Subject Object Paradoxes in Plato’s Euthyphro

When Socrates asks Euthyphro: ”Is the pious being loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is being loved by the gods?” he means one thing. But there are two positions here, the subject, that which is doing the loving, and the object, that which is being loved. The question Socrates is asking is whether the subject makes the object what it is; for instance “whether the thing carried [the object] is a carried thing because it is being carried [by the subject]”(10). In this case the thing is only carried because it is being carried.

Coinciding with this, an object is only “something changed because it is being changed [by the subject]” (10c). Alternatively, an object is “not being changed because it is something changed”(10c). What Socrates means here is that an object does not act on its subject, by way of meaning, the object does not have the inherent quality of being changed and so induces its subject to change it. The subjective does not follow from the objective in this sense. The pious is “being loved because it is pious” and for no other reason. This is the crucial point that Socrates is trying to make to Euthyphro.

Immediately following this exchange, Socrates poses the question: “And yet it [it being pious] is something loved and god-loved because it is being loved by the gods?”(10d). Socrates expands on his question by saying how the god-loved is not the same as the pious, nor is the pious the same as the god-loved. Here we can define god-loved as that which is loved by the gods. We have already established that the pious is being loved because it is pious, and is not pious because it is being loved. We can also say that the god-loved is “so because it is being loved by the gods […] it is not being loved because it is god-loved” (10e).

To conclude the argument, to be god-loved and to be pious are inherently different because “one [the god-loved] is such as to be loved because it is being loved, the other [piety] is being loved because it is such as to be loved” (11a).

We the Undersigned,

Will choose our own path. We will not belong to anyone or anything. We will not be put down, emotionally excluded, cognitively raped and pillaged, while our peers are celebrated. We will rise up. We will build, create, explore, discover, and love. We are the neuro-diverse. This is our story.

When one becomes diagnosed with a mental disease, no one expects you to be okay. This is why, we are now proclaiming, we are fine without you. We don’t want your helping hands, we don’t want your questioning glances, furtive stares, and meaningless freudian isms. We want to speak for ourselves, care for ourselves, live for ourselves. Because what is life, if not political? What is life but not the real? What is life but not the pain, suffering, exhilaration, desire, and anguish? The knowledge that, yes, we are not the same, but we are in this with you. Together.

This is what we deserve. Kinship, mutual respect, and legitimacy. This is what you have for so long withheld. Our thoughts are not real to you, they are real to us, our voices are not heard by you, they are heard by us. Because of this we are validated, yet we have no agency to make our own decisions. We are not able to shape the nature of our care, and long have we been denied a place in the order of society.

Why not elect us, why not acclaim our ideas, why not display our art? Who are you to tell us that because we are different, we are worse? Where is the discipline of mental studies? cognitive capitalism is called just that; cognitive, yet we are the ones who have shaped your view of that unseemly beast only to be the objects of your psychoanalysis. Where is our part to play?

The instant a person says that they have a diagnosis, all else goes out the window. Our care, the most intimate part of our health, is being overlooked. The institutions of mental care in the United States are aging, and many of the best practitioners have flown to the more lucrative private sector. Too few funds for the legacy institutions come from the government. Too much money goes to short term crisis care. Not enough money for long term treatment and maintenance of individuals in the community exist.

The programs and institutions for these types of treatments are shabby, their staff is ancient and fails to connect with a younger generation who expect to have their needs put first. Too often it is the opposite, the institutions needs are met first, and patients (clients as they are sometimes called) get the last shot at the jackpot, that is they must buy a proverbial lottery ticket. One million to one that you get care that actually needs your needs. Care that isn’t degrading, institutionalized, and ‘mental.’

To be continued.

Manus Prison Theory

“I care about you.”

“You are important to me.”

“Your identity matters.”

“We are all struggling to find our identity in this mess we call the world.”

These are the words of schizophrenics, drug abusers, criminals.

The mentally ill fall into this category, grouped together under the umbrella of strangeness. The void. There is no hope here, no life, no light. That is what we are told, made to feel, shown the bottom of someones shoe, time and time again, covered with grime, dirt, and gum.

Disgusting.

We don’t want you to tell your stories. We don’t want you to tell us what you think.

It’s not important. It’s not real.

We are the ones who can support each other, the ones who actually do. We ride the waves of our cognition, emotionally, devastatingly true, honest, and open. Laughing and living as if no one could tell us we’re wrong. Because we are not wrong. We have value. We have power. We have place, origins, families, lives to be lived.

Here: A letter for you to sign, making sure no one will find out about your terrible affliction.

Because they don’t want to know. We’ll make sure that they won’t. Just sign right here. We will take over for you, that’s right, your life. Managed.

What if I can’t be managed. Don’t want to be, want to be open, empathetic, vocal, and proud of my “affliction.” This gift that I have been given and that I have promised those voices in my head that I won’t waste.

We don’t waste thoughts. We don’t waste time. Our lives are valuable. Our lives have meaning.

Posthuman International Law and the Rights of Nature

Emily Jones writes a fascinating exposition of the postman as applied to international environmental law and the rights of nature. In her article, forthcoming from the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, she outlines the ways in which posthuman theory can aid international environmental law in protecting natural environments. By challenging anthropocentrism with the post-anthropocentrist turn, the posthuman can provide context to a rights of nature approach to environmental law. While the rights of nature approach has gained traction in recent years, it has mostly found success in national and local laws and regulations.

By applying rights to nature, law can empower nature to be protected. Importantly in Jones’ paper is the assignment of protectorates and representatives. In order for nature to exercise its right, it must be represented by humans in the court of law. Many countries with large amounts of natural resources, including New Zealand have appointed representatives for their forests, rivers, lakes, and mountains. These representatives defend those lands’ interests in human courts, and litigate, when necessary, to enforce international environmental law when and where it applies.

An additional clause which has gained ground recently is an anthropocentric ‘right to a healthy environment.’ Jones describes the right to a healthy environment as such:

The right to a healthy environment includes many elements, including ‘the right to breathe clean air, [and to have] access to clean water and adequate sanitation, healthy and sustainable food, a safe climate, and healthy biodiversity and ecosystems’.

In some contexts, legally, nature can be recognized as being an individual, a person, with rights and obligations just like a living human being. This is groundbreaking, and has massive implications for the future of international environmental law.

Overall Jones’ paper is a breathtaking view of the reforms going on under the auspices of there United Nations, as well as environmental law tribunals around the world. Jones stresses the need to internationalize the rights of nature approaches, and build on the local and national successes that they have thus far achieved.

Jones, Emily. 2021. “Posthuman International Law and the Rights of Nature.” Journal of Human Right and the Environment. Vol. 12. No. 0.

On Biological Individuality

The concept of the human as an individual comes with a caveat when thought of biologically as the assemblage of a massive variety of organisms. These organisms include multiple species of bacteria which live and thrive in our bodies. Animals too have these organisms and are not selected, but created by them. The idea of self selection, or even natural selection for that matter depends on the individuality of a species, genetically, and also the identificatory make up of that being’s body. I posit the question, if we are not individual species, but a group of beings, what types of questions does this lead us to about our past, our future, and our present? More specifically, as a cluster or group of beings, what will be my fate, and what sort of morals or ethics do I suppose to ascribe to as the host to these organisms. Can I even describe myself as a singular, I.

Museum Mayhem: Trouble in Paradise at Three of America’s Cultural Institutions.

Museum closings are not a strange topic these days. COVID has forced many museums to close their doors temporarily or permanently. Recovery for museums closing their doors can mean many things, and safeguarding their collection can be a challenge from a few different points of view. Unpacking a museum’s history, their ties to the community, and their responsibility to their donors is not a small task. Yet it is one that is often overlooked in the heat of legal battles to keep museums open, preserve their collections, or retain their property. The relevancy of this topic could not be more pressing. As museums reopen their doors to the public, some are staying closed. 

During the pandemic, over three quarters of museums reported to the American Alliance of Museums that their operating income fell by an average of 40 percent. Furthermore, 15 percent of museums surveyed reported that there was a significant risk of closure in the next six months (“Museum Recovery Expected…”). Museums can fail in a variety of ways, as we will soon see, and not every museum should stay open.  Weighing the importance of the museums’ collection, their history, and their community are all considerations that need to be taken in. The global environment has been tumultuous, with financial crises, global warming, and new and exotic viruses coming to bear on the worlds population. Together with these issues is an erosion of our cultural norms, a breakdown in our political landscape, and an uncertain future for many different industries, brought on by increasing digitization (McLean 291).

In this shifting and kaleidoscopic landscape, the three museums that we will take into consideration in this paper are the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC, and the Philadelphia History Museum. All of these museums underwent difficulties which led to their closure in the last ten years. These closures led to challenging questions about what to do with their collections, their property, and what would become of their legacy once they were no more. This essay will examine each of these museums in turn, drawing on legal reports, magazine articles, press releases, and news articles to determine what happened, why it happened, and what might have been done differently in order to save the museums.

Each of these museum closures has a different story to tell. In each case there is something that might have been done to keep them open. Sometimes this has to do with renovations and relevancy, as in the case of the Higgins Armory, sometimes it has to do with partnerships as opposed to transfers, and sometimes it just comes down to market competition and strategy. In each of these three cases, there was a protest from members of the museums’ constituency, staff, and the public, in favor of preserving the museum. In order to tell the full story, this paper includes these voices, and analyzes the argument from a counterfactual standpoint. 

The Higgins Armory closed its doors to the public in 2013, and much of its collection was moved to the Worcester Art Museum. The Armory was home to thousands of pieces of arms and armor from John Woodman Higgins’ personal collection, and had been in operation for over 83 years (Donnelly and Colinvaux “Integration”). The mission statement of the Higgins Armory read as follows:

To found and maintain an institution for the promotion of the study and investigation of arms and armor in a broad cultural context from antiquity to circa 1800…The intention of the incorporators is to form a corporation for the benefit of the public, devoted to scholarly and educational purposes. (“Petition for Approval…”)

A lofty aspiration, the problems arose for the Armory starting in the 1970s. By 1979, maintenance expenses and upkeep of the Armory building caused the board of trustees to first consider merging with the Worcester Art Museum. Some of the main financial issues moving into the 21st century were energy costs at the Armory (“Petition for Approval…”). In the 2000s, various improvements were made to the building, but at great expense, and by 2010, the annual deficit was at approximately $450,000 (“Petition for Approval…”). 

The Higgins Armory began to search for a strategic partnership in order to ensure the survival of their collection. Reaching out to organizations in the area, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Worcester Art Museum, the Armory sought to both keep the collection together, and to have it displayed to the public (kept out of storage). Eventually the Higgins Armory Trustees concluded that the Worcester Art Museum would be the best choice because of their commitment to display the entire 2,000 piece collection, because of their location in Worcester, and because of the strength and compatibility of their own (the Worcester Art Museum’s) collection (“Petition for Approval…”).

Finalized in November 2013, the transfer, as a gift, of the Higgins Core Collection of arms and armor, the Higgins Library and Archives, and certain other collection related assets and funds to the Worcester Art Museum waited to be accepted. On March 29, 2014, The Worcester Art Museum opened the exhibition entitled “Knights,” showcasing the Higgins Armory collection in all of its glory (Loos, “Dismissed”). The Higgins was lucky in that the importance of their collection as a whole necessitated that it all go to a single benefactor and, as we will see, other museums were not so fortunate. 

The Higgins suffered from a ‘paradigmatic challenge.’ Underfunded, and lacking modern collections exhibition, display, and documentation capacity, the Higgins lacked a contemporary flair to its collection, and was hence dissolved. This idea is drawn from Fiona Cameron’s “Museum Collections, Documentation, and Shifting Knowledge Paradigms” (225). While a valuable collection, the Higgins was unable to capitalize on the modern shift that swung museums into new “knowledge environments” and brought to bear current trends in emerging technologies for the analysis of museum artifacts (Cameron 224-225). 

“Having a narrow subject matter made it easier to develop a cohesive interpretive plan” argues Kary Pardy, but with the “loss of both its founder, [John Woodman Higgins] and PRESTEEL [(the metal manufacturing company)], the museum inevitably lost its early emphasis on metalwork and craftsmanship” (37). Moreover during the time of their founder’s loss in the 1980s, the Museum’s leadership planned to establish the Armory in a more modern sense, parleying the role of armor in modern warfare to their audiences. This too missed the mark. 

The museum could have instead expanded its offerings of armor, drawing on other collections and exhibitions of modern military equipment, and offering their collections to travel to other museums in turn. At times the museum did do this, but it was limited in scope and local in character. Keeping the exhibitions relevant to their visitors was something that the Higgins repeatedly failed at. This, sadly, was an example of a museum whose time had come, and with grace the Higgins merged with the Worcester Art Museum. In this case it is difficult to argue the necessity for the Higgins to remain open, as the limited visitors and overbearing cost of renovations will attest. 

When the Corcoran Gallery of Art closed in 2014, it had already endured much financial uncertainty. Staff at the gallery had been unhappy for years with the management of the institution, and the plan for a needed $130 million addition met opposition in the form of unwilling donors. Attendance had fallen precipitously in recent years, and in 2011 the museum posted a $7.1 million shortfall in their budget. A plan to move the Corcoran’s collection to a suburb outside of Washington met with even greater opposition (Mullins, “Crisis at the Corcoran”). 

Established in 1869 by William Wilson Corcoran, the museum was focused on American art and also housed the Corcoran College of Art and Design (“History”). For years, competing with the Smithsonian institutions took a heavy toll on the Corcoran. Even so, by the 1970s the Corcoran was at the height of its popularity. Although beloved by many in Washington, the museum couldn’t seem to keep itself afloat. By the 1990s this all came crashing down (Mullins, “Crisis at the Corcoran”). Financial troubles started, and while the museum was able to turn itself around for a time in the later half of the decade, they struggled to sustain their momentum. The failed addition to the museum, which was cancelled in 2005, resulted in a $17 million loss, further undermining the confidence the public had in the sustainability of the museum (Mullins, “Crisis at the Corcoran”). Year after year, the loss of donors hurt the museum and its reputation flagged. Many staff were also unhappy with the Corcoran’s leadership and with the mismanagement of its facilities. 

The fight for the Corcoran centered around museum ethics. The board of trustees of any museum needs to have open dialogue with its staff and administration (“AAM Code of Ethics”). This responsibility falls not only on the director but also on the board. After the failed addition to the museum, the new leadership’s attempt to run the Corcoran “like a business” alienated the staff and students at the museum and at the art school (Levy, “The Corcoran’s Former Director…”). In his Washington Post article, David Levy pointed out that the Corcoran’s leadership consistently failed to take advantage of periods of great opportunity (Levy, “The Corcoran’s Former Director…”). Jayme McLellan, the founder of the “Save the Corcoran” campaign said: 

The Corcoran had everything that an art scene kind of needs, an art scene needs a place to exhibit work, it needs curators and scholars, students making work, faculty teaching artists, connections to the community, the rich history, and central location, the Corcoran had all of that. (Smithsonian Anacostia)

The coalition of artists opposed to the sale of the Corcoran cited distrust for the leadership of the museum and distain for the board of trustees, whom it believed were complicit in the mismanagement of the museum and school. 

The plan was for continued use of the building with ongoing exhibitions, yet the Corcoran would be no more. In the turmoil that led to the dissolution of the museum in 2014, the decision was made to transfer the building as well as the College of Art and Design to George Washington University. The Corcoran School of Arts and Design is alive and well at the George Washington University, renovations to the Corcoran building have taken place since 2015, and the George Washington University departments of Fine Arts & Art History, Museum Studies, Music, Theatre & Dance, and Interior Architecture have joined with the Corcoran School. According to the new Corcoran School website, George Washington University is “laying the foundations for a new cultural hub at [George Washington University], and for Washington, D.C.” (“History”). The collection of the museum was distributed to 22 institutions in DC, as well as accessioned by the National Gallery of Art. Of the total 19,493 pieces in the Corcoran collection, 8,631 pieces went to the National Gallery and the rest went to other institutions. Recipients of the collection included American University, Howard University, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the U.S. Supreme Court (Corcoran Board of Trustees).

If the Corcoran could have been open in their dialogue with members of the museum’s community, they might have been able to foresee the mistakes that caused the museum’s closure. The overwhelming evidence from protests and the “Save the Corcoran” campaign was that if the museum’s board had listened to their staff, students, and community, the Corcoran might have been saved. In this case, it seems, the Corcoran is an example of a museum that should have stayed open, if only to sustain artists and professionals in Washington DC’s vibrant and historic arts community.

Fast forward a few years and there is another museum, this time in Philadelphia, struggling with low attendance, lack of funding, and rising costs. The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent, founded in 1938, found its home in a beautiful Greek-Revival building in the center of Philadelphia. Steeped in Philadelphia’s history, the Museum’s mission was:

to collect, preserve, interpret, and provide exhibition and educational programs using its Collection to tell the important stories of Philadelphia’s past and to give context for its present. (“Atwater Kent Museum Revised Collection Transfer Plan”)

Holding more than 133,000 objects in its rich collection, the museum documented over 350 years of Philadelphia history. The museum struggled to implement its mission, and in 2017, the museum’s annual attendance was at 20,000 visitors, far less than the other museums in the city, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, and the Liberty Belle Center (Haas, “Final Plans”). 

The museum struggled financially for many years before the decision to close. The board of trustees expanded the board to bring on more donors, instituted admission fees to sustain the museum, and hired a new executive director, planning to implement new programming and exhibitions to attract more visitors. Still the museum struggled with attendance. The board undertook a major renovation to the building that cost several million dollars, and they used a rebranding campaign to rename the museum and revitalize their mission (“Atwater Kent Museum Revised Collection Transfer Plan”). In the years of 2017 and 2018, the museum met with higher education administrators in Philadelphia to discuss developing a “Center for Philadelphia Studies” that would utilize the museum’s building to display the collection. 

Despite these sustaining efforts, the museum closed to the public in July 2018. The collections transferred to Drexel University where they are accessible for display or loan to other organizations or individuals in the region who would like to study works in the collection. A major aspect of the transfer was a digitization of the collection for online viewing, with the aim of expanding the viewership of the collection. With the purpose of “enabling people of all backgrounds to curate their own collection,” the online collection will uphold the memory of the History Museum, although not entirely to the public’s liking (Haas, “Final Plans”).

The alternative proposed for the Philadelphia History Museum at Atwater Kent comes from the case study of the Metropolitan Museum of Art found in “Caveat Venditor? Museum Merchandising, Nonprofit Commercialization, and the Case of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.” The solution to many of the Met’s longstanding problems was found first in blockbuster exhibitions which drew in visitors, tourists, and scholars, and second in retail and online merchandizing which drew on the exhibitions on display in the museum (Toepler, 107). It was exhibits such as “King Tut” at the Met which allowed it to grow its endowment and expand its building space in the mid 1970s (Toepler, 108). 

With little fanfare, the Philadelphia History Museum’s legacy faded into obscurity, while more modern museums with these so called blockbuster exhibitions stole the spotlight. A prime example is the Museum of the American Revolution which capitalized on Philadelphia’s history as the first Capitol of the United States of America (“Museum of the American Revolution”). Museums such as the Museum of the American Revolution are what the Philadelphia History Museum needed to be able to compete with in order to maintain their stature. By exploring alternative options for revenue such as enhanced merchandizing, and a revamped online website and store, the Philadelphia History Museum might have been able to stay afloat a little while longer. 

Kathleen McLean in her outstanding article “Do Museum Exhibitions Have a Future?” asks the poignant question: “As our visitors increasingly deal with the effects of religious and cultural conservatism, war and power politics, the effects of global warming and species loss, and deadly new viruses that can spread across the globe in a matter of days, will our exhibitions be enlightening, comforting, or useful to them?” (301). The answer is: not always. As museums shift, those museums who are not able to adapt are left behind. Sometimes, but not always, it is necessary for a museum to close. Relevancy of current collections and exhibitions plays a large role in the museums of today’s changing society. We can hope that the majority of those museums that do remain in business are enlightening, comforting, and useful. But more importantly, we can hope that they are places we can rely on, to provide a light, when all others go out. 

It is sad when a museum’s light goes out. It is clear that this brings pain to those people who were invested in the museum, and were a part of its culture, community, and heritage. Museums are places where people go to expand their cultural horizons, be inspired, educated, and informed, especially in today’s digitally mediated, post-truth media inspired, information cycle. Museums provide a reprieve from this incessant cacophony of stories, by allowing us to immerse ourselves in storied collections over and over again. In many instances losing a collection seems akin to losing a close friend or teacher. Perhaps it is time for a structuralist cartography of collections; mapping and documenting the locations and contents of varied and multi-accessible collections of museums around the country and around the world.

In this essay we have outlined the history of the closure of three museums which closed in just the last ten years. We concluded that the Higgins Armory was right in closing, the Corcoran should have stayed open, and the Philadelphia History Museum might have tried harder to remain open. More museums will undoubtedly close in the future, but in the end we can only hope that they won’t. 

Works cited

“AAM Code of Ethics for Museums.” Aam-us.org, 2000, https://www.aam-us.org/programs/ethics-standards-and-professional-practices/code-of-ethics-for-museums/. Accessed 26 Jul. 2021.

“About the Corcoran.” Corcoran.org, 2018, http://www.corcoran.org/about. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

“Atwater Kent Museum Revised Collection Transfer Plan.” Philadelphia History Museum at Atwater Kent, Nov. 2019, http://www.philadelphiahistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Collection-Transfer-Plan-2019.-11.-13.pdf. Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

Cameron, Fiona. Museum Collections, Documentation, and Shifting Knowledge Paradigms. In Reinventing the Museum: The Evolving Conversation on the Paradigm Shift, 2nd ed. Edited by Gail Anderson, Alta Mira Press, United Kingdom, 2012, 223-238.

Corcoran Board of Trustees. “Where Does the Art Go?” Corcoran.org. http://www.corcoran.org/sites/default/files/Corcoran-Art-Distribution-News-Release.pdf. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

Donnelly, James C. Jr., and Catherine M. Colinvaux. The Higgins Armory Museum and Worcester Art Museum Integration: A Case Study in Combining and Transforming Mature Cultural Institutions. In: Legal Issues for Museum Professionals, Rowen & Littlefield, 2015.

Haas, Kimberly. “Final Plans To Transfer Philadelphia History Museum Collection To Drexel University Unveiled.” Hidden City, 12 Sept. 2019, https://hiddencityphila.org/2019/09/final-plans-to-transfer-philadelphia-history-museum-collection-to-drexel-university-unveiled/. Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

“History.” Corcoran.gwu.edu, 2021, https://corcoran.gwu.edu/history. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

Levy, David. “The Corcoran’s former director on the gallery’s long history of mistakes. To survive, the Corcoran should have been more elitist.” Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-corcorans-former-director-on-the-gallerys-long-history-of-mistakesto-survive-the-corcoran-should-have-been-more-elitist/2014/02/21/7be62e8c-9b0d-11e3-9080-5d1d87a6d793_story.html. Accessed 26 Jul. 2021. 

Loos, Ted. “What Comes Next, After the Troops Are Dismissed.” New York Times, 19 Mar. 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/arts/artsspecial/what-comes-next-after-the-troops-are-dismissed.html. Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

McLean, Kathleen. Do Museum Exhibitions Have a Future? In Reinventing the Museum: The Evolving Conversation on the Paradigm Shift, 2nd ed. Edited by Gail Anderson, Alta Mira Press, United Kingdom, 2012, 291-302.

Museum of the American Revolution Website. Museum of the American Revolution, 2021, www.Amrevmuseum.org. Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

“Museum Recovery Expected to Take Years Due to Devastating Financial Losses, New Survey Reveals.” American Alliance of Museums, 1 Jun 2021. https://www.aam-us.org/2021/06/01/museum-recovery-expected-to-take-years-due-to-devastating-financial-losses-new-survey-reveals/. Accessed 22 Jul. 2021. 

Mullins, Luke. “Crisis at the Corcoran.” Washingtonian, 27 Nov. 2012, https://www.washingtonian.com/2012/11/27/crisis-at-the-corcoran/. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021. 

Pardy, Kary. “An Institutional History of the Higgins Armory Museum and Its Relationship with Worcester, Massachusetts.” University of South Carolina Scholar Commons: Theses and Dissertations, 1 Jan. 2013, scholarcommons.sc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=3523&context=etd. Accessed 27 Jul. 2021.

“Petition for Approval of Transfer of Charitable Assets.” Supreme Judicial Court, https://www.nemanet.org/files/9314/1518/9498/Higgins_Armory_Court_Documents_FINAL.pdf. Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum. “Jayme McLellan, Founder of ‘Save the Corcoran’ campaign.” Youtube.com, 25 Aug. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-env9WKp2E. Accessed 26 Jul. 2021.

Toepler, Stefan. “Caveat Venditor? Museum Merchandising, Nonprofit Commercialization, and the Case of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.” Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, Vol. 17, No. 2. June 2006, pp. 99-113.

The Measurement of Mental States

By categorizing our mental states into measurable bins, those with length, depth, breadth, we are using our brain to develop a theory of psychology. By measuring the output of our brains we are similarly keeping track of its input. This difference is a difficult one to track. Input to brains comes in sensory experience, but also through self selecting thought that can learn from itself. This thought builds on previously thought concepts and ideas and never quite reaches an output. The measure theory of the mind in this sense is an assemblage of sets, interlocking and intervening in each thought’s hierarchal order.

Moving briskly past breadth and into depth, we can attempt to discern where ideas are formed. It is when we expand each individual set of the mind, opening and closing them, but taking each one in turn, that we come up with ideas. And within each set are innumerable other ones each within them innumerable ones as well. Spanning these seta are disjoint sets which are comprised of a random number of other sets, not necessarily adjacent to another, and also not without certain properties, of which we can assign a number or concept themselves.

This assignation of concepts is where we are able to create new ideas. By combining and rejoining sets containing ideas and concepts, even solitary experiences, bits of experience, memory and information are we able to visualize something new. But where does this newness come from? We are creating it by forming new connections within our brain cells. Within those sets that have contained in them ideas, information, and experiences, we recombine and reform previously held ideas to shape new ones. This transformation happens chemically and mathematically. The addition or mutation of new transformations of sets happens automatically, but the information in them must be operated on as well in order to create new concepts.

This is the input-output process of the brain. By adding additional information to the chemical connections and processes, by forming new patterns of connections we are able to create creative output. Mechanically, the brain is nothing but a set of containers, receptacles of information that can be recombined at will. Depending on the nature of information, it is placed in a different location within the brain. The overarching governing body of the brain, is the nervous system, which draws from its communication with the body, the input of every brain process.

This Bird I Fly Has a Mortal Soul

This bird I fly has a mortal soul

This time I ride without you

without whole

Moreover nonsense strides in with waiting arms

A lift, a break, method without arms.

Nevertheless we rode before we flew

extravaganzas riding before you.

danger harkens a flame, at dusk, a light.

but once again it flickered once at night.

envy wrote, a spell she put on you.

a bookmark, a page turned,

writing once withdrew.

Yes forever once I find

dusk before graceful skies

and wondered what again brought pain

to those two eyes.

On Free Will

The question of free will intrigues me. Is it fate that determines our destiny or are we the masters of our domain. Closely related to this question, I think, is whether we are the masters of our universe, that is, we are the highest form of being in our known universe. I say known universe here, as opposed to the unknown universe because within our periphery we are obviously the only beings, the only form of life available to our gaze. So if earth contains the only known life in the universe, and we are the highest forms of life in that universe, then we must have free will.

This is a rudimentary argument, and one I intend to expand on. In the progress of science, we seem to have advanced somewhat, both from an evolutionary perspective, and also from a techno-bio-socio-econo-politico perspective. The difference being two separate and distinct schools of thought. I argue that the techno oriented school of thought can include some form of fate, whereas the evolutionary school of thought leaves no room for fate. Obviously these need some forms of clarification.

In the evolutionary school of thought, we have evolved from a single spark of life on this planet, millions of years ago, and are the true masters of our domain. We are unique in the universe as the initial conditions of the universe were only perfect in one place and point in time to create life as we know it. But what does this say about free will and fate? Well if we truly have evolved, and drawing from a truly scientific point of reference, we must be masters of our domain in this case because there is no outside force acting on us as a species, or genus of life.

This is not to say that there could not be any form of inherent systems level spark or entelechy which drives us, but it is to say that that force is not a predeterminate of our destiny. In string theory, the force that underlies all particles is, through some fractal process, a constantly moving coil of energy, minuscule mass, and length. This occurs in all matter, living or dead, but could not be a part of fate, as we are built out of it.

However, this brings us to ask more questions. If there are inherent particles of which are spread throughout the system of the universe, could these not play some role in our fate?

Leaving this question for a moment, and returning to the techno school of beliefs, we can surmise that this system of beliefs is characterized by a human altered and affected universe. We are not products of the universe, but we are the creators of our own form of product. That is, by using tools, we use these tools to affect change in our universe so that we may know more, travel further, and communicate faster.

This type of system, I argue would be ripe for the idea of fate. The reason being, that this form of human altered evolution rather than internal systems oriented, fractal based evolution, brings out the question of destiny. If we are not the creators of our world, but the shapers, acting own it, then there muse have been some higher being who created the universe and has some plan for our species, and in fact has a plan for the development of life and a purpose for the product of the tools which that life is able to use.

The question being then in this case, is not whether we have a fate, but what that fate is?

Without Fear of Death or Blindness

I haven’t written much these past few days. Most of my energy is poured into writing for my class. Even that is slow. Too slow. I have still been reading, keeping up with current events, as well as scholarship. That much should be evident. I guess you could ask me what I think about the events of late. That’s all anyone seems to care about. The assassination of Haiti’s president came as a shock to me. I had just gotten home from sailing, and there was a noise in my kitchen, it sounded like a gunshot. Right after that, I read the news.

It has been difficult for me to think lately. I’m all twisted up inside. The days break, one after another, after another. There’s little time for philosophy, let alone economics. I think this time it’s easier to rest. There will be days where I can write a few paragraphs, and days where I write none. When I’m finished with my essay on the Wadsworth Atheneum, I may post it here. It’s going to be a good essay. I can feel it.

My writing focuses on too much emotion, I’m thinking softly, wishing that there were more facts. It’s easy to write academically when you have a prompt but now there just isn’t one here for me to ponder. I reached out to a college department, a philosophy department, asking about their PhD program. I went out on a limb, letting them know about my illness. They said that I should apply to their MA program. That I didn’t have the undergraduate background. Tell me, what is economics good for?

Really, it seems very little. I guess you need to have a research direction of some sorts if you want to apply to a PhD program. It’s not like I don’t have one, but mine is simply the entire canon. Reading “Perceptual Experience” yesterday made me feel as though there is hope for our world. Even though it was written in 2006. It is the cross section of various fields, the so called wicked problems that no one knows is there until you reach a little deeper into the void, that really get me.

Doesn’t feel like there is hope for me though. I’ve got to slog through how many more years of this? But then I think about picking back up my book about materialism and I’m surprised by how easy it is to understand the concepts, drawing from my “perceptual experience” (lol). Someday there will be ‘mental illness studies’ in major universities, ‘depression studies,’ ‘anxiety studies,’ and ‘schizophrenia studies.’ I’m sure of this.

The brain is too important to forget about.

We are afraid of the history that we have had with it, I think. Too afraid of what to do when someone has an ‘episode.’ It’s just not ‘sexy.’ Someday it will be, probably not valorized, but not shamed either. the best I can hope for is to progress, to wait for treatment, or even cure. I think it’s on the horizon, maybe 50 years off, but it’s there.

I’m probably going to avoid politics for the time being. Too many big machinations for me. I can deal with ideology, but violence is almost too much. I’m speaking of international news… Brute force requires scholarship, diplomacy, and an evenhanded attitude that I lack. As if we can ever forget about the many humanitarian crises that crisscross the globe. Haiti is just one more, it will sort itself out, even without Biden’s aid, which I think is a bad idea anyway… The people in Haiti need a minister to step in, restore order, give in to the protestor’s demands, and set up the next election cycle.

Shows you how much I know about that. I like riding solo, sometimes I wish that I didn’t have to write so much for my classes so I could spend more time here. I haven’t revealed that much of myself here to you yet, I think. Before I step back into my official duties discussing postcolonialism, antiracism, the governance, management, and communication styles of museums around the world, I want to leave you with something to think about.

I like writing here, it’s my muse. How would you feel if every day that I could, I reviewed a book chapter, a journal article, or a piece of news that came my way? I certainly read enough to do it. I’ll think about it.

Bye for now.