Friday, April 20, 2018

And Ripens Now Into Rhyme

Come, Here Is Adieu To The City
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Come, here is adieu to the city
And hurrah for the country again.
The broad road lies before me
Watered with last night's rain.
The timbered country woos me
With many a high and bough;
And again in the shining fallows
The ploughman follows the plough.

The whole year's sweat and study,
And the whole year's sowing time,
Comes now to the perfect harvest,
And ripens now into rhyme.
For we that sow in the Autumn,
We reap our grain in the Spring,
And we that go sowing and weeping
Return to reap and sing.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Idea of a Course

I was thinking recently about an underappreciated philosophical genre: the philosophy course syllabus. Real-life syllabi, of course, have a lot of things in them that are required by the administration, or that are included to reduce the work of the instructor, but the essential core of a syllabus is to give the Idea of a Course -- and, since what we mean by a 'course' is a preliminary course of study, that is the same as to say the Idea of a Preliminary Study of a Topic. Most philosophical genres are concerned with an end result, but there's obviously a value with looking at how one might begin; one finds that similar genres -- lists of favorite books and 'what I'm reading' blogposts -- have a real value to people. So one can imagine a pure syllabus -- all the administrative overlay and encrustation removed, a guide for the student more than a protection for the instructor. It's like the relation between a composer's Mass and a liturgical Mass: the composer's Mass focuses wholly on the musical aspect, and will accomplish the result even if it does not follow the exact liturgical rubrics, or if the rubrics the composer had in mind are out of date, although in principle a properly done composer's Mass could, all things being considered and those things changed that needed to be changed, be adapted to a liturgical Mass, since it is in some sense subordinate to the latter. A great deal of the modern course is a concession to rules that don't have much to do with the topic, although they may sometimes be genuinely necessary or important for practice. Actually teaching a course is more important than some idealized Idea of the Course, but this doesn't mean that the latter is irrelevant; it can serve as a sketch for lines of inquiry.

About five years back I was asked to come up with a course on Jane Austen as a moral philosopher. The course ended up falling through -- a combination of insufficient enrollment and poor administration -- but I did get far enough to start sketching out the first thoughts about how it might work. Perhaps it is worth dusting it off and putting into a bit more shape. Here was my very, very first sketch of possibilities for readings:




Basics of Jane Austen
James Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen, Chapter V
Susan Morgan, “Why There’s No Sex in Jane Austen’s Novels”
(need plot summary handouts)

Why Moral Philosopher
Gilbert Ryle, “Jane Austen and the Moralists”
Philip Drew, “Jane Austen and Bishop Butler”
Thomas Rodham, “Reading Jane Austen as a Moral Philosopher”

Why Revolutionary Aristotelianism
David Gallop, “Jane Austen and the Aristotelian Ethic”
Alasdair MacIntyre, “The Nature of Virtue”

{summary and comparison sheets for: Aristotle, Shaftesbury, Butler, Hume}
Something on novel itself as philosophical?
nb. the role of reading itself in moral education in Austen
MacIntyre on characters?

I. Lady Susan

Virtue, Vice, and Moral Education


Reading Lady Susan as an Argument: The Roots of Social Disintegration and Revolutionary Aristotelianism

II. Sense and Sensibility

Selections from Gilpin on Picturesque Beauty
Dadlez, “Aesthetics and Humean Aesthetic Norms in the Novels of Jane Austen” ??

Phronesis, Prudence, Sense

Kearney, “Jane Austen and the Reason-Feeling Debate” ??
Clyde Ray, "Uncommon Prudence in Sense and Sensibility" ??

Reading Sense and Sensibility as an Argument: The Nature of Happiness
Sarah Emsley, “Sense and Sensibility: ‘Know Your Own Happiness’”
Selections from Aristotle on eudaimonia
Claudia Martin, "Austen's Assimilation of Lockean Ideals"

III. Mansfield Park

Virtue and the Moral Picturesque
Selections from Repton?
Selections from Cowper's "The Task"?

Andreia, Fortitude, Constancy
{need something noting importance of fact that Aristotle's is 'manliness' while Austen, as seen in Anne's comments in Persuasion, associates 'constancy' with women}

Reading Mansfield Park as an Argument: Limits of Sociability as a Foundation for Ethics

Practices and Institutions in Mansfield Park


The references to "Revolutionary" I would drop -- they were a concession to other parties who wanted a more exciting course title than I had originally come up with. The course, being limited by time to a single term, could not cover the full oeuvre. But a pure syllabus doesn't have that problem. So it could be expanded to include the other major works -- Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey. I had forgotten completely aobut it, but I like the idea (for a preliminary course of study) of the abstract structure (which needn't always be chronological), Introduction to X + "Reading X as an Argument" + Relating X to Other Philosophical Discussions. Looking at the first sketch here, I would certainly not have sketched out all the same possibilities were I doing it today. I think the overall Introduction should have its own section on Picturesque Theory, which is probably the most obvious point on which Austen directly relates to actual philosophical discussions; perhaps also a section on Theory of Sensibility, which is another point, recurring through the novels, on which Austen directly engages larger philosophical questions. Discussing the course at the time with Mrs. Darwin, she had made a suggestion of distinguishing philosophical novels from didactic novels, and this seems like a good thing for the introductory as well. (Of course, the introductory material need not all be at the beginning of the course, since some of it might be more appropriate leading into particular novels.) It's also certainly the case that some of the possible candidates, while relevant, would not be best suited to this particular preliminary course of study and have to be culled in favor of focusing on the more valuable materials. While relation to other philosophical discussions is important, it is also important not to collapse the course into mining Austen for things relevant to Aristotle/Hume/Shaftesbury rather than making it a course about Austen's own philosophical work.

I haven't looked recently at whether there is any more recent scholarship relevant to the philosophical content of Austen's courses, but as it's a slow-moving field, I wouldn't expect that it would require much updating. Of course there have been a few potentially useful things -- Whit Stillman's Love and Friendship, which of course is an adaptation of Lady Susan, to take just one example. And not long after all of this was being planned, Sarah Emsley did her online conference on Mansfield Park, any of the material for which might be relevant.

Of course a course should have some kind of project -- not just reading things, but doing something with the readings. One idea idea I had was some kind of guided project on Austen's unfinished work, Sanditon -- essentially, analyze the fragment, write scenes that could be part of a continuation and analyze how they might tie into the argument that she seems to be developing (about moral hypochondria). Another, and one to which I was leaning at the time, was to have them look in some way at one of the major works that was not covered. Obviously this would not in itself be relevant to a course that covered them all, but then you can just open the field and have a project using any of the works. Another suggestion of the Darwins that I liked was to focus the project on the heroes rather than the heroines -- particularly since the obvious route for the readings is to focus on the heroines, which leaves the heroes as an opportunity for exploration. I never got far enough to work out any precise guidelines for such a project; I tend to like highly structure projects, so I would certainly have a project with several stages.

Lots of work that would still be needed to get a finalized pure syllabus; but I think one can see what I mean from the example.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Midnight Ride

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes sped out on horseback to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming. Everybody remembers Paul Revere, who is immortalized, with a fair amount of poetic license in Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride". But almost no one remembers William Dawes. In the late nineteenth century, Helen Moore mused ironically on the difference:

The Midnight Ride of William Dawes
by Helen F. Moore

I am a wandering, bitter shade,
Never of me was a hero made;
Poets have never sung my praise,
Nobody crowned my brow with bays;
And if you ask me the fatal cause,
I answer only, "My name was Dawes"

'Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear --
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

When the lights from the old North Church flashed out,
Paul Revere was waiting about,
But I was already on my way.
The shadows of night fell cold and gray
As I rode, with never a break or a pause;
But what was the use, when my name was Dawes!

History rings with his silvery name;
Closed to me are the portals of fame.
Had he been Dawes and I Revere,
No one had heard of him, I fear.
No one has heard of me because
He was Revere and I was Dawes.

While people have often noted that Longfellow's account is often not particularly accurate with regard to Paul Revere's ride itself, one reason for the 'inaccuracies' is that Longfellow is actually using Revere as a stand-in for all those who were involved -- including Dawes and Samuel Prescott (who joined them at a later point), as well as later couriers. He's blurring their stories together to get a cleaner poem.

A Good Rule for Finding the Truth

A good rule for finding the truth is to draw near it with an unprejudiced mind and a will equally disposed to receive whatever the truth has to give -- if we do not approach in this way, we hear not what it says to us, but what we want to hear. When we consult the truth, we should receive and love in the same spirit everything that it has to say to us. Indeed, we should love whatever we love only because the truth has said it.

Antonio Rosmini, Certainty, Cleary & Watson, trs., Rosmini House (Durham: 1991) p. 183 (sect. 1316).

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ferguson on the Cardinal Virtues

But virtue is, in reality, a qualification of the mind, although the term equivalent to virtue in every language, implies all the required effects and appearances of this qualification.

Its constituents are, Disposition, Skill, Application, and Force.

Corresponding to the number of these constituents, virtue has been divided into four capital branches, called the Cardinal Virtues.

These are, Justice, Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude. *

Justice, is the regard shown to the rights and happiness of mankind.

Those effects of justice which mere innocence implies, are required under the sanction of compulsory law.

Those that constitute beneficence, are required under the sanctions of duty only.

Prudence is that discernment by which men distinguish the value of ends, and the fitness of means to obtain them.

Without this qualification, men are not fitted to act with any measure of steadiness consistency, or good effect.

Temperance is abstinence from inferior pleasures or amusements that mislead our pursuits.

No one can apply himself effectually to any worthy purpose, who is liable to the interruption of mean pleasures or amusements, that occupy an improper part of his time, that stifle his affections, or impair his faculties.

The maxim of temperance is, that a person, having once ascertained what his best and happiest engagements are, ought to count every moment lost, that, without necessity, is otherwise employed.

Fortitude is the power to withstand opposition, difficulty, and danger.

All the good qualities of men have a reference to some effect that is to be produced, and have a merit proportioned to some difficulty that is overcome. Hence dispositions and capacities of any sort are of no avail, without resolution, and force of mind.


* This division is so natural, that it has always presented itself when we have treated of the felicity or excellence competent to man's nature.

Adam Ferguson, Institutes of Moral Philosophy: A New Edition, Enlarged, VI.5.1 (p. 182). The disposition-skill-application-force explanation is interesting but not, as far as I can see, adequately explained anywhere. That we start with the disposition, which is refined by skill, which is then applied, which may be done with force, makes sense, but the connection of, say, Temperance with application seems a bit strained. In any case as Aquinas noted, there are several different readings of the list of cardinal virtues; Ferguson's is a general-properties-of-virtue reading.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Caramuel on the Juridical Syllogism

This is from Juan Caramuel de Lobkowitz's Moralis seu politica logica. Caramuel (1606-1682) is the most innovative of that very innovative group that get lumped together as Baroque Scholastics -- that is, the dissolution stage of scholastic philosophy in which it began to lose cohesion in trying to accommodate the explosively diversifying problems created by the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and early modern political shifts. It could not keep up, largely for lack of resources and a sufficiently flexible infrastructure, and thus gradually fell apart, but it was not for lack of effort or brilliance in trying. Caramuel himself is said to have averaged something like six books a year over his entire career, and practically every single one is highly creative. Baroque Scholasticism has barely been studied, because the difficulty of studying it is very high -- all the Baroque scholastics are doing completely new things with both new and old tools, and interacting with a vast number of intellectual currents, and thus you have to figure out, often from near-scratch, what they are trying to do, every single time. But there has been more work done on them recently, and Caramuel in particular has drawn attention.

The translation is very, very rough (and as I just caught two obvious mistakes while writing this introduction, I would not be surprised if there are others). The Latin is here; like all Baroque Latin it is sometimes easy, sometimes only deceptively easy, and sometimes considerably less than lucid, especially due to the use of technical terms in sometimes idiosyncratic ways. The hardest terms to translate are syncategorematic terms (in this context, the signs of logical quantity): Cuncte omnes, Ferè omnes, Plures, Media Pars, Pautiores, Multi, Pauci, Rare Fere Nulli, Nulli. These are all quasi-technical terms for which English has only approximations. Fortunately they are an orderly spectrum. I didn't even bother to try to translate the Latin mnemonic, which is supposed to be along the lines of Barbara Celarent. I confess I find it a little odd that he went through the trouble of composing it, given that he himself notes that they are only a select few.

I skipped some brief parts in the middle that are concerned more specifically with jurisprudence.


The Juridical or Moral Syllogism is that, which lawyers and judges in tribunals use. Surely to complete the case and all discussion, the Advocate needs the syllogism; the Judge needs it for completion, because considering the laws as fundamental rules, and things to be proved, he proffers an opinion, that is, gives a conclusion, as laws and proofs seem to suggest. And we are able to produce many modes of Political Syllogism, but for ease and clarity we will show only nine, which fall short of the total.

Raucus dum Classem RAPIDI CAMILLI,
NOBILIS armat.

All are in First Figure and have a Singular Minor and Consequent, but a Major whose quantity is determined by the first syllable. Consider the following table.

SignSyncategorematic TermName of SyllogismMode of Conclusion
CAAbsolutely allCamilliStrictly certain
FAAlmost allFallitisMorally certain
PLMostPlacidiMost likely
PAQuite a fewParidisDefinitely some probability
MUA numberMugivitHardly probable
RAAlmost noneRapidiReckless
NONone at allNobilisObviously wrong

It has four columns. The first shows the characters of art that serve to make the syllogism. The second displays the syncategoremata corresponding to them. In the third one reads the name of the syllogisms, in which the first syllable signifies the major, the second the minor, and the third the conclusion. In the fourth the individuals modes of dialectic efficacy are shown.

These moods of syllogisms of which one has never heard in the Peripatetic school, are such that in every Tribunal they are not merely useful, not merely beneficial, but utterly necessary....

...[T]he whole civil or criminal cause is enclosed in the Juridical Syllogism. For the Law concerns the major. The Civil Laws point to the minor, which gives the Fact and gives the Proceedings; and the Opinion is the conclusion. So we may say:

Everyone who has wounded a man, with the intent to kill, may be condemned to death as a murderer.
But Ambrose has wounded John with the intent to kill.
Therefore Ambrose is condemned to death as a murderer.

The major is expressed in the law....

...The minor is proved in the proceedings. But this has two parts, first the effect and then the intention. The first part can be fully proved by witnesses. But the second part, yes, and sometimes even the first, lacks eyewitnesses and must be argued by juridical syllogism from circumstances and signs. And so, if the fact itself is proven, one argues as follows.

RA] Rarely does one boast of a capital crime if one has not committed it.
PI] But Ambrose has boasted before so-and-so of having himself gravely wounded John.
DI] Therefore it is reckless to believe that he did not perpetrate this crime.

Whether the major is true is to be examined:for if it is established by prudent judgment and the minor is fully proved, one cannot deny the consequence. And coming to the intention, one may formulate the syllogism thus.

Most of those who gravely wound a man have the intent to kill.
But Ambrose gravely wounded John.
Therefore it is most likely that he wounded him with the intent to kill.

Here also one examines the Major: whether it is clear with prudent judgement that one should change the syncategorematic term from All to Most, and continue by moral evidence to the Most Likely conclusion; which itself also hangs on the proof of the Minor, how far the circumstances excuse, if the graveness of the wound is said to have happened by accident. All of which requires prudent judgment and logically accurate cognition.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Music on My Mind

The Hillbilly Thomists, "What Wondrous Love Is This". On my mind because of TOF's recent post on them.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Dashed Off VII

This ends the notebook that was finished on December 19, 2016.

infinite regress -> idea of infinite -> infinite intelligible argument
circular regress -> (if necessary -> idea of necessity -> necessary being argument)
(if contingent -> first cause argument)
state of regress -> first cause argument

On 'divine hiddenness arguments': if human reason has an a priori idea of love that can only apply to God, this is evidence of God's existence; if one extrapolates from eminent human love, it lacks the properties divine hiddenness arguments require

deontic, epistemic, disposition, and preferential 'must'

Nations are not arbitrary mereological fusions; not every group of people can form a nation.

"The concept of following is common to all the alternative logics; to that there is apparently no alternative." Blanshard

"The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God; because they are signs they also instruct." Sacrosanctum concilium 59

Mary the Prepurification of the Church

Hypocrisy by its very nature is consequentialist (although not usually utilitarian).

faith : ritual :: hope : music

allowed in the sense of 'not always forbidden' vs allowed in the sense of 'may always be done'

a modal logic for possible histories of philosophy
(in a sense this is one semantics for modal reasoning about things like possible influence)

What is to an immaterial angel what time is to us? Learning.

Hell is finite learning.

the interplay between territorial culture and personal culture (i.e., the culture in which one lives an the culture out of which one grows)

A philosophy of mind is not just about the mind; it is about the nature and limits of philosophy.

Something's status as evidence admits of refinement -- this is one of the most obvious facts about the history of science, but is often ignored completely in theories of evidence.

the what-it-is-like of philosophical discovery

the New Testament as the image of the Beatific vision

agency, structure, process, and purpose in argumentation

deontic necessity (necessitas praecepti) as exemplar necessity

Schwerpunkt as rhetorical concept (cp. status quaestionis)

course of doctrine articulation
(1) implicit presence
(2) fog of contentions
(3) consolidation and definition

Privacy is a social effect, and therefore privacy rights involve some measure of negotiation and also consideration of roles.

To be man or woman is to be born into a tradition handed down by prior men and women.

universitas, antiquitas, and consensio as aspects of sanctity

To participate in a humanitarian tradition is to contribute to one of the projects of the whole human race.

radication in Christ

The Electoral College (as originally designed) captures the fact that prudence, not mechanical rule alone, is required to determine the sense of the people.

'Facts point in all directions.'

No duration of mild headache equals a short crucifixion.

Liturgies are structured by circumstances.

curtailing of kin-marriage as a precondition for popular government of a free people, at least in a large society (widening interest and common goods beyond blood ties)
- note, in connection with this, how serious a problem nepotism is for the development of such governments
- also issues of dynastic politics that arise when the top only intermarries with the top

The Old Testament sacraments are types of Christ as He is found in the New Testament sacraments.

The Last Supper is Christ's sacrificial self-giving.

There is no single thing that constitutes expertise.

hermeneutics of suspicion // conspiracy-theory thinking

The Electoral College as supporting the tendency to think of states as communities

subhonesty vs antihonesty

Who receives the Body of Christ should consider what is appropriate to being a member of the Body of Christ.

Kant's *Religion* as an account for the conditions for moral community.

A moral community must be structured for life, reason, and virtue.

As no individual can constitute a moral community of himself, something of it must be received; and a shuman beings must learn moral life, something of this must be traditionary and not dependent on merit.

It ought to be the case that we ought to conform to moral law.
(A relation between two different kinds of 'ought'.)

As moral law demands unconditionally, grace gives unconditionally.

Holiness cannot be fully expressed by law, even by moral law.

To have a relationship with another person requires cultivating a ritual regard for them, an external communication o evaluative behavior, an initiated participation in their life, and a sharing of action by which the relationship may be renewed. Lacking any one of these is a failure to be in full personal relationship.

St. Thomas's continual linking of charity and friendship is a recognition of the polity of God; it is formed by charity as civil polities are formed by friendship.

Even in this life we can find a distinction between purgative and damnative pain.

poena sensus: penalty for inordinate conversion to mutable good
poena damni: penalty for aversion from immutable good

privative vs afflictive penalties

penalty as manifestation of wrongness
extrinsic vs intrinsic

A common error in discussions of punishment i assuming that one can only be punished by misery (and not, e.g., by loss of opportunity by restriction of action).

adequalitas (parisotes)
deux termes inégaux qui enfin produisent l'égalité

Leibniz's law of continuity (Cum prodiiset)
In any proposed continuous transition ending (desinente) in some term, it is allowed to make a general inference (ratiocinatio) in which the final term is included.
(1) transition (2) continuity (3) term of desinence

status transitus as desinit for sequence (point as ending approximates point as such)
the designation of a number by a desinent process; the desinent number and the per se number as extensionally equal, intensionally distinct

In a nonintensional context, one may substitute a nondesinent description for the desinent description of the term.

intensional contexts as insulating negations? intensionality and double negation

utility monsters and 'national popular vote'

The world is not merely external, independent, and continuing, but also efficacious.

If the humorous is incongruous communication for the sake of play, what are the conditions for the agent? (There certainly are some, dealing with appropriateness.)

hagiography as part of the prophetic work of the Church

index-vestments, icon-vestments, symbol-vestments
illocutionary and perlocutionary force of uniforms

Pains are not always commensurable among themselves.

three forms of despair as attitude or mood
(1) the hollowness of nonfulfillment
(2) alienation from oneself
(3) self-imprisonment

Despair is a failure to attain to proper selfhood, for hope is the one-foot-in-front-of-another progress of such attainment.

primary means of handling conflict of interest: disclosure, insulation, review

avoiding evil : matter :: doing good : form [justice]

measures of pain
intrinsic intensive (intensity)
intrinsic extensive (area
extrinsic intensive (effectiveneess)
extrinsic extensive (time)

One draws near to Christ in knowing what to put first and what to put last.

Human reason by its nature must receive its light.

Dance involves: division of time, temporal elaboration of acts, correlation of body and gesture, instrumental coding of the body, interaction between agent perspective and spectator perspective.

Philosophy by its very nature has an intentional structure irreducible to physical process, involving awareness of both the indexical and the abstract at once.

Utilitarians come across as snake oil salesmen remarkably often. This is not, I think, intrinsic to the position, but the looseness with which utilitarians tend to handle arguments -- a lot of approximation, guesstimation, and from-what-we-can-tell-now, encourages sloganish, panacea-offering, pseudo-ethics, especially in the less bright. There is also probably some influence from the fact that some quarters take utilitarianism to be more science-ish, leading the less bright effectively to turn it into an ethical pseudoscience.

hell & preference-satisfaction

forms of utilitarianism that modalize the principle of utility (maximizing possibility as such, or everywhere, or always, or here and now, etc.).
Given that pain is often localized, it's surprising no one has argued for minimizing surface area of suffering. Ethicists are so unimaginative.