Sunday, November 20, 2011

Poetry, the Imagination, Morals, Paradox, Mystery, Sensibles, and the Observer Effect

I had so much fun catching up on my Google Reader today.  You can see my shared items on the sidebar but here's a few heavy but interesting ones I wanted to save especially to go back to later.

Somehow all those things in the title seem related to me, but I can't quite figure out how.  How about you?  

-- Starving the Imagination -- Russell Kirk at Paying Attention to the Sky
Yet this is no effective way to impart a knowledge of norms: direct moral didacticism, whether of the Victorian or the twentieth century variety, usually awakens resistance in the recipient, particularly if he has some natural intellectual power.
 How Poetry Finds Laws for Moral Existence -- Russell Kirk, at Paying Attention to the Sky

Sheer Experience, As Franklin Suggested, Is The Teacher Of Born Fools.
Of course it was not by books alone that the normative understanding of the framers of the Constitution, for instance, was formed. Their apprehension of norms was acquired also in family, church, and school, and in the business of ordinary life. But that portion of their normative understanding which was got from books did loom large. For we cannot attain very well to enduring standards if we rely simply on actual personal experience as a normative mentor. Sheer experience, as Franklin suggested, is the teacher of born fools.
Our lives are too brief and confused for most men to develop any normative pattern from their private experience; and as Newman wrote, “Life is for action.” Therefore we turn to the bank and capital of the ages, the normative knowledge found in revelation, authority, and historical experience, if we seek guidance in morals, taste, and politics. Ever since the invention of printing, this normative understanding has been expressed, increasingly in books, so that nowadays most people form their opinions, in considerable part, from the printed page. This may be regrettable sometimes; it may be what D. H. Lawrence called “chewing the newspapers”; but it is a fact. Deny a fact, and that fact will be your master.

Organizing Curriculum -- Why History?   at Life, Books and Education

But why use history as the organizing principal – especially if it has never been part of classical education in the past?  I've been thinking about this question ever since I read the preface to Norms and Nobility.  David Hick’s writes, “Although in my curriculum proposal I use history as the paradigm for contextual learning, the ethical question ‘What should one do?’ might provide an even richer context for acquiring general knowledge.”

Also, a series on Mysteries and the Higher Mystery, by Daniel McInerny, at High Concepts

What good and bad paradoxes possess in common is the shock derived from contradiction: paradox is [apparent] contradiction, explicit or implied” (Kenner, Paradox in Chesterton, p. 15). That shock may occur in a fragment of Heraclitus or in the Gospels, but it is perhaps most often encountered, though usually incognito, in tales of mystery and suspense. In fact, G.K. Chesterton, the master of paradox, in Heretics defines paradox as mystery (Kenner, Paradox in Chesterton, p. 14).
The Holmesian “Clue.” The clue is a bogus epiphany. In itself it has no ontological significance. It doesn’t open to contemplative penetration the intelligible depths of some object; rather it suggests to the quick deductive wit discursive attention to the superficies of a dozen other objects. The clue and the chain of reasoning function, like a jigsaw puzzle, in two dimensions. The sleuth’s reconstruction of a crime works at the level of efficient causes only; the epiphany implies an intuitive grasp of material, formal, and final causes as well (Hugh Kenner, Dublin’s Joyce, p. 176). 
the Chestertonian sleuth is not about “clues” as much as he is a reader of the human heart. “the only thrill, even of a common thriller, is concerned somehow with the conscience and the will,” “In Defence of Detective Stories.” 

Finally, James Chastek at Just Thomist wrote on the topic Could sensation make an essential division in physical theory?

Seen from this angle, the purely relative difference between the very small and the classically sized takes on an absolute value. Sensation uses physical interaction, and the relative distinctions of large and small make essential differences in physical interaction. Hitting a bug with your car is not the same thing as hitting a tree.

and Catholic sci fi novelist Mike Flynn followed up on that one with a post Heisenberg Dances with Aristotle.
in Aristo-Thomism, the sense object is a compound of
  • a thing in the world and
  • the subjective/personal dispositions of the one sensing.
IOW, the observer affects the thing observed.  The proper sensibles really do exist in the world AND they are combined with observer’s subjective disposition.  Why don't we call this "the observer effect."Funny.  That has a familiar ring to it.

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