Plato on Reputation

Posted December 15, 2008 by phamilton
Categories: Philosophy, Uncategorized

From the Crito:

Soc. Tell me, then, whether I am right in saying that some opinions, and the opinions of some men only, are to be valued, and other opinions, and the opinions of other men, are not to be valued. I ask you whether I was right in maintaining this?

Cr. Certainly.

Soc. The good are to be regarded, and not the bad?

Cr. Yes.

Soc. And the opinions of the wise are good, and the opinions of the unwise are evil?

Cr. Certainly.

Soc. And what was said about another matter? Was the disciple in gymnastics supposed to attend to the praise and blame and opinion of every man, or of one man only- his physician or trainer, whoever that was?

Cr. Of one man only.

Soc. And he ought to fear the censure and welcome the praise of that one only, and not of the many?

Cr. That is clear.

Soc. And he ought to live and train, and eat and drink in the way which seems good to his single master who has understanding, rather than according to the opinion of all other men put together?

Cr. True.

Soc. And if he disobeys and disregards the opinion and approval of the one, and regards the opinion of the many who have no understanding, will he not suffer evil?

Cr. Certainly he will.

Soc. And what will the evil be, whither tending and what affecting, in the disobedient person?

Cr. Clearly, affecting the body; that is what is destroyed by the evil.

Soc. Very good; and is not this true, Crito, of other things which we need not separately enumerate? In the matter of just and unjust, fair and foul, good and evil, which are the subjects of our present consultation, ought we to follow the opinion of the many and to fear them; or the opinion of the one man who has understanding, and whom we ought to fear and reverence more than all the rest of the world: and whom deserting we shall destroy and injure that principle in us which may be assumed to be improved by justice and deteriorated by injustice; is there not such a principle?

Cr. Certainly there is, Socrates.


Demographic Winter

Posted December 10, 2008 by phamilton
Categories: Uncategorized

A trailer for a new documentary.  You know, for a civilization which claims to love humanity and screams for human rights, it’s somewhat ironic that people don’t want to have children.  You know:  more humans.

Sokolowski on Gay “Marriage”

Posted November 20, 2008 by phamilton
Categories: Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized

Msgr. Sokolowski gives a great argument against gay “marriage”, in the clear style that only Sokolowski can give.  Not that our opponents are intellectually open enough to take the argument seriously, though.  The modern day advocate of gay rights is so caught up in his ideology that he dismisses the widescale historical social opposition to his own position to the “yuck” factor.  It is only the enlightened modern man (i.e. living within the last 10-15 years) who actually began to think rationally and support gay marriage.  Riiight.

Robert George, Obama, Abortion

Posted November 11, 2008 by phamilton
Categories: Catholicism, Uncategorized

I read this piece by Robert George on the abortion policies Obama promises to enact, as well as his abortion voting history. 

Now that the election is over, the interesting question will be to see how many Obama-supporting Catholics actively oppose Obama’s abortion policies.  Further, it will be interesting to finally see the myth put to rest that liberal social policies will lower the occurrence of abortions by keeping people out of situations in which they would desire to have an abortion.  Then maybe we can get back to the real work of banning such an horrendous crime from our shores.

But then again, don’t count on it.  Expect Catholics to continue voting primarily in line with their political affinities.

EDIT:  Fixed the broken link.

Dismissing Arguments A Priori

Posted September 13, 2008 by phamilton
Categories: Philosophy, Uncategorized

There are certain kinds of arguments which do not deserve to be taken seriously.  I take this claim to be uncontroversial.  For example, Aristotle mentions that arguments against the principle of non-contradiction inevitably fail because each such argument cannot prove its claim without implictly relying on the PNC.  Several moral arguments fall into this class as well.  Arguments in favor of racism or the killing of innocents are paradigmatic examples:  anyone who still believes that ‘race’ is anything but a social construction just is ignorant, and he who argues for the killing of the innocent is a monster.

But even if some arguments can be dismissed a priori, it is important to provide an account for why these claims do not merit serious discussion.  While the examples that I provided above are uncontroversial, the rejection of such claims needs to be carefully distinguished from polemic.  Polemics often group serious arguments into the category of arguments not to be taken seriously.  For example, the new atheists do not even consider theistic arguments to be taken seriously, and so they spend all their days ridiculing theists and engaging in self-congratulatory behavior.  Although I am unequal to the task of enumerating a complete list of criteria to distinguish serious arguments from arguments not to be taken seriously, I have two suggestions.

First, no philosophical movement which was pursued by a large number of philosophers over long periods of time deserves to be dismissed.  This does not mean that all arguments to be taken seriously must have come from one of these movements.  Rather it expresses the intuition that with that tradition of philosophy were at least some good philosophers who were capable of careful thinking.  As a matter of fact, most philosophical movements were started by such brilliant thinkers.  Anyone who has spent any time reading St. Thomas, David Hume, or Bertrand Russell can see that each was brilliant; and because they were brilliant, they developed a following among other careful thinkers. 

Second–and probably more controversially–an argument deserves consideration only if it conforms to some sort of natural law.  I don’t mean that everyone must subscribe to a natural law ethic.  What I am claiming is that there are a set of basic moral principles that have been acknowledged in every time and culture, even if these principles have been applied differently from culture to culture.  The killing of innocents, respect for the dead, and respect for the property of others all fall into this category.

I’m not quite satisfied with my formulation of my second point.  Although I think the general idea is correct, I still think it leaves something to be desired.

With All Due Respect, St. Augustine…

Posted September 9, 2008 by phamilton
Categories: Uncategorized

I like Greek much more than I like Latin.  Why is it that after nearly four years of Latin–in which I learned to parse a verb almost instantaneously in my mind–do I have trouble translating a bit of Boethius?  And yet, after two semesters of Greek–after which I’m still not able e.g. to parse a verb instantaneously–can I translate Aristotle or Plato with relative ease (except for not having a broad enough vocabulary)?

Here’s my experience with the two languages:  Latin has a very steep learning curve in the beginning, but the learning curve slows down dramatically after that.  I know I can translate Latin better than I could two years ago, but why is it that I still have so much trouble doing it?  On the other hand, Greek has a much more level learning curve in the beginning, but the curve is much steeper than Latin’s is after one learns the basics.

Latin and Greek are both difficult, but in different ways.  Latin has very structured declensions and conjugations, but it is often difficult to discover what purpose various words or phrases serve in a given sentence.  Greek is the opposite:  the Greek verbal system is so complex that I cry whenever I recall my days of trying to figure it out; however, I have much less difficulty figuring out what purpose different words serve in a sentence.

Do any of my fellow nerds agree with me?

Dr. Horrible

Posted September 7, 2008 by phamilton
Categories: Humor, Uncategorized

Dr. Horrible is a three part internet musical chronicling the life of a supervillian wannabe, Dr. Horrible.  The history of the project is available on Wikipedia.  The music is very good, and I want them to do well so that more episodes will be made.  Enjoy!