Monday, May 29, 2017

Subjects to Be Respected

Environmental degradation comes in just the same way that moral degradation comes, through representing people and places in impersonal ways, as objects to be used rather than as subjects to be respected. The sense of beauty puts a brake upon destruction, by representing its object as irreplaceable. When the world looks back at me with my eyes, as it does in aesthetic experience, it is also addressing me in another way. Something is being revealed to me, and I am being made to stand still and absorb it. It is of course nonsense to suggest that there are naiads in the trees and dryads in the groves. What is revealed to me in the experience of beauty is a fundamental truth about being -- that being is a gift.

Roger Scruton, The Soul of the World, Princeton UP (Princeton, NJ: 2014) p. 139.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Eala þeodnes þrym!

"The Wanderer", I believe by the same person who did the "Wulf and Eadacer":



You can find a translation here.

Sanders and Myers on the Doctrine of the Trinity

There has been some very good discussion of the Trinity recently. Fred Sanders notes that Trinitarianism is alive and well and not itself in need of grand rejuvenation, even if people sometimes need a bit of correction here and there:

The kind of doctors who want to help and heal should attend to how much is already right with the patient. Every Christian church is inherently Trinitarian as the people of God, the body of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit; some of those churches need to hear about their Trinitarian foundation more often. Christians live by the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13:13); some of them need this benediction placed on them more emphatically. Every Christian prayer that goes up finds its way to God the Father because of the mediation of the Son and the intercession of the Spirit; pastors should draw attention to the direction of that current so that the people who pray to the Trinity can see what is always already Trinitarian in their prayers. Every soul that is saved has been adopted by the Father who sends the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying “Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6).

And Ben Myers recently had a tweet storm on the subject. The first eighteen tweets are momented here (strictly speaking, it's eighteen plus a footnote). The only thing I would say differently (although I suppose I could go either way on Trinity Sunday) would be the handling of analogy; I would say something like:

Ancients: Analogies show that we aren't talking incoherently.
Moderns: Analogies are models of the Trinity.

When it comes to the Trinity, the Church Fathers develop analogies promiscuously but modestly and without putting very much weight on them; the Scholastics put more weight on the received analogies, but cautiously and modestly; but we moderns are all too often immodest about them. (Leading to the very misleading 'models of the Trinity' talk.) I've noted this about misreadings of Augustine's On the Trinity -- people will talk about Augustine's analogies as if they were intended to be direct descriptions, despite the fact that (1) the reason he talks about the analogies at all is to argue that we can make sense of the words used to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity; and (2) he spends a considerable portion of the last book emphasizing the ways in which even the best analogy fails.

Then he gives the principles underlying the doctrine (the tweets after the eighteenth have not yet been momented by anyone, so I'll give them here until they are):













The only thing I would add to the above would be the importance of baptism -- the baptismal formula keeps coming up, it's the fact that the Trinitarian heresies conflict with it that makes them so serious, and, of course, as far as we can tell the Creeds grow out of the liturgical practice of baptism -- the Symbolum Apostolorum being in its current form mostly a Frankish expansion of the Old Roman Symbol, which is a summary of the Roman baptismal declaration of faith, and the Nicene Creed being apparently an Eastern summary or summaries of unknown provenance (it used to be thought it originated from Caesarea, but this is less accepted now), with a similar function, that was (or were) modified by the first two ecumenical councils. The baptismal connection is also important for something Myers discusses a bit later, about the practical implications of the doctrine, and it is to some extent the root of what Sanders discusses in the article linked above.

Tweets 30-47 apply the above principles, and tweets 48-55 discuss the implications; I won't put them all here, but if someone moments them, I'll link to the Moment.

ADDED LATER: And Myers has put the entire tweet storm (up to 58, with the three final tweets wrapping up the whole) in a Moment.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Apostle to the English

Today is the feast for St. Augustine of Canterbury. Augustine, born in the sixth century, was the prior of the monastery of St. Andrew (St. Gregory himself was the abbot) in Rome when St. Gregory chose him to be the leader of a band of thirty missionaries to preach the faith in Kent. They were given a letter of introduction for the queen of Kent, St. Aldeberge, also known as St. Bertha, who was a Frankish princess and thus already Christian, as a way of getting their first foot in the door. They were welcomed, and it is because of St. Aldeberge that the primary see of England is Canterbury (Augustine was later instructed to make London his archiepiscopal see, probably because of its Roman roots, but this turned out to be infeasible until long after Canterbury's traditional place had been established). St. Aldeberge gave her private chapel to be a church dedicated to St. Martin of Tours -- and St. Martin's at Canterbury is still there, although, of course, only parts of the church go back to the original after all this time. The missionaries arrived in Kent in 597; King Æthelberht of Kent was converted shortly after. There began to be a significant pagan backlash in the 610s after Æthelberht's death, but by the death of the last missionary in 635, Kent was heavily Christian, and the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon territories had begun. St. Augustine only had time to start the whole thing off; he probably died around 604.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Dashed Off XI

apologetics as the origin of systematization (Santayana)

kinds of responses to paradoxes:
(1) impossibilist: The paradoxical situation is not in fact possible.
(2) illusionist: The paradoxical situation is not problematic, but only apparently so.
(3) logical revisionist: The paradoxical situation is not problematic in a more appropriate logical system or scheme.
(4) metaphysical postulationist: The paradoxical situation is not problematic if a substantive metaphysical position is true.

moving from argument to argument through the hyperargument

three stimuli to sobriety in philosophy: the Church, marriage, professorship

Peter feeds the sheep through his successors.

Apostle : intellectus :: bishop : ratio

"The man of genius who founds a science, an art, or a civilisation, imparts to his work an impetus that often carries it on for centuries. Christ did not do less for His Church." Journet

Reason especially concerns itself with the hidden, the absent, the not yet.

"In rational prayer the soul may be said to accomplish three things important to its welfare: it withdraws within itself and defines its good, it accommodates itself to destiny, and it grows like the ideal which it conceives." Santayana

The full life of charity requires a canonical organization of divine character.

The life of reason, committed to love of truth, is committed to half at least of the convertibility of the good and the true: all that is true is to that extent good.

accident -> substance --> hierarchy of substances -->first substance
principle -> hierarchy of principles --> first principle
generable --> ingenerable --> necessary --> first necessary
for the sake of another --> for its own sake --> hierarchy of ends -->ultimate end
potential --> actual --> hierarchy of actualities --> pure act
composite --> simple --> hierarchy of simplicity --> most simple
mutable --> immutable --> hierarchy of immutability --> first immutable

superinduction of the world as posterior, from another, relative, for the sake of another, participating, caused, conditioned, having sufficient reason, sign, ordered, dependent

civilization --> common good --> good itself
order of society to unity, truth, goodness, beauty, wisdom, nobility, sublimity, virtue

order of intellect to true, order of intellect to intelligible, order of intellect to sublime
order of will to good, order of will to perfect, order of will to pure
order of intellect and will to beautiful, order of intellect and will to wise, order of intellect and will to integral
*******
order of intellect/will qua power, in habit, in act

ordered properties of being --> ordering being

retracing arguments for God' existence, expressing arguments for God's existence, tending arguments for God's existence

civic order --> marriage --> divine providence
civic order --> funerals --> divine providence
civic order --> law --> eternal law

Sometimes the reordering of thought is the hardest work of reason

unity of Church // transcendental unity; apostolicity // truth; holiness // good; catholicity // ?infinite?beautiful?

inappropriateness-blocking arguments for God's existence (global skepticism, victory of evil, collapse of practice)

Bellarmine's Note of Extent & the transmarine argument against Donatism (and to a lesser extent Arianism)

If you do not have time to do it justly, you do not have time to do it.

The sublimities of the life of Christ arise from the humilities of the life of Christ.

yield, accuracy, and penetration of arguments:
suggestive - probable - demonstrative
loosely (associatively) relevant - generically relevant - specifically relevant
cosmetic - problematizing - fatal

take, bless, break, give
Feeding of the 5000: Mk 6:41; Mt 14:19; Lki 9:16; Jn 6:11
Feeding of the 4000: Mk 8:6; Mt 15:36
Last Supper: Mk 14:22-24; Mt 26:26-28; Lk 22:17-19-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26
Supper at Emmaus: Lk 24:30-35

Truth is that from which reason derives. Being from truth is part of the notion of reason.

the universal obligation to believe with right faith

What every society strives for in an arbitration/judiciary system is a means of achieving results that are consistently clear and generally reasonably appropriate; any ritual system capable of achieving this to some degree, to that extent can function as a court.

state of custody as a ritual state

particles as measurable dislocations

Mathematical description becomes physical explanation when it is used to describe coherence and resistance.

Ought not becomes cannot with a relevant comprehensive search.

Thinking that a multicosm in itself terminates the notion of finetuning is like thinking that the multiplicity of environments in a universe terminates the notion of fine-tuning: it is sleight of hand.

"fairness is only an appropriate way of dividing up something which is actually good" (Brendan Hodge)

flicker of freedom // flicker of insight

A man is the better for occasionally rambling.

energy as a physical capacity for having an end
energy as capacity to be a moved mover

intuition // visual inspection

the notes of the Church and the standard of doctrine and belief:
Our faith must not be individual but one in Christ, not according to our preferences but under the tutelage and in light of the example of the saints, not partial but universal for all, not by our will but through apostolic succession. In short, appropriate to Christ's Church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

Box: by essence; Diamond: by participation

The sensualist consistently attempts to excuse his sensual actiosn by hyperintellectualizing them. One sees this especially, although not exclusively, with sex -- note how pedophiles consistently hide behind education, as if pedophilia were an intellectual endeavor of cooperation and mentorship. But this is just a more egregious example of something rather common.

preservatory scholarship
ends of scholarship: discovery, explanation, preservation, development


We use propositions to inquire, to assert, and to conclude.

doubt : suspicion :: disbelief : belief

love as converting notional to real assent

metaphors that are useful for coming to understand & metaphors that are useful for expressing an understanding already had

To love moral law is to love it as subsisting, real, and active.
moral law --> obligation to love moral law --> love of moral law --> moral law as person --> God
the moral obligation to treat moral law as not less than personal

rhetoric as requiring understanding of the professions of one's audience (in Newman's sense of 'professions')

An account of heresy and orthodoxy that does not allow for theological economies is flawed.

the Bible as icon of providence, as icon of Christ, as icon of Holy Spirit

real assent as a principle of social coherence

"Our image of Him never is one, but broken into numberless partial aspects, independent each of each." Newman

Implicit faith is genuine faith because the Church does not merely speak the faith but displays it sacramentally and lives it morally.

external world known:
evidently - Berkeley
instinctively - Newman
assumptively - Hume
inferentially - Shepherd

assessing the modal status of an objection relative to that to which it objects

Note Saadia's argument for reward in the world to come, from the reward of Moses.

Intercession is a natural expression of charity.

Circumcision : Jewish genealogy :: Baptism : Christian Tradition

martyrdom as its own extreme unction

personal succession as sign of doctrinal succession

The world is greater than a city, but the world is not greater than the Chair of Peter.

the subtle similarities between hope and temperance

"Errors in reasoning are lessons and warnings, not to give up reasoning, but to reason with greater caution." Newman

prudence as the structuring principle of reasonable inquiry

We must always strive to render our charity more consistent in practice, more pure in intensity, more universal in scope, and more apostolic in expression.

analysis of arguments in terms of the modal judgments required for them (assertive, judgment of possibility, counterfactual conditional, judgment of necessity)
cp. Williamson's account of the structure of Gettier cases

rituals symbolizing and assisting virtue (etiquette, courts, etc.)

the virtue of religion and classification of sacramentals
general ends (different sacramentals focus more on one or the other)
(1) for stimulating the interior act of devotion
(2) for assisting the interior act of prayer
specific kinds
(1) corporeal adorations
(2) offerings to God
(3) reverences of the Name
(4) impediments to irreligion
(5) imepdiments to superstition

the conditions under which antiquity, long duration, and widespreadness serve as extrinsic marks of truth

allusion as quasi-reference

The reference of names can be fixed not only by description but by pointing, inclining one's head, making marks on a map, attaching a label, or deferring to someone else's use, and can be carried by historical custom received from an original fixing whose nature is unknown, estimation of who or what someone else means, explicit description, and more.

possibility as pre-overlap

mereological interpretations of strict implication systems

All allegorical interpretations of the Resurrection at least strongly suggest that the literal interpretation of the Resurrection is true -- either (as in all orthodox allegorical interpretations) because their truth would be good reason to regard teh latter as true, or (as in more Modernist interpretations) because they suppose phenomena for which the latter would be the simpler interpretation. The strength of the suggestion will vary as evidence strength and simplicity vary, but some kind of case the suggestion can be made in each case.

Coffey's consensus gentium argument against occasionalism ("the universal belief of mankind, based on the testimony of consciousness as rationally interpreted by human intelligence, that we are the causes of thoguth, imagination, sensation, volition, etc.")

traditionalism (e.g. Bonald) // occasionalism // intelligent design theory // divine command theory
speculative reason (ontologism); speculative effect (traditionalism); practical reason (divine command); practical effect (intelligent design)
existence (pantheism?); what it is (Platonism); what it does (occasionalism)
practical effects: operative (situationism?); productive (intelligent design); social (logical positivism)

consensus gentium as evidence that there is evidence

authority as provisional mover of the mind

semi-traditionalism and the distinction between context of discovery and context of justification

the right of free communication among bishops

The standards for miracles for canonization should be such that they are both wonders and fitting symbols of Catholic truths (salvation, for instance).

"Our hoping is proof that hope, as such, is not an extravagance; and our possession of certitude is a proof that it is not a weakness or an absurdity to be certain." Newman

Note that Newman in effect rejects the unity of the virtues (in his comments on phronesis).

reference to fictional characters // reference to political boundaries

patience as the appropriate response to one's own doubt

By overcoming evil, we learn more about the good.

Beauty in the liturgy is like spiritual consolation; one should be encouraged by it, taking heart for the difficult task ahead. But it is not the point, for the liturgy does not exist for the sake of pleasing on being seen.

Rediscovery of liturgical heritage is like rediscovery of the relics of the saints.

Love of truth is not the same as love of evidence.

Christian teaching is an offering to God.
Let your questions be also prayers.

evidence as truthwardness
evidence as mind suggestion
evidence as splendor of truth

Diffusion of ideas is diffusion of signs.

beachhead arguments, prototype arguments, feeler arguments

the right of voluntary association as intrinsic to the sacramental economy of the Church

Legal fiction is the alteration of the application of law through variation in the classification of facts.

What counts as a resource shifts with human use.

The water of justice becomes the wine of charity.

To think about: Every argument from evil that is not merely conclusion-weakening requires an a priori component to justify the should-not-therefore-does-not move.
Thus every argument from evil requires an a priori understanding of pure good / infinite good.

Swearing at other people is a sign that the swearer feels powerless -- defeasible, but remarkably accurate.

Ramon Llull & fruitful juxtaposition

transcendental vs categorical modalities

Scripture is not separate from the proclamation of the Church.

extrinsic vs intrinsic accounts of the working of faith
extrinsic vs intrinsic accounts of hell and heaven
extrinsic vs intrinsic accounts of liturgy

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Elements of Modal Logic, Part VIII

Part VII

We have been classifying modalities by which of the rules -- (1), (2), (3), (4), (D), (M) -- they are assigned. We also looked at squares of oppositions, although, since (3) and (4) make Box and Diamond interdefinable, we only looked at the Box versions. The 1234-Box, you recall had this square of opposition:


And the 1234D-Box looked like this:


So what happens with M? It's not an easy question. If we just add (M) to the 1234 square, we don't have any way yet of putting that on the diagram. Remember (M) just tells us that Box puts something on the Reference Table. We need something to represent 'being on the Reference Table'. This actually is a modal operator; it's often not explicitly noted, but one way to think of (M) is as introducing a new modality. We need to define it more explicitly to use it, though, because we need to be able to represent it. So we introduce a new rule whose purpose is simply to make explicit the modal operator implicitly introduced by (M), and I will call this Rule (T).

(T) T, applied to anything, places that to which it applies on the Reference Table.

We can use the definition in (T) to restate (M) in a different way:

(M) □ includes T.

And with this we have the means of making a square of opposition. This is the square of opposition for 1234M (or, we could equally call it, 1234TM):


T is obviously the contradictory of T-Not. (M) tells us that you can get from Box to T, and of course we have the corresponding arrow from Box-Not to T-Not. Those together give us three new contrariety oppositions.

What will happen if we also add Rule (D) to this? We get something like this:


Basically, as you might expect, this square is the 1234D square combined with the 1234M square; the one new thing is that when they are put together, the combined oppositions make it so that it also has to be true that T also works like ◊.

But here's an interesting question. Our square of opposition has T and T~. But what about ~T~ and ~T? When we think about the oppositions among these, we find something interesting:


If we are using a classical kind of negation (i.e., 'Not' is not being used in a weird way), then both of the left-hand modalities are contradictories of both the right-hand modalities, and our arrows between top and bottom go both ways -- from T you can get ~T~, and from ~T~ you can get T, and so forth. They are equivalent, so you can substitute them for each other whenever you want. Thus we could equally just represent this square of opposition as a line: on the left, T and ~T~; on the right, T~ and ~T; and the left and right are contradictory. This is why it shows up as a line on our squares of opposition above.

There are actually four different kinds of squares of opposition. In a degenerate square, all four corners are equivalent to the others -- they just all can be substituted for each other, and we could represent our square as if it were a single point. A semidegenerate square we can collapse to a line, and our T square of opposition is an example. A square of opposition that looks like our 1234 square above is often called a Boolean square. And a square of opposition that looks like our 1234D square is called a classical square.

What about our 1234M and 1234DM squares? They are actually a combination of squares. This is not surprising -- we've only been looking at the Box side, rules (3) and (4) tell us how to combine two different squares of opposition -- one with Box and one with Diamond. It's just that rules (3) and (4) go in both directions, from Box to Diamond and Diamond to Box, so the Boolean squares fit perfectly on top of each other. (D) and (M) only go in one direction, from Box to Diamond and from Box to T, so they complicate things slightly. Adding (D) to 1234 turns the Boolean squares into classical squares. And adding (M) gives us another square entirely. So 1234M is a Boolean square (Box) linked with a Boolean square (Diamond) and both of those linked with a semidegenerate square (T). And 1234DM is a classical square (Box) linked with a classical square (Diamond), and both of those linked with a semidegenerate square (T).

That we can fit various kinds of squares of opposition together in various ways is immensely important, and there is no limit to it. Every square of opposition is a kind of modality, and you can fit together all kinds of modalities together, if you just have the right rules for them. If you wanted to, you could have a tangle of modalities that would be represented by a thousand distinct Boolean squares combined with a thousand distinct classical squares combined with a thousand distinct semidegenerate squares combined with a thousand distinct degenerate squares. You'd need rules to link them up; but if you had the rules, there is no limit to how complicated you can get.

There is a jungle of different kinds of modal operators out there; and we've hardly begun exploring them. One thing we need to ask is what these squares of opposition have to do with our tables.

Part IX

Beda Venerabilis

Today is Ascension Thursday, of course, which takes liturgical precedence unless it is transferred to Sunday (a barbarous practice), but May 25 is the feast of St. Baeda of Northumbria, Doctor of the Church, crown jewel of Anglo-Saxon monasticism. The Venerable Bede (d. 735) lived almost all of his life in and around the monastery at Jarrow, but became one of the most learned men of his century.

One of the surviving Old English poems is a short work known as Bede's Death-Song. There are two extant versions, which just differ by dialect. Wikipedia gives both. Northumbria:

Fore thaem neidfaerae naenig uuiurthit
thoncsnotturra, than him tharf sie
to ymbhycggannae aer his hiniongae
huaet his gastae godaes aeththa yflaes
aefter deothdaege doemid uueorthae.

Wessex:

For þam nedfere næni wyrþeþ
þances snotera, þonne him þearf sy
to gehicgenne ær his heonengange
hwæt his gaste godes oþþe yfeles
æfter deaþe heonon demed weorþe.

We don't actually know for sure that this is Bede's own poem. We know from Cuthbert that Bede on his deathbed recited a poem in Old English, and Cuthbert, who is writing in Latin, gives us a Latin paraphrase of the meaning, which fits this poem very, very well. We do not know for sure if this is actually Bede's original poem or if it is a later attempt to reconstruct it. What we do know is that (1) the person who came up with it had considerable talent, since for all its brevity, this is a very neatly constructed poem, and (2) if it's a reconstruction it is impressive how the author was able both to fit Cuthbert's Latin paraphrase so well and make it work purely on its own terms as an Old English poem. (If it's by Bede himself, of course, there is no surprise on either point.) Michael Burch's (slightly loose, but nice) translation:

Bede's Death-Song
translated by Michael Burch


Facing Death, that inescapable journey,
who can be wiser than he
who reflects, while breath yet remains,
on whether his life brought others happiness, or pains,
since his soul may yet win delight's or night's way
after his death-day.

[ADDED LATER: A Clerk of Oxford notes that St. Bede died on Ascension Thursday, which I had completely forgotten, so a year in which Bede's Day and Ascension fall together is a year in which our commemoration of death links up to what Bede himself was commemorating on his last day of life. She also notes the third possibility for Bede's Death Song, which I did not consider, namely, that it predates Bede and Bede was quoting it.]

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Venerable Helm

It occurred to me today that, since I am reading Craig Williamson's translation of the entire Old English poetic corpus, it would fit very nicely to make a special note of Anglo-Saxon saints whose feasts occur during the fortnight. (Particularly since the greatest Anglo-Saxon saint's feast is tomorrow.) So we start with St. Aldhelm (d. 709), whose feast is today or tomorrow. It makes sense to do him today since he gets doubly trumped tomorrow.

When Pope Vitalian sent St. Theodore of Tarsus to become Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Theodore brought with him St. Hadrian, often known today as St. Adrian of Canterbury, a scholar of rather considerable talents. St. Aldhelm was one of St. Hadrian's students until he became sick and had to return to his original home in Malmesbury. There he joined Malmesbury Abbey, where he seems eventually to have become abbot, and from which he would eventually found two more abbeys in Somerset and Wiltshire. He is the first Anglo-Saxon monk we know to have written in Latin verse, at which he became an expert. He also is said to have written many Anglo-Saxon poems, but unfortunately only some of his Latin works have survived. He ended his days as bishop of Sherborne, and was venerated as a saint from shortly after his death. Because of his extensive ingenuity in various riddles and riddle-games, he is sometimes considered the patron saint of cruciverbalists.

Gratitude and Reverence

The supreme Will has determined our existence through our ancestors, and, bowing down before Its action, we cannot be indifferent to its instruments. I know that if I were born among cannibals I should be a cannibal myself, and I cannot help feeling gratitude and reverence to men who by their labor and exploits have raised my people from the savage state and brought them to the level of culture upon which they are standing now. This has been done by Providence through men who have been specially called and who cannot be separated from their providential work....

The providential men who gave us a share in the higher religion and in human enlightenment did not themselves create these in the first instance. What they gave us they had themselves received from the geniuses, heroes, and saints of the former ages, and our grateful memory must include them too. We must reconstruct as completely as possible the whole line of our spiritual ancestors--men through whom Providence has led humanity on the path to perfection.

The pious memory of our ancestors compels us to do service to them actively....

[Vladimir Soloviev, The Justification of the Good, von Peters, ed. Catholic Resources (Chattanooga, TN: 2015), pp. 111-112.]

Wulf, Min Wulf

Michael Drout reads the Old English poem, Wulf & Eadwacer:



The poem is notoriously obscure, so I'm not sure how much of the translation is rigorous and how much of it is speculative.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spheres of Personal Sovereignty

It seems to me that rights talk has the function of enabling people to claim a sphere of personal sovereignty, in which their choice is law. And spheres of personal sovereignty in turn have a function, namely, that they enable us to undertake obligations freely--in other words to create the realm of institutional facts that Searle emphasizes in his social philosophy. hence they give the advantage to consensual relations. They define the boundaries behind which people can retreat and which cannot be crossed without transgression.

The primary function of the idea of a right, therefore, is to identify something as within the boundary of me and mine.

[Roger Scruton, The Soul of the World, Princeton UP (Princeton: 2014) pp. 85-86.]

Music on My Mind



Nox Arcana, "Running with Wolves." A little instrumental for your morning.