Monday, December 31, 2012

The End of Time

Now we're at the end of our own calendar for the year, having somehow survived the supposed end of the Mayan calendar a week and a half ago. So much for another apocalyptic prediction. For his part, Aristotle reasons that "time will not fail" and that time's true limit is the boundary between past and future, the 'now' (Phys. IV.13.222b8, a10).

In our postlapsarian state, it's hard to live in the 'now' as much as we should—the atemporal 'mind' detaching itself excessively from the temporal 'body'. Apocalyptic predictions get us to focus on a single moment. This is a limitation: both a strength and a weakness. Focusing on a particular moment is a valuable exercise (as Boswell quotes Johnson, "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."), but it also distracts us from the real end of time: the present.

Speaking of calendars, here's an article that asserts that Christ Really Was Born Exactly 2013 Years Ago! The Chronology of Josephus Was Wrong. An interesting claim, and I'd like to know more about the scholarship behind the matter. (As well as why it's "Exactly 2013 Years" and not 2012 years plus one week.)

Thursday, December 06, 2012


I've been noticing how people in the northeast have a tendency to retreat into a tower of hurt feelings when anyone says anything off-putting. I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in my distaste for this juvenile pouting: a couple Harvard professors point out that the politically correct thought police on campus are keeping students from growing up and thinking for themselves:

Our hyper-vigilance about campus speech does the opposite of ensuring “safety.” It infantilizes students and tells them that any time they hear something that makes them uncomfortable, no matter how distasteful it may be, they have reason not only to be offended, but also to restrict the speech of others so that they can avoid their unpleasant feelings. This is not good pedagogy.

Well said.

Read the full article for more wisdom (in Time magazine, of all places).

Erika Christakis and Nicholas A. Christakis, "Whither Goes Free Speech at Harvard?," Time (Dec. 04, 2012).