Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Words from First Things.

People may disagree, but I think myself somewhat literate. Nevertheless, each issue of FT has articles with words either I haven't ever seen before or, if I have, I have forgotten the meaning. (Oh, gee, I hope its more of the former than the latter . . . Now, where was I?) Here are some from the January 2006 issue:

endogamy: This word appears in an article entitled "Protestant-Catholic-Jew, Then and Now" which discusses the 1954 book Protestant-Catholic-Jew, by Will Herberg, a sociologist, a book that the author of the article, Kevin M. Schultz, describes as "still a classic of American religious history". The word describes the practice of people who marry within their ethnic, nationality, or religious group. What Herbert saw in the mid fifties was a "decline of endogamy among people of the same nationality . . . and a rise of endogamy among the three religious groups [Protestant, Catholic, Jew]."

natalists: These are people whose personal identity is defined by parenthood and who have three or more children, at least according to David Brooks. Natalists 'are more spiritually, emotionally, and physically invested in their homes than in other spheres of life, having concluded that parenthood is the most enriching and elevating thing they can do.' This discussion appears in the Public Square section of the January issue. Neuhaus looks at a review of David Brooks' Paradise Drive and other writings, of whom and of which I have no acquaintance except what Neuhaus says of them. Other characteristics of natalists are described. For example, "People who have big families, Brooks goes on, 'are explicitly rejecting materialistic incentives and hyperindividualism'.

qualia: This appears in a review of a book by Daniel C. Dennett entitled Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness. The review is by Edward T. Oakes, S.J. Oaks writes, "Among philosophers working on the mind/body problem, the word 'qualia' stands for all those features of consciousness that give awareness its specific identity as a particular kind of experience: the redness of red, the sadness of depression, the piquancy of papaya juice, the irksomeness of traffic jams, the crankiness that comes from insomnia, the hurt feelings arising from play-ground taunts, and so forth . . . Qualia consitute the central challenge for any philosopher who wants to provide a fully naturalistic account of consciousness based on the neurochemistry of the brain."

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