Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Benedict Option

     "Historical experience teaches us that any genuinely meaningful point of departure in an individual's life usually has an element of universality about it.  In other words, it is not something partial, accessible only to a restricted community, and not transferable to any other.  On the contrary, it must be potentially accessible to everyone; it must foreshadow a general solution and, thus, it is not just the expression of an introverted, self-contained responsibility that individuals have to and for themselves alone, but responsibility to and for the world.  Thus it would be quite wrong to understand the parallel structures and the parallel polis as a retreat into a ghetto and as an act of isolation, addressing itself only to the welfare of those who had decided on such a course, and who are indifferent to the rest.  It would be wrong, in short, to consider it an essentially group solution that has nothing to do with the general situation.  Such a concept would, from the start alienate the notion of living within the truth from its proper point of departure, which is concern for others, transforming it ultimately into just another more sophisticated version of 'living within a lie'. . . .  Patočka used to say that the most interesting thing about responsibility is that we carry it with us everywhere.  That means that responsibility is ours, that we must accept it and grasp it here, now, in this time and space where the Lord  has set us down, and that we cannot lie our way out of it by moving somewhere else, whether it be to an Indian ashram or to a parallel polis.  If Western young people so often discover that retreat to an Indian monastery fails them as an individual or group solution, then this is obviously because, and only because, it lacks that element of universality, since not everyone can retire to an ashram.  Christianity is an example of an opposite way out:  it is a point of departure for me here and now—but only because anyone, anywhere, at any time, may avail themselves of it."

     Václav Havel, "The power of the powerless" (October 1978) XVIII, trans. P. Wilson, in Living in truth:  twenty-two essays published on the occasion of the award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel, ed. Jan Vladislav (London:  Faber and Faber, 1987), 103-104 (36-122).

Sunday, February 18, 2018

"Playing chess well requires a lot of intelligence if the player is human, but no intelligence whatsoever if played computationally."

Philosophy of Information
"Such an emphasis on outcome is technologically fascinating and rather successful; witness the spreading of ICTs in our society.  Unfortunately, it is eye-crossingly dull when it comes to philosophical implications, which can be summarized in two words:  'big deal'."

     Luciano Floridi, The 4th revolution:  how the infosphere is reshaping human reality (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2014), 141-142.  The "Emulation . . . connected to outcome" that is to be distinguished from functionalism falls on the reproduction side of the reproduction-production divide (140):
As a branch of engineering interested in reproducing intelligent behavior, reproductive AI has been astoundingly successful. . . . 
     However, as a branch of cognitive science interested in producing intelligence, productive AI has been a dismal disappointment.  It does not merely underperform with respect to human intelligence; it has not [even] joined the competition yet.  Current machines have the intelligence [(not computational ability!)] of a toaster and we really do not have much of a clue about how to move from there.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The power of living within the truth "does not rely on soldiers of its own, but on the soldiers of the enemy as it were—that is to say on everyone who is living within the lie and who may be struck at any moment (in theory, at least) by the force of truth. . . ."

Václav Havel Library
     Václav Havel, "The power of the powerless" (October 1978) VIII, trans. P. Wilson, in Living in truth:  twenty-two essays published on the occasion of the award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel, ed. Jan Vladislav (London:  Faber and Faber, 1987), 58 (36-122).

"every Scripture, because it is theopneustic, is profitable."

πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος οὖσα ὠφέλιμός ἐστι.
every scripture, being theopneustic, is profitable.
"every scripture, because it is theopneustic, is profitable" [(Warfield)].

. . . πιστεύομεν, ὅτι πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος οὖσα ὠφέλιμός ἐστι.  Τὸ γὰρ ἓν τῶν δύο δεῖ σε παραδέξασθαι ἐπὶ τούτων τῶν γραφῶν, ἢ ὅτι οὔκ ἑισι θεόπνευστοι, ἑπεὶ οὔκ εἰσιν ὠφέλιμοι, ὡς ὑπολαμβάνοι ἂν ὁ ἄπιστος·  ἢ, ὡς πιστός, παραδέξασθαι, ὅτι, ἐπεί εἰσιν θεόπνευστοι, ὠφέλιμοί εἰσιν [(Origen, Homily 20.2 on Joshua; Philocalia of Origen xii.2, ed. Robinson (1893), p. 63, ll. 23 ff.)].

. . . we believe that all Scripture being [(οὖσα] inspired by God is profitable.  For as regards these Scriptures, you must admit one of two things:  either that they are not inspired because [(ἑπεὶ] they are not profitable, as an unbeliever might suppose; or, as a believer, you must allow that because [(ἐπεί)] they are inspired they are profitable [(Origen, Homily 20.2 on Joshua; Philocalia of Origen xii.2, trans. Lewis (1911), p. 56)].

. . . 'omnis scriptura divinitus inspirata utilis est'.  Si ergo 'divinitus inspirata' est, et 'utilis' est; etiamsi non sentiamus utilitatem, credere tamen debemus quia 'utilis est' [(Origen, Homily 20.2 on Joshua, Origenes Werke 7, ed. Baehrens (1921), p. 419, ll. 9 ff. (Latin) and 22 ff. (Greek))].

. . . 'all Scripture inspired by divine influence is useful.'  Thus if it is 'inspired by divine influence and is useful,' we ought to believe that it is useful even if we do not observe the usefulness [(Origen, Homily 20.2 on Joshua, trans. Bruce, FC 105 (2002), 177)].

     I was put onto this by Dr. Laura Holmes.

Monday, February 12, 2018

"A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church."

     "Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture.  Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism.  If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture.  A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church."

     Wolfhart Pannenberg, "Revelation and homosexual experience:  What Wolfhart Pannenberg says about this debate in the church," trans. Markus Bockmuehl, Christianity today 40, no. 13 (November 11, 1996):  35, 37.  ="Amor vincit omniaor does it?  Outlook:  Homosexuality and scripture," trans. Markus Bockmuehl, Church times (June 21, 1996).  ="Maßstäbe zur kirchlichen Urteilsbildung über Homosexualität," in Beiträge zur Ethik (Göttingen:  Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004), 99-102.  ="'Einem männlichen Wesen darfst du nicht beiwohnen': Maßstäbe zur kirchlichen Urteilsbildung über Homosexualität," Zeitwende 65, no. 1 (1994): 1-4.  From the latter (the original), in which this does not begin a new paragraph, and which appeals to Luther rather than the four marks:

An dieser Stelle liegt die Grenze für eine christliche Kirche, die sich an die Autorität der Schrift gebunden weiß.  Wer die Kirche dazu drängt, die Norm ihrer Lehre in dieser Frage zu ändern, muß wissen, daß er die Spaltung der Kirche betreibt.  Denn eine Kirche, die sich dazu drängen ließe, homosexuelle Betätigung nicht mehr als Abweichung von der biblischen Norm zu behandeln und homosexuelle Lebensgemeinschaften als eine Form persönlicher Liebesgemeinschaft neben der Ehe anzuerkennen, eine solche Kirche stünde nicht mehr auf dem Boden der Schrift, sondern im Gegensatz zu deren einmütigem Zeugnis.  Eine Kirche, die einen solchen Schritt tut, hätte darum aufgehört, evangelische Kirche in der Nachfolge der lutherischen Reformation zu sein.
. . . A church that takes such a step would have ceased to be [an] evangelical/Protestant church in the succession of the Lutheran Reformation.
 There is also at least one version of this up in German here.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

"she could do more [than her brother], she who loved more."

". . . illa plus potuit, quae amplius amauit."
". . . πλεῖον ἠδυνήθη ἐκείνη, ἥτις πλεῖον ἠγάπασεν."

     Gregory the Great on St. Scholastica, the sister of St.Benedict, Dialogues II.xxxiii.5.  SC 260, ed. Vogüé (1979), 234 =PL 66, cols. 196A and 195A respectively.  The Latin or the Greek should take priority.
'Lo, I asked you[, Benedict,] and you would not listen; so I asked my Lord and he did listen.' 
'Ecce te rogaui, et audiri me noluisti.  Rogaui Dominum meum, et audiuit me.' 
Ἰδοὺ παρεκάλεσά σε, καὶ ὑπακοῦσαί μου οὐκ ἠθέλησας.  Παρεκάλεσα τὸν κύριόν μου, καὶ εἰσήκουσέ μου·
For the context, go here.