Let there be language


Regarding the word “phenomenology” —

“Heidegger finds around that word a whole cluster of etymologies, all of them having an internal unity of meaning that brings us to the very center of his thought. The Greek word phainomenon is connected with the word phaos, light, and also with the word apophansis, statement or speech. The sequence of ideas is thus: revelation-light-language. The light is the light of revelation, and language itself is in this light. These may look like mere metaphors, but perhaps they are so only for us, whose understanding is darkened; for early man, at the very dawn of the Greek language, this inner link between light and statement (language) was a simple and profound fact, and it is our sophistication and abstractness that makes it seem to us ‘merely’ metaphorical.” — William Barrett, in his book Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy

 

Advertisements

‘Even those who purposely reject religion intuitively see design in nature’


I’m still busy with grading and family life, but I took a look at my Twitter feed, and I saw this, FWIW:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

My question to myself: Is my tendency toward belief like a cognitive bias? I’m not sure what evolutionary purpose would be served by a belief in an unseen being. I wonder, for example, do chimps and gorillas have some kind of assumption about an unseen Creator? And either way, what would the answer really mean?

Incidentally, I find this part of the study’s abstract easy to believe: “These results suggest that the tendency to view nature as designed is rooted in evolved cognitive biases as well as cultural socialization.” Especially the “cultural socialization” aspect. I’m still wondering if belief could be strictly and only a cognitive bias.

[Edited Nov. 15, 2017, 9:12 a.m.]

The real question about those one-star votes


OK, I’m bored, and I need a break from grading, so I’ll take the bait.

I’ve wondered about the motivation within the person who occasionally finds it meaningful to jump on my blog here and give one-star votes to everything on the first page of posts, regardless of extremely wide differences in the content of each. It has happened before, and this week, happened again.

These disapproving votes first appeared shortly after I added a link to a reputable charity seeking to help Syrian refugees, who through no fault of their own have been forced from their homes with their children. So I suspect the voter dislikes Syrians or Muslims. I wish it bothered me more, but that sort of dislike has become cliché.

However, for me, at the moment, the motivation behind the one-star votes is not the real question.

The real question is why, after voting one star on six posts on my homepage, did the voter fail to click that single left-hand star on the final post?

The homepage, the landing page, always displays seven posts. Until the post you’re reading right now was published, the seventh post on this page stood without a vote. It was right there, barely a mouse-twitch away. I assure you that post is just as hostile as the six previous posts to everything the voter stands for. Now it’s gone over to the second page, out of reach to quick protest votes.

So, since the voter missed it, I’ll extend the opportunity and give the link. It’s right here. Go click one star on the post you missed, right here, right now.

One star is better than nothing. Thank you.

So, I took the bait. You’re welcome. Thanks for the break from grading.

‘A Roman Ghost Story for Halloween’


I really loved this, from Pliny the Younger, via The Lion of Chaeronea:

There was a house at Athens that was large and roomy, but infamous for its pernicious atmosphere. Through the silence of the night the sound of iron would come, and, if you listened more keenly, the clanking of chains would echo, first at a distance, then near at hand. Soon a phantom would appear- an old man worn away with starvation and squalor, his beard long, his hair bristling; he bore fetters on his feet and chains on his hands, which he would shake. Then the inhabitants would spend gloomy, ill-omened nights awake in fear; sickness would follow on their wakefulness, and then, as their dread swelled, finally death would come. For even during the day, although the apparition had departed, the memory of it would pass before their eyes, and their fear lasted longer than the fear’s causes.

Subsequently the house was deserted and condemned to emptiness, given over entirely to that monstrous apparition; nevertheless it was advertised, in case someone ignorant of so great an evil should wish to purchase or rent it.

A philosopher called Athenodorus came to Athens and read the listing. When he heard the price, since its cheapness was suspicious, he delayed and learned the whole story; then he rented it nonetheless- nay, all the more. When evening began to draw on, he ordered his bed to be laid out in the front part of the house; he requested writing tablets, a stylus, and a lamp; then he sent all his servants into the inner rooms. He himself devoted his mind, eyes, and hands to writing, lest his mind, left unoccupied, should imagine the apparition he’d heard of and create empty fears for him.

At first, there was the same night-silence one would find anywhere; but then the iron began to be shaken, the chains began to be moved. He didn’t lift his eyes or cease his writing, but strengthened his spirit and tried to ignore the sound. Then the noise increased and grew nearer- now it could be heard as if it were on the threshold, now as if it were past the threshold. Looking up, he saw and recognized the phantom he’d been told about. It stood there and beckoned to him with its finger, giving the impression of trying to speak. He, however, indicated with a hand motion that it should wait a little while, and returned to his wax tablets and stylus. The phantom rattled its chains above his head as he wrote. Looking again, he saw it beckoning just as before, and delaying no longer, he picked up the lamp and followed it. The spirit made its way with a slow walk, as if burdened by chains. After it turned off into the courtyard of the house, suddenly it vanished, leaving Athenodorus alone. He marked the spot with grass and leaves that he plucked.

The next day he approached the local magistrates and advised them to order that site to be dug up. Bones were found, fitted into chains and intertwined with them- bones that a body grown rotten with age and soil exposure had left bare and eaten away by the fetters. The bones were gathered and given a public funeral. After the shade had been put to rest in the proper manner, the house was plagued by it no longer.

An unlikely affair at the intersection of pop culture and philosophy


Thank you, Twitter and KimKierkegaardashian, for helping me laugh this morning:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Try to be objective about this


“…without a subject, nothing at all would exist to confront objects, and to imagine them as such. True, this implies that every object, everything ‘objective’—in being merely objectivized by the subject—is the most subjective thing possible.”

— Medard Boss, in The Analysis of Dreams (1958), quoted in this intriguing overview of phenomenology

The Boss quotation could explain a lot of things, especially, in terms of this blog’s typical themes and audience, the world’s 8,196 Protestant denominations based upon the same Bible.

Hell, Freedom, and the Predestinating Gospel


This has given me new angles on troubling questions, questions I have guessed were less about God and more about neo-Calvinistas in the U.S.A. I posed several of those questions in a previous post, “A Question About Christian Theology.”

Eclectic Orthodoxy

But what about HELL? This is always the first question posed when confronted with Robert W. Jenson’s understanding of the gospel as unconditional promise. If the Church is authorized to speak the Kingdom to all comers, does this not imply universal salvation? In his youthful systematics, Story and Promise, Jenson refuses to answer yay or nay:

What is the point of the traditional language about damnation? Two points only. First, damnation is not part of the gospel. The gospel is not a carrot and a stick: it is unconditional promise. Damnation is a possibility I pose to myself when I hear the gospel and instead of believing it begin to speculate about it—which we all regularly do. Therefore, this book, which tries to explain the gospel, has talked only about Fulfillment and will continue to do so. Second, damnation would be that we were finally successful in self-alienation from our…

View original post 2,865 more words