Sunday, May 9, 2021

Are We All Bostonians Now?

 Noticed in Santayana's Persons and Places, chapter "My Mother":

[Boston, ca. 1861] was a moral and intellectual nursery, always busy applying first principles to trifles.

"Applying first principles to trifles" sounds to me like an excellent description of a lot of what raises a fuss these days.


  1. What a great description George. I partly agree with you, though I'm not sure that many of our esteemed leaders and pontificators would know a first principle if they fell over one. "Applying first principles to trifles" might at least show where they're coming from.

    1. There are also the people whose use of first principles reminds me of Lewis Carroll whimsical rather than John Henry Newman serious. If your first principles and your mechanism of inference lead you to a frisbee-shaped earth or the impossibility of powered flight, it's time to to check your work.