Monday, December 9, 2013

Discussing Feminism with Rank Sophist

I despise the comment limitation on characters. Then I realized, I run this damn blog - I can just make a post!

Reply below. I think anyone who follows this blog may find the conversation interesting anyway. Continued from here.




Rank,

If you want to endorse Aquinas's full account, which is backed by almost no logical arguments and is one of his weakest claims, then be my guest. But don't pretend that it's anything like what contemporary Catholics believe.

I can depart from Aquinas on this part and simply go with the facts as we have them and basic reason. You brought Aquinas up, after all - not me. Now you tell me that Aquinas' views on that front were weak and sexist. Okay, I'll concede that for the sake of argument, then take Aquinas out of the equation - and you're still not where you want to go, at least given what you've said so far.

Please enumerate them.

Do I really have to enumerate the cultural expectations and practices rooted in a woman being pregnant? Are you treating pregnancy as a non-factor with regards to gender?

The hijab is also the least problematic piece of clothing I mentioned. 

Your examples, not mine. You gave that up as an example of something 'murky'. Are you now saying - as I said - that it's not murky at all?

I'd appreciate it if you could also explain the difference between the bikini or muscle tee and toplessness or the choli, and why one is right and the other is wrong.

That gets into intention and cultural expectation, which is not necessarily murky, but merely variable. A woman topless in New York, intentionally trying to draw attention to herself sexually/provocatively and knowing that it runs against her cultural expectations, is committing a clear wrong. Again, not really murky.

Women who don't wear the hijab are considered immodest. That is a Muslim standard of modesty.

Right, but we're not talking about the Muslim standards of modesty - we're talking about the hijab. The hijab is a rather covering piece of clothing. Nothing oppressive about it in and of itself.

By the way--what about those doctrines? Should we consider them fine or false? How do we distinguish the relative from the absolute on any of these issues?

Right now, I'll settle for one - the hijab. I think I'm showing that it's not murky at all, it's simply in and of itself non-oppressive. You're switching over to talking about attitudes. A bikini is oppressive if a man will beat her for not wearing it - but then, it's not really the bikini that's oppressive, now is it?

So, I'm lost. In places, you seem to accept that habit and plasticity are the causes of gender differences, and that physical differences contribute to these only by limiting the possible experiences of the person. But this contradicts your seeming insistence that gender differences are genetically determined and thereby essential. What are you arguing, here?

I'm taking a nuanced view. There exists some amount of plasticity - but not nearly as much as the feminist I encounter would have me believe. There is no patriarchy, and there is no white or male privilege worth speaking of. There is a fair amount of biological determinism, because determinism does not require stark black and white 'a woman can never be 6' tall' views, but default capabilities that fall within a particular range, which have upper limits on what can be achieved by practice, and which is distinct enough between men and women to matter.

That isn't what it means, as I showed.

No, you didn't. You repeated that they were expected to have strong intellectual skills - that was the only point of contention, and the 'intellectual skills' were far from, based on what I've read, anything that would really challenge the western view.

That's now how you would describe analytic philosophy's Fregean notion of existence, or its rampant materialism, or its adoration of Daniel Dennett, or its flirtation with eliminativism?

Since when does analytic philosophy adore Dennett? He's a prominent figure, but my impression is most people thought that Chalmers of all people had the better argument, and that Dennett's answers were not ultimately satisfactory. Eliminativism is a fringe position even now, and the Fregean notion of existence is, I think, not as prominently discussed (perhaps assumed) as you'd take it. I think the current state of academia, period, is rotten. But I don't think its failures are quite you think they are.

How about the absurdity of symbolic logic or modalism, or the logical positivism that still influences current thought? 

Give credit where it's due - logical positivism died. Quickly. And most philosophers acknowledged it did. The LP you talk about is often unconscious - people make mistakes. Symbolic logic and modalism? It's problematic, but not out and out absurd - that's often a case of 'okay tool, but it's not as useful as people like to think it is'.

feminist theory has high points as well. Most of it is hogwash, but a few of its arguments and concepts are valid. I would say the exact same thing about analytic philosophy.

I think if you compare the basic culture and fundamentals of even modern academic philosophy with feminist theory, academic philosophy comes out ahead easily. Hell, even now platonists are an apparent majority among philosophers, period. I think their handling of theism is wretched, but I also recognize philosophy's a whole lot bigger than that.

The problem is a case of half the produce being spoiled in the philosophy case, but in feminist theory you've got far worse of a situation.

The Catholic Church is a disaster, particularly in America. It is an absolute trainwreck, and it has been for about a hundred years. Why do you think Pope Francis is so relentless about reforming it?

Like I said: compare it to the episcopalians. Part of that trainwreck is the American nuns, and - of all things - the feminist influence. At least the US Bishops were able to unite against contraception - contraception! In this day and age! At least they're united against abortion. They have their faults - that is putting it mildly - but I will not pretend they are anything close to the feminist faults.

This is like a beauty contest where I've got Anne Ramsey on the stage. Okay, fine - not exactly a looker. She has personality. You? You've got the freaking doll from Madame. That thing's not even human!

As for computer science and game development, I don't really consider them intellectual fields. Either way, computer science is, to my knowledge, currently stagnant. Game development is a mess, and for about a decade it has achieved the seemingly impossible task of getting worse every single year.

Computer science stagnant? Even if you could justify that, it's a stagnant state that gave us the internet, GPS in our cars, and a million other things that have done more to liberate and educate people (along with other problems, I admit) than feminism managed since its inception. If it's stagnant, it's because they did so much, so fast, that they're hitting their limits. Feminism's currently wrapped up in obsessively lowering the standards for women in its ever-desperate need to make sure no woman is ever held responsible or blamed for her actions, ever.

Game development is in a fantastic state in terms of the technical quality of what is being produced, and more.

Don't be dense. I'll see your schismatic liberal group and raise you the male-dominated Sedevacantists. And, as far as the idea of women's groups led by women goes, convents have been doing that for nearly 2,000 years.

That's the thing, Rank. The male-dominated sedevacantists are at least answered by the male-dominated hierarchy, which saw fit to put Francis as Pope. (A guy I've defended, by the by.) What's the female answer to the LCWR? The episcopalians?

24 comments:

rank sophist said...

Do I really have to enumerate the cultural expectations and practices rooted in a woman being pregnant?

No, but then you've changed the subject from what I was actually talking about. Pregnancy--a woman's physical act of growing a baby inside of herself--is not cultural. It is not mental. It is a sexual trait. Now, it may be surrounded by mental and cultural elements, but it is not inherently a gender trait. There are gender traits related to pregnancy, but that doesn't make pregnancy a gender trait. We're just splitting hairs here for no apparent reason, though.

Are you now saying - as I said - that it's not murky at all?

No. The hijab is an extremely murky example. I just find the other two even more difficult. Honestly, I can't answer the questions I'm raising.

A woman topless in New York, intentionally trying to draw attention to herself sexually/provocatively and knowing that it runs against her cultural expectations, is committing a clear wrong. Again, not really murky.

That's one example. Here's another. A woman grew up dressing in bikinis and seeing bikinis set as the standard of what women should wear at the beach. She doesn't see them as shocking or provocative. She wears them. Yet, Catholics complain regularly that the bikini is a blight and a sign of pure immodesty. Who's right?

Here's another. A woman grew up seeing crop tops as normal. They're just another article of clothing. She wears them. But, again, Catholics complain that crop tops are immodest. Who's right? And can any argument against the crop top not also be applied to the choli?

Here's another. Female toplessness is not illegal in Central Park. Let's say that, in ten or twenty years, it becomes commonplace to see it there. Consider this article:

I don't think it's yet possible for a woman to walk around topless without having people assume she's pulling some sort of stunt, which is a shame. Granted, I was doing a social experiment of sorts, but it would be nice to be able to do it just because it feels good. (Also granted, many people ignored me. Kudos to them, for they are the future.)

Is this wrong? If so, then how do you avoid implicating the relevant African cultures in the process?

Right, but we're not talking about the Muslim standards of modesty - we're talking about the hijab. The hijab is a rather covering piece of clothing. Nothing oppressive about it in and of itself.

My point was never related to the article of clothing as such. I was describing a cultural norm as enshrined in a manner of dress. The hijab--like the choli, like African toplessness--represents a custom of modesty foreign to our own. How are we supposed to respond to it?

We've drifted pretty far afield on this particular topic, but I find it interesting, so whatever.

I think I'm showing that it's not murky at all, it's simply in and of itself non-oppressive. You're switching over to talking about attitudes. A bikini is oppressive if a man will beat her for not wearing it

If you're switching the topic to whether or not a manner of dress is intrinsically wrong, then let's just get this over with: walking around totally naked is not intrinsically wrong. There's nothing inherently oppressive or lustful or immodest about it.

Unfortunately, that's irrelevant to what we were talking about: cultural differences.

There exists some amount of plasticity - but not nearly as much as the feminist I encounter would have me believe.

And you know this... how? Also, how do feminists keep sneaking into this? Seemingly, you're arguing with me. I'm making the claim about brain plasticity.

rank sophist said...

There is no patriarchy, and there is no white or male privilege worth speaking of.

All are real, actually. The "patriarchy" is overhyped, but it does exist to a certain extent. White and male privilege are very real, particularly in America. Let's not get sidetracked by an irrelevant topic, though.

determinism does not require stark black and white 'a woman can never be 6' tall' views, but default capabilities that fall within a particular range, which have upper limits on what can be achieved by practice, and which is distinct enough between men and women to matter.

I'm not sure how this relates to brains or gender traits. Of course everyone agrees that men and women have (on average) different physical traits, and that the strongest man will be stronger than the strongest woman. These are irrelevant to the topic at hand. They are also irrelevant in general. If a pasty nerd mocks a woman weightlifter because the strongest man is stronger than the strongest woman, all he achieves is a beating. His comparison did not make him any stronger or her any weaker. Unless you endorse gender essentialism (which is not tenable, from a Thomistic viewpoint), you're left with comparing individuals to individuals. Statistics and averages and "upper limits" do not help you in this endeavor.

that was the only point of contention, and the 'intellectual skills' were far from, based on what I've read, anything that would really challenge the western view.

Nothing in Google books suggests that the intellectual skills involved are anything other than the standard intellectual skills. And I should add that, at least in Korea, one of the standard role models appealed to by "Good Wife, Wise Mother" traditionalists is Shin Saimdang. She was one of the rare Korean women educated in the 1500s, and she raised a legendary Confucian scholar. I would say that this is evidence enough for my side.

Since when does analytic philosophy adore Dennett?

Have you taken an analytic philosophy class recently? Or noticed Dennett's high public profile? He's analytic philosophy's superstar. For decades now his arguments have been a main point of discussion in analytic circles, and he's taught as a major authority.

Eliminativism is a fringe position even now

Hence "flirtation". It's something at least considered by the majority of analytic philosophers.

the Fregean notion of existence is, I think, not as prominently discussed (perhaps assumed) as you'd take it

It isn't discussed at all, except by the one or two people who criticize it. My point was to illustrate yet another failure of analytic philosophy.

Give credit where it's due - logical positivism died. Quickly.

It took it almost half a century to die, if memory serves. And its ghost still lingers in analytic philosophy.

rank sophist said...

The problem is a case of half the produce being spoiled in the philosophy case, but in feminist theory you've got far worse of a situation.

I'd say they're about the same, but whatever. If feminist theory had its radical postmodern aspects taken away, you'd see a lot that was perfectly acceptable to Christianity and Thomism. The problem is that the majority of feminist theory is radical postmodernism.

Like I said: compare it to the episcopalians.

The Anglicans fell into the chasm they're in for one simple reason: they broke with tradition. It started with their acceptance of contraception. Ordaining women was just part of a slippery slope that had begun to destroy the church long before. The same would happen to the Catholic church--and is happening among nominal Catholics and liberal sects--if they broke with tradition. Woman leaders are irrelevant to the issue.

Part of that trainwreck is the American nuns, and - of all things - the feminist influence.

These are artifacts of the radical anti-traditionalism that has been attacking Catholicism for over a century. They aren't the cause of its current troubles.

If it's stagnant, it's because they did so much, so fast, that they're hitting their limits.

True enough.

The male-dominated sedevacantists are at least answered by the male-dominated hierarchy, which saw fit to put Francis as Pope. (A guy I've defended, by the by.) What's the female answer to the LCWR? The episcopalians?

Not sure what you mean, actually.

Crude said...

No, but then you've changed the subject from what I was actually talking about. Pregnancy--a woman's physical act of growing a baby inside of herself--is not cultural. It is not mental.

Pregnancy is about more than the physical act. It's about the capability, the expectation, how those manifest in and affect the mind of the individual and the culture.

No. The hijab is an extremely murky example. I just find the other two even more difficult. Honestly, I can't answer the questions I'm raising.

I disagree. I think it's open and shut - the hijab is not oppressive. Neither is a beekeeper outfit. What's oppressive is an army of muslims threatening to beat a woman for not wearing one. Or, for the matter, a French government banning the wearing of one.

A woman grew up dressing in bikinis and seeing bikinis set as the standard of what women should wear at the beach. She doesn't see them as shocking or provocative. She wears them. Yet, Catholics complain regularly that the bikini is a blight and a sign of pure immodesty. Who's right?

Tell me more about her culture and its place in the larger culture, its attitudes towards sex and sexuality, and I will have an answer for you.

Same reply for your other example.

Is this wrong? If so, then how do you avoid implicating the relevant African cultures in the process?

Because this isn't Africa. Yes, it's wrong. It was 'a stunt'. She just called it a social experiment, as if that makes it 'not a stunt'. The public is not some idiot's petri dish.

My point was never related to the article of clothing as such. I was describing a cultural norm as enshrined in a manner of dress. The hijab--like the choli, like African toplessness--represents a custom of modesty foreign to our own. How are we supposed to respond to it?

Modesty? Who cares about modesty. The issue was oppression, and there's nothing oppressive about the clothing in and of itself.

If you're switching the topic to whether or not a manner of dress is intrinsically wrong, then let's just get this over with: walking around totally naked is not intrinsically wrong. There's nothing inherently oppressive or lustful or immodest about it.

Who's talking about intrinsics? And are you making this statement flatly - or is it murky?

And you know this... how?

An assortment of scientific experiments I've seen, reasonable extrapolations about what I know about biology and otherwise, plus personal judgment.

Also, how do feminists keep sneaking into this? Seemingly, you're arguing with me. I'm making the claim about brain plasticity.

You asked me to give my opinion on this matter, and I gave it bluntly. Feminists have come up - I am explaining the subtleties of my position, and contrasting them against a group that I have to react against at this point.

Crude said...

All are real, actually. The "patriarchy" is overhyped, but it does exist to a certain extent. White and male privilege are very real, particularly in America.

Hardly. Sure, let's not get sidetracked, but I will flat out call both of them largely figments of the imagination - and the only way they can be reasonably said to exist is in a way which would undermine the nigh universal view of them.

If a pasty nerd mocks a woman weightlifter because the strongest man is stronger than the strongest woman, all he achieves is a beating.

The problem is that an out of shape man can often give a female weightlifter a run for her money in a conflict.

Unless you endorse gender essentialism (which is not tenable, from a Thomistic viewpoint), you're left with comparing individuals to individuals. Statistics and averages and "upper limits" do not help you in this endeavor.

They absolutely help me if they're true, and I think it's far more reasonable to regard them as such. I don't even need to endorse gender essentialism. You can say 'Well maybe a woman will have some real specific genetic abnormality combined with ten years of intensive training and in theory she COULD have the body mass and speed of Mike Tyson!' Could be. Who cares?

Nothing in Google books suggests that the intellectual skills involved are anything other than the standard intellectual skills.

The fact that these statements are 'knowledge that will enable you to be a good mother' should flag this situation as being open to the very interpretation I'm giving it. And Shim's upbringing was acknowledged as bizarre by their cultural standards, with the results (Again, I note: a well-educated and influential son) being beneficial.

Have you taken an analytic philosophy class recently? Or noticed Dennett's high public profile? He's analytic philosophy's superstar. For decades now his arguments have been a main point of discussion in analytic circles, and he's taught as a major authority.

A major figure, sure. Authority? I honestly question that. That's like telling me that Dawkins is regarded as a kind of super-genius biologist within his field. No, he's regarded - except among Gnu cultists - as a guy who hasn't done work in decades, whose main contribution was in writing a good pop sci book, and whose main claim to fame is having a big microphone.

Crude said...

Hence "flirtation". It's something at least considered by the majority of analytic philosophers.

Why should the flirtation matter? It's considered and discarded.

It took it almost half a century to die, if memory serves.

Here's an important difference between analytic philosophy and modern feminism: at the very least, you can question - even out and out deny - a whole slew of the claims of analytic philosophy. They may disagree with you. But you can do it, and no there's no great taboo in that. Feminism? Just try it. See how that goes.

In fact, insofar as you CAN be shunned in philosophical circles, the best way to do it is to run afoul of feminism or (related) LGBT sensibilities.

The Anglicans fell into the chasm they're in for one simple reason: they broke with tradition. It started with their acceptance of contraception. Ordaining women was just part of a slippery slope that had begun to destroy the church long before.

Why can't you point at the ordained women who at least helped stop some of those problems? Why is it that they are, practically to a woman, so damn terrible?

Not sure what you mean, actually.

I'm pointing out that while you can point to a male-dominated field that sucks - pick the Cult of Gnu for a fantastic one - I can point out male-dominated fields that are doing vastly better, with their flaws. I can point to the RCC, including their elevation of Francis, who I think is a better pick than most conservatives are willing to credit. Where is the female-dominated intellectual field that is anything but really dreadful and actually kind of worrying?

rank sophist said...

Crude,

Pregnancy is about more than the physical act. It's about the capability, the expectation, how those manifest in and affect the mind of the individual and the culture.

Yes, women can become pregnant because of their mental expectations regarding their gender. Oh, wait--that makes no sense.

Stop. This is a simple point. Pregnancy is a physical capacity. Mental and cultural aspects surround it, but it remains a physical capacity that all mental and cultural aspects presuppose. I have no idea why you're debating this truism.

Tell me more about her culture and its place in the larger culture, its attitudes towards sex and sexuality, and I will have an answer for you.

I was presuming a contemporary America no different from our own. There are already women who were raised to consider bikinis and crop tops normal.

Because this isn't Africa. Yes, it's wrong. It was 'a stunt'. She just called it a social experiment, as if that makes it 'not a stunt'.

Obviously it's wrong now. My point was related, if you re-read, to "ten or twenty years" in the future--the "future" she mentions in that excerpt. At what point does it stop being wrong and become fine?

Modesty? Who cares about modesty. The issue was oppression, and there's nothing oppressive about the clothing in and of itself.

Did you even read my post? Here it is again:

"Interesting. So, would you say that the practice of toplessness among women in certain parts of Africa is immodest? How about the midriff-baring choli of India? Would you call the hijab oppressive?"

All of this was related to standards of modesty, either liberal or oppressive. Stop changing the subject.

And are you making this statement flatly - or is it murky?

It's a flat statement. If it were wrong to walk around naked, then it would be a sin to step out of the shower.

The murkiness of all of these issues comes from cultural relativity, and how we draw the line between neutral or evil customs. You have almost entirely avoided this question so far.

rank sophist said...

An assortment of scientific experiments I've seen, reasonable extrapolations about what I know about biology and otherwise, plus personal judgment.

None of that backs up your assertion that brain plasticity is a limited phenomenon. First of all, changes in the brain are caused by habit, and we know from philosophy that habit can totally alter someone's identity. So it would make sense for brain plasticity to be fairly major. Second, you can't expect me to take your opinion on brain plasticity as an argument. It's a physical, scientific issue that can be studied simply by watching a single person's brain change over his or her lifetime. What research backs up your claim?

The problem is that an out of shape man can often give a female weightlifter a run for her money in a conflict.

He actually can't, but whatever.

You can say 'Well maybe a woman will have some real specific genetic abnormality combined with ten years of intensive training and in theory she COULD have the body mass and speed of Mike Tyson!' Could be. Who cares?

Because this woman would fall outside of most gender roles. Those roles are based on generalizations and typical traits, and they don't apply in every case. They would have to bend to fit her.

And Shim's upbringing was acknowledged as bizarre by their cultural standards, with the results (Again, I note: a well-educated and influential son) being beneficial.

You seem to have to lost the plot. Let me explain this all again.

1. "Good Wife, Wise Mother" is a modern gender construct that has existed for around 150 years.
2. "Good Wife, Wise Mother" is perceived, in East Asian countries, as being a traditional concept rooted in several thousand years of Confucian thought.
3. "Good Wife, Wise Mother" proponents cite Shin Saimdang, who they do not realize lived in a time when "Good Wife, Wise Mother" did not exist, as the archetypical "Good Wife, Wise Mother".
4. Shin Saimdang was an intellectually robust woman who raised a legendary thinker.

This is my evidence that "Good Wife, Wise Mother" is related to intellectual faculties like reason, ethics and so forth.

rank sophist said...

Authority? I honestly question that.

It doesn't matter if you question it. Take an analytic philosophy class sometime. In America, he has a near-universal veneration in the classroom. Sure, plenty of other philosophers have attacked him. But he's still a major authority.

That's like telling me that Dawkins is regarded as a kind of super-genius biologist within his field.

Actually, it's completely different. Dennett's atheism is not even related to his status as a philosophical authority. He's an authority because of his copious writing about intentionality and the mind, which is taught and debated widely in analytic philosophy circles.

Why should the flirtation matter? It's considered and discarded.

No, it isn't. Its popularity is growing, thanks to the wide acceptance of Dennett's eliminativist arguments. Certain philosophers have attacked eliminativism, and it remains a fringe view, but it's gaining traction and more and more students are being exposed to it as a viable position.

Feminism? Just try it. See how that goes.

There's a fairly simple reason for that. Analytic philosophy interests a very small group of (often nerdy) people. Feminism is an expression of the liberal zeitgeist that is sweeping America and Europe. It began long ago--long before feminism existed. But attacking any part of its anti-traditionalist creed (of which feminism is a part) will get you blacklisted in intellectual circles.

Why can't you point at the ordained women who at least helped stop some of those problems? Why is it that they are, practically to a woman, so damn terrible?

Why are your assertions so relentlessly unargued? Not that I care what gets said about Anglicanism.

Also, you seem to be stopping just short of heresy on the issue of women religious. Are you suggesting that women are spiritually inferior to men? Because it is not any spiritual inferiority that makes woman priests a bad idea: it's that woman priests violate a sacred tradition handed down from Jesus.

Where is the female-dominated intellectual field that is anything but really dreadful and actually kind of worrying?

I can't think of any such fields aside from feminism, which has about as many flashes of quality as analytic philosophy.

Crude said...

I am not getting into responses that require more than a single actual comment to reply to. It's goddamn boring. So I'm going to just pick and choose what to respond to.

It doesn't matter if you question it. Take an analytic philosophy class sometime. In America, he has a near-universal veneration in the classroom. Sure, plenty of other philosophers have attacked him. But he's still a major authority.

What will taking one analytic philosophy class even tell me? I'm not denying that Dennett is prominent. I'm questioning the status of reverence you're attributing to him - and I think he is entirely capable of being questioned, even dismissed, in contemporary philosophy. In fact, a lot of people do exactly that.

Plantinga was an authority too, before his retirement. Even in analytic philosophy he was, as near as I can tell, well-regarded. I simply do not see the status you're attributing to him, and I don't think you have much to back it up other than personal perception. Great, but my perception differs.

Dennett's an authority only insofar as he's a prominent contemporary philosopher. He's not revered, and his conclusions are absolutely not taken as beyond question - even in their fundamental commitments. Again, see Chalmers. See Searle, even. Yes, Dennett's ideas are rotten, and he's an ass besides - but the point is if you compare even analytic philosophy to women's studies and feminism generally, AP comes out looking better.

By the way: Here's a 2009 Leiter Reports poll on the most important philosopher of the past 200 years. There are even living philosophers on that list. Where the hell is Dennett?

No, it isn't. Its popularity is growing, thanks to the wide acceptance of Dennett's eliminativist arguments. Certain philosophers have attacked eliminativism, and it remains a fringe view, but it's gaining traction and more and more students are being exposed to it as a viable position.

Seriously - you say this based on what? I'm a cynical, even pessimistic sort, but I simply don't see this happening. At best you can say is 'eliminative materialism is being talked about more', maybe. But you can also say that about everything from hylemorphic dualism to panpsychism to neutral monism to other concepts.

There's a fairly simple reason for that.

I don't care what the reason is. The fact is, it's the case. That alone is enough to show that AP is in a vastly better position intellectually, for all its faults.

Also, you seem to be stopping just short of heresy on the issue of women religious. Are you suggesting that women are spiritually inferior to men?

I am pointing at what I think is the established track record of female-dominated groups with regards to intellectual achievement that should give one pause, and that the reason for the frankly disastrous situation may in part be biologically rooted. What does 'spiritually inferior' even mean? 'As a certain rule, less spiritually valuable - whatever that means - than men?' Absolutely not - that's absurd. 'On average and collectively, far and away more likely to collectively make atrocious decisions in particular fields'? Maybe.

What research backs up your claim?

What research backs up yours?

You're going to have to make a decision on this front. If scientific studies matter, then you need to provide them to back up your claims. If personal experience and reflection suffice, then I have different experience and reflection than you. But I'm not going to play the game where I can have an opinion only up until you dislike it, at which point, 'Show me the science that proves your position!', but you can have an opinion and if I ask for the scientific studies, you don't need any, or I need some that prove your view wrong.

rank sophist said...

Crude,

You just ceded roughly 80% of the points we've been arguing about. Interesting. I'll be back later to provide a final response to your last post.

Crude said...

You just ceded roughly 80% of the points we've been arguing about.

No, I decided that I'm not getting into 4 comment long replies. If I didn't cover something you think is important, pick it out. And fit it to a single comment. Be pithy.

rank sophist said...

I'm questioning the status of reverence you're attributing to him - and I think he is entirely capable of being questioned, even dismissed, in contemporary philosophy. In fact, a lot of people do exactly that.

He is. By philosophers. A few philosophers, that is--and ones taught far less often than Dennett. Your view of this issue is warped because you spend most of your time reading about philosophers who criticize Dennett.

Plantinga was an authority too, before his retirement. Even in analytic philosophy he was, as near as I can tell, well-regarded.

True enough. Not sure what you're point is, though. Plantinga's philosophy was just as wrong-headed as that of most analytic philosophers.

By the way: Here's a 2009 Leiter Reports poll on the most important philosopher of the past 200 years. There are even living philosophers on that list. Where the hell is Dennett?

Where are Chalmers, Plantinga and Searle?

Seriously - you say this based on what? I'm a cynical, even pessimistic sort, but I simply don't see this happening.

I say this based on the arguments that Gnus and atheists in general have started to roll out on a regular basis. When asked to explain intentionality and the irreducible aspects of mind, they appeal to eliminative arguments like Dennett's. The cult of Dawkins is also committed to eliminativism. I've debated my share of these people online (on Feser's blog, even), and I see their ideas regarding the non-existence of consciousness spill over into mainstream news from time to time. Most of these people are, unlike Rosenberg, simply too ignorant to understand the consequences of what they're saying. They are still eliminativists, though.

That alone is enough to show that AP is in a vastly better position intellectually, for all its faults.

Actually, that's a non sequitur. The hostile culture surrounding feminism tells us nothing about the intellectual claims of feminism. There was a time when heresy had even worse consequences than dissent from feminism, but that doesn't tell us anything about the validity of the Church's position.

I am pointing at what I think is the established track record of female-dominated groups with regards to intellectual achievement that should give one pause, and that the reason for the frankly disastrous situation may in part be biologically rooted.

The problem is that you have not demonstrated any such thing. You foam at the mouth about feminism--and that's about it. I'm not sure you even understand the intellectual roots of feminism, or any of its core positions. I seriously doubt that you would win a debate against a feminist.

Aside from that, you blow off my citations of intelligent women by saying, "Well, they're just some of the good ones." Your arguments to support the conclusion that women are biologically inferior at reasoning have been, to use your words, "frankly disastrous".

But I'm not going to play the game where I can have an opinion only up until you dislike it

You are making a scientific claim related to the brain's potential to change in response to stimuli. As far as I know, you are not an expert in any scientific field. On the other hand, I made the statement that there are a surprising number of people, in my experience, who do not fit into standard gender roles. If you can't tell the difference between those two claims, I don't think I can help you.

Crude said...

Your view of this issue is warped because you spend most of your time reading about philosophers who criticize Dennett.

I also read about philosophers who praise Dennett, or philosophers who are middle of the road. You said that Dennett is held up to such and such particular standard - I just don't see the evidence of this. Yes, there are some people who praise him, of course. There are some who praise the Churchlands. There are even some who praise Plantinga.

True enough. Not sure what you're point is, though.

I've mostly had these points:

1) Analytic philosophy does not regard Dennett as some kind of glorious, unquestioned individual. His view isn't even all that popular. He's a major presence, but his stature is lower than you suggested, and it's no social crime to question him, or even his fundamental view.

2) Analytic philosophy in general is in a vastly better state than women's studies intellectually, or any other female-dominated field I know of.

3) Insofar as philosophy in general nowadays does have some 'off-limits, you cannot question this or you are a pariah' topics, it seems that the influence of feminism in that field is often responsible.

Where are Chalmers, Plantinga and Searle?

I wasn't holding up Chalmers, Plantinga and Searle as supremely praised men in AP. I notice Kripke and Anscombe is on there.

Actually, that's a non sequitur. The hostile culture surrounding feminism tells us nothing about the intellectual claims of feminism.

Actually, it does. I expect a Church at the least not to brook heresy to a degree - it at least deals with divine revelation and the like, and it largely deals with it internally. Feminism is more comparable to Islam at its worst than the Church, intellectually speaking.

The problem is that you have not demonstrated any such thing. You foam at the mouth about feminism--and that's about it.

Please. I'm pointing out you have no defense of the field. Even you recognize that it is an abomination. And 'win in a debate'? First, I've argued with feminists before, and pointed out some serious flaws in their thinking and claims - easily. Second, "win"? Feminist thinking is thin on reasoning, and heavy on emotional appeals. You "win" if the crowd cheers loudest. And if it doesn't, the crowd is misogynist and you won anyway.

I'll throw one back at you: I could argue for a more sensible vision of women's rights, equality, and against the culture than most feminists could. And I could do it with more reason than they could ever hope to summon. Cocky, sure, but it's not exactly an intellectually heavyweight field.

Crude said...

Aside from that, you blow off my citations of intelligent women by saying, "Well, they're just some of the good ones."

When did I argue that women are biologically inferior at reasoning? I've argued that female dominated intellectual cultures have been a disaster. I've argued that there is such a thing as plasticity, but only that it's not nearly a reality to the extent that most feminists need it to be. I pointed out that your singular example of 'Good wife, wise mother' was not an archetype, but a culturally bizarre woman who was lauded for her rather traditional and even western-similar role in the family.

You seem to think I believe women are incapable of, say... becoming good philosophers, such that pointing at Foot undermines my claims. I would never make so strong and so general a claim. I speak in terms of averages and proclivities and genetic defaults. You want to act as if those don't matter. I think that's an insane position to hold.

If you can't tell the difference between those two claims

As I said: I hold an opinion based on my experience, informed in part by science. If I need decisive scientific demonstrations to validate my claims, so do you. If I do not, and my experience and observations suffice to ground my views, then my views are valid - they conform to my views, even if not to yours. Take your pick.

Tacking this on despite my 1-comment-only rule. I'll deal with this more in a followup post.

rank sophist said...

You misunderstood me on Dennett. I never claimed that he was universally admired or that his views were taken as being indubitably true. I claimed that he was a major authority--at least as much of one as any Plantinga or Searle--and that his arguments received a lot of attention, and that he was taught heavily in schools. I claimed that his views were becoming more and more widespread among students and the culture. You seem to acknowledge all of this, so I'm not sure why we're arguing about it.

Analytic philosophy in general is in a vastly better state than women's studies intellectually, or any other female-dominated field I know of.

You can't name any besides women's studies and feminism, which are roughly identical. Plus, you still haven't shown that you even remotely understand why feminism is awful. Your defense of analytic philosophy has been limited to: "Yeah, Dennett is pretty famous despite being one of the biggest sophists in the last five hundred years. But it's not like he's universally admired or anything." I have a pretty good understanding of both feminism and analytic philosophy, and I can't see how one is obviously superior to the other.

Actually, it does. I expect a Church at the least not to brook heresy to a degree - it at least deals with divine revelation and the like, and it largely deals with it internally. Feminism is more comparable to Islam at its worst than the Church, intellectually speaking.

Do you have any idea how insane you sound? First of all, you think it's understandable for the Catholic church to have people executed by the state because they dissent from doctrine. Second, you're essentially comparing the 9/11 attacks to the rantings of the feminists. I don't know when you got so disconnected from reality, but it scares me.

And none of this has anything to do with the quality of feminist arguments. You're just doing what you've been doing for much of this arguments: tossing out red herrings and hoping I don't notice.

Please. I'm pointing out you have no defense of the field. Even you recognize that it is an abomination.

I said that it was awful on the whole, just like analytic philosophy. But there are parts of analytic philosophy that I would defend, just like there are parts of feminism I would defend. Feminism has been very good at revealing the ways in which women are objectified, particularly in secular culture. The feminists who attack porn and subliminal sexualization, and who (I'm thinking of Foucault) criticize the idea that homosexuality and heterosexuality are "inherent" and "natural" gender identities rather than cultural products, are to be commended. They also make great cases against pagan dominator/dominated sexual roles, which should offend no one familiar with Theology of the Body. I could go on.

Feminist thinking is thin on reasoning, and heavy on emotional appeals. You "win" if the crowd cheers loudest.

This tells me what I already knew: you have never really bothered to engage feminism above the most basic level, somewhat like how Gnus attack fundies and pretend that they've defeated Christianity. Don't get me wrong. I don't think that feminism on the whole is right, and I think that the premises on which the whole enterprise is based can be proven false. The truths they've discovered have been mired in countless errors. But it takes more than lightweight rhetoric to show that.

When did I argue that women are biologically inferior at reasoning?

"I am pointing at what I think is the established track record of female-dominated groups with regards to intellectual achievement that should give one pause, and that the reason for the frankly disastrous situation may in part be biologically rooted."

rank sophist said...

I pointed out that your singular example of 'Good wife, wise mother' was not an archetype, but a culturally bizarre woman who was lauded for her rather traditional and even western-similar role in the family.

Actually, you didn't do this. You just kept losing track of the argument. Even now, you've forgotten the 4 bullet points I outlined above. Arguing with you has been like wrestling an eel.

I speak in terms of averages and proclivities and genetic defaults. You want to act as if those don't matter. I think that's an insane position to hold.

They aren't essential properties, and so they don't matter. You're trying to import natural law-style reasoning into a situation where it doesn't work.

As I said: I hold an opinion based on my experience, informed in part by science.

If you told me that gravity wasn't all that it was made out to be, and cited nebulous "experience" and "experiments you've seen", I'd rightly be skeptical. That's the same as what you're expecting me to swallow about the scientifically observable actions of brains.

Crude said...

I claimed that his views were becoming more and more widespread among students and the culture.

You were using Dennett as an argument to illustrate the rotten state of analytic philosophy. Sayeth you: "Have you taken an analytic philosophy class recently? Or noticed Dennett's high public profile? He's analytic philosophy's superstar. For decades now his arguments have been a main point of discussion in analytic circles, and he's taught as a major authority."

I pointed out that, at best, Dennett is prominent. He's not 'a major authority' for analytic philosophy - he is, at best, a major representative of one particular subset of so-called 'naturalism' in the philosophy of mind. You say 'more and more widespread among the students and the culture', as if he's taking the world by storm. In reality, he was merely talked about for a period of time, and was heavily - heavily - criticized. And I think we're well past anything that could be called a peak for Dennett's popularity, or for his particular views.

You can't name any besides women's studies and feminism, which are roughly identical.

Unless you can name a few, that's pretty damning in and of itself.

Plus, you still haven't shown that you even remotely understand why feminism is awful. Your defense of analytic philosophy has been limited to

You brought up Dennett - that's why I focused on it. I also think Plantinga and his reception fares a whole lot better as an example. As for why feminism is awful, I disagree.

Do you have any idea how insane you sound? First of all, you think it's understandable for the Catholic church to have people executed by the state because they dissent from doctrine.

No, I didn't - I nowhere, anywhere, said it was understandable for the Church to have people executed by the state because of dissent from doctrine. I said I understand why a religion would uphold certain beliefs and utterly rule out heresy within its ranks, particularly a religion with divinely revealed truth. If you want to argue that feminism is akin to a religion, go ahead - it will not, on that front, be a mark of praise to call it such.

Second, you're essentially comparing the 9/11 attacks to the rantings of the feminists.

No, I'm not, which is precisely why I said they were comparable to muslims at their worst, intellectually speaking. Stop being afraid and ask for clarifications instead of running to the worst possible misinterpretation.

And none of this has anything to do with the quality of feminist arguments. You're just doing what you've been doing for much of this arguments: tossing out red herrings and hoping I don't notice.

No, I'm pointing out the reality of their movement. Let me flip around your example: if I point out that this particular Islamic culture is absolutely terrible and crazy, what with their bombings and all, it does nothing against my point to say 'Well you're not judging the quality of their arguments.' Insist their arguments are pristine if you like - by all means, bring some good ones forward, as I'm still waiting. But their culture and behavior is certainly a strike against them from the outset.

The feminists who attack porn and subliminal sexualization, and who (I'm thinking of Foucault) criticize the idea that homosexuality and heterosexuality are "inherent" and "natural" gender identities rather than cultural products, are to be commended.

Their attacks on porn and sexuality in popular culture are often insane, even if I agree with the general thrust of their comments about sexuality. And if you think I'm wrong, provide them. Let's analyze them. Just because I like a particular conclusion at times doesn't mean I approve of the rationales getting to it.

Crude said...

This tells me what I already knew: you have never really bothered to engage feminism above the most basic level, somewhat like how Gnus attack fundies and pretend that they've defeated Christianity.

Why do you keep telling me I just don't get feminism instead of deploying the arguments you find so valuable with regards to them? The funny thing about the Gnus is that they have a strong feminist subculture. Atheism+ anyone?

A key difference with the Gnus is that they go after at best Christianity at its fringes. I am going after feminism as it is most prominent, and their influence is the stuff of insanity. See the 'gendered pronoun' nonsense, see the 'Tropes in Gaming' stuff, see the abundant application of 'misogyny' and 'patriarchy', see the 'slutwalk'.

"I am pointing at what I think is the established track record of female-dominated groups with regards to intellectual achievement that should give one pause, and that the reason for the frankly disastrous situation may in part be biologically rooted."

Yes, it may in part be biologically rooted. I am talking about groups, and therefore about averages and defaults. That is not equivalent to a proclamation of 'women reason worse than men, period'.

They aren't essential properties, and so they don't matter. You're trying to import natural law-style reasoning into a situation where it doesn't work.

I said explicitly that I can put natural law reasoning aside altogether and make my arguments based on the facts we have at hand, my own experience, and the data that's available. Which is what I've been doing.

If you told me that gravity wasn't all that it was made out to be, and cited nebulous "experience" and "experiments you've seen", I'd rightly be skeptical. That's the same as what you're expecting me to swallow about the scientifically observable actions of brains.

Gravity? Do you have any idea what the state of knowledge with regard to it is? And no, I actually don't expect you to swallow much of anything - you are the one who denounced scientific studies' values coming into this, and the value of personal experience. I am simply playing by yours rules. It fails to persuade you? No doubt - but that doesn't make it invalid. Nor does pointing at extraordinarily marginal (with regards to your claim) studies about brain plasticity do much to justify your own point. You don't merely need some plasticity. You need a whole lot, and you need it to be comparably quite easy to achieve.

rank sophist said...

My free time has dried up recently, so this will be my last response.

I pointed out that, at best, Dennett is prominent. He's not 'a major authority' for analytic philosophy - he is, at best, a major representative of one particular subset of so-called 'naturalism' in the philosophy of mind.

Hardly. First of all, analytic philosophy's mainstream is far and away naturalistic, and those naturalists generally tend toward a functionalist-cum-eliminativist account of consciousness. The defense of intentionality is left to a precious few. Dennett is the Miley Cyrus of analytic philosophy's naturalist sector. He's a superstar who students, philosophers and even the public pay attention to, even when they're disgusted. Now drop it.

Unless you can name a few, that's pretty damning in and of itself.

Why? First, men are doing a great job ruining those fields themselves. Second, there is still job discrimination. Third, many, many women are not raised to be thinkers.

As for why feminism is awful, I disagree.

You disagree with what? I didn't put forward any reasons. More and more, it seems like you consider "I disagree" or "I'm skeptical" or "I doubt it" a valid response in any situation--even when it makes no sense in context.

No, I didn't - I nowhere, anywhere, said it was understandable for the Church to have people executed by the state because of dissent from doctrine.

My comment above about heresy having "worse consequences" was a reference to the state executions of heretics. If this wasn't clear, then that would explain the misunderstanding.

No, I'm not, which is precisely why I said they were comparable to muslims at their worst, intellectually speaking.

Then I'm not at all sure why you focused on Muslims over, say, Christians. The Muslim radical talking heads are really no worse than the Westboro Baptist circus.

Let me flip around your example: if I point out that this particular Islamic culture is absolutely terrible and crazy, what with their bombings and all, it does nothing against my point to say 'Well you're not judging the quality of their arguments.'

Because feminists are suicide bombers.

Either way, unless you actually analyze and argue down the justifications given for radical Islamic terrorism, you're standing on sand. Suppose that Muhammed really was the last prophet, and that the Quran was the final form of scripture, and that the fundamentalist Muslim account of the Quran was correct. Then you would be left to conclude that the atrocities were in the right all along. The arguments stand or fall independently of the acts.

But this is all based on one of your equivocations, anyway. Islamic terrorism derives from arguments that call for violence. Feminist rallies and so forth do not.

Their attacks on porn and sexuality in popular culture are often insane, even if I agree with the general thrust of their comments about sexuality. And if you think I'm wrong, provide them.

Are you familiar with Laura Mulvey's concept of the male and female gazes? Have you read about rape culture and victim blaming? How about the reduction of women to their sexuality present not only in secular culture, but in "Christian" purity cults (a topic considered by an interesting Catholic blogger last year)? None of this is "insane"--and I could go on.

rank sophist said...

I am going after feminism as it is most prominent, and their influence is the stuff of insanity. See the 'gendered pronoun' nonsense, see the 'Tropes in Gaming' stuff, see the abundant application of 'misogyny' and 'patriarchy', see the 'slutwalk'.

In other words, you mostly go after fifth-rate feminist demagogues. Anita Sarkeesian? Are you kidding me? This is no different from judging Christianity based on the Westboro Baptist church.

The strongest arguments for feminism are not the ones presented at your neighborhood's feminist lecture/getaway. They rest on concepts from continental philosophy, like radical historicism, hermeneutics, individualism, existentialism and the centrality of power. And that's just the part of feminism that I disagree with. The valuable contributions of feminism are sociological (such as the points I listed above) rather than philosophical.

And no, I actually don't expect you to swallow much of anything - you are the one who denounced scientific studies' values coming into this, and the value of personal experience.

I denounced scientific studies--not experimental research. Scientific studies rely on post-hoc statistical parsing. Experimental research is raw data. A single brain can be shown to change X amount, without the intervention of statistics.

You don't merely need some plasticity. You need a whole lot, and you need it to be comparably quite easy to achieve.

Which makes perfect sense with the philosophical concept of habit.

Crude said...

First of all, analytic philosophy's mainstream is far and away naturalistic, and those naturalists generally tend toward a functionalist-cum-eliminativist account of consciousness. The defense of intentionality is left to a precious few. Dennett is the Miley Cyrus of analytic philosophy's naturalist sector. He's a superstar who students, philosophers and even the public pay attention to, even when they're disgusted. Now drop it.

"Now drop it?" Please. You keep asserting this, but so far I'm the only one who's managed to bring up something close to actual data on this point, and it swung against you. It's going to get worse when you take a look at the Philpapers poll - even with atheists predominant, 'naturalists' are in a far, far dicier state. Still a large group to say the least, but dicier.

Why? First, men are doing a great job ruining those fields themselves. Second, there is still job discrimination. Third, many, many women are not raised to be thinkers.

What fields are they ruining? And the best questions would be, how are they ruining it? I can name some rotten trends in a couple fields, but oddly enough the ruination is considerable.

And job discrimination? How, and how is this a factor? Take a good look at a field where job discrimination doesn't come up - sci-fi writing. It's *still* a rotten situation, by and large.

Third - who is 'raised to be a thinker'? And this is after how many decades of feminist thought? At what point do you start wondering if maybe there's another aspect at work?

More and more, it seems like you consider "I disagree" or "I'm skeptical" or "I doubt it" a valid response in any situation--even when it makes no sense in context.

When has it failed to make sense? Maybe you want more out of me - in that case, ask, and I will happily provide. Otherwise I'm simply noting where I disagree with you. It's not a deep concept.

Then I'm not at all sure why you focused on Muslims over, say, Christians. The Muslim radical talking heads are really no worse than the Westboro Baptist circus.

Because the WBC is a tiny fringe group, and the muslims provide the most pertinent modern examples of how they react to ideas and books that they dislike. Christians bitch. Muslims burn. Feminists are closer to muslims on this.

But this is all based on one of your equivocations, anyway. Islamic terrorism derives from arguments that call for violence. Feminist rallies and so forth do not.

And I keep pointing out that the similarities I'm talking about are intellectual. You're acting as if extremist muslims bomb things, but they don't censor ideas they dislike, or force conformity by the state.

Crude said...

Are you familiar with Laura Mulvey's concept of the male and female gazes? Have you read about rape culture and victim blaming? How about the reduction of women to their sexuality present not only in secular culture, but in "Christian" purity cults (a topic considered by an interesting Catholic blogger last year)? None of this is "insane"--and I could go on.

Yes, I think 'rape culture' talk is more often than not not only absurd in focus, but almost willfully blind to the few areas where it would actually make sense to launch a criticism. They will raise a humongous storm over dickwolves while casting a largely blind eye towards rape fantasies.

That, rank, is insane. The very manifestation of it is insane. The recent article I pointed out about the lack of gendered pronouns being a firing offense, is insane.

I'll talk more about this in greater detail on this blog.

In other words, you mostly go after fifth-rate feminist demagogues. Anita Sarkeesian? Are you kidding me? This is no different from judging Christianity based on the Westboro Baptist church.

No, it's not. Because WBC is fringe by any definition of the term, whereas these 'fifth-rate feminist demagogues' happen to be at the forefront. WBC couldn't field Slutwalk numbers on their best days. They couldn't field a tenth of those numbers.

The strongest arguments for feminism are not the ones presented at your neighborhood's feminist lecture/getaway.

Let me guess - and I also can't count on those feminists to denounce what is the most obvious and common strains of feminism because they've been marginalized?

A single brain can be shown to change X amount, without the intervention of statistics.

No, it can't. You're treating plasticity like something that can be raptly measured. Guess what? Dogs have some brain plasticity too. They won't be teaching economics anytime soon.

Which makes perfect sense with the philosophical concept of habit.

The philosophical concept of habit does not rely on THAT strong of a view of brain plasticity.

The Deuce said...

So, I take it this discussion was spurred by the research showing that men have more front-to-back brain connections, and women more left-to-right ones, and by that silly chick's attempt to dismiss it all because sexiss and "brain plasticity"?

One underappreciated part of the research is that the differences discovered by the researchers between boys and girls didn't manifest until puberty, leaving little wiggle room around the conclusion that it's caused specifically by the development of sexual differences. I suppose you could call it a sort of sexually-driven brain plasticity.