The Counsel of Trent

writing is thinking

Monday, October 23, 2006

Government Intelligence

Look at the last item on this form to find a zip code from the US Postal Service.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wisdom from Russell

Nice Google quote of the day from my favorite cranky atheist.

Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.

- Bertrand Russell

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Just a Reminder

I returned and saw under the sun that—The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.

Ecclesiastes 9:11

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rochester in the News

Rochester in Top 25 of Times of London Rankings
(October 5, 2006)

The University of Rochester is ranked 21st among U.S. universities in the global ranking table issued by the Times of London today and 48th best in the world.

More of the story.

One interesting thing is that we are tied with Washington University in St. Louis which was my next-best offer to Rochester. So I can’t use that as a reason to be glad I went here rather than there (though I am for other reasons, though I’m sure I would have been happy there).

I am especially glad that we have beaten out Brown once again. There’s some rivalry there.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Lewis on Reason, Morality, and Emotions

"An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy."

"Wherever any precept of traditional morality is simply challenged to produce its credentials, as though the burden of proof lay on it, we have taken the wrong position."

"If we are to have values at all we must accept the ultimate platitudes of Practical Reason as having absolute validity..."

--C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

The Abolition of Man was the first book by Lewis that I read. I returned to it recently and I had forgotten that he made an argument that is sort of a practical corelate to the argument concerning theoretical reason in the first few chapters of Miracles.

It would be an interesting project to see just how parallel the arguments are.

There is also some interesting stuff about Reason and the Emotions. I think perhaps the first time I read it it came accross as pretty traditionally Platonic with the emotions not fareing too well.

"The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it."

"Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism."

"As the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the 'spirited element.'"

"The preservation of society, and of the species itself, are ends that do not hang on the precarious thread of Reason: they are given by Instinct."

However, inspite of the direct quotation of Plato, I now sense a greater tinge of Aristotle. He no less than Plato thought the emotions should be tamed by reason, yet the foundations of reason are grasped by intuition. Reason is discursive and needs premises to go to work on. The ultimate premises are got simply by *senseing* them.

And these basic platitudes are *not* subject to scrutiny by reason, whether practical or theoretical. They are the axioms and we can either accept them or not, but we can niether defend them nor refute them. That doesn't sound much like rationalism any more.