Kant and Hegel: Oh. Now I Get It

Was reading the inestimable John C. Wright, who writes faster than I can think, on one of his whirlwind tours of Philosophy, History and Modern Culture, when a connection I had not made dawned on me: That Hegel rejects logic and embraces the dialectic because the definitive German Protestant take on logic – Kant’s – doesn’t, you know, work. Hegel  cannot work with the belief that nothing in this world is knowable in itself – and nobody else can, either, for that matter. Kant “proved” logically, following Descartes and Hume, that the only things we can really know are a few aspects of our own mind, that there is an unbridgeable gulf between everything that exists in the world and us. We know only perceptions – a smell, a color, the squeaks and scratches that make up Beethoven’s 9th – which can tell us nothing certain about the thing in itself.

Hegel accepts that view. Never mind that, to accept that view means that he learned something from Kant, Hume and Descartes, and learning something from somebody else disproves the view that you can’t learn anything from outside your own mind – Hegel is convinced that following logic to the end leads to nowhere, to a mind trapped in itself and beset by phenomena both tricksy and false.

And so, in answer, Hegel adopts the notion that logic is for the little people – mathematicians and physical scientists and craftsmen – while true Philosophy and true knowledge come through the Dialectic, in which things can both be and not be at the same time in the same respect (which, as far as I can figure, is merely embracing perception as the final arbiter – you do the ‘hard thinking’ and see it my way, or you’re wrong – there’s really no room for or point in trying to explain it logically).

Note that the characteristic moments in the life of the Perennial Philosophy are crowd shots: Socrates asking questions to Meno or Ion or Callicles, Aristotle delivering a lecture at the Academy, Thomas formulating his opponent’s arguments in front of a class. The characteristic moment of modern philosophy is Descartes, alone in his room, shades drawn, contemplating his navel.

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Which is Harder?

Making an important technological advance, say discovering penicillin, or civilizing the French?

You may be thinking: the French are civilized? But of course! Don’t let the recent unpleasantness of the last 250 years or so – revolutions, equality and brotherhood in the form of mass murder of innocents, that whole applied Cartesian thinking thing*, Gerard Depardieu – detract from the vast leaps made by the descendents of the Franks from 300 A.D. to the 15th century.

Continue reading “Which is Harder?”

Music at Mass Review: Sept 18, 2011

At Parish A today. Today’s music featured a strong challenge to my ‘can I sing this at Mass’ rules: Because You Are My Shepherd, an execrable ditty by a Christopher Walker, who. according to his own web site, is an internationally known composer, conductor and expert on liturgical music. Right. OK, then, I guess.

Using the Orthometer’s criteria, this song gets an HL (Hella Lame) for the sentiments expressed in the refrain, the goofy music, and the forced scansion of the verses,  which alone means one with any trace of musical, liturgical or artistic sense will not chose this song for Mass – but the question for the jury: does it also get an H (heretical)? Because that would mean that, in the unfortunate event that one is subjected to this tune at Mass, one must refrain from singing it. To make it even harder, almost all of the song is a not too bad paraphrase of Psalm 23 – only the refrain triggers my ‘shields up!’ response on the Heretical issue. Here ya go:

1. Because the Lord is my shepherd,
I have ev’ry thing I need.
He lets me rest in the meadow and leads me
to the quiet streams.
He restores my soul and he leads me
in the paths that are right:

Refrain
Lord, you are my shepherd,
you are my friend.
I want to follow you always,
just to follow my friend. Continue reading “Music at Mass Review: Sept 18, 2011”

They Blew Up My Car

but it’s nothing more sinister than incompetence: the old Dodge minivan, with 190K miles on it, needed a new timing chain. We went for it, figuring $1300 for another year of use (gulp!) would be worth it.

Well, the dude working on the car evidently started it up before setting the timing – this is a mystery to me, but that’s how it was explained – and, because the timing was way off, basically bent, blew out or otherwise destroyed the valves.

So, we get to drive a nice brand new Dodge minivan for a few days while the shop rebuilds our engine, puts in new values and whatever else got fubared, and redoes the timing belt – all on a vehicle that is *this* close to being hauled off as junk.

Hey, maybe we can get *2* years on it…

Church Music in Hell

Quick note, I’m swamped:

Orthometer has this list of bad church music. This topic gives me a headache. Dodged a bullet a couple Sundays ago when the choir director at Parish A asked me if I’d cover a Mass for him while he vacationed. After years of skirting around the issue, this time I was afraid I’d have to say: No, for two reasons – almost every Sunday, there’s at least one song that is not merely poor music, but is actively heretical, and the fancy remodel of the church makes it so the cantor stands with his back to the tabernacle.  Instead – he’s a very nice man, really don’t want to make his life any more difficult – I was out of town on business, so the topic didn’t come up.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on what makes a song unacceptable for the Liturgy (or for Catholics to sing in any event). I’m making a distinction the Orthometer doesn’t – between music that shouldn’t be sung because it is bad or infantile or inappropriate, and music that *can’t* be sung because it is heretical.

Music at Mass: July 17, 2011

At Parish C this week.

Gather Us In
Gather Us In – and get Kracken!

The opening hymn:

Gather Us In

Here in this place, new light is streaming
Now is the darkness vanished away
See in this space our fears and our dreamings
Brought here to you in the light of this day

Refrain
Gather us in the lost and forsaken
Gather us in the blind and the lame
Call to us now and we shall awaken
We shall arise at the sound of our name Continue reading “Music at Mass: July 17, 2011”