Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here's a New Project of Mine

A new project of mine has been to attempt to transpose elements of metaphysics into symbolic logic. I don't know how well this works just yet, but I feel that it should be, in principle, possible. Anyway, here's the first part of what I want to call, preliminarily, "Principia Metaphysicae."

1.Set is here taken to indicate not material quantity, but formal differentiation; elements in a set can be materially differentiated.
2.“ε” is the symbol for being or “ens” (from einai).
3.“ψ” is the symbol for “the set of all entities,” which includes sets, elements, and functives.
4.The quantifier “∃x” indicates real existence of x and is convertible with “X → (→ε).”
4.1.“(→ε)” is used to eliminate confusion when speaking about the act of existence itself
5.“→” is meant to indicate only “formal implication.”
6.“∃→” is meant to indicate “existential participation” (The implicandum is the participandum; implicata is participata).
6.1.This is an implicated relationship because, as will be shown, ε is not a set to which elements can belong and participation cannot likewise be a belonging relationship; thus, one might only consider ens as a quasi-superset, which is why I denote this as “implication” rather than belonging.

1.A being exists; ens.
1.⊢ ∃x / (x → ε)
1.1.All things which exist (ψ), including all predicates or sets, are defined as “beings” (ε).
1.1.:= ∀ψ → (→ε)
1.1.1.Non-being (~(→ε)) cannot be a predicate (operator/function), element of a set, or set (non-being is not an empty set)
1.1.1.~ (→ε) → ~∀ψ
1.2.It is false that a demonstration of the existence of at least one being (1) can be made within metaphysics.
1.2.~[d(∃x) ∈ m]
1.2.1.Assume there is such a statement of the demonstration of the existence of at least one being within metaphysics.
1.2.1.Assume: d(∃x) ∈ m
1.2.2.Assume metaphysics is the science of all the possible existential modes of beings.
1.2.2.Assume: m = f(∀ψ)
1.2.3.Assume all possible existential modes of beings are demonstrable if and only if there exists some demonstrable being (of which we are specifying modes of being).
1.2.3.Assume: f(∃ψ) ↔ d(∃x)

1.2.4.Assume: there exists one being whose existence is demonstrable.∃x) demonstration of the existence of one being belongs to the science of metaphysics.∃x) ∈ m metaphysics is true if and only if this demonstration of the existence of said being is true. ↔ d(∃x), a circle ensues such that metaphysics is true if and only if this demonstration is true, and this demonstration is part of metaphysics.[d(∃x) ∈ m] ^ [m ↔ d(∃x)], 1 is unprovable within the science of metaphysics.*** ~[d(∃x) ∈ M]*As such, no strict deductive proof can be proposed for 1 or 1.1. This is an instance of a starting point for any deductive chain of reasoning and is necessarily true. Any such statement in metaphysics is termed an "first principle" and is denoted “⊢.“ While one is unable to strictly demonstrate such a principle, one can show recursively that all reasoning assumes or depends on this principle, as metaphysics underlies all thought of any being whatsoever.

1.3.Nothing is both true and false at the same time and in the same respect; this is an extension of 1 and not strictly distinct [Principle of non-contradiction].
1.3.1.A recursive proof of the first principle: assume the contrary, that: for all X, X and not X are both true.
1.3.1.Assume: ∀x[∃x ^ ~∃x] A is true; instantiation of X as “A.”∃a is not true; instantiation.∃a then either A or Z is true∃a v z thus, we can say that Z is true, from the prior disjunctive (because A is not true), without the principle 1, all statements can be true. (∃a^~∃a) → z***Therefore, that something both be true and false [in the same respect] is false.*** ∀x[~(∃x^~∃x)]
1.4.Every being is undivided from itself; unum.
1.4.∀x(x ↔ ~~x)
1.4.2.By distribution.
1.4.2.*** (∃a) ^ ~~(∃a)
1.5.A definition of equality: if there is no differentia, there is no difference between beings [axiom of extensionality].
1.5.:= ∀x∀y[∀z(z∈x ↔ z∈y)] ↔ x=y

1.6.Definition of difference; every unique being possesses proper aspects which distinguish it from any other being; essentia/quidditas.
1.6.:= ∀x ∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)) ↔ x~=y
1.7.*Formal Causality: Every being might be characterized by those proper aspects which define it as the sort of being that it is (this is equivalent, at this point, with final causality).

2.There is more than one being, at least in some respect.
2.⊢ ∃x∃y(x ~= y)
2.1.A recursive proof: The statement of the existence of the being is not identical with the being asserted.
2.1.f(∃x) ~= ∃x
2.2.But any function of an X exists.
2.2.f(x) → (→ε)
2.3.Thus, the statement about the existence of a being itself exists.
2.4.There exists at least one statement about the existence of one entity and one entity being spoken of.
2.4.[∃x] ^ [∃f(∃x)]
2.5.Therefore, there exists both a statement about the existence of some being and some being, both of which are not strictly identical.
2.5.*** [∃x] ^ [∃f(∃x)] ^ [f(∃x) ~= ∃x]
3.Every being is one being among other beings; aliquid; [axiom of pairing].
3.∀x∀y∃z∀w(w∈z ≡ w=x v w=y)
3.1.The two presumed beings, X and Y, are not identical (according to 2).
3.1.x ~= y
3.2.Difference is defined as possessing some proper characteristic Z which distinguishes X from Y.
3.2.∀x ∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y))]

3.3.Therefore, there is some characteristic Z for X to distinguish it from Y.
3.3.x → ∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y))
3.4.The same is true of Y; some Z exists to distinguish Y from X
3.4.y → ∃x(∀z(z∈y → ~(z∈x))
3.5.There is thus some Z for which it is the case for all W, such that W belongs to Z if and only if W=X or W=Y.
3.5.∃z∀w(w∈z ≡ w=x v w=y)
3.6.Therefore, for all X and all Y, there exists some Z for all W, such that W belongs to Z if and only if W=X or W=Y.
3.6.*** ∀x∀y∃z∀w(w∈z ≡ w=x v w=y)
4.Ens is thus predicated of existentially diverse instances, although remaining united among all instances.
4.[[∀x → ∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y))] ^ [(x ↔ ~~x)]] → ε
5.Ens cannot be the genus of all existing things (set X containing all Phi).
5.~[ε = (∀ψ∈x)]
5.1.Assume ens is a genus (a set X containing all Phi).
5.1.Assume: ε = x(∀ψ ∈ x)
5.1.1.For all X, to be a genus implies that there exists some feature which distinguishes it from other genus and species.
5.1.1.∀x → ∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))
5.1.2.All beings are defined as ens and if it is not ens it is does not exist.
5.1.2.(∀ψ → ε) ^ (~(→ε) → ~∀ψ )
5.1.3.Any difference in ens would belong to itself.
5.1.3.∀f((→ε)) ∈ (→ε)
5.1.4.Any proper aspect of ens would itself belong to ens.
5.1.4.∀x ∈ (→ε)
5.1.5.But then ens could not have a proper differentia to distinguish it from another set.
5.1.5.∀(→ε) → ~∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))
5.1.6.Thus, ens would both have proper differentia and not have proper differentia.
5.1.6.(→ε) → [∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))] ^ [~∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))]
5.1.7.Therefore, being cannot be a genus.
5.1.7.*** ~[(→ε) = x(∀ψ ∈ x)]
6.There is a real distinction that it is not true for all beings that their “existing” is identical with their proper attributes
6.~∀x [(∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ ((→ε) = z)]
6.1.Assume that “existing” (X’s inclusion in ens) is identical with the proper attributes of any being.
6.1.Assume: ∀x [(∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ ((→ε) = z)]

6.1.1.There exist at least two beings which are not identical with each other.
6.1.1.∃x∃y(x ~= y)
6.1.2.For all X, there would be some Y such that for all act of existence of Y, “existing” would belong to Y and “existing” would not belong to X.
6.1.2.∀x [(∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ ((→ ε) = z)]
6.1.3.For all X and all Y, all Z of X is “existing” and all Z of Y is “existing.”
6.1.3.∀x∀y[∀z((→ε)∈x ↔ (→ε)∈y)]

6.1.4.But, when for all X and all Y, all Z which belong to X also belong to Y, then X is identical with Y.
6.1.4.∀x∀y[∀z(z∈x ↔ z∈y)] → x=y
6.1.5.X is then identical with Y
6.1.6.But, per 6.1.1, X and Y are non-identical beings.
6.1.6.x ~= y

6.1.7.Therefore, proper attributes are not identical with “existence” in all entities.
6.1.7.*** ~∀x[(∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z=(→ε))]
7.Every being exists either from intrinsic (existence belongs to the set X as a proper part) or extrinsic principles (X is “existentially participative” in Y; it does not “belong to” or make up a “proper part” of Y).
7.∀x [(→ε) ∈ x) v (x ∃→ y)]
7.1.Not all beings can have the property of “existing” as its proper attribute.
7.1.~∀x[(∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z=(→ε))]
7.2.If there is a being whose proper attribute is identical with existing (Θ), this being is unique (there can only be one such being).
7.2.Θ[(∃y(∀z(z∈ Θ → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z=(→ε))] → ∃!Θ

7.3.But there are at least two entites which are not identical.
7.3.∃x∃y(x ~= y)
7.4.At least one being does not have “existing” as a proper attribute.
7.4.∃x[~(∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z=(→ε))]
7.5.That this being (X) does not have existence as its proper attribute is equivalent to saying that the same being lacks “existing” as a proper attribute.
7.5.~∃x [(∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z=(→ε))] ↔ ~∃x ((→ε) ∈ x)
7.6.But this being (X) exists.
7.6.x → (→ε)
7.7.Thus, there exists at least one being (X) which existentially participates in another being (Y).
7.7.∃x(x ∃→ y)

7.7.1.*Efficient Causality: Beings may be characterized insofar as they are either existential participata or participatum.

7.8.But this other being Y needs to exist as well.
7.8.∀y[((→ε) ∈ y) v (y ∃→ z)]
7.9.If all beings participate existentially to infinity (for all Phi, x existentially participates in x₁…x(n)), the whole series would not exist (all Phi would not possess existence).
7.9.∀ψ(x ∃→ x₁…x(n)) → (∀ψ → ~(→ε))
7.9.1.Assume: All beings existentially participate in each other to infinity.
7.9.1.Assume: ∀ψ (x ∃→ x₁…x(n))
7.9.2.Existence either proceeds from intrinsic or extrinsic principles.
7.9.2.∀x[((→ε) ∈ x) v (x ∃→ y)]
7.9.3.All existentially participating beings are identical with set of all existing beings.
7.9.3.∀(x₁…x(n)) ↔ ψ
7.9.4.All beings would then existentially participate in themselves.
7.9.4.ψ E→ ψ
7.9.5.This implies that all beings cannot have existence as an intrinsic property.
7.9.5.~((→ε) ∈ ψ)
7.9.6.So, the set of all beings would not possess existence.
7.9.6.ψ → ~(→ε)
7.9.7.Therefore, if all beings were to existentially participate in each other, the whole set would not exist.
7.9.7.*** ψ(x ∃→ x₁…x(n)) → (ψ → ~(→ε))
7.10.Thus, there exists one being Θ, whose proper attribute is “to exist” in order to account for the existential participation of all other beings.
7.10.1.In all beings X which are not Θ, there is a real distinction between their existing and proper attributes.
7.10.1.∀x[(x~= Θ) → ((∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z~=(→ε)))]
8.There is at least one entity X which “changes,” such that this change involves a subset (“accident”) of X, W, changing into Z via existential participation of xC in Y.
8.⊢ ∃x(xC({w} z ∃→ y))
8.1.X and Y are unique entities which possess elements W and Z, respectively.
8.1.∃x∃y((w ∈ x) ^ (z ∈ y) ^ (w ~=z))
8.2.Definition of substantial change: If a change occurs where all the proper subsets of X are eliminated, it becomes identified with whatever proper aspects it now possesses.
8.2.[[xC({w, z} ∃→ y] ^ [∀x∀y[∀z(z∈x ↔ z∈y)] ↔ x=y]] -> xCy
8.3.*The function participates in Y, as the change is a function of the whole X insofar as it acquires or loses an accidental aspect.

9.The change from one state to another in any entity X caused by Y implies a proper aspect in the changing entity to assume the new property (a potentiality) and a proper aspect in the changer to bring about this change (an actuality).
9.xC({w, z} ∃→ y) → ((p(z) ∈ x) ^ (a(z) ∈ y))
9.1.An “actualized” property Z in a being Y is defined as one where there exists some Z which belongs to Y and Z existentially participates in Y.
9.1.:= (∃z(z ∈ y)) ↔ (a(z) ∈ y)
9.2.An “potential” for Z in X is defined as there existing some Z, such that X might acquire Z via existential participation in Y.
9.2.:= [[∃z(xC{z}) ∃→ y] v (a(z) ∈ x)] ↔ (p(z) ∈ x)
9.2.1.A property which is actualized in any entity implies that the entity has a potential for that property.
9.2.1.(a(z) ∈ y) → (p(z) ∈ y)
9.3.It is not true that if some Z belong to Y as a proper aspect that Z is actualized in Y.
9.3.~[(z ∈ y) → (a(z) ∈ y)]
9.4.If there is an X such that X existentially participates in Y, a potential to exist belongs to X.
9.4.x(x ∃→ y) → (p(x→ε) ∈ x)
9.4.1.If X existentially participates in Y, then X has actual existence.
9.4.1.(x ∃→ y) → (a(x→ε) ∈ x)
9.4.2.*** X has a potential to exist.
9.4.2.p(x→ε) ∈ x
9.5.In all entities X, except Θ, there is a real distinction between their existence and their proper aspects.
9.5.∀x[(x~= Θ) → (∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z~=(→ε))]
9.6.Existence is the actuality of any being whatsoever.
9.6.(→ε) ↔ a(ψ)
9.7.Essence is the basic principle of potentiality in any being whatsoever.
9.7.∀x[(p(x→ε) ∈ x) ↔ (∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z~=(→ε))]
9.7.1.If one being were such that its proper attribute were “to exist,” it would be absolutely unlimited and possess all possible existential perfections (understood as all actualities of Phi).
9.7.1.((→ε) ∈ x) → (a(ψ) ∈ x)
9.7.2.If some X existentially participates in Y, then some potential to exist belongs to X.
9.7.2.x(x ∃→ y) → (p(x→ε) ∈ x)
9.7.3.For all X, either existence is intrinsic or extrinsic.
9.7.3.∀x [((→ε) ∈ x) v (x ∃→ y)]
9.7.4.For all X, not being identical to Theta implies that X existentially participates in some Y.
9.7.4.∀x[(x~= Θ) → (x ∃→ y)]
9.7.5.There exists some X not equal to Theta.
9.7.5.∃x ~= Θ
9.7.6.For all X, not being identical to Theta is true if and only if a potentiality to exist belongs to X.
9.7.6.∀x[(x~= Θ) ↔ (p(x→ε) ∈ x)]
9.7.7.But this potentiality to exist belongs to X if and only if X has any proper attribute Phi which is not equivalent with “existence.”
9.7.7.*** ∀x[(p(x→ε) ∈ x) ↔ (∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z~=(→ε))]
10.Every being is “good” or perfected insofar as it possesses existence [For all X, if and only if X exists, for X, there exists some potential Y which belongs to X and actualization of Y belongs to X, and there exists some entity Z such that all Y belong to X and not to Z and Y is not equivalent with existence].
10.∀x[(x → (→ε)) ↔ x((∃p(y) ∈ x) ^ (∃a(y) ∈ x) ^ (∃z(∀y(y∈x → ~(y∈z)))) ^ (y~=(→ε))]
10.1.Assume X exists.
10.1.Assume: x → (→ε)
10.2.If actual existence belongs to X, then potential existence belongs to X.
10.2.(a(x→ε) ∈ x) → (p(x→ε) ∈ x)
10.3.Actual existence belongs to X.
10.3.a(x→ε) ∈ x
10.4.Potential to exist belongs to X.
10.4.p(x→ε) ∈ x
10.5.Potential existence is convertible with having a proper attribute which is not identical with existence.
10.5.∀x[(p(x→ε) ∈ x) ↔ (∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z~=(→ε))]
10.6.There exists some proper attribute Z of X which is not existence.
10.6.∃y(∀z(z∈x → ~(z∈y)))) ^ (z~=(→ε))
10.7.Therefore, X existing implies that X has potential to exist, and that X actually exists, and that there is some potential existence of X such that Y does not also possess the same potential as X.
10.7.(x → (→ε)) → x((p(x→ε) ∈ x) ^ (a(x→ε) ∈ x) ^ ∃y(∀p(x→ε)(p(x→ε) ∈x → ~(p(x→ε) ∈y)))) ^ (p(x→ε) ~=(→ε))
10.8.But this can be generalized that for all X, if and only if X exists, for X, there exists some potential Y which belongs to X and actualization of Y belongs to X, and there exists some entity Z such that all Y belong to X and not to Z and Y is not equivalent with existence (which is at least the potential of X to exist) [This does not apply to Theta – Theta, as will be shown more fully, possesses fullness of existential perfection and hence is supremely good although not “actualizing” any essence other than its proper attribute of existing, which is a difference from other beings but which is not a potentiality or limitation on its being.]
10.8.*** ∀x[(x → (→ε)) ↔ x((∃p(y) ∈ x) ^ (∃a(y) ∈ x) ^ (∃z(∀y(y∈x → ~(y∈z)))) ^ (y~=(→ε))]
10.9.*Final Causality: Every being might be characterized inasmuch as any proper aspect of its being is actualized or unactualized.

A Little Badiou

Here's an argument which seems to underlie a whole lot of Badiou's metaphysics of "the void," or his name for the "being of beings."

Badiou's claim is that inconsistency (what he means to be "difference" or the non-being which is being) is never presented (encountered by human beings) as such, even in set theory (52). This is “subtractive” given that it merely draws a distinction in being already presented pre-linguistically (48). It is on the basis of the consistent count as a "result" - counting "voids" in Badiou's theory - which seems to lead Badiou to see inconsistency as pointed to by any count (53). This, he claims, unhinges "counting" as consistent, given that the pre-count cannot be counted qua pre-count. To translate this into metaphysical language: there is an act of understanding which results in knowing beings. Prior to this act, no beings are known by the Subject. Therefore, nothing exists prior to the act of understanding. But this is a clearly fallacious shift in sense; it does not prove that only nothingness precedes a count or an act of understanding/encountering beings.

Here's an analogy of shaping a statue from clay:
Unshaped clay precedes my shaping of the statue.
I cannot shape unshaped clay qua unshaped, as it is definitionally impossible.
Therefore there is no clay preceding my shaping of the statue.

But this is clearly just a silly shift in senses. I do shape something into something else, with varying properties over the change; the clay moves from a state of unshaped to that of a shaped statue. But Badiou, invalidly, analogically draws a stronger thesis - no clay existed prior to the shaping. Which just goes to show you how careful one needs to be about our littlest logical mistakes.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Alain Badiou and Bad Metaphysics

I found myself with a book in my hands recently, "Being and Event," which was lauded by some as the most original new philosophy text of recent years. Badiou interested me because of his claim to be doing traditional metaphysics, attempting to solve the problem of the one and the many. Instead, I found his idea for this solution to be lacking, to say the least. To put it succinctly, it seems like a whole lot of gibberish. Let's look at his basic premises more closely in my as-yet-unfinished pretended review of his book Being and Event:
[Actually, I think I'll hold off on this. I initially was going to just write a piece for the blog, which explains why the initial segment was much more colloquial than appropriate for a journal review. I'll put it here when it's in presentable form.]

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An early poem, for those who didn't like my short story :)

“Fine Fall Day”

On a fine fall day,
I went in search of spring;
I wandered through hill and vale
Watching to find that time when
I once saw love unfold.

I asked all I knew, gasping,
“Where am I to find the flowers,
and the palaces of the lord of my heart?
No one answered, and I was left to find where
I once saw love unfold.

I wished to sooth my loss.
Finding myself upon the river bank,
I wept tears of sorrow;
I knew not where it was where
I once saw love unfold.

But in my heart, I desired it so.
The raft beckoned for my presence;
Willing to bear me across the river of Babylon
To thence from where
I once saw love unfold.

I came to the edge of that boat;
To the bark, being none the lighter,
Whose pilot was the fisher-man.
He told me as he rowed,
“I once saw Love unfold.”

When at last the ship came
Near that otherly shore,
He showed me the way. He lent
The oar and I jumped to there from where
I was to see Love unfold.

I, having ended my journey,
Went to that field of roses
Where all joy is one. I flew,
Propelled by my joy’s wings,
To where I would see Love unfold.

In the midst of the field was a rose,
Red as only the heart is, tinged with blood;
I stooped my head, gazing, minding not the thorns,
Into the depths of its petals, and there,
I saw Love unfold.

Calvin, a Short Story

I found this short story on my computer; something I had written in high school.


Yeah, it's got some blood and guts sort of stuff in it. But I forgot about it and think it might actually have some slight merit, although it rather smacks one in the face. And no, it has no autobiographical elements; it was an exercise in my early creative writing. Here it is:


A Short Story

“Calvin, kiss your mother goodbye.” He was much too sophisticated for such things, so he left, pretending not to hear his father’s insistent call. Calvin had long found his mother annoying, and made this apparent whenever he saw her, generally becoming in his own right a nuisance. He could not find anything to like about her, and their falling out had to do with this.

The specific issue Calvin found least gratifying to bring up in her presence was God. He hated the idea – why would such a loving and all-powerful God allow suffering to occur? Especially today! With neutron bombs and all sorts of diseases that could eat the skin off people… it was too horrible to even imagine, let alone consider releasing it into the world. How could anyone truly and seriously, with a straight face, say that they believed that some dirty, stupid Jew from two-thousand years ago was the all-poweful God? This same Jew who died on a cross, who died because nobody really cared whether he lived or not, who died alongside two criminals – how could anyone believe he knew something we didn’t? Because he “rose again?” An empty tomb proves anything, of course; it even might prove that whole system of theology that has existed forever in the Catholic Church! Maybe someone someday will finally realize that the apostles could just have easily removed the body with little or no trouble!

What a waste of time and effort! When he was younger, he had almost bought into what his mother kept foisting on him since he was a child; that was, until he finally was able to realize the truth. When he was younger, he had even thought of becoming a priest! To think! He had grand dreams of offering the “mystical sacrifice of Calvalry,” and grandiose dreams of living just like his mother’s beloved Saint Francis. Now, he saw these to be pipedreams – dreams invented to pressure him to become another mindless goon of that Church his mother so loved. But he knew better! At his fifteenth birthday, his dreams were shattered – the party had to be canceled due to the declaration of war on the Grand Caliph’s forces.

Before he had known of it, his uncle and older brother had been sent to Europe to fight against the invading forces of the Caliph; fighting, like his mother, for their God. Now, of course, they had been dead for the past five years – as dead as the other three million soldiers who now could not even find room to be buried in their native soil, their corpses being shipped into the graveyards, lying festering upon the bare earth because they could not even make communal graves large enough to fit all the bodies. The Mass-saying industry was another instance of the Church hypocrisy throughout the whole time – people paid the priest’s confraternities to say series of Masses for the souls of those who had died.

The priests made a pretty penny in the matter, with three or so million dead men; the damned priests! How he hated them! Notwithstanding that he had wanted to be one – everyone he knew had! His mother could think of no greater goal in her life than to see her son give his life in either the service of the altar or the service of the air force.

He could not stop crying earlier as his parent’s had placed him in the shelter – nor could they at the time. He knew his mother was reading a book, sitting outside of the shelter in her favorite chair, as his father was pacing in the study. His sister – who could tell? He began to flip the panel half-heartedly, the small neat switches mocking him from their safe place. “Calvin, would you like to play a game?” the computer asked him. “Maybe later,” Calvin replied. He had nearly finished all the switches before he just leaned back into the pill shaped shelter. “More like a coffin, a place to die,” Calvin thought. But he also then remembered that wombs quite often resembled the tomb. “Well,” thought Calvin, “I suppose we all just live to die.” He sat back awaiting the impact of the first bomb when he heard the voice –

“Calvin, kiss your mother goodbye.” His mother’s voice was barely audible outside the barrier between himself and certain death; he could not explain how he could hear it – he just knew that it happened. He had not even tripped the locking mechanism, and the door soon opened slowly, with his mother holding up the hatch. He climbed out into the room, just as the bright flash – brighter than the sun – brighter than anything he had ever seen – enveloped him. After that point, there should have been no talk of seeing or hearing anything.

The lights were the first to go out – “Stupid electric company…” Jenny whispered as she held her dolls in her arms, standing at the foot of the shelter – “How many times have I called,” said Dad as he entered the room in his bathrobe, his hands shaking, a portend before the quake. At this, Calvin turned just in time to see his mother collapse on the floor, most of her skin melting off into a bloody pile, which reminded Calvin of the first time he had seen a slaughterhouse – on a trip to upstate – after which Calvin was unable to get the screaming of the animals out of his mind, until his parents had helped him overcome that fear.

Jenny was sitting in the corner, playing with her dolls. She dropped one on the floor – or, as it could be said, lost control of one hand first, letting the doll drop, along with what formerly used to be her arm. Jenny could not even cry at this point, her eyes were gone as well, but her last words still came gasping out as she reached with her still intact arm and now less than perfect arm – “Mommy!”

Calvin hardly noticed that he was now on the ground – prone – his skin flowing onto the floor, forming a pool on his left. His mother had come closer, but as he looked to his left, his father was unable to move – being impelled by his lack of feet and arms to remain where he was – still shaking though, but now his whole body and not just his hands. It was at the moment his mother touched him – he couldn’t feel it of course, but he knew it – that his brain liquefied. Even after this had happened, he could still feel his mother’s burnt and bleeding lips touching to his as his broken body lay on the floor at 53 Harrow Drive. “Calvin kissed them goodbye,” he thought with his last breath, “and maybe all of this was here for that kiss.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Christ is Risen!
Indeed, He is Risen!

A short, but sweet, "Happy Easter!" to all who continue to read my (often un-updated) blog. Thanks for the support!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Long Post, but Fun - Intro. to Phil. Syllabus

I had to do an sample syllabus for intro. to philosophy, and I hope to use it one day. I thought some people might enjoy having the reading sample and topic list on the internet for reference. So, at the price of being a long post, I've decided to post it:
The text is Baird's Philosophic Classics: From Plato to Derrida (5th Ed.)

Course Schedule

Week – Date – Readings Topics
1- 01/13/09 Introduction:
  • Syllabus & Course Requirements
  • Texts
  • Outline of Topics Covered
2- 1/15/09

Plato Apology 17a-35d

Plato Republic, Book V: 448e-480a; Book VI-VII, 502c-521b

Plato Phaedo 44a-56a

Origins of Philosophy in Ancient Greece
  • Socrates
  • Death and Trial
  • Plato's Works
  • Philosophy as Way of Life
3- 01/20/09

Aristotle's Metaphysics 1*

Selections from pre-Socratics, Heraclitu,s and Parmenides [online]

*Where title alone is given, or a chapter, read all selections in that work or chapter in the anthology

Introduction to Metaphysics in Ancient Greece
  • Aristotle's Definition of Philosophy – introduction to “metaphysics”
  • Thales and other pre-Socratics
  • Heraclitus
  • Parmenides
  • The Sophists
3- 1/22/09

Plato Crito 6a-13a

Plato Euthypro (selections)

Introduction to Metaphysics in Ancient Greece
  • Socratic and Platonic innovations vs. the Pre-Socratics
  • Platonic response - the Forms
  • Platonic dialectic and the problem of the Good
4- 01/27/09

Plato The Sophist (selections online)

Aristotle Physics II, 192b-193b22, 194b16-195b30, 197a36-199a33

Aristotle and Plato
  • Metaphysics
    • The Common Problem of the One and the Many
    • The Forms/Substantial forms
    • Four Causes
    • Form/Matter composition
    • Substances
4 - 1/29/09

Plato Meno 82-86b

Aristotle Metaphysics, 996a18-997a15, 1003a-1005a18, 1025b3-1027a28

Aristotle On the Soul

Aristotle and Plato
  • Method – Dialectic and Demonstration
    • First principles, strong dialectic, etc.
  • Epistemology
    • Recollection and Passive Intellect
4 – 2/3/09

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, Books 1 and 2

Plato Republic (selections online)

Aristotle and Plato
  • Ethics
    • Virtue Ethics in Ancient Greece
    • Happiness/Eudaimonia
    • Will and Choice in Plato and Aristotle
    • Moral/Intellectual virtues
    • Atraxia
5 – 2/5/09

First paper assigned

Epicurus Principal Doctrines

Epictetus the Manual (i-v, xxx-xxxvi)

Later Greek Thought
  • Epicurus' and Epictetus – Stoicism and Epicureanism as ethical theories
  • Metaphysics of Epictetus and Epicurus
    • Eleatic influence
5 2/10/09

Plotinus Enneads(all selections)

Later Greek Thought
  • Plotinus and Neo-Platonism
  • Metaphysics and Epistemology
6 - 2/12/09

Augustine Confessions

Anselm Proslogion

Augustine, Boethius, and Anselm – Early Medieval Philosophy
  • Augustine's adoption of Neo-Platonism – The Church Fathers and Greek philosophy
  • Invention of the “will” - problems with free will and ethics (the problem of evil)
  • Intro to Anselm's Ontological Argument
6 – 2/17/09

Anselm Debate over the Ontological Argument

Boethius Consolation of Philosophy

Augustine, Boethius, and Anselm – Early Medieval Philosophy
  • (cont.) Anselm's Ontological Argument
  • Boethius' translations – transition to university as center of learning in High Mid. Ages
7 - 2/19/09

Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed

Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, selections – PP, q. 2, 13, 49

Aquinas, De Ente et Essentia (selections online)

Thomas Aquinas, Occham, and Moses Maimonides - High Medieval Philosophy
  • Distinctive Problems in Medieval Thought
    • Faith/Reason
      • Natural theology in Summa Theologiae, Summa Contra Gentiles
      • Apophantic theology in Maimonides
      • Analogy of names in Aquinas
      • Islamic thought
      • Fideism
    • Metaphysics (essence/existence, subject of, transcendentals/categories, universal hylomorphism, nominalism)
7 – 2/24/09

First Paper Due – one of three prompts

Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, PP, q. 75-83; PPS, q. 3, 9-10, 90-94; SS, q. 23 a 6-8.

Occham, Summa Logicae (Part I, Chapters 14-16)

Thomas Aquinas, Occham, and Moses Maimonides - High Medieval Philosophy
    • (cont.) Metaphysics
    • Natural Law Ethics
    • Epistemology/Logic (nominalism as well as first/second operation of the intellect)
8 - 2/26/09

Catch-up day/Review

In Class Midterm Exam – Ancient and Medieval thought

8 - 3/3/09

Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy I, II, III

Introduction to Modern Philosophy – Humanism, the Reformation, and Epistemological “Metaphysics”
    • Doubt as Method
    • Epistemology
8 – 3/05/09

Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy IV-VI

Gilson Unity of Philosophical Experience (selections online)

Introduction to Modern Philosophy – Humanism, the Reformation, and Epistemological “Metaphysics”
  • Transformation of Metaphysics or Elimination?
9 - 3/10-12 Spring Break
10 - 3/17/09

Pascal Pensees

Spinoza Ethics 1

  • Philosophy of Religion
    • Reformation fideism
    • Rationalism
    • Pietism
  • Metaphysics in Spinoza and Leibniz
10 – 3/19/09

Spinoza Ethics 2

Leibniz Monadology

Leibniz Discourse on Metaphysics

  • (cont.) Metaphysics in Spinoza and Leibniz
11- 3/24/09

Locke Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (selections to be announced)

Locke Second Treatise (excerpts online)

Modern Epistemology, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion
  • Epistemology of John Locke
    • Empiricism
  • Ethics
    • Natural rights
  • Philosophy of Religion
    • Rationalism and Deism
11 – 3/26/09

Second paper assigned

Berkeley Three Dialogues

Hume Dialogue on Natural Theology (selections online)

Modern Epistemology, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion
  • Idealism
    • Berkeley's idealism
  • Hume's response to idealism foreshadowed
  • Natural Theology
    • Hume's rejection
12 – 3/31/09

Hume Enquiry (excerpts)

Kant Critique of Pure Reason (Introduction, online)

Hume and Kant – Empiricism to Critique
  • Hume's Critique of Empirical Sensations
    • Philosophy of Mind
  • Kant's Response
    • Critique and Transcendental Method
    • Antimonies of Pure Reason
12 – 4/02/09

Kant Prolegomena

Kant Foundation for the Metaphysics of Morals

“Kant” in Copleston

Kantian Thought
  • Kant's Metaphysics
  • Kant's Ethics
    • Deontological ethical theory
13 – 4/07/09

Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit

“Hegel” in Copleston

Hegel and German Idealism
  • Metaphysics and Epistemology Become One
    • the Absolute
    • Dialectic and Hegelian “Phenomenology”
13 – 4/09/09

Kierkegaard Concluding Unscientific Postscript

Nietzsche Twilight of the Idols (selections TBA)

Later German Thought
  • Rise of Existential Thought and Ethics
    • Kierkegaard's Inward Turn
  • Nietzsche's Destruction of the Tradition
    • Ethics
    • Rejection of metaphysics
14 – 4/14/09

Second paper due – one of three prompts

Sokolowski Introduction to Phenomenology (selections online)

“Husserl” in Copleston (online)

Heidegger Introduction to Metaphysics (part 1)

The Phenomenological Tradition
  • Phenomenological Method
    • The aim of Husserl's project
    • Transcendental ego
    • “epoche”
  • Heidegger and Metaphysics in phenomenology
14 – 4/16/09

Heidegger Introduction to Metaphysics (part 2)

Sartre Being and Nothingness

Sartre Existentialism is a Humanism

Simone De Beauvoir The Second Sex (Introduction)

  • Metaphysics
    • Heidegger and Sein zum Tode
    • Being and Time
    • Dasein
  • Ethics
    • Bad faith and Freedom
    • Sexuality and gender
15 – 4/21/09

“Gottleib Frege” in Copleston (online)

Wittgenstein Tractatus

Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations (selections)

Logical Positivism” in Copleston (online)

Contemporary Analytic Philosophy
  • Frege and Logical Method
  • Wittgenstein
    • Metaphysics
      • Substance
      • Language
      • Reflection of the world
      • Transformations in later Wittgenstein to language games
    • Ethics
      • Transcendent and mystical
15 – 4/23/09

Quine Two Dogmas of Empiricism (selections)

Derrida Signature, Event, Context (selections)

MacIntyre After Virtue (selections)

MacIntyre First Principles, etc. (selections)

Contemporary Philosophical Problems and Positions
  • Analytic Metaphysics
    • Quine's Ontological Problematic
    • Nominalism
  • Continental Metaphysics
    • Temporality and Truth
    • Derrida
  • Other Issues
    • Virtue ethics?
    • Ontological first principles?
16 – 4/28/09

Catch-up day/Review

Final Exam: May 5, 4-6 pm

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Undermining from Within

I was looking, as per my habit, at the Google News my Google account collects, and was surprised to see the headline "Pope undermined from within." Innocent ol' me thought, "Well, it's about time! Somebody must have taken note of the unfaithful Catholics who do great damage to the Holy Father, intent on bending the Church to meet their own ideological needs." I was sorely disappointed.
This was in the National Post, with an interview by no less than the former Jesuit editor of "America" magazine. If I had half a decision in the process, that man would be quiet and off somewhere in a hermitage making bumperstickers. But, alas, we get gems like these delivered to us from his eloquent lips: "Rather than thinking like the pope he thinks he is speaking to a classroom of deferential students who won't challenge him. And that's not the world he is working in anymore." Oh, really? Professors are just accepted at face value? Is the Pope really that stupid and gullible? Obviously, Father Reese has a rather interesting view of the education of the Pope; the same who was head of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith and engaged in routine public defenses of his positions and the Church's positions. Ah, but alas!
"Frankly, loyalty is more important than competence. They need some people who will challenge the Pope, argue with him." Oh? Apparently, Fr. Reese took exception to the 1962 Missal, the lifting of the excommunications of the traditionalist bishops, the declaration on other Christian churches, and the like. These aren't "new" - the Church routinely teaches, for example, that the old Missal and the Mass in general are holy and good. Similarly, the Church teaches that, sadly enough, Protestants are not Catholic and, as a consequence, are not fully members of the Church we believe Christ founded 2000 years ago. But, of course, Fr. Reese believes that the curia determines whether or not the Pope remains Catholic. If only we had some Jesuits in charge....
"This is the same Benedict who opposed the war in Iraq, who has spoken out about concern for the poor and refugees and for getting humanitarian aid to Africa." Oh, if only we weren't dismayed by the Pope teaching the eternal doctrine of Christ, we would see that he likes the poor! Give me a break.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Prayers to the Saints

The issue arose between myself and some Protestants of whether it is a "Biblical" practice to pray to saints. I think there is an easy argument, first, for the acceptability of saints as models for our edification. I don't know how many would argue with that, as many such examples are clearly Scriptural with the Old Testament, or even in Jesus' parables.
As for prayers, what is the "cash-value" of denying that the saints pray for us? It might seem rather harmless, but I don't think there is a mistake in that the Nicene creed professes "I believe in the communion of saints." There are two ways, to my mind, to consistently deny that the saints pray for us: first, by denying that ANYONE whatsoever can pray for another person. This seems rather harsh even to most Protestants and clearly non-Scriptural according to the many times where people are called upon to offer prayers for each other in the Bible. The other tends to be the usual route among Protestants: denying that people in death "hear our prayers." This either means [1] they do not WISH to pray for us, [2] they CANNOT pray for us. The latter is even further divided into [a] inability from circumstance, or [b] inability purely speaking.
[1] seems rather easily denied, as we can fairly legitimately assume that, if the saints on earth cared for the needs of others, that they would wish to do so after death. Otherwise, they would seem to be uncharitable, with is impossible for the saint. [2]b seems impossible, as the saints could pray on earth and they would have to likewise be able to pray in heaven. Presumably, heaven is a place where the activity is mostly prayer and worship of God, so that it seems very difficult to deny that. [2]a seems to be a variety of the route most Protestants take; the dead cannot, by circumstance, hear prayers. But what does this imply? They seem to take it to mean that their souls do not persist, or that they are "unconcious" to some degree. If this is true, it seems to deny, on one hand, the immortality of the soul, or, on the other, the immediate judgment after death. The latter can also fairly clearly be shown to be false from examples like the parable of Lazarus. Some, however, do dispute that. The clearest proofs I can think of for the life of saints after death, apart from the obvious "eternal life" statements by Jesus, would be the statement, "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of the living, not the dead," as well as Revelation's picture of the prayers of the saints offered to God.
As a consequence, it seems fairly obvious that denying the existence of the saints and their prayers has rather problematic implications on the whole of Christian doctrine if it is denied. It requires a move that I'm not sure how many Protestants, if they understood this implication, would take. But then again, people amaze.