larvatus: (rock)

—for Carlo Ginzburg


In his comparison of poetry to history, Aristotle points out that their difference is not one between verse and prose. After all, the writings of Herodotus would be a species of history with meter no less than without it. The real difference that distinguishes them is between telling what might be and what has been. Notoriously, the Stagirite takes this distinction for the reason why poetry is more scientific [philosophôteron] and more serious [spoudaioteron] than history. For poetry tells of general truths, which is the sort of thing that a certain type of man will do or say either probably or necessarily [to eikos ê to anankaion]. By contrast, history tells of particular facts such as what Alcibiades did or suffered [epraxen ê ti epathen].[i]

Yet as Aristotle inaugurates philosophy with his account of general truths pertaining to the words and deeds of a certain type of man, his teacher Plato by these lights counts for no less of a poet without meter, than he might have appeared with it. Let us bear in mind Aristotle’s contrast in the following exploration of two poetic archetypes, Socrates and Gorgias, in their dramatic debate about the virtues of rhetoric. Their wrangle recorded in Plato’s Gorgias, and the techniques of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, will ground this inquiry into the relation of rhetoric to reason.


Myles Burnyeat summarized his account of Aristotle on the rationality of rhetoric in the form of question and answer: “We would like to know under what conditions it is appropriate for a speaker to advance, and for the audience to accept, a sign argument that is deductively invalid? The only answer we get from the Rhetoric is: when it is convincing.”[ii] For Socrates, this answer will not do. Nothing short of certainty will satisfy him. He engages in arguments by alternating between the roles of the speaker and his audience. He aims to reveal hitherto unrecognized errors to his interlocutors, by guiding them to infer contradictions from their theses or to deduce their antitheses. He has no use for conviction unwarranted by indisputable demonstration. In Socratic dialectic, only valid arguments are worth being advanced and accepted, and their advancement and acceptance are warranted only in the pursuit of just ends. Socrates conveys his dialectic reasoning through a technique of maieutics, his service to his interlocutors’ ideas being a counterpart to a midwife assisting childbirth. He coaxes conscious understanding from latent ideas in the course of a dialogue conducted as a series of pointed questions and brief answers. The progress of this dialogue depends on achieving unshakeable consensus on each successive point. This elenctic protocol allows discovery through reconciling or choosing between competing viewpoints. By following it, Socrates aims to achieve mutual understanding through stepwise accrual of agreement. In the ideal case, a mathematical proof ensures absolute certainty.[iii]

In his historical conduct, Gorgias the sophist neither restricted his means of persuasion to demonstrative, geometric reasoning, nor imposed moral constraints on its aims.[iv] Although in his Apology, Plato has Socrates name Gorgias of Leontini alongside Prodicus of Ceos and Hippias of Eos as sophists, or commercial purveyors of wisdom, the eponymous character in Gorgias modestly identifies himself as a rhetorician, in setting out to praise the role of rhetoric in society.[v] Associating his trade with liberty and power in a democracy, he defines rhetoric as an art of speeches [logoi] that aim to produce persuasion regarding the just and unjust.[vi] Rhetorical speeches are about the greatest and the best human affairs, which is the cause of freedom for men and the basis of rule over others in their city. They are equally fit to persuade judges in a law court, senators in the Council chamber, assemblymen in the Assembly, and the multitude in common political gatherings.[vii]

In fact, rhetorical ability counted for a great deal in the functioning of Athenian democracy. Most men active in politics sought training, and vied for recognition, as orators. In the best public venues, rhetoric was recognized as the discipline most suited for directing human affairs.[viii] But high demand inspired suspicion. By stressing the nature of rhetoric as an instrument of persuasion, Gorgias lays himself open to the charge that rhetoric aims at belief without knowledge. His examples of Themistocles and Pericles aggravate this weakness. The Long Walls were built to link Athens securely to its harbors at Piraeus and Phalerum. The passage they secured ensured that the city could not be encircled by an invading army and besieged by land alone. After the Persian Wars reduced them to rubble, Sparta pressed Athens to stop rebuilding her walls, lest they create a base for another Persian invasion. But advocacy by Themistocles and Pericles eventually caused their reconstruction.[ix] These politicians employed their rhetorical powers to advise Athenians on building their walls; yet they were neither architects nor stonemasons.[x] Thus Socrates turns Gorgias’ example against its maker, who had disclaimed orators’ need to know how things really stand with things themselves, requiring them only to discover some trick of persuasion, so as to appear to the unknowing to know more than those who know.[xi] Rebutting this claim, Socrates suggests that in employing their rhetorical powers, these politicians aimed only at accommodating people’s appetites [epithumiai]. He neglects to point out that in promoting public works, Themistocles had to argue against distributing their budget among the people. Nonetheless, he succeeds in establishing that in the long term Pericles was impelled by agenda to ratify and satisfy the desires of his constituents rather than guide them towards moral improvement.[xii]

In regard of this moral concern, Gorgias volunteers a critical concession, that rhetoric should not be used indiscriminately against any target, any more so than the fighting arts should be used against friend and foe alike.[xiii] Nevertheless, he goes on to claim that his universal art allows him to surpass experts in their disciplines, that he can persuade the average man to take a stand in any area of knowledge, and that he can do all that without having to learn anything of particular substance.[xiv] Arguing against this thesis, Socrates compels the rhetorician to concede that he both knows the nature of the good and bad, the fine and the shameful, the just and unjust, and places himself in the right regarding each moral distinciton.[xv] At this point Gorgias has committed himself to a fatal contradiction. His admissions imply that the rhetorician must know and respect all moral qualities, while falling short of the capacity to teach them to his students. He shares the philosopher’s knowledge, but not his ability to communicate it. The historical Gorgias was credited with proving three remarkable propositions: that nothing exists; that even if it does exist, it is incomprehensible to man; and that, even if it is comprehensible to anyone, it is not communicable to anyone else.[xvi] A sophist of this caliber would not have been embarrassed by having to profess non-communicable knowledge. But the dignified rhetorician respectfully portrayed within Plato’s dialogue concedes the game for want of sophistical shamelessness, entitling Socrates to conclude that the rhetorician is a manufacturer of groundless belief, and condemn oratory as no art [technê], but a mere knack, a species of flattery altogether lacking in dignity.[xvii]


Unlike the characters of Plato’s dialogue, Aristotle identifies the technical nature of his subject matter in the Rhetoric as the counterpart of dialectic. The Aristotelian speaker advances his argument through a process of proof. He presents considerations regarding his subject, drawing upon all available premisses to reach the desired conclusion, whilst anticipating the objections of his audience. He strives to compel his audience into accepting a convincing argument to bear on its future decisions. Although rhetoric and dialectic both deal with matters that concern all human understanding, they differ in their means of demonstration. A rhetorical argument proceeds from received opinions [endoxa], leaving plenty of wiggle room for filling the gaps in their demonstration. In contrast to rhetoricians, dialecticians’ reasoning proceeds from premisses accepted by their respondents via arguments that their respondents recognize as logically valid. Socratic arguments require reasoned discussion with no room for objection. But whereas the dialectic technique of maieutics only allows a proceeding after a consensus is made, each rhetorical debate remains open to challenge at every step, ruling out conclusive arguments in perpetuity.

Aristotle blames his predecessors for saying nothing about enthymemes that belong to the body of proof, but chiefly devoting their attention to matters outside the subject; for the arousing of prejudice, compassion, anger, and similar emotions having no connexion with the matter in hand, but directed only to the dicast charged with deciding their case. Thus in his account of rhetoric Aristotle avoids both the Gorgian praise and the Socratic condemnation. Though his technique aims to convince through the motion of affects, proofs comprise its only aspect that comes within the province of art, everything else being merely an accessory. Enthymemes are the body of proof.[xviii] Accordingly, in order to understand the nature of proof, we must pin down the nature of enthymemes.

An enthymeme is a sort of argument [sullogismos tis] used in a rhetorical speech.[xix] Its material is derived from four sources, likelihood [eikos], example [paradeigma], necessary sign [tekmêrion], and sign [sêmeion]. Only enthymemes based on necessary signs [tekmêria], can lead to conclusions that are beyond refutation.[xx] But in the general case, these is no need to preempt the possibility of refutation. The rhetorician aims instead to establish his case to the best of his ability, proving it to the satisfaction of an audience [pistis].[xxi] Thus, besides enthymemes, amplifications and examples are admissible techniques for proof:

Speaking generally, of the topics common to all rhetorical arguments, amplification is most suitable for epideictic speakers, whose subject is actions which are not disputed, so that all that remains to be done is to attribute beauty and importance to them. Examples are most suitable for deliberative speakers, for it is by examination of the past that we divine and judge the future. Enthymemes are most suitable for forensic speakers, because the past, by reason of its obscurity, above all lends itself to investigation of causes and to demonstrative proof.[xxii]

It is clear that the aim of Aristotelian rhetoric far exceeds the exiguous means of geometrical demonstration. Thus hyperbole has a place in declamations that take bare facts as undisputed. Likewise, examples that support the contested proposition inductively can be taken as the basis for sustaining it as a probable generalization from particular instances. In practice, such proof succeeds whenever it can sway the audience into making its decisions on the most probable ground. But probability will vary depending on the circumstances. And in cases that fall short of certainty, the rhetorician can only hope and pray that his audience includes no rational detectors of error capable of deriving a contradiction from his thesis or formulating the proof of its antithesis.

By Aristotle’s lights, Socrates’ reasoning in his debate with Gorgias may be faulted for a gratuitous dichotomy, an unwarranted division of a whole into two mutually exclusive parts. Socrates presents to Gorgias with two mutually exclusive choices, implicitly ruling out any unstated alternatives. On the one side stand philosophers and physicians, teachers and artisans. On the other side congregate flatterers and suckers, demagogical politicians and ignorant multitudes. As Socrates claims his place among the former honest and forthright folk, he classifies Gorgias among the latter ilk, purveyors and consumers of baseless belief and unsound fodder. However, must every politician only aim towards gratifying his constituents? Surely Themistocles and Pericles did not have to instruct Athenians in the art of masonry in order to convince them of the importance of building the wall. Their proposals legitimately relied on division of labor that ensured full participation of builders in public debates. Freed thereby from technical concerns, the politicians were right to focus on ensuring security for their constituents. Likewise, as an expert in persuasion, Gorgias should have been able to team up with experts in any discipline related to its subject matter in any particular instance. But even in his modest purview of Plato’s dialogue, the rhetorician is not modest enough to disclaim self-sufficiency. This failure needlessly foredooms his confrontation with the philosopher.


Within the historical perspective, Aristotelian criticism on Socrates and Gorgias finds a basis in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Paul Shorey aptly characterized Thucydides as “a hard-headed […] rationalist who was contemptuous of all teleological and providential interpretations of history and explained everything by natural causes and unchanging human nature—the psychology, motives, and the conflicting interests of men.”[xxiii] Tradition contrasts this portrayal of Thucydides with the received image of Herodotus via a backhanded compliment. Herodotus, simultaneously anointed as the father of history and disparaged as the father of lies, lays himself open to criticism as a casual entertainer, if not outright denunciation as an irresponsible fantasist.[xxiv] Whereas the paternity of scientific history allotted to Thycydides in recognition of his analytical rigor, contains in its technical qualification the gloomy image of a mechanistic skeleton propelled by spasms of cynicism through a morass of tedium. Nonetheless, it would be wrong to withhold credit for Thucydides anticipating the Aristotelian treatment of proof, albeit in a way that conflated probable proof [sêmeion] with necessary proof [tekmêrion].[xxv] This conflation addressed his concern and indicated the way he sought to resolve:

For though the events of remote antiquity, and even those that more immediately precede the war, could not from lapse of time be clearly ascertained, yet the evidences which an inquiry carried as far back as was practicable leads me to trust, all point to the conclusion that there was nothing on a great scale, either in war or in other matters.[xxvi]

Even when the historical facts are obscured by the passage of time, available evidence is the key to inferring their contours. However, in composing his account, Thucydides structures all particular evidence in accordance with the dictates of general principle. Thus the rhetorical arguments in the speeches that Thucydides incorporated in his account of the Peloponnesian war anticipate Aristotle’s idea of rhetorical proof, in being based on the most reputable signs and connecting with the concerns of its audience. Although the composition of each speech is grounded in specific evidence from each individual event, its first allegiance is to the intrinsic logic of their makers’ circumstances:

With reference to the speeches in this history, some were delivered before the war began, others while it was going on; some I heard myself, others I got from various quarters; it was in all cases difficult to carry them word for word in one’s memory, so my habit has been to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of them by the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what they really said.[xxvii]
Thucydides amassed and dispensed historical knowledge not for its own sake, but as a conduit to understanding. Far from resting content in accounts of particular facts such as what men did or what was done to them, he aimed to uncover and convey general truths about human action. Beyond establishing the patterns of masses in turmoil and plots of demagogues clinging to power, his history aimed at dissecting the nature of social upheavals and unmasking demagoguery, indeed at penetrating political power itself. In accounting for moral and political issues, his main device was the speech. The purpose of the ensuing historical writing is to guide its readers toward an understanding of actions and events as determined by the energies that impel human agents and forces that constrain them. Its allegiance to conclusions borne out by factual evidence checked this speculative urge. Thus Thucydides would punctuate factually grounded interpretation, rendered more plausible by his impersonal tone, with spells of invention that attributed discourses to his characters.[xxviii]

The Mytilene debate in Book III is an example of proof presented through the twin means of impersonal narrative and revealing speeches, which are equally embedded into their context.[xxix] The debate takes place on the day following the order for total extermination of the Mytilene men and enslavement of their women and children, agreed upon by the Athenian assembly and dispatched to Mytilene. Thucydides introduces it by noting repentance and reflection on the cruelty of a decree that condemned a whole city to the fate merited only by the guilty, which caused a second assembly to be summoned.[xxx] Both of the following speeches present their makers’ arguments with proofs that illustrate possible consequences and anticipate the audience’ thoughts so as to guide it towards a decision. Cleon argues for executing the original order. He intends this extreme course of action to seal the Athenian victory and forestall future conflicts by deterring other cities from revolt. Mytilene should not have had a chance to build up their arrogance for attack. The right response to their revolt must deter all remaining allies from breaking faith with Athens. Athenians should not let themselves be swayed by clever speeches or large bribes. The penalty for rebellion is death[xxxi] In his response, Diodotus argues from the opposite position, advocating execution only for the leaders of the rebels. He disclaims any motive in regard to the Mytilenians, besides the reasons of state: “Though I prove them ever so guilty, I shall not, therefore, advise their death, unless it be expedient; nor though they should have claims to indulgence, shall I recommend it, unless it be clearly for the good of the country.”[xxxii] He stresses that the discussion should concern the present rather than the future. Athenians should think how Mytilene could be most useful to their polis. Their death would not deter others from breaking laws. On the contrary, it would inspire any future rebels to rule out surrender and fight to the death. A harsh penalty would increase future losses. In dealing with free people, Athens should favor timely prevention over belated punishment, taking tremendous care of them to forestall the mere idea of their revolt.[xxxiii]

Both discourses urge their audience to resist emotions that might sway their rational judgment. Cleon speaks of Mytilenians who had forfeited their right to be pitied by the Athenians in virtue of having rebelled against them. Men should extend their sympathy to friends, not to enemies. He warns the audience against falling prey to their own pleasure in considering the opposite view. Diodotus opens his response by identifying “the two things most opposed to good counsel [as] haste and passion; haste usually goes hand in hand with folly, passion with coarseness and narrowness of mind.”[xxxiv] Thus he responds to the bias towards anger at the Mytilenes’ revolt that would incline his audience to agree with the policy of total extermination and enslavement. Diodotus directs his audience toward their interests in the situation. In this regard, Thucydides’ construction of proof anticipates the rhetoric of Aristotle. His speakers appear to forgo emotional appeals to their audience, concentrating instead on their interests. In the terms of Aristotle’s contrast in the Poetics, they argue as poets, not as historians. But surely this title belongs to the author, in his capacity of the puppetmaster of his characters.


Thus historical arguments depend on uncertainty of actions and events, involving probability as a necessary quality in proof and leaving room for doubt in all future discussions. But there remains a Socratic tradition that seeks geometrical certainty in all matters. Between 1274 and 1305, Ramón Llull envisioned his Ars Magna as a system of mechanical means capable of drawing upon the totality of concepts so as to exhaust all combinatorial alternatives of their logical aggregation. Three and a half centuries later, in the first part of his 1655 treatise De Corpore, entitled “Computatio sive Logica” and intended as an introduction to his entire philosophical system, Thomas Hobbes speculated that the first truths “were arbitrarily made by those that first of all imposed Names upon Things, or received them from the imposition of others.” By this conventionalist approach to the necessary truths of mathematics, Hobbes distinguished Euclid’s axioms from the laws of physics, which are not made by arbitrary definitions. But even as he placed himself outside of its Platonist purview, Hobbes continued the project of Llull by treating human thought as reducible to the manipulation of signs, as a species of calculation.

In 1666, inspired by the analysis of Hobbes, 19-year old Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz wrote his Dissertatio de Arte Combinatoria, envisioning the characteristica universalis, a method for precise resolution of all human disagreements. He speculated elsewhere that if we had it, we should be able to reason in metaphysics and morals in much the same way as in Geometry and Analysis, because the Symbols would clarify our thoughts that are too vague and too flighty in these matters, where imagination does not help us, if it would not do so through symbols:

Quo facto, quando orientur controversiae, non magis disputatione opus erit inter duos philosophos, quam inter duos Computistas. Sufficiet enim calamos in manus sumere sedereque ad abacos, et sibi mutuo (accito si placet amico) dicere: calculemus.
If controversies were to arise, there would be no more need of disputation between two philosophers than between two accountants. For it would suffice to take their pencils in their hands, and say to each other (with a friend as witness, if they liked): Let us calculate.
Leibniz had no illusions about philosophical reasoning attaining the cogency of mathematical demonstration. There are no Euclidists and Archimedians in mathematics, as there are Aristotelians and Platonists in philosophy. Philosophers lack recourse to mathematical means of discovering possible mistakes. To that end, they require symbols and rules to formalize their thought and make it fit subject for calculation. The outcome of this procedure would endure in perpetuity, just as a mathematical truth, once understood, is never rejected.

Nonetheless, Leibniz acknowledged the limitations of his characteristica universalis. Its means could never suffice for deducing an individual statement like “Caesar was murdered on the ides of March”, because any such statement involves an infinity of causes and each of its constituent individual notions like Caesar comprises an infinity of elements. Nearly twenty years after inaugurating his program, Leibniz became even more skeptical about its prospects, observing that there are people who even reject indisputable arguments.[xxxv]

Leibniz’s empiricist foil John Locke approached the relationship between geometric demonstration and forensic persuasion from the opposite perspective:

As Demonstration is the shewing the Agreement, or Disagreement of two Ideas, by the intervention of one or more Proofs, which have a constant, immutable, and visible connexion one with another: so Probability is nothing but the appearance of such an Agreement, or Disagreement, by the intervention of Proofs, whose connexion is not constant and immutable, or at least is not perceived to be so, but is, or appears for the most part to be so, and is enough to induce the Mind to judge the Proposition to be true, or false, rather than the contrary. For example: In the demonstration of it, a Man perceives the certain, immutable connexion there is of Equality, between the three Angles of a Triangle, and those intermediate ones, which are made use of to shew their Equality to two right ones: and so, by an intuitive Knowledge of the Agreement, or Disagreement of the intermediate Ideas in each step of the progress, the whole Series is continued with an evidence, which clearly shews the Agreement, or Disagreement, of those three Angles, in equality to two right ones: And thus he has certain Knowledge that it is so. But another Man, who never took the pains to observe the Demonstration, hearing a Mathematician, a Man of credit, affirm the three Angles of a Triangle to be equal to two right ones, assents to it; i.e. receives it for true. In which case, the foundation of his Assent is the Probability of the thing, the Proof being such, as for the most part carries Truth with it: The Man, on whose Testimony he receives it, not being wont to affirm any thing contrary to, or besides his Knowledge, especially in matters of this kind. So that that which causes his Assent to this Proposition, that the three Angles of a triangle are equal to two right ones, that which makes him take these Ideas to agree, without knowing them to do so, is the wonted Veracity of the Speaker in other cases, or his supposed Veracity in this.[xxxvi]
Locke’s distinction suggests that appeal to probability differs from demonstrative reasoning in the fit to its audience. The speaker’s discretion is not only in following the injunction laid down near the beginning of Nicomachean Ethics, to achieve that amount of precision, which belongs to its subject matter,[xxxvii] but also in establishing the degree of certainty in proof that his audience requires and appreciates. Some of the most vital political matters that confront the American electorate today admit neither the utmost amount of precision nor the greatest degree of certainty. Mark Bowden articulates a case in point by recommending that torture should be banned but also quietly practiced:

In other words, when the ban is lifted, there is no restraining lazy, incompetent, or sadistic interrogators. As long as it remains illegal to torture, the interrogator who employs coercion must accept the risk. He must be prepared to stand up in court, if necessary, and defend his actions. Interrogators will still use coercion because in some cases they will deem it worth the consequences. This does not mean they will necessarily be punished. In any nation the decision to prosecute a crime is an executive one. A prosecutor, a grand jury, or a judge must decide to press charges, and the chances that an interrogator in a genuine ticking-bomb case would be prosecuted, much less convicted, is very small.[xxxviii]

The availability of the affirmative defense of necessity under common law defines the boundaries of precision and certainty in Anglo-American administration of criminal justice.[xxxix] It suggests that in the extreme circumstances, the best proof we can hope for in forensic arguments is the finding of reasonable doubt by a jury of our peers. Likewise our history has to content itself with provisional verdicts beyond reasonable doubt. As long as this state of affairs endures, the rationalist historian cannot hope to limit his demonstrations to valid arguments proceeding from true premisses.




As Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel admitted in concluding the preface to his Philosophy of Right, philosophy always comes on the scene too late to give instruction as to what the world ought to be: “the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.” But the historian that follows Thucydides in poiesis, takes his cue from a different bird.

The cock of Apollo crows at dawn.[xli]

—Michael Zeleny, 14 December 2007—5 June 2013

[i] Aristotle, Poetics 1451a36-b11. I cite Aristotle by Bekker’s and Plato by Stephanus’ pagination. Whenever possible, I follow the Loeb editions and translations of classical texts, as available online at the Perseus Project. I thank Chien-Ling Liu for indispensable assistance with historical research and analysis.

[ii] See M.F. Burnyeat, “Enthymeme: Aristotle on the Rationality of Rhetoric”, Essays on Aristotle’s Rhetoric, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996, p.109.

[iii] See Socrates’ dialogue with the slave boy in Meno at 82b-85c.

[iv] See the historical background recounted in W.K.C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, Volume 3, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969, pp. 192-200, 269-274; Jonathan Barnes, The Presocratic Philosophers, London: Routledge, 1982, pp. 171-175, 182-3, 470-471, 524-530; Renato Barilli, Rhetoric, translated by Juliana Menozzi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989, pp. 5-6, 8-9; Brian Vickers, In Defense of Rhetoric, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 6-7; contrast the disavowal by E.L. Harrison in “Was Gorgias a Sophist?”, Phoenix, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Autumn, 1964), pp. 183-192.

[v] See Apology 19e; compare the more attenuated characterization of Gorgias submitting himself to questioning by all comers on all subjects, including virtue, while disclaiming an ability to teach it, reported in Meno 70b, 71c-d, 73c, 76b-c, 79e, 95c, and 96d.

[vi] See Gorgias, 456a-457b, 449d, 454b.

[vii] See Gorgias 451d, 452d, 452e.

[viii] See W.K.C. Guthrie, op. cit., pp. 50-54, 125, 178-181; Renato Barilli, op. cit, pp. 11-12, 35-36, 45-46, 71.

[ix] See Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, I.89-93; Plutarch, Life of Pericles 33; David M. Lewis, John Boardman, J. K. Davies, and M. Ostwald, editors, The Cambridge Ancient History, Second Edition, Volume 5: The Fifth Century B.C., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 63, 97.

[x] See Gorgias 454e, 455e.

[xi] See Gorgias 458e, 459c.

[xii] See History of the Peloponnesian War I, 90; compare the claims in History of the Peloponnesian War II, 65. I am indebted for this point to the commentary in Plato, Gorgias, translated with notes by Terence Irwin, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 237.

[xiii] See Gorgias 456c-d.

[xiv] See Gorgias 459c.

[xv] See Gorgias 460c.

[xvi] See Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Mathematicos, VII, 65-87; W.K.C. Guthrie, op. cit., 193-194; Jonathan Barnes, op. cit., pp. 173-174.

[xvii] See Gorgias 465c-466a, 502a-c.

[xviii] See Rhetoric 1354a1-3.

[xix] See Rhetoric 1355a4-7, 1400b37. I am equally indebted to the previously cited account of M.F. Burnyeat and its incisive criticism by Carlo Ginzburg in “Aristotle and History, Once More”, in History, Rhetoric, and Proof, Brandeis University Press, 1999, pp. 38-53. My understanding of enthymeme agrees with the traditional definition of an abbreviated syllogism, repudiated by Burnyeat and reinstated by Ginzburg.

[xx] See Rhetoric 1402b8-1403a14; compare Carlo Ginzburg, op. cit., p. 40.

[xxi] See M.F. Burnyeat, op. cit., p. 93.

[xxii] See Rhetoric 1368a27-34.

[xxiii] See Charles Norris Cochrane, Thucydides and the Science of History, Oxford University Press 1929, and its review by Paul Shorey in Classical Philology, Vol. 25, No. 3 (July, 1930), pp. 290-292.

[xxiv] See Cicero, De Legibus I.5, where Herodotus, acknowledged as the father of history, “pater historiae” is said to purvey find fables scarcely less numerous than those, which appear in the works of the poets; cf. the English translation by Francis Barham. Also see the discussion of the Herodotean and the Thucydidean traditions by Arnaldo Momigliano in The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990, pp. 29-53, especially pp. 36-39 and 42-44.

[xxv] See e.g. his inference from persisting local customs to hypothetical past usage spread everywhere, in History of the Peloponnesian War I.6, and other examples cited by Carlo Ginzburg in op. cit., pp. 44-45.

[xxvi] See History of the Peloponnesian War I, 1.

[xxvii] See History of the Peloponnesian War I, 22.

[xxviii] I follow Moses Finley’s comments in the introduction to Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, translated by Rex Warner, NY: Penguin Classics, 1954, pp. 24-25.

[xxix] See the discussion by A. Andrewes, “The Mytilene Debate: Thucydides 3.36-49”, Phoenix, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Summer, 1962), pp. 64-85

[xxx] See History of the Peloponnesian War III, 36.

[xxxi] See History of the Peloponnesian War III, 37-40.

[xxxii] See History of the Peloponnesian War III, 44.

[xxxiii] See History of the Peloponnesian War III, 41-48.

[xxxiv] See History of the Peloponnesian War III, 42.

[xxxv] “Car si nous l’avions telle que je la conçois, nous pourrions raisonner en metaphysique et en morale à peu près comme en Geometrie et en Analyse, parce que les Caracteres fixeroient nos pensées trop vagues et trop volatiles en ces matieres, où l’imagination ne nous aide point, si ce ne seroit par le moyen de caracteres.” In Die philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, edited by C.I. Gerhardt, Volume VII, Berlin: Weidmann, 1890, pp. 21, 200. For the background see W. Kneale and M. Kneale, The Development of Logic, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962. pp. 241, 311, and 325-328; Bertrand Russell, A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1900, pp. 169-170; George MacDonald Ross, “Leibniz’s Debt to Hobbes”, Leibniz and the English-Speaking World, Liverpool, 3–6 September 2003; Herbert Breger, “God and Mathematics in Leibniz’s Thought”, in T. Koetsier, L. Bergmans, editors, Mathematics and the Divine: A Historical Study, Elsevier, 2004, pp 485-498, at pp. 487-488. Regrettably, I am unable to do justice in this paper to the erudite and profound account of Roger Berkowitz in The Gift of Science: Leibniz and the Modern Legal Tradition, Harvard University Press, 2005.

[xxxvi] See John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding IV.xv.1, edited by Peter H. Nidditch, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975, p.654; David Owen, “Locke on Judgment”, in Lex Newman, editor, The Cambridge Companion to Locke’s “Essay Concerning Human Understanding”, Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 406-435.

[xxxvii] See Nicomachean Ethics 1094b12-14.

[xxxviii] See Mark Bowden, “The Dark Art of Interrogation”, Atlantic Monthly, October 2003.

[xxxix] See A.W.B. Simpson, Cannibalism and the Common Law: The Story of the Tragic Last Voyage of the Mignonette and the Strange Legal Proceedings to Which It Gave Rise, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984. The text of the judgment in the criminal case Regina v. Dudley and Stephens ([1884] 14 QBD 273 DC), establishing the precedent for the defense of necessity against criminal charges. Also see the hypothetical case described by Lon L. Fuller in “The Case of the Speluncean Explorers”, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 62, No. 4, February 1949.


[xli] See Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, 1821, Vorrede: “die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug.” The cock, Alektôr, an apotropaic Averter of Evil, is a sun bird traditionally represented as sitting on Apollo’s arm, shoulder, or head. See Plutarch, De Pythiae oraculis 400C; Grace H. Macurdy, “The Derivation and Significance of the Greek Word for ‘Cock’”, Classical Philology, Vol. 13, No. 3. (Jul., 1918), pp. 310-311; Miroslav Marcovich, “Pythagoras as Cock”, The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 97, No. 4. (Winter, 1976), pp. 331-335.

larvatus: (rock)
From: larvatus
Date: December 9th, 2012 12:27 pm (local)
I deny both the premiss, that liberal societies attribute an equal and unexchangeable value to each person, and the conclusion, that the figure of a hero is categorically improper therein. The former is belied by utilitarian reasoning that undergirds every public policy in modern democracies. As to the latter, we live in a country that made a secular saint of MLK after elevating Ike to its highest elected office. More recent examples can be found here.

From: aptsvet
Date: December 9th, 2012 12:43 pm (local)
The problem actually is more complicated than that. One has to defend a deontological position in a world of limited resources. So whether one wishes it or not, one has to recourse to utilitarian methods. Which does not change the validity of the principle. Even morals is not a suicide pact. Perhaps I will make an additional argument in my next essay.
As to the hero worship, examples do not matter, they are simply a way of pandering — could you direct me to a theoretical work? We live in a society subscribing to liberal principles, it does not mean we live in a liberal society.

From: larvatus
Date: December 9th, 2012 04:21 pm (local)
There is no duty to be a deontologist. Aristotelian virtue ethics is but one viable alternative that leaves plenty of room for heroics of all sorts in a society of your choosing. For Hellenic theory of our common ancestry, you might look into the Bernards: Knox and Williams. Likewise religious ethics, both within and without the Abrahamic lineage. On the moral importance of examples, please see Kant’s kasuistische Fragen.

From: aptsvet
Date: December 10th, 2012 07:13 am (local)
Actually, I do feel a duty to be a deontologist, it does not work any other way. At least where interpersonal relations are concerned. And I don’t believe one can treat ethics as a menu: utility today, virtue tomorrow.
Re heroes: personal moral example is something else; traditionally hero is somebody defending strictly parochial values, hardly compatible with the universalist aspirations of ethics.

From: larvatus
Date: December 10th, 2012 07:39 am (local)
I think some positions of social responsibility morally require a shift in deliberative criteria. The interrogator in charge of a “ticking bomb” scenario would fail his fellow citizens if he were to forgo otherwise blameworthy means of extracting information about defusing it from the terrorist in his custody. This is an instance of the common law doctrine of necessity that depending on circumstances can excuse acts both unlawful and immoral under normal conditions.
The notion that “strictly parochial values” are incompatible with the universalist aspirations of ethics highlights the necessity of Kantian casuistry. Thus: “Vedete come muore un italiano!” Generally speaking, a broad range of preferential treatments for members of one’s tribe, family, nation, or confession can readily pass the law of nature criterion. In this context, Bernard Williams took issue with the impersonal nature of moral systems. According to him, the idea of fairness and impartiality must have a limit, and in justifying one’s partiality in terms of impartial principles, one is in a sense removing the justification one already has — ‘she is my wife’. To specify some principle as to why and when is is permissible to show such partiality is to undermine the reality of oneself as a related and so moral being.

From: aptsvet
Date: December 10th, 2012 08:14 am (local)
On the “ticking bomb” issue: I find Nagel’s argument (in Mortal Questions) more convincing. Whoever tortures another human being and for whatever reason, should not pretend that he acts morally — even though the state ordering such a treatment may have used the best utilitarian logic.
On the second issue I would not dispute your point, I simply would like to emphasize again the term “strictly”. “She is my wife” is a passable argument; “she is my wife and perish the world” isn’t. Samson slaughtering the Philistines with an ass’s mandible doesn’t take their interests into account altogether.

From: larvatus
Date: December 10th, 2012 08:46 am (local)
As Saul Kripke might have retorted, whoever tortures another human being for reasons of necessity is acting schmorally. It bears notice that Kant interpreted “fiat iustitia, pereat mundus” as “es herrsche Gerechtigkeit, die Schelme in der Welt mögen auch insgesamt darüber zu Grunde gehen” [let justice reign even if it wipes out all the villains in the world]. Along these lines, slaughtering the Philistines in a just war serves their best legitimate interests in the best possible way.
larvatus: (Default)
Вот я не верю, что все эти люди, которые “превзошли программирование”, на самом деле даже поняли вообще, что это такое было. “Как ебаться” — рассказывал чукча сородичам про вкус апельсина. А им, наверное, лимон попался. Или я не знаю.
    Не верю я им. Не верю. Я думаю, у них просто не получилось ни хера. Вот и пошли в критики, раз поэзия не идёт.

«Или Вы не знаете.» Я Вам давеча рекомендовал Вейзенбаума. Порекомендую опять. Нищета программирования сводится к диалектической неполноценности. Программист делает компьютеру то, что он не может делать людям. А все настоящие достижения совершаются вне формального заповедника конечного автомата.

Не знаю, как у Вас, а у меня не получается пока что именно понять, что, собственно, делается, и почему. Каким образом вот программист выбирает вот такой-то код. Каков глубинный смысл? Да и вообще, как передать этот, в общем-то, малопознаваемый мир в виде штучек в компьютере? Тот факт, что у каждой собаки и у каждой мухи в голове есть какая-то модель мира (точнее, конечно, теория), не отменяет загадочности самого процесса моделирования (точнее, конечно, теоретизирования).
    Да та же математика… с точки зрения Вейценбаума она, наверное, состоит в нахождении и доказательстве остроумных теорем, вытекающих из самоочевидных (т.е. истинных) аксиом — т.е. как бы объективна и всеобъемлюща. А ведь в некотором смысле мы, для гипотетических существ полмиллиарда лет после нас, такие же мухи.

Загадочность можно найти в чём угодно. Но не все объекты созерцания равнозначны, да и само созерцание полноценно только в меру своей независимости от желаний и склонностей. В отличие от математики, программирование ничем подобным не обладает. В рамках «Никомаховой Этики», оно является омфалоскопической пародией политической жизни.

Я совершенно не знаком с “Никомаховой Этикой”, но не вижу, почему бы это оно было пародией политической жизни. У нас, конечно, разный опыт и разные взгляды; для меня написание иного кода может быть ничем не хуже исследований в теории конечных групп или полей. Конечные группы тоже омфалоскопичны? (Мне раньше казалось, что да; то ли дело какие-нть спектральные последовательности).
    Но и конечность в нашей области довольно, имхо, условна.

О, да я неправ был. Конечно, нечего программирование с математикой сравнивать. Я отупел просто за все эти годы; алгебру уже не осилить, так вот с программированием разобраться пытаюсь.

Я думаю, что Вы путаете божий дар с яичницей. Профессия математика созерцательна, в смысле принадлежности к чистой теории. Напротив, профессии юриста и страхового агента находятся в сфере политики, связанной с неудачами или неопределённостью. Обоим при случае приходится использовать математику, но это употребление никоим образом не делает их ремесло созерцательным. Точно так же, программист решает практические задачи, подчиняя компьютер нуждам своего работодателя. Если он считает себя математиком на основании своей профессиональной зависимости от математических результатов, с таким же успехом можно было бы объявить математиком парикмахера на основании его профессиональной зависимости от теоремы о причёсывании ежа.
    Насчёт программирования как пародии, господство над компьютером не более, чем симулякр господства над природой или господства над обществом, к которым стремятся действующие лица политической жизни.

Парикмахер-то, кстати, причёсывает не ежа — клиент, даже топологически — не сфера.
    Нет, радовать клиента — это не то, о чём я. Меня сейчас больше занимает вопрос “а почему так” — и вовсе не с практической точки зрения; поэтому и “практическая” конечность меня совершенно не бацает, всегда можно вообразить идеальную машину, о которой и речь. В этом смысле, программирование очень далеко от физики. Меня вот сейчас занимает, как “практически” коммутировать монады, которые у всех программирующих сидят в бессознательном; “практически” означает нахождение какого-нибудь конструктивного и легкопонятного решения. Много вопросов, которые никакого отношения к заявкам заказчика не имеют. Ну ту же теорию типов взять и, скажем,иерархия чтобы включала факт перечислимости.
    Много факторов в степи, как говорил Копёнкин.

Платонов и монады, это конечно замечательно, но я ведь не о том. Математика бывает немного прикладной, только в том смысле, что женщина бывает немного блядовитой. А коли мы уж подались в бляди, достойнее блядовать в обществе или на природе, чем через компьютер.
larvatus: (Default)

As disabled 37-year-old Megan Mariah Barnes was shaving her pubes for the benefit of her new boyfriend in the driver’s seat of her 1995 Ford Thunderbird, her ex-husband Charles Judy took the steering wheel while riding bitch. Thus conjoined in harmonious operation of her automobile across the Florida Keys, they slammed into the back of a 2006 Chevrolet pickup driven by David Schoff. Barnes was charged with the misdemeanor second offense of driving with a revoked license and the felony of leaving the scene of a crash involving injuries. Judy, who had switched seats with his ex-wife in a futile attempt to claim responsibility for her offense, was not charged: “iussisti enim et sic est, ut poena sua sibi sit omnis inordinatus animus.For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every inordinate affection should be its own punishment.

larvatus: (larvatus)
Anarchist, Symbolist, insubordinate dreyfusard, man about town, Octave Mirbeau is an indispensable maître mineur of the Third Republic. His most popular work, Le Journal d’une femme de chambre, merited film treatment by the greatest Latin directors of all times, Luis Buñuel and Jean Renoir. His most scandalous novel remains unfilmable. In Le Jardin des supplices, which appeared in 1899, at the height of the Dreyfus Affair, Mirbeau targeted fear and hatred, the twin foundations of bourgeois society, in a narrative arc traversing the terrain of desire and disgust to culminate in a strange sexual obsession. And what about the rats? ) As a rodent, the rat is both taxonomically and etymologically dedicated to gnawing, rodere. Its intelligence and tenacity culminate in omnivoracity tending towards the extreme forms of cannibalism, qualifying this potentially docile and easily trained animal as an exemplary consumer in the wild. Since its inception 110 years ago, Mirbeau’s conjuration of rodential ass torture has gnawed and wriggled its way through the margins of respectable culture. For example… )
In our own time, we find a more extroverted way of flaunting deceased rodents in a male posterior: TransRatFashion alert! )
…which after all, is only a contrapositive to the popular practice of not giving a rat’s ass.

Crossposted to [info]larvatus and [info]strange_tears.
larvatus: (Default)
Adam Smith introduces the key term in our study in style:[1]
Virtue, according to Aristotle, consists in the habit of mediocrity according to right reason. Every particular virtue, according to him, lies in a kind of middle between two opposite vices, of which the one offends from being too much, the other from being too little affected by a particular species of objects. Thus the virtue of fortitude or courage lies in the middle between the opposite vices of cowardice and of presumptuous rashness, of which the one offends from being too much, and the other from being too little affected by the objects of fear. Thus too the virtue of frugality lies in a middle between avarice and profusion, of which the one consists in an excess, the other in a defect of the proper attention to the objects of self-interest. Magnanimity, in the same manner, lies in a middle between the excess of arrogance and the defect of pusillanimity, of which the one consists in too extravagant, the other in too weak a sentiment of our own worth and dignity.
Today, we explain the ethical doctrines of Aristotle in different terms. Read more... )
larvatus: (Default)
« Sa non-autonomie assumée fait du chien l’être le plus parfait de la création, avec quelques femmes très soumises. … Y a pas que les chiens. Les femmes aussi, c’est gentil. »
— Michel Houellebecq  

As every schoolchild knows, Aristotle’s Rhetoric is a compendium of examples illustrating general principles. In the Rhetoric 2.24, at 1401a22, within his discussion of homonymy or equivocation, Aristotle says that to be without a dog is most dishonorable: Read more... )
    Crossposted to [info]larvatus, [info]linguaphiles, [info]philosophy, [info]ancient_philo, and [info]classicalgreek.
larvatus: (rock)

― in living memory of my father        
ecce respondeo dicenti, ‘quid faciebat deus antequam faceret caelum et terram?’ respondeo non illud quod quidam respondisse perhibetur, ioculariter eludens quaestionis violentiam: ‘alta,’ inquit, ‘scrutantibus gehennas parabat.’ aliud est videre, aliud ridere: haec non respondeo.
— Aurelius Augustinus, Confessiones
See, I answer him that asketh, “What did God before He made heaven and earth?” I answer not as one is said to have done merrily (eluding the pressure of the question), “He was preparing hell (saith he) for pryers into mysteries.” It is one thing to answer enquiries, another to make sport of enquirers. So I answer not.
— Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
La Fontaine, entendant plaindre le sort des damnés au milieu du feu de l’Enfer, dit : « Je me flatte qu’ils s’y accoutument, et qu’à la fin, ils sont là comme le poisson dans l’eau. »
— Chamfort, Maximes et Pensées, Caractères et Anecdotes
La Fontaine, hearing complaints of the lot of the damned in the midst of hellfire, said: “I trust that they get accustomed to it, and that in the end, they rest there as fish in water.”
— Chamfort, Maxims and Thoughts, Characters and Anecdotes
     FEU. Purifie tout. — Quand on entend crier « au feu », on doit commencer par perdre la tête.
— Gustave Flaubert, Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues
FIRE. Purifies everything. — Upon hearing the cry of “Fire!”, one must begin by losing his head.
— Gustave Flaubert, Dictionary of Received Ideas
     Il y a du Dante, en effet, dans l’auteur des Fleurs du Mal, mais c’est du Dante d’une époque déchue, c’est du Dante athée et moderne, du Dante venu après Voltaire, dans un temps qui n’aura point de saint Thomas.
— Jules Barbey D’Aurevilly, Les Poètes
There is Dante, in effect, in the author of the Flowers of Evil, but it is a Dante of the fallen era, an atheistic and modern Dante, a Dante who comes after Voltaire, in a time that will have no saint Thomas.
— Jules Barbey D’Aurevilly, The Poets[0]
1978 years ago, Jesus welcomed all men to partake of his company:[1]
Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
His words are echoed and amplified through our God-fearing land. The authority of the Son of God is buttressed by the all too human urge to connect with a role model of one’s choosing. Read more... )

Crossposted to [info]larvatus, [info]about_poetry, [info]philosophy, and [info]real_philosophy.
larvatus: (rock)

― for Victor Yodaiken        
ἔτι καὶ αἱ παροιμίαι, ὥσπερ εἴρηται, μαρτύριά εἰσιν, οἷον εἴ τις συμβουλεύει μὴ ποιεῖσθαι φίλον γέροντα, τούτῳ μαρτυρεῖ ἡ παροιμία, μήποτ' εὖ ἔρδειν γέροντα.
― Aristotle, Rhetoric, 1376a
Further, proverbs, as stated, are evidence; for instance, if one man advises another not to make a friend of an old man, he can appeal to the proverb, Never do good to an old man.
― translated by J. H. Freese

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Read more... )
larvatus: (Default)
    An example of overtly and morphologically marked aspect in Russian verbs sharpening their meaning in a translation from the classical Greek, in reference to this discussion:

    [18] ἐπεὶ δὲ τῶν πράξεων ὧν ἔστι πέρας οὐδεμία τέλος ἀλλὰ τῶν περὶ τὸ τέλος, οἷον τὸ ἰσχναίνειν ἢ ἰσχνασία [20] [αὐτό], αὐτὰ δὲ ὅταν ἰσχναίνῃ οὕτως ἐστὶν ἐν κινήσει, μὴ ὑπάρχοντα ὧν ἕνεκα ἡ κίνησις, οὐκ ἔστι ταῦτα πρᾶξις ἢ οὐ τελεία γε ̔οὐ γὰρ τέλοσ̓: ἀλλ' ἐκείνη ἐνυπάρχει τὸ τέλος καὶ [ἡ] πρᾶξις. οἷον ὁρᾷ ἅμα καὶ φρονεῖ καὶ νοεῖ καὶ νενόηκεν, ἀλλ' οὐ μανθάνει καὶ μεμάθηκεν [25] οὐδ' ὑγιάζεται καὶ ὑγίασται: εὖ ζῇ καὶ εὖ ἔζηκεν ἅμα, καὶ εὐδαιμονεῖ καὶ εὐδαιμόνηκεν. εἰ δὲ μή, ἔδει ἄν ποτε παύεσθαι ὥσπερ ὅταν ἰσχναίνῃ, νῦν δ' οὔ, ἀλλὰ ζῇ καὶ ἔζηκεν. τούτων δὴ τὰς μὲν κινήσεις λέγειν, τὰς δ' ἐνεργείας. πᾶσα γὰρ κίνησις ἀτελής, ἰσχνασία μάθησις βάδισις οἰκοδόμησις: [30] αὗται δὴ κινήσεις, καὶ ἀτελεῖς γε. οὐ γὰρ ἅμα βαδίζει καὶ βεβάδικεν, οὐδ' οἰκοδομεῖ καὶ ᾠκοδόμηκεν, οὐδὲ γίγνεται καὶ γέγονεν ἢ κινεῖται καὶ κεκίνηται, ἀλλ' ἕτερον, καὶ κινεῖ καὶ κεκίνηκεν: ἑώρακε δὲ καὶ ὁρᾷ ἅμα τὸ αὐτό, καὶ νοεῖ καὶ νενόηκεν. τὴν μὲν οὖν τοιαύτην ἐνέργειαν [35] λέγω, ἐκείνην δὲ κίνησιν. τὸ μὲν οὖν ἐνεργείᾳ τί τέ ἐστι καὶ ποῖον, ἐκ τούτων καὶ τῶν τοιούτων δῆλον ἡμῖν ἔστω.
    — Aristotle, Metaphysics 9.1048b
     Since no action which has a limit is an end, but only a means to the end, as, e.g., the process of thinning; and since the parts of the body themselves, when one is thinning them, are in motion in the sense that they are not already that which it is the object of the motion to make them, this process is not an action, or at least not a complete one, since it is not an end; it is the process which includes the end that is an action. E.g., at the same time we see and have seen, understand and have understood, think and have thought; but we cannot at the same time learn and have learnt, or become healthy and be healthy. We are living well and have lived well, we are happy and have been happy, at the same time; otherwise the process would have had to cease at some time, like the thinning-process; but it has not ceased at the present moment; we both are living and have lived. Now of these processes we should call the one type motions, and the other actualizations. Every motion is incomplete — the processes of thinning, learning, walking, building — these are motions, and incomplete at that. For it is not the same thing which at the same time is walking and has walked, or is building and has built, or is becoming and has become, or is being moved and has been moved, but two different things; and that which is causing motion is different from that which has caused motion. But the same thing at the same time is seeing and has seen, is thinking and has thought. The latter kind of process, then, is what I mean by actualization, and the former what I mean by motion. What the actual is, then, and what it is like, may be regarded as demonstrated from these and similar considerations.
    — translated by Hugh Tredennick
     Ни одно из действий, имеющих предел, не есть цель, а все они направлены на цель, например цель похудания — худоба; но когда худеющий находится в таком движении, которое происходит не ради похудания, это движение не действие или по крайней мере не законченное действие (ибо оно не есть цель); но если в движении заключена цель, то оно и есть действие. Так, например, человек видит — и тем самым увидел, размышляет — и тем самым размыслил, думает — и тем самым подумал (но нельзя сказать, что он учится — п тем самым научился или лечится — и тем самым вылечился); и он живет хорошо — и тем самым ужо жил хорошо, он счастлив — и тем самым уже был счастлив. Иначе действие это уже должно было бы когда-нибудь прекратиться, так, как когда человек худеет; здесь это не так, а, [например], он живет — и уже жил. Поэтому первые надо называть движениями, вторые — осуществлениями. Ведь всякое движение незакончено — похудание, учение, ходьба, строительство; это, разумеется, движения и именно незаконченные. Ибо неверно, что человек в одно и то же время идет и уже сходил, строит дом и уже построил его, возникает и ужо возник или двигается и уже подвинулся, — все это разное, и также разное “движет” и “подвинул”. Но одно и то же существо в то же время увидело и видит, а также думает и подумало. Так вот, такое действие я называю осуществлением, а то — движением. Таким образом, из этих и им подобных рассуждений должно быть нам ясно, что такое сущее в действительности и каково оно.
    — перевод А.В. Кубицкого

larvatus: (rock)

― for David W. Affeld

    Several credible sources have attributed excellence to Steve Sailer’s blog. Herewith a selection of its pearls of wisdom.
    Presentation: White inmates affiliate themselves with prison gangs so as to avoid yielding money or sexual favors to blacks and latinos. “If this country was [sic] serious about getting rid of white racist criminal gangs, it would do what it takes to eliminate their principle [sic] cause: minority-on-white prison rape.
    Annotation: The sole necessary and sufficient condition for an inmate to avoid yielding money or sexual favors to other inmates is not being a bitch. No one capable of retaliation is so abused behind bars. The risks are too high and safer prey is too plentiful. The jailhouse rapist is disadvantaged, in comparison to the free-range predator, by long-term propinquity of his victim. Not much strength or stealth is required of the aggrieved party to stick a shank in his tormentor’s kidney. All he needs is resolve. Coincidentally, an inmate resolved not to be a bitch is likely to gravitate to his own kind in opposing the authority of the screws. Whence come prison gangs. If this country were serious about getting rid of white racist criminal gangs, it would do what it takes to eliminate their principal cause: white men in prison. Read more... )
larvatus: (Default)
    In their discussions of logic and set theory, Willard Quine and Alonzo Church distinguish between a paradox, an affront against unschooled intuition, and an antinomy, an outright contradiction, an offense against the laws of reason. Both of these predicaments are rooted in classical antiquity. The term aporia (literally, “no way”, or “cul-de-sac”), derived from poros (passage), already occurs in the writings of Democritus. Plato relates it to dialectic. The aporetic situation arises as an intermediate consequence of elenchus, the Socratic method of eliciting truth by means of brief questions and answers. One characteristic instance witnesses Socrates eliciting doubts from his interlocutors by being more in doubt than anyone else. (See Meno 80c.) Read more... )
larvatus: (Default)
Descartes’ magical motto, larvatus prodeo, resonates with reason of classical antiquity. Eubulides of Megara, the contemporary opponent of Aristotle, and very likely the most accomplished inventor of puzzles in the history of logic, bequeathed to him the philosophical concept of the larvatus: Though I know my father, though he is the masked man, I still may fail to know the masked man, I still may fail to know my father as the masked man. Their schools disagreed on the way of solving this paradox. Both the peripatetics and the Megarians understood that all knowledge referred to universals. But the former insisted further that such universals were both physically and logically inseparable from the concrete particulars that exemplified them. By contrast, the latter posited an unbridgeable chasm between the real thing and its ideal representation. Eubulides pointed out that the true object of my knowledge is my father’s representation, or his eidos. In so representing, the eidos enjoys no physical link with the material presence of its representandum, the object being represented. Thus it it need not manifest itself coevally and contemporaneously with the representandum. Aristotle maintained that all corporeal presentation necessarily coincides with cognitive representation by every universal exemplified in the representandum so presented. For him, therefore, the failure of my father’s palpable presence to guarantee my recognition of his person, was an acute embarrassment. Read more... )

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