Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Smith on Sensibility and Self-Command

As taste and good judgment, when they are considered as qualities which deserve praise and admiration, are supposed to imply a delicacy of sentiment and an acuteness of understanding not commonly to be met with; so the virtues of sensibility and self-command are not apprehended to consist in the ordinary, but in the uncommon degrees of those qualities. The amiable virtue of humanity requires, surely, a sensibility, much beyond what is possessed by the rude vulgar of mankind. The great and exalted virtue of magnanimity undoubtedly demands much more than that degree of self-command, which the weakest of mortals is capable of exerting. As in the common degree of the intellectual qualities, there is no abilities; so in the common degree of the moral, there is no virtue. Virtue is excellence, something uncommonly great and beautiful, which rises far above what is vulgar and ordinary. The amiable virtues consist in that degree of sensibility which surprises by its exquisite and unexpected delicacy and tenderness. The awful and respectable, in that degree of self-command which astonishes by its amazing superiority over the most ungovernable passions of human nature.

[Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, I.1.45. It is interesting to find this juxtaposition outside of Sense and Sensibility, although it could just be a convergence or influence from the general ambience. But I'm not sure it is consistently with the general thrust of S&S to divide up virtues into sensibility-virtues and self-command-virtues like this.]

Monday, April 24, 2017

Evening Note for Monday, April 24

Thought for the Evening: Progymnasmata and Language-Learning

A comment by Cristina on the evening note about developing a treasury of ideas led me to think about the possibility of adapting classical rhetorical pedagogy to language-learning -- or, to be more exact, to learning of language fluency (since the basics would have been covered by grammar rather than rhetoric). It makes considerable sense, actually, if you think about it, since rhetoric is concerned with speaking and writing well.

Classical rhetoric is constituted by the five canons -- inventio or heuresis (discovery of appropriate things to say), dispositio or taxis (organizing what is said in a coherent way), elocutio or lexis (style in which it is said), memoria or mneme (vocabulary, patterns of discourse, and the like), pronuntiatio or hypokrisis (which includes pronunciation but is more broadly the whole acting-out of what is said, so would include things like gestures and tones, or punctuation in writing). These can operate more or less simultaneously in actual speaking and writing, so they can be considered the elements of speaking or writing well, and together constitute the goal of rhetorical pedagogy.

Actual classical rhetorical pedagogy usually broke up into two parts: progymnamsata and gymnasmata. Gymnasmata were full-scale rhetorical declamations on any topic, and thus practice for advanced students. Progymnasmata were more rudimentary exercises designed to focus on specific skills needed for the more advanced work, and thus slowly to get you to the point where declamation was a real possibility. They could vary, but there were twelve or thirteen that were traditionally standard. (There could be some overlap, but they were broadly speaking in sequential order.)

(1) Mythos: Students would be given a fable, usually from Aesop, and would have to adapt it -- both summarize it in simpler terms and expand upon it by adding descriptions. One can see the advantage of doing this in language-learning: the fable provides a sort of frame that the student can rely on while exercising their skills. They can use the same patterns of speech, the same phrases, and like, but have to modify it to new use.

(2) Diegema: This exercise would go a bit further by having the students tell a complete story, and would be varied by telling the whole story from the beginning, or starting from the middle, or starting from the end.

(3) Chreia: Students would start with an anecdote with a precise point -- a specific action or saying, or the like; a wide variety of different kinds of anecdotes would be used, and they would be varied in different ways (rephrased as praises or condemnations, given brief explanations, or compared to other anecdotes). While the story would be simpler, the skill would be more advanced, since it requires both concision and precision, as you would have to do strictly what was required to fulfill the various tasks.

(4) Gnome: This would work the same way, but with proverbs and maxims.

(5) Anaskeue: Students would be given a myth or legend and argue that it was absurd, or doubtful, or useless, etc.

(6) Kataskeue: Students would take the other side and argue in favor of the myth or legend, that it was reasonable, or probable, or practically valuable, or the like.

(7) Koinos topos: Students would talk about general virtues or vices, qualities, or characteristics, or talk about general types of people.

(8) Enkomion: Students would go beyond (7) by praising virtues, abstract qualities, specific people, places, or all sorts of other things in close and varied detail.

(9) Psogos: This would work the same way, but from the opposite side, criticizing things in detail.

(10) Ethopoeia: Students would construct a speech for a historical or mythological character, speaking from that person's point of view, and in a way appropriate to that person. This would start getting quite advanced, because you would need to consider things like how polished or concise or florid a person's style might be, and, of course, you would have to change it up with different characters.

(11) Ekphrasis: Ekphrasis is basically word-painting, in which one uses all the resources of language to describe something (often a work of art, like a literal painting, or a sculpture) to give people who had not seen it a vivid imaginative picture of it.

(12) Thesis: With thesis one would develop precise, specific arguments for this or that being the correct answer to a general question (like whether it was beneficial to marry, or whether the world is spherical. At this level the exercises are starting to take the same form as the later declamations, with introductions, descriptions, arguments for and against, and conclusions. The exercises would be varied not only by questions but by different kinds of argument -- whether things were legal, or just, or useful, or beneficial, or possible, and the like.

(13) Nomou eisphora: While (12) is at a general level, this exercise (which literally means 'proposal of law') would go further by dealing with specific questions (specific laws, specific policies). At this point, the student is taking the first steps in full-scale declamation.

Throughout every stage, there would be a lot of imitation and borrowing -- full creativity would be one of the things that would distinguish progymnasmata from gymnasmata -- as well as detailed analysis of examples to see how they worked so that the student could do the same. One sees this to some extent in ordinary language-learning -- think of all the endless dialogue-fragments one gets in standard language textbooks -- but, of course, language textbooks tend to focus on grammar; rhetorical proficiency is another level of language-learning on its own.

Various Links of Note

* Samizdat is a form of political resistance involving the self-publishing of works to get around state censors. One of the more notable samizdat publications is the very long-running periodical, The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, also known as the LKB kronika, which ran from 1972-1989 and kept track of the oppression of the Catholic Church (as well as related oppressions) in the Lithuanian SSR. Copies would be handtyped and then smuggled around, and then out to where they could be read over Vatican Radio (thus giving it a much larger audience than most samizdat did). It makes interesting reading. Very grim, but also there are regular sparks of hope -- a poem smuggled around, a report of Catholics being confirmed despite Soviet inquiries, and the like. And, of course, it kept going and going and going. You can read a number of the issues translated into English online.

* Lydia Moland, Friedrich Schiller, at the SEP.

* Joe Gibes, How to Make Nazi Doctors

* James Hannam, Medieval Science in Medieval Fiction

* Andrew Loke, The resurrection of the Son of God: a reduction of the naturalistic alternatives

* An English translation of the Suan shu shu, which I believe is currently the oldest extant Chinese mathematical text, dating from about the second century BC.

Currently Reading

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Donald Ainslie, Hume's True Scepticism
Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World
Michael Flynn, Eifelheim

A Poem Translation Draft

Novel
by Arthur Rimbaud


I.

You are not serious when you are seventeen;
- a fair night, thick with stein and lemonade,
bright cafes, chandeliers in sheen,
- you walk the green linden promenade.

The lindens smell fine on fine June nights,
the eyes close from breeze sweet and clear,
the wind is charged with noise -- not far the city lights --
perfumed with vine and perfumed with beer....

II.

Here we see a somber blue on a little felt,
by a little branch set in frame,
quilted by malignant star that melts
with shivers soft, a small, fair flame.

June night! Seventeen! You drink deep;
youth's sap is a heady champagne....
You wander, on your lips still keep
a kiss; a quivering soul, it remains....

III.

Through novels the crazy heart robinsonades
when in the streetlight's clarity pale
a girl walks by with her charms displayed,
though partly by her father's collar veiled....

And, as she finds you all innocent,
while tapping by in little heels,
she sudden-turns, full of life up-pent;
- on your lips die melodic peals....

IV.

You are in love, till August placed.
You are in love. - Your poems she takes in fun.
Your friends have left; you are in poor taste.
- Then one night she writes, your worshiped one!

- That night... - you return to the cafe-sheen,
asking for the beer-stein and the lemonade.
You are not serious when you are seventeen
and you still have green lindens on the promenade.

Rimbaud is a challenge, always. Here is the French; here is an English translation by Wyatt Mason.

8values

In ancient days of yore, when blogging was relatively new, we did a lot of quizzes just to be doing things; but they are rare these days.

(Source)

Of course, with any sort of centrist designation, it is always difficult to tell whether it indicates an actual position in the center or a position that is not easily measured on the scale. I had several Neutral/Not Sure answers, usually because I thought the question too vague. And the Equality/Wealth numbers are heavily affected by the strength of my opposition to communism as a political ideology. (I think it is in practice at least as bad as fascism. I also think it's an error, tempting as it may be, to treat capitalism as the opposite of communism, an opposition that requires treating communism as labor-ism. It's unsurprising that communists do tend to put themselves forward as the champions of Labor over Capital, but this characterization doesn't survive any serious analysis, I think. The opposite of modern communism is something for which we have no definite name, a society in which people are not reduced to their political-economic role, one based on ethical principles rather than economic plans and in which civic friendship and shared traditions matter more than means of production.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Passages on Self-Command in Sense and Sensibility

Chapter 8:

"How strange this is! what can be the meaning of it! But the whole of their behaviour to each other has been unaccountable! How cold, how composed were their last adieus! How languid their conversation the last evening of their being together! In Edward's farewell there was no distinction between Elinor and me: it was the good wishes of an affectionate brother to both. Twice did I leave them purposely together in the course of the last morning, and each time did he most unaccountably follow me out of the room. And Elinor, in quitting Norland and Edward, cried not as I did. Even now her self-command is invariable. When is she dejected or melancholy? When does she try to avoid society, or appear restless and dissatisfied in it?"

Chapter 11:

Elinor could not be surprised at their attachment. She only wished that it were less openly shewn; and once or twice did venture to suggest the propriety of some self-command to Marianne. But Marianne abhorred all concealment where no real disgrace could attend unreserve; and to aim at the restraint of sentiments which were not in themselves illaudable, appeared to her not merely an unnecessary effort, but a disgraceful subjection of reason to common-place and mistaken notions. Willoughby thought the same; and their behaviour at all times, was an illustration of their opinions.

Chapter 19:

Elinor sat down to her drawing-table as soon as he was out of the house, busily employed herself the whole day, neither sought nor avoided the mention of his name, appeared to interest herself almost as much as ever in the general concerns of the family, and if, by this conduct, she did not lessen her own grief, it was at least prevented from unnecessary increase, and her mother and sisters were spared much solicitude on her account.

Such behaviour as this, so exactly the reverse of her own, appeared no more meritorious to Marianne, than her own had seemed faulty to her. The business of self-command she settled very easily;—with strong affections it was impossible, with calm ones it could have no merit. That her sister's affections WERE calm, she dared not deny, though she blushed to acknowledge it; and of the strength of her own, she gave a very striking proof, by still loving and respecting that sister, in spite of this mortifying conviction.

Chapter 22:
"It is strange," replied Elinor, in a most painful perplexity, "that I should never have heard him even mention your name."

"No; considering our situation, it was not strange. Our first care has been to keep the matter secret.— You knew nothing of me, or my family, and, therefore, there could be no OCCASION for ever mentioning my name to you; and, as he was always particularly afraid of his sister's suspecting any thing, THAT was reason enough for his not mentioning it."

She was silent.—Elinor's security sunk; but her self-command did not sink with it.

"Four years you have been engaged," said she with a firm voice.

Chapter 23:

The necessity of concealing from her mother and Marianne, what had been entrusted in confidence to herself, though it obliged her to unceasing exertion, was no aggravation of Elinor's distress. On the contrary it was a relief to her, to be spared the communication of what would give such affliction to them, and to be saved likewise from hearing that condemnation of Edward, which would probably flow from the excess of their partial affection for herself, and which was more than she felt equal to support.

From their counsel, or their conversation, she knew she could receive no assistance, their tenderness and sorrow must add to her distress, while her self-command would neither receive encouragement from their example nor from their praise. She was stronger alone, and her own good sense so well supported her, that her firmness was as unshaken, her appearance of cheerfulness as invariable, as with regrets so poignant and so fresh, it was possible for them to be.

Chapter 32:

Elinor only was sorry to see them. Their presence always gave her pain, and she hardly knew how to make a very gracious return to the overpowering delight of Lucy in finding her STILL in town.

"I should have been quite disappointed if I had not found you here STILL," said she repeatedly, with a strong emphasis on the word. "But I always thought I SHOULD. I was almost sure you would not leave London yet awhile; though you TOLD me, you know, at Barton, that you should not stay above a MONTH. But I thought, at the time, that you would most likely change your mind when it came to the point. It would have been such a great pity to have went away before your brother and sister came. And now to be sure you will be in no hurry to be gone. I am amazingly glad you did not keep to YOUR WORD."

Elinor perfectly understood her, and was forced to use all her self-command to make it appear that she did NOT.

Chapter 37:

She was very far from wishing to dwell on her own feelings, or to represent herself as suffering much, any otherwise than as the self-command she had practised since her first knowledge of Edward's engagement, might suggest a hint of what was practicable to Marianne. Her narration was clear and simple; and though it could not be given without emotion, it was not accompanied by violent agitation, nor impetuous grief.—THAT belonged rather to the hearer, for Marianne listened with horror, and cried excessively. Elinor was to be the comforter of others in her own distresses, no less than in theirs; and all the comfort that could be given by assurances of her own composure of mind, and a very earnest vindication of Edward from every charge but of imprudence, was readily offered.

Chapter 37:
"Yes. But I did not love only him;—and while the comfort of others was dear to me, I was glad to spare them from knowing how much I felt. Now, I can think and speak of it with little emotion. I would not have you suffer on my account; for I assure you I no longer suffer materially myself. I have many things to support me. I am not conscious of having provoked the disappointment by any imprudence of my own, I have borne it as much as possible without spreading it farther. I acquit Edward of essential misconduct. I wish him very happy; and I am so sure of his always doing his duty, that though now he may harbour some regret, in the end he must become so. Lucy does not want sense, and that is the foundation on which every thing good may be built.—And after all, Marianne, after all that is bewitching in the idea of a single and constant attachment, and all that can be said of one's happiness depending entirely on any particular person, it is not meant—it is not fit—it is not possible that it should be so.— Edward will marry Lucy; he will marry a woman superior in person and understanding to half her sex; and time and habit will teach him to forget that he ever thought another superior to HER."—

"If such is your way of thinking," said Marianne, "if the loss of what is most valued is so easily to be made up by something else, your resolution, your self-command, are, perhaps, a little less to be wondered at.—They are brought more within my comprehension."

"I understand you.—You do not suppose that I have ever felt much.—For four months, Marianne, I have had all this hanging on my mind, without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature; knowing that it would make you and my mother most unhappy whenever it were explained to you, yet unable to prepare you for it in the least.— It was told me,—it was in a manner forced on me by the very person herself, whose prior engagement ruined all my prospects; and told me, as I thought, with triumph.— This person's suspicions, therefore, I have had to oppose, by endeavouring to appear indifferent where I have been most deeply interested;—and it has not been only once;—I have had her hopes and exultation to listen to again and again.— I have known myself to be divided from Edward for ever, without hearing one circumstance that could make me less desire the connection.—Nothing has proved him unworthy; nor has anything declared him indifferent to me.— I have had to contend against the unkindness of his sister, and the insolence of his mother; and have suffered the punishment of an attachment, without enjoying its advantages.— And all this has been going on at a time, when, as you know too well, it has not been my only unhappiness.— If you can think me capable of ever feeling—surely you may suppose that I have suffered NOW. The composure of mind with which I have brought myself at present to consider the matter, the consolation that I have been willing to admit, have been the effect of constant and painful exertion;—they did not spring up of themselves;—they did not occur to relieve my spirits at first.— No, Marianne.—THEN, if I had not been bound to silence, perhaps nothing could have kept me entirely—not even what I owed to my dearest friends—from openly shewing that I was VERY unhappy."—

'Self-command' is used once in Persuasion, once in Pride and Prejudice, three times in Mansfield Park, five times in Emma, and not at all in Northanger Abbey. It is notable that of the eight times it occurs in S&S it is only attributed to Elinor, and it is put center stage in Chapter 37, where it is used twice, and discussed specifically between the characters, rather than simply being a passing comment.

Flowers Laugh Before Thee on Their Beds

Ode to Duty
by William Wordsworth


Jam non consilio bonus, sed more eo perductus, ut non tantum recte facere possim, sed nisi recte facere non possim"

"I am no longer good through deliberate intent, but by long habit have reached a point where I am not only able to do right, but am unable to do anything but what is right."
(Seneca, Letters 120.10)

Stern Daughter of the Voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring, and reprove;
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe;
From vain temptations dost set free;
And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity!

There are who ask not if thine eye
Be on them; who, in love and truth,
Where no misgiving is, rely
Upon the genial sense of youth:
Glad Hearts! without reproach or blot;
Who do thy work, and know it not:
Oh! if through confidence misplaced
They fail, thy saving arms, dread Power! around them cast.

Serene will be our days and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security.
And they a blissful course may hold
Even now, who, not unwisely bold,
Live in the spirit of this creed;
Yet seek thy firm support, according to their need.

I, loving freedom, and untried;
No sport of every random gust,
Yet being to myself a guide,
Too blindly have reposed my trust:
And oft, when in my heart was heard
Thy timely mandate, I deferred
The task, in smoother walks to stray;
But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I may.

Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought,
I supplicate for thy control;
But in the quietness of thought:
Me this unchartered freedom tires;
I feel the weight of chance-desires:
My hopes no more must change their name,
I long for a repose that ever is the same.

Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile upon thy face:
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds
And fragrance in thy footing treads;
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens, through Thee, are fresh and strong.

To humbler functions, awful Power!
I call thee: I myself commend
Unto thy guidance from this hour;
Oh, let my weakness have an end!
Give unto me, made lowly wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice;
The confidence of reason give;
And in the light of truth thy Bondman let me live!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Two Maps

From The Hunting of the Snark:

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!

“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:”
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best—
A perfect and absolute blank!”
From Sylvie and Bruno Concluded:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dashed Off IX

the megalopsychic aspect of philosophy

Over time, love will findnew ways to communicate its constant faith and hope.

the Church as (1) witness and guardian of sacraments; (2) champion of the sacraments against what opposes it; (3) making the sacraments available to those who need; (4) teacher of and with and in the sacraments

the peace by which we may joyfully and openly keep the festivals of our God

"Kings have no call to make laws in the Church." Damascene

Presentation of Mary in the Temple // Presentation of Mary in the Heavenly Temple (Assumption)

forms of using words that are not meanings -- e.g., words in a word find or in Scrabble

"Assertions are essentially, and not just accidentally, speech acts that can play the role both of premises and of conclusions of inferences." Brandom

propositions that by type are analytic but by token are not (Now is now)
(perhaps 'I am' is an example of the reverse?)

It is a strange assumption of many analytic 'thought experiments' that stories can go only one way. In reality, we could elaborate, say, trolley problems, or Parfit's identity scenarios, in indefinitely many ways of varying complexity, limited only by ingenuity. The story needs something beyond itself to stay 'on track'. In reality these, because unacknowledged, are often assumed without explanation.

the moral issues of lying and the dependence of language use on moral principles

It would directly follow from both Mill's utilitarianism and Kant's deontology that language use is ethical in character, since these purport to be accounts of practical reason.

language misuse // hypocrisy

Languages grow out of friendships (in the Aristotelian sense).

canon law as a means of moral education

lying as a violation of language understood as common good

Moral progress is improvement in one's care for common good.

conscience as law and conscience as witness

antiquity as mark of the Church
(1) apostolic sees
(2) continuity to the apostles
(3) agreement with the Fathers
(4) preservation in practice of confirmable elements of antiquity
(5) responsibility for the monuments and memorials of the ancient Church

causal extrapolation
motivational extrapolation (camel's nose)
opportunity identification
justificatory slope

Start with mere muddle, end with mere muddle; to clear up a muddle, one needs to find something clear, however small it may be.

pleasure-pressure, utility-pressure, and virtue-pressure on belief formation

establishing oneself by establishing others

'Liturgy, liturgy' -- does it mean nothing more than incense and bells? If the Christian is not Christian, what does he have to do with liturgy?

the leisure for attending to liturgy and love

Logos (ratio) is one; its manifestations are many.

thematic history of philosophy and interactional history of philosophy

the Beatific Vision as the primary bulwark against the errors of the post-medieval age

the mereotopology of moving borders

poetry and the decomposition and recomposition of images

unction as sacramental hospice

meaning as speech act affinity; meaning as speech act

punishment as communication of desert (cf. Kant)

analytic philosophy as argumentative design process

rational commitment & deontic analysis of argument

incommensurable goods of reasoning

The common interest of all to live in juridical union is always broader than the scope of the instruments of governance.

Authority derives from God as (1) efficient cause of human existence, life, and reason; (2) exemplar cause in providence; (3) final cause as ultimate good.

the Aristotelian six parts of tragedy as aspects of plausibility: Spectacle, Diction, Melody, Thought, Character, Plot

Prudence is what gives all other virtues their flexibility.

That is evidence for x which the wise would regard as making X evident.

'X is true'; therefore 'Recognize X as true'

Annunciation : Finding in Temple :: Visitation : Presentation
Agony in Garden : Crucifixion :: Scourging : Carrying the Cross
Resurrection : Coronation :: Ascension : Assumption

the Golden Rule as a principle of dignity

defeaters for consensus gentium: new evidence not commonly available, evidence of imposed rather than natural consensus

Philosophy extends everywhere that friendship extends.

analogy : mutation :: confirmation : selection
the success conditions of confirmation

tradition-line fragmentation

The primary act of evangelization is always and without exception prayer.

where Solovyov says Sophia, think Shekhina.

numerables; numbers; systems of numbers; relations among systems of numbers

transubstantiation as cloistered priesthood

the cleansing of the Temple as a preparation for the Eucharist (Neusner)

We should all strive to be orthodox. But how foolish to assume that we are! It is something for which we must pray. What our striving alone can achieve has nothing of grace, and thus nothing of faith.

It is a matter worthy of some thought that St. Joseph, least of the Holy Family, was its head.

Mary the garden of Eden in whom is found the Tree of Life

Societies are built not out of the steel of legal contract but out of the softer stone of customary trust.

argument in function of ratio decidendi vs. argument in function of obiter dictum

Justice can only be maintained by rational argument.

le bon sens as required for determining how models fit together

the virtue of hope as the internal possibility of Christian martyrdom

appeal to intuitions as (sometimes) appeal to ordinary language, in the sense of ordinary language philosophy

infused fortitude & frequent confession; infused temperance & frequent communion

prudence as the skill-cultivating virtue (it cultivates skills to assist other virtues, in addition to forming them)

It's easy to think of permissibility as allowing intension and remission; this suggests that there is an intension and remission of obligation as not-permissible-not.

constancy : Box :: coherence : Diamond

conditionals as lossy measures

to treat wisdom in oneself and in others as an end in itself and never merely as a means

Appeals to hypothetical scenarios generally involve the topos of similarity.

Sacramental reconciliation confirms the forgiveness of perfect contrition and supplies what is missing for forgiveness in imperfect contrition.

the sentinel sacrament

prophets as preservers of tradition

motive of interest; motive of inquiry; motive of credibility

moral realism -> virtue ethics -> telos of moral life -> classical theism

Our passions should tinge reasoning and prayer, not dominate them.

The Confucius Sinarum Philosophus often translates junzi as 'philosophus'.
The philosopher who studies widely in tradition but holds to what is essential will not err.
If the philosopher is not dignified, he will not inspire awe, nor will his learning be anything but frivolous. He must be honest in inquiry and true of word. He must not associate with the base. When he errs, he must not be reluctant to change. To err without changing is to err indeed.
The philosopher is not of limited function, like a tool; the utility of philosophy is not circumscribed. When people ask, "What is the use of philosophy?" they mean, "To what is its use limited?" and thus err from the beginning.

Properly acting according to tradition requires finding the right exemplars.

To renew the people requires loving them.

As discourse is built out of much figurative speech, so history is built out of much figurative action.

The freedom of speech worth having is that which facilitates the virtues of speech, but the virtues of speech require room for their development and refinement over time and across different levels of experience. Only to allow virtuous speech is to prevent the development of virtuous speech.

"The denial of substance leads inevitably to the substantializing of accidents." Coffey

modes of exemplation; modalities of being exemplate

life as principle; life as facultative; life as operative

The gifts of the Holy Spirit do not perfect the theological virtues, but only their exercise.

Note Hume's explicit use of constant conjunction in T 1.1.1.8.

constant conjunction as a sign of exemplarity

identity and smooth passage of resemblance

causation as the foundation of contiguity and temporal priority

Hume's account of causation requires that we be able to make an a priori distinction between the mind and its objects.

different accounts of testimony applied to moral exemplarity (role model)

incorruptibility of soul // continued existence of bodies

apparent final cause and the apparent tendency of things to continue to exist

principle of credulity // principle of imitation

moral practices as involving transindividual evaluations or norms



Doctor Magnificus

Today is the memorial of Saint Anselm of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church. From his Epistula de Sacramentis Ecclesiae (from Jasper Hopkins's translation (PDF)):

Your Reverence asks about the sacraments of the Church, because they are not everywhere performed in the same way but are dealt with differently in different places. Assuredly, if they were celebrated in one way and with one mind throughout the whole Church, it would be a good and praiseworthy thing. However, there are many differences which do not conflict with the, fundamental importance of the sacrament or with its efficacy or with faith in it; and these cannot all be brought together into one practice. Accordingly, I think that these differences ought to be harmoniously and peaceably tolerated rather than being disharmoniously and scandalously condemned. For we are taught by the holy Fathers that, provided the unity of love is preserved within the Catholic faith, a different practice does no harm. But if one asks whence these different customs arise, I deem [the source to be] nothing other than the differences of human dispositions. Even though men do not disagree about the truth and validity of the sacrament, nevertheless they do not agree on the suitability and seemliness of the manner of administration. For what one person deems to be more suitable, another often deems to be less suitable. Now, I do not believe that to disagree concerning such differences is to wander from the truth of the matter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Jokes as Syllogisms

An interesting passage from an article about two comedians:

“Jokes are just a disruption of logic,” Keith says. Kenny takes their explanation one step further. “A joke is basically syllogistic,” he states, referencing the form of reasoning that goes: All dogs are animals, all animals have four legs, therefore all dogs have four legs. “Its premise and then the punchline would be conclusion. It’s the same shit.”

It's hard to know how strictly one should take such an equation, but this would suggest that the incongruity of the joke is its middle term, which would make sense; and it would also explain why there are so many analogies and overlaps between sophisms and jokes (e.g., see Julia Nefsky's discussion from 2005).

The Sovereign Rule of Justice

Now the first lesson social justice teaches us -- which governments nowadays have certainly not learnt nor seem to want to learn -- is that civil government with its acts and ordinances must never transgress the natural bounds of its authority, which cannot be defined without prior definition of the type of institution proper to civil government. Unless and until the sovereign rule of justice is accepted, there are no limits a government will not transgress. Utility alone, such a vague and empty word, cannot prescribe any definite limits to it because it depends on the probable evaluation of circumstances. Utility which is of its nature variable, depends on the judgment of the person who carries out the evaluation.

[Antonio Rosmini, Introduction to Philosophy, Volume 1: About the Author's Studies, Murphy, tr. Rosmini House (Durham: 2004) p. 27.]

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Music on My Mind



Mean Mary, "Iron Horse".

Far from Human Sound and Sight

Vis Medicatrix Naturae
by Alfred Austin


When Faith turns false and Fancy grows unkind,
And Fortune, more from fickleness than spite,
Takes the keen savour out of all delight,
And of sweet pulp leaves only bitter rind,
Then I the load of living leave behind,
Fleeing where, far from human sound and sight,
Over brown furrows wheels the lapwing white,
And whistles tunely with the winter wind.
For Nature's frank indifference woundeth less
Than Man's feigned smiles and simulated tears:
She is at least the egoist she appears,
Scorning to proffer or entice caress;
And, through the long reiterated years,
Endures her doom with uncomplainingness.