Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mozart didn't hear it "as it were, all at once"?

"I had no idea, until I read Peter Hacker's review of my book Selves: an essay in revisionary metaphysics (January 22), that the letter in which Mozart supposedly claimed he could hear 'as it were, all at once' the whole of a piece of music that he was composing in his mind was a 'notorious forgery'.  I found the letter quoted (in all innocence) by William James in his Principles of Psychology (1890); it turns out that it was invented by the critic Friedrich Rochlitz (1769-1842).  How could anyone do such a thing?  The fact that Goethe was duped (and very moved) by the letter doesn't make it any better.  The fact that Rochlitz knew Mozart, and presumably wouldn't have wanted entirely to misrepresent his views, doesn't make it much better.
"Rochlitz's mock Mozart describes a point in the process of composition when the piece 'is actually almost finished in my mind, so that even if it is a long piece I can see it as a whole in my mind in a glance, as if it were a beautiful painting. . . . In my imagination I do not hear the parts successively, as they must come out, but, as it were, all at once'."

Galen Strawson, "One's got it" ("Letters to the Editor"), Times literary supplement, February 5, 2010, 6.  Strawson goes on to defend, though, the use he had made of this forgery in his book, i.e. "the view that this corresponds to something experientially real, especially in musical genius."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bowman on Avatar

"What [Yoon] means is that the feelings of discovery and delight and, on leaving the theater, nostalgia that even ordinary moviegoers appear to be getting from the film are exactly like the feelings biologists get from the real world.
"Except that, of course, this cannot be true either.  'The naked, heart-stopping wonder of really seeing the living world' simply cannot be unconnected with the fact that it is the living world and not some computer-generated simulacrum of a living world that is not, in fact, living at all."

James Bowman, "Avatar and the flight from reality," The new Atlantis: a journal of technology and society no. 27 (Spring 2010):  3 (
Although I may well come to look back on this as a little dispeptic, Bowman is surely onto something here.  What is the difference between Avatar and Perelandra?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In necessariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas (Marco Antonio De Dominis, 1617). Cf. In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas (and other variants). English: "In essentials unity. . . ."

The earliest known occurrence of this so far is to my knowledge once again "Catholic", if somewhat dubiously so, given that the Dictionnaire de théologie catholique calls the De republica ecclesiastica "a very interesting blend of theses Anglican and Gallican" (vol. 4, col. 1670), and the 2nd edition of the New Catholic encyclopedia, De Dominis himself an "apostate":
In preparing vol. XVII of the Briefwisseling van Hugo Grotius I came across a letter which the French scholar Jean de Cordes addressed to Grotius on 9 November 1634 (Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS. D'Orville 51).  In this letter the source of the adage is mentioned, be it rather vaguely:  the works of Marc' Antonio de Dominis (1560-1624), archbishop of Split (Spalato).  After some research I have found the device in book 4, chapter 8 of De republica ecclesiastica libri X, London/Hannover 1617-1622)
i.e. “on p. 676 of the first volume published in London in 1617, at the end of chapter 8 of book 4, which treats of the papacy” (H. J. M. Nellen, "De zinspreuk 'In necessariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas,'" Nederlands archief voor kerkgeschidenis 79, no. 1 (1999): 106, 104 (99-106)).  Cf.  On p. 104 of this article it appears as follows:
Quod si in ipsa radice, hoc est sede, vel potius solio Romani pontificis haec abominationis lues purgaretur et ex communi ecclesiae consilio consensuque auferretur hic metus, depressa scilicet hac petra scandali ac ad normae canonicae iustitiam complanata, haberemus ecclesiae atrium aequabile levigatum ac pulcherrimis sanctuarii gemmis splendidissimum. Omnesque mutuam amplecteremur unitatem in necessariis, in non necessariis libertatem, in omnibus caritatem. Ita sentio, ita opto, ita plane spero, in eo qui est spes nostra et non confundemur.
Now if this plague of an abomination [were to] be cleared away at the root—i.e. see or rather throne of the Roman pontiff—itself, and [if] that fear hanging over the common counsel and consent of the Church (suppressed, of course, by this stone that makes men stumble [(cf. 1 Pet 2:8 in the Vulgate)], and reduced to the ‘equity’ of canon law) [were to] be removed, we would have an equitable atrium of the Church polished and [rendered] surpassingly brilliant by the beautiful gems of the sanctuary. And we would all embrace a mutual unity in things necessary; in things non necessary liberty; in all things charity. This I feel, this I desire, this I do indeed hope for, in him who is our hope and we are not confounded.
It appears in ll. 3 and 2 from the very bottom of p. 676 of the book itself as follows:
vnitatem in necessarijs, in non necessarijs libertatem, in omnibus caritatem.
I would welcome any suggestions for the refinement of the translation I give above.

This was quoted by De Cordes (who claimed to "ay trouvé [it] dans les oeuvres de Dominis") in his letter to Grotius dated 9 November 1634 (above) as follows:
in necessariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas et in omnibus charitas
(Nellen, 102).  Grotius knew De Dominis personally, and, indeed, was in possession of this first volume of the De republica ecclesiastica by 1619 (Nellen, 103).  But he wouldn't have been able to track the maxim down on the strength of this vague reference alone (Nellen, 104).

For additional passages in De Dominis' De republica ecclesiastica that give voice to similar sentiments, see Nellen, 104n20:  bk. 7, chap. 6, sec. 21 (p. 104); bk. 7, chap. 9, sec. 18 (p. 130); bk. 7, chap. 9, sec. 27 (p. 132); bk. 7, chap. 9, sec. 204 (p. 197); bk. 7, chap. 12, sec. 113 (p. 316).

Would the presence of De Dominis in England go some way towards accounting for the major role played by Richard Baxter (1615-1691) in the dissemination of the maxim several decades later?  "The apostacy [(geloofsafval)] of the Archbishop and his flirtation with Anglicanism made him for representatives of the Reformation an important trump card in the religious controversy with Rome" (Nellen, 105)—for as long, at least, as that flirtation lasted.  And quite probably longer.

Prior to this ground-breaking article by Nellen (which, he admits, may well be superceded by "the definitive answer" published "in 2065—or perhaps much earlier" (Nellen, 101)), the consensus of more than a century had been that it was the work of Peter Meiderlin (1582-1651) (anagrammatico-pseudonymously Rupertus Meldenius), and appeared for the very first time in the first (i.e. 1626) printing of his Paraenesis votiva pro pace ecclesiae ad theologos Augustanae Confessionis  (
Verbo dicam: si nos servaremus in necessariis unitatem, in non necessariis libertatem, in utrisque caritatem, optimo certe loco essent res nostrae.
(Meiderlin's Paraenesis was so rare that Friedrich Lücke reproduced it in an appendix to his Über das Alter, den Verfasser, die ursprüngliche Form und den wahren Sinn des kirchlichen Friedenssprüches "In necessariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas":  eine literar-historische theologische Studie (Göttingen:  Dieterich, 1850).)

"Meiderlin is [therefore] a disciple of Johann Arndt, but he seeks less to defend the ideas of his master (in whom one can see a precursor of 'Pietism') than to bring an end to the dogmatic rivalries of the theologians of the Augsburg Confession" (Joseph Lecler, "À propos d'une maxime citée par le Pape Jean XXIII: In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas," Recherches de science religieuse 49 (1961): 552 (549-560)).

In Catholic (but also some Protestant) hands, dubiis was substituted for non necessariis [(note also the presence of omnibus rather than, as in Meiderlin, utrisque)], and this had supposedly the effect of extending "the rule of Meldenius . . . to much more than just the necessaria [(for salvation)] and the non necessaria [(for salvation)]", much more than just the "fundamental articles":  "the tripartite maxim. . . . [thus] lost its original Protestant nuance, in order to extend liberty to the entire domain of questions debated, doubtful, and undefined [(non définies par l'Église)]" (Lecler, 559-560).  There are many helpful references to the literature (but most notably Krüger and Eekhof) in Lecler, who isn't doing much in the way of original scholarship, but mostly summarizing the work of others (Eekhof and Krüger, and, for more than a century total behind them, Bauer, Lücke, and Morin).

But the 1999 article by Nellen has, for now at least, returned this once again to (a dubious) "Catholicism".

"In necessariis unitas, | in dubiis libertas, | in omnibus caritas. | Augustin, dem John Wesley | zugestimmt hätte. | Geoffrey Wainwright | in herrlicher Verbundenheit. | Manfred Marquardt | Cambridge, July 24th,1987".  Inscription on title page of a copy of Praxis und Prinzipien der Sozialethic John Wesleys, by Manfred Marquardt (Göttingen:  Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977), purchased from Windows Booksellers for the Seattle Pacific University Library on 9 July 2014.  "Augustine, with whom John Wesley would have agreed.  [To] Geoffrey Wainwright", etc.

Here is a bit more in the way of 20th- and 21-century bibliography, thrown in quite willy nilly as encountered (rather than searched for) after I first posted this on 2 March 2010.  I do not claim to have read all that follows, nor that this list is anything even close to exhaustive.
And here is a grab-bag of allusions, thrown in (here, too) quite willy nilly as encountered:
"All in the church must preserve unity in essentials [(In necessariis unitatem)].  But let all, according to the gifts they have received, maintain a proper freedom [(debitam libertatem)] in their various forms of spiritual life and discipline, in their different liturgical rites, and even in their theological elaborations of revealed truth.   In all things let charity [(in omnibus . . . caritatem)] prevail.  If they are true to this course of action, they will be giving ever better expression to the authentic catholicity and apostolicity of the church" (Unitatis redintegratio 1.4; Decrees, ed. Tanner, vol. 2. p. 912).

Monday, March 1, 2010

The poor and the wretched I can handle, but the irksome?

“O God almighty and tender-hearted, . . .
“Forgive us, [we] who have disregarded the presence of your Christ in the poor, the wretched, and the troublesome [(molestis)]”.

Entreaties, Morning prayer, Second Monday of Lent, italics (and translation) mine.  Molestus:  annoying, bothersome, burdensome, difficult, grevious, incommodius, irksome, troublesome, vexing (and worse).

"'a modern classic. . . . impervious to technical change'"

"OUP has taken to touting the [now] heavily discounted sixty-five-volume hard-copy ODNB as 'a modern classic . . . impervious to technical change'".

     Arthur Freeman, reviewing the Oxford companion to the book, in "Rare, cheque and bath:  the end of a daunting project that escapes the curse of Wikipedia," Times literary supplement, February 5, 2010, p. 8.  The language he reproduces was here (, under "Why buy a sixty-volume print set when the dictionary is available online?":
The DNB is one of the most famous books in English. The new Oxford DNB will take its place as a modern classic. In book form it will remain your permanent archive, impervious to technical change, and will be seen as a historical landmark for the next hundred years.
(This ignores the bitter criticism to which the ODNB has been subjected, and in the TLS above all.)
     OUP stands, of course, for Oxford University Press, and ODNB, for the Oxford dictionary of national biography.
     The TLS subtitle derives from this:  "nothing in [the Oxford companion to the book], as far as I can see, is simply parroted from an unverified or unacknowledged source—the curse of Wikipedia and most online cribs, which also affects OCEL" (the Oxford companion to English literature).

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Butterfield on Moral judgments in history

"Behind everything, and notwithstanding something like a cosmic scheme of good and evil in conflict, the whig historian has found it possible to reserve for himself one last curious piece of subtlety.  He can choose even to forgive the private life of Fox and save his moral condemnation for 'the repressive policy of Pitt.'  For of Lord Acton himself we are informed that 'he had little desire to pry into the private morality of kings and politicians'; and it was Acton who told historians that they must 'suspect power more than vice.'  The whig seems to prefer to take his moral stand upon what he calls the larger questions of public policy.  So upon the whig interpretation of history we have imposed the peculiar historian's ethics, by which we can overlook the fact that a king is a spendthrift and a rake, but cannot contain our moral passions if a king has too exalted a view of his own office.  Burke's dictum, which Acton endorses, that 'the principles of true politics are those of morality enlarged,' may contain a world of truth, but it can be dangerous in the hands of the historian.  And not the least of its dangers lies in the fact that it can be so easily inverted."

Herbert Butterfield, The Whig interpretation of history, 1st American ed. (New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951 [1931]), 128-129 (chapter entitled "Moral judgments in history").  No comfort here for those tempted to reverse this and suspect vice as much as power (since they would be Whiggish, too), but quite true-to-form nonetheless.
(Those tempted to reverse this and suspect vice as much as power would be forgetting that "moral judgments are useless unless they can be taken to imply a comparison of one man with another", that "it is impossible to make comparisons of this kind unless we compare also [exhaustively] the situation in which men find themselves" (123), that "all history [of this sort] perpetually requires to be corrected by more history" (131), and that, in sum, there is no end to the requisite enumeration of the relevant circumstances on the part of the historian qua historian, no end to pure description, no God's-eye view, no "verdict of History" personified.)

Butterfield may well be right about the historian qua "servant of the servants of God [or the Devil], . . . drudge of all the drudges" (130 ff.), but is his role qua responsible agent or person really this sequestrable?  And isn't the claim that there can be for us no end to (an ultimately exonerating) pure description a debilitating assumption?