Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sup the Chemist - Gaiety

"Swimming in a sea of mental activity / sucking in wisdom like oxygen / travelling with no set destination / moving without the need of my participation..."


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Happy World Philosophy Day!


In honour of World Philosophy Day, I thought it apt to include some pictures of and quotations from some thinkers whose work I have benefited from in some way or another. This list is, of course, incomplete as it does not include quotations from everybody I think worthwhile to read. Pardon my laziness with proper/consistent citations. Enjoy.


"Alan is taller than his eldest son, Bobby. We can think of this as there being a relation of taller than, which Alan holds to Bobby. And there are many other instances of taller than, all over the place. Bobby is taller than his sister Clarissa, who is in turn taller than her dog Dougal. And the Empire State Building is taller than the Chrysler building. Again, it is arguable that this relation of being taller than is wholly present in each of its instances. Perhaps even more so than in the case of properties, it seems clear that it is the very same thing that appears in both the case of Alan being taller than Bobby and Bobby being taller than Clarissa. When we say one thing is taller than another, it seems that in every case we mean the same thing."

~ Stephen Mumford, Metaphysics: A Very Short Introduction, p. 16


"Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world. His act is worse (symbolically considered) than any rape or dynamite outrage. For it destroys all buildings: it insults all women. The thief is satisfied with diamonds; but the suicide is not: that is his crime. He cannot be bribed, even by the blazing stones of the Celestial City. The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them. But the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it. He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake. There is not a tiny creature in the cosmos at whom his death is not a sneer. When a man hangs himself on a tree, the leaves might fall off in anger and the birds fly away in fury: for each has received a personal affront. Of course there may be pathetic emotional excuses for the act. There often are for rape, and there almost always are for dynamite. But if it comes to clear ideas and the intelligent meaning of things, then there is much more rational and philosophic truth in the burial at the cross-roads and the stake driven through the body, than in Mr. Archer's suicidal automatic machines. There is a meaning in burying the suicide apart. The man's crime is different from other crimes -- for it makes even crimes impossible."

~ G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, pp. 110-111


"The existentialist, on the contrary, thinks it very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, that we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plane where there are only men. Dostoyevsky said, "If God didn't exist, everything would be possible." That is the very starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to. He can't start making excuses for himself."

~ Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions


"For, passing through one of the streets of Milan, I observed a poor beggar, then, I suppose, with a full belly, joking and joyous: and I sighed, and spoke to the friends around me, of the many sorrows of our frenzies; for that by all such efforts of ours, as those wherein I then toiled dragging along, under the goading of desire, the burthen of my own wretchedness, and, by dragging, augmenting it, we yet looked to arrive only at that very joyousness whither that beggar-man had arrived before us, who should never perchance attain it. For what he had obtained by means of a few begged pence, the same was I plotting for by many a toilsome turning and winding; the joy of a temporary felicity. For he verily had not the true joy; but yet I with those my ambitious designs was seeking one much less true. And certainly he was joyous, I anxious; he void of care, I full of fears. But should any ask me, had I rather be merry or fearful? I would answer merry. Again, if he asked had I rather be such as he was, or what I then was? I should choose to be myself, though worn with cares and fears; but out of wrong judgment; for, was it the truth? For I ought not to prefer myself to him, because more learned than he, seeing I had no joy therein, but sought to please men by it; and that not to instruct, but simply to please. Wherefore also Thou didst break my bones with the staff of Thy correction."

~ Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book VI


"Despite the massive intellectual feat that Marx's Capital represents, the Marxian contribution to economics can be readily summarized as virtually zero. Professional economics as it exists today reflects no indication that Karl Marx ever existed. This neither denies nor denigrates Capital as an intellectual achievement, and perhaps in its way the culmination of classical economics. But the development of modern economics had simply ignored Marx. Even economists who are Marxists typically utilize a set of analytical tools to which Marx contributed nothing, and have recourse to Marx only for ideological, political, or historical purposes."

~ Thomas Sowell, Marxism: Philosophy and Economics


"Sometimes humor teaches best and says the most in the least words. Each of the following witty definitions makes a serious point.

1. A conservative is one who is enamored of existing evils; a liberal is one who wishes to replace them with new ones." (Ambrose Bierce)

2. A liberal is someone who doesn't believe in evil, except for the evil in conservatives. A conservative is someone who does believe in evil—except for the evil in conservatives.

3. A conservative is a liberal who just got mugged. A liberal is a conservative who just got arrested.

4. A liberal and a conservative were scheduled to exchange their brains and their hearts in an experimental operation. But no one could find a conservative who would give up his heart, or a liberal who had any brains to give."


"A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be is obeying Him. It "consents," so to speak, to His creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree ... Unlike the animals and the trees, it is not enough for us to be what our nature intends.

~ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, "Things In Their Identity," pp. 29, 31

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Say That Again

I am thrilled to announce that the latest issue of In Medias Res has been published. As an editor, I believe that the overall quality of this issue is quite high (not because I contributed, either, but we'll get to that!). Like, right now. Wow, starting off a sentence with "like" is really unlikable.

I have been waiting a long time to share one of my contributions here, a philosophical work of poetry / fiction entitled Say That Again. Also, it is the first issue of the journal that has my name under the Editorial Board heading, which feels pretty cool. To check out the entire issue via PDF, click the link above. To read my entry here, well, you can just read the entry ... here.

DEMETRI: I would not believe that it was June if not for the colour of the lilacs. The purple reminds me of the sky last night, as if the clouds had partaken in the Eucharist. Clouds are one with the sky, so why then would the Spirit of God ever be in need of that?

ROMAN: What do you not believe, then?

DEMETRI: I believe that it is June.

ROMAN: You aren't answering my question.

DEMETRI: Very well, then.

ROMAN: Lay waste to every thought that surrounds you at this very moment. Thought is so very fickle, so transitory; as people, we forget thoughts. Is there anything we can't forget? Surely, not thoughts! Thoughts must always tip toe on the tightrope of the psyche. A good thought ought never to be forgotten, and yet, such a thought can never escape the possibility of losing its balance. If it wobbles and plummets to its fate, it becomes nothing - something that's even less than pathetic. Tell me, is there a particular time when you forget your thoughts?

DEMETRI: I have a lot of thoughts. I guess I get caught up in the moment. I remember once when I was catching the bus, it was unusually crowded, but I found a seat near the very back. Sitting across from me was a young man adorned in the most normcore of clothes; he told me that "fragmentation is clarity." Who did he think he was telling me this? It was postmodern indulgent nonsense of the highest order! But the most tragic thing about it was when he got up and left. Just walked through the exit. Seconds earlier, I could stare across from me and see a man there; all it took to change that was for him to get up. It was a profound loss of control. The thought has never left me and I can't imagine it ever will.

ROMAN: Never you mind that! So, what's on your mind these days?

DEMETRI: Not much at all. You?

ROMAN: I've been thinking quite often about the arts. You know, I dreamt the other night about this faceless painter. I watched them compose a painting of two friends having a discussion outside a left-bank cafe. Shortly after the painter had finished, the canvas became completely empty! Initially, I was in dismay, but to my surprise, the canvas became full again. But this time around the details were added in the reverse order. Somehow, it all still made perfect sense. What adds to your vigor this hour, monsieur?

DEMETRI: Not much at all. You?

ROMAN: Never you mind that! So, what's on your mind these days?

DEMETRI: I have a lot of thoughts. I guess I get caught up in the moment. I remember once when I was catching the bus, it was unusually crowded, but I found a seat near the very back. Sitting across from me was a young man adorned in the most normcore of clothes; he told me that "fragmentation is clarity." Who did he think he was telling me this? It was postmodern indulgent nonsense of the highest order! But the most tragic thing about it was when he got up and left. Just walked through the exit. Seconds earlier, I could stare across from me and see a man there; all it took to change that was for him to get up. It was a profound loss of control. The thought has never left me and I can't imagine it ever will.

ROMAN: Lay waste to every thought that surrounds you at this very moment. Thought is so very fickle, so transitory; as people, we forget thoughts. Is there anything we can't forget? Surely, not thoughts! Thoughts must always tip toe on the tightrope of the psyche. A good thought ought never to be forgotten, and yet, such a thought can never escape the possibility of losing its balance. If it wobbles and plummets to its fate, it becomes nothing - something that's even less than pathetic. Tell me, is there a particular time when you forget your thoughts?

DEMETRI: Very well, then.

ROMAN: You aren't answering my question.

DEMETRI: I believe that it is June.

ROMAN: What do you not believe, then?

DEMETRI: I would not believe that it was June if not for the colour of the lilacs. The purple reminds me of the sky last night, as if the clouds had partaken in the Eucharist. Clouds are one with the sky, so why then would the Spirit of God ever be in need of that?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Elitist and General Population Knowledge


Recently, I received a copy of Intellectuals and Society by economist, social theorist, and philosopher Thomas Sowell in the mail (there are a plethora of commas in that sentence). Though I am only 29 pages deep, it is proving to be a good read.

He has some interesting thoughts on knowledge:

"Many intellectuals and their followers have been unduly impressed by the fact that highly educated elites like themselves have far more knowledge per capita - in the sense of special knowledge - than does the population at large. From this it is a short step to considering the educated elites to be superior guides to what should and should not be done in a society. They have often overlooked the crucial fact that the population at large may have vastly more total knowledge - in the mundane sense - than the elites, even if that knowledge is scattered in individually unimpressive fragments among vast numbers of people.

If no one has even one percent of the knowledge currently available, not counting the vast amounts of knowledge yet to be discovered, the imposition from the top down of the notions in favor among elites, convinced of their own superior knowledge and virtue, is a formula for disaster" (17-18).

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Great Chain of Linking, Part 5

Martin Luther: The Wrath of God - Added this to the list 'cuz yesterday was reformation 500.

Questioning "Emergent" Churches - A good discussion from Calvin College's Inner Compass TV Show.

Molinism and Divine Election - In this Q&A article, William Lane Craig offers a non-Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9. Also, the website's design has been updated and looks good.

The Fraud of Postmodern Theology - Enjoy this 15 minute video featuring David Bentley Hart.

How to Read the Bible in Context - "Each book of the Bible, written in its original Hebrew and Greek, was organized into paragraphs."

Does Your Personality Influence Your Theology - Short blog post written by Blue Like Jazz author, Donald Miller.