Felix Culpa! – The Happy Error – Academic Freedom and the Pessin Affair at the Augean Stables-Stuck in moderation limbo again

A torrent of scholarship cleanses the Augean Stables [Phi Studios, © 2012]

A torrent of scholarship cleanses the Augean Stables                                         [Phi Studios, © 2012]

I have a couple of comments, apparently stuck in moderation limbo, up at the Augean Stables concerning Prof. Richard Landes’ article My Talk at Connecticut College About the Pessin Affair, and  which I have aggregated below.  This article was a continuation of the discussion of the Pessin Affair which began at the Augean Stables back on July 29, 2015: Salem on Thames, what Connecticut College’s Andrew Pessin teaches us.  A briefer version of the article was published at American Interest on July 30, 2015.

In brief, the Pessin Affair involved the fallout from events at Connecticut College during the Spring of 2015 concerning Philosophy Professor Andrew Pessin.  I give a brief expert of Prof. Landes’ article below for the context.

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Les Vents qui Ventent [the winds that whirl] – A new experience of soul externalized in Time-Le Bruit Court Dans La Ville-the new wave old timey Québécois music and two odd ideas

Le Bruit Court dans la Ville Québécois power-trio [© 2015]

Le Bruit Court Dans la Ville  –   Québécois power-trio                      [© DepositPhotos.com 2014]

The Meme Merchant Culture Society went out the other night to a house hoot, for the first time in many ages, as a possible encouragement to use our French with people who actually speak French for a living, even if they are from the tail end of the Francophone world and tend to get a lot of grief from the Parisian epicenter of the Francophone world about their pronunciation and grammar.  C’est la vie.  This particular evening’s experience was a musical encounter with Québécois folk music trio Le Bruit Court Dans La Ville, “The buzz around town” more or less, le bruit court [literally ‘the noise short’] may also be rendered  as “rumor has it,” though we are not sure if there is a Québécois vs Parisien distinction here – possible.

This is not another music blog, this is a blog mostly about odd ideas; in the course of the evening we encountered enough unusual ideas to be worthy of promotion of the evening’s experience to a blog post.  The first odd idea was not that three Québécoises should be trying to make a living reviving a declining folk music tradition by giving concerts in people’s living rooms aux Etats Unis – a worthy idea – but not that odd.  The first odd idea was that in the Québécois folk music scene, les pieds [the feet] are an instrument you are likely to find credited in an album’s liner notes – extraordinaire.  The second odd idea is that in addition to the usual stories of marital infidelity by wife, or husband you may also find reference a theme of the now largely defunct Social Credit movement.

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An Open Letter to Amanda Marcotte -Towards rising above our own pettiness in the debate on Truth.

The ascent of the happy human [© 2015 Atani Studios]

The ascent of the happy human                                                                          [© 2015 Atani Studios]

 An old acquaintance of mine, a close friend in fact of one of my oldest friends, and someone I still have occasion to converse with in the digisphere, posted a preformatted piece of propaganda on the social media from fellow blogger Amanda Marcotte.

Atheists are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it … When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literated people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.” ~ Amanda Marcotte

I’m not going to tell you what I think of Ms. Marcotte, lest you think I am resorting to an ad hominem attack on her but I will tell you what I think of what she wrote.

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A Fragment of Aix

Raku tea bowl [chris 73 CC BY-SA 3.0]

Raku tea bowl                                                                                                       [chris 73 CC BY-SA 3.0]

I am the Artist that Plato warned you of, the one who knows nothing of the True. I know nothing of Generals though I know something of being a soldier. I know nothing of the Politician, though I know something of the citizen. I know nothing nothing of being a Father, though I know something of being a son. I know nothing of Rikyû and Chôjirô, though I know something of being a potter. I know nothing of Rodin, but I know something of carving stone.
By what right? what truth? then, do I pull these essays of mine out of Imagination? Can genius, imagination, and hard work suffice to do justice to Truth? What authority does inspiration alone permit, by what mandate does method and technique warrant such license?
With patience, and diligence, I pursue my practice. From master to student, and master to student again, and so by commodious vicus of recirculation, as every Artist since Eve and Adam, I betoken the dissemination of an unbroken lineage leading to the Ur-Source. Is what I am benefit of key to a path as candid as philosophy?
God knows. I know not.
Can the pearl thief stealing the luster off the pearl from within its unopened shell, capture the very truth of its iridescence? Does the divine something that whispered into Sorceresses’ ear whisper also into mine?  What can I make of that?
I bend imagination to my sway, not holy convinced I do not err.
The beautiful. The good. The true.
If I hit one of these marks, does my work suffice?

The Banality of Art? – a conversation with the late Arthur C. Danto on the proper orientation of Aesthetics- or Why beauty cannot be reduced out of Art


Aesthetics Philosophy of the Arts, Films for the Humanities and Sciences © 2004

I discovered the above video the other day on YouTube:  Aesthetics, Philosophy of the Arts, it seemed interesting and with high production values so I gave it a viddy.

This video turned out to be a very well produced and presented hour long survey of the theories of Aesthetics in Western Art since Socrates.  A narrator takes us through a well worded and satisfactory tour of the arguments, and a couple of talking head philosophers, in the persons of Alexander Nehamas of Princeton and the late Arthur C. Danto who was emereri at Princeton, add commentary and fill in some of the details.

I enjoyed what Prof. Nehamas had to add very much, he had an avuncular manner that was easy to follow, but found I was having some trouble with Prof. Danto both with his manner generally, and later with what he had to say when he moved into his own era and work as a philosopher in the 1960’s.  I found myself developing a somewhat testy dialogue with the Dead Prof. hoping to point out that even though one may push a particular theoretical or philosophical paradigm to the limit where is breaks, or is somehow formally completed, doesn’t mean that the paradigm and its various developmental modes suddenly loses utility or there aren’t other perfectly valid paradigms to pursue.

There is a difference between stretching the boundaries of a definition of a word to their logical limit, and breaking the boundaries of that definition so that there is no longer a logical use for it.

~ ϕ

I found the video presentation informative and I highly recommend it if you have about an hour for art’s sake.  I invite you to take a look now.

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Joseph Campbell taking questions about Parzival, the Graal, and God – Grail Legends at the Ojai Foundation

How Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival were Fed with the Sanc Grael; But Sir Percival's Sister Died by the Way  Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1864

Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival Fed with the Sanc Grael – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1864

God is a function, God experienced is a function of your manner of experience. The elementary idea of God is transcendent of all forms, of all names, the tongue has never soiled it, it never got there.  So, any idea of God is historically conditioned, it’s a local idea no matter how much noise people make about it, it’s just a local notion.  And so, as man transforms, so are the laws of God transformed.  The laws of God are functions of the human psyche in its historic expression and development.  That’s what we get here, and this if Wolfram.

~Joseph Campbell, Grail Legends at the Ojai Foundation

The following is a verbatim transcription of the Q&A portion of a talk entitled Grail Legends, given by Joseph Campbell at the Ojai Foundation before his death in 1987.   We Meme Merchants quote this material frequently, so I thought I would present it to the public since this material is otherwise hard to obtain in digital form since it was originally on audio tape.  So far as I know, no one has ever produced a complete transcript of the presentation.

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Argument from ignorance? – Berlinski on the Question: How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence? – A first look at the question

Warning 64pxAttention:  This is not necessarily an article about Intelligent Design; this is an article about how we think, how we think about scientific propositions, how we think about our own and other people’s thinking and more particularly how the logical fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance can be part of the dynamic.

All of what follows was wrapped around a conversation that was organized around a discussion of Intelligent Design hosted by the Watermark Community Church in Dallas on April 19, 2009 at a forum called The Creation Conversation.  Ok, the building, the host, and the audience were some brand of evangelical Christian, and their ulterior motives were whatever they were, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for the rest of us to learn from what transpired there, that is if you can be open minded enough to set aside for the moment the place and intentions of that particular conference and learn something from what was said there.

Therefore, we will all be expected to proceed, for the sake of the discussion, as of the subject matter is worth of being treated as a legitimate hypothesis, to be falsified or passed forward to the next round of discussion because it attempts, in good faith, to answer a question that other hypotheses have failed so far to answer:  How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence?

Fair enough?

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The Theodicy of φ

Heraclitus instructs Leibniz: "τῷ μὲν θεῷ καλὰ πάντα καὶ ἀγαθὰ καὶ δίκαια, ἄνθρωποι δὲ ἃ μὲν ἄδικα ὑπειλήφασιν ἃ δὲ δίκαια"  [phi studios 2015]

Heraclitus instructs Leibniz:   “τῷ μὲν θεῷ καλὰ πάντα καὶ ἀγαθὰ καὶ δίκαια, ἄνθρωποι δὲ ἃ μὲν ἄδικα ὑπειλήφασιν ἃ δὲ δίκαια.”                                                                         [phi studios 2015]

Why Good?  Why Evil?

Why Man?  Why God?

The problem of Good and  Evil, it’s really not that complicated, it’s a matter of frames of reference.  It is simply that men are not fitly placed to be scrutineer to the workings of God, nor Man the only thing on God’s mind.

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David Berlinski – On the crisis of historiography-Uncommon Knowledge and what is admissible to consider

The City of God,  manuscript at the NY Public Library

The something lost?  The City of God                                     [manuscript at the NY Public Library]

Here is some more of David Berlinski being interviewed by Peter Robinson on the contrast of St Augustine’s reinterpretation of history, watching the fall of Roman civilization from across the Mediterranean versus the poverty of our own intellectual position in the early 21st watching the fall of our own civilization on the internet:

[Berlinski] The point is, we do live in a society where the house of intellect is coordinated with only a finite number of microphones, and those microphones are connected with the academic world and with a certain part of the journalistic world.  I think that is true in the United States, it’s true in Canada, England, France, throughout Europe.  There is a doctrine, amounting to a dogma.  And, according to the doctrine, the dogma, this way of thinking [Augustine’s City of God] no matter what [the last Pope] Benedict says, or what the rabbis in Israel say is not part of the interpretable cannon.  It cannot be introduced.  Should it be introduced?  would it make more sense?  have we lost something of tremendous value in our culture?  Don’t forget, we are part of a Judaeo-Christian culture.  My answer is yes, of course, of course.  We have lost something of value; we cannot think in those terms any more.

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Macaulay’s Idea of Progress – the bifurcation of material and social progress – Some thoughts on David Berlinski

Thomas Babington Macaulay, National Portrait Gallery, London [John Partridge d.1872]

Thomas Babington Macaulay,  National Portrait Gallery, London            [John Partridge d.1872]

David Berlinski begins his, still unacountably unfinished, book The Best of Times with this quote from 19th century British philosopher and Whig politician Thomas Babington Macaulay:

“We rely on the natural tendency of the human intellect to truth, and of the natural tendency of society to improvement.”

The 20th and 21st centuries speak otherwise according to Berlinski.

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THE FOURTH OF JULY – a few days late

Star Flag

A woman sews a star on a United States flag, 1917

In the post-post modern post colonial west, particularly among its disciples in liberal Europe and even aux Etats Unis [such as Hakim Bey] have been busily propagating the idea that the American Revolution of 1776 represented some kind of an anti-colonialist movement that once having achieved a kind of hegemony over the natives decided it no longer needed the protection of the motherland to secure their power rose up against their former masters cast and them off.

This point of view is of course factually and demonstrably false.

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