Mini dashed- off

(Incomplete thoughts and suggestions. Cum grano salis.)

(Costa) We know that we can’t unring the bell, and the physicist knows this too, but the formula (a law) cannot reflect this.

To move the analysis of kinesis from “motion” to “time”. The latter being closer to us to what Aristotle meant – obvious, irreversible, spread across the universe, inevitable. Here we best confront Parmenides, who reappears as the one arguing “If this is temporal, it is not the same now and then, therefore nothing is temporal.”

Consider the death of God (an epoch, like “the iron age”) as a feature of architecture and city planning. God is clearly seen through the things he has made, but we do not live among such things.  Our world is straight lines, right angles, flat surfaces, imported lights, speech through machines, etc. Nature almost never uses any of these things. Even the Grand Canyon is called a park!

Does Lord Jim lead up to its ending, or is this merely accidental, with some allowances made for the fact that it had to be dramatic (it’s a novel, after all).

Conrad – the sea as the only fitting backdrop against which to see a person.

The novelist as a maker of a universe (Tolkien). The mission fits with describing  a human life.

New Atheists and Analytic Philosophers – the only English intellectuals who write no poetry and appear to have no interest in it. How does this happen? Objection – the contemporary death of poetry. response – This won’t do. English is stronger than that.

The argument from evil as a complaint that the universe does not proceed from God as the Son and the Holy Spirit; that every man – perhaps every being – is not an instance of a hypostatic union.

AFE as a rejection of order so far as order requires subordination. Man is in many ways a slave. A fortiori, animals.

Debussy’s piano sketches make him one of the best contemporary teachers of nature. A musical Dekoninck. This does not mean they agree, but that they both give you a clear look at the thing.

The depressed philosopher: “I don’t want you to reason with me, for crying out loud!”

Given to the irrational,  rational argument is a distortion of reasoning.

When the contemporary atheist/ apologist asks “what would falsify faith?”, this is really a more radical objection against the morality of faith as faith. A falsifiable faith would not be faith but opinion – theology would be dialectics. The dispute about faith is really a dispute about giving an oath – can anyone dedicate themselves to something completely and for life on the basis of imperfect reasons, possible immaturity, and with uncertainty of what the future might hold?

Objections to faith properly speaking are all objections to marriage as well. What would falsify your faith = what would dissolve your marriage.

Objection: If they found the bones of Jesus, if aliens gave video evidence, if there were a foolproof argument for Naturalism,  etc… faith would be false. response. No, faith involves a judgment about all such, namely that they are impossible – even though a consequence can be true with an impossible antecedent. Again, the confusion of faith and dialectic/ opinion; or, better yet, an objection to the intellect taking an oath to something.

An irrational critique given to a friend, and to us. Is this love, or a slavery to a passion? Why can’t we stop thinking about it?

Know the ways in which Christ would have been irritating. The inflexibility, the enigmatic speech, the elitism of choosing Apostles…

Christ’s calls for economic justice are invisible to us.

“Capitalism: it’s not a system, it’s just a free market”. I said it too for a long time. It is utter nonsense. We are systematically blind to certain evils, perceptive of certain goods, etc, and this is reflected and strengthened systematically in law, manners, beliefs, etc.

Usury, credit, leverage. Non being.

The attempt to replace prudence with a system. “Things will never be set right until we are parts in a machine of our own devising!”

The system: a machine with no levers or buttons (no one fit to push them?) no display screens (who needs to read them?) no power switch (who would we trust to turn it off and on?). In other words, a tomb with wires.



  1. Brandon said,

    June 29, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I like this; we can start a movement.

    The point about the falsification of faith question is one I’ve thought of, too; but I like the idea of putting it in terms of oath-keeping. It also gives a way to see the way (not always wholly recognized by those who ask the question) in which it is at least very close to the right question to ask.

    And the point about prudence and system starts me thinking about all the ways in which genuinely interesting starting points have broken down or gone pathological or (at best) become incomprehensible because people started trying to replace prudence with system — casuistry (especially but not exclusively in the form of rigorism), utilitarianism, certain strands of economics, and, I fear, some newer strands of natural law theory, etc.

    • June 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

      It took me till now to figure out that what you came up with is a new form of discourse – not an aphorism, not a summary, not a proverb, not a soundbite, etc. But whatever it ends up being called (and like everything in the internet age, I suppose it has to get stuck with some ridiculous or disgusting or unilluminating name, like “cookie”,”blog”, “server”, “hit”, “browser”.) it is an important philosophical tool for philosophy in the internet age.

      I joke that I got into blogging to become a better writer, but all that happened is that I became a better blogger. It’s a new form of discourse, the parameters of which are still being worked out, and which is killing off older forms of discourse.

  2. Sean Schniederjan said,

    June 30, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Hi James, OT but was wondering why Aristotle defines motion with act and potency and not matter and form? Why not “the formalization of the material existing as material”?

    • June 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm

      Yes, especially after Aris. uses the language of matter and form in the first book to describe the principles of mobile being. Why not just stick with this sort of language? Why move the discussion to a higher level of abstraction and run the risk of seeming to give purely metaphysical accounts of natural things?

      One explanation would be that Aris is very focused on the fact that motion is common to many genera (substance, place, quality,), that is, that it is a transcendental. But act and potency are more properly transcendental than matter and form, since act and potency are common to all genera, whereas matter and form are principles of nature.

      A related explanation would be that matter and form are limited to the genus of substance, tough motion is in several genera. The matter of accidental change is a substance. The man becomes musical.

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