Friday, January 30, 2009

Anthropology 101, a somewhat loose and tendentious translation of a snippet from Alcibiades I

Socrates: Come then, in what manner would the ideal form of the self be discovered? Perhaps, then, we can discover whatever it is we ourselves are, but now we are ignorant of it and thus unable to do so.

Alcibiades: You speak orthodoxy.

Socrates: Hold your horses, by Zeus! With whom are you having a dialectic? Is it anybody else but me?

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: And is it therefore the case that I am having a dialectic with you?

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: Is Socrates then the dialectician?

Alcibiades: Sure thing.

Socrates: And Alcibiades the passive, pathetic, oafish listener?

Alcibiades: Yup.

Socrates: And does Socrates make his dialectic with words?

Alcibiades: Oh, indeed he does! Lots of 'em.

Socrates: And do you call making a dialectic and using words the same?

Alcibiades: Sure.

Socrates: Are not the user and the things which he uses different?

Alcibiades: How do you mean?

Socrates: As, say, the cobbler cuts with a straight edge and a round edge and other tools.

Alcibiades: Okay.

Socrates: So, is it not the case that both the cutter and the user are one category, and the things which the cutter uses another?

Alcibiades: How would that not be the case?

Socrates: And so in this way the things which a harpist uses to harp would also be different from the harpist himself?

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: Accordingly I asked you just now whether the user always appears to be different from the things which he uses.

Alcibiades: It appears so.

Socrates: What, then, are we going to say about the cobbler? That he uses only his tools or his hands as well?

Alcibiades: He uses his hands as well.

Socrates: And so he uses those things as well?

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: And would you say that the user really uses his eyes as well when cobbling?

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: Did we not agree that the user and the things used are different?

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: Then are the cobbler and the harpist different from the hands and eyes that they employ?

Alcibiades: It seems so.

Socrates: Does not the human being thus use all of his body?

Alcibiades: Sure.

Socrates: But the user and the things used are two different categories?

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: Then the human being is different from his own body?

Alcibiades: Apparently.

Socrates: So, what the hell is the human being?

Alcibiades: I cannot say.

Socrates: But you can say that he is the user of his body, n'est-ce pas?

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: Ergo, is it not truly the case that the thing doing the exploitation is nothing else than the soul?

Alcibiades: Nothing else.

Socrates: Is it not, therefore, controlling?

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: And I suppose that no one would think of this otherwise.

Alcibiades: Of what?

Socrates: That indeed the human being must be some one of three things.

Alcibiades: And what would those things be?

Socrates: Either the soul, the body, or a synthesis of the two.

Alcibiades: Sure thing.

Socrates: But did we not clearly agree that the human being is certainly the ruler of his body?

Alcibiades: We did agree.

Socrates: Well, then, does the body itself rule itself?

Alcibiades: In no way.

Socrates: For we did say that the body is ruled.

Alcibiades: Yes.

Socrates: This would, then, clearly not be the thing we are seeking, eh?

Alcibiades: Apparently not.

Socrates: But then, perhaps, a synthesis of body and soul rules the body, and it is this that truly is the human being?

Alcibiades: Certainly, maybe.

Socrates: Indeed this is the least probable of all. For presumably there is no way, if one component of the synthesis is not ruling, that the synthesis as a whole can rule.

Alcibiades: Damn straight.

Socrates: And so, since neither the body nor a synthesis of body and soul is the human being, I suppose that leaves us with no other conclusion than either this thing is nothing or if it is indeed something, then the human being can have no other foundation than the soul.

Alcibiades: Quod erat demonstrandum

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This is driving me nuts

Yet again have I heard yet another newscaster say that the Illinois Senate may vote to impeach the governor as early as tomorrow. More proof that anchors need only be easy on the eyes and have passable diction.

They certainly do not have to know any history--even history of, say, the preceding few weeks--, need not have passed a grade school civics class, or know the English Language. For if they were required to know these things, they would know that Governor Blagojevich has already been impeached by the Illinois House of Representatives, that the House impeaches and the Senate convicts, and that "impeach" simply means "to accuse" or "to charge".

An impeachment is simply a charge against a public official, and it is the duty of the House to vote to charge a public official with high crimes and misdemeanors. It is the duty of the Senate to consider whether these charges are true and accordingly vote for conviction or acquittal.

This ain't rocket science. You are supposed to learn this in grade school. Newscasters are just talking mannequins.

Sarah Palin was a news anchor, by the way.

Luther's Bondage of the Will

In the chapter before the conclusion of On the Bondage of the Will, Luther belches out this rather shocking paragraph:

"Only observe, therefore, the simplicity of the words By the law is the knowledge of sin; and yet, these alone are of force sufficient to confound and overthrow Free-will altogether. For if it be true, that of itself, it knows not what is sin, and what is evil, as the apostle saith here, and Rom. vii. 7-8, I should not have known that concupiscence was sin, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet, how can it ever know what is righteousness and good? And if it know not what righteousness is, how can it endeavour to attain unto it? We know not the sin in which we were born, in which we live, in which we move and exist (emphasis mine), and which lives, moves, and reigns in us; how then should we know that righteousness which is without us, and which reigns in heaven? These works bring that miserable thing Free-will to nothing nothing at all!"
Buried in a relative clause is Luther's astonishing claim that sin is the thing in which we live, move, and exist. It is at first blush hard to tell whether Luther here is simply guilty of a rhetorical excess or is really claiming that the ontological make-up of man is utterly and completely evil. If the latter, then the obvious question is how do we reconcile this claim with St. Paul's claim of precisely the opposite in Acts 17:28? Also, if man's very ontology is rooted in sin, then what of the Imago Dei, in which the book of Genesis tells us God created man and woman? According to Luther the Imago peccati has wholly supplanted it.

I claim that this is not a rhetorical excess. In his zeal to pulverize Erasmus and all his claims on behalf of Free Will, Luther is forced to deny man as a rational creature. Even if he makes the slightest acknowledgement of man's ability to reason, he has given Erasmus that tiny bit of free will that he had been arguing for all along. It is after all man's ability to reason that allows him to make free choices. To deny free will, therefore, Dr. Luther must deny reason. To deny this he must invert St. Paul's claim at Athens and thereby deny that man still retains any image of God in which God originally created him. Hence, Luther's assertion that man's ontology is not just wounded but entirely depraved is not, I argue, simply overheated polemic but the unavoidable consequence of his argument.

It is rather ironic that many Protestants will now object to Darwinian Theory because of the perception that this theory denies God's special creation of man. The founder of Protestantism staked his entire dispute with Rome on an argument that made this special creation of man by God null and void! By denying free will and by extension reason, Lutheran anthropology makes man at best no better than a brute who can only act on his basest instincts. Darwin says merely that we are descended from brutes. Protestantism says we are brutes.

Martin Luther was a madman.

Richard Williamson, reconciled and silenced--finally!

I have been asked to divulge my thoughts about the recent reconciliation of the Pope with four renegade Bishops, one of whom is a Holocaust Denier, Bishop Richard Williamson, The Leftist Media have none too subtly suggested that this confirms what they have known all along, namely that the Pope is a Nazi and the Catholic Church is viciously anti-Semitic.

The Pope is not a Nazi. The Catholic Church is not anti-Semitic. The Church has been trying to reconcile with these four bishops for the better part of two decades. Why? For two very big reasons. These four bishops were leading hundreds of thousands of devout Catholics into schism. The Catholic Church is more concerned about their spiritual well-being than she is for the status of those self-important, mitred dissidents. The second reason was to shut the lunatic Williamson up, and this very thing happened just a few hours ago. The ringleader of the Four, to be sure, gave a pathetic non-apology apology for Williamson's lunacies, but the important thing is that Bernard Fellay told that fucking whacko to shut the fuck up.

This would not have happened had the reconciliation not occurred. Williamson has been making insane pronouncements for too many years, and never has Fellay censured him. No, Fellay had to be prodded by the Pope to do what needed to be done more than a decade ago. Williamson has said among other things that watching the Sound of Music will destroy the foundations of the family, that women should not attend university, and that women who wear trousers are putting their souls at risk of eternal hellfire. This man is certifiable, but what's really nuts is that many people were taking this maniac seriously. To too many Catholics Williamson was the voice of tradition just like Osama bin Laden is for many Muslims. I am, as my readers should know, a Catholic Traditionalist and did not like it all that a madman like Williamson was giving Catholic Tradition a very bad and ugly name. I desperately wanted someone to silence him, but as long as he was in schism, he could not be silenced because we no longer have Catholic States enforcing the Inquisition. You have to be in the Church to be silenced by the Church nowadays, and that is why the Pope reconciled with these Four Bishops. Would the permanently Sanctimonious Left have preferred Williamson to have remained in Schism, thereby remaining free to let hundreds of thousands of his followers to think that Holocaust Denial is part of Catholic Tradition? I do not think so.

Of course, Williamson may yet renege on the deal with Rome and go back into Schism. If he does, I hope the German authorities do charge him with Holocaust Denial and that he rots in a German Prison.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What is Libertarianism?

What exactly is Libertarianism? I want to get as precise a definition of the concept as I can before I bash the hell out of it. And not because I want a new bone of contention between my Stalker in Transition and myself. I must admit that I relished our rancorous arguments. After all, I have not been laid in seventeen years and have to get my yahs yahs out somehow.

But all those brainwashed worshippers of Israel, otherwise known as Evangelicals, provide more than enough outlet for my pent-up sexual energy. And they are funny, too, in a pathetic, grotesque sort of way. I say, "Israel is a terrorist state for bombing schools and killing women and children," and then they say, "You are anti-Semitic; does it bother you that Jesus was a Jew?" And then comes the real, scary whopper: "If Jesus were alive today, He would be the leader of the Likud Party, calling for the Final Solution in Gaza." And I say, "If you are real Christians, I want to be pagan." And that just confirms for them that they were right all along: Catholics really are unregenerate, hellbound pagans.

I light up a fag, take a long drag, and enjoy the afterglow of once again demonstrating the utter absurdity of American Evangelical Christianity: Evangelicals defied the authority of Rome only to become Israel's useful idiots.

But I digress. As I was saying I don't want to bash the hell out of Libertarianism because I want to antagonize my Stalker. No, I want to bash Libertarianism because it should be bashed. Libertarianism, as I understand it, is the doctrine that individual liberty should be at a maximum and government coercion should be at a minimum and pursuant to this goal, government must confine itself to simply protecting the people against force and fraud.

Okay, but how the deuce do you define "force" and "fraud". That's the big question. If, for instance, you define force as outright violence and fraud as an outright lie, then government's duty is simply to provide a police force, a court system, national defense, and that's it. But if you define force as, say, including all the blind and cruel whimsies of the market's Invisible Hand and fraud as anything that is deceitful or misleading, then government obviously has a very big role in regulating commerce, providing a social safety net, and seeing to it that the claims that the pharmaceutical companies make on behalf of all their drugs are on the up and up.

Of course, on this enlarged definition of "force and fraud", you get what the classic Libertarian most dreads, the Nanny State. This is precisely the problem of Libertarianism, though: it's premises are so vague as to allow precisely what it claims to oppose with every last whine from the Cato Institute. But I could be very wrong, of course, and that is why I am asking my Libertarian Readers to supply me with a much more precise definition of their plans for a utopia of individual liberty, and then I can bash the hell out of that, too.

By the way, shouldn't a Libertarian be opposed to the very idea of a definition? After all, a definition in order to function as such must be limiting and communal and, hence, is utterly incompatible with individual liberty. Sounds like the Road to Serfdom and godless Communism to me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Olbermann's odd blindspot

Alarmed at recent suggestions by Mr. Obama and his minions that the next administration would not prosecute Bush and his lackeys for the obvious war crime of torture, Keith Olbermann in his Special Comment last night urged the New President not to give the Bushies a free pass on this particular atrocity. Doing so will only give future administrations, be they Republican or Democrat, a green light to indulge in worse misdeeds. Well, I am glad to see that Mr. Olbermann included the Obama Adminstration in this dire warning, albeit indirectly. After months of his show being an infomercial for the Obama Campaign, it is a relief to see that Mr. Olbermann has sobered up a bit from all that Kool-Aid. And if he can do it, perhaps there is hope for all the other Obamamaniacs out there.

But, alas, Mr. Olbermann has sobered up only a bit. He still seems to think along with the rest of mainstream media that because this country's New President can actually utter complete sentences, he must be amenable to reason. Surely a professed student of political history as Mr. Olbermann should know better. Politics is not about reason. It is about power. Obama's campaign slogan was utterly blatant about this point. "Yes, we can!" is nothing other than an expression of raw, unadulterated, unchecked power.

If Obama prosecutes the Bushies for having used their power to commit atrocities, he will have to acknowledge constraints on his power, and then he would have to change his slogan to "No, we can't." If Bush can't abuse Power, Obama can't either. Therefore, he would have to renege on his promise to bomb Pakistan. He would have to appoint another Director of Intelligence, someone who, unlike Dennis Blair, did not reward Indonesian Generals for having massacred Catholics in East Timor. He would have to appoint a Secretary of State who has not promised to rubberstamp Israel's genocidal policies, etc., etc.

And why, Mr. Olbermann, did you focus on merely the crime of torture? Yes, I am outraged that the Bush Administration has commited torture in your name and mine and, thereby, has brought your country and mine into disgrace. But that's not the only thing that has disgraced this great land of ours, Mr. Olbermann. That's not even Bush's greatest crime. As evil as torture is, lying us into an unjust war that has killed millions of innocents, made refugees out of millions more, and driven countless women and girls into prostitution and slavery is far more evil. You, Mr. Olbermann, have made it your crusade to damn Bush in Special Comment after Special Comment for having lied this country into war. You have made it your cause to do everything in your power to see to it that the Anti-Christ Bush did not lie us into another war with Iran, and yet in your latest Special Comment you made no mention of Bush's Greatest Crime at all.

By your argument, if Obama does not prosecute Bush for torture, Obama will thereby encourage future administrations to torture. Are we to conclude by your omission of Bush's lying us into war, you want Obama and other administrations to continue to lie us into war? Silence, after all, gives consent, and, I repeat, about Bush's Greatest Crime, the Big Lie that you have bitched about for half a decade now, you were oddly and deafeningly silent.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Modest Proposal

Let's move all the Jews currently living in the Levant to Utah. This will kill two birds with one stone. We will have solved the Palestinian problem once and for all, and once the Israeli Jews settle in Utah, they can begin doing to the Mormons what they are now doing to the Palestinians, and then the Mormons will be too busy bitching about being occupied, their homes bulldozed, being economically besieged and denied humanitarian aid, etc., to ring our doorbells anymore. They also won't be able to campaign against gay "marriage". The Mormon problem will be solved.

Of course, I am flatly opposed gay "marriage" as readers of this weblog should know, but Mormons' supporting the sanctity of
marriage gives me the heebie jeebies.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Father Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

Editor of the right-wing ecumenical journal First Things. Once a Lutheran Pastor, he caused a bit of a stir by converting to Roman Catholicism. In November of 1996, he caused an even greater stir when his journal suggested none too subtly that legalized abortion had so corrupted the American regime as to render it illegitimate in the eyes of the faithful Christian. After 2001, even though abortion remained legal in the American Regime, Fr. Neuhaus thought without any hint of irony that this American Regime, the very legitimacy of which his own journal had relentlessly questioned just five short years ago, had the moral authority and the duty to spread Democracy to the rest of the world and proceeded to cheerlead Bush's bloody global vigilantism. He was baptized a Lutheran, became Catholic, became notorious for endorsing civil disobedience for the sake of resisting the America's "Culture of Death", and then died an obsequious lackey of America's murderous imperialism. I could write more, but de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Stuff that keeps me up at night

Well, I just heard "asswipe" uttered by a character on a Network Television Show. I heard it distinctly. None of it was bleeped out. This means, of course, that the FCC as the protector of the ears of the virtuous has deemed "asswipe" to be acceptable for the random channel surfer too poor to afford premium cable or at least less offensive than the words one can hear only on channels like HBO such as "shit" and "fuck". I can understand why "fuck" is anathema maranatha. The word makes what should be an act of love into an act of violent hatred. "Fuck", therefore, constitutes nothing less than linguistic rape. If it is possible for a word to be intrinsically offensive, then surely "fuck" is that word. If that word ever becomes socially acceptable, then civil society will no longer be hanging by a mere thread (as it is now), it will be completely gone. So, "asswipe" is not nearly as offensive as "fuck". Fine. Why is it more offensive than "shit"? If truth be told, I'd much rather be a piece of shit than the stuff that has to wipe it up.

A quick note to my readers

I apologize for not having written much of late. I have been in a bit of a funk. The Blagojevich Scandal has really got me down, actually. I now tell people that I am from Arkansas. I'd rather have people think I slept with my first cousin than suppose I ever voted for the most wicked, corrupt man since, well, the previous Illinois Governor.

Even though my once childlike faith in my Chicago masters has now been brutally popped, I still can look at Washington D.C. for textbook examples of virtue and fortitude. I can truly say, for instance, that I am proud that both parties in our nation's Capitol are full square behind Israel's decision to bomb the shit out of a bunch of poor, starving people in Gaza and then roll over what's left of them with tanks. Surely no one has to be bribed to support that self-evidently noble cause.