20 June 2013: Chemotherapy yesterday: lost a night’s sleep owing to scintillating conversation

Workout today was 20 minutes first thing (150 steps, walk with two story stair climb and descent, no physio or afternoon walk: this was after a sleepless night, see below, after my chemo at Queen Mary. I was able to get thru this workout with little difficulty, sleep in the morning, and now I’m tired enough to go to sleep at a proper hour.

Way overstimulated by my Chemo-Sabe Erica’s brilliant and scintillating conversation at my three week regular Taxoteryl drip chemo at Queen Mary where it is required I bring a friend, and I was able to marshal several Chemo-Sabes using Facebood.

Also overstimulated by my own scintillating conversation, I tried to put myself to sleep at midnight last night with a lecture about Kant. But delivered in words and not thought this kept me up until dawn as it luxuriated in to a Grand High Review of my Somewhat Grandiose but Rather Sordid Life including finally putting into words, spoken quietly to the breathing night air so not to bother my ward mates, my feelings about Eddie’s death (my son took his own life in Sep 2012).

Primarily anger at his failure to bust out to being a caregiver if not of me then of his Mom. Real, blazing anger as expressed by Gwyneth Paltrow when in that math movie Proof she speaks of her father at his memorial: “at the end he was incontinent and raving in pain. I’m glad he’s dead”.

I am glad that Eddie is dead if this finally frees my ex’s soul…and his. I believe in Heaven and I can now pray for my son’s soul to be released from Purgatory and raised to heaven in the good old Papist way. This is not Pure Reason but it is Practical Reason in that it keeps me from going batshit, and helps me survive for my surviving son’s sake and that of his children.

I do not think suicides go to Hell if they see no way out of damaged life and I believe, apparently with Guth, the director of an opera based on Handel’s Messiah where the Messiah is a failed businessman in a stark hotel who commits suicide because of his failure, and the fact that his wife has been seduced by both his brothers, that suicide can be heroic…just not for me.

I used the Rosary today for the first time in fifty years to pray for my son and the rest of my family. Like a Tibetan prayer-wheel it’s a calming “round” in which the mind, instead of wandering, must come “round” to the basic fact of suffering, and you can “offer it up” for “the poor souls in Purgatory”. It’s almost as calming as meditation, although I realized that the first thing I’d do with the beads from Father Tito would be to lose them. I simply used one of my many Hershey’s Special Dark tins to hide the Rosary in its fragrant confines.

A typical Catholic boy of 15 in the 1960s would have, as I had, a Rosary and a condom in the same wallet. Hey, you never know, you don’t want to get her pregnant, and Father O’Leary, the jolly fat one, would roar with laughter and some approval, forgive you your sin, and give you a penance such as “say da Rosary for me, kid, and leave da girls alone for now”.

The Rosary got its start in my homeland, Bavaria during the trauma of the Thirty Years War. Since large amounts of Germany had become Protestant by 1632 this meant significant loss of revenue to wealthy landowners and the Vatican, so the Rosary was announced, with its predominant worship of Mary the mother Goddess, as a way of asserting that Catholicism was the ancient Way where the Protestants were dour, and entirely too successful in business owing to sharp dealing and overly abstemious habits. But anything that calms me down and helps me mourn my son is probably good as a Practical and not Pure Reason.


Realized, while reading Peter Strawson’s commentary, that I will have to read the Analytic of Principles (justification of rules of logic and reasoning themselves by logic and reasoning, a bootstrap operation I do not understand well) seven times as I have reread Analytic of Concepts, the section that precedes it.

Pity. I was coasting in Kant’s more user-friendly latter pages down to a soft landing at the Index. Here, he refutes Idealism in the second edition (published to redress the false image of him as an idealist like Berkeley) and shows how the famous “Ontological Proof for God’s Existence” has a fallacy: it assumed that “existence” is a property like “goodness” or “mercy” but it isn’t: “existence” is a transcendental precondition for having properties.

“Transcendental” because it exists unassailably at a higher logical level such that ~p (no properties) cannot imply, as it does in the ordinary logic of q->p, ~q. The failure for any reason of the consequent to be true when the transcendental antecedent is true means that the consequent is MEANINGLESS and must be tossed, like Hume’s books of metaphysics, “into the flames”.

Whereas in q->p (q materially implies p, meaning ONLY that it’s not the case that q can be true and p false) all other combinations (even both false) make q->p TRUE.

Which means that chimeras that do not exist are noumena without properties if existence is a requirement. This seems wrong, for a chimera like Shakespeare’s fictional character Hamlet is only dimly related to Saxo Grammaticus’ actual tenth century Danish prince Ameleth and we can discuss Hamlet’s character ad nauseum.

But in Kant’s transcendental logic, a chimera can never refute the antecedent “transcendental” assertion.

Furthermore, the late American philosopher Charles Hartshorne published in his late 1960s book The Logic of Perfection a wonderful little Ontological Proof of the Existence of God which replaced talk of properties with “modal” talk about the impossibility, possibility and necessity of propositions which, Hartshorne claimed, avoided Kant’s objection.

People, for the same reason they take marriage vows seriously, want their theology to consist of necessary truths: IF you say the rosary YOU will get to heaven for sure, babe. This talk rightfully drove Luther out of his mind.

But surely when we say “God exists” we mean

isNecessaryThat(God exists) | isImpossibleThat(God exists) (| means “or”)

that is, as many simple folk believe, God exists, and necessarily, not as some contingent scientific theory or proposition such as the speed of light (which could I suppose be disproved at some future date, perhaps at the CERN nuclear accelerator) but somewhat like 1+1=2. And equally simple hardline atheists like the late and much loved Hitchens (much loved for his intellectual honesty, so rare today at the top) say you cannot be the agnostic who says

isPossibleThat(God Exists) && isPossibleThat(~(God exists)) (&& means AND: ~ means NOT)

Hartshorne through what can only be called “ordinary language analysis” showed that a theist like a pious clergy man and a raving atheist like the late Hitchens are right. God is so important to us, and to so many people who experience Her presence in their lives, and correspondingly his absence has so tortured men like Soren Kierkegaard, he surely doesn’t exist like the fall of dice or even the moon, which once did not exist, and was torn from earth by a collision with a passing planet. He is necessary, says Hartshorne, or impossible.

But God is neither 1+1=4 (an analytic a priori falsehood) nor a chimera or imaginary being like Godzilla (a synthetic a posteriori or a priori mythical beast. Which leaves us with isNecessaryThat(godExissts).

Ah, but THIS implies that(godExists) qed because isNecessaryThat(P) implies P in all case as an analytic a priori, Checkmate.

But what’s interesting is that as Hartshorne aged, he looked sourly on Perfection as opposed to the Holocaust and the suffering of children and as a result invented “process theology” and its “learning” and therefore imperfect, God. This comes to full fruition in both the Guth Messiah (here’s one of the brothers being confronted with love by his dead but blessed, wronged victim-brother) AND that wonderful song, what if God is one of us?


3 Responses to “20 June 2013: Chemotherapy yesterday: lost a night’s sleep owing to scintillating conversation”

  1. I hope you do teach again–are your lectures this good?

    • spinoza1111 Says:

      My lectures are better because of my energy levels and self-created motivation for even the dullest subjects.

      I hope to teach again, whether in the free market as a tutor or an employed teacher at secondary or uni level. The problems are my cancer and lack of advanced completed degree (ABD, all but dissertation, for a computer science master’s), but that lack is actually a gift given the way I see grad school systematically destroying enthusiasm. I was hired only with the BA at three places, sometimes under the pleasant fiction that I was actually working on a graduate degree.

      Now, the debt problem is a showstopper as well. I think as universities collapse that it’s my role to teach in the ruins as here in these Grand High Re-Reads of Shakespeare and Kant, conducted as seminars for both myself and anyone who cares to listen in. I also hope to use Apple’s iTunes/iPod technology to create course packs.

      You are very kind, thank you.


    • spinoza1111 Says:

      read that Horace Mann article about the sexually predatory teacher. The key was he was a dominant. My chair a sub, and very decent. He propositioned me but before the assignation I called him up and asked him if I could bring my slightly older mentor woman friend, a married lady, since we needed to talk.

      He sighed and agreed. She and I (23 and 19 but acting beyond our years) told him I was heterosexual and wished to remain an admiring student and no more. He sighed more and we all listened to Dylan Thomas on a Caedmon LP.

      And things exactly stood that way. He gave me several valuable recommendations for positions, the most important being Princeton.

      He died being always in ill health. He was predated upon by a dom grad student, who was, I am now convinced, a mobbed up thug masquerading as a graduate student, who helped destroy the department. I shall mourn the sub for in addition to being in today’s terms a sexual predator, he was a good person, unlike the creep at Horace Mann.

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