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February 1st, 2013

Thinking with the wrong glands

Yes, he was arrested for "child endangerment."
Beginning in the 1950s, Jacques Barzun noted that the phrase "I think that..." was being replaced by "I feel that..."  You might take count for a few days how often you hear people say that.  "I feel we should
eat at this restaurant."  "I feel the president is a sage (and/or fool)."  "I feel we ought to do something about Iran."  And so on.  Lost in all this are two important things: thoughts and feelings.  When everything is felt and nothing is thought, genuine feelings, the significance of feelings themselves, can be diluted like homeopathic philosophy.

In the old Aristotelian dispensation, the intellect was prior to the will.  That is, the will was regarded as the intellective appetite, a hunger for the products of the intellect.  After all, you cannot want what you do not know.  (And because the knowledge is hardly ever perfectly certain, the will is hardly ever perfectly determined, and hence is free.)
You go, Will!

But we live now in the age of the Triumph of the Will, and more often,
the triumph of the appetites, and we want what we want when we want it.  What do we want?  You name it.  When do we want it?  NOW!  There are times when this is understandable, when a man who hates evil is impatient for its crushing.  But it is not uncommon to find that people desire things that are contrary to the intellect.  Adam wants to eat lots of chocolate and not get fat; but the universal verdict of the intellect is that that ain't gonna happen, no matter how much he might "love" chocolate.  And we intuit the nature of sin as a defectus boni when we say "Too much chocolate is bad for you."  (Bad?  How dare we make value judgments!)  So we have a society that eats when its hungry and is afterward shocked, shocked to discover an "epidemic" of obesity in its midst.



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The Shipwrecks of Time - Preview

I have ducked back a chapter to introduce some of the other characters and a new complication.  We are back with Frank Delacorte.  He has left the Institute on that first day with a list of potential lodgings that Mrs. S has given him.

The first address on the list was an apartment building on the same block, but that was too good to be true and when Frank got there, he was told that the last remaining room had been rented the week before.  “The kids are coming in for the new semester,” the apartment manager told him, just in case he cared.  Armed with that information, Frank studied the list more carefully, compared it to his map, and crossed off all the buildings closer to the University than where he now stood. His best chances lay in those boarding houses and apartments farther west.  He set off into the wilderness at a brisk pace
Continue reading.  

In the next, and possibly final installment, we will learn something of the plot problem that will confront Frank. 

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