Friday, December 29, 2017

A lexicon for the capital punishment debate

This year, readers of this blog have been subjected to a long, heated, and sometimes confusing series of debates on the subject of Catholicism and capital punishment.  To help you take stock, here’s a guide to the key terms and concepts, in the spirit of Daniel Dennett’s famous Philosophical Lexicon:

harty, adjective.  Gratuitously vituperative, especially toward straw men.  “David is so erudite.  Why does he have to be harty all the time?”

sheameless, adjective.  Harty to the point of spittle-flecked incoherence.  “Mark has been harty ever since the Iraq war, but these days he’s absolutely sheameless.”
fastiggious, adjective.   Fussily deferential to doctrinally imprecise and non-binding papal statements.  “Bob has gotten so fastiggious lately.  He’s convinced that even the pope’s doodles are magisterial.”

bruggered, adjective.  Hopelessly lost in a novel theological construction of one’s own invention.  “It’s so sad.  Chris showed such promise, but he’s gotten bruggered senseless.” 

megivern, adjective.   Portmanteau of meshuga and forgiven.   Taking mercy to an extreme that defies common sense.  “Good grief, that’s the most megivern argument against the death penalty I’ve heard yet.” 

Swetland, proper noun.  An imaginary magical realm where a reversal of doctrine counts as a development of doctrine.  “Father means well, but I’m afraid he’s bought a one way ticket to Swetland.” 

imbergoglio, noun.  A pointless, entirely avoidable doctrinal mess.  “Hmm, by my count that makes seven imbergoglios this year alone.”

peters, plural noun.   Eminent canon lawyers.  “Good luck refuting my book.  I’ve got all the peters on my side.”

flannery, noun.  Praise from a distinguished theological authority.  “Even flannery will get you nowhere with some people.”    

schall, noun.  An uneasy mood created by flannery for an unpopular theological opinion.  “The unexpected flannery the book received cast a schall over the whole discussion.”

royal, noun.  Flannery disseminated by way of mass media.  “After the book got the royal treatment, the schall was bound to spread far and wide.”

long, verb.  To yearn for a return to theological sanity. “Steve longed day and night for a neoscholastic revival, and the more baroque the better.”

longnecker, noun.  Someone thought to long in private, but who in public theological controversies tends to look on with detachment.  “Fr. Dwight is something of a longnecker.” 

Petri dish, noun.  Dominican device for reviving dormant theological truths.  Used in seminaries and study centers. “Fr. Thomas carefully placed the thesis in the Petri dish, but sometimes it takes a decade or two to see results.”

griffeth, verb.  Archaic form of griff, to engage an opponent with unjustifiable condescension.  “O friend Paul, methinks thou dost griffeth too readily.”

grisez, adjective.  Portmanteau of griff and blasé.  Excessively confident in the consistency of a novel view with orthodoxy.  “Germain casually waves aside millennia of consistent Catholic teaching, which strikes me as grisez.”

finnis, noun.  The end result or inevitable consequence of adhering to a grisez school of thought.  “When John caved in on capital punishment, he crossed the finnis line.”

tollefson, noun.   A docile student or follower of a grisez school of thought.  “The Master declared the death penalty contrary to a basic good, and all of his tollefsons have fallen into line.”

armstrong, verb.  Boldly but casually to insinuate a falsehood in the hope that others will go along with it.  “Dave tried to armstrong me into a debate.  Can you believe that guy?”

bessette, adjective.  Overwhelmed by the force of evidence and argument for an unpopular thesis.  “I hoped I could find a way around the arguments for capital punishment, but I soon found myself bessette on all sides.”

feser, verb.  Relentlessly to drive home a point that should be obvious.  “Dude, I get the point already.  Stop fesering it!”



  1. Looks like someone had a little bit too much eggnog, huh?

  2. What would be the response to the objection that if the death penalty was legitimate because it was a proportional retribution to a crime, then the proportionate retribution for rape should be something equally personally degrading.

    Yet we don't do that in the case of rape, so why should we do it with the case of murder that deserves the death penalty?

    1. The response would be that rape degrades the rapist as well as the rape victim by violating the dignity of human sexuality. There is no way to retributively rape someone in a disinterested way that justice demands. Therefore, the only retribution appropriate would be imprisonment or execution. The point of retributive justice is not to strip a person of his dignity, but rather to proportionately punish in a way that respects dignity. Even execution should respect the dignity of a person by giving them opportunity for repentance, sacraments, last wishes, etc. all the while recognizing that their crime has forfeited their right to life.

    2. The death penalty being justified, doesn't mean you try to replicate as-closely-as-possible everything about the crime you are punishing. We don't say, for example, that a murderer tortured someone and gave them a slow death, and so we are going to do something similar to the criminal's own actions.

      Just as, we may lock someone up for kidnapping, but that doesn't mean we would copy the kidnapper's own cruelty in a particular case.

      So it would be a matter of a punishment being proportional, *and also* something appropriate for the state to be performing.

      Actually, trying to "personally degrade" a rapist in an equivalent way would be difficult to work out. Even if you wanted to rape them, (which we wouldn't do, because it would be seen as too twisted and uncivilized), you don't know the psychological impact this will have on any particular person.

      Actually sending someone to prison, where they will be subject to strip searches, and have little privacy, and have a conviction for a sexual crime, would be pretty degrading for most people.

      Now I guess someone could argue that the death penalty itself is too uncivilized to use, and no doubt a chunk of the population believes that; but I can't see any truly compelling logic to that.


    3. The trick is to see that punishment just is imposing an evil on someone, and to be "an evil" it must be something not suited to human satisfaction, but that there are some evils that that are wrong to impose while others are not.

      Any penal evil will be in a sense a loss of some kind of "dignity", because every such loss means the convict loses something suited to human fulfillment. Similarly, every penal evil will represent a kind of shame to the convict - indeed, merely BEING a convict is a kind of shame. But not every kind of indignity nor every kind of shame is licit or appropriate as a penal imposition for our use.

      The easiest I can offer is that of being clothed: since the Fall of Adam and Eve, humans must wear clothes, and making a convict bear nakedness as punishment is wrong. (The momentary nakedness implied in requiring strip searches is not per se intended as penal, it is merely a functional necessity of the intended process, just as the momentary nakedness implied in a medical exam is also a functional requirement of the process and not penal as such... and requiring strip searches precisely as penal would be wrong.)

      Likewise, depriving a person of some sort of human waste option - a bathroom, a latrine, an outhouse, a trench, even a bucket - is wrong.

      So, some kinds of loss of "dignity" (for want of a better term) are not appropriate as punishment.

  3. stardust, noun. When a discussion stalls because you can’t seem to get through to an interlocutor that metaphysics is real and prior to science. “This guy is doing my psyche in. The discussion is stardust”.

  4. Delightful lampoon! Wonderfully fun, and funny. Best Christmas present yet. (Well, almost, anyway). But you forgot:

    Tonyosity, noun. The imagined result of "toning up" an imagined "incomplete" fesering by applying "stronger" and "firmer" distinctions.

  5. "armstrong" is a regular or irregular verb? Is it "he armstronged me" ?? :)

  6. Thanks, Ed, for the insinuation that I am characterized by zealously setting forth falsehoods. Very scholarly and charitable of you. I thank you at least that you didn't include the notion that I spread lies, *knowing* that they are lies.

    And you go after Bob Fastiggi as a supposed mindless ultramontanist. Very original. As usual, anyone who defends papal views is caricatured as a mindless idiot, who thinks the color of the pope's socks is a de fide matter.

    It's not funny satire if you engage in wholesale lying about someone else. It has to be based on something true about a person.

  7. Dave? Cartoonish, caricatured exaggerations are... ummmm ... exaggerated! You know, as in, not strictly speaking accurate? It's not "wholesale lying" if you are patently drawing caricatures.

    And if you think there is a BETTER caricature explanation of "armstrong", suggest away. The best defense is to do it better than Feser, to - heh - out-feser him.

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  9. One of the best blogpost in a while. As St.Basil reminds us, sometimes you need to light people up who just insist on being foolish.

  10. Right. Satirical exaggeration has to be based on truth to be 1) effective, and 2) funny. When Ed thinks of me, he thinks that what is characteristic of me is to "Boldly but casually to insinuate a falsehood in the hope that others will go along with it." According to you, there is no better caricature of me than that! That sums me up better than anything else! I've devoted the last sixteen years of my life to full-time defense of Holy Mother Church, but THIS is what sums me up. I can see that an anti-Catholic or an atheist would think that, in their profound disagreement and negative appraisal of Catholicism. But a fellow orthodox Catholic? JUST because we honestly disagree on capital punishment?

    For Bob Fastiggi, it is supposedly being ultramontanist. If you defend the pope and follow the obvious Mind of the Church in recent times on capital punishment, well, that is slavish blind faith and an extremist obsession.

    Ed had already savaged Dr. Fastiggi in his published articles, implying in one, even in the very title, that he was fundamentally dishonest as a theologian and scholar. Bob had never attacked Ed. He never attacks anyone. He sticks to ideas, as scholars should.

    So, insinuations of the same nature sent my way or towards others like Grisez, come as no surprise. It appears to be somewhat of a modus operandi for Ed. How pathetic and sad.

    Germain Grisez "casually waves aside millennia of consistent Catholic teaching." That is its own refutation. It's certainly not funny. Heterodoxy never is. And falsely accusing someone of same never is, either.

    I have thought for years now that Ed was a great scholar and linked to him many times. If you go back and see the tempest-in-a-teapot on this blog a while, back, you'll see how deferentially I approached him. He still may be a great scholar, but this post is indefensible.

    Personal attacks of this sort are unbecoming of a scholar and disgraceful for a Christian to engage in. He even included the pope, because it's so fashionable and chic to bash him today.

    1. So Ed is now a dishonest, pathetic, sad, disgraceful Christian and bad scholar who is living in a state of mortal sin and who, because of his herd mentality, bashes the pope?

      All this because he made a joke about your bizarre "debate" announcement.

    2. Didn't our Lord call Scribes and Pharisees a "Brood of Vipers" and fools? He called the moneychangers in the temple thieves and chased them with a scourge.

      Paul calls the Galatians fools, the Cretans "liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons" and names individuals, Hymenaeus and Alexander, as "handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme".

      These examples do not speak ill of our Lord or St. Paul, but by counter example expose your obvious weakness and contemptible inability to bear any slight. You can't even handle teasing, which is evident in our own Lord's words on several occasions, never mind a firm rebuke.

      Your weakness and hypersensitive pride is no one else's problem but your own and your attempt to cloak this behind some kind of pseudo-Christian duty to preserve your feelings is gross. You obviously cannot hang in a social hierarchy unless everyone with more ability than you condescends to reassure you otherwise.

    3. I mean, again, how can a man of your age and accomplishment- I literally have several of your books lying around. You have been very successful. -be this pathetically soft and desperate? Has nothing in your *decades* of publication and acting as a public figure made it possible for you to handle a mild ribbing without a multi post whine fest? I cannot even imaging the lack of spine present in any friends you might report this finger wagging to. 'So you see, he teased me and hurt my feelings, so I called him a bad Christian.'

    4. You do realise that your examples fail, right?

      The condemnations in the first two paragraphs are actually based on reality, while the exaggerated caricature of David is clearly based on a falsehood in order to generate comedic effect (as Tony pointed out).

      In order for your comparison to work at all, the reprobations of Jesus would themselves have to not be based on reality, which they clearly are.

      And the only way you would actually have a point is if Ed made a caricature out of Dave's softness, which isn't the case.

      So you're simply wrong on that count.

    5. I'm simply replying to the idea that personal attacks are not permitted. This is, frankly speaking, bullshit. The gentleman surely knows this, or if he does not know this then he is likely an endorser of the treacly Christian nonsense that that has dominated the personalities of many Christian men since the 70s, which reeks more of ideas conceived in a public relations meeting than it does of anything conceived in Scripture.

      Moreover, obviously there was a real situation that is referenced above. Even if Dave had utterly different intentions, which is what he claims in his reply to the other post, the initial remarks were still goofy and contextually appeared hilarious and very much like a silly assumption that a debate would be occurring. Dave himself admitted error in his own appearance already, in which case the ribbing here is indeed based on some sort of actual situation, whether it was the situation that Dave thought he was creating or not.

      Also, based in reality? Every single man of Crete is a liar a beast and a glutton? Or is it more likely that Paul, in his usual rhetorical style, was making a hyperbole for the sake of delivering a point about how to regard the Cretans when approaching them? Should Timothy have sent him a reply letter where he finger wags about Paul's lack of strict accuracy? Come on, man. I can hardly expect you to own to it, but surely you do not mean to convey the idea that strict unambiguous accuracy is the moral hill upon which you wish to die.

  11. And of course, Tony, we notice that when you and Ed satirize yourselves, there is no moral judgment or personal attack. Those things ARE funny because they don't lie.

    They highlighted and exaggerated morally neutral, harmless traits that really ARE there. It's just having fun. If the satirical piece had stayed in that vein throughout, I would have no objection to it whatever, as a lover of satire, and not infrequent composer of it myself.

    Lying about others is neither fun nor clever. It's mortal sin.

    1. @Dave,

      Lying about others is neither fun nor clever. It's mortal sin.

      Actually, it's not. The gravity of a lie always depends on the truth it disfigures, as well as whether or not it was even intentional.

      Even if we grant that Dr.Feser was being uncharitable with his satirical caricature of you, this doesn't seem to be something that would be mortally sinful, rather than being venial.

  12. I'm sorry that you're taking this so badly, Dave. A lexicon like this is funny (and yes, this one is funny) precisely because it's tendentious.

    1. When Ed thinks of me, he thinks that what is characteristic of me is to "Boldly but casually to insinuate a falsehood in the hope that others will go along with it."

      You need to stop stirring up dust. The lexicon is clearly not intended to summarize Ed's opinions of the people listed. Part of the irony of caricature is that a caricature is not wholly representative; in this case, that people are not defined by their contributions to the capital punishment debate, so that it is incongruous when they seem to be. Don't get worked up about friendly ribbing.

    2. Hi Greg,

      YOU call it merely "friendly ribbing." But even others on this thread disagree with you. "Anonymous " thinks it's about: "sometimes you need to light people up who just insist on being foolish."

      For him / her / it, what's going op is rightly dishing out deserved criticism to fools. I wouldn't go that far, but IMO that's closer to the truth of the intention than your neutral "friendly ribbing" that intends little or no judgment.

      Moreover, we know that Ed has characterized Dr. Fastiggi as a dishonest scholar even in his serious published replies to him.

      I don't think he's a completely different person when he's doing humor. It carries over. So the tendency to characterize others as dishonest or devious was smuggled into the "caricatures" of folks like me and Dr. Grisez as well.

      In other words, even satirical humor has a background in thought, especially if it is pointed and acerbic, as this assuredly is. Satire by nature always attempts to make a *point.* Even though Ed is poor at satire, he's still definitely making his points.

    3. Moreover, we know that Ed has characterized Dr. Fastiggi as a dishonest scholar even in his serious published replies to him.

      Let me say first of all that you should stop repeating this. Do you know that Ed chose the title of that article? Commonly authors do not choose their own titles, and the word 'honesty' does not even appear in the actual article, nor could it be said that the title accurately paraphrases the thesis of the article.

      Also, to say "Catholic theologians must set an example of intellectual honesty" in replying to someone you disagree with is not, anyway, to characterize that person as being a dishonest scholar.

      Again, don't stir up dust. The Feser-Fastiggi exchange was quite civil.

    4. Second of all, yes, it's friendly ribbing. It is a joke for one philosopher to say to another, "In this article of mine, I refute your argument"--because of course the other would deny this and give arguments. That is, in large part, the sort of humor at work here, in imitation of Dennett's lexicon.

      Take a look at Dennett's entries for bertrand, frege, and geach, for example. Dennett doesn't think Russell, Frege, or Geach are stupid or unworthy philosophers. But he disagrees with them for reasons he could easily spell out if he hasn't done so somewhere already. And he knows they could reply, if they were alive. The joke is tendentiously building his objections to them into the definitions corresponding to their name. Feser is doing exactly the same thing. It isn't a big deal; it is no more offensive than the rather civil criticisms Feser has published of these folks; and it shows a definite thinness of skin in taking great offense to it.

      In your own case, the joke is different. It is that there was simply a misunderstanding, which has been clarified, but Feser is defining things as though it were not clarified. That you think he is making an assertion about your character is frankly astonishing.

    5. Well to be fair Greg.

      "insinuate a falsehood" might be interpreted by some as an accusation. I don't think it was at all, because like you I am a regular around here & that is not Feser's character.

      I think potential(I am so Thomist) or possible insults tend to be more subjective. Dave took offense.

      Anyway I agree this is just simply a misunderstanding.

    6. Whether "insinuate a falsehood" means "lie" or not isn't the point. The point is that whatever the 'armstrong' entry literally means, the whole point of the joke was to ignore the fact that a misunderstanding which was clarified was not clarified.

    7. to ignore the fact that a misunderstanding which was clarified was not clarified

      Oops: omit last 'not'...

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  14. Holding a realistic severed, bloody head of Donald Trump was considered hilariously funny, too. Many millions of people, including myself, didn't consider it funny at all. Theological humor, like political, appears, then, to be funny to various degrees in the eye of the beholder.

    1. Holding a realistic severed, bloody head of Donald Trump was considered hilariously funny, too. Many millions of people, including myself, didn't consider it funny at all.

      I mean this in no way related to any of the OTHER points here: Dave (and some others), you need to re-examine what you mean by "funny". There is good humor, and evil humor. The evil humor is, at one and the same time, evil, and humor. It's funny. But evil and funny.

      People SHOULD NOT MAKE some funny jokes. Some evil funny jokes are heinous, some stupid, some merely imprudent. It is a bad idea to make THAT particular joke for 2 or 3 reasons, one of which has to do with honoring the office of president. This does not make it "not funny" except in some parallel universe other than ours where "wrong to say" would also make it "not funny". In our universe, though, it doesn't do that.

    2. @Tony,


      Does the category of evil humor include jokes that have vulgarity or explicit content as well?

      Or is there a bigger categorical delineation here?

    3. A great many of the jokes that should not be made are vulgar, but it's a bigger category than that. To wit: if a man is in a bar and is well lubricated and along the way to being past that, and is known to be an angry drunk when he is drunk, and has already had something happen that raises his ire a bit (even something as silly as tripping over a foot), it would be imprudent and wrong to intentionally goad him with a joke that makes fun of him (regardless of whether it is vulgar).

      Many jokes about Jesus and Mary are improper, precisely because they were perfect and ought to be the objects of adoration or reverence. But not ALL jokes about them.

    4. But I'd think 'funny' is like 'pleasant'. There is what is pleasant to a man and there is what is pleasant in itself. The vulgar masses find pleasant many things which are not pleasant in themselves. They also find funny many things which are not funny in themselves. Just as the measure of good pleasure is the virtuous man, the measure of good humor is the virtuous man.

      The tendency to hear a joke at which many people laugh and respond "That's not funny" is a very natural one, and I think it gets at something important.

    5. (Think Bill Nye Saves the World.)

    6. It is true that there are things that many find 'enjoyable' that they should not find enjoyable, and that in some sense we should be able to say is not "enjoyable in itself" somehow or other. Watching Christians getting ripped apart and eaten by lions for no other reason than that they are Christians, for example. People ought not take pleasure in that, and that they do take pleasure in it is something seriously wrong in them.

      There is "humor" that men ought not to take pleasure in because it is bad to take that kind of thing as pleasurable. And some kinds of humor of this sort are, perhaps, "not funny" considered "in itself" but only "funny" considered as viewed by someone seriously disordered.

      But humor is a funny thing: to SOME degree, it requires finding something that is incongruous, i.e. "doesn't quite fit" to the facts or situation. But from, say, God's point of view, the only thing that is truly out of order is sin, everything else being what He planned and "as it is supposed to be" in some sense. So you have to look at these "incongruous" things from something other than from God's 'view from eternity' angle that sees how all will fit together properly for HIS PLAN. Say, from human points of view that are more limited. From a human point of view, some things are "funny if you look at it one way" and yet "not funny if you look at it another way". Slapstick humor is like that: in some sense it is NEVER funny, but in another way there is indeed slapstick humor that is actually funny. There is nothing about it that makes it so that men should not laugh at it, and that good men would not find it funny.

      Also, a clever double or triple entendre could be funny in some sense even if it pokes fun at what should not have fun poked at it - or not in that way.

      I find it incredibly implausible to say that ALL of the humor that people should not indulge in stands as "not funny" to a good and upright man. For one thing, I have known very, very good, holy men who find them funny to believe it easily.

    7. Are you saying that God doesn't have a sense of humor? Some of us would beg to differ...

    8. @Greg,

      Well, John Chrysostom DID hold that Jesus never laughed during his entire life.

  15. Poking fun at harmless, trivial stuff, as Ed and Tony did with themselves, is friendly ribbing. Just by mere coincidence, neither of them attribute very serious faults or shortcomings to themselves; only when it deals with others, do they do that and think it is hilariously funny. Ed would never dream of satirizing *himself* as peddling falsehood, thinking it is the truth, or thumbing his nose at 2000 years of Catholic tradition.

    Attributing terrible, serious faults to someone else is not funny: especially if the things aren't true. That's not an exaggeration; it's a malicious invention.

    It's not a matter of me being unhumorous or not being able to laugh at myself. As I said, I do satire myself (quite a bit). I have a huge sense of humor and love to have fun, as anyone who knows me in person knows full well.

    Here's an example of a satire of me that was done as it should be: exaggerating a real trait and poking fun. I died laughing over it:

    That guy knows how to do satire; he's very good at it. I can't laugh, however, at a downright falsehood or lie about myself or any of the others falsely characterized. That's simply not funny. It only is if someone has already formed a quite negative impression of another person. Then the assumed, supposed negative characteristics of them -- satirized -- are wildly funny to them and others.

    Thus, it appears that Ed and Tony have already formed this low view of me (and the others who were mocked as virtual fools and idiots), so that when it is made fun of, they think that's really really funny, and indeed, Tony can't even imagine a better caricature of me than the one drawn above.

    And here I was naive and idealistic enough to think that we were simply having an honest disagreement among brothers of Christ, that we could discuss in a friendly manner, without the personal attacks . . .

  16. Another weird thing about Ed's "satire" of me is that Ed is (for humor's sake) referring back to the incident when I first appeared here. It was a mistake on my part, but a perfectly innocent one. I apologized at the time: "My apologies for any misunderstanding. That was my fault."

    Several others who know me better defended me on the thread, too. That should have been the end of it. But now Ed is taking a shot at a thing that I already apologized for.

    Is that a particularly Christian approach, either? Aren't we supposed to forgive and forget stuff when someone apologizes? I was taught that as an evangelical Protestant, and to my knowledge, the Catholic Church agrees with that moral and relational principle. It's elementary Christianity.

    1. Those were five comments in a row, hey Mr Armstrong, festina lente, calm down.

      Is Mr. Armstrong operating with the silly "It is funny, because it is true"???

    2. Dude! Calm down. It is just a joke.

    3. And you keep defending Dr Robert Fastiggi as he were a super scholar, he not even do well debating James white

    4. Dave, do you constantly Google yourself and save every blog and website that has ever mentioned your name so you can around and whine like a 12-year-old? Who cares if Ed is right or wrong, you are looking like an idiot for spamming posts here about someone calling you names on the internet.

      Oh Dave! NO ONE CALLS anyone names or accuses them falsely of something on the internet. Keep at it! Defend yourself, for behold, every single website, blog post, article, book, that mentions you in a bad light must be corrected! It surely doesn’t have anything to do with how you personally view yourself, now does it?

      So, at the end of the day we have:

      1. People making fun of others on the internet – boo hoo, get over it. I have been slammed much worse in public forums and I don’t become a panty waist about it.

      2. Who cares about the death penalty?

      In the future, you will change your mind to whatever a different Pope says on the subject – if that happens at all (you and I might be dead before that happens). It’s really just that simple for you guys who have not come to the fullness of Catholicism. And those were not jokes, just facts. If this was 1956, you would be supporting the death penalty for both a protection of society and to serve proper justice because Pius XII says so. But since John Paul The Greatest of All Time History™ and Pope Francis the Destroyer say otherwise, you must bend your mind to it. Bravo.

  17. @ Ed Feser

    You joked:

    armstrong, verb. Boldly but casually to insinuate a falsehood in the hope that others will go along with it. “Dave tried to armstrong me into a debate. Can you believe that guy?”

    Dave said in the combox of your post complaining about him saying you challenged him to a debate.

    "Hi Ed,

    As always with me, I meant debate in a purely informal sense. I've never done a formal debate per se. So all I meant was that I was gonna write about a few Bible passages that have been brought up. I said that to you more than once on my blog.

    As always with me, I meant debate in a purely informal sense. I've never done a formal debate per se. So all I meant was that I was gonna write about a few Bible passages that have been brought up. I said that to you more than once on my blog.........My apologies for any misunderstanding. That was my fault.END QUOTE

    I don't say you did it on purpose cause you are obviously busy but maybe an acknowledgement of his clarification & apology would have been in order?

    On that you are technically wrong I am afraid. Dave may be over reacting(quite a lot) but that is how we Scots are we are blunt and we are hard nosed & it kind of can be interpreted as you calling him a liar.

    PS (grumbling under my breath) God I hate everybody on the ****ing internet.....please kill me....**

    btw add this to your lexicon.

    BenYachoving . verb The equal opportunity act of bashing two idiots heads together for over reacting toward each other by an another angry idiot who has made a combox career out of over reacting.

    "davy and eddie where knocked un-conscience after Jimmy gave both of them a good BenYachoving."

  18. Armstrong. Noun, Warrior, Reiver, allied Clan. slayer of the bad argument! White's Bane. Invictus Maneo

  19. Feser. Noun A deadly energy weapon used on the Gnus and propagators of scientism.

  20. Dave, for goodness' sake, lighten up. It was quite obviously meant as nothing more than a joke.

    Also, kindly get over this delusion of yours that I "savaged" Fastiggi or was in any way unkind to him in our CWR exchange. I did not say that he was intellectually dishonest. To say to someone "I think that intellectual honesty should lead us to conclude such-and-such" is not the same thing as saying "You are intellectually dishonest."

  21. I completely agree with Ed and with ben Ya'kov that Dave is horribly overreacting here. Feser was not trying to say, imply, or insinuate that Dave is actually a liar, and caricatures are not to be taken as "telling it true" or anything of the sort - even if the best caricatures are drawn from something that is true, that still leaves vast room for making up stuff that ISN'T true. And nothing prevents an attempted caricature from simply failing to capture something true to begin with - it's just not that good a caricature, then.

    Nevertheless, it is apparent that Dave cannot bear to be made fun of on this point and keep his temper. Therefore, I humbly request and beg of our host to simply edit out the armstrong definition out of charity. Please?

    1. >Nevertheless, it is apparent that Dave cannot bear to be made fun of on this point and keep his temper.

      I can't bear it either. He is my friend and I admire him as much Feser. I can't say I enjoy him being made fun of anymore then I enjoy him over react to Feser's.
      We Scots are proud.

      >I humbly request and beg of our host to simply edit out the armstrong definition out of charity. Please?

      I second that but it Ed's blog.

    2. We Scots are proud.

      ben Ya'Kov, I know you don't mean it this way, but some Scots (and others too, it's not limited to Scots by any means) would mean by this that "we have a right not to be trifled with, so when we get mad upon being made the point of a joke, you're to blame, not us." In reality, we are all ridiculous in one way or another, after all we were all sinners in need of grace and forgiveness and being put on the true path. None of us have a "right" not to be made the point of a joke. It is a pride that is opposed to proper humility that leads us to think otherwise. And expecting only to be made fun of in "dignified" ways is just a slightly more sophisticated version of the same pride, I believe. I know that I have felt this myself, and only in hindsight did I realize that my feeling that "it's OK to make fun of me on my own terms about things that I am not particularly sensitive about was just a disguised aspect of that pride.

    3. @Tony,

      and only in hindsight did I realize that my feeling that "it's OK to make fun of me on my own terms about things that I am not particularly sensitive about was just a disguised aspect of that pride.

      But what if a certain person isn't really sensitive about anything?

      Or rather, as Mother Teresa allegedly said, isn't it a result of humility that one isn't touched and offended by anything?

      Or to put it in a slightly different way, does this imply that we should rather ignore jokes that make fun of our sensibilities and just get on with it so-to-speak?

      After all, it is said that self-esteem is generally a bad thing, and the only thing needed is a healthy sense of self-respect that will make up for all the worries.

    4. @Tony

      In principle I do not believe in a right not to be trifled with but I also don't believe we in turn have a right to trifle with others without conscience.

      Dave doesn't have a right not to be offended but we don't have a right to trifle with Dave and demand he not be offended.

      It is a paradox.

    5. I see no paradox.

      If Dave is doing right to take offense, then Feser was wrong to say it. If Feser was not in the wrong to say it, Dave is in the wrong to take offense in such a way as to put Feser "in the wrong" over it.

      Nobody has to "demand" of Dave that he not take offense if it is wrong for him to take offense. It's not like right action first needs us to voice it in order for it to be right action.

    6. Or to put it in a slightly different way, does this imply that we should rather ignore jokes that make fun of our sensibilities and just get on with it so-to-speak?

      After all, it is said that self-esteem is generally a bad thing, and the only thing needed is a healthy sense of self-respect that will make up for all the worries.

      JoeD, as I see it (though I might be wrong and I welcome correction), we should be humble but not intimidated or overly submissive. When it comes to caring about what another might say about us, we should care to the extent that that other is godly and is speaking from a godly point of view - i.e. helping us see ourselves from an upright and godly angle. To the extent that someone is being worldly, or (even more) foolish or stupid, we should let what they say slide off like water off a duck's back: of no account. If someone is being positively evil-minded, and they speak ill of us, then we should rejoice that we have been found worthy to suffer for Christ, but other than that to care not a whit what they say, for the evil they speak does harm to them but not to us if we clothe ourselves in heavenly armor (including aforesaid humility).

      For that last part, bearing being insulted for Christ's sake almost never makes room for correcting those others directly, out of charitable concern for their souls. Humility and charity mean bearing it in silence, and letting God handle the correction.

      The perfect example is Mary, who did not speak up to defend herself when Joseph (and the rest of the townspeople, certainly) thought she was pregnant by some man. She let God handle the problem, which He did: by sending the angel to Joseph, God defended Mary's honor, and by Joseph taking her into his home as his wife and taking Jesus as his own son (legally speaking), he defended her situation before the people of the town, who thus treated Jesus as being born in wedlock - which he was. Mary concerned herself only with pleasing God, not with caring about what others thought of her.

    7. When I said "If someone is being positively evil-minded, and they speak ill of us," I meant speaking untruthfully. But if they are saying what is true (out of evil intent), then we should be grateful to God for correcting us, even if He chooses to use a person intent on evil to do it. Thus we would take the correction to heart and shrug off the evil intent of the person through whom it came (except to the extent of praying for them).

    8. @Tony,


      But about the idea that nobody has the right to not be mocked; obligation implies right and right implies obligation.

      It is a notion of common sense that I have an obligation not to mock people for either imaginary faults, non-moral characteristics or even for actual faults one may have.

      This obligation then implies that other people have the right not to be messed with in such ways.

      This seems to contradict your thesis that nobody actually has a right to not be mocked for his faults (if that is the correct way to read your idea).

    9. It is a notion of common sense that I have an obligation not to mock people for either imaginary faults, non-moral characteristics or even for actual faults one may have.

      JoeD, it seems strongly to me that the word "mock" is doing all the work here. But if we were to change it to "joke about" the whole tenor would change. Does anybody have a right not to have jokes made about their foibles, their idiosyncrasies, their minor or major faults? I don't know why they would.

      Obviously, I think there can be a difference between "make a joke of" and "mock". I think the fact of the difference can be seen easily in the utterly opposite reactions between being "roasted" by his good friends about some trifling silliness of his, and a man being bullied by his enemy about the very same silliness - but in utterly different tones of voice. It may be something as trifling as his red hair: in the mouths of his friends, "carrot-top" becomes a lightly teasing note of distinction, whereas in the mouths of a bully the same word is nasty, mean-spirited, and meant to cut.

      So, my comment is that nobody has a right not to be made the point of joking ... made in a way that does not contradict charity. If a man becomes offended at that kind of joke, he himself is the one that is disturbing charity. No doubt, though, there can be faults on both sides.

    10. @Tony,

      I think you're generally right about that, especially concerning the difference between mocking and joking.

      But one thing still lingers in my mind; isn't it a point of prudence and charity that we are constantly taught, that if a certain person finds a type of teasing or behaviour objectionable and sees it as being out of the bounds of friendliness, that we should stop with that behaviour because that person does not like it?

      It seems to me that this was always considered a part of decency proper to any social interaction, and it looks like that your idea of how being unintentionally insulted / offended is against charity goes against such long-standing etiquettes.

    11. type of teasing or behaviour objectionable and sees it as being out of the bounds of friendliness, that we should stop with that behaviour because that person does not like it?

      That's one of the reasons I said "there can be fault on both sides".

      I would suggest that there are, perhaps, strict demands of justice and charity, and then there are less strict ones ('relaxed'?) In the first instance, the strict demands require that one not make a joke that is the sort that mocks, like you indicated. In the second instance, there is a fairly strict obligation to consider the probable reaction of those who will hear the joke, and either not use it, or re-tailor it, if one finds that it will be taken wrongly by many. And, perhaps, a somewhat relaxed 'obligation' to the one or very few outlier persons who manage to take offense at what is truly not in itself offensive, and either try to unruffle feathers after the fact by, say, explaining, or by some other act that drains away the offensiveness of it.

      Priests will tell you that no matter how hard they work at a sermon, there is ALWAYS someone who takes offense at some small point or other. You just can't please everyone. People would have to give up public speaking altogether of they were not allowed to say anything that SOMEONE might find offensive. You just can't tailor all of your speech for the outliers - especially for the ones that are truly unreasonable about their being offended. Therefore, the outliers do not control the boundaries of upright speech by their sense of what is offensive.

      So, yes, there is a prudential obligation to consider the probable effects of one's speech, but the mere fact that someone finds it offensive does not mean that you took it beyond charitable bounds, and (depending on how unreasonable they are) nor are you necessarily obligated to try to undo the damage to their sensibilities, though in charity one should usually (or presumptively) at least wish to do so. Part of prudence is the judgment of how many are likely to be offended, andn how reasonable that response would be.

    12. We have seen tons of BS and non sequiturs in response to my remarks about the sarcasm: mostly to the effect that I am supposedly remarkably thin-skinned and oversensitive.

      Of course, that's not true at all. Do I need to swear on a stack of Bibles or can folks simply take me at my word? Believe me, I wouldn't last two weeks as an apologist if that were true. In fact, I have been constantly active in writing apologetics for now almost 22 years online. If anyone is under the illusion that that doesn't involve an avalanche of personal attacks, you don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

      If I were what is claimed here, that simply would NEVER have been the case. It makes no sense whatsoever; has no plausibility whatsoever. The foolish pride of a person who is *actually* the way I have been falsely and ridiculously described here would have never been able to take it for 22 years.

      I have no problem laughing at myself. Any father of teenagers quickly learns that art (I have four children). I gave an example of a satire at my expense that was actually good and on the mark. That was laughing at myself. But no matter. That was a rational reply, and the "discussions" that have been about me here (rather than the issue at hand: the satire) are anything BUT rational.

      This bum rap is not the issue. It's just the nonsense that's been thrown out to avoid talking about the actual issue involved.

      So we have psychoanalyses and empty / boneheaded charges, but very little in the way of actual arguments. I made several objective, rational arguments that can be reasoned with, about the nature of sarcasm and whether these instances were poor and poorly reasoned examples of it.

      I was defending not just myself (and doing that only because I happened to be involved in what I regard as a matter of ethical principle), but also two others who were similarly treated in the poor satires. Dr. Feser himself noted that I have also defended Dr. Fastiggi.

      I *initially* expected at least a slightly higher calibre of comments on the blog of a very good Catholic philosopher. Silly and idealistic me . . . I was naive and foolish enough to still believe that the blog combox of a philosopher would actually be devoted to fair-minded and inquisitive philosophical / ethical discussion, rather than manure pie-throwing and the immediate attack upon anyone who dared to utter an opinion different from the Prevailing Forum Orthodoxy.

      Thanks to Jim Scott for sticking up for me. It wasn't necessary, but it was a nice gesture of a friend, and I appreciate that. It's rare these days for anyone to go against the groupthink of any given Internet forum.

      I foolishly assumed that folks (at least on this site) would understand that opposing arguments are opportunities for intellectual stimulation and challenge; not opportunities to lob yet more infantile personal attacks.

      It actually could have been a very interesting discussion, because satire and humor in general make for very fascinating discussion, if they are actually analyzed. I would have LOVED to engage in that discussion.

      It was a chance for Dr. Feser to ponder whether, in fact, he had gone too far with his humor, but alas, he showed no interest in any critique along those lines. I think that's his loss, and that it is well for all of us to ponder constructive criticism, since all of us are not perfect beings, and it's easy to become excessive in humor. I've done it (as a guy who absolutely loves humor and laughing and having fun, and especially satire) many times, and have apologized many times.

    13. Lastly, Dr. Feser stated above: "Also, kindly get over this delusion of yours that I "savaged" Fastiggi or was in any way unkind to him in our CWR exchange. I did not say that he was intellectually dishonest. To say to someone "I think that intellectual honesty should lead us to conclude such-and-such" is not the same thing as saying "You are intellectually dishonest." "

      Well, as I have cited here before, Dr. Feser wrote an article in CWR, entitled, "Catholic theologians must set an example of intellectual honesty: A reply to Prof. Robert Fastiggi" (10-30-17).

      I grant that that possibly could be interpreted in the non-offensive fashion he describes, but it's a very poor choice of words for a title, indeed. Imagine if I wrote an article, entitled, "Catholic philosophers must set an example of intellectual honesty: A reply to Prof. Edward Feser".

      Now how would the average reader interpret that, if not as casting aspersions on his intellectual honesty? Why PUT that in the title at all? It's clearly a very provocative statement, even if we grant that he MEANT it in his less offensive sense.

      How did Dr. Fastiggi reply in the combox? True to form, as an unfailing gentleman, he wrote: "I agree we must set an example of honesty. That is what I am trying to do."

      Now, how do we interpret THAT? I think it can plausibly be interpreted: "Yes, I agree that we theologians should be honest (over against your insinuation that in my case, that is untrue). My intention is always to be so, and we simply have an honest disagreement."

      Why would that come up at ALL, if not for the reason of questioning intellectual honesty? Why would Dr. Fastiggi have to spend one minute of his time clarifying that "I am trying to [be honest]"? Of COURSE he is. In good dialogue, that is always assumed beforehand on the part of both persons, regarding their opponents.

      Now, in his recent article here about Dr. Fastiggi, Dr. Feser charitably writes (after taking yet another shot at me, calling me "one of his more oversensitive admirers"): "I admire Prof. Fastiggi for his unwavering dedication to the Church, for his erudition, and for the unfailingly gentlemanly way he has engaged his critics both in the debate over capital punishment and in the other, often heated, theological debates that have arisen during the pontificate of Pope Francis."

      Yeah, me, too. Then why make any allusions to intellectual dishonesty in the title of an article in reply to him? And why is it so excruciatingly difficult to comprehend how someone can easily interpret such a title as I suggest: even if that was not the intention?

      Why not, rather, entitle the same piece, "Catholic Theologians Must Hold that Capital Punishment is Permissible Under Catholic Moral Teachings: A Reply to Prof. Robert Fastiggi"?

      That boils down to what Dr. Feser is arguing in his objection to my objections above. And he follows this theme in his recent piece: Catholics can scarcely (impossibly?) conclude anything OTHER than his own position.

      Therefore, if there is only one conceivable position, it follows that a theologian of the stature of Dr. Fastiggi disagreeing with the unarguable TRVTH must be intellectually dishonest or quite dense and dumb (as an alternate).

      Sorry to disagree again (I know that's a naughty no-no here), but that's how I see it. I think, and here I disagree with Dr. Feser. It happens. You'll all live through it and survive my outrageous interruption of the tranquility of your safe space.

  22. There is also a noun form of the last:

    feser, noun. More or less sophisticated philosophical argument wielded unskillfully and unwisely by an untrained amateur to their own detriment. “Essence/existence? I wouldn’t try to use that feser if I were you; you’ll blow your own head off if you’re not careful”

    1. Anonymous, noun. A person who projects his own deficiencies onto others but he is afraid of doing it with his own name. See an example above.

    2. “Essence/existence? I wouldn’t try to use that feser if I were you;

      Bad example of the definition. It's not the Essence/Existence distinction ITSELF which is the 'feser' (according to your definition), it is some unskillful wielding of the distinction. Hence Jaime's altogether valid definition.

  23. feser, noun. Brain deformity wherein the logic, sneering, and arrogance components are heavily over-engineered at the expense of the compassion, communication, and common sense modules. “You’ve now managed to insult everyone in the room. I think you need to get a CT scan to check for a possible feser.” See also: Hyslop, Womble, Blackadder, and, Arse-head (taboo).

  24. This seems like it's just about ego and ruffled feathers. Just a reminder that ego makes us say and do things unsupported by reality. Sometimes we just have to put ego aside and thank God for all the good things he's given us.

  25. While I was driving to work this morning, I saw a big van which had a big writing on the back saying: "FESER your fire prevention system". Check this out: