babe Unborn
by G. K. Chesterton

If trees were tall and grasses short,
As in some crazy tale,
If here and there a sea were blue
Beyond the breaking pale,

If a fixed fire hung in the air
To warm me one day through,
If deep green hair grew on great hills,
I know what I should do.

In dark I lie; dreaming that there
Are great eyes cold or kind,
And twisted streets and silent doors,
And living men behind.

Let storm clouds come: better an hour,
And leave to weep and fight,
Than all the ages I have ruled
The empires of the night.

I think that if they gave me leave
Within the world to stand,
I would be good through all the day
I spent in fairyland.

They should not hear a word from me
Of selfishness or scorn,
If only I could find the door,
If only I were born.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Theoretic Festivals

Even the objects which are the most remote from man, because they are objects to him, and to the extent to which they are so, are revelations of human nature. Even the moon, the sun, the stars, call to man Γνῶθι σεαυτόν. that he sees them, and so sees them, is an evidence of his own nature. The animal is sensible only of the beam which immediately affects life; while man perceives the ray, to him physically indifferent, of the remotest star. Man alone has purely intellectual, disinterested joys and passions; the eye of man alone keeps theoretic festivals. The eye which looks into the starry heavens, which gazes at that light, alike useless and harmless, having nothing in common with the earth and its necessities--this eye sees in that light its own nature, its own origin. The eye is heavenly in its nature. Hence man elevates himself above the earth only with the eye; hence theory begins with the contemplation of the heavens. The first philosophers were astronomers. It is the heavens that admonish man of his destination, and remind him that he is destined not merely to action, but also to contemplation.

Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, George Eliot, tr., Harper (New York: 1957), p. 5. Feuerbach is playing, of course, with the root meaning of the word 'theory', which derives from words for contemplation and sight, and was often linked to festivals (i.e., spectacles, shows). Feuerbach's description here is also consistent with Kant's account of the experience of sublimity, of which Kant himself famously gives the example of the starry heavens.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Servus Servorum Dei

Today is the Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church. From the Moralia in Iob, Book XXXV:

For the less a person sees himself, the less is he displeased with himself; and the more he discerns the light of greater grace, the more blameworthy does he acknowledge himself to be. For when he is elevated within, by all that he is, he endeavours to agree with that standard which he beholds above him. And because human weakness still impedes him, he perceives that he differs therefrom in no slight degree, and every thing within him is burdensome, which does not agree with that inward standard. This standard blessed Job more fully beholds, as he was making progress after his suffering, and with great self-reproach is at variance with himself, saying; Therefore I reproach myself. But because there is no knowledge of reproach, if the lamentations of penitence do not also follow, it is rightly added, after the reproach, And do penance in dust and ashes.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Dashed Off XVIII

Suppose a contingent being exists. Then it is a contingent state of affairs that it exists. Suppose a contingent being that could exist does not. Then it is a contingent state of affairs that it does not. Since for any contingent being, it exists or does not, if contingent beings are possible it is necessary that there are contingent states of affairs.

Tiresias as figure of the philosopher

eucharist & angelic sacrifice (cf. Albertus Magnus on Mass, and also Honorius)

the rhetoric of televised politics as concerned with prediction and gaffe

- someone should do a study of scientific rediscoveries

foraging, farming, fabrication

3D printing as the miniaturization of fabrication

negotiation with one's self (discursive reason, esp. in practical matters, often has this aspect)

appropriateness of actions to immortality

the being-in-God and the being-in-human-life of the Chruch
being-in-God, being-with-God, being-for-God

Our sympathy with the human will of Christ in its submission to His divine will unites us with the latter

Jn 6:38 on monothelitism

Orthopraxis is the theological virtues working outwardly. Orthodoxy is the theological virtues working inwardly.

∀ and ∃ as modal operators for counting operations

Envy often mimics righteous indignation.

Basics of Schleiermacher: The sense of freedom and the sense of dependence are common to all experiences of acting and being acted upon, respectively, that belong to self-consciousness. The sense of absolute dependence accompanies our activity as a whole and is simultaneously a sense of not being absolutely free. God is the other term of the sense of absolute dependence and our consciousness of this sense becomes consciousness of relation to God, especially as this sense becomes articulated and expressed in reflective self-awareness during devotional moments of life. God is not given in experience; rather, what is given is our utter dependence on another.

A 'truthmaker', to fulfill its function, must be a union of being and possibility of being understood. that is to say, talk of truthmakers is just a way to talk about being insofar as it can be understood.

sense of dependence
sense of comparative insignificance
sense of inability to grasp

Crucifixion of the understanding is pointless unless there is a resurrection in greater glory.

sense of wonder -> notion of wisdom itself

Translation is a stretched elastic cord.

Some scientific ethics are conducive to progress toward truth and some are not. This is straightforward fact; honesty and reasonableness are non-negotiables of inquiry. But this has implications few have traced.

The most convenient units of a field arise from its practice, not directly from nature. Since its practice is inquiring practice, this does not imply that they are fictional (although the units themselves could be, considered solely on their own). But even with units carving up the real world in real ways, to which science tends, it is the practices of scientists that make these in particular salient.

the scientific practice of physics and the assumption of downward causation

Out of His mercy, we may repent and through repentance receive mercy.

The nine particles of Fraction in the Mozarabic Mass: Incarnation, Birth, Circumcision, Apparition (i.e., Baptism), Passion, Death, Resurrection, Glory, Kingdom.

Note Descartes AT 7:90, 15-16 // PP IV sect 207, VIII-i, 329, 8-9 (see Marion on this)

the intrinsically iconographic character of charity

icons as "the brilliance of the visible" (Marion)

image in a mirror vs image through a window

"Love doesn't pretend to know, it postulates its own giving without restriction." (Marion)
"Theology cannot aim at any other process than its own conversion to the Word."

Ascension removes a lesser presence of Christ for the sake of a higher presence of Christ.

institution : Passion :: epiclesis : Pentecost

"Transubstantiation...has the merit of clearly marking the unbridgeable difference between the divine Other and ourselves." (Marion)

the stupidity-likeness of laziness

Noah's Ark and the family as hope

Spaemann's futurum exactum argument ("Rationality and Faith in God")
(1) To say about something that it is now is at the same time to say that it will have been.
(2) Therefore the present remains as the past of the future present.
(3) The enduring reality of the past must be due to a consciousness taking up all things past and present.
(4) This we call God.

To apologize is to accept a social punishment. There are times one must, morally speaking, apologize, just as there are times you must simply face the consequences of your deeds. But it is baffling when people talk about apologizing as if it did not make your social position worse. To apologize is nothing other than to concede the point that people are right to demand some penalty from you; it is to bow your head for the blow.

[William of Sherwood]
signification: presentation of the form of something to the understand
supposition: ordering of the of something under something else
copulation: ordering of the understanding of something over something else
apellation: that with respect to which what the term signifies can be predicated

◇ | □
possible | necessary
posterior | prior
ab alio | non ab alio
relative | absolute
secundum quid | simpliciter
propter aliud | propter seipsum
by participation | by essence
potential | actual
composite | simple
mutable | immutable
finite | infinite
effect | efficient
exceeded | exceeding
accident | substance
diverse | same
unequal | equal
finitum | finiens
many | one
exemplate | exemplar
-- Each pair may be taken correlatively or oppositively (one would, of course, need generalized versions of some, e.g., not in another / in another for substance/ accident)
-- What are the most basic pairs, and which reduce to others?
-- What modal maxims apply to each pair? What are the analogies? What disanalogies arise, and why?
-- What implications does the above have for various arguments for God's existence?
-- How does all of this reflect on yet other ◇/□ pairs?
-- Does each of the pairs admit of a per se/ per accidens distinction of some kind?

modes of revelation
- according to moving and being moved (cp. inspiration)
- according to causing and being caused (cp. infusion)
- according to participation (cp. theosis)
- according to governing and being governed (cp. law)
--> What kinds of revelation correspond to the Third Way? (mediated, perhaps?)
--> Are there others according to the pattern of other arguments to God?
--> Are there arguments to God corresponding to every theology of revelation, or at least associated modes of such arguments? (natural theology and the abstract structure of revelation)
--> Can an exhaustive list be made for each, i.e., how many specific examples of kinds of revelation correspond to each?

Good books should be read many times in companionship with many different books, for books read in proximity bring out highlights in each other.


the error of confusing urgency with normativity

faith --> Christ as Truth
hope --> Christ as Way
love --> Christ as Life

diagram: sign that is drawn image of what is signified
testimony: effect that is verbal image of cause

The Church is known in her sacraments.

When people speak of the sacrament of baptism extending beyond the Church, they are speaking in a qualified sense either of baptism or of the Church.

There are many ministries only belonging intrinsically to the character of orders in which others can be involved by instrumental participation. Exactly how this works, or what the instrumental ministry is in its nature, varies according to ministry, but this participation is clearly important to the very nature of sacrament. (It really is a sacrament of ordering and setting in sacramental order.)

The a priori connection between testimony and reality is obviously not rigorous necessity, but it does not follow from this that there is no such connection, nor that there is no indirect or broader necessity involved. (For instance, there may be, by necessity, a limited number of possible links, each with specific conditions.)

To consider: A carefully drawn diagram presumptively establishes what it seems to establish, where there is no specific reason to think this is illusory.
--> Obviously a question here is how the diagram establishes what it does, and the conditions for that.

While it obviously can be important, trustworthiness plays less of a role in actual evaluation of testimony than you would expect from much philosophical discussion of testimony.

Note that in the Letter to a Young Widow, Chrysostom argues that the shining of Moses and the Transfiguration of Christ are both 'tokens and obscure indications' of the glory of the resurrection body.

Austin: In saying, 'I know', we give our word, we give our authority for saying what we do.

verdictives and the sacrament of reconciliation

Outside of verdictives, Austin's classifications of performatives don't seem very helpful.

Austin's infelicities and mishandling of sacraments.
(A1) There must exist an accepted convention.
(A2) The person speaking must be appropriate to the act.
(B1) The procedure must be executed by all participants correctly.
(B2) The procedure must be executed by all participants completely.
(L1) Where procedure involves thoughts and feelings, they must be had.
(L2) The person must conduct themselves appropriately in response.
If not A or B = MISFIRE; if not L = ABUSE; Not A = Misapplication; not B = invalidity and errors

Sacraments are sui generis speech acts; for one thing, they have a performative efficacy entirely different from other performatives.

Calvin's metaphor of sacrament as seal seems to overlook (1) the fact that it is the seal that gives the writing authority and (2) seals have in fact worked as expression of authority simply in themselves. (Institutes 4.14.5)

The sacraments "make us more certain of the trustworthiness of God's Word" by attesting God's benevolence and love "more expressly than by word". (Institutes 4.14.6)

emanatio intelligibilis // sacramental emanation
verbum insitum (incomplexum): Christ :: verbum prolatum (complexum) : sensible sign :: verbum intus prolatum : efficacious sacramental form

Each sacrament is an obscure representation of the Incarnation, or, perhaps more accurately, a representation of the Incarnation under some particular aspect.

verbum as knowing with love
a word proceeds and manifests
notitia is essential to the word, amor is concomitant to the word

creatures in the Word // saints in the Book of Life

Philosophical eclecticism is a sign of an immense amount of work to be done and not enough resources to do it, leading to imperfect assimilation, transformation, and integration

Pascendi dominici gregis as an attack on empiricism as a universal position (i.e., not empiricism in a domain but globally)

The good investigated in ethics has always been more than just good attainable in some degree by human effort, for investigating the latter requires contextualizing it.

A teacher doe snot for the most part tell a pupil what he ought to do on the basis of what the pupil wants to do, but on ends appropriate to the problematic of the situation.

HoP is ideal for people of affable temperament and rebellious mind

unordered pair as weakest form of 2-◇
◇ and unordered list

the four forms of comfort in the anointing of the sick: courage, patience, hope, communion

Thebes as symbol of boundary-breaking in Greek tragedy

"While faith provides the basis for works, the strength of faith only comes out in works." Leo

traditions in the mode of cultivation, of renovation, of nostalgia

Plato's myths as defenses of philosophy

Note that Cicero's criticism of divination in De Div is analogous to Platonic criticisms of sophistry.
the perpetual issue of claims of expertise not grounded in understanding

the purgatorial character of love

love as setting boundaries to evil

matrimony : communal :: unction : individual