Friday, January 02, 2009

a couple of notes on earlier posts

Martin Cothran made a comment on yesterday's post, pointing out very kindly that in Traditional Logic II, he didn't call Descartes' "cogito ergo sum" a fallacy, but an enthymeme. I made a edit to correct on the post itself, but I thought I should echo that in this post just in case anyone read my last one and walked away with the impression that Traditional Logic contained the statement that Cogito ergo Sum was a fallacy. It does not say that. It was my mistake.

Though I feel regretful that I wrote something inadvertently misleading, and resolve to be more careful in future (cast loose that blanket and brave the curriculum closet to check my facts), I am kind of glad it was a mistake because I had been afraid there was something I was missing about how syllogisms work.

(By the way I really like the Memoria Press Logic series -- they were remarkably successful with my second son in particular -- logic is still one of his favorite subjects).

Here is the relevant section in Traditional Logic 2, Chapter 6, p 54 of my edition on Cogito Ergo Sum:

"One of the most discussed issues in the history of thought is that concerning the foundation of knowledge. How do we know anything? To this question, Rene Descartes, a 17th century philosopher, answered, I know at least this: that I think. And if I think, then I must exist.

Descartes is considered to mark the transition from the Middle Ages to the "modern" world. Yet Descartes' ideas were founded on ideas much older than himself. In fact, the argument we study here, sometimes known simply as "the cogito"..... was thought of long before .... Aristotle, who wrote about 2,000 years before the birth of Descartes, is quoted by St Thomas Aquinas (a 13th century philospher) saying, "We sense that we sense, and we understand that we understand; and because we sense this, we understand that we exist."."

While I'm commenting on my earlier posts and the comments they received, I wanted to mention Sloth's gnawing little teeth. Stephanie commented:

What if we understand that to mean that enjoyment of things is the opposite of duty? That's wrong-headed, it seems to me. ..Instead, what if we enjoy things that are ours to do? What if we do them, not "because" we enjoy them, but because they are what we are good at?.....
Prioritizing by way of enjoyment only is not right, obviously. But prioritizing away from enjoyment? That seems just as wrong. Does that make sense?
This is very true. The Catechism says:

The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions. Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.

The way I understand it, given that virtue is a good in itself, it ideally ought to be delightful. Because it sometimes isn't, given our fallen nature, because we are sometimes reluctant to do what is best, there are prescriptions like Msgr Knox's for discerning and remedying that reluctance. But it doesn't follow that choosing the most horrible option is a virtue in itself. It is a sort of discipline that may be necessary or advisable in certain circumstances, but it's a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Kant, from what I am straining to understand, thought that virtue is merely "duty",and correspondingly thought joy, Aristotle's eudaimonia which Aquinas took onto a Christian plane, was a sort of chimaera. This is different than the Catholic point of view, which says that joy and virtue are closely related in themselves, though in our fallen state, doing good things sometimes involves effort which is distasteful to our weakened human natures.

Clare just showed up dressed in a black coat and hat, brown skirt, paddock boots and with a basket of flowers in her hands, singing quietly

All I want is a room somewhere/ Far away from the cold night air..

From that perhaps you can guess that while Liam is here, we are going to do another play reading, continuing Pygmalion which we started last time.

gratuitous New Year's family photo -- the big boys are watching the sparkly ball come down in New York, while Paddy is watching Kevin open a bottle of champagne (it fizzled -- the cork disintegrated, so no POP).


lissla lissar said...

"With one enormous chair..."

I made your brownie recipe this evening. It's very good- fudgy and chocolatey. Next time I think I'll ice them with peppermint or chocolate icing. Thanks!

Willa said...

I'm glad it turned out, since the third time I made them they went flat for some reason : (. But the first two times they were fine, so I think it was me, not the recipe.