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Post 20

Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 10:17amSanction this postReply
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I just wish to note that I see nothing rational in taking "man" to stand for the entire human species; I think the excellence of humanity are common to both sexes, the prior potentialities for divergent excellent balancedly distributed between them, and that the use of "man" for common human attributes is a failing of the English language and a philosophic danger which has, in fact, led to the association of human value with those activities and patterns of life traditionally reserved to males, and the expectation that these values are more naturally expected in men than women.  I think a philosophy of reason, of Enlightenment universalism, can and should do better.

I'm not offended to read every 18th century reference to "the Rights of Man", but Objectivists should side with the polite correction of Mary Wollestonecraft and emphasize equally the rights, dignity, and idealization of woman.  I personally, as a transgender girl, feel little more than a bit of initial discomfort with Rand's usage- although as a feminist, I think it is ultimately far more important that she crafted a philosophy which can contribute to the liberation of all humanity from all collectivisms, including patriarchy, as well as having painted some of the most stunning independent heroines in world literature.

For that matter, from the perspective and context of my own vocation, it would be personally impossible to practice while taking man, rather than woman, as the standard of value.  This is all the more true of the spiritual practices I make use of which comprise the most developed traditions of knowledge within my profession. 

In Liberty,
                                       u
Pyrophora Cypriana   )(*)(   - "not all those who wander are lost"
 


Post 21

Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 12:12pmSanction this postReply
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I have posted this before, and it seems useful to do so again. For a level-headed defense of 'man' vs. 'person', a good read is Against the Theory of "Sexist Language".

This site moves fast. After being gone for about two weeks, there's a deluge of interesting reads to catch up on.

Post 22

Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 6:34pmSanction this postReply
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Jeanine - the problem with avoiding the use of gender-specific terms is that English, as it's currently spoken & written, becomes *very* ugly without them.

E.g.:
If a man sees a grape, let him eat it, or share it amongst his fellows.
Okay. Now let's try that in gender neutral terms. One contemporary alternative is:
If someone sees a grape, let them eat it, or share it amongst their fellows.
That results in jumping from singular to plural in the one sentence, in a manner that makes me cringe. Another alternative is:
If someone sees a grape, let him or her eat it, or share it amongst his or her fellows.
Sorry, but I like terse writing, and I don't like RSI. Another alternative, which is commonly used amongst P.C. academics, is to alternate the gender of terms:
If a man sees a grape, let her eat it, or share it amongst his fellows.
And that's almost as ugly as the previous 'solution'. The obvious alternative, 'it', seems depersonalising and non-human:
If a human sees a grape, let it eat it, or share it amongst its friends.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that masculine terms be used exclusively; one could easily standardise on the feminine, and many writers do.

Post 23

Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 7:06pmSanction this postReply
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I cannot understand why women get so upset about the use of "he" as a standard of language.  I use it in my own writing because anything else looks odd -- substituting "she" for every other pronoun looks ridiculous on the page.  To me, such a style has the same irritating feminist tone as the word "womyn." 

And as an editor, I find it excruciating to see plural terms used in sentences due to political correctness.  It has led to mangled grammar in so many media that I cringe when I see it.

"A person should earn their keep."

As Duncan said, utterly inelegant.


Post 24

Friday, November 26, 2004 - 4:32amSanction this postReply
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Hi Duncan:

How about:

"If you see a grape, eat it quickly, before 18 hairy feminists start gender-pontificating."

You see, real egoists don't share, so the second part of your sentence was redundant :)


Post 25

Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 3:45pmSanction this postReply
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Jennifer: "I cannot understand why women get so upset about the use of "he" as a standard of language."

Ditto.

Barbara

Post 26

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 3:42amSanction this postReply
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Dear Mr. Ducan Bayne, how about: If one sees a grape, let her eat it, or share amongst humanity... You might like this one even better: If you see a grape, eat it. It's far too small to share amongst humanity. Or perhaps: If a man sees a grape, let him eat it, before he shares with a woman. Of course, we could also try: If a woman sees a grape, a man will pluck it from the vine and gobble it down. And my all time favorite: If you see a grape; eat and pontificate, while 18 feminists attack Mr. David Bertelsen with their hairiness... We could go on for hours, here. However, if we really cared about English semantics, we would depict humanity as a “she” rather than “he.” After all, ova (eggs) are initially female and far grander in size than men's puny sperm...

 

Considering the casual displays of cruel character assassinations we malevolently bestow upon one another, you should be thankful I’m even offering to define humanity in feminine terms. Of course, I realize you had no intention of hurting my feelings and I understand how emasculated you must feel, imagining yourself as a "she." I know I feel defeminized whenever I'm depicted as a man. Nevertheless, excluding women from the English language with claims "she" lacks articulative elegance, is as insulting as it is lazy.  I despise being called a "he" in every way, shape, and form. I do not hate men, I'm merely menopausal.  

 

Live for God or live for yourself.  You can't have it both ways.  It is one or the other. It is not "this God" or "that God."  It is "God" or "Man."

 

Humanity's responsible for the creation of gods, whether they are manifestations nourishing souls, metaphors providing comfort and strength, or knowledge hating despots who prejudge and plan to kill creations before they’re even created. "God" and "Man" are synonymous, Ms Iannoloir. Men have always lived for themselves and used God to do it.

 

It is much harder for women. Benighted by barbaric man made gods; women cannot recognize they have a profound responsibility to help humanity evolve. You cannot ask a woman to choose between God, man, or even herself. Women are still unable to discern they worship an ordinary libidinous man (not God) who was titillated by the thought of nothing to do (oblivious of knowledge) but frolic naked in gardens, (Eden) cleaving (penetrating) a woman named Eve. 

 

Men (not women) created, built, and promoted religious institutions, fearing women’s reproductive control. Yet women (far more often than men) remain devoted to unremarkable religions and gods that excluded and denounced them as unworthy. Indoctrination plays a big role by instilling fear and ignorance through blind faith. However, I suspect women will seek protection and emotional comfort from savage beasts as long as men continue to fail them. Deprogramming them will be very difficult.

 

Yet we cannot leave women spiritually thirsty or religious flocks, enthusiastically devoted to their “preordained" (and premeditated) apocalyptic doctrine, will continue to dictate, dominate, and monopolize God, terrorizing humanity. Only if we empower women and stop religions that stifle potential, will we begin to soar and evolve. Most of all we need to recognize, God is not blind faith but intelligence, compassion, and sensibility.



Post 27

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 11:31amSanction this postReply
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"God" and "Man" are synonymous, Ms Iannoloir. Men have always lived for themselves and used God to do it.
 
Ms. Pool-

Are you saying that human beings have always lived, wisely or unwisely, for human purposes, and have created God(s)/desse(s) [O.K., I admit that is a little unaesthetic] in the image of those purposes?

Or are you saying that males, particularly, have lived for their own enjoyment (via God), unlike females who have not- and have been wrong to do so?

Apologies, but I'm confused by your precise meaning here.  Could you please clarify?

Otherwise, for the most part I agree with you- especially concerning the arbitariness of the 'grace' of the universal male pronoun.  I would caution that when one is talking about broad forces of social evolution, most men and women have simply been creatures of their times, and some have seen more clearly or deeply and resisted the worst injustices, whether today or in ancient Mesopotamia.  Most men and most women, unfortunately, support patriarchy as a social system at least tacitly; a few women, and also a few men, have tried and partially succeeded to change this in both their own spirits and the world around them.

regards,

Jeanie Ring   )(*)(

So lifts the sorceress,
from Attic dome's
shattered ring,
She soars, above us, on wyvern's broad, lonesome wing.
Skies have closed over, cloaking those bright, Hyperion stars;
faint dying embers, of an old world,
fled from ours.

 
Cursed as destroyer, she who could not
smile their slight
All she created, lost in that last, blazing night.
Hear lamentations, wept as the tears,
washed her face.
For it is we, we who desert her,
who disgrace.
 
(though, apologies, but I must speak: Jennifer's name is "Ms. Iannolo")


Post 28

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 12:52pmSanction this postReply
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I do not hate men,  
 
 
This statement seems to disgree with the rest of your post. Thought you should know.
 
 




Post 29

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 1:25pmSanction this postReply
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Ms. Pool, this quote says a great deal:

I do not hate men, I'm merely menopausal.


What this basically says is, "I am under the influence of hormones, so anything I say cannot and shall not be used against me."  How is one supposed to intelligently debate such issues when something like menopause is the excuse?

Regardless of the influence, your post is rife with male-targeted insults.  And despite what you say, your words are those of a man-hating female. 

Women are still unable to discern they worship an ordinary libidinous man (not God) who was titillated by the thought of nothing to do (oblivious of knowledge) but frolic naked in gardens, (Eden) cleaving (penetrating) a woman named Eve. 

I don't know about you, but I am able to discern a good many things.  I also do not worship the ordinary -- in any form.  Particularly men who are oblivious to knowledge.  Nor do I find that it is "much harder for women."  These are Biblically inspired excuses, and nothing more.

Lastly, God and Man are not synonymous in any way, except for those who believe that Jesus was both.

(Edited by Jennifer Iannolo on 11/30, 1:49pm)


Post 30

Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 8:19pmSanction this postReply
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Are you saying that human beings have always lived, wisely or unwisely, for human purposes, and have created God(s)/desse(s) [O.K., I admit that is a little unaesthetic] in the image of those purposes?


Or are you saying that males, particularly, have lived for their own enjoyment (via God), unlike females who have not- and have been wrong to do so?


Dear Ms Jeanie Ring, I understand your confusion after Mr. Perigo embraced new-age enlightenment from the dark ages and refused to accord women an individual identity. However, I always use gender-neutral terms.

 

I believe creation myths were always conceived by both men and women. Stone Age homo sapiens from the Paleolithic period originally envisioned Goddesses as the Supreme Being and creator of the universe. Stone Agers’ thought females created parthenogenetically or through self-fertilization… On the other hand, perhaps they simply recognized men’s contribution as meager and insignificant…

 

Whatever their thoughts might have been, anthropologists have finally acknowledged our ancestors lived in matrilineal societies --- those that survived and flourished, at any rate. Men did not go around bonking women on the head and dragging her into his cave. If he had, we would be extinct along with all the other species of prehistoric humanoids.

 

“Men have always lived for themselves and used God to do it.”

 

Just between you and I Jeanie … shh, that was a generalized remark I thought sounded good at the time… Living for oneself is not what I would define as wisdom, or even enjoyment, really. I can confront one’s lack of compassion but living wisely is not something I feel I have the right to judge… Yet, I can compare women to men and throw out a statistic. Six percent of the prison population in the U.S. are women and 94% are men... Hummm…

 

I consider “living for oneself” to mean the chance to achieve one’s full potential. To reach within and discover one’s métier --- those wonderful abilities we all intrinsically have. Men far more than women have been able to attain and develop their talents. It sickens me to think of.all the lost potential from the women who were and still are denied the right to seek basic and essential needs that help humanity evolve.

 

Traditionally men have used their gods (think Saudi Arabia) to deny women educations that keep women at home and dependent on men. Of course, men were allowed to receive educations and were encouraged to seek out their dreams. Think of the negative affect upon children if their mothers’ felt bitter, angry, ignorant, or unhappy as prisoners forced to stay home. I hold religions and their doctrine accountable. I hate them with all of my heart. They are evil, evil, evil…

 

Personally, I cannot imagine living to survive as fulfilling or enjoyable as our Stone Age ancestors must have done. However, there are wilderness camps costing tens of thousands of dollars that will provide us the chance. Yet Stone Age women were respected and highly valued, unlike today, where a man will regard the feminine mystique as unworthy of mentioning, independent of himself. Nor would Stone Age men deride women’s hairy femininity --- even though ancient women were very hairy…

 

However, I suspect prehistoric women used Goddesses to protect them from the violence of libidinous males. A young girl may have been instinctively repulsed by her father’s incestuous approaches; although both were ignorant, they were related. These types of emotional horrors were probably less traumatizing to women --- and men in prehistoric environments. At least, if we judge from the size of the bear that casually entered her family’s cave and literally ripped off her (unbeknownst) father’s head before heading towards the girl...

 

The bear suddenly stopped in mid-track and roared, “Those who dare touch a woman without her consent shall have his head lacerated from his carcass and pulverized.” Then the bear left without another word… A new myth was born that very day and spread throughout the land, about a Bear Goddess protecting femininity. Of course, that’s not exactly how it happened. In actuality, the bear never saw the girl, as she was hiding in the shadows of the cave.

 

Depending upon the geographic location, the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic periods evolved independently, at different times throughout the world. Yet as gatherers, women discovered agriculture. Their days of long distance training and aerobic workouts were over. Menses could proceed regularly and populations soar as the Bronze Age brought metals for weaponry and men perceived of powerful warrior gods that gave them rights to kill.

 

The Great Mother of the Gods was deposed and exiled after a Semite tribe moved to Palestine and created a monotheistic religion and a god called Yahweh. The Goddesses Mother was eventually murdered during the Dark Ages by Christianity. Did men live for themselves during this era? Some perhaps, but most were victims of despots and ill-conceived gods who made poor role models for humanity to follow. They turned into savages and never thought about humanity’s potential. They no longer fought to protect and help their species survive. They fought to pillage, rape, and conquer for no reason at all. Unhappy with themselves, men used their gods as an excuse to blame women for their misery and lack of courage to stop the insanity.

 

Women, weakened by pregnancy, overloaded with children, or emotionally dead because of their realities, took the lesser role handed to them, from barbaric gods men made. The indignities women have endured, since Neolithic times; have silenced her voice and great potential, until humanity’s spirit was lost and with it, all purpose and reason to exist. In obedience, billions blindly follow and worship deities that were once despotic men. And women lived in fear of aspersions cast upon them by false gods. Until we almost forgot our true Saviors, religions would have us forget...

 

Imagine what was accomplished and how humanity survived, in a mighty world that existed in prehistoric times. Despite the death of other humanoid species, homo sapiens were saved from extinction, by women and men empowered with inconceivable strengths. With their blood flowing through all of our veins and their spirit vibrant and strong, these women and men we should exalt, as the Goddesses giving life.  Awomen.

 

 Les

 

PS: Did you write that beautiful poem?




Post 31

Monday, December 6, 2004 - 9:32amSanction this postReply
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Les-
 
Thank you for your explanations of history/mythology; in most ways I do indeed here have quite sympathy for you.  Your 'bear goddess' story rings a remembered, if unfamiliar, note; I have a friend here living in San Francisco- her habit is to speak along the lines of similar guardian imagery.
 
I do agree, roughly, with your telling of her/history (I could in justice use the former term more often), allowing for the forms of mythological discourse,  But I would remember that this history, is, like all history, ultimately up to the changeable state of human knowledge.  Mythology can in principle encompass truth, can learn from truth, and can educate the eye and soul to see truths one would otherwise have missed.  And most importantly, mythology, as a fiction and like a novel, can craft visions which have the inspiration and power to make ideals crafted as historical narratives true before us in living flesh.  But, mythology is art framed for practice in human lives, making use of the power of relating past events- it must never be confused with the clear investigation of past events, which may almost in the end disagree with the most moving chronicles.  My best sense is that the matriarchal herstory you relate is in the rough factually true, but that is ultimately for the facts to decide.  I have no difficulty in claiming the rights of mythology separate from those of the historical record.  But one must employ the most severe judgement towards the latter.  As Walter Kaufmann, a Jew who fled Nazifying Germany, once dedicated his From Shakespeare to Existentialism:
 
To the millions murdered
In the name of false belief
by men who denied critical reason.
 
Let us hang this inscription high above all our mythologies- Christian, Wiccan, Western, communist, feminist, Randian- and never forget that the highest point of the equal external mode of the human mind, is the synthesis of the creation of one's universe and the experience of the living world around us- philosophy, the love of wisdom (Sophia).  And history, which is a part of this, fountains from a way of life where one delights above all in the experience of acquiring knowledge, however harsh that may be towards hopes invested in the past (that is also an excellent reason not to invest hopes in the past, but in life by the passions and excellences in which it can be lived).
 
Let us, all of us, and may Goddess forgive my own trespasses, have an intellectual conscience.
 
That said, let me speak on patriarchy and ethics, for I am both a Pagan and an egoist; meaning by the later that I think live should be lived dor one's own joy- though I think the latter is experienced in the brightest colors experienced in the world and achieved in one's own faculties- not in the maintenance of an 'ego' or (primarily) 'self'.  For that reason, I don't ultimately believe that exploitation benefits anyone- I think exploitation is part a preference for power over joy, part stupidity in attempting to find joy, and the greatest part a social trap entangled in a history none of us can escape completely.  Ultimately, 'tis not human interest which causes exploitation, but patriarchal and other exploitive systems which burden everyone's interests (and interest as such we should praise) and warp those it permits in a futile, group-bound miserable war; in patriarchy's case- the 'battle of the sexes'.
 
Patriarchy is, to my experience, not a single arrow of oppression but a vector caught in a cycle of violence.  As a transgendered woman, I've experienced many sides of our social world, and it is true that, even now, the suffocation of womens' faculties is all too palpable.  I myself, even without the burden of feminine socialization, have sometimes had to struggle all the harder to get my voice heard, with that struggle taken as more evidence of feminine or feminist 'spite' or 'bitchiness'.  Men do have more power, primarily more power to determine others' lives.  Yet is this true efficacy?  I think power is a miserable thing to exercise, and I know that, as a woman, I have had less control but have been far happier, and greatly because I do not shoulder the immense burden of constant expectation that men are expected to carry.  Women are suppressed in the development of their faculties, but too often men are suppressed in their enjoyments.  Men must constantly maintain their virile standing my showing they are in control, that they hold the leash.  But as Ayn Rand well said, "a leash is just a chain with a noose at both ends."
 
I've no doubt patriarchy is very real- in fact I think it is the most fundamental of our sad premodern (and not very premodern) legacies of social oppression.  But patriarchy is not so much oppression of women by men as the straddling of society to a patriarchal morality and social structure, and it is one that makes most everyone suffer (not necessarily equally), and all lose something of what they could have been.  But it is something no one ultimately benefits from, and I think it is best to show men as well as women why patriarchy limits their humanity than it is to present men as gaining real value from the system.  Surely, most men are vested in the system, but who isn't?  Surely every housewife (and whore) has something immediate to lose if patriarchy ends, but that doesn't mean it would ultimately benefit her to feel liberation.  And women have their abuses of the system as well.  One product of patriarchy's virgin/whore dichotomy is that women of "virgin" status are seen as pure and superior compared to evil lustful males, and patriarchy encourages them to take social power as guardians of the moral order- over both 'selfish' men and 'immoral' women.  On an everyday scale, women are often subservient and sometimes treated very cruelly, but they often in return abuse their moral power, shaming men with guilt, resentment, envy, and using patriarchy's expectations of male performance as a means of exploitation.
 
We act empty and innocent
but we are fueled by distortion
of lives that are distant
as shame and misfortune
Faith is one thing
but it hard when you've no room to speak
(feel's so funny to be ~free~)  [Indigo Girls]
 
I'm not saying that in the end precisely that the evil is balanced, or that ultimately there are not a small number of power-lusting men (and some women) who will dig in to the death to defend their status privileges in a mangling social system.  But I am saying it is easy to look across social chasms and imagine those who have hurt you are happy in the benefit of their exploitation, when usually they are just as unhappy, limited in their options, and largely blind of the consequences of what they for simply to try to get a chance at happiness.  We- in legislatures, in religions, in philosophies, in families,- constantly seek to preserve the restricted happiness the system has let us experience by denying and hurting the happinesses of others, similarly restricted, and who are themselves fighting the same war.
 
Men and women so often try to get 'freedom' or 'liberation' by trying to keep what a system has offered them and curse the other side, not realizing that the 'self' they try to free is root and branch part of society's poisonous tree.  Thus one sees men complaining of female moralism and sex-hatred, without realizing that patriarchy makes these things inevitable.  But one also sees women attacking male control and violence, while making use of the very moralisms patriarchy invented.  It is an ugly system, an eye for an eye making the world blind.  I personally think that everyone- male and female- would discover they were far kinder to each other if they sat down and had the courage to understand and speak aloud what would really make them happy in this Earth.  I don't think people ever find happiness is evil qua evil, and I think that our best chance for a life-giving world lies in the celebration of that individual happiness, and the encouragement of all to find it in organic creativity and instrumental productivity as they will.
 
As for the evil that men do, I think ultimately it is the bottled emotion and shunted empathy, the forcing of all right to joy and experiences of self worth through the needle of 'proving oneself' and 'success' that drives male anger more than anything else.  As an escort, I am continually amazed at how gentle and understanding men can be when they are finally free for a moment to just experience desire, to touch someone, which no judgement, no status on the line, no need to prove themselves or show how moral they are.   Industry wisdom is that a third of men are surprisingly 'femininely' gentle, a third are 'masculinely' just and respectful in the best sense of the masculine virtues, and a third are jerks.  That has about been my experience (one tries to screen out the jerks), and I think it says much about what patriarchy does to men, as well as women, in this world.

That doesn't mean men (and women) who commit evil acts should not be dealt with as necessary for our own preservation and liberty.  But I think that- after all of the evils witnessed in the last century caused by blaming groups of people for real and imagined evils- we should be eternally shy about language that blames living humans as a group for the sadnesses of this world.  A few men in various times- Euripides, Aristophanes, William Lloyd Garrison, John Stuart Mill, post-Randian Roderick Long (http://praxeology.net/unblog03-04.htm#18), have done much to stand speak up against womens' oppression.  For their honour, if nothing else, it is not men who should be named as the oppressor- but patriarchs, wherever they mat be found.  If by blind justice Nike these are in fact less women than men, then let justice- as much as it has to be to anyone- be done. 
 
The enemy is not men, it is patriarchy.  Though, that said, I am no pacifist and carry a sword in my left hand, and would not spare the sharpest weapons with those who defend vicious social systems that destroy human lives.

Please understand, I share your feminist goals, and kinship to your hopes.  But I still think that the most practical way is to give peace a chance.  Let us remember that once one has looked another in the eye as a person, one loses the power to speak in confidence one's own joy in certainty if one denies their own.  Let each have pride in their pursuit of happiness, and I think it is very much in women's interests to teach men to really do that, instead, of pursuing the joyless status seeking of patriarchy and the Protestant Ethic.  But ultimately, that joy (and knowing one it requires), and the respect of the right of each to that joy must guide the spirit of the social order.  An ye harm none, do as ye will.

my regards,

Jeanine Shiris Ring   )(*)(

P.S. And, oh yes, I did write that poem, and I thank you for the blessings of your compliment; this is the scene of that verse in entire:

So lifts the sorceress,
from Attic dome's
shattered ring,
She soars, above us, on wyvern's broad, lonesome wing.
Skies have closed over, cloaking those bright, Hyperion stars;
faint dying embers, of an old world,
fled from ours.
 
Cursed as destroyer, she who could not
smile their slight
All she created, lost in that last, blazing night.
Hear lamentations, wept as the tears,
washed her face.
For it is we, we who desert her,
who disgrace.
 
I pray to Erebus,
I who still fight, still remain.
Who will repair us?, bearing the burdens,
for their train?
Oh, good Euripides, who wrote our chronicles for their stage
why write your verses? You are an exile,
in your age.
 
She fled for Colchis,
seeking her girl's shore and sea.
Sad eyes survey this, what her beloved, came to be;
maidens in pasture, collared as slaves, sunk in chains.
None of the Asia, that had once made her,
still remains.
 
Everywhere exile,
driven from shrine's-fire and home.
She shall retire,
cursed to prescry, a rising Rome.
Cave is awaiting, not to rebirth, but just to die.
Her star is fading,
under the solstice
of their sky.
 
She holds her courtship, deep in her caverns, sought below.
Names were forgotten;
all she once was, none shall know.
Shrunk and diminished... Faery-tale child, witch, and crone.
She is now finished; only a phantom,
and unknown.
 
Such as remains now, echoes as charms, curse and hex.
Astarta's raiments, niche for their harems, for her sex
I sense the winter... soon comes the cruel, Christian cold.
only one splinter, of her once stature,
glistens gold.
 
Venus is waning...
disaster's star, is poised to fall
It will take little, more to dethrone her,

once for all.
 

(Edited by Jeanine Ring on 12/06, 9:34am)


Post 32

Monday, December 6, 2004 - 4:25amSanction this postReply
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Ethan Dawe, Two statements that appear contradictory may nevertheless be true. Fascinating isn’t it?  Inconsistencies, contradictions, and paradoxical realities exist. The opposite sex of man is a woman, so how can a woman be a man … if a man is not a woman? --- For every positive, there is a negative. --- You can even die of thirst in a sea of water.

 

Allow me to enlighten you further with more oxymora, made possible by Mr. Perigo’s unoriginal coined acronym (Nem – “New Enlightenment Men”). Sometimes referred to as the Age of Reason, “Enlightenment” was a term used in the 18th century. A few who were recognized as Enlightenment men for their incredible scientific and intellectual achievements were Voltaire, Swift, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson… Woops…

 

Mr. Perigo hopes to see men befitting his “nem” that are just as brilliant as Renaissance Men. Yet then goes on to mention, “Inescapably, an intelligent observer is drawn to the conclusion that though we have had the wherewithal to do so for millennia, we have singularly failed to effect a widespread transformation from Paleolithic men to New Enlightenment Men.” Did Mr. Perigo forget he hailed the Renaissance previously, or simply unaware, the Renaissance came after the Stone Age?

 

Mr. Perigo thinks all women would love to be defined as “New Enlightenment Men,” just as a woman did when he was a “Renaissance Man.” … Except women were never included or deemed Renaissance Men. Betrothed at birth, women were married at age 13 to men in their late 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s… Yet these lucky upper class women received educations about household duties. The Renaissance occurred over many centuries, at a time when our word for human was defined as a “man.” But our word for man meant “waepman” and a woman was known as a “wifman.” In fact, the definition of “man” as generically inclusive to women did not begin until 1800, long after the Renaissance had ended. Male gender pronouns in the 16th and 17th centuries were used because books were written for boys, alone. Women, if you recall were not allowed to read or receive educations.

 

I know you don’t approve of my inconsistencies, but Mr.Perigo is worse than I could ever be. If he wants to call women men then why call Mother Earth a she? Mr. Perigo begins to explain what (Mother) “Nature” would say, to men, women, and him, were she conscious, benevolent, and could speak. “Do not any longer accept me as I am, but tame and transform me for your edification…” Hummm… “Use this tool—your free-functioning rational mind—to protect yourself from my rages, refine and enhance my delights…” Mr. Perigo is irrational with mommy problems, I fear… “Use it to vanquish me—and those of your brothers who retain the brute methods of social intercourse…” Is he serious? Are women now his brothers who will brutalize Mother Nature by #&%#&@*# her till she’s subdued? I don’t think Mr. Perigo was including women at all, do you?

 

Les


Post 33

Monday, December 6, 2004 - 11:20pmSanction this postReply
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Dear Ms. Jennifer Iannolo, Women are biologically cyclical, commencing at puberty. Hormonal imbalances are not unique and can occur, at any age. Therefore, let’s not jump to conclusions and assume hormonal influences are a prerequisite for lacking intelligence. Embracing irrational concepts about women’s cognitive insufficiencies or her emotional instabilities due to hormones are hardly productive.  

 

As far as menopause is concerned, menses cease, so hormones are no longer an issue. (HRT was not a possible alternative, for me personally). Instead, I acquired the courage to confront insensitivity… Well, okay … and maybe just a little penchant for imbroglios. Without fears or chagrin, I am left unscathed when labeled … “a man-hating female.” Although I am slightly amused and a little curious, do you think man-hating females and misogynists are equally hateful?

 

Your passionate voice is admirable, Jennifer. Indeed, I will respect and applaud your convictions --- especially your defense of men. However, it cannot be at the expense of women. I may be flippant, sarcastic, and perhaps a little too harsh that often makes it difficult for me to express what’s in my heart. But I assure you, nothing I say will ever be Biblically inspired.

 

It is not "this God" or "that God." It is "God" or "Man," is good advice. For those who live incumbently for gods they never conceived, created, or wrote the doctrine that they followed. Yet many people take pernicious gods they are handed and remold questionable agendas into new identities, authentically their own. I believe religious creeds and Gods are just creation myths, fabricated by men and women who were folklorists. I do not perceive of God as larger concepts, beyond each individual reality, that helps one seek, unique potential.  Perhaps one day we will recognize, we are the very same Gods we seek.

 

Les


Post 34

Tuesday, December 7, 2004 - 10:15amSanction this postReply
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The world is full of people who are biggots. The come in all shapes, sizes,colors, and sexes. And they all think they are not bigots.

Ethan


Post 35

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - 1:00amSanction this postReply
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Linz, thank you for adding my name to this esteemed list.  I am proud to be in such company, particularly the guy to the left.  ;)

Coupled with Jeff Landauer's "All On Fire" piece, this has once again served as fuel for another day in the trenches.


Post 36

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - 1:13amSanction this postReply
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Also, regarding the post two doors up:

Dear Ms. Jennifer Iannolo, Women are biologically cyclical, commencing at puberty. Hormonal imbalances are not unique and can occur, at any age. Therefore, let’s not jump to conclusions and assume hormonal influences are a prerequisite for lacking intelligence.
I never said that hormonal influences were a prerequisite for lacking intelligence.  I called you to the mat for using them as an excuse.

Embracing irrational concepts about women’s cognitive insufficiencies or her emotional instabilities due to hormones are hardly productive.
They aren't irrational concepts.  I see them in action every day, and have lived through them myself.  Let's be courageous enough to speak the truth.  After all, you brought it up in the first place:

 I do not hate men, I'm merely menopausal.
'Nuff said.


Post 37

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - 9:21amSanction this postReply
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Jennifer -

I'd like to publicly thank you for your responses.  You're always so reasonable and I'm glad to see a response from a woman which blasts some of this nuttery to bits.

Jason


Post 38

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - 12:14pmSanction this postReply
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Is there a point to this essay?  Or have I simply caught alienated Objectivists doing the same thing as the True Believing Objectivists:  spouting off platitudes and bromides which masquerade as arguments that only those already converted to the true faith could endorse?  I am reminded of that great scene in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian where all the would-be followers of Brian show up in the square outside his window.  He tells them to leave, that they must think for themselves, that they must be individuals.  They all reply in unison:  “We are all individuals;”  while the lone dissenter exclaims, “I’m not.”

Worship the romantic vision of the individual.  Praise her.  Aspire to be like her.  Create a clever acronym and pronounce the virtues of NEM.  But do not think for a second that a world populated by individualist heroes brings the world any closer to Objectivism.  We should not be surprised that people thinking for themselves will necessarily lead to divergent views, not just because we sometime have different facts, or understand the import of facts differently (and by the way time is limited so this is always our condition), but also because, unless you’re a Kantian, you do not believe that reason sets its own ends, only that it provides the most effective means and methodology to think about the world.  (Rand by the way horribly misreads Kant, and there is great deal that is worthy of exploration by Objectivists).  Reason after all was Rand’s epistemology.  There is no necessary connection between it and her politics, despite the fact that many think there is.  (No doubt, a good Objectivist will respond with all the tautologies they can regurgitate, like A is A and existence exists, but those that do, do exactly what Rand criticized Khrushchev for doing when he parroted the received Marxist dogma on his visit to the U.S. and boldly asserted the coming failure of the American model.)  As Rawls points out, fundamentally incommensurable views will necessarily flourish under a system of free institutions.  It is the inevitable result of reason operating under highly favorable conditions.  And if you believe in freedom and reason, this should not be a lamentable fact.  But make no mistake, the more genuine individuals there are, the less likely it is that any one of them will adhere to the philosophy of objectivism.

The “argument” starts with unreflective praise of NEMS, but then the argument takes a shift, and we move from praise of NEMS to examples of the sad state of current affairs.  Lindsay writes: 

“Sadly, we have only partially heeded those admonitions, and have continued to use the faculty of conceptual thought in the very service of that previous norm: brute force. Thus we see an evolutionary anomaly—we brought conceptual thought and its inseparable twin, volition, into play, yet continue to treat each other as though we had neither.

Examples of this anomaly abound in the headlines each day. They range from the brute to the subtle, from the murder of schoolchildren in Beslan to the call by supposedly educated Americans for an end to "outsourcing" (a phenomenal boon to hitherto Nem-deficient regions of the earth, providing at the same time new markets for its Nem-rich countries of origin)—which "end," of course, can be achieved only by … force. Inescapably, an intelligent observer is drawn to the conclusion that though we have had the wherewithal to do so for millennia, we have singularly failed to effect a widespread transformation from paleolithic men to New Enlightenment Men.”

Kant for example, and others, might explain this fact by distinguishing between instrumental reason and practical reason.  Instrumental reason takes the end of action as given with the only relevant question of how to achieve it.  It is of course a necessary part of reason:  to will an end is to will the means to that end.  Or else the desire to obtain that end was insincere (or sour grapes).  Practical reason is about what we ought to do, where that “ought” may be either moral or prudential.  Therefore, Lindsay’s point, at least with regard to Beslan is usefully summed up as:  the terrorists were supreme masters of instrumental reason, but they set the wrong ends.  A pointless point, especially to this audience.

But how in the world did the argument move from the unreflective praise of NEM’s to the terrorist attack in Beslan and an objection to populist rhetoric about outsourcing?  The answer it seems comes from the anthropomorphized voice of Nature:  “Use this tool—your free-functioning rational mind—to protect yourself from my rages, refine and enhance my delights, and make compacts with your brothers so that you may live in harmony with them. Use it to vanquish me—and those of your brothers who retain the brute methods of social intercourse that were the norm before I gave you this gift.”

Lovely and poetic.  And pointless.  Only if we live in a naïve fantasy land, (i.e. only if we do not believe that existence exists) can it possibly be claimed that reason alone can solve the worlds problems or advance justice.  As if reason leads to some one right answer.  Reason is a tool of thought used by all, though some use it in different ways, and some are better at using it than others.  All practice some form of instrumental reason and all must set some ends, be those ends set rationally or irrationally.  But rational beings can only reason with reasonable people, namely, those willing to engage in the practice of reason giving and listening, and those willing to hold their beliefs in a sufficiently contingent way that in the face of a better argument, they will prove themselves not to be dogmatists and change their view.  But some cannot be reasoned with.  Nor is it worth trying.  I for one have no interest in reasoning with the Neo-Nazi.  It’s a waste of my time to convince her of the error of her thinking.  Moreover, let her think and believe as she likes.  It is really no concern of mine.  What matters is that she not act on those views in her personal conduct with others, and that those who disagree see that the political aims that she advocates are never realized.  And after all, that is what a free society is all about.  A totalitarian society cares why you do what you did.  A free society only cares that you conformed your behavior to the law.

Perhaps because it is fashionable, Lindsay seems to consider the NEM’s and the SOLOist movement to be fighting an uphill battle.  “Humanity is at a crossroads in its evolution, as critical as was the transition from perceptual to conceptual thought.”  (If that last clause about perceptual and conceptual thought is anything other than gibberish, please explain.  There are things known perceptually, things known conceptually, and usually, as we develop and grow into agents, our perceptual knowledge allows us to begin to formulate and construct concepts.  It’s not as if one is superior to the other, they work in tandem and aid us in different ways.  But I digress.)  A war is after all raging: 
“We are in a philosophical war. Instead of bullets and bayonets, we fight with words and ideas. Our enemies are irrationality and the initiation of force, and the people that promote the use of them. The culture is our battlefield, and the stakes are nothing short of the future of Western Civilization. It is a war for men's mind.” (See War)
 

Just like the Democrats, and oddly enough, just like the Religious Right, all seem eager to take underdog status.  There is it seems, in today’s world, a peculiar merit to marginality.  And while the relative obscurity of objectivism gives some credence to that claim, the utter and total dominance of capitalism betrays that assertion.  Sure, its not the minimal state, its the whole globe now, but then again, why would you think that in this highly complex and sophisticated world that a minimal state would even be remotely sufficient to adequately protect all the rights the law currently recognizes or to facilitate and foster complex and sophisticated markets?  Or more to the point, why equate the minimal state with capitalism?  I leave that question open, and turn to consider how the “war” is being fought.

First, if the war is really raging, in what way, if any, has any attempt been made to create a broad based appeal to those who don’t buy into the faith of Objectivism?  How sincerely is the battle really being fought to change peoples conceptions of their philosophical systems and ends with such assertions (not argument) as is found in this article.  Like the politician who tells his unreflective constituents what they want to hear, so too here.  Perhaps Objectivism is far to sophisticated for many, and it will be objected that the theory should not be dumbed down merely to gain adherents.  If that’s true then the war is already lost.  As ardent capitalists, one should find nothing wrong in adapting the message so as to effectively sell the product.  Tragically, this will also never be.  Most objectivists are unbearable to talk to, not because as they believe that they are so rational in a world of irrationality, but because its like talking to a missionary intent on saving your soul.  Objectivists are like Christians, explaining to all who will listen, that only through Rand, the Way, the Life and the Truth, will one be saved.  Indeed, to call someone irrational for the objectivist is not a call to reevaluate one’s argument, it is a charge of heresy against those who do not agree with objectivism's substantive conclusions.  It is an effort to publicly shame thought into its proper place based on emotional appeal and external pressure, rather than reason and logic.

Second, there is a simple cure for irrationality:  a better educational system.  But the lack of irrationality does not translate one for one into some magical utopia where all agree and endorse objectivism or the NEMS, or even guarantee that the NEMS act as you think they ought.  Rational people are often adverse to each other.  Take, for example, contracting between sophisticated firms.  Even rational angels need law.

Third, how serious is the commitment to the principle of the non-initiation of force if no conditions are laid out for when force may be used to defend the principle itself?  Reason and rationality do not stop bullets, though they may sometimes prevent their being fired in the first place.  But only sometimes.  A credible guarantee of force to effectuate the principle is necessary, but the conditions have not been adequately fleshed out.  As Rand might say:  what are your premises?  Al-Qaida may have a serious philosophical reasoned system behind it.  I’m still not interested in persuading Bin Laden of the correctness of my capitalist ways.  As a thug who will kill over and over again, and who deliberately targets civilians, he must be simply stopped.  From this point of view, its not about helping people see the true and correct ends that reason may or may not set for them.  Rather, having already discerned one’s own ends, namely, capitalism, two sets of questions arise:  how can one explain one’s ends so as to gain popular support, and how can those ends be bolstered and pursued?

Cheers!  I eagerly await your reasoned retort.

-Publius-

On a different tangent, Jennifer Iannolo wrote:

“Actually, it is quite the opposite.  Embracing God as an entity at all is what has hampered progress in nearly every area of human development, save that of the carnival barker's cry that altruism is the highest good.  Look where that has gotten us.”

Part of what drove some of those who pioneered the Enlightenment Project, what made the quest for scientific understanding even possible for them, was the belief that there must be a God who had created order.  Absent that belief, the quest would have made no sense.  A search for the ordering principles as revealed through science only happens if you already expect to find regularity and order in nature.  Now, someone like Hume for example, wasn’t impelled by this thought, which is also why in the Treatise on Human Nature he spends much time dealing with the issue of “induction.”  As Bertrand Russell put it:  how do we know that future presents will resemble past presents.  Or more simply, what is the guarantee that the rules that apply tomorrow, will apply today.  It’s an empirical matter of fact, a strictly contingent matter with no necessity attached that the sun “rises” everyday or that the equations that explain the gravitational force between bodies with mass hold.  It could be a different.  It may be different.  Or it may be that God likes it this way, and so it will never change.

In short, don’t collapse the atrocities of religious doctrines that possessed political power into the study of God and theology.


Post 39

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - 12:29pmSanction this postReply
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This post is ludicrously long (2,169 words!!)

I for one will be skipping it.


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