Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Interlude.The Sound and the Fury I

Perseverance has never been my strong suit. I generally prefer the (quite damning, actually) adjective 'small-souled' to 'effeminate', because it requires less explanation (the transfer of physical traits to the soul, or perhaps tendencies more blameworthy in one sex than the other? at any rate, it is a powerful aversion to discomfort and an irresistible draw to pleasures, but the latter term could be interpreted to mean such things are characteristic of femininity, and the witness of the Saints -Teresa, Joan, and Therese among a thousand others - not to mention personal experience, belie this).

Further, I am absorbing the Second Vatican Council (i.e. studying the documents carefully and spilling what will become a lot of ink on them), and that will take up a lot of time elsewhere instead of writing here. But they're both on blogs, so at least I'm still writing something here. I begin to wonder if separate blogs were a dumb idea.

Also, Faulkner is hard. Never have I ever read more difficult literature. In terms of intelligibility, Aristotle, Heidegger, and Hegel are his equals. I read the first sentence of The Sound and the Fury at least a dozen times, and the first chapter at least seven times, before I had the barest hint about what the blasted thing meant. PTSD flashbacks of Hegel seminars ensued, where we read a sentence of the Phenomenology and literally asked ourselves, 'What does this mean?"

This is easing, but I will have to read the novel at least three times before I have anything intelligent to say about it. It is easy to lose myself in lighter literature (parts of Kristin Lavransdatter, not to mention all of Father Elijah, Father Elijah in Jerusalem, and Voyage to Alpha Centauri have all been devoured since I 'started' Faulkner!), but it's back to the South now, and even the merest taste of the rewards is enough to keep going. This book is rich. I will not think about time, experience, and how they relate the same way again. Never have I ever been brought into the life of another man as I have Benjy (who, incidentally, is thirty-three and whose story begins during the Easter Triduum. I doubt this is coincidence).

He always snags on the nail. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Plato, Phaedo

Few dialogues are as deeply disturbing and perplexing as the Phaedo, and though all the dialogues concern themselves with what it is to be human, and what the human life looks like, no dialogue explores the consequences of these questions like the Phaedo. For the Phaedo is about dying, being dead, and the preparation for death; since man is mortal, and if he is to live in the truth, he must confront his mortality. And since philosophy claims to be the best life, she must justify herself in the face of death. Given the fact of our imminent doom, why should we spend our days in philosophy? Does not the fact of death make such speculation, especially on such abstract, abstruse subjects like metaphysics, vain? In the words of the Philosopher-King, "he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. This too is vanity."

Socrates rejects this line of thought, the fears that characterize his young companions' questioning into the soul. For since, reason they, philosophy might not even prolong one's life but might (as the case of Socrates suggests) on the contrary prematurely shorten it, is not a live dog better than a dead lion? But Socrates reassures his friends: the soul is immortal, and after death we shall continue to be what we are now. This knowledge, for which ample proofs are given, reassures his friends and provides Socrates with the courage to face death and show his young friends that he is the "wisest and justest of all men." In the face of a constantly changing, hostile world, the soul persists always, giving the philosopher hope in the most hopeless of circumstances. This has some fairly significant implications: since we are, properly speaking, our soul, we should neglect the passions of the body and care only for the soul; the soul is, in reality, 'imprisoned' by the body, and since knowledge is of spiritual things, the body is of no help in the search for wisdom. The philosopher therefore is a hater of bodily things.

Such a view of the Phaedo is hardly original. This is the standard, conventional interpretation of the Phaedo, and one encounters it everywhere - encyclopedias, articles, and introductory philosophy courses at the university. But - if one rereads the Phaedo with sufficient care, one begins to see the extraordinarily conflicted nature of the dialogue. Socrates claims the philosopher is a hater of bodily things, but he has children in his very old age, presumably enjoying the prior, accompanying pleasures; he spends not a little time rubbing his leg prior to his attack on bodily pleasures; and he idly plays with Phaedo's beautiful hair (as, we learn, he was in the habit of doing). Further, we know from the Symposium that he drank more wine than anyone else, never got drunk, and enjoyed himself more than anyone present. Such actions are not the actions of a man convinced that the body is vain. Socrates is neither a Christian ascetic, sacrificing good things as penance for the kingdom of heaven, nor a Buddhist monk, convinced of the vanity of all desire.

Far more disturbing, however, is the treatment of the soul. To be sure, Socrates lays out four arguments for the immortality of the soul. Unfortunately, all of them fail, containing patent logical errors. A great thinker is apt to err in first principles, but not usually in minor steps of logic; Spinoza's Ethics might not be absolutely true, but few would deny it is internally consistent. But even more grievous; the arguments Socrates advances strip the soul of everything personal, which ignores our primal fear of death and longing to live forever: we want ourselves, what makes us us, to persist, not some abstract Form or Intellect, which has no knowledge of individual things nor memory of our life. In short, we long for what Christ promises; for our perfected person, body and soul, our self, to rise again and have life everlasting. Whether such a thing be possible - that is the leap of faith. That the Christian message has proved so powerful is in part because it addresses man's most primal, urgent longings; precisely the longings Socrates betrays in his Four Arguments (consider the opening of the Second Argument and how it moves from the particular to the universal until nothing of the particular is left).

Though Socrates teaches falsehood for the sake of comforting his companions and inspiring them to seek out philosophy, there is no indication that he himself is convinced by his sophisms - rather, the contrary. It seems therefore that he did not think what these arguments proved had been sufficiently demonstrated, and from this two conclusions might be drawn: one, that Socrates did not think the personal immortality of the soul could be known through reason. Two, that Socrates positively affirmed the personal mortality of the soul. I myself prefer the first option, for it is more in line with his gentle skepticism (he does not say, "I shall not believe it till you prove it to my satisfaction," but "How can that be? Let us investigate it together"), more confident the possibility of future inquiry, and it preserves the fundamental difficulty resulting from the failure of his earlier arguments: why philosophize if you cannot know, but can only hope (and scarcely have a reasonable hope, at that), that the soul is immortal? Is not everything vain again?

Unfortunately, the Phaedo does not provide sure, open answers to these questions. Matters thus look very bleak, a cause for the deepest despair. But some consolation might be present in the Allegory of the Cave and reflecting upon courage. For there is no question that for those who have truly tasted it, the philosophic life is superior to that of all others (the challenge of revelation is for the time being set aside). Once one has seen knowledge, to live in ignorance is intolerable, at least for those few souls who love wisdom, but even men living in ignorance wish to think their ignorance the truth (Cipher's decision to re-enter the Matrix is the clearest modern example of this). And courage is the perseverance in a judgment which reason knows to be true - in this case, that philosophy is the best life. For even if death is the end, philosophy remains the best life, and one should take even more care over one's soul, because it is the most precious of all things. Abandoning this for a life of hedonistic despair and nihilism would be weak and shameful, the willing enslavement to the bodily passions which is so fatal to philosophy (Socrates, remember, was famous for his temperance). Still, this is far less reassuring than it might have been, for Socrates seems to suggest that only courage separates us from despair.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Willa Cather, Death Comes For The Archbishop

I often think that if I had read Death Comes For The Archbishop back in 2007, when it was first recommended to me, I should have discerned my vocation to the priesthood much, much sooner. I should have read it many, many times and written much about it, in my journal and elsewhere. As it stands, I have read it at last and am extraordinarily impressed. For it is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read - I have only seen Melville paint such beauties with words in American literature. Short phrases like, "his diocese lay within the icy arms of the Great Lakes" fill me with wonder each time I return to them, and her evocative descriptions of New Mexico are something truly wonderful to behold. I could scarcely believe it to be the work of a Protestant (Cather was Episcopalian, I think), for it is so reverent in its portrayal of the Church and her practices (especially the veneration of the Blessed Mother) that I might have thought it the work of a devout Catholic.

Death is about the reign of New Mexico's first bishop, Jean Marie Latour, a French missionary, and his decades-long tenure. He upholds the true faith of the Fathers through political intrigue, dissolute, rebellious priests (some of which live in open concubinage), and his own loneliness. It is a portrait of a man who left what was comfortable and familiar in order to follow God's call no matter where it led. Bishop Latour is gentle as dove, subtle as a serpent, and courageous as a lion as he spreads and protects, as a True Shepherd ought, the apostolic faith of the Catholic Church.  As such, Latour is an inspiring figure, one whom I very much wish to emulate (I had a similar reaction to Dostoevsky's Alyosha), but one who already reflected much of my soul, which I cannot yet say of the third Karamazov. Sometimes I think that these two men from literature, Raistlen and Father Latour, though from drastically different novels, when taken together, illuminate my soul with startling, even frightening accuracy. For Raistlen is often what I am, but Father Latour is what I am beginning to be and hope most of all to become. Perhaps I ought instead to wish to emulate his lifelong friend, Father Joseph Vaillant, but I have less the simple, honest love that a man of the people possesses and more the courteous, earnest soul of a lonely aristocrat. For its illustration of such a man that is as profound as it is stirring, I owe Willa Cather a great deal.

"What will your new bishop drink in the country of bison? And what will he eat?"
"He will eat dried buffalo meat and frijoles with chili, and he will be glad to drink water when he can get it. He will have no easy life, your Eminence. That country will drink up his youth and strength as it does the rain. He will be called upon for every sacrifice, quite possibly for martyrdom. That is how things stand in New Mexico."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity

Introduction to Christianity is another 'installment' in the series of books I have read over the years concerning what Lewis calls 'mere Christianity' and Chesterton 'orthodoxy': the elements of Christian faith, elucidated perhaps most famously in the Christian West by the Apostles' Creed. Cardinal Ratzinger (now our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI) contributes an impressive, if rather densely written (he is German, after all), exposition on the Creed, with the specific purpose of making the spirit of faith intelligible to modernity. Through long essays on the Trinity and the Incarnation-Passion-Resurrection, he illuminates through natural reason what the Church has professed, and how her fundamental doctrines may be understood so as to be accessible to the modern mind. It is a book that begins from what is most evident to us, and proceeds step by step to the faithful orthodoxy of the Church, interpreted in a thoughtful way. This orthodoxy is the ancient, apostolic faith in Christ as revealed through his Church, and it is this which Ratzinger endlessly elucidates as from the outside.

But faith in Christ as revealed through his Church, is today, as Ratzinger rightly notes, rather problematic. Even if the stumbling blocks of Jesus himself (born of a Virgin, true God and yet also true man, suffered death for the sake of redeeming man, raised from the dead, etc.) can be overcome, the stumbling blocks of the Church Herself are even greater, in a certain way. For the Church is, as the Creed proclaims, Holy and Catholic. To say that the Church is holy seems to mean that her members are holy; for is not the Church her members? And yet nothing could be more obvious than the sin, even grave, grievous sin, of her members. Even when one ignores the popular, false decries against her (the Crusades, the trial of Galileo, etc.) and moves into real transgression (parts of the Inquisition, the 15th century simony and corruption, the curent sexual abuse scandals, etc.), it is clear that the Church is grievously sinful, and that her members are most certainly not holy - at least not yet. The so-called Catholicity of the Church is another occasion for scandal, for even more obvious than her sin is that the Church is not visibly one; after every major council (the Seven Ecumenical Councils, for example), a schism results. The 16th century schisms have resulted, four hundred years later, in many tens of thousands of churches, all claiming to be the One True Church. It seems as if the Church has become as rent as our Lord's garment at the Crucifixion, and that when the nonbeliever sees the Church, he sees men doing naught but sinning, often grievously, and concerned with the human lusts of power and control; most manifestly not practicing what they so earnestly preach.

Ratzinger does address these questions, and addresses them very well. The Church is not holy because her members are holy - how obviously false this is - but because she has received the gift of sanctifying grace through Christ, which operates despite her sinfulness. God is holy, and he is making his Church holy. Again, the elements of the Church are forgiveness, conversion, penance, eucharistic communion; in sum, the one Word and the one Bread. The episcopal organization of the Church exists as a means to this end, the union of the faithful with our Lord and his mysteries. The Church is one because Christ is one, and thus the Church is invisibly one with those who profess our Lord in the manner of the Creed stated above, in addition to being visibly one with those churches which are part of her episcopal organization.

It seems today that for many, the life of the mind (or science, as we might begin to say) and the life of faith are increasingly seen as contraries, even polemically engaged adversaries. I might be inclined to suspect this is a result of the Protestant schisms (for Luther declared that reason was a whore, and his position was by no means condemned among his compatriots), and that a greater friendship between the two might be possible. I shall write later of the relation between faith and science, for those who hold these two to be incompatible are far more ignorant than those who hold reason (i.e. philosophy) and revelation (faith in what the divine has shown to man) are incompatible, and this objection is quite minor and secondary. Ratzinger ambiguously treats both in Introduction, but that is, I suspect, because modern man erroneously conflates 'reason' with 'modern empirical science'.

In the first pages of his book, Ratzinger hits on a profound truth that Leo Strauss also illuminates; the fundamental question of how to live, and the two contrary ways of answering that question: belief in divine revelation and belief in the sufficiency of reason. But as Strauss also notes, the one cannot refute the other: reason cannot demonstrate that revelation is impossible simply, and revelation cannot establish itself as the truth beyond any doubt on purely rational grounds. Ratzinger concludes from this that "there is no escape from the dilemma of being a man" and thus offers his reflections on the Creed to stimulate and provoke discussion about the merits and plausibility of a life lived in accordance with revelation, even in an age so seemingly distant from such a possibility as our own.

"Just as we have already recognized that the believer does not live immune to doubt but is always threatened by the plunge into the void, so now we can discern the entangled nature of human destinies and say that the nonbeliever does not live a sealed-off, self-sufficient life either...just as the believer is choked by the salt water of doubt, so the nonbeliever is troubled by doubts about his unbelief, about the real totality of the world he has made up his mind to explain as a self-contained whole."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Perfect Bible!

For years I have been searching for the perfect Bible translation. I have not found it yet, and am beginning to think I shall have to do it myself - learn to read Hebrew and translate the Old and New Testaments the way I think they ought to be rendered. Why is it so hard to find a translation, you might ask? It turns out I am rather - even perhaps unreasonably - picky. As might be suspected, I indeed have a list of characteristics I desire for the perfect edition; most concern the translation, but others concern the format of the printed volume. Regarding the former, I want a translation done in the Catholic tradition that a) is scrupulously accurate, b) is elegant, stately, and beautiful in style and tone, and c) uses the old familiar second person pronouns in the Psalms. Regarding the latter, I wish for a) leather binding, b) single column text, c) no headings, and d) the absolute bare minimum of explanatory notes, to say nothing of the largely useless cross-references (watch me eat my words on that last clause).

Obviously this dream Bible does not exist. What do I use in the meantime? Often I read my compact English Standard Version. Really, the only problems with it are a slight bias toward evangelical Protestant interpretations, and modern pronouns in the Psalms. Were there a Catholic edition of this Bible, I should probably buy it immediately. I also have a 1611 King James, which is lovely, my New American Bible, which I use for reading the deuterocanonical books (the translation is abysmal, and only rarely pretty), and a 1960s edition of the New American Standard for the Psalms, which I mix around with the ESV when I copy the Psalms into my psalter for future memorization (more on this project later - for now, I shall say only that Mr. Carey's example of memorizing one good poem per month as a moral maxim stuck with me quite strongly).

Why this strange assortment of Bibles? Why not just one acceptable translation? There are two reasons. First, I grew up hearing the language and cadences of the New American Standard. As a child I memorized several Psalms and now cannot quite bear any other translation of them save the Authorized and English Standard versions. Second, these Bibles lack Catholic editions. On the other hand, I have become quite the fan of the ESV for all but the Psalms, above exceptions notwithstanding. But since there is no Catholic edition, I must look elsewhere for the books Luther and Calvin cut from the Old Testament. Since my NAB was free, a present from my RCIA classes, I use it, albeit reluctantly. This situation is not the happiest, but I have precious few alternatives in the immediate future.

 I can see a few more open up in the future, though. I may soon be able to read Latin well enough to read the Vulgate unaided - surely a great gain. Perhaps even greater, I shall know Greek well enough to read the Septuagint and New Testament unaided. And perhaps greatest of all, maybe some day I shall learn Hebrew well enough to read the Tanakh. Thus armed with Latin, Hebrew, and Greek, a translation would be unnecessary. Were this to become the case, I could easily translate the whole of Sacred Scripture the way I like it, and even find someone to publish it. This is rather unlikely, however, since I am not, and likely shall not be, an academic (seven woes!). Rather, I shall likely struggle on till I find something better than the status quo. 

29 June Update: I found something almost perfect! My sister, a catechumen of the Church, wanted a Catholic Bible, and she discovered this one. It's lovely: beautiful brown leather, excellent typesetting, etc. It is a beautiful book, but the layout and translation make it almost the perfect Bible. For there are no subject headings  - like the inane "Jesus walks on water" variety. Some may find these helpful, but I do not; on the contrary, they are endlessly distracting and promote a superficial reading. And the translation is the 1965 Revised Standard Version, so it is in the King James tradition (leftover Protestant accent, I am aware) which I, through intense and early appreciation of the New American Standard, greatly appreciate. Stately language! Familiar pronouns in the Psalms! Accuracy! The only strike against it is that it divides long names in the tradition of the Blayney King James of 1769 (which drives me crazy). But a) it is far less prevalent than the monstrosity in the '69 KJV, and b) as far less noticeable, does not even approach becoming a comparable problem in light of the stupendous achievements.

A Bible I can use for personal reading and study for the rest of my life? Yeah, I found it. At Last.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Reading List

Here is yet another summer reading list. My track record of actually working through these is abysmally wretched. I make these intricate, well-laid plans, and then immediately fail to carry them out. Why? I am horrifically lazy. Sloth has long been my deepest-rooted vice, and against such a strong habit only recently have I gained even the semblance of battle against it. So in the name of future victory, let the list below stand.

I have been accepted into Pontifical College Josephinum. I recorded my ecstatic reaction elsewhere, but the shock of realizing there are eight weeks before my departure has thrown me into a new frenzy of action. Seminary will be all formation, all the time, and I need to prepare for this. Obviously the best ways to prepare is to engage all the aspects of soul. So I study music, gymnastic, and liberal arts (i.e., philosophy in the classical sense) Present in this last pursuit is my overly ambitious list, in no particular order:

  • The Bible. Its presence here might be questionable, since I try (and sometimes succeed) to read it continually.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo. Of late I have been wondering a) if revenge is different than justice, b) if so how, and c) if revenge would be fulfilling. After this perhaps I'll reread the Oresteia with that question in mind.
  • The Dialogues. My first real solo foray into Plato. I hope to read as many of the sixteen shortest dialogues as I can. On deck now are the First and Second Alcibiades.
  • On the Socratic Education. Christopher Bruell's commentary on the sixteen shortest dialogues. His mind is both subtle and wondrous.
  • Introduction to Christianity. Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote a wonderful commentary on the Apostles' Creed, and it is written with a view towards the possibility of faith in the modern (i.e. 21st century) era.
  • Space Trilogy. I have heard enough of Lewis' science fiction/fantasy trilogy to make reading it a high priority.
  • The Beginning of Wisdom. Leon Kass wrote an outstanding commentary on the book of Genesis. His claim that it contains a doctrine of man's nature sufficient to rival any of the great thinkers (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Nietzsche) is both provocative and captivating. After reading some of his essays on the so-called "war of the sexes", I bought this book at once. 
  • The Summa Theologica. I have, for obvious reasons, wished to carefully read St. Thomas' masterpiece for some time, but if I get halfway through the first part I shall count myself lucky. Plus, I really should read some more Aristotle (especially his Organon! it pains me that I've scarcely glanced at it) and his commentaries on Aristotle before full comprehension of the Summa is likely to emerge. 
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A popular modern book. Perhaps it will help me understand my own decadent era better.
  • Blood Meridian. Cormac McCarthy is rapidly becoming a very highly respected author of mine, and his work is truly wrenching; describing, as few have done so, the death of God. 
There are probably a few more books I forgot to add, but these ten books will likely provide more than sufficient leisure to cover the following two months, especially if I write a brief essay about each of them here. Off then, to my library!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Plato, Minos

Through this introduction to the life of Socrates through the shorter Platonic dialogues, I begin to get the feeling that Plato is guiding us from a love of what we think we know (authoritative opinion) to a love of the truth. Whatever else may be said for Bruell's take, I have to admit it's rather wonderful. The medievals held that the short dialogues are the best gateways into Platonic philosophy (though what that itself is is a matter of some dispute, and I claim provisional ignorance), and the Straussians tend to agree. I at least am finding the order of dialogues he recommends perfect: dialogues 'on' gain, law, and justice (among other things). Most incredible is the way Plato effortlessly illustrates thoughtful popular opinion on these things, and how similar a man in 21st century America might have the same opinions on gain, law, and justice as a 4th century BC Athenian.

Never have I read a dialogue where I was more invested in the outcome than in the Minos. Socrates asks a nameless companion, "What is law, for us?" Socrates immediately presses the issue towards defining law as something not entirely up to us ("a discover of what is), but he is initially unsuccessful. His companion's final definition of the law is as following: Law is the official opinion of the city; that is, political opinion. Opinion, and not knowledge. Here begins my difficulty: this is precisely my definition of law: customarily accepted political opinion. But if it is mere opinion, not knowledge, why ought it to be respected and heeded? Why should the philosopher, who has knowledge, not be above the law? I react with some horror at the implication of my own view, for widespread disrespect for the law would be devastating to the city. Plato, it seems to me, is trying to raise the reader up from such a vulgar view of law, and so I was hoping very much to find a persuasive argument that was not intended to be ironical.

Unfortunately, I did not find it. Socrates links justice and law very closely when he gets his companion to agree that the lawful are just and the lawless unjust. But is this true? That there could be unjust law I have no doubt: laws which defraud the poor and vulnerable, laws which treat political equals unequally, or worse offenses. If the law may be unjust, then are not the unlawful just and the lawful unjust? Yet this returns to disrepecting the law, for if the view that in some cases the unlawful is just is promulgated, one will simply call all laws which moderate one's vulgar desires unjust and himself just when he is unlawful - surely a great disgrace.

Through linking the law with justice, Socrates persuade his companion that "Law is true opinion", and therefore that "Law wishes to be the discovery of what is", like the other arts: medicine, agriculture, gardening, cooking, etc. The companion raises a difficulty: if this is so, why do cities everywhere not use the same laws, as they all use the same medicines, etc? (a similar impasse might be raised against the proposition that certain things are true) And Socrates' response is most unconvincing: professing ignorance that this is indeed the case. And after the companion enlightens him with a description of contrary laws and customs (like Herodotus, a bit), Socrates avoids his clear, eloquent speech and instead moves into being a sophist to produce agreement. His response is quite puzzling. After the companion pleads that he wishes to be convinced (as did I - I longed, positively longed to be convinced), but that "when I consider that we never stop changing the laws, I can't be persuaded", Socrates says, "Perhaps you do not perceive that these things, being moved like droughts pieces, remain the same" - which I don't understand at all.

Further, the argument progresses on the assumption that law is some sort of techne: as the heavy is heavy in Athens and Sparta alike, and the healthy is as well, etc. law will be the same everywhere. He uses four examples: medicine, agriculture, gardening, and cooking. How do these illustrate the nature of law? Medicine seems accurate enough: the causes of health in a man can be approximately codified, and doctors, whether in Athens or Lycaea, will use similar means to induce health. Agriculture is similar, but seldom relies on written "laws" - most often tradition and experience (though I suppose these are similar in practice to the 'laws' of medicine) to produce bountiful crops. But gardening? What is the aim of gardening? And cooking? These seem far more dependent upon private whim and fancy than they do with a written law, intending to be the discovery of what is (also, in the Gorgias, Socrates uses cooking as a negative example to illustrate rhetoric). Perhaps Plato did not intend to undermine Socrates' argument that law is the discovery of what is, or that I'm missing something crucially important, but Socrates did not convince me that the lawful are always just, and that therefore law is the discovery of what is; if Plato did not intend that, he sure came close.

I have seldom been in a position of wishing to be convinced, and yet being unconvinced. It is rather unpleasant. Is law nothing more than authoritative political opinion, whose justice is entirely accidental? Are justice and law completely separate things? I don't want to hold either of those opinions, but till I work something out (perhaps Aquinas' Treatise on Law, which I have completely forgotten, would help), that is unfortunately where I linger: in the shadow of vulgar opinion.

"What else would law be, Socrates, except those things that are lawfully accepted?"