Feb. 16th, 2016

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Currently at Havelock: -2.2. High today: -1.8. Getting a bigger snowfall around here today than we (who, where, what?) ever got last winter, but that's not saying much. EC hasn't tallied the totals yet, but it turns out that both Saturday and Sunday got above -20 in Bancroft, but Saturday only on the technicality of starting at -19.9 at midnight. That was still colder than the coldest high last year by 0.8 degrees. Sunday's hourly low of -38.3 was about three degrees colder than the coldest low last year. Looks like Saturday was about three degrees colder on average than the coldest day last year, which was Feb. 15. (How many people in Ontario you suppose will be saying next year that it's always the coldest time of year around Valentine's Day?) Got below -40 in Algonquin Sunday morning, which, if Algonquin counts as "southern Ontario", answers in the affirmative a question Morag asks, which I would've answered in the negative, namely, is it ever forty below in southern Ontario. (Morag, when she's wondering this, is living on a fictionalized presumable Otonabee River, which would also be excluded by most values of "southern Ontario" that would exclude Algonquin. (This kind of thing always reminds me of being told by the rep from Lakehead University at the meet-the-universities night at my highschool (at which I think I've always thought I was the only person who met Lakehead University, which is at least approximately true) that they think of Toronto there as being out east rather than down south.)

Here's a story (simplified for the sake of simplicity). I told P that Q had said that R had done x. Next I told P that Q had said that R was brave to do x. P said that P had been about to say that R was cowardly to do x. Q supposes that x was the right thing to do and that doing x was difficult for R. P supposes that x was the wrong thing to do and that not doing x would have been difficult for R.

So here's one thing about courage, courage being a virtue, and virtues being, as you see with Plato, means to the good: what you take to be courageous will have something to do with what you take to be good. If I were going to offer a definition of courage for Socrates to pick apart, I'd suggest: a disposition to act for the good at the risk of a cost to oneself. Plato will have Socrates demonstrate that acting for the good never risks a net cost to oneself, and so on this definition there is no such thing as courage. So, try again: at the perceived risk of a cost to oneself (which is better anyway, because we wouldn't likely say that you're courageous for taking a risk that we think you don't think you're taking). Now, Socrates points out, we've put courage at odds with wisdom. Ho ho ho.

We, of course (by which I do not mean me, of course (ho ho ho)), are Kantians (or Thrasymachians) and not Platonists. We believe by second nature that acting for the good per se is generally neutral at best with regard to one's own interests, and often, usually, or maybe even always (or, if we're particularly deranged Kantians, maybe even necessarily) at odds with them. (This means something like that Kantians in this sense suppose that acting for the good is always courageous--Kantianism empties "courage" of interesting content in the opposite direction from Platonism.) We believe this so implicitly that if we see someone acting for what we take to be the good, we will infer that they do so at a personal cost, and if we see someone acting contrary to what we take to be the good, we will infer that they do so to avoid a personal cost. (How insistent we are on this in the face of contrary evidence and argument will depend on how deranged we are in our Kantianism.) Given all the different real or imagined personal costs and benefits that might follow from doing any given thing, it's easy to tell a story about either why doing x is the harder thing to do if you think x is the right thing to do, or why not doing x is the harder thing to do if you think x is the wrong thing to do.
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