Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa

Past Posts of Note
Substantative, in chronological order
The Sunday obligation and illness: question, research & my answer

Denial of personhood: Dei Filius & Terri Schiavo

On Modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differing with Dulles 1 & 2 on pro-abort politicians

Mad About Manuals 1 & 2

Absinthe recherches early, required reading, 2, 3, 4.

First time at an abortuary

The Maundy

TPOTC impact & analysis and more

Contraception reflections 1, 2

Meiwes, propheta, übermensch

Headship Loggerheads 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Matrix: Revolutions

Matrix: Reloaded
1, 2 & 3

Terrorist Attack Preparations, and follow-ups 1 & 2 & 3


Casuistry of Drinking

Review of Auto Focus

Parish Review 1

The Power of Shame

Biblical Hermeneutics

Ayoob on Guns

Against the Ordination of Women

Two Cents on Braveheart


Thematic Meditations

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Any e-mail I receive is fair game for publication, with comments, unless you explicitly say so beforehand.

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Happy Orthodoxy Sunday.

Some Eastern-rite folks get to chant "Let him be anathema!" today at orthros. (All we Latin-rite folks do is mumble this under our breath at the Eucharistic minister and liturgical dancers...)

Here's another hymn from CCEL.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/29/2004 11:24:00 AM | link

Don't drink the water:
Off the coast of Northern Virginia. It's about 5 proof today, with the recent addition of 3.5 Million Gallons Of Ethanol. (N.B.: I know it's not five proof...)

Or in DC, where they've just discovered negligence in lead testing, extending to homes and schools, at least according to the news story I saw on TV. The Post has more, without the negligence angle.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/29/2004 11:12:00 AM | link

Zorak has a funny story about how someone once put a smiley face on Marilyn Manson unawares, which, when he recognized it, made him so angry he had to stop performing. Sometimes the best swipe at a nihilist is just to be happy. In that light, I give you:

This Be The Worst
By Adrian Mitchell

(After hearing that some sweet innocent thought that Philip Larkin had written "they tuck you up, your Mum and Dad")

They tuck you up, your Mum and Dad
They read you Peter Rabbit, too.
They give you all the treats they had
And add some extra, just for you.

They were tucked up when they were small,
(Pink perfume, blue tobacco-smoke),
By those whose kiss healed any fall,
Whose laughter doubled any joke.

Man hands on happiness to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
So love your parents all you can
And have some cheerful kids yourself.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/27/2004 11:32:00 AM | link

Because a kidney is a terrible thing to waste -- on a white man
I am not an organ donor because I simply do not believe the assertion that some weary hospital worker long-accustomed to making life-and-death decisions based on a utilitarian calculus will resist the temptation to spend less time on me if I am seriously injured yet possess organs that could be put to good use somewhere else once I am officially "dead."

Say what you will about my suspicions. (Then look at the Netherlands.) But it certainly doesn't assuage this prejudice when I read about a new affirmative action system for organ donations which will result in more deaths in order to increase the number of minority recipients of organs.

(Via The Right Coast.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/27/2004 03:38:00 AM | link

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/26/2004 04:18:00 PM | link

I'm going to see the Passion tomorrow, so I haven't read too many reviews. This comes at an inopportune time, and seems to have been intentionally elicited from Hutton Gibson based on previous remarks he's made. He apparently doesn't have any consideration for his son's enterprises. The article's one remark was interesting: Hutton joined the SSPX (or SSPV, whatever...). Perhaps he is an influence on Mel's own schismatic position, although there's been precious little more than hearsay reported about that.

Scipio from Intelligam has an extremely apropos comment here, to which I add: When taking some courses in Jewish-Catholic ecumenism from liberal Catholics during grad school, an elderly priest with a lot of experience in the field of Jewish-Catholic dialogue offered a generalization which seems to be true in the anecdotal evidence I encounter: Jewish representatives often expect Rome to speak authoritatively on a wide variety of disciplinary matters and garner a fairly obedient response from Catholics worldwide. Would that it were so! Or as Scipio writes:

"Hach, waren das noch Zeiten, als es den Index Librorum Prohibitorum gab..."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/26/2004 04:05:00 PM | link

Ut-oh, Ono!
Surely the blogosphere's unique merits are heralded in an expose like this.

Would that more so-called Catholic theologians had their heterodox views slammed in a public forum so people knew exactly what they were dealing with. I'm sure Crisis could fisk dozens more people who work for the USCCB.

The benighted man is also a CUA doctorand, and a nominalist. (Nominalism is not quite as bad as being a pro-choice Catholic, but definitely on the dark side. Homo est flatus vocis is only a few steps removed from "It's not a child, it's a choice" IMHO.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/24/2004 03:34:00 AM | link

Eve cites Father Tucker re.: Hospitals and Humility.: "Father Tucker on the personal experience of ex opere operato: 'You can tell yourself all sorts of things about what a wonderful job you do, but when push comes to shove and somebody wants his sins forgiven, any old priest will do.'"

Which illuminates an important caveat: Any old priest will do, provided that your priest actually performs the rite correctly, which is why it is important to have an orthodox priest, and not some slap-dash, any old opus will opere post-conciliar gadfly.

This adds even more weight to the virtue of humility, since lack of humility before one's office is often a cause of ritual innovation. Fr. Tucker's closing sentence might implicitly attest this point: "And when the priest realizes all this, it puts all the praise into perspective and keeps him humble."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/22/2004 04:01:00 PM | link

Unfortunately, I am on a 30 or 36-hour cycle, so the 28-hour day / 6-day week people will have to come my way a few hours.

Besides, if we break free of the solar cycle (even though I don't follow it at all), then complete decadence will ensue. We'll just write off whole days. Ask any college student worth his (parents') salt.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/22/2004 03:01:00 PM | link

Recipe for Karl Barth
While reading Ratzinger the other day, the whole thing clicked. Where did we get such a freak like Karl Barth? Really, I grit my teeth all the way through Epistle to the Romans. Can you say, "Radical hatred of the creation?" Why the incarnation isn't obscene to him is beyond me.

I waited patiently while Hans Urs von Balthasar tried to redeem him in The Theology of Karl Barth, in which HUvB tells us that it's all OK by the time we get to read the 2,000+ pages of Church Dogmatics, and if we squint hard enough we can see Barth coming around to a sorta Catholic position, sorta. But still Protestant. Sorta.

Ok. So maybe Barth makes an interesting study in a polemicist come back down to earth. And although some people like him as a strident anti-liberal theology writer, the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend. Such an enemy might make more trouble than he's worth, and make more enemies in the process. And I know Barth has garnered lots of "historical importance," which is surely a tedious category in doctoral work when the "historically important figure" is not yet dead for 50 years.

(Side note: Quickest way to piss off a beleaguered doctorand: Make him study the churning froth of hours-old contemporary theology as "historically important." Hello, people!! That's why we have the oblivion of history: to filter out the botched and less useful stuff, and to serve as a landfill for the endless reams of stupidity each age must produce in order to make an ounce of pure gold. I put Barth in the former category, BTW.)

SO ANYWAY, here's my drink recipe for Karl Barth:

In the head of 1 German theologian, preferably pietist-shaped:

Combine several anti-liberal theology liquors, including:
- The need to affirm items of propositonal revelation unambiguously
- Refusal to accomodate theology to the demands of philosophy
- The need to emphasize the transcendence, sovereignty and heteronomy of God

Add a dash of post-WWI bitters:
Everyone is less optimistic about human reason and the goodness of man

Muddle with post-Wellhausen Biblical studies historical-critical blues:
Barth comes at the peak of aberrant Biblical scholarship. Nobody "critical" thinks the Jesus of history has been passed down to the tradition ("Christ of faith"). So Barth wants to recast theology in such a way as to minimize the importance of assent to the historicity of Christian faith because critical scholarship has thrown it all into question.

Swizzle with dynamite, garnish with emphatic German exclamations and qualifiers:
E.g.: "Nein!" Or, "Christus fuer mich, jetzt, hier!"

Light dynamite. Voila!

Note: If you put too much of the last ingredient, skip the garnish and swizzle, and float some turgidity and stale Heidegger on top, you get a Bultmanm instead of a Barth.

The astute observer will also note that you cannot drink a properly prepared Barth, so it is an undrinkable drink. But Barth would have loved a good paradox anyway. Besides you sick, wretched creature of the flesh filled with works-righteousness, the exploding drink is God's mercy to you: By blowing off your lips, He teaches you to surrender your creatureliness. The best drink is a radical negation of my entire desire to drink, even if this comes at the expense of the drinker. Paradoxically, the undrinkable Barth satisfies more than any other drink, since after not-drinking from this one drink, the drinker is never thirsty again.

Somehow I don't think what Our Lord proposed to serve to the Samaritan woman at the well was the same formula.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/22/2004 02:18:00 PM | link

The Conservative Contrarian: a new blog for your blog rolls.

(I am not yet smart enough / unlazy enough to do blog rolling.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/22/2004 02:17:00 PM | link

Mother Teresa's Successor Robbed in India, but she was left unharmed.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/22/2004 11:38:00 AM | link

Ganz klar, nein?
But he can keep Ereignis. I'll take the onto-theological "fallacy" any day. The description should also include that in my later years, I rarely leave my Hütte. I belong to a different Partei.
You are Martin Heidegger! Your reputation is stained a bit by the fact that you were a member of the Nazi party, but your groundbreaking Being and Time is still read by a whole lot of people. You overuse the hyphen, and make up a lot of words. You died in 1976.

What 20th Century Theorist are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/22/2004 04:35:00 AM | link

Mr. Sayre writes regarding my notice of the Notre Dame Queer Film Festival. He's in italics.

First, for what it's worth, there's a technical clarification regarding the hosting of the site. The site is not multihosted, but rather the www.ndqueerfilmfestival.com domain is simply a pointer to his student account.

Second, he encourages me to abandon my pseudonym. Despite the explanatory note on the side bar, let me clarify my response to requests like these because I get them often enough:

Unlike yourself, I refuse to hide behind anonymity, because I feel it is important that we can discuss and debate issues on professional level, while at the same time understanding where others are coming from.

Tough luck. No can do. Unlike yourself, I'm not about to have everything I casually write here become grist for some review board ten years down the road, just so you can have the pleasure of calling me by my baptismal name. That's the nature of the digital age: Everything is potentially known by anyone. Consider it a Socratic sacrifice: it's the idea, not the articulator, that matters. Moving on to your points....

My basic position is this: Any presentation concerning sexual orientation at a nominally Catholic university which does not explicitly and unambiguously state the following at the outset is a scandal, a betrayal of the school's Catholic identity, and a sinful act for all persons directly involved:

1) That the Church condemns -- non-negotiably, forever -- all forms homogenital sexual relations as immoral acts

2) That gay "marriage" is sacramentally impossible

3) That the norm of chastity -- which is binding on gays and straights, on single, married and celibate people -- teaches the same rule for all: The use of sex is proper to the married state alone because it is ordered toward procreation.

4) This teaching is the only acceptable interpretation of the Biblical teaching on the matter and has been continuously taught by Church tradition and affirmed countless times by the Magisterium ancient and modern

Functionally "neutral" approaches to the subject are merely transparent attempts to legitimate alternative opinions as potentially tenable when they are not. I find this to be the gist of your position, which is why I disagree with it. However, you state:

I completely disagree with your assertion that "acceptance of sexualities" is tantamount to "categorical affirmation of whatever gay people 'feel they need to do' with their sexuality."

Yet, nowhere on the advertisement is there any suggestion that considering this issue as Catholics, at a Catholic university requires that we presuppose Catholic moral norms in considering the question -- norms which might preclude as morally unacceptable certain forms of homosexual conduct.

"As a gay student who considers his Catholic faith an integral part of his life, I take offense to the assertion that discussion and tolerance of homosexuals equals an endorsement of homosexual behavior."

Tolerance of homosexual persons is one thing, and is part of every Catholic's obligation to one another in charity. Tolerance of homogenital behavior is another thing entirely. "Tolerance of persons" is akin to "hearing someone out" and "accepting them as a brother in Christ." We are taught to love the sinner, but to hate the sin. There is no sinner for whom the sin is not a trenchant part of his "identity," or else we would all be perfect tomorrow. Your film festival describes itself not as promoting the acceptance of persons, but rather the "acceptance of all sexualities." Perhaps I have leapt to conclusions in reading "sexualities" as "active sexual lifestyles." Even if you insist that you mean by "sexualities" what is more commonly called one's sexual orientation, the term "sexualities" is intentionally broad and thus potentially deceptive.

Such a position belies a complete lack of trust in the spiritual maturity of ND's students, gay and straight alike.

Sorry. Let me make it explicit: I strongly distrust the "spiritual maturity" of ND's students if by "spiritual maturity" you mean conformity to the spirit of the Church. Don't even get me going on this one. It's irrelevant to the point. It's also immature to think that the average college-age person has the capacity to be his own spiritual director on conflated issues in modern culture.

I've been in university contexts long enough to know the language and the tactical styles of the left. The most common way to attempt to legitimize an untenable moral position is to simply insist that one wants to "present options and discuss it objectively." On the surface, who could object?

But what we find in practice -- and what I sense already in your film festival, although perhaps I might be wrong, but I bet I'm not -- is a functionally agnostic method in discussing the question. We must "bracket" what the Church teaches, or "suspend" established principles of moral philosophy, and just "consider what's there." By making a twisted metaphor to empiricism, the notion of "objectivity" becomes "suspension of all norms we don't like" in considering positions which are morally untenable and just "looking at the facts themselves." This happens all the time in modern academic circles, as a prelude to establishing the untenable position as legitimate.

I'm touchy about this because it is deception, plain and simple. What has happened is such a situation is this: Using the good name of charity and the mutual tolerance of persons, well-meaning Catholics who hold what the Church teaches about human sexuality are deceived by this kind of "presentation / consideration / acceptance" rhetoric into assenting to agnostic first principles in their discourse with the other side. In doing so, of course, they have already conceded the argument to those promoting the homosexual lifestyle. Wool over eyes, these folks are suddenly mystified that after having "listened," their repeated assertion that unchaste sex is wrong (and all homosexual sex is by definition unchaste), is refused as "intolerant" or "not seeing our perspective." Until the flawed premises and method are exposed, the discussion goes nowhere.

The wording of your e-mail confirms this. You write:

Furthermore, no matter where ND stands as a Catholic university on the issue of homosexual behavior, it is an issue that homosexual students ultimately decide for themselves. I think it is perfectly reasonable for ND to allow a film festival that explores homosexual issues, without condemning homosexual behavior, because the hope would be that the Christian gay students could refer to their faith to answer that question.

This is the epitome of what I'm talking about. If you don't understand why this kind of reasoning can only be seen as invalid or patently deceptive, substitute a known moral evil like "murder" or "rape" for "homosexual behavior" above. To make it crystalline, I will choose the example of rapists. Anyone reading the following statement would immediately interpret it as a perverse attempt to suggest rape is morally legitimate because anyone who already accepted rape as a non-negotiable moral evil would never say this:

"Furthermore, no matter where ND stands as a Catholic university on the issue of rape, it is an issue that rapists must ultimately decide for themselves. I think it is perfectly reasonable for ND to allow a film festival that explores rapist issues, without condemning rapist behavior, because the hope would be that the Christian rapists could refer to their faith to answer that question.

Unchaste sexual relations -- which include all homogenital activity -- are known moral evils, just as rape is a known moral evil. There are only two options for your film festival: One must either reject the Catholic tradition in its entirety, or abandon the deceptive and ambiguous rhetoric which attempts to foist moral acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle on others while abusing the concepts of "tolerance of persons" and "charity."

The fact that "an individual must decide for himself" is true of any moral decision. All thieves, murderers, philanthropists, missionaries and Nobel laureates "decided for themselves." Subjective agency is only one half of the moral equation. Subjectivity is the half that establishes culpability or merit. The objective nature of the act is what establishes the act as morally right or wrong, and the Church has firmly and consistently taught the objective immorality of unchaste sexuality, including homosexuality.

A casual review of any authoritative teaching on the matter would make this painfully clear, despite what the Charlie Currans of today's academe insist.

Lastly, you write:

I fully support my statement that Mr. Droleskey is a "fundamentalist type." This label, I feel, is perfectly consistent with the manner in which he described his position.

You can fully support a basic lexical error, if you like. It's still objectively wrong usage. (Reread the above about subjective and objective dimensions of moral choices. It's true here as well.) Droleskey is not a fundamentalist. "Fundamentalism" denotes a Protestant, sola scriptura, literal-sense only, Biblical theology -- like the kind typical of Southern Baptists. No "fundamentalist" would ever begin a letter with: "I am the Immaculate Conception."

While I find Mr. Droleskey's preamble unnecessary and long, it is basic Marian piety. And technically speaking, it's not blasphemy to sully the name of Mary, only God, so he chose the wrong word there. But what's surprising is that you call his sentiment "blind religious fervor."

If the film festival tacitly supports sodomy (traditionally known as "one of the four sins that cry out to God for vengeance." Vide any catechism), then he's right to observe that a university nominally devoted to Our Lady, Pillar of Purity, has become a conduit of prurience, and this is a sacrilege.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/16/2004 03:07:00 AM | link

Patrick writes to inform me of Marilyn Adam's latest,now that she occupies the Regius chair. Apparently she was not satisfied at suggesting that the Trinity be a model for "kinky relations," and so she now suggests that Mary and Joseph are also symbols for embracing the prospects of homogenital and transsexual relationships. If you didn't read it, here is my original blog on the bondage-priestess.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/16/2004 02:53:00 AM | link

More Googly goodness:

Painted Coffee Pictures: My advice is to paint the coffee after you've made the picture.

What does Egeria get out of visiting the holy place: Sounds like the beginning of a joke. In reality, it's the beginning of a term paper written by someone who talks to Google like it's his tutor. The paper will be the joke.

pagan altar linens: Have you tried looking here?. I love how the website has Isaiah 56:7 as a tag line: "My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples." Of course Isaiah is not talking about religious pluralism, which drips from the building's architecture. Rather, he's talking about converting all cultures to the worship the God of Israel.

Benjamin Franklin changed his epitaph because. Good question. I've often wondered myself. Perhaps fear it would be seen as an act of vanity in death? It's so good. The first epitaph is a favorite of mine. I initially blogged it in this post about cremation. Here it is:

"The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding), lies here, food for worms; but the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author."

I like this epitaph because:

a) There is a close integration of his vocation and profession, a la Opus Dei's spirituality. Franklin sees reflected in the dignity of his work the ultimate Christian truths which sustain both this life and the next.

b) "food for worms," In referring to himself as such, he provides a good dose of Momemto mori for the reader of the epitaph.

c) His understanding of resurrection does not require an overly physicalist understanding of the identity between the old body and the glorified body

d) Elswewhere, I've blogged about how the structures of sinfulness -- in their root and in their effects -- are so firmly wormed into the fabric of the soul that the entirety of the physical creature must be destroyed in death to be righted in resurrection. But the spirit remains the same (i.e., the "idea" of the "book," its themes and its narrative), and can be thoroughly revised by its Author, which is also a revision we would wholly desire, a la Augustine's Deus interior intimo meo.

There's more here, but I don't have the time. It repays meditation, IHMO.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/15/2004 09:56:00 PM | link

You people give MindHead a bad name!
(I'll let your brain churn for that movie reference.)

I know these things are pop psychology, but this test seems accurate in its assessment o' me:

Your Brain Usage Profile

Auditory : 31%
Visual : 68%
Left : 67%
Right : 33%

Oligarch, you are somewhat left-hemisphere dominant and show a preference for visual learning, although not extreme in either characteristic.

Your left-hemisphere dominance implies that your learning style is organized and structured, detail oriented and logical. Your visual preference, though, has you seeking stimulation and multiple data. Such an outlook can overwhelm structure and logic and create an almost continuous state of uncertainty and agitation. It is likely that you will find situations which demand auditory processing somewhat frustrating unless you can impose your own structures and categories while processing it.

(Me, impose structures on everything? Naw. Ask Eve how I pack a car. Or ask Zorak what happens when she moves the salt shaker from its "canonical position." Zorak's biggest challenge as wife was learning to cope with my structured approach to everything. She, being raised by Bohemians or wolves -- still not sure which, maybe Bohemian wolves -- apparently thinks the laws of entropy don't apply to her.)

Your tendency to be organized and logical and attend to details is reasonably well-established which should afford you success regardless of your chosen field of endeavor. Another possible barrier to using your talents to the fullest may be the excess attention that you can tend to give details in your day-to- day operations and learning. You can acknowledge the existence of "the bigger picture" but concentrate on the details and expect that the picture will emerge from the details themselves.

(The data must be exhausted before conclusive analysis can be made! But, somehow, I've met people who don't see the binding force of this imperative as plainly as the laws of syllogistic reasoning. Nevertheless, I deem people who generalize sloppily and "move on" to be either lazy, or poor reasoners, or irresponsible. Now I know that's not always true. I learned the hard way. I married one.)

Your logical and methodical nature hamper you in this regard though in the long run it may work to your advantage since you "learn from experience" and can go through the process more rapidly on subsequent occasions.

(If I can relegate any repeated task to the "autopilot" of unthinking habitual action, I consider it a victory. I think of it as off-CPU processing, like your hardware DVD decoder and the GPU on your graphics card. Whenever Zorak has had enough of my traditionalism, she chalks it up to a mental quirk. This is not always fair, but I have to admit there is a certain overlap between the wisdom of tradition and not having to think about things de novo each time.)

You strive towards goals and this, coupled with the active nature of your learning preference, creates a sense of you being "driven." Your tolerance of ambiguity is, at times, in conflict with your preference for the straight path and directness in everything. You tend to be as impatient with yourself as you are with others.

(Let's be perfectly frank. That should read "intolerance of ambiguity" and "it is due to my preference...")

You have enough auditory learning capability to somewhat balance your more natural chaotic learning style. It is likely that you "slide into" the more sequential auditory learning mode when you get frustrated with the amount of input to be processed.

(Here again, I love to talk to someone about a book rather than reading it myself, because I've often spent my mental energy "structuring" some other book that day. Or, if there's a new article on the web, I'll ask Zorak to summarize it for me and then ask her questions, to which she always responds: "Well there it is, go read it yourself.")

You are somewhat likely to be driven and distracted, but you have some capability for articulating and visualizing goals, which helps to reduce frustration. You can listen to others, but not without occasional agitation. There are times when your left hemisphere cannot categorize your learnings and place them in context, because that is the domain of the right hemisphere.

With regards to your career choices, you have a mentality that would be good as a scientist, coach, athlete, design consultant, or an engineering technician. You can "see where you want to go" and even be able to "tell yourself," but find that you are "fighting yourself" at the darndest times.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/15/2004 12:57:00 PM | link

Eve has already mentioned to me that I am unduly obsessed with this question, but at least someone else at the Manhattan Institute is as well. Via Mr. Armitage.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/14/2004 07:41:00 PM | link

More decadence at Notre Dame. A homogenital "acceptance" film festival. See ND Queer Film Festival, which is multihosted also on ND's official domain here by a student. To their credit, some ND alumni are making reparation for this unambiguously heterodox expression at a "Catholic" university. From the site:

"A festival of gay and lesbian filmmaking to promote discussion and awareness of queer films in a context of acceptance of all sexualities at the University of Notre Dame"

Acceptance, of course, means the categorical affirmation of whatever gay people "feel they need to do" with their sexuality. Ask Armin Meiwes about that.

Acceptance is also the middle step in the logical progression of all "Enlightened" attempts to reason our way past unchecked desire to the social facilitation of vice. The vice must first be "tolerated." Then, it must be "accepted." Finally, it's a "hate crime" to even criticize it, and it is positively protected / favored by law.

You'll note the student hosting the site has, at best, glancing exposure to the Catholic tradition, labelling the author of the letter of protest "a fundamentalist type."

Thanks to Fr. Sibley for this.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/14/2004 03:56:00 AM | link

Zorak blogged this story about Baron von Boeselager: Hitler's Would-Be Killer Dreams of Dead Friends.

He credits his Jesuit education. The story is worth reading auf Deutsch.

Halfway down, you are also treated to a rousing inversion of the Casablanca scene, where Das Deutschlandlied is sung by a Dutch priest to protest French occupation. The Frenchmen denied passage to the teenage Boeselager who was trying to attend his grandmother's funeral. Since it was illegal for Germans to sing their own national anthem, the Dutch priest sang it for Boeselager in protest since the law did not apply to non-Germans.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/13/2004 05:17:00 AM | link

To make a point about Medieval allegorical method in interpreting the Song of Songs, I'm trying to gather data from Catholic worship which reflects the rarest trope of allegory on the Song: Mary as the Bride, and the Holy Spirit as Bridegroom.*

Three other tropes are much more common: Bride as Israel, Bride as Church, Bride as the individual soul. But the Marian trope had its moment, and it scattered all over our devotional practices.

The verses most commonly interpreted allegorically in this regard are Song 4:7: "Et macula non est in te" and Song 6:10: “Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, / fair as the moon, bright as the sun, / terrible as an army with banners?” No doubt inspired by St. John’s Apocalypse, Song 6:10 is seen as prefiguration of Mary whom Rev 12:1 describes as “the great portent [which] appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

Yet in Christmastide, I've caught anecdotal evidence that Song 1:4 ("trahe me post te curremus / introduxit me rex in cellaria") is also a frequently used verse. Example:

From "Conditor Alme Siderium" (9th century):
Thou camest Bridegroom of the Bride,
As dew the world to evening-tide,
Proceeding from a virgin shrine
The Son of Man, yet Lord divine.

Yet the other carols I've examined use Song 1:4 in Bernard of Clairvaux's sense of mystical union between God and man through the Incarnation:

From "We Three Kings," in an extended version with added "chorale" that initially was a separate 16th century hymn:
How brightly shines the morning star!
With grace and truth from heav'n afar
Our Jesse tree now bloweth.
Of Jacob's stem and David's line,
For thee, my Bridegroom, King divine,
My soul with love o'erfloweth.

From "In Dulce Jubilo" (14th century, German):
O Iesu parvule,
I yearn for thee alway!
Hear me, I beseech thee,
O puer optime!
My prayer let it reach thee.
O Princeps gloriae!
Trahe me post te!
Trahe me post te!

But I'm sure I've seen more of the Song of Songs / Marian trope out there in hymnody. So if any come to mind, send them to my e-mail, please.

*Usually the Holy Spirit is the Bridegroom, but sometimes, God the Father is Bridegroom. This gloss is generally less aware of traditions concerning the role of the Persons of the Trinity in salvation history (i.e. the order of the "economic" Trinity.) The Father always remains unmoved; the Son and Spirit are always those who are sent.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/12/2004 09:34:00 AM | link

More Ivy League Pornography
I submit further evidence in my case that Western civilization will not be restored through the Ivy League and other so-called prestigious schools. Harvard has just launched an official campus porn magazine, H Bomb. The Harvard students followed the lead of Vassar (talk about role reversal!), which had been producing the campus "erotica" magazine Squirm (now defunct?) for three years.

I guess My Tongue -- an erstwhile Yale magazine devoted to the same since the 1990s -- fails to get recognition. Once again, Yale's more creative, but poorer at promoting itself, even in its self-destruction as an institution.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/12/2004 09:20:00 AM | link

Traci Johnson, a native of Bensalem, Pa., committed suicide while a subject of an Eli Lilly drug experiment. She was one of about 25 "healthy volunteers" who had been physically and psychologically screened before the test and, according to Lilly spokesperson, Rob Smith, she did not have depression.

Knight Ridder News Service reports that Eli Lilly acknowledges that 4 suicides occurred during clinical trials of the duloxetine which the company plans to market for depression and incontinence.

For much more, see Kangaroo Court.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/12/2004 01:41:00 AM | link

U.S. infant mortality rate rose slightly in 2002, for the first time in 40 years. Related story here. The increase in infant mortality is blamed on:

1) More women having babies in their 30s and 40s.

2) In vitro fertilization techniques leading to multiple babies per pregnancy, and thus low birth rate, weaker fetuses, etc.

(A/k/a if women were meant to bear litters like dogs, they'd weigh 300 pounds and have eight breasts.)

That's not counting the selective murder of one or more of these children in the womb, often done with in vitro techniques, simply because implantation is chancy and the procedure is expensive. So doctors would rather try to implant a slew of embryos, let some fail to implant, and hope that 5-8 successfully implant, and then kill 3-4 later. Who the hell wants to have children like this? Might as well invite the devil himself to inseminate you.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/12/2004 12:29:00 AM | link

A nice testimony to how la nouvelle theologie is a far cry away from today's Catholic "liberal" at Praise of Glory. Now if we can only get this guy to read someone who has been dead for more than 100 years, think of what a trad he'd be.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/11/2004 09:13:00 PM | link

Score: 114

I got the big 10-pointer and big 4 pointer.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/11/2004 08:30:00 PM | link

For the Catholic baby who has everything. I meant absolutely everything: there's always this. I am utterly confused why a baby site is selling these books. I expect our kids to be smart early on, but is this the new high bar?

Which reminds me of a Yale ancedote. On seeing Prof. Cyril's kid in a stroller with a book by Hegel strapped in tow beneath: "Starting him rather young on Hegel, no Professor?" Prof: "All my children are post-critical by the time they can walk."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/10/2004 02:53:00 AM | link

Oh boy, some Finnish Googler has heard a real screamer.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/09/2004 09:12:00 PM | link

Just when you think dialogue with your parents is weird.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/08/2004 03:19:00 AM | link

Just when I thought late Medieval exegesis was slack and boring when compared to Patristic and High Medieval work (as is the case with late Medieval philosophy), I find Nicolas of Cusa's 1456 Epiphany sermon Ubi Est Qui Natus Est Rex Iudaeorum.

Following Eckhart, Cusa takes the title "dispositively," i.e. as a statement, rather than a question: "Where is He who is born King of the Jews." I will wait a moment while you overcome cognative dissonance and re-read the sentence as a declarative statement. Yes, that's right. Place is Jesus. Skip the first three paragraphs and start at four. Not only is the analysis wonderful, but I love the opening gambit. I can't fully articulate why.

Perhaps it is the bottomless Medieval faith that even the smallest quirks of Scripture and alternative parsings of a phrase could hold vast philosophical treasures, such as when Thomas Aquinas defends the virginitas in partu in addition to Our Lady's virginal conception of Our Lord by saying it's obvious from Isaiah 7:14: The Virgin shall conceive and bear a son. The Medieval mind does not dismiss the literal sense: the subject of the second clause is still virgo, and so a virgin must be the agent of the act of birthing a son as well as conceiving him. A modern, of course, would chalk this up entirely to the Hebrew love for repetition, not see the hand of God in it, and probably say it referred to the birth of Hezekiah or some such trash.

Someday when the world stops, food leaps into my mouth automatically, and my doctoral work does itself, I will blog about how today, exegetes are exclusively devoted to the literal sense, but yet they doesn't lavish an iota of care on it in their functionally agnostic, mangled-Romantic (=must interpret the text according to authorial intent with respect to his self-understanding of the age in which he lived, but yet they don't understand that age because they think they can't get back to the "Jesus of History"), lazy "critical" theories which actually -- even without bringing in high theology -- stop far short of finding a unity that's there in the text. Ok. That was amazingly vague. Read Umberto Cassuto's explanation on why the names of God vary between Elohim and Yahweh for a sense of what I mean. But I have to read DeLubac now, so too bad.

I know little about Cusa, but people I respect hold him in great esteem. One story recounts that he held people spellbound by three hour homilies. At the same time, I hope such a sermon as this was intended for monastics and academics, or else I'm really depressed that your average Medieval churchgoer could take this in as a Sunday meditation. Somebody who knows about what the average sermon was like in an urban center, please send me an e-mail. I presume from things like preaching reform and the Jesuits that it was pretty bad in many places, just like today.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/07/2004 10:49:00 PM | link

And you thought Kitty Wittgenstein was a joke.

(Note: Only the first four episodes of Kitty Wittgenstein are any good.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/07/2004 10:42:00 PM | link

My belated entry in honor of Candlemas:

Edi Beo Þu Hevene Quene
(13th century folk hymn)

Edi beo þu hevene quene
folkes frovre and engles blis,
moder unwemmed and maiden clene
swich in world non oþer nis.
On þé hit is wel eþ sene
of alle wimmen þu havest þet pris
mi swete levedi, her me béne
and reu of mé 3if þi wille is.

Þu aste3e so þe dai3 rewe
þe deleð from þe deorke nicht,
of þe sprong á léome newe,
þat al þis world haveð ili3t.
Nis non maide of þine heowe,
swo fair, so sschene, so rudi, swo bricht;
swete levedi of me þu reowe,
and have merci of þin knicht.

Spronge blostme of one rote,
þe holi gost þe rest upón,
þet wes for monkunnes bote
and heore soule to alesen for on.
Levedi milde, softe and swote,
ic crie þe merci, ic am þe mon
boþe to honde and to fote,
on all wise þat ic kon.

Þu ert eorþe to gode sede
on þe li3te þe heovene deú3,
of þe sprong þeó edi blede
þe holi gost hire on þe séu3.
Þu bring us út of kare of dréde
þat Eve bitterliche us breú3,
þu sschalt us in-to heóvene lede,
welle swete is þe like déu3.

Moder ful of þewes hende,
maide drei3 and wel itaucht,
ic ém in þine love bende
and to þe is al mi draucht.
Þu me sschild 3e from þe feonde
ase þu ert freó, and wilt, and maucht,
help me to mi lives ende,
and make me wið þin sone isau3t.

Blessed be thou, Queen of Heaven,
comfort of men and angel's bliss
unblemished mother and maiden pure
such as no other in the world.
As for thee, 'tis most readily seen
that of all women thou hast that prize.
My sweet lady, hear my prayer
and have pity on me, if thou wilt.

Thou didst ascend like the first dawn
that brings dark night to an end;
from thee sprang a New Light
that has lightened the whole world.
There is no other maid like thee,
so fair, so beautiful, so ruddy, so bright.
Sweet lady, pity me,
and have mercy on thy knight.

O blossom sprung forth from a root,
the Holy Ghost reposed upon Thee;
that was for mankind's salvation
to deliver their soul in exchange for one.
Gracious lady, gentle and sweet,
I cry to thee for mercy;
I am thy man with hand and foot,
in every way that I can.

Thou art earth for good seed;
the dew from heaven came down upon thee;
from thee sprang forth the blessed shoot,
the Holy Ghost has sown it on thee here.
Bring us out of the anxiety of dread
that Eve bitterly has caused us;
thou shalt lead us into heaven --
right sweet is that same dew.

Mother, full of gracious virtues,
maiden patient and well-taught,
I am in the bonds of thy love,
and everything draws me to Thee.
Wouldst Thou shield me from the fiend,
as thou art noble, willing and able;
help me to my life's end
and reconcile me with thy Son.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/06/2004 06:02:00 AM | link

Some news about Islam, the "religion of peace."

In Nigeria, a 15 year old girl, an involuntary victim of statutory rape by her stepfather, has been sentence by sharia law to 100 lashes. The raped, pregnant teen's sentence has been postponed until she delivers. She was raped in a field. Even Mosaic law doesn't pronounce any punishment for a maiden who is raped when there is no one around to hear her cry for help. Crush the brutality of Islam -- Deus lo vult.

In Madrid, an imam has gotten in trouble for publishing a book on how to beat your wife. I'll let Mommentary handle this one...

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/05/2004 10:01:00 PM | link

I can't find it at the moment, but the Church foresaw this day coming a long time ago, and already forbids transplantation of the gonads (and the brain) in the CCC or CIC.

This Vatican document seems to hold out more hope for xenotransplantation as a restorative procedure if it is strictly confined to restoring the fertility of an individual while fully retaining his unique genetic identity.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/05/2004 05:16:00 PM | link

With respect to my earlier rant about "His blood be on us and our children," Mark Shea has a good observation about the double entendre of the passage.* It also bears noting that the sense of the passage fits perfectly with 1 Cor. 11:27 about The Blood saving those who recognize it and condemning those who partake in it unawares.

While I appreciate Shea's firm insistence that we not condemn the Jews while missing the plank lodged in our own eye, it is inappropriate to moralize the passage exclusively in terms of a reminder about any given individual's attitude toward the Lord (i.e., either you want to be saved by His Blood, or you are condemned by rejecting it, unless you're ignorant of it entirely). Mt 27:25 is entirely relevant to avoiding Ebionism and the modern heretical equivalent of indulging the notion that Jews are still saved under the old covenant and do not need evangelization.

The destruction of the Temple and the High Priesthood is a dark tragedy in salvation history. There's no changing that. It's wrong to try to moralize it into an ahistorical principle and ignore the import for covenant history. Caiaphas' condemnation of Christ foreshadows the utter rift between the Jerusalem High Priesthood and Jesus the Messiah. Would that the Temple was the first Church, that St. James convinced his Jewish brethren to accept the New Covenant, and that the High Priesthood constituted the Palestinian portion of episcopacy. (St. James' knees were said to have become like camel's knees because he spent his entire day praying in the Temple and preaching for the conversion of his kinsmen. Some exegetes, by the way, interpret the Epistle to the Hebrews as a specific appeal to Jewish priests. But since the majority was not converting, St. Paul wrote Romans 9 - 11 as well.)

The Patristic literature I've encountered in casual reading seems to interpret of the curse in a way which is a far cry away from the late Medieval / early modern categorically anti-semitic assertion: "All Jews are guilty of the blood of the Lord, and therefore are a treacherous, avaricious race, incapable of farming, etc."

Fathers I've read (sorry no footnotes), take a common-sense interpretation: The curse is real. It applies literally, to the unconverted generation of Jews at the time and their unconverted children. It was fulfilled in 70AD, when the Temple was destroyed and the High Priesthood was permanently stripped from them.

I don't expect Jews to be happy about this, but it is also an utterly unsurprising apologetical assertion which Christians of all stripes having been making for centuries in a more general context. When they assert that the Temple was destroyed because the High Priesthood in its old form is unnecessary now that Christ the New High Priest has instituted the new and everlasting covenant in His Blood, they are making the same point Jesus' Jewish accusers make by unintentionally cursing themselves.

*Or course, other figures in the Passion narrative unintentionally proclaim the truth about the Lord too. Early Christian apocrypha was well aware of this trope and took it to comical extremes. See, for example, the Acts of Pilate, where even the eagles on top of the Roman's standards cannot abstain from bowing when Christ enters the room because they know he is Lord of the Gentiles. And then, when the Jews complain about the Romans' (unintenional) honoring of Christ, Pilate has Jews hold the standards and sends Christ out of the room and back in again. Of course, the standards bow again, because He is Rex Iudaeorum as well. But this apocryphal writing is nothing but a fictious, distorted extension of themes in the Gospels already apparent to early Christians.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/05/2004 04:23:00 PM | link

From Ratzinger's critique of theology-as-praxis and the modern emphasis on technical knowledge over reflection:

"Everyone knows how sharply this situation of 'not being able to go on any more' can arise in the midst of outward abundance. But meaning is not derived from knowledge. To try to manufacture it in this way, that is, out of the provable knowledge of what can be made, would resemble Baron Muenchhausen's absurd attempt to pull himself out of the bog by his own hair. I believe that the absurdity of this story mirrors very accurately the basic situation of man. No man can pull himself up out of the bog of uncertainty, of not-being-able-to-live, by his own exertions; nor can we pull ourselves up, as Descartes still thought we could, by a cogito ergo sum, by a series of intellectual deductions. Meaning that is self-made is in the last analysis no meaning. Meaning, that is, the ground on which our existence as a totality can stand and live, cannot be made but only received" (Introduction to Christianity, 43.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/05/2004 07:45:00 AM | link

I hope this is a myth: proofreader dead at desk for five days before anyone noticed. I assume it must be, since olfactory signs should be in full force by then. Note moral at the end of the story.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/05/2004 07:42:00 AM | link

"When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the Final Judgment, I've often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of lonliness. You have no advocates. You are there alone, standing before God -- and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the Pro-Life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world, but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world. They will say to God: 'Spare him, because he loved us.' And God will look at us and say not, 'Did you succeed?' but rather, 'Did you try?'" -- Henry Hyde

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/04/2004 09:26:00 PM | link

To my fellow professors: Save 20% with the Kinko Educator Savings Program. Just print out the little card. If you want to save the pesky registration screen, just go directly to the image located here.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/04/2004 09:24:00 PM | link

What's next? Jewish lobbying organizations get editorial control over the Gospel itself? Sorry. It's not our fault for recording it. The curse is not on all Jews. Any moron can figure that out. When Jews insist that Mt 27:25 can't but but understood as applying to all Jews, they either: (a) Insist the text is more anti-semitic than it is, or (b) Insist that Christians are too stupid to approach the issue with subtlety.

Our Lord, Our Lady, all twelve apostles, and most of the earliest Church were all Jews. Some Jews killed Christ, not all of them. Just because the spectre of the holocaust and anti-semitism still lingers doesn't mean any Jewish organization gets carte blanche to censor whatever text it wants. Especially not the Gospel. They pulled this crap with the Oberammagau Passion Play too.

Why don't Gentiles start reminding the Jews about the genocide involved in putting entire towns under the ban in the Book of Joshua? Slaughtering men, women, children and their pets is hardly P.C. now is it?

Basically the problem is political. We are a weak-willed culture which bends to whomever bitches the loudest about feeling hurt or being uncomfortable. At some point, because certain Jewish groups keep pushing this nonsense to the breaking point, someone is going to have to say: "I'm sorry. Some might be misled by this, but it's history. We're not going to revise it because it makes you uncomfortable. We'll issue a statement. That's it. Too bad. Tough. Deal." Until someone gets the spine to do this, they will keep trying to wear down the opposition by whining, and whining and whining.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/04/2004 10:36:00 AM | link

I am #1 of 2 on Google for Missale Romanum Buddy Icon. I guess I have to make one now.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/04/2004 09:50:00 AM | link

Utah and New Mexico don't really count because I just stood in the "four corners" on a trip to Arizona and Nevada. I visited 24 states (47%). Can you say "never been to fly-over country?" But I'm really glad it's there.

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/04/2004 09:06:00 AM | link

Phi-Sci Blog o' the Month

Varenius asked my opinion of this Zygon journal article by Philip Clayton (available in PDF only). If you read it, I suggest reading the abstract, then leaping to p. 18. My response is below:

While I think that I pretty much agree with the intention of the author, I found it a little long-winded and tedious. The first 18 pages are prolegomena, which, since it's a journal, I presume most readers could dispense with since they are supposedly current with the state of the debate in the field. Yet, for students or to people who philosophize in other fields, it has the advantage of being very "big picture" and explicit about exactly where he sees his theory within the post-Cartesian arrangement of options. So it's a nice all-in-one article in that regard.

I also found it to be repetitious and extremely guarded (assurances every other page that he respects the integrity of the scientific method, that he's not introducing "occult" entities, etc.) But the guardedness is not really the author's fault. I know how vehement certain stripes of positivists get, and the knee-jerk prejudices of certain kinds of analytics, etc. So the article is saturated with the language typical of extremely embattled ground. I think this is largely the scientists' and positivists' fault, to be perfectly frank, who too often don't do enough work in metaphysics and presume that their scientific credentials extend into metaphysics.

As for my opinion of his actual thesis: I am assuming the entire article tacitly intends to provide a modern "regrounding" for the classical understanding of the soul as the form of the body. Maybe that is my own eisegesis, but when Clayton says that "Aristotle is on his side" and when he states that he intends to establish a viable rapprochement between classical theology and neuroscience on terms amenable to classical theology, I assume this is what he means. My own position is that of a Neoplatonist (Proclus) but later Neoplatonism is not hostile to Aristotle, so insofar as Clayton may have in mind a moderate-realist theory of universals, I'll go with him.

I agree with his presentation of form in terms of a "supervenient property." This was a tidy way to insist that form cannot be understood separately from the matter in which it is instantiated: "B-properties supervene on A-properties if no two possible situations are identical with respect to their A-properties while differing in their B-properties." (p. 20)

Yet I wonder whether this, and the later additions to the defintion of an emergent supervenient property on p. 22, are sufficient to define the kind of thing he's after. For example, both "qualia" and general intentional states have "one over many" relationships to individuals (i.e. categorical "gathering power" as universals), which is not really explained by the purely "downward-up" criteria of p. 20 and p. 22. Or to put it in classical terms again, he might have to do more work explaining what is the same in all individuals subject to the same form. But since his object of primary concern is the soul, and souls are "unique" in compositon, maybe his attention is diverted from this point. (Yet he does seem keen on retrieving elements of cognition which require universals, so he has to get back to this, IMHO.)

Also, to nitpick on p. 22, I don't understand #2: "P is not had by any of the object’s parts;" since I assume this "having" is not understood in terms of extension, and so you could as easily say "P is had by all of the object's parts." (Just as an equation of motion is not "had" in the physical sense by the objects subject to it, although all the objects "obtain" to the equation.) But I am unclear on this and the nature of the "having" for reasons hinted above. I don't think he's been quite clear on the nature of this proposed higher-order entities / properties.

What is the ontology he wants to provide at the end of the day? (Because he spends most of the time telling us where these supervenient properties can "fit" in contemporary ontology, rather than talking in more detail about the nature and relationship of these kinds of properties, I assume again that Clayton presumes that the reader intends to "import" an existing ontological theory onto the basis he provides.)

It is clear that Clayton is not a materialist. Good. Moreover, he is a "monist" insofar as he rejects the radical Cartesian dualism between res cogitans and res extensa. Also good. A MAJOR problem in this field is that after the scientists get over the hurdle of realizing that they need to do metaphysics, the metaphysics they read is crap. This is not their fault. So many universities stop with Plato or Aristotle and pick up with Descartes. Thus you only get the theory of forms at its most rudimentary stage (earliest Greeks) or in the fractured, compromised wreck you see in Descartes. Descartes -- despite his intention to preserve an immaterial realm -- already reifies universals by designating them as a unique class of immaterial substances, positing two separate ontological orders, thus making form (a) completely unrelated to matter, or (b) problematically "present in" matter in a way that is nonetheless "occult." Both options (a) and (b) show the thinker's inability to properly conceive of an immaterial universal, since the latter option is really just thinking of two different physical substances in the same place (yet one is unobservable), and the former option thinks of two completely different classes of entity, each in its own independent "space." Both are physicalizatons of the much more subtle way in which form inheres in matter. Medievals and Greeks understood this more subtle manner of presence. That's why any Platonist starts with basics, like figuring out what changes and what stays the same when you arrange a rope into a circle, then a square, and then a circle again. A favorite example I like to use of a universal when I talk to scientists is the law of gravity: It's real, it exercises determinate effect specific lumps of matter, it is fully manifest in each material object (not shared by division, but by "participation"), it is changeless despite the fact it governs change, etc., yet no one expects the law of gravity to have mass, to ITSELF be attracted to other objects, etc. It satisfies all the basic classical properties of form.

So to get back: Insofar as Clayton says no to the rude intrusion of Cartesian dualism: Good. Insofar as he desires more continuity between form and matter: Very good.

He's also good insofar as he holds the hands of the uncertain by telling them: I am a monist. The higher-order entities I will propose to you exist in some kind of "continuity" with the lower-order physical entities you're familiar with. BUT, when push comes to shove, these higher-order entities might be SO UNLIKE empirically observable matter, they might be like the concept of mass due to kinetic energy in relativity, or indeterminacy of position in quantum mechanics. Both these problems, of course, caused the authors of these theories to wonder whether they hadn't introduced a completely new ontology. So maybe Clayton will be accused of being dishonest here. He promises monism, but really, at the end of the day, can't escape one of two options: (a)he's introducing a different category of existent, albeit not something dualistically separate from empirically observable matter, or (b) he's forcing us to broaden our concept of "physical" or "material" such that it can accommodate new higher-order entities. Option (b) will make materialists unhappy, but it is fine by me. Hopefully his carefully pitched article can sway people in the middle on this issue.

I throw in as a concluding $0.02 that Werner Heisenberg in Physics and Philosophy averts to the question of higher-order properties / macroscopic properties of systems which exercise top-down determinative effect on their component material, yet which are not reducible to explanation by the dynamics of the component material. This seems to be exactly what Clayton is talking about by his definitions on p. 22.

(Heisenberg gives the example of the relationship of the thermodynamic laws of physics to the quantum-mechanical relativistic dynamics of physics. The thermodynamic laws describe macroscopic phenomena which are compatible with what can be expected by the mechanics, but yet the mechanics by itself is not sufficient to generate the thermodynamic laws by deduction. He also gives the example of basic principles of biological life which he feels cannot be satisfactorially explained by chemical and physical laws alone.)

Heisenberg does so in the context of an absolutely fascinating survey of the history of metaphysics and epistemology with reference to which concepts from each epoch can be reconciled with / utilized by modern science in its attempt to provide a modern ontology. It's denser and sexier than the Clayton article, although not quite as apologetically oriented, since the field hadn't become quite so controverted yet.

So that's my gut reaction. I can't be held responsible for it. 80

The wife says I have to stop writing now.


Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/04/2004 06:40:00 AM | link

In a random Google search for "comedy," Google gives me the kind of thing God laughs at, id est: total godlessness at Georgetown. (This woman's column was featured on the front page of comedy.com.) The administration might as well let whores screw students on the front lawn and post pictures of it on their website with a student paper like this. Really. Read the absolute garbage about "whether to lose one's virginity. I've got two words for you: Chastity belt. Or the brilliant review of men's underwear. If "America's oldest Catholic University" burnt down, I wouldn't be crying. Not that my own alma mater CUA is any prize. The Tower has gotten itself in hot water a few times. But generally, it doesn't drip the gen-nexty, disgustingly superficial, impeccably tolerant, utterly fad-driven, flimsy, brainless bubble-gum pop weltanshauung found at every single state school and lower-end university. Oh just forget it. Just read Campus magazine if you don't know what I mean. I'm also glad to see that The Hoya's most popular photo-op piece features a two-year-old concert by overwhore Brittany Spears.

Ok, I better stop now or else my blood will hit 212 Fahrenheit and I'll get the bends again. Lewis Black has proven that random encounters with unfathomable bimbosity without recourse causes aneurysms. Time to go to my health club, the International House of Pancakes...

Posted by Old Oligarch on 2/02/2004 04:21:00 AM | link


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