Saturday, 22 September 2018

Finne (witness) on Tuam Mother and Baby Home / T.V. program

I watched the documentary about the Tuam Mother and Baby home (on -subtitles are available, look for Finne (witness)) and it was quite good as far as it went if you can forgive the Netflixy style and the Gothic giant nun wardress with a six inch keyring and a rosary beads hanging with the keys. Peter Mulryan telling his own story suffered a great deal and still was not embittered only puzzled at how the nuns were so cruel. Can I suggest a possible answer. Those nuns did not come from Mars, they were Irish people. The parents who put the girls into those homes after they fell pregnant were not aliens. They were Irish. The government inspectors who viewed these homes and saw the neglect were nice middle class people with good pensionable employment and also Irish. The laundries were no secret soviet city plants. They were considered to be a solution to a problem. This loveless horror was better than baby farms where the infant mortality rate was higher and often they were merely a cloak for outsourced infanticide.

The historical facts have been swamped by film reconstructions which make any objective assessment seem like a whitewash. The McAleese report was accused of this.

McAleese Report

Have a look at Pt.4 if you are inclined to acquaint yourself with statements from those who actually went through the Magdalen system. It’s not as exciting as giant nuns and portentous music but it certainly isn’t something you’d bring to the beach. At 1000 pages you’d need a handcart.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Repairing Milinda's Chariot

And the venerable Nagasena said to Milinda the king: "You, Sire, have been brought up in great luxury, as beseems your noble birth. If you were to walk this dry weather on the hot and sandy ground, trampling under foot the gritty, gravelly grains of the hard sand, your feet would hurt you. And as your body would be in pain, your mind would be disturbed, and you would experience a sense of bodily suffering. How then did you come, on foot, or in a chariot?" "I did not come, Sir, on foot. I came in a carriage." "Then if you came, Sire, in a carriage, explain to me what that is.
Is it the pole that is the chariot?" "I did not say that." "Is it the axle that is the chariot?" "Certainly not." "Is it the wheels, or the framework, or the ropes, or the yoke, or the
spokes of the wheels, or the goad, that are the chariot?" And to all these he still answered no. "Then is it all these parts of it that are the chariot?" "No, Sir." "But is there anything outside them that is the chariot?" And still he answered no. "Then thus, ask as I may, I can discover no chariot. Chariot is a mere empty sound. What then is the chariot you say you came in? It is a falsehood that your majesty has spoken, an untruth! There is no such thing as a chariot! You are king over all India, a mighty monarch. Of whom then are you afraid that you speak untruth?" And he called upon the Yonakas [Greeks] and the brethren to witness, saying: "Milinda the king here has said that he came by carriage. But when asked in that case to explain what the carriage was, he is unable to establish what he averred. Is it, forsooth, possible to approve him in that?"

What we see here is a classic philosophical paradox by which I mean an argument that proceeds impeccably to a conclusion that we are loth to accept. The usual mereological discussion is guided by Nagasena’s suggestion and begins with ‘proper parts’. This I suggest is to start from the wrong end. Our primary concepts are of wholes. Grasping that reality we can now break it down into its constituent parts over which the chariot ‘shadow’ hangs. What I mean by this is that you can then grasp ‘wheel’(chariot), ‘pole’ (chariot) etc. Your chariot schema is like an exploded parts diagram or an image where the part is highlighted and the rest is greyed out.

The chariot wheel for example we can grasp as a whole without even knowing that its parts are felloes (wheel), hub (wheel), spokes (wheel), tyre (wheel). Leave out that ‘wheel’ part and what you have is an eccentric sculpture.

Zeno’s paradox that starts with the notion of instants or discrete fractions of time also starts from the wrong end. The proper start is with the concept of a complete unit i.e. speed and the realisation that Achilles is not running the tortoise’s race for him.

Is this too simple? The critique of the concept of Atma, that is the purport of this parable, assumes that we build it up out of momentary states. Wrong end again. The Self is known with each state of awareness but they are not the parts that make it up.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Professor Auerbach meets Mrs. Ramsey in To the Lighthouse

It’s pointless knowing a lot if you only see what you already know. Auerbach in Mimesis was hewing to certain lines but when he comes to modernist writers who run off those he seems to be a little blunted. Knots no doubt. The Brown Stocking which I skipped to wanting to see what he made of To the Lighthouse misses a great deal particularly the influence of Bergson via Proust. (Proust was the best man at the wedding of his cousin Louise Neuberger to Bergson.) The concept of Duration, how memory sifts it and the density of poetic expression which reflects its compression in the present moment; all these elements are present in To the Lighthouse. I have posted before on the panpsychist element in the book
Mrs. Ramsey is herself the lighthouse illuminating with intense beams different sections of the cone of memory.
cone of memory
She is compared in Auerbach’s citation to a Greek goddess. I think this must be an ironical reference to the Moirai (Fates), the spinners which decide the fates of men, here ironically knitting her yarn into a pair of socks. Her matchmaking schemes are the fates she ordains.

Mr. Ramsey shares with the author’s father fussiness about soup. Leslie Stephen in his essay A Bad Five Minutes in the Alps taken from the collection Essays on Freethinking and Plainspeaking admits to this crankiness but does not specify its exact nature. I take this essay i.e. ‘Bad 5 mins.’, to controvert William James’s Will to Believe. More on that later. L.S. edited a collection of the essays of William Kingdon Clifford of which The Ethics of Belief is one and of course Clifford is perhaps the first of the modern panpsychists. ‘What goes around comes around’.

((All of Sir Leslie Stephen's books can be found at wikisource:
Leslie Stephen

Correction: William James’s essay was delivered in 1896 and the Essays on Freethinking and Plainspeaking were first published in 1873 and so for James to tackle Stephen on the matter of faith under pressure would be proleptic time travel, or something. In any case the connection is clear because James mentions Stephen in his first paragraph.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Dog Story

She had two dogs, Jack Russell terriers. One of them was hit by a car and was so badly injured that the vet had to put him down. “Now”, said the vet, “what you should do is take the body home with you and allow his companion to smell him. By that he will know that he is dead and won’t be in a wondering state. He can get on with things then.”

How did Descartes form the clear and distinct nonsense that animals were automatons? Overweening or supervening theory is a quaking bog.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Fridge Magnet

Yes, moral contempt is not a pleasant emotion but I will admit that my irascibility has served me well. At a certain point I can say ‘enough’ and move away far and fast and fare thee well. Friendship is not a vow and may be set aside when common ground becomes so exiguous that there is no practical access. Old long maintained but essentially defunct connections are like the furry stuff at the back of the fridge. They must go. Not alone do they no longer nourish, they are poison.

How’s your fridge?