I’ve found an easy way to improve the average quality of Throne and Altar posts:  to eliminate the sub-par ones.  I am currently in the process of removing what I regard as the most forgettable posts.  Ultimately, I’d like to remove at least half of them.  I’m also removing posts that are possibly dangerous to the faith:  criticisms of Pope Francis, pointing out what I think are weaknesses in arguments for orthodox conclusions, expressions of disrespect for the episcopate, and the like.  In the end, I hope to remove most of the theology posts except those relevant to political philosophy, since the others are beyond the scope of this blog and the expertise of the author, and are thus likely to be inadvertently heretical anyway.  Nonpolitical philosophy posts will stay for the time being, but I would prefer to move them to their own blog someday.  I intend for the culling to be an ongoing process.  I will continue to write forgettable posts, but will then remove them after a month.  I’m making this announcement so that people won’t think I’m being persecuted by liberals working for WordPress or that I am underhandedly trying to hide evidence for my bad predictions and bad arguments. (No–I am forthrightly hiding the evidence!)

Links and short comments

It’s that time of year again when I must write an annual assessment report on my department’s graduate program.  So I am receptive to this article on “the bullshitization of academic life“.  As the author points out, it is a paradox that hiring so many administrators whose job it is to relieve faculty of this sort of work results in faculty having to spend more and more time doing paperwork, a paradox until, that is, one considers the incentives administrators have to make work for themselves and the rest of us.  I was surprised to learn that 40% of all workers think their jobs contribute nothing meaningful to the world.  The author notes it as a rather depressing argument for a universal basic income.

Speaking of academia, sociologists are dismayed that conservatives, especially educated ones, don’t think their field is a real science.  I’d say the fact that they regard “science” as an authority they covet rather than a methodology they strive to emulate is a pretty clear sign that they are, indeed, not scientists.

Cardinal Marx points out that without Karl Marx, there would be no Catholic Social Doctrine.  Which is true, just as without Arius there would be no Nicene Creed.

I am shocked to learn–from First Things, no less!–that Christianity for a millennium and a half saw nothing wrong with monarchy, and it was only Talmudic Judaism that Europeans got the idea that only republics are legitimate.  (Speaking of our Elder Brothers and their proclivities…  Interesting that they are overrepresented among sociology and law professors more than other fields.)

Lastly, the Left finds another dead white man to purge:  Hans Asperger.  Oddly, Asperger is getting the boot for embracing current-year-fashionable utilitarian bioethics too early, back when it was called Nazi euthanasia.  So now they want to rename “Asperger’s syndrome” or eliminate the category entirely.

When did Nature get so social-justice-y, anyway?  Didn’t it used to be a regular scientific journal?

Is event ontology forced on us by modern physics?

Book review:
The Event Universe:  The Revisionary Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead
by Leemon McHenry

The idea that the world consists of objects that persist through time (what this book calls “substance ontology”) comes naturally to us.  The author, Leemon McHenry, thinks this is largely because of the way our grammar is structured and argues that modern physics suggests something different, something more like Whitehead’s “event ontology”.  I have found Alfred North Whitehead’s own writings very difficult to follow, at least without consulting books of his interpreters who explain the jargon, and McHenry does a good job of briefly and clearly making the main points.  Whitehead’s metaphysics is reminiscent of supersubstantivalism, the idea that spacetime is the only thing that exists, and every other quality (mass, charge, etc) is just a property of parts of spacetime.  Event ontology further stipulates an atomist doctrine that only individual points of spacetime (events) are ultimately real; spacetime itself is just an aggregate of events.  Actually, Whitehead seems to think that the manifold picture of spacetime breaks down at some level and spacetime is ultimately cellular, and these individual cells Whitehead calls “actual occasions” and regards as the ontologically fundamental beings.  In this picture, continuity through time, whether of an atom or a person, is an illusion.  At most, a timelike sequence of actual entities may resemble each other and be causally related.  It’s quite remarkable that the world can be described either by things with properties or by spacetime events with properties, and the event picture is impressively clear and simple.

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