23 April 2011

But Thou Didst Not Leave...

...His soul in Hell, nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.  (Psalms 16:10)

22 April 2011

He Trusted...

...in God that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him!  (Psalms 22:8)

19 April 2011

The Good and the Bad

Good: We watched P. T. Anderson's Magnolia for film class tonight.

Bad: I have several papers and paper-revisions due the end of this week upon which I could not work during the three hours spent watching Magnolia.

Good: I just learned that I got a good grade on an old paper, which means one fewer paper to revise.

Bad: I also have a bunch of reading for tomorrow, meaning yet less time to write.

Good: Half of my reading is from Aristotle's De Anima.

Bad: I have to type up a focus statement on the De Anima, as well.

Good: My professor says I get to use St. Thomas' commentary in writing said focus statement.

All in all: things are good, if hectic.

Sorry for the dearth of posts of late: much to do for school recently.  I'll be back to regular posts in a couple of weeks. 

15 April 2011

Conditions of Lying

(Edited from a recent email of mine to Dr. Vallicella.)

In a fairly recent post, Bill Vallicella states (i) that ‘[e]very lie is a false statement’ and (ii) that in order to lie ‘one must make the false statement with the intention to deceive.’  Dr. Vallicella has elsewhere declared these conditions ‘individually necessary and jointly sufficient’ for a speech act to constitute a lie.  Both, however, appear to admit of counterexample:

12 April 2011

Anselm on Truth and Time

Student: Explain this: why do we speak of the truth of this or that particular thing as if we were distinguishing different truths, when in fact there aren't different truths for different things?  Many people will hardly grant that there is no difference between the truth of the will and what is called the truth of action, or of one of the others.

10 April 2011

McTaggart Joke

I just ran a Google search for ‘C-series’ on a whim, wondering how many pages would turn up before one concerning McTaggart's famous paper.  The third result (which links to a page on a series of planes) had an amusing title: ‘CSeries - Now is the future.’

09 April 2011

The Possible and the Thinkable

Alfredo Watkins has a post up on the link (or lack thereof) between conceivability and (metaphysical/broadly logical) possibility.  I've long suspected that the one does not entail the other, for the reasons supplied by this argument and others like it:
  1. If I suppose something, I conceive it.
  2. An argument can be binding on me only if I can follow all of its steps.
  3. If the supposition of A is a step in an argument, then I must suppose A if I am to follow that step.
  4. Every sound reductio argument is an argument having as a step the supposition of something impossible.
  5. Some sound reductio argument is binding on me.
  6. Some argument is binding on me that has as a step the supposition of something impossible. (4, 5)
  7. I can follow the supposition of something impossible as a step of an argument. (2, 6)
  8. I can suppose something impossible. (3, 7)
  9. I can conceive something impossible. (1, 8)

08 April 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today, Bill Vallicella informs us, would be the 152nd birthday of Edmund Husserl, founder of phenomenology, teacher of St. Edith Stein, and among my philosophical heroes.  To celebrate, here is an online copy of his programmatic 1910 article, ‘Philosophy as a Rigourous Science.’  Enjoy!

When I learned of Husserl in my junior year of high school, I was enthralled by the man's work and vision.  I first encountered him through the writings of St. Edith Stein, moving from there to The Crisis of European Sciences.  To date, I have read, in addition to the CrisisIdeas I, The Idea of Phenomenology, The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness, Cartesian Meditations, and Formal and Transcendental Logic (all well worth reading), and have the Logical Investigations on my reading list.

Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl

04 April 2011

Instruments of Virtue and Vice, Part III

The question that occurred to me upon hearing Dr. Müller's defence of the Neautral-Product Thesis was whether, if virtuous exercise is never demanded of poietic products, the same held true of vicious exercise.  It seemed to me that it did not, for some poietic products (I used viciously racist propaganda as my example, so sorry if that offends any anti-PC sensibilities) appear to just by their very nature to exclude virtuous use.  Still, I was open to being proved wrong, which is why I posed the question to Dr. Müller.  His tentative answer was agreement with me that such products are intrinsically vicious in character, but some interesting counterexamples to that claim arose in our discussion between ourselves and a philosopher of law on whose name I am currently blanking (argh!).

The first, posed but rejected by Dr. Müller, was the Scholastic point that such propaganda could be used as an example of what not to engage in or be tempted by; the second, posed by the philosopher of law whose name I cannot remember, was that such propaganda might be used to excite the identification of unconsciously racist viewers with the propaganda presented, thus exposing their unexamined vice.  I shall deal with both of these objections in turn.

Instruments of Virtue and Vice, Part II

To the second objection, I reply that while many, if not all, poietic products are ultimately ordered to some variety of genuine human flourishing in accord with virtuous habit, this does not render evil use entirely repugnant to them.  There is nothing mysterious or unusual about such lack of repugnance: our hands and feet, after all, are on Aristoteleanism also ultimately ordered to virtue-enabled human flourishing, but we can quite obviously use them in ways contrary to such flourishing, such as theft.  Note also that in so using our hands and feet, we do not use them for the sake of any end opposed to their respective specific functions, viz. manipulation and locomotion, though we do use them in a manner opposed to their ultimate telos, which is eudaimonia.  This point will become important in our examination of the first objection, to which we now turn.

Instruments of Virtue and Vice, Part I

I have now returned from the second day of the Anscombe conference at the University of Chicago, and found it just as intellectually rewarding as the first.  In addition to the two* papers (which I'll get to shortly), I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Thompson, who is at once encyclopaedically knowledgeable, funny, and eminently approachable and overall enjoyable; further acquainting myself with Jennifer Frey, who is unfailingly polite, insightful, and moreover ably defends an identifiably Aristotelean/Catholic philosophical position; and briefly meeting with the other speakers at the conference (all mentioned in my previous post), as well as some of my fellow non-participants at the conference, who were likewise pleasant to meet.  I am particularly grateful for the condescending (in the good sense) conversation afforded me by Anselm Müller himself.  Many thanks to them all!

02 April 2011

Anscombe Conference

I just returned from day one of a two-day conference on G. E. M. Anscombe and her student Anselm Müller, mainly vis-á-vis their work in action theory.  What fun!  The speakers were, in order,