Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Music on My Mind

The Corries, "Loch Lomond". One of the great folksongs of all time. Sung often, it has many versions, but this is the one that matters. The first published version was in 1841, but it is almost certainly a fair amount earlier than that. It refers to the Jacobite Rising of the Forty-Five.

O well may I weep
for yest're'en in my sleep,
we stood bride and bridegroom together.
But his arms and his breath
were as cold as the death
And his heart's blood ran red in the heather.

As for the chorus, which is the most famous part because it is so striking, nobody has anything about speculation about what 'the high road' and 'the low road' are supposed to mean.

Monday, April 23, 2018

To Define, to Distinguish, or to Supply

In general, it is safe to suppose that, whenever any problem proves intractable, it either needs definition or else bears either several senses, or a metaphorical sense, or it is not far removed from the first principles; or else the reason is that we have yet to discover in the first place just this-in which of the aforesaid directions the source of our difficulty lies: when we have made this clear, then obviously our business must be either to define or to distinguish, or to supply the intermediate premisses: for it is through these that the final conclusions are shown.

Aristotle, Topics VIII.3

St. George's Day

St. George and the Dragon - Briton Riviere

Briton Rivière's "St. George and the Dragon": An interesting twist on standard conventions of representation, to show how exhausting it can be to fight evil.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Fortnightly Book, April 22

Sir Walter Scott originally made his name in poetry, and was in fact offered the office of Poet Laureate, although he turned it down (Southey got it instead). Scott had been researching the traditions of the Scottish Borders for a considerable time, and he seems to have toyed with putting some of it in a fictional form to make it more immediately interesting without finding, for quite a few years, anything that he thought worked. But in 1814 he published, anonymously, an attempt at this: Waverley, or 'Tis Sixty Years Since. He seems to have enjoyed the anonymity, even at times discussing with other people who could possibly have written it, although close readers who were familiar with his poetry recognized the similarity of poetry in the work, so it didn't last very long. The book has been criticized from the beginning for its unevenness, as well as the extremely gradual way in which it builds (e.g., the entire first chapter is about the title). But it became sensationally popular, and it marks a significant turning point in the wholly unexpected twist by which the laureled genre of English literature stopped being the poem and became the novel. Scott himself just liked a rousing story -- he had no pretensions to writing great art in his novels/romances and regularly compared himself negatively to authors like Maria Edgeworth. But posterity has consistently regarded Scott as underselling his talent. He was the first fantastically popular novelist who was also a widely lauded poet, and although he mostly just tossed off his novels, his sense of language was such that for the first time people started taking seriously the full potential of the novelistic romance.

Waverley takes us to Scotland in the Forty-Five. A number of Jacobite risings have already failed, but Bonnie Prince Charlie has come, and the Jacobite future is more promising than it has ever been before. Edward Waverley, a young man with dreams of glory from an English family with Jacobite sympathies, travels north and soon finds himself in the thick of it. We know, of course, that it will all fall apart, but what will happen to Edward when it does? It will all depend on a crucial split-second choice that he makes at the Battle of Prestonpans.

I will be reading Waverley in a Heritage Press (New York) edition. It's a nice-looking book, with tan cover printed with a pattern alternating thistles and crowns. The book itself uses laid paper rather than wove paper -- laid paper has more of a texture because, as the Sandglass says, "the dandy-roll which flattened the wet pulp was equipped with wires which left their impression in parallel lines that are clearly visible when a leaf of the book is held up to the light." The typeface, fittingly enough, is the Waverley typeface; the type has no connection to the novel beyond happening to share the same name, but it works very nicely. The book has illustrations from pencil, both black-and-white and colored, by Robert Ball (not to be confused with the English illustrator Robert Ball).

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Poetic Edda; The Saga of the Volsungs and The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok


Opening Passages: From the Voluspa in the Poetic Edda:

Heed my words,
all classes of men,
you greater and lesser
children of Heimdall.
You summoned me, Odin,
to tell what I recall
of the oldest deeds
of gods and men.

From The Saga of the Volsungs:

Here begins the story of Sigi, who was said to be a son of Óðin. Another man named Skaði was also involved in this story. He was powerful and considered a great men, though between the two Sigi was more powerful and considered to be from a better family, according to the opinion of the time.

From The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok:

Now the news came to Heimir in Hlymdalir that Sigurð and Brynhild were dead. Their daughter Áslaug, who was Heimir's foster-daughter, was three years old at the time, and Heimir knew that someone would search for her and try to kill her and wipe out her family line. And he mourned so much for the loss of Brynhild, his foster-daughter, that he could not hold on to his kingdom or his wealth, and he knew that he could not hide the girl there. So he had a huge harp made, and he hid Áslaug inside of it together with many treasures of gold and silver, and then he wandered north through many lands until he came here to Scandinavia.

Summary: Norse myth always has a distinctive atmosphere, and it can be summed up in the notion that Odin the Allfather rules under a doom: he knows that Ragnarok comes, when the armies of Death and Fire will invade, and the Wolf and the Serpent will destroy the gods. Because of this, Odin is somewhat obsessed about learning all he can about the end of the gods, so that he will not be caught by surprise. Many of the more memorable aspects of his depiction stem from this. Odin sends his Valkyries to collect the greatest warriors in the world at the height of their prowess in preparation for that dark day. He sends out his ravens, Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory), to gather all the knowledge that he can. He has only one eye, because he traded the other for a drink from Mimir's knowledge-giving well. We see this unfold in the poems of The Poetic Edda. In the Voluspa, Odin summons a volva, a shamaness, to foretell the fates of men and gods. In the 'Runatal' section of the Havamal, Odin speaks of having sacrificed himself to himself by hanging, spear-pierced, from the tree for nine nights in order to discover the runes. In Vafthruthnismal, he engages incognito in a riddle contest with a wise giant, which includes sounding him out about Ragnarok and its aftermath.

But there is a deep undercurrent of humor through it all, sometimes subtle, sometimes earthy. In Harbarthsljoth, Thor trades taunting insults with a ferryman who turns out to be Odin; they are the kinds of joke-taunts men still make today: Odin keeps pretending that Thor looks like a good-for-nothing criminal, they argue over who has slept with the best women and who has fought the best battles, call each other cowards in various creative ways, Thor says he'll give a good beating with his hammer, Odin says he should probably save the hammer for the man who is sleeping with Thor's wife, and so forth. In Lokasenna, Loki gets thrown out of the feast of the gods for killing a slave, and returns to taunt the gods, rather more acidically and maliciously, with a mix of lies and truths. In Thrymskvitha, Thor has to dress up as a bride in order to recover Mjollnir from a thief. In Alvissmal, Thor has to come up with a clever way to prevent a dwarf from marrying Thor's daughter.

The same, both doom and humor, can be found through the heroic poems, and, of course, most of all with the larger-than-life soap opera that is the history of the Volsungs. Odin has a son, Sigi, who has a son, Rerir, who has son, Volsung. Volsung was in his mother's womb for six years, until she began to die and he had to be surgically removed. Volsung is murdered by the king of the Geats (roughly, Swedes), and his children, Signy and Sigmund, as well as their incestuously conceived son Sinfjotli, plot to avenge their father. Sigmund and Sinfjotli, preparing for their task, have adventures as violent outlaws and werewolves until they are finally able to complete the task. By another wife, Borghild, Sigmund has another son, Helgi Hundginsbane, who in some poems will eventually avenge Sigmund's death. Sinfjotli has a quarrel with Borghild's brother about a woman that escalates until Sinfjotli kills him; and then Borghild poisons Sinfjotli. Sigmund will be slain by Odin himself in battle (it is a sign of his prowess that Odin collects Sigmund himself), but not before he has given his second wife, Hjordis, a son, who is Sigurd.

Sigurd will also eventually avenge Sigmund's death, and when he has done so will, of course, slay Fafnir the dragon for Regin, and then Regin himself, becoming wise from eating the dragon's heart and wealthy from the dragon's gold -- but he has thereby meshed himself in a curse that will destroy him. He will meet Brynhild, a Valkyrie, and pledge union with her, but he will be given a potion of oblivion and tricked into winning Brynhild for another man, Gunnar, while Sigurd weds Gudrun, Gunnar's sister. As a wedding gift, Sigurd gives Gudrun some of the dragon's heart, which makes more wise -- but also more cruel. She taunts Brynhild, who thereby discovers that she was tricked, and Brynhild plots her revenge, urging Gunnar to violate his own vows and kill Sigurd. He cannot break his vows directly, but he uses an enchanted brew to get his younger brother Guttorm to do it; Guttorm, of course, will be killed by Sigurd in killing him. Brynhild will also kill Sigurd's son, and immolate herself on a funeral pyre.

Gudrun will go on to marry Atli, that is, Attila, king of the Huns. It will be a very unhappy marriage, and since Gudrun, like the Volsung family she had previously married into, cannot do unhappy like a normal person, the inevitable end result will be Gudrun cooking her sons with Atli and feeding the dish to him, and killing Atli by locking him in his hall and setting it on fire. Some families are dysfunctional; the Volsungs are epically dysfunctional.

Another marriage will follow with a king who is apparently not quite familiar with Gudrun's backstory; she will marry Jonak, a king of the Geats. The daughter of Sigurd and Gudrun, Svanhild, the most beautiful woman in the world, will then be married to Jormunrekk, the king of the Goths, but she will be maliciously accused of adultery with the king's son, and will be executed by being trampled to death by horses. Gudrun will convince her sons by Jonak to avenge Svanhild's death, which they will by cutting off Jonak's hands and feet; but they will be stoned to death in retaliation.

As it turns out, Sigurd and Brynhild had an illegitimate daughter, Áslaug, who will eventually marry a Danish prince, Ragnar, called Lothbrok, "Shaggy Pants", because he had worn shaggy pants to protect him when slaying a dragon. Eirik and Agnar, Ragnar's sons by a previous marriage, die in battle against King Eystein of Sweden, who has a demonic cow whose mooing drives men mad. With some difficulty, Áslaug convinces her own sons to avenge their half-brothers, which they do. Then the sons of Ragnar go a-raiding and keep conquering everything. They are called back when King Ragnar is killed by King Ella while foolishly trying to invade England with two ships. Ívar, the cautious and cunning elder brother, infuriates his brothers when he refuses to aid them in an assault on King Ella. Their assault fails, and Ívar goes to Ella, saying that he will let it all go in return for being well compensated, and Ella does it. Ívar then uses his wealth to become powerful and influential in Ella's kingdom, siphoning off Ella's support, then sends a message to his brothers, who return to avenge their father on the much-weakened Ella. Ívar, of course, stays out of it, thus by one plan becoming even more wealthy and powerful, avenging his father, and fulfilling his oath of peace with his father's killer. The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok has a wonderfully striking ending: many, many years later some Danish sailors end up on an island where they find an ancient wooden idol, forty feet high, and while they are wondering about its history it speaks to them and says that it was set there by the sons of Ragnar.

Except for the tale of Ragnar, I had read much of this before. A few things particularly jumped out at me during this reading. The occasional similarities between the hero Volund and Daedelus, or between Brynhild and Medea, for instance. Another was the artistry of the Volsunga Saga; the author was pulling together from many sources and it is noticeable to emphasize the seams where he doesn't seem to quite pull it together smoothly. The most commonly noted case is the baffling chiasm of events in which Sigurd rides through the fire to meet Brynhild, then later meets Brynhild, apparently for the first time, then later rides through the fire, explicitly for the first time. But this is somewhat misleading, because the craft of it is extraordinary -- little details end up mattering all through the story. The quiet statement about Gudrun becoming not only more clever but more cruel when she tastes the dragon's heart ends up putting all of her later actions into different perspective, and part of the effectiveness is precisely the quietness with which it is done. The saga is filled with examples of this. Even the meeting of Sigurd and Brynhild is carefully structured in such a way that I think there's room to suggest that perhaps the author's problem was not failing to stitch the material together adequately but doing so in a more subtle way than we the readers have been able to follow. As for the tale of Ragnar, it is great fun.

It's interesting, too, the world it depicts: a world of very casual violence in which one's word is held sacred. People would rather murder or be murdered than break their vows,and much of the tragedy of Sigurd lies in the wickedness by which Sigurd is made to break his vows without knowing it. Indeed, it is framed in such a way that it is clear that it is the most tragic part. One thinks of how much of the doom of Asgard is due to the deceptions by which Odin and the gods have maintained it. Such a world in which the greatest horror is to be false, not to die, is foreign to us; we live in the world of Loki, a world of people who will gladly lie and break promises to get not only out of death but out of pain or inconvenience. It is not the most important aspect of reading great literature, but one of the things of value one gets from it is seeing oneself more clearly, for better or for worse, both one's advantages and one's disadvantages, by the contrast with something else entirely. One gets a considerable amount of that here.

Favorite Passages: From Guthrunarkvitha I, in The Poetic Edda:

Then Guthrun,
daughter of Gjuki, wept.
She wept, the tears
poured from her eyes,
and the flock of geese
which she kept outside
screamed loudly
in response. (p. 269)

From The Saga of the Volsungs, a passage that captures the dry, matter-of-fact humor of the sagas at their best:

Sigurð said, "What will happen to me if I get the dragon's blood on me?"

Regin said, "There's just no getting you to do anything, since you're afraid of everything. You are nothing like your departed kinsmen when it comes to courage." Then Regin fled in terror, and Sigurð rode up on Gnitaheið and dug a pit. (p. 31)

From The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok:

The Swedes had a superstition about a cow they called Síbilja. So many sacrifices had been made to this cow that no one could withstand the terrible sounds it made. And it was the king's custom, when he expected war, to let this cow lead his troops, and so much demonic power was in this cow that Eystein's enemies, when they heard it, were driven so crazy that they fought among themselves and did not heed their own friends. And for this reason the Swedes were left in peace, because no man dared to fight against such overwhelming power. (p. 101)

Recommendation: Highly Recommended, all three.


The Poetic Edda, Jackson Crawford, ed. & tr., Hackett (Indianapolis, IN: 2015).

The Saga of the Volsungs, with The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, Jackson Crawford, tr., Hackett (Indianapolis, IN: 2017).

Friday, April 20, 2018

Music on My Mind

Eivør, "Trøllabundin". Trøllabundin means 'ensorcelled' (literally something like 'spellbound'. A galdramaður is a sorceror.

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.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Through Contemplation's Optics

Seraphick Love
by John Norris

I. 'Tis true, Frail Beauty, I did once resign
To thy imperious Charms this Heart of mine:
There didst thou undisturb'd thy Scepter sway,
And I methought was pleas'd t'obey.
Thou seem'st so lovely, so divine,
With such sweet Graces didst thou mine,
Thou entertain'st my Amorous sense
With such Harmonious Excellence,
That, Credulous and Silly I,
With vain, with impious Idolatry,
Ador'd that Star which was to lead me to the Deity.

II. But now, thou soft Enchantress of the Mind,
Farewel, a change, a mighty change I find;
The Empire of my Heart thou must resign,
For I can be no longer thine.
A Nobler, a Diviner Guest,
Has took possession of my Breast;
He has, and must engross it all,
And yet the Room is still too small.
In vain you tempt my Heart to rove,
A fairer Object: now my Soul does move,
It must be all Devotion, what before was Love.

III. Through Contemplation's Optics I have seed
Him who is Fairer than the Sons of Men:
The Source of good, the light Archetypall,
Beauty in the Original.
The fairest of ten thousand, He,
Proportion all and Harmony.
All Mortal Beauty's but a Ray
Of his bright ever-shining Day;
A little feeble twinkling Star,
Which now the Sun's in place must disappear;
There is but One that's Good, there is but One that's Fair.

IV. To thee, thou only Fair, my Soul aspires
With Holy Breathings, languishing Desires.
To thee m'inamour'd, panting Heart does move,
By Efforts of Ecstatic Love.
How do thy glorious streams of Light
Refresh my intellectual sight!
Tho broken, and strained through a Skreen
Of envious Flesh that stands between!
When shall m'imprison'd Soul be free,
That she thy Native Uncorrected Light may see,
And gaze upon thy Beatifick Face to all Eternity?

From his A Collection of Miscellanies. The notion of 'Seraphick Love' would later form the topic of his correspondence with Mary Astell, Letters Concerning the Love of God Between the Author of the Proposal to the Ladies and Mr. John Norris. In Practical Discourses on the Beatitudes, he will give the martyr as a preeminent example of what he means -- complete devotion that involves reason rising above mere passion. Of course, the general account here is Neoplatonic, probably heavily influenced by Hierocles.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Logical Representations

An odd claim in the SEP article on logical diagrams (by Shin, Lemon, and Mumma):

Once a purely intuitive notion, non-psychological claims about “efficacy” of diagrammatic systems can be examined in terms of standard formal properties of languages (Lemon et al. 1999). In particular, many diagrammatic systems are self-consistent, incorrect, and incomplete, and complexity of inference with the diagrams is NP-hard. By way of contrast, most sentential logics, while able to express inconsistencies, are complete and correct.

But the last sentence is certainly false. For any complete and correct sentential representations of logical relations you can make modifications that give you a sentential representation that is not complete or correct, and often multiple different such representations. The only thing that can be meant here is that most sentential logics, specifically proposed as complete and correct in a context of inquiry that vets sentential representations for completeness and correctness, are complete and correct. This is arguably not true, either, when you consider how many sentential systems, even among those that had originally been thought to be complete and correct by their proponents, have been proven not to be so, but it is at least not blatantly false. But the comparison seems to be to diagrammatic representations of logical relations generally, and thus the entire argument seems to be based on an equivocation. 'Sentential logics' are formal sentential representations systematically developed in order to have a complete, correct representation, but 'diagrammatic systems' are not usually developed toward this end at all, and only recently has any work on diagrammatic logical system been done on this point, outside of a few people like Euler, Venn, Carroll, and Peirce -- and even in those cases, only Peirce really goes all the way in trying to establish that the diagrammatic system has the formal properties that the article has in mind, rather than establishing an analogy that works practically as long as certain conditions are met or practical rules are followed.

What is true is that diagrammatic representation of logical relations, as we usually find it, is more analogous to natural-language sentential representation of logical relations than to artificial-language sentential representation. Only a handful of diagrammatic systems have been developed along artificial-language lines. One would not in general expect there to be a significant difference between the diagrammatic and the sentential at this level. In essence, what diagrams do is take advantage of the fact that the modal logic for mereotopological relations can be similar to the modal logic for inferential relations, and then they just add whatever assumptions are needed to close the gap; this is analogous to the case of sentential logics, which take advantage of the fact that the modal logic for grammatical relations can be similar to the modal logic for inferential relations. Because mereotopological relations for a spatial whole are not exactly like grammatical relations for a sentence, one would expect that there are kinds of logical representation the latter can do easily that the former would have difficulty doing, but also vice versa. It's always possible, of course, that the analogy between grammar and inference is much closer than the analogy between mereotopology and inference, in which case you'd have to do much more system-tweaking (adding special rules or assumptions or guides to interpretation) to diagrams than to sentences in order to represent logical inferences generally. I don't know of any argument that this is in fact true; one of the difficulties is that so much more work has been done on sentential representation of logic than on diagrammatic representation that there is a danger of conflating the sentential representation with the logical relation itself. But it's certainly possible that there is that sort of difference, even if the work really hasn't been done to establish it; the problem is that when we are talking about the systems we are usually only talking about the systems that have been so tweaked (on both sides), and you wouldn't expect much of a difference between diagrams and sentences there.

Incidentally, given the analogy, that diagrammatic systems make use of the similarity between mereotopology and general inference as sentential systems make use of the similarity between grammar and general inference, it raises the question of what other modal domains are similar enough to the modal logic of inferential consequence to allow them to be used in representing the latter. What other usable representations of logical relations are there besides sentential and diagrammatic? One obvious example is that of behavior or action, which we usually describe deontically and temporally, since both deontic and temporal relation have enough similarities to inferential relations that we often talk about the latter as if they were deontic or temporal relations. Just as we can have a diagrammatic logic or a sentential logic, we can have a system-of-processes logic; if you think about it, that's essentially what is going on in a computer -- computer programs are not actually lines of code (which are sentential representations) but processes in circuitry. But very little work has been done on logical systems outside of the sentential and diagrammatic, and even the diagrammatic hasn't been studied very closely until recently.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cicero on Epicurus

Epicurus does indeed believe that gods exist. In fact I have never met anyone with more fear of the things which he said we should not fear, namely death and the gods. He is loud in his claim that the whole of mankind is inwardly scared of things which in reality do not worry normal people overmuch. Thousands on thousands commit robbery with violence in spite of the death penalty, and others plunder every shrine they can lay hands on; those footpads, I suppose, are alarmed by fear of death, and these plunderers by religious panic!

Cicero, The Nature of the Gods, Walsh, tr., Oxford University Press (New York: 2008) p. 33 (sect. 86); the character Cotta is speaking.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Poem Re-Draft

So It Goes

There is love,
there are lies,
there is lying in love,
there is living a lie
(and loving it too),
there is love like to hate and hate like to love,
there is lying in wait,
with surprise in their eyes when shots ring out.

She hates him and he her,
he loves her and she him,
at times all the same;
it's a jumbling game where the prize is a heart,
or a life,
or a death,
and the sudden exhaling of someone's breath when shots ring out.

And so --
the gun's in her hand and the smoke wafts in curls,
and how it will end who can tell?
I suppose no one knows
who has not been there.
So it goes.

And so --
the gun's in her hand,
the lines are tangled with lies,
soon somebody dies,
and death is a sudden untensing of breath.
And so it goes.

The dark is a friend,
the dark is a foe,
the tears on her cheek no memories recall,
wandering in darkness before dawn starts to fall;
only sound will remain as shots ring out.

He is dead.
There --
it's said.
He lied;
let him lie.
It cannot be recalled.
So it goes.

And so --
the gun's in her hand;
who has suffered the more?
I guess none can know
save those who were there.
So it goes.

And so --
the gun's in her hand,
and when love is a lie,
or a lie is a love,
there is lying in wait,
a doom and a fate that cannot end well.
And so it goes.

We are fools for our loves,
we fall for their lies,
and so --
over blood that is spilled who will cry?
The tears were already shed.
The fate that she chooses she chose long ago
and the fate that he chose was to die.
So it goes.

And so --
the gun's in her hand;
what's passed is still past --
we would love to recall our sad little lies,
and yet there they lie.
No reason can reason the senseless away.
The shots ring out.
And so it goes.

Little Veil

To a Daisy
by Alice Meynell

Slight as thou art, thou art enough to hide
⁠Like all created things, secrets from me,
⁠And stand a barrier to eternity.
And I, how can I praise thee well and wide

From where I dwell—upon the hither side?
⁠Thou little veil for so great mystery,
⁠When shall I penetrate all things and thee,
And then look back? For this I must abide,

Till thou shalt grow and fold and be unfurled
Literally between me and the world.
⁠Then I shall drink from in beneath a spring,

And from a poet's side shall read his book.
O daisy mine, what will it be to look
⁠From God's side even of such a simple thing?

Monday, April 09, 2018

In Vast Compassion Humanward

(From the picture by Botticelli)
by Ethel Allen Murphy

Kneeling in prayer, her spirit rapt above,
She meets with God, Who bendeth, brooding low,
In vast compassion humanward, and so,
There comes upon her life the power of Love:
Rising — behold! with pinions like a dove,
An angel with a rod where row on row
Of chaliced lilies spill supernal glow,—
Which all her thought to wonder mute doth move.
Then falls upon the rapture of her soul,
Dimly some vision of Gethsemane,
Athwart-the Resurrection's shining goal,
And with uplifted hand she pleads as One
Shall pray in night of darkest agony,
"This cup remove,—yet, Lord, Thy Will be done."

Annonciation-Botticelli (1489-1490)

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Fortnightly Book, April 8

One of the most important items of Old Norse literature is the so-called Poetic Edda, which is a collection of poetry whose earliest extant manuscript (the Codex Regius) was written down probably in the thirteenth century; the poems are all anonymous, although sometimes the Edda is called the Saemundar Edda, after the original attribution made by Bishop Brynjólfur, who happened to discover the manuscript. (Brynjólfur's attribution is generally rejected today.) The poems in the collection are older than the manuscript, of course, but in most cases we have no particular way of knowing how much older, although most of them are probably no earlier than the tenth century, and some probably much later than that. The exact set of poems included varies depending on the edition; the poems that are not in the Codex Regius are sometimes called the Eddica minora.

Another major item is the Völsunga saga, a prose account of the murder of Sigurð and the vengeance of his son Sigmund. The legends of the Volsung clan seem to have been extraordinarily popular; we have some poems about them in the Poetic Edda, but it is the Volsunga Saga that gives the most thorough and ingenious -- if not always perfectly successful -- unification of prior poetic traditions into a coherent prose narrative, and only the later, and German, Nibelungenlied has been a more influential account.

The Volsunga Saga seems to date from the thirteenth century, although the earliest extant manuscript is from the fourteenth or fifteenth century. That earliest manuscript collects the Volsunga Saga with another saga, the Ragnars saga Loðbrókar, the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, no doubt because it can be seen as a kind of sequel.

These three works, the Poetic Edda, the Saga of the Volsungs, and the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok are the next fortnightly books. I will be reading them in the Hackett editions, translated by Jackson Crawford. His edition has all the poems in the Codex Regius manuscript except the Atlamal, and (like many others) adds some Eddica minora poems that are related in content and form: Baldrs draumar, Rigsthula, Voluspa en skamma, and Grottasongr. Crawford has a YouTube Channel in which he discusses topics relevant to Old Norse literature. If you are interested in the topic, his videos are all quite good. His introduction to the Poetic Edda, focusing on why it is important, how historical linguists reason out how old the poems must be, and its relation to Snorri's Prose Edda:

He also has videos on the Codex Regius itself. He also has extended commentary on the Volsunga Saga (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI) and another video on the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok.

We have touched on Volsung material in the fortnightly book before, with J.R.R. Tolkien's attempt to rework the story into an even greater unity, and we'll likely touch on it again at some later point if I ever do the Nibelungenlied, which seems likely enough given that I've been intending to get around to it for a few years now.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Jules Verne, The Kip Brothers; Travel Scholarships


Opening Passages: From The Kip Brothers:

At that time--1885--forty-six years after its occupation by Great Britain, which had made it part of New South Wales, and thirty-two years after its independence from the Crown, New Zealand, now self-governing, was still devoured by gold fever.... (p. 3)

From Travel Scholarships:

"First place, ex aequo, goes to Louis Clodion and Roger Hinsdale," proclaimed the director Julian Ardagh in a resounding voice. The two laureates were welcomed by loud cheers, multiple hurrahs, and a big round of applause.

Then, from atop the platform raised in the center of the Antillean School's main courtyard, the director continued to read the list before him.... (p. 3)

Summary: As I noted in the Introduction, these were the two last books in the Voyages extraordinaires to be translated into English (2007 and 2013), so they are virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, which is a pity, because they are actually quite good. The Kip Brothers takes us to the South Seas, mostly in and around New Zealand and the Bismarck Archipelago. It's gold rush days, so it's difficult to keep crews on ships in the area, because the temptation to desert and try for a fortune is so great. The need for sailors that this causes means that ships sometimes cannot be picky about the ones they sign, and this will cause problem for the brig James Cook, as a faction on board is able to put people into place to enact a plan for seizing the ship and using it for very lucrative piracy. Before the plan is enacted, however, the brig takes on two Dutch brothers, Karl and Pieter Kip, who had been stranded after shipwreck. The brig's captain is murdered, and the brothers Kip are framed for it, successfully, and sentenced to hard labor in a prison colony. The big question is how they will be saved from their predicament. In a case like this, there is always something being overlooked, and you just have to have the eyes to see it.

The introduction, by Jean-Michel Margot, which is quite good, notes that The Kip Brothers is a very vision-focused novel. The sciences that are key to the tale are photography and ophthalmology, which together provide the very limited science-fictiony aspect of it (the resolution of the tale depends on state-of-the-art photographic methods allowing unusually sharp photographs and on the theory of forensic optography). But it's not really any more science-fictiony than any number of crime dramas today, which almost always take some license with the real capabilities of forensic investigation, and we probably should classify the book in this genre. Like many crime dramas, it has much of the structure of a mystery tale, but there is no actual mystery, since we know almost everything about the crime; the suspense arises not from the question of how the crime was committed, or who did it, but from the question of how justice will manage to be served. The book is vision-focused not just in the sense that it relies on sciences of vision but also in the sense that it is concerned with the separation of how things seem from how they really are, which is partly why it has the mystery-like structure despite not being a mystery story. This mystery-like contrast between appearance and reality allows the book to explore some very serious issues, including raising questions about the nature of British penal colonies and British handling of political opposition (Verne is always sympathetic to the fight for freedom, and so is quite explicit in his admiration of Irish rebels).

The book was also published at an important turning-point in book illustration, as photography became more useful for the purpose. Thus the work was also itself a physical expression of its concern with vision, and included woodcuts, photographs, and maps; one of the excellences of the Wesleyan UP edition is that it recognizes that these, although often themselves only selected at the last minute, are not optional extras given the themes of the book, but important parts of how it is telling its story.

Travel Scholarships, a much shorter and more light-hearted work, tells the story of a group of young men from the Antillean School in London, founded specifically for the purpose of education boys from wealthy families associated with the European colonies in the Windward Antilles. A wealthy resident of Barbados, Mrs. Seymour, has offered the top students of the school a free tour of the Antilles, which will allow them to visit the places they were born and family that they have not seen in years, and in addition a substantial scholarship once they actually reach Barbados at the end of their tour. Enthusiastic, as you might imagine, the boys and their chaperone, the meticulous and well-meaning but buffoonish Horatio Patterson, board the Alert, which has been hired for their voyage. Unbeknownst to them, but known to the reader, the crew of the Alert has been massacred by escaped criminals hoping to take the ship; the criminals masquerade as the crew to effect their escape and intend to murder all their passengers once they get out to sea.

Like The Kip Brothers, Travel Scholarships has something of the structure of a mystery story without any mystery. We largely know what's going on at every stage. There some ways in which the story would have benefited from an actual mystery -- why are Captain Paxton and his crew, despite being competent, a little 'off' of what you'd expect? -- but I'm fairly sure that Verne was making a hard choice. Verne's works are geographical fiction; what he really wants to tell is an interesting story about touring the Antilles. But this tour needs to be more than a travelogue; it needs to be integrated into a narrative that makes it exciting -- and in this case the most obvious option is a suspense story about the boys and their chaperone being in the shadow of a danger on the Alert to which they are, in one of Verne's deliberate ironies, not alert. Suspense, of course, differs from mystery in that it depends crucially on the reader knowing things that the characters do not; this makes it more difficult to build properly. Verne does a fairly good job with this, in part because he carefully thinks through the problems that escaping the danger actually would involve, and in part because he clearly sought to keep the story simple and straightforward, with nothing like the layered complications that he uses to build the more abstract suspense of The Kip Brothers. (It's possible also that Verne was taking time constraints very seriously, and so had to choose not to keep working on the story -- Verne decided to publish it when he did because the United States was on the way to ruining the structure of his story by trying to negotiate the purchase Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas from Denmark. As it happened, it took a few more years before they became the U.S. Virgin Islands, but, of course, Verne had no way of knowing that. Incidentally, an interesting aspect of Travel Scholarships is that the United States at the time had thirty-eight stars on its flag, but Verne anticipates its having fifty -- for him, a somewhat sarcastic comment on the increasing imperialism of the U.S. in his day, but for us, one of those Vernian prophecies.)

While The Kip Brothers and Travel Scholarships are both suspense stories, The Kip Brothers is serious suspense while Travel Scholarships is mostly humorous suspense. Travel Scholarships is at times hilariously funny, and probably the most comic Verne novel I have read. That it is humorous does not prevent it from touching on serious issues, in this case the issues of colonialism and bad behavior of the European powers with regard to their colonies. Verne also recognizes that, through the European squabbling, the Windward Antilles have the character of being a kind of more promising representation of Europe than Europe itself. The comradeship of the boys, with their diverse European backgrounds that are nonetheless linked by their Antillean roots, forms a sort of United Nations of Europe, representing the rich potential of the colonies should they ever unite together. Verne represents this by a reflection on how time can change the geographical landscape, even to the degree of turning an archipelago of little islands divided from each other by sea into a single continent of untold resources.

Favorite Passages: From The Kip Brothers:

O'Brien and Macarthy never wanted to identify their accomplices. They alone took upon themselves the responsibility of this conspiracy. The court dealt with them with excessive severity. It condemned them to life imprisonment at hard labor, and they were sent to the penitentiary of Port Arthur.

These men, however, were not the only political prisoners. Port Arthur already had many under lock and key when Dumont d'Urville visited it in 1840. The French navigator, in teh name of justice, protested against this barbarous practice when he cried out: "The penalties received by thieves and counterfeiters have not been deemed severe enough for the political prisoners, who have been judged unworthy of living among them and, as rogues deemed incorrigible, have been cast among murderers."

It was there then, in 1879, that the two Irishmen O'Brien and Macarthy had been transported and had remained for eight long years. They were subjected to the penal colony's regulations in all their rigor, in the middle of that foul peat bog. (p. 316)

From Travel Scholarships, in which are given the first humorous description of the very meticulous Mr. Patterson -- a good example of something often lost in translations, namely, Verne's willingness to experiment with his craft, as witnessed by the very meticulous long sentence:

Mr. Patterson, lifting his glasses up to his forehead, answered the servant who was standing at the door, saying:

"I will go to the director's office without wasting a single moment."

And, putting his glasses back in place, Mr. Patterson picked up his pen once more to finish the leg of a "9" that he was writing at the bottom of the expenses column of a large book. Then, with his ebony ruler, he drew a line under the column with numbers whose addition he had just completed. Then, after having lightly shaken his pen over the ink well, he dipped it several times in the lead jar that kept it clean, dried it extremely carefully, placed it near his ruler on his desk, turned the inkwell's pump to put the ink back in, placed the sheet of carbon paper on the expenses page, taking special care not to alter the leg of the nine, closed the register, placed it inside its special case inside the desk, put back in their box the eraser, the pencil, and the rubber band, blew on his blotting paper to chase away some dust, stood up while pushing back his armchair with the leather seat, took off his oversleeves and hung them on a peg near the fireplace, gave a quick brush to his frock coat, his vest, and his pants, grabbed his hat, which he shone with his elbow, secured it on his head, put on his black leather gloves as if he were making an official visit to an important person at the University, looked one last time in the mirror, verified that everything was irreproachable in his appearance, took the scissors and cut a strand of his sideburns that went over the allowed line, checked that his handkerchief and his wallet were in his pocket, opened his office door, passed over the threshold and closed it carefully with one of the seventeen keys that rattled on his key chain, went down the stairs that lead to the main courtyard, crossed it diagonally with a slow and steady step to arrive at the building that housed Mr. Ardagh's office, stopped in front of the door, pressed the electric button that made a warbling ring inside, and waited. (pp. 18-19)

Recommendation: Both Highly Recommended. The Wesleyan UP editions (Early Classics of Science Fiction) are themselves nice, and add to the pleasure of the reading.


Jules Verne, The Kip Brothers, Evans, ed., Luce, tr. Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CO: 2007).

Jules Verne, Travel Scholarships, Evans, ed., Hernández, tr. Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CO: 2013).

A Poem Re-Draft and a New Poem Draft

A Meditation on Reading the Analects

Princely authority, wind-like;
petty authority, grass-like:
wind blows, grass bends.

Not to govern self,
not to govern others:
to be ungoverned is not to govern.

Prince as prince,
minister, minister:
that is government.

Untiringly to remember,
unwaveringly to practice:
that is government.

Promoting the right,
subordinating the crooked:
that is government.

Accepting wise counsel,
exalting good character:
that is government.

Cherishing virtue,
loving law:
that is government.

Blessing the near,
luring the far:
that is government.

Not hasty, not niggling,
pardoning with ease:
that is government.

The unturning star
turning all stars:
that is government.

Days Already Past

My heart is fanned open,
like bird-wings, as I lie in bed.
Sleep, my dear; dream well!
Listen to my breath, a love melody.
The half-sun of this late afternoon
shines upon the garden;
the clouds like vineyard leaves
doubly thick,
gather sad tales into piled masses
as I rest, the breeze fanning me.
The shadows lengthen on the trees,
like months of pain.
On my arm rest your head;
let me listen to your heavy sigh,
the melancholy as it falls.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Dashed Off VI

2 Sam 5:1-3: David is made king by agreement with the elders and according to divine promise.

externality of the world & being a part locatable in a whole

hope-sharing and solidarity

Confusing obstinacy with pride is a serious error; they are different failings.

The Apostles did not descend from a mountain with tablets written by the finger of God; they carried Christ in their hearts, and wrote their books from that, or rather, preached from that, and preached by way of written text from that when they deemed written means to be appropriate.

If the indispensability argument works for mathematics, it works for axiology.

That we can know mathematical things establishes conclusively that they are either causally active or involved in some way in other things' being causally active.

Px : x is a part
Pxy : x is a part of y
Pxyz : x is a part of y at z (e.g. time)
Pxyzw : x is a part of y at z at w (e.g., place and time)
(nullary notion of part perhaps universal part?)

There is no one kind of thing that is a state of affairs; and this appears to be so because it is an extrinsic denomination.

A people without honor cannot uphold traditions.

Voting works best as a consensus-building method. It becomes corrupted when it becomes about overpowering one's opponents. This is inevitable, but in a proper election system the design will include ways to limit the effects of it.

dimensions as relations between orderings

color as quasi-geometrical (betweenness & dimensions in the color space)
what would 'relativistic' color-geometry be?

virtue in the people, honor in the elites, respect for law in the rulers

Whewell's Principle of Order seems naturally to suggest a natural law.

In a hypothetico-deductive/covering-law model of causal explanation, abstract entities are the only things that are causal.

moral taste & moral regularities

rule utilitarianism // best systems account of laws of nature

the three elements of moral principles: rules, relations of perfection, dispositions

fallacies // goods of fortune
(Think Boethius CP 2: the imprint of the real good in the appearance of the fake good, combined with the recognition of what makes the fake to be fake)

the courtliness required for the full intimacy of marriage

number (mapping?), symmetry, continuity

permanent possibility of sensation, permanent possibility of intellection, permanent possibility of being

the analogies between various virtues that allow us partially to model a virtue in terms of other virtues (virtues at least loosely reflect each other)

symbol grounding: arbitrary symbols are an advanced feature of reasoning; the ability to construct them arises out of symbols inherent in perception itself (or perhaps rather perceptual experience, accumulated out of perceptions)

ideal gas as a mathematical object

In dealing with natural language, we do not pre-know the relevant logical structure required for reasoning; we reason across many possible logical structures and refine.

Christ as first cause of the Church (apostolicity), as conserving cause of the Church (catholicity), as final cause of the Church (sanctity)

Counting in a full and proper sense is primarily a matter of *recording*. (This is often overlooked in philosophical accounts.)

geometry : space :: arithemetic : population

If we know that X does not err under some interpretation of X, this serves to establish X as a ground of reasoning, even if we do not know the precise interpretation under which it is unerring.

Note that Irenaeus says that Gnostics cannot discover truth from Scripture because they do not have Tradition (Adv Haer I.II.c2n2)

Synoptic summary is a major philosophical skill (think of aphorisms, for instance).
integral parts of prudence & their involvement in synoptic summary

The capacity of physical events to be signs of other physical events is essential to experimentation.

When we have reason to regard an argument as probably right, and it would be useful for it to be so, we have what Ward calls the wish to believe or wish for truth (a wish for conviction that what seems probable is true) -- we are reluctant to throw it all over unless we must, and we look for ways to strengthen it, entirely reasonably.

Paradise is that where in there is no gap between present possession and eschatological fulfillment.

the relation between exemplar causation & conserving causation

Modern press is essentially expected to exercise a prophetic function (speaking truth to power, guiding national conversation) but given its structure and the play of incentives in modern society, it is inevitable that it will usually do it poorly.

ingratitude as subgratitude vs ingratitude as anti-gratitude (Manela, based on Aquinas)

Phantasms underdetermine abstractions. Abstractions underdetermine conceptions.

The history without legend is itself merely a legend.

Who violates the right of one, in some sense violates the rights of all; the right of each is in some way part of common good.

squares of opposition:
evidence-for, evidence-for-not, not-evidence-for-not, not-evidence-for
proof-of, proof-of-not, not-proof-of-not, not-proof-of

'suggestive of' as 'possible evidence of'

square of opposition as sign of modality

Boxed terms have distributed supposition; Diamonded terms have determinate supposition.

common law // casuistics

Sometimes the most rational response to an argument is to go away and think about it.

numeral system : arithmetic :: diagram : geometry

Hume often talks about association as if it only applied to ideas and impressions, but his explanations regularly require that associations also be associated -- resemblances of resemblances, resemblances of causations, etc.

It is strange how many universalist arguments seem to require some kind of tutiorism. Think about this.

reciprocity and the question of when one should avoid giving risks to others

A proof proves to the wise and suggests to those who cannot follow it fully.

Any account of scientific explanation that does not account for mathematical explanation, especially for the kinds of mathematics actually used in the sciences, is defective.

What is true of an idealization is approximately true of what approximates the idealization.

Zero is better understood as equilibrium or rest than as nothing.

sets as possible answers to particular questions (empty set as corresponding to question that returns no answer)
- obv. the particular kind of question is important to this kind of account

introspective, endoxastic, and philosophical approaches to critical thinking

The poet moves language as the beloved moves the lover.

The poetic art is in a way excellence of language.

mathematics as concerned with the immutable in the material

1 Tim 6;20 and the task of a bishop

"The true doctrine is that, though the people are indeed sovereign, they are so only as civil society, in which the sovereignty, under God, inheres; that is, the sovereignty vests in the civility, not in the popularity, and popularity must be civility before the people are sovereign." Brownson

history as a long discourse on the Image of God and the Fall of Man

2 points by Ross that deserve more consideration than they usually get:
(1) the general sense that sometimes things are right because of what has happened, not what will happen
(2) the general sense that one duty may be 'more of a duty' than another

In a strict sense, prima facie duties shouldn't be seen as conflicting -- they just have different forces of application in different circumstances.

prima facie duties // officia

realist vs anti-realist interpretations of myths (e.g., euhemerism vs nature allegory)

mutual personation in marriage (note that mutual personation indicates a flaw in Hobbes's understanding)

The will of the people is not expressed by adding numbers. It is expressed by their causal agency through civil instruments.

"When the idea of family becomes vague, indeterminate, and uncertain, a man thinks of his present convenience; he provides for the establishment of his next succeeding generation and no more." Tocqueville

"The most natural privilege of man, next to the right of acting for himself, is that of combining his exertions with those of his fellow creatures and of acting in common with them. The right of association therefore appears to me almost as inalienable in its nature as the right of personal liberty." Tocqueville

voluntary representative sorting (e.g., the voting part of the population as representing politically the whole population)

"The idea of right is simply that of virtue introduced into the political world." Tocqueville

unifier arguments for God's existence
unity (Plotinus)
cosmic (Jaki)
temporal (Whitehead)
spatial (Newton-ish)
epistemic (Malebranche)
sensory (Berkeley)
- a particular kind of cosmological argument
- related to Box and to mereological whole (condition for the possibility of a certain kind of Box or whole)

association and abstraction as the two routes of symbol-grounding
association : constancy :: abstraction : coherence ??

Nostalgia takes endlessly many creative forms.

To fail to provide the laity the means for self-governance in their own contribution to Catholic life is a terrible episcopal error.

A Church that cannot dialogue within itself cannot dialogue with the world.

Vincent of Lerins & consensus of doctors (Comm. ch 38)

All necessary truths have a penumbra of probable truths approaching them.

The Fathers of the Church teach by their diversity as well as by their unanimity.

the Epoch of the Fathers, the Epoch of the Enlighteners, the Epoch of the Defenders (each overlaps at beginning and ending)

Sayings of the Fathers may be more or less obscure, more or less safe, more or less appropriate to various purposes, more or less thorough, more or less loose or strict, without being in any way unequal in intrinsic propriety or orthodoxy.

Even the wicked may pleasantly surprise you.

Fascism is a statist attack on popular governance that treats violence for state interest as a means of progress in order to make the state the central pillar of society.

Church architecture is an expression of the royal authority of the Church (indeed, all ecclesial patronage, including of arts and charitable organizations, is).

The philosophical principles of an experimental science are the conditions making its experiments possible.

A general sense of honor among the people is the surest shield against despotism.

Risibility is a potential part of rationality.

three kinds of skepticism
(1) doubt modulating acceptance
(2) suspension of judgment
(3) doubt expressed in rejection

plan-sharing and group intentionality
instrumental causation and group intentionality

the common and constant opinions of the scholastic saints as a compendium and summation of the teaching and preaching of the Fathers and the Church, especially when the reasons are shared

traditio instrumentorum as a specification of the significance of imposition of hands

Could one think of minor orders (or at least some kind of possible minor orders) as granting delible character? (As opposed to being only an office of support.)

The relative authority of one ecumenical council compared to another is partly a matter of the explicit affirmations of relations by the councils themselves (recognition and dependence), partly a matter of topic, partly a matter of the kinds of actions exercised by the council, partly a matter of the kinds of responses the council affords.

sacramental character 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13

Sola Scriptura effectively makes Scripture invisible -- no reading of Scripture is Scripture itself, but only an attempt to conform to it, as the notion of an invisible Church makes the visible Church not the Church itself but an attempt to conform to it.

Politics is regimented by principle, but principle is not its substance.

computers as subordinate logical agencies
software as instrumental skill

Argument-objection-response is positional like Go.

The picturesque often arises out of the ruin of the sublime.

One thing feelings do in reasoning is flag possible sorts and kinds of biases -- for instance, a man of irritable temper can learn when his settled habits of mind might be leading his reasoning astray, by his sense of irritation. This is not always straightforward; since each person has a different temperament, it must be learned anew by each person what his or her own feelings are likely to be conveying. But doing so is utterly necessary for serious rational thought.

The history of Israel shows that God works through both an ordinary and an extraordinary ministry.

the history of philosophy as intrinsically aporetic

the planned obsolescence of pop intellectualism

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Hume and the Paradox of Fiction

The paradox of fiction is the apparent inconsistency that occurs when you try to combine three commonly accepted claims: that it is irrational to have feelings for what does not exist, that we reasonably have feelings for fictional characters, and that fictional characters do not exist. But it's always worth looking not just at the abstract scheme of an argument but at how it actually grows in the wild, so that one can, first, be sure that you are not overlooking something, and, second, be sure that you are not importing something that need not be there. This is why, for instance, I always compare claims about divine command theories with the divine command theory of William Warburton -- most of the schematic presentations of divine command theory are incorrect for a theory like Warburton's, and his account already addresses many of the objections that people raise against divine command theories in general. One might say that the anatomical diagrams of the theory regularly do not fit the actual natural history of it. For similar reasons it would be nice to find someone who actually holds all three of the major claims in the paradox of fiction; is there anyone whose position, at least in appearance, involves the inconsistency?

With the paradox of fiction, it is not particularly easy to find a case. Obviously people in general do not affirm all three claims; there are many people who definitely affirm one or two, but it's harder to find someone who is actually committed to something like the paradox itself. And, of course, the claims in question would naturally tend to be scattered even in author who was committed to the paradox, since no one would just baldly affirm all three members of what seems like an inconsistency without some qualification. But a good candidate for someone who is committed to all three claims in the paradox of fiction is David Hume, and so it makes sense to look at Hume's claims on fiction in order to see, first, what makes it plausible that he could be committed to all the claims in the paradox and, second, whether there are any qualifications or nuances that give him a way out.

(1) It is irrational to be moved to feel for what we know does not exist.

One might think that Hume avoids this, because Hume holds that for the most part the passions can't be either rational or irrational. But in fact he makes two exceptions:

...passions can be contrary to reason only so far as they are accompanyed with some judgment or opinion. According to this principle, which is so obvious and natural, it is only in two senses, that any affection can be called unreasonable. First, When a passion, such as hope or fear, grief or joy, despair or security, is founded on the supposition or the existence of objects, which really do not exist. Secondly, When in exerting any passion in action, we chuse means insufficient for the designed end, and deceive ourselves in our judgment of causes and effects. (T

We can set aside means-end irrationality as not relevant to our concern. But we do clearly have a statement that passions can be called unreasonable when they are accompanied by a judgment that something exists when it really does not.

(2) We are moved to feel for fictional characters.

It's not straightforward to attribute this claim to Hume, either, because many times when Hume is talking about our responses to fiction, he is primarily concerned with our responses to the eloquence of the discourse, which is distinct from our responses to the characters. But he does occasionally say things that are naturally interpreted as at least including responses to characters. For instance;

A spectator of a tragedy passes through a long train of grief, terror, indignation, and other affections, which the poet represents in the persons he introduces. As many tragedies end happily, and no excellent one can be composed without some reverses of fortune, the spectator must sympathize with all these changes, and receive the fictitious joy as well as every other passion. (T

Thus when we watch a tragedy, we certainly experience responses to it; these Hume attributes to sympathy with the passions as represented in the characters of the tragedy. This sympathy is much the same kind as that which we experience with real people.

A complication is that Hume is insistent that the power of a fiction to elicit response is closely tied to belief in existence -- it is the latter (truth or reality, as Hume occasionally calls it) -- that gives force enough to the idea that it calls up significant passional response. But he does not quite commit to this being universally true, and in at least one example identifies something that is put in the place of this belief in order to fulfill the same function:

Poets have formed what they call a poetical system of things, which though it be believed neither by themselves nor readers, is commonly esteemed a sufficient foundation for any fiction. We have been so much accustomed to the names of MARS, JUPITER, VENUS, that in the same manner as education infixes any opinion, the constant repetition of these ideas makes them enter into the mind with facility, and prevail upon the fancy, without influencing the judgment. (T

Similarly, tragedians will sprinkle their works with bits and pieces of truth, without doing so in a way that suggests that the the rest is true, in order to siphon off, so to speak, some of the forcefulness of the belief to evoke an emotional response.

(3) We know that fictional characters do not exist.

The same passages serve to establish the third point, namely, that this can all happen in contexts in which we recognize that we are considering something that does not exist. Neither the poets nor their readers think that Mars and Jupiter are real; the tragedians do not even pretend to be giving us the truth.


Thus we can find in Hume some reason for affirming all three prongs of the paradox. Are there reasons to think that this is merely apparent, however? There are a few passages which you could point to if you wanted to argue that Hume in fact rejects (2). For instance, Hume thinks there is a palpable difference in the 'feel' of ideas that are connected with the belief in existence and those that are not. One passage in particular is especially relevant to our topic:

If one person sits down to read a book as a romance, and another as a true history, they plainly receive the same ideas, and in the same order; nor does the incredulity of the one, and the belief of the other hinder them from putting the very same sense upon their author. His words produce the same ideas in both; though his testimony has not the same influence on them. The latter has a more lively conception of all the incidents. He enters deeper into the concerns of the persons: represents to himself their actions, and characters, and friendships, and enmities: He even goes so far as to form a notion of their features, and air, and person. While the former, who gives no credit to the testimony of the author, has a more faint and languid conception of all these particulars; and except on account of the style and ingenuity of the composition, can receive little entertainment from it. (T

Thus Hume thinks that it matters materially whether you are reading a work as history or as fiction: it doesn't change the ideas, but belief involves a greater forcefulness of ideas, and thus we 'enter deeper' into the passions and concerns about which we are reading; without this it is primarily "the style and ingenuity of the composition" that elicits emotional response.

However, even this is not quite so straightforward, because Hume does still recognize the phenomenon of "poetical enthusiasm" -- i.e., the experience of being carried away by a fiction, and this does involve emotional responses of exactly the sort we are considering. To be sure, the lack of belief means that the response cannot be as intense, but the poetical enthusiasm can still stand in, as noted above, for the belief, even if it does so inadequately:

The mind can easily distinguish betwixt the one and the other; and whatever emotion the poetical enthusiasm may give to the spirits, it is still the mere phantom of belief or persuasion. The case is the same with the idea, as with the passion it occasions. There is no passion of the human mind but what may arise from poetry; though at the same time the feelings of the passions are very different when excited by poetical fictions, from what they are when they are from belief and reality. A passion, which is disagreeable in real life, may afford the highest entertainment in a tragedy, or epic poem. In the latter case, it lies not with that weight upon us: It feels less firm and solid: And has no other than the agreeable effect of exciting the spirits, and rouzing the attention. (T

Whether or not we recognize that a character exists, in other words, will affect the kind of emotional response we have; but even if we take the character not to exist, we can still have some kind of emotional response: an excitement of interest, an arousing of attention. Poetry and madness are alike in this kind of emotional response; poetry is just much more restrained.

Another claim Hume makes is relevant to (3):

It is however certain, that in the warmth of a poetical enthusiasm, a poet has a counterfeit belief, and even a kind of vision of his objects: And if there be any shadow of argument to support this belief, nothing contributes more to his full conviction than a blaze of poetical figures and images, which have their effect upon the poet himself, as well as upon his readers. (T

Poetical enthusiasm, therefore, involves a "counterfeit belief" or even (at its strongest, and no doubt this is why Hume calls it "enthusiasm", which in his day doesn't mean just eagerness but suggests the ecstasy of the visionary, someone who feels that God is speaking to him or sees visions) "a kind of vision" of it. As he noted in passing above, the emotion given by poetical enthusiasm is associated with a "phantom of belief or persuasion". Thus one might also argue that Hume only accepts a qualified version of (3).

Is there any way to nuance Hume's acceptance of (1)? It is true that he never says, flat-out, that passions connected to the false judgment that something exists are always unreasonable, so perhaps this gives some wiggle-room in interpretation. But it is very natural to interpret this as being the import of Hume's claim, particularly when one compares it to what he says about existence and nonexistence elsewhere (for instance, in his discussion of analogical reasoning). And he never gives us any further criterion on the matter.

So after this crude, preliminary survey of Hume's account of poetry, we seem to have the following possibilities for how Hume's theory of poetry could be interpreted with respect to the paradox of fiction.

[A] Hume is in fact committed to all three claims, and thus to the conclusion that our emotional responses to fictional characters are irrational. As Hume is not afraid in other contexts to attribute irrationalities to the human mind, one cannot rule out the possibility that he would be perfectly happy with this.

[B] Hume qualifies (2), so that while we have emotional responses to fictional characters in some sense, this is not necessarily in the sense that is intended in (1). Hume repeatedly indicates that the feel of the passions in the poetic case is very different from that which is found elsewhere, so the kind of passional response we have in this case is not a response-to-truth passion but a response-to-fiction passion. This alternative is related to quasi-emotion or pretense solutions to the paradox of fiction. The most obvious problem with such accounts is that the 'quasi-emotions' or 'pretend emotions' seem to work exactly like emotions. But Hume doesn't run into this problem: we can have passional responses of some kind to fiction, but the kind of passional response we have is just a palpably different kind of passional response than the passional response we have to reports of real events, and the difference is precisely that the latter is connected with judgment of existence and the former is not -- and Hume is only committed to (1) if we are, in fact, talking about judgments of existence.

[C] Hume qualifies (3), so that we can in fact have something like belief that a fictional character exists, and it is this that brings in the emotional response. This gives us a quasi-belief or illusion solution to the paradox. In the grip of 'poetical enthusiasm', we have a 'counterfeit belief' -- something that is not a belief in the strict sense, but sufficiently belief-like to have a similar effect. Thus, for instance, Hume thinks that belief is just a very vivid, vivacious, forceful idea; but vivacity is a spectrum, and so there can be cases where the vivacity is not enough for belief, but still enough to be significant, particularly given that vivacity is Hume's means of explaining how ideas give rise to emotional response in the first place. We can have an "illusion" or "kind of vision" that has similar effects to believing that something exists. Of course, Hume is very clear that this is only partial; there is a definite difference between the two cases. But he does often talk as if there is a kind of illusion arising from poetry that can give rise to passional response.

All of this is, as noted above, somewhat rough and preliminary, so there may be evidence in Hume relevant to deciding which of these three interpretations is most appropriate to Hume. By looking at how the paradox of fiction can arise in a real-life case like that of Hume's theory of belief, one gets a better sense of the topics and ideas with which the claims involved may be associated.