Saturday, December 31, 2011

King Arthur's History

Life. Nennius. Fanfiction. Malory summing the fanfiction up.

Not to be confounded with Christ's History:

Life. Foefiction. Matthew, Mark, Luke as answering foefiction. Fanfiction. John as answering fanfiction. Foefiction left to Jews and - at least most of - fanfiction left to heretics.

Disputed whether Childhood Gospel of St Thomas and Proto-Gospel of St James are parts of Fanfiction or not.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A few Modern Medievals ... and a Tempier to Temper them

"In the same way, God does not know the relation of the diagonal of a square to its side, not that there is a defect in God's knowledge, but because the relationship cannot be known."


"In the same way, God does not know the ratio of the diagonal of a square to its side, not that there is a defect in God's knowledge, but because the ratio cannot be known."

As for ratio, if space is a continuum, I agree. But a relation need not be a strict ratio as in so many units on one side against so many units on the other hand, which the author means, it can also be an irrational relation functioning otherwise as a ratio.

1:1 and 2:1 are ratios, the one smaller and the other greater than the relation. 14:10 and 15:10 (or 7:5 vs 3:2) are also smaller and greater ratios but not same ratio as the relation.141:100 and 142:100, similarily. And so for 1414:1000 and 1415:1000 (these ratios are a spelling out of the shorthands: 1 or 2, 1.4 or 1.5, 1.41 or 1.42, 1.414 or 1.415). God indeed knows every ratio that in its scope approaches to the relation between diagonal and side of a square, but also the relation itself, though we do not know it. And we cannot know it except by simply looking carelessly at a square with a drawn in diagonal or approaching it laboriously through approximations that happen to be ratios, though the relation itself is not.

What was it the author cited was trying to prove? The text, I found it with the wording "relation" and "relationship", tried to prove basically that God cannot know the unknowable nor make the unmakeable (which was the point: the author was saying that there were things even God could not do, because creation could not take it.Like create a multiplicity or infinity of universes.

Now, this author was William of Paris. He closely echoes, on that question, Michael Scot, astrologer of Frederick II, founder of Averroism. Quoted as saying:

"God can do this, but nature cannot withstand it. The impossibility of the plurality of worlds results from the nature of the world itself, from its proximate and essential causes; God, however, can make several worlds if He so wishes it."

Now, knowing the ratio between a side and a diagonal of a falt square is impossible, because there is no such thing to know, a ratio meaning a relation of "if one gets bigger other gets bigger too, and if there is a difference the difference also gets bigg" BUT ALSO OF "measured in counted units on either side". Take both conditions, there is no such thing. Take away the second, and it is a relation but not exactly a ratio, and for certain God knows it. So, the parallel reasoning, taken either way, breaks down.

However saying that proximate and essential causes of creatures are incompatible with God doing something, is denying Divine Omnipotense, and believers in modern science are doing it all the time, claming to be Thomists while following Aquinas' contemporary, an astrologer (bad enough), living at the court of Frederic II (bad too: he was a great scientist in the sense that Mengele was that too, though his experiments were more in the context of digestion than of heredity).

So this man claims God could not make several worlds? He was condemned in 1277 by the bishop of Paris, Tempier.

And his reasoning is odd enough too. How could any quality of this world, except infinity, which he denied and Christians do generally deny about the universe, though pantheists affirm it, giving to creature the attribute (diluted and denatured) of God, be affected by or affect, what God does totally outside it?

But the reasoning that is cited by William says that God could not have created a finite number of worlds, since his goodness is as much expressed in creating a single one with all perfections of creatures assembled as in creating several ones. Therefore the goodness could not prompt him to create any worlds outside this one. Not any finite number, since it would not satisfy his expression of his goodness and generosity any more than a single one (how does William of Paris know that?) nor an infinity, since any actually infinite number is impossible (in this world, but we were talking about God's possibilities, not those within one world). And then he goes on to say: "this impossibility is not a defect in God, or a defect issuing from God, rather it is a defect on part of the world, which cannot exist in multiples". Oops ... ? Well, I have heard theologians claim similar things, as if a certain autonomy on part of proximate causes put limits on God. As if we could from them conclude that even God could not make Young Earth Creationism or Geocentrism function. Of course not, would they add, due to any imperfection in God, but due to the nature of things.

Well, that is a lie. A lie that though contemporary with St Thomas Aquinas among Western Scholastics, was not his thought. A lie that was not the thought of a certain non-scholastic bishop either. Tempier was his name, Paris was his see (if Vingt-Trois is his successor, he might be making that a bit clearer!), and 1277 was the date of his condemnations.

I have been quoting what I quoted from pp.443-444 in Medieval Cosmology by Pierre Duhem, subtitled: Theories of Infinity, Place, Time, Void, and the Plurality of Worlds. Edited and translated by Roger Ariew.

I note that "theories of Mind" and "theories of Spirits" (excepting of course God Himself) are not part of the subtitle, nor of the content, as far as a glance at the Contents list shows. But more than once is the condemnation by Tempier alluded to. And it is shown how St Thomas Aquinas, for the first time that the author knew about in history, in commenting on Aristotle differed from him in direction of a mechanics of Galileo's and Newton's type.

However, I must add, not in such a way as to indicate that theories of lightness as a real substantial opposite of weight were excluded (the one part of Galileo-Newton that I find impious), rather in pioneering (as far as we know) the distinction, at least in abstract thought, between what Newton called force and what Newton called mass. Nor does he do that in such a manner as to exclude that force means the force of angels working on masses rather than purely immanent ones. Indeed, St Thomas affirms both lightness as a real quality of say air or fire, and angels - spiritual substances - as working on particulars down here, where Aristotle thought they were only about the astra.

Of course, John Philopon pioneered another aspect of modern dynamics. He stated the first part of what Newton called his first law of movement. Newton only added "rectilinear movement" as an equivalent to complete stillness in needing no force. And I am not at all sure Newton was right about that. Though God could make that a natural law too, I am not sure that in fact He did.

Back to Bishop Tempier, and sorry, I won't give page references. It is condemned to say "God could not move the heavens, since in that case they would leave a void behind". It is condemned to say "God could not create a plurality of worlds." It is condemned to say that God needed to make a void to create too: here Christian Orthodoxy clashes head on with the cabbalistic theory of Tsimtsum.

Now I am off from this blog to read either Stanley Jaki's foreword (was he already a Dom then, like Perignon?) or to do some other stuff.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Paris, Georges Pompidou
Library, on the day of Empress
St Adelaide who was nicknamed
Alice, Y o o L 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

St Pauline of Nola to Ausonius (commenting on a link)

Thank you for proving that St Paulinus did not love Ausonius in that way.

Claiming union of spirits despite distance in bodies is a pretty clear way to say as much as: "I like you as a person, we think the same about a lot of subjects, but I am not exactly dying to hold you in my arms." It is an example of charity to a man who - if the background research is correct - might have been desiring such a thing. But it is not an example of honouring such a bad request with acquiescence. A very useful lesson, if true. And Ausonius, unlike St Paulinus, is not a canonised saint. He was a Pagan.

Huffington Post used an example where queerness was claimed for a monk or two for using the word "love" for other men or - in Newmans case - for showing affection to one on the yonder side of the grave. I do recommend people to read CSL's book The Four Loves. I am not sure if Huffpost journalists will follow that recommendation, but still.

I was just today thinking about telling Frédéric Mitterand that he may well feel as a spontaneous and naturally given identity a greater human or even aesthetic attraction to men than to women (I do not, if I am attracted in any way whatsoever at all), but chosing sodomy over coitus is hardly that.

I mean, if King David liked Jonathan better than his sister, whom he was married to, that does not mean there was any doubt about whom he was married to. Or made love with.

A lesson quite necessary to some Huffpost writers too.

Such a pity that Vortex missed that there are in fact three saints who crossdressed, for battle or for hiding among monks (both of the girl monks were accused of rape, b t w), and that it came up in the article not at all for lesbiannism, but because crossdressing counts as a separate type of queerness. The only connexion between these types is that a German shrink wrote a book about several types of queerness, Psychopathologia Sexualis. And, since I do not agree that doctors of medicine should investigate charges of sodomy, that is for judges and priests, I do not either see how crossdressing could be even remotely taken as indicating lesbianism in and of itself.

Are all women who wear trousers today lesbians? Of course not. But Krafft-Ebbing - the name of that shrink - counted crossdressing as a queerness independently of whether it was in the particular case a question of a butch lesbian or not at all that.

So, it is a mistake to classify voluntary crossdressing as a medical condition. It is a moral one, and when sufficiently flagrant and without excuse a bad one. Bad as indicating bad morals, bad taste (something to forgive in relatives) or bad judgement: since it may arouse either heterosexual or homosexual lust in someone else. But not in and of itself terribly bad. When Israel of Old Testament stoned crossdressers, it should be remembered that premarital sex also involved stoning to death for a virgin who volunteered to it. That was before the Messiah came, it was when Israelites, Jews, Jewesses could still become His ancestors. What is behind Krafft Ebbing is a total misunderstanding of that as if the Old Law were autonomous, rather than related to the New Law.

Then there is also a mentality in which Torah says that calves must not be boiled in the milk of the cow that gave them birth, then you cannot add sour cream to the sauce you serve chicken in. That is behind much of Krafft Ebbing. That rather than Christian morals.

It is also a mistake - the one that the Huffpost published researcher did - to think sodomy innocent because crossdressing is no longer a stoning crime.

St Paul calls sodomy unnatural. He also calls it a mortal sin, as excluding from heaven. He also calls it a punishment for paganism (Ausonius was a pagan, remember).

It is tragic that Krafft Ebbing and Freud have started to make both anything deviating from very manly men desiring very female women and very female women desiring very manly men look suspect of homosexuality and on top of that very manly men desiring very female women is suspect of homosexuality "in denial" as the Freudian jargon goes. It stops boys and men from making close friends for one thing.

Fortunately not having those prejudices, I did make a few friends. Here is a guitar sonatina for one of them: Sonatine pour Guitarre VI. It is not meant as me playing it to him, it is dedicated to him because he might like to play it - to whomever he wants to. He is a guitarist with Hispanic music sensibility. I am not a guitarist, I only compose for guitar. It seems the other one - he is married now - suspected me of being queer now and then. But then some in his family were reading things like Krafft Ebbing. He also thought hairdressers are all queer. Did he ever watch Marriage of Figaro? Or are French monarchists (which is his political affiliation) prohibited from watching any single thing signed Beaumarchais in any part of the artistic process?

Hairdressers "all queer" - as in all having Count Orloff's preference? Give me a break! That is a wishfulfilment dream of husbands sending their wives to hairdressers. So, if there is a patron saint for hairdressers, and their should be, because wearing hair long in a male without a good cause counts as crossdressing, does such a saint qualify as queer too with Krafft Ebbing?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
George Pompidou Library
(appropriately enough in
the queer part of Paris)
St Nino of Georgia's feast
15th of December YooL 2011