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Posts Tagged ‘Millard Fillmore

“Who are you?”*…

 

Detail-of-Francois-Vase-side-B-Theseus-and-the-11-Athenian-Youths-8522828050_d7f4aea77f_o

Detail of the François kratēr: the ship of Theseus (fragment from vase) source

 

In the metaphysics of identity, “the ship of Theseus” (legendary Greek hero and founder of Athens) is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object.  One of the oldest concepts in Western philosophy, it was discussed by the likes of Heraclitus and Plato by ca. 500-400 BC; it first appeared in written form in Plutarch:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same…

Vita Thesei, 22-23

Philosophers and theorists of identity still wrestle with the questions it raises…

Suppose that the famous ship has been kept in a harbor as a museum piece, and as the years went by some of the wooden parts began to rot and were replaced by new ones; then, after a century or so, all of the parts had been replaced.   The question then is if the “restored” ship is still the same object as the original.

If it is then supposed that each of the removed pieces were stored in a warehouse, and after the century, technology developed to cure their rotting and enabled them to be put back together to make a ship, then the question is if this “reconstructed” ship is still the original ship.  And if so, then what of the restored ship in the harbor?

Explore the puzzle at “The Ship of Theseus and the Question of Identity, ” “This thought experiment will have you questioning your identity,” “Identity, Persistence, and the Ship of Theseus,” and “Ship of Theseus.”

And for nifty list of appearances by the paradox in pop culture, see here.

* Peter Townsend and The Who

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As we interrogate identity, we might recall that it was on this date in 1856 that Millard Fillmore was nominated for the Presidency by the (altogether-accurately named far right nativist) Know-Nothing Party.  Fillmore, who had been elected Vice President in 1848 had ascended to the presidency in 1850, when Zachary Taylor died, but then failed to get his own party’s– the Whig’s– nomination to run for re-election in 1852.  In 1856, Fillmore turned to the Know-Nothings in (an ultimately unsuccessful) attempt actually to be elected to the highest office.

He was finally trumped by Gerald Ford, who was not even elected– but was appointed in 1973 by Richard Nixon– to the Vice-Presidency, then assumed the top job on Nixon’s resignation in 1974.  Ford beat back a primary challenge from Ronald Reagan to win the Republican nomination in 1976, but lost to Jimmy Carter.

Millard Fillmore, by Matthew Brady (1850)

 

Written by LW

February 18, 2020 at 1:01 am

“History, in general, only informs us what bad government is”*…

 

Government

 

In the early 19th century, less than 1% of the global population could be found in democracies.

In more recent decades, however, the dominoes have fallen ⁠— and today, it’s estimated that 56% of the world population lives in societies that can be considered democratic, at least according to the Polity IV data series highlighted above.

While there are questions regarding a recent decline in freedom around the world, it’s worth considering that democratic governance is still a relatively new tradition within a much broader historical context.

Will the long-term trend of democracy prevail, or are the more recent indications of populism a sign of reversion?…

More (including explanations of the methodology and categories used) at “Visualizing 200 Years of Systems of Government.” (For perspectives on the caution at the end of the quoted passage above, see here and here.)

* Thomas Jefferson’s harsh verdict, The Letters of Thomas Jefferson

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As we organize our thoughts about social organization, we might recall that it was on this date that President Millard Fillmore signed The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. One of the most controversial elements of the Compromise of 1850, it heightened Northern fears of a “slave power conspiracy” by required that all escaped slaves, upon capture, be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate. Abolitionists nicknamed it the “Bloodhound Law”, for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves.

Law-enforcement officials everywhere were required to arrest anyone suspected of being a runaway slave on as little as a claimant’s sworn testimony of ownership.  In addition, any person aiding a runaway slave by providing food or shelter was subject to six months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Officers who captured a fugitive slave were entitled to a bonus or promotion for their work.

The suspected slave could not ask for a jury trial or testify on his or her own behalf. Slave owners needed only to supply an affidavit to a Federal marshal to capture an escaped slave.  Since a suspected slave had no rights in court and could not defend themselves against accusations, the law resulted in the kidnapping and conscription of free blacks into slavery. (The film 12 Years a Slave was based on one such abduction– the kidnapping and bondage of Solomon Northrup.)

170px-Slave_kidnap_post_1851_boston

An 1851 poster warned the “colored people of Boston” about policemen acting as slave catchers

source

 

 

Written by LW

September 18, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Yet in opinions look not always back, / Your wake is nothing, mind the coming track”*…

 

One of ten trends to watch in 2018

From North Korea’s nuclear tests to global refugee flows, the rise or fall in numbers signals where the world may be headed in 2018. To help visualize what’s on the horizon, CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] editors asked ten of our experts to highlight the charts and graphs to keep an eye on in the coming year…

Ten charts and the short essays that explain their importance to our future:  “Visualizing 2018: The Essential Graphics.”

* Yet in opinions look not always back,
Your wake is nothing, mind the coming track;
Leave what you’ve done for what you have to do;
Don’t be “consistent,” but be simply true.
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

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As we monitor the gauges, we might send underwhelming birthday greetings to Millard Fillmore; he was born on this date in 1800.  The last member of the Whig Party to serve as President, he was a Congressional Representative from New York who was elected to the Vice Presidency in 1848 on Zachary Taylor’s ticket.  When Taylor died in 1850, Fillmore became the second V.P. to assume the presidency between elections.

Fillmore’s signature accomplishment was the passage of the Compromise of 1850 passed, a bargain that led to a brief truce in the battle over slavery– a package of legislation so ill-conceived (it contained the Fugitive Slave Act) and unpopular that Fillmore failed to get his own party’s nomination for President in the election of 1852, which he sat out.  Unwilling to follow Lincoln into the new Republican Party, he got the endorsement of the nativist Know Nothing Party (dba, the American Party) four years later, and finished third in the 1856 election.

Matthew Brady’s photo of Fillmore

source

 

There’s a lot less there than meets the eye…

Dennis Dammerman
Chairman of Compensation Committee at AIG

Once a year, the folks at 24/7 Wall St. offer a counterpoint to the 100 Best___, 100 Hottest ___, and 100 Most Powerful___ lists ubiquitous at this time of year, their roster of the “100  Least Powerful People Under 100 Years Old.”

To qualify for this 24/7 Wall St. list, a person had to be well known, at least in his or her own field or country,  had to be under 100 years of age, and had to be perceived to hold a position of power or influence well beyond the reality of  his station.

This year’s #1 (as it were):  the Chair of the AIG Board’s Compensation Committee… “He has no power since AIG executive compensation is set almost entirely by pay czar Ken Feinberg.”

The list includes business executives, politicians, athletes, entertainers, even religious leaders… it makes for amusing reading– and for a powerful reminder that what goes up has a nasty habit of coming back down…

(TotH to Stewart Alsop)

As we speed dial our PR consultants, we might recall a high-ranker on the “Least Influential” list of 1856, as it was on this date that year that Millard Fillmore was nominated for the Presidency by the Know-Nothing Party.  Fillmore had ascended to the presidency in 1850, when Zachary Taylor died, but failed to get his own party’s– the Whig’s– nomination to run for re-election in 1852.  In 1856, Fillmore turned to the Know-Nothings in (an ultimately unsuccessful) attempt actually to be elected to the office.  (He was finally trumped by Gerald Ford, who was not even elected– but was appointed by Richard Nixon– to the Vice-Presidency, then assumed the top job on Nixon’s resignation.)

Millard Fillmore, by Matthew Brady (1850)

Your correspondent is enjoying an island of connectivity during the previously-announced trip.  So while it’s been possible to get this post off (albeit, in an unusually-timed way), regular service is unlikely to resume until next week.

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