Sphere Hear

οὐσίαν θεοῦ σφαιροειδῆ, μηδὲν ὅμοιον ἔχουσαν ἀνθρώπωι· ὅλον δὲ ὁρᾶν καὶ ὅλον ἀκούειν, μὴ μέντοι ἀναπνεῖν· σύμπαντά τε εἶναι νοῦν καὶ φρόνησιν καὶ ἀίδιον. — Διογένης Λαέρτιος, Βίοι καὶ γνῶμαι τῶν ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ εὐδοκιμησάντων.

    “The substance of God is spherical, in no way resembling man. He is all eye and all ear, but does not breathe; he is the totality of mind and thought, and is eternal.” — Xenophanes’ concept of God in Diogenes Laërtius’ Lives of Eminent Philosophers (c. 280-320 AD), Book IX, chapter 2 (translated by R.D. Hicks, 1925).


He Say, He Sigh, He Sow #41

κατ’ ἐπακολούθημα δὲ καὶ περὶ τῆς ἐγκυκλίου καλουμένης παιδείας, εἰς ὅσα εὔχρηστος, περί τε ἀστρολογικῆς καὶ μαθηματικῆς καὶ μαγικῆς γοητείας τε ἐπιδραμητέον. αὐχοῦσι γὰρ δὴ καὶ ἐπὶ ταῖσδε οἱ Πανέλληνες ὡς μεγίσταις ἐπιστήμαις. — Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς, Στρώματα.

   “By consequence, also we must treat of what is called the curriculum of study — how far it is serviceable; and of astrology, and mathematics, and magic, and sorcery. For all the Greeks boast of these as the highest sciences.” — Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, Book II.

He Say, He Sigh, He Sow #35

• Las torres de la iglesia de hoy no han sido señalizadas por el clero progresivo con una cruz sino con una señal meteorológica. — Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913-94)

    • The progressive clergy crowns the towers of the church of today not with a cross but with a weathervane.

He Say, He Sigh, He Sow #30

• Cognitio nostra est adeo debilis quod nullus philosophus potuit unquam perfecte investigare naturam unius muscae: unde legitur quod unus philosophus fuit triginta annis in solitudine, ut cognosceret naturam apis. — Sancti Thomae de Aquino Expositio in Symbolum Apostolorum (1273).

• Our knowledge is so weak that no philosopher has ever perfectly discovered the nature of a single fly, whence we read that one philosopher was thirty years in the wilderness that he might know the nature of a bee. Thomas Aquinas, The Apostles’ Creed.

The Son Also Rises

Vatican Clarification on Filioque

[…] We grant that the Holy Spirit proceeds principally from the Father, in the technical sense. That means, the Father is his principal without principal. It is not that the Spirit proceeds “less” from the Son. But that the Son, his principal, is himself from a principal. In short, the teaching here shores up the monarchy of the Father.

But it is odd to say that the HS proceeds from the Father alone in a “proper” manner. Is this opposed to an “improper” manner? Does it mean the term “proceeds” should not be linked to the Son? Does it mean that “proceeds” means only coming from an ultimate principal? Why then should the document include the expression “proceeds (ekporeuetai) from the Father through the Son?” Wouldn’t that be oxymoronic? Or is “proper” simply a redundant synonym for “principal”? These are questions. […]

Vatican Clarification on Filioque, Thomistica.net, 7/xi/2014.

The Brain in Pain

You can stop reading now, if you want. Or can you? Are your decisions really your own, or are you and all other human beings merely spectators in the mind-arena, observing but neither influencing nor initiating what goes on there? Are all your apparent choices in your brain, but out of your hands, made by mechanisms beyond, or below, your conscious control?

In short, do you have free will? This is a big topic – one of the biggest. For me, the three most interesting things in the world are the Problem of Consciousness, the Problem of Existence and the Question of Free Will. I call consciousness and existence problems because I think they’re real. They’re actually there to be investigated and explained. I call free will a question because I don’t think it’s real. I don’t believe that human beings can choose freely or that any possible being, natural or supernatural, can do so. And I don’t believe we truly want free will: it’s an excuse for other things and something we gladly reject in certain circumstances.

Continue reading The Brain in Pain

’Ville to Power

The SWP's red fist (lefthanded)

As a life-long socialist, it’s impossible to deny that, yes, there are a few self-righteous windbags on the left. And in terms of issues around self-important halfwits, again, yes, as a life-long socialist, it’s far from not unimpossible to disrefute the notion that, yes, they aren’t unknown on the left either. But they are, I must insist, the exceptions that prove the rule. And to me, personally, the rule, i.e. the non-exceptions, is/are best represented by the award-winning author’n’academic China Miéville (b. 1972), who has done for science fiction and fantasy what Karl Marx (b. 1818) did for politics and economics. Okay, I have heard it suggested that Miéville’s writing is as exciting and unpredictable as his hair. In reply to that, all I’d have say is this: “Read one of his award-winning books, monkey-funker!” I’ve also witnessed it adumbrated that he has a torturer’s face. In reply to that, I would simply say this:

1) No he hasn’t.
2) And even if he has it’s woefully misleading because
3) He is (at the time of writing) a member of the Socialist Workers Party.

And can you imagine a potential torturer belonging to a Trotskyist party like the S.W.P.? Well, there you go, then. Anyway, as a keyly committed comrade in the Mythopoetic Miéville Massiv, it’s been very difficult to process my emotion at an angst-y article recently written by my heresiarchic hero about his beloved revolutionary corps d’élite (i.g., the S.W.P.). Yes, super-intellect China Miéville, award-winning author’n’academic, has discovered that a Trotskyist party – a Trotskyist party – can be not just a wee bit authoritarian, but also a wee bit dishonest, too. And also a wee bit anti-democratic, in addition! And is he pleased? You’re monkey-funkin’ right he isn’t! You may, like me, find it difficult to credit what you’re reading when you engage issues around his curt’n’concise cri du cœur. Yes, check out his non-self-righteous non-windbaggery for yourselves, comrade-skis: The Stakes.

The S.W.P. Central Committee? “Catastrophic errors of principle and process”? “Belief-beggaringly inadequate and arrogant”? By the Goat with a Thousand Young, whatever next?!? Speaking personally, for myself, I’ve not been so gobsmacked since I heard that Andy Coulson, former Downing Street Press Secretary, had been involved in something a teensy bit dodgy while editing The News of the World (prop. R. Murdoch).

P.S. Don’t neglect to engage the other engagements around the topic of Trotsko-toxicity in terms of that shining ornament of the Far Left, the ever-readable Lenin’s Tomb (prop. R. Seymour). Here are some tantalizing titbits:

I first became aware of the very serious nature of the allegations against Comrade Delta in late Autumn 2012 (not long after they had been made); as a result of a number of comrades, most of whom I have known for several years, contacting me to express their understandable grave concern. It immediately became clear to me that the information comrades had been given at the 2011 SWP Conference – that Comrade Delta had had an affair which had ended but that he had continued to hassle the woman (now referred to as Comrade W) afterwards – was quite seriously inaccurate. It adds insult to injury to recall that the session in which we were given this misleading information at the 2011 conference was turned into a kind of Delta love-in, culminating in a standing ovation for him (even at this stage it was effectively a standing ovation for having an affair) – but this demonstrates the effect that stage-managing a conference can have. Some party members resigned in protest at this time.

SWP in Crisis: What Do Socialists Say?

I recently started a degree, and was stunned to discover a whole new world of intersectionality, gender politics, and critical studies of which I had been unaware. I felt unequipped by what I had learnt so far during 8 years of membership to meet these new analyses head on. Now I feel like I exist in two discourses; a classical Marxist tradition – and the language and ideas I have had to develop to be able to continue to apply Marxist ideas in my studies, in talking and activity with other students, and in making sense of new understandings of oppression. I do not believe the latter conflicts with the former, but there is no space to discover how they interrelate within the party at the moment.

SWP and women’s liberation

We do reject the bourgeois system of justice but in this case aspects of the bourgeois process were used, and having read the available documents relating to this case it is not convincing that there was a there a clear analysis and understanding of what aspects of an investigatory and quasi-judicial process were accepted and which were rejected. Clear decisions around process needed to be made and then fully explained to the complainant so that she was aware of what exactly she was getting into, its limitations and how effective it could possibly be in terms of her need for a resolution and could make her own choice on that basis.

Letter to the Central Committee

Previously pre-posted (please peruse):

Reds under the Thread


Prime Youver

The utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) thought that the notion of “natural rights” was “nonsense on stilts”. I’m inclined to agree with him, but I think the dismissal applies a fortiori to theology. In fact, I think theology is nonsense on stilts on roller-skates. It’s the pursuit of the unknowable, unprovable or impossible by the irrational, illogical or insane. The illiterate too, nowadays: at least Newman and C.S. Lewis are enjoyable to read, unlike most modern theologians. But there is a theological idea I’ve always found interesting: that you created the universe. And I did too. More than that: the idea says that you or I, or both of us, created God Him/Her/Itself. The idea works like this: if free will exists (I don’t think it does) and human beings can exercise it, every instance of free will must be an act ex nihilo, an act out of nothing, undetermined by what has gone before it, and not a necessary act, in the technical sense. But that act of free will can only take place because the actor exists in a universe. To put it another way: the necessary precondition of an unnecessitated act of free will is that the universe exist. One could conclude, then, that God is forced to create the universe in order to allow you, me and other human beings to exercise our free will: in other words, the primum movens, the prime mover or initial uncaused cause of the universe, is any act of free will by a human being. In short, you’re the prime youver and I’m the prime mever. But in order for God to create the universe, God has to exist. So an uncaused act of free will doesn’t just create creation, it creates the creator. The slightest freely chosen, undetermined act, from rubbing one’s nose to writing a postcard, brings about the Ultimate Whole and the Ultimate Holy. Whodunnit? Youdunnit! And I did too.

Okay, that’s nonsense on stilts on roller-skates on oily ice (in a hurricane) and undoubtedly blasphemous or sacrilegious by any normal theological standard. But it seems a sensical conclusion from nonsensical premises and it gives me the excuse for another piece of paronomasia.