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How can we encourage some women to view philosophy as important?

45 posts in this topic

Posted

Women, the truly feminine ones, are only inclined to dedicate their thoughts to the immediate and the practical.

What is immediate and practical is determined by the mind's perceptual 'event horizon'. since female perceptual 'event horizon's' tend to be shorter than a male's, for many biological reasons, they will never and can never participate in anything that is beyond it....and so philosophy beyond a certain point becomes indecipherable and so it is deemed impractical.

Satyr, I am not trying to be disingenuous, but I am having difficulty deciphering what it is you are trying to say; as it stands now, it would seem that what you are saying amounts to: women, due to a biological defect, do not share the same level of cognitive capability as men, and therefore, due to this innate lack of a "long perceptual even horizon," women are incapable of participating in deep philosophical thinking, and brush aside such thinking aside as "impractical."

By the way, welcome to TGL...........

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Posted (edited)

Women, the truly feminine ones, are only inclined to dedicate their thoughts to the immediate and the practical.

What is immediate and practical is determined by the mind's perceptual 'event horizon'. since female perceptual 'event horizon's' tend to be shorter than a male's, for many biological reasons, they will never and can never participate in anything that is beyond it....and so philosophy beyond a certain point becomes indecipherable and so it is deemed impractical.

Speaking of things that are "indecipherable", I nominate your posts. "Only inclined" suggests that women have no inclinations whatsoever other than dedicating their thoughts to the immediate and the practical. Perhaps you meant, "women are inclined to dedicate their thoughts only to the...."

What the heck is an "event horizon"?

Here’s Satyr from another thread:

Spinozean reasoning that equate the concept with the real, so as to make human methods of interpreting reality into a tautology with it, rely on a presupposition that only demands justification.

Once again, the mangled grammar (does Satyr mean “equates” and “relies”), the misplacement of the word “only”, and the strange addition (meaningless to me) of “with it”, make the sentence incomprehensible.

Satyr concludes his post in the other thread:

There is no reason to think there is a God or a need for one, to make the universe comprehensible, nor is there a reason to make consciousness more than it is.

It is true that there is no reason to make consciousness (or anything else) more than it is. It is also true that it is impossible to make consciousness (or anything else) more than it is. Unfortunately, things are neither more nor less than they are. Try as we might, by definition, we can’t make things unequal to what they are.

I assume Satyr is trying (and failing) to say something other than what he says.

Edited by BDS

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Posted

Women, the truly feminine ones, are only inclined to dedicate their thoughts to the immediate and the practical.

What is immediate and practical is determined by the mind's perceptual 'event horizon'. since female perceptual 'event horizon's' tend to be shorter than a male's, for many biological reasons, they will never and can never participate in anything that is beyond it....and so philosophy beyond a certain point becomes indecipherable and so it is deemed impractical.

Great ghost of Otto Weininger! He was the foremost theoretician of misogynism, and the exposition below should demonstrate the limits of Satyr's dubious claims.

(From my blog)

Weininger argued that everyone is either psychologically male or female, yet while a biological male may be a psychological female, the converse is impossible. All women are necessarily psychologically female. The essence of Woman is her absorption in sex. In other words she is sexuality itself. Men have sexual organs, but "the sexual organs possesses the woman." The female is persistently and exhaustively occupied with sexual issues, while the male has far more diverse issues he is preoccupied with.

Weininger proposed a theory of knowledge based on the 'henid' concept. A henid is an aspect of psychical data before it becomes a fully fleshed idea. The thought process of women consists only in henids, which explains why they assume thinking and feeling are the same thing. Women require a man, specifically a psychological male, who by definition does not think in henids but in clear and articulated ideas to articulate her ideas, to interpret her henids. That requirement accounts for the tendency of women falling in love with men who are cleverer than themselves. The principle of difference is essentially thus: "the male lives consciously while the female lives unconsciously."

From such a theory of knowledge Otto derived ethical implications:

  • Since women cannot form clear n distinct judgments, due to henids, they cannot distinguish between truth and falsehood.
  • for women, no standard of right and wrong exists. Therefore women are naturally and necessarily amoral.
  • They are not even at the level of the moral sphere. If they lack the moral dimension, then they also lack the dimension of a soul.
  • If there is no soul, then they lack the attribute of free will. No ego, no individual essence, no character.

Furthermore, in psychology, weininger posits two platonic variants of Woman: the Mother and the Prostitute. All women are combinations of both variations, but always predominantly one or the other. However, since women are amoral creatures, there is no moral distinction between the two. The Mother's love for her child is equally indiscriminate as the prostitute's desire to hump every tom, dick, n harry she sees. Both share the characteristic of the feminine: the "instinct for match-making," the desire to see man and woman united. The only difference between the two archetypes is the form of their obsession with sex: the Mother is obsessed with the consequence of sex, whereas the Prostitute is obsessed with the act of sex itself.

Criticism: Weininger deals with essences, which themselves are problematic little entities that lack empirical content or definition. Such chimeras of philosophy deserve to be exorcized. He is also missing an account for the historical subject, the social structure that enables roles for men and women to adopt, and as well as unbiased evidential reasoning. The thesis his book Sex & Character advocates is little more than self-serving for it justifies Otto's misogynism and antisemitism. The story of Otto Weininger is best characterized as "what could have been" for he blew his brains out at age 23. A life intentionally cut short, his claim to fame is how he ended his life for both logical and ethical obligations to the tragic conclusion of his singular magnum opus, Sex & Character. For he was both a Jew and a homosexual, and possibly a member of the psychologically female. :roll:

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Posted

I too was a little disturbed by satyr's post which appeared to denigrate women, at this so-called intellectual level which some may define as philosophy :-). When I gave my link to P4C (Philosophy for Children) I was hoping to indicate the practical value of its study. Nor am I suggesting that women and children, although both classes are oppressed in our societies, are in some way inferior to adult males. I hope satyr returns to this thread to indicate that this was not his intention.

Of course women, and children, will be lesser equipped to deal with some of life's challenges. We otherwise would not have separate competitions for women in tennis for instance, and we would not put children into schools! However, equally, I challenge any man to crawl a narrow space through which a child could get, (trivially chimney sweeping comes to mind ;-)) or to give childbirth! I am sure there are an equal number of human activities in which men have no competence whatsoever.

My reason for starting this thread is quite personal, as I am in the company of friends and family, and my wife, who appear to be somewhat aggressive, not only in their defense of the female sex, but in the establishment of some sort of 'superior' position for women. Here in Barbados and in the wider Caribbean, there is a strong culture of matriachy, many fathers have been over the centuries, and nowadays still are, 'absent'. This may link strongly with Satyr's suggestion that women are practical.

I want to show first to the ladies in my life that philosophy is practical, and also to show that us men can take equal roles in the practicalities of living. When I overdo this latter adventure, I am sometimes accused of being 'a woman'! I certainly think that their attitiude is heavily influenced by the feminist movement, and would criticise those feminists who encourage this sort of thinking.

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Posted

Great ghost of Otto Weininger!

:mrgreen: I couldn't help but laugh...........

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Posted

I Googled Otto Weininger, and I too share your merriment!

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Posted

Anyway, Mathsteach2, I had meant to reply to your earlier post, that whether this topic belonged in the philosophy forum.

Here's why I don't agree:

Philosophy is about open questions and the attempt to address them. Open questions are about the grand themes of man (God, Truth, Beauty, Meaning, Purpose) and philosophy is the attempt to reason the question/answer problematic.

Your OP is a means to an end - how to persuade some people to do something. This already decided that "doing something" is good in advance, and the concern is on the how - the means. This shifts the discussion away from the end, i.e., philosophy, and towards the means, i.e., ideology.

Just because a thread is about philosophy doesn't mean it must be in the philosophy forum. If i wanted to open a thread on where to study philosophy, it may be better suited in the Hospice.

I note that you have not bothered to answer my questions: why should anyone be persuaded to do something, regardless whether they can or won't? Why should anyone decide on what others ought be persuaded to do? :noidea:

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Posted

Thanks for the guidance, Campanella, perhaps this thread could be moved to the Hospice. I hope to attempt to answer your question, apologies for not doing so, it probably won't be very erudite!

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Posted

Campanella has asked me:

"Why should anyone be persuaded to do something, regardless whether they can or won't? Why should anyone decide on what others ought be persuaded to do?"

In relation to this thread concerning women 'doing' philosophy, I will try to say more later. In general, however, I can only respond as a school teacher (now retired thank goodness!) but also concerns the teaching of adults I think, of which I have done a little. The main difference which I experienced between teaching adults and teaching children is that adults have usually chosen to be in my class, whereas in compulsory schooling for children we have a captive audience, so to speak :-). I did have one group of young adults once upon a time for a couple of years, they were sent to me for elementary mathematics by their employer as part of their contract, but they did not want to be there. That was fun! However, I accepted my remit to do what I could for them, attempting to engage their interest through their real concerns which were sports, and lines such as: "When you become parents surely you will want to be able to help your children with their mathematics!?"

As I have already said, this was why I posted a link to a P4C (Philosophy for Children) website, as I am very enthusiastic about its (philosophy) value, even with quite young children. There are many examples on these websites how children have benefitted from being involved in activities with an emphasis on the philosophical enterprise.

Perhaps I am here answering my own question. Should I try to show to the ladies in my life (remembering that I am in Barbados and the suspicion of any male enterprise is quite strong, stemming I think from the matriarchy of Caribbean culture) that philosophy has this practicality for personal development as demonstrated at P4C? I thought my links to P4C were in this thread, but they are not! Also one may not be working, so I will give them again now.

http://www.sapere.org.uk/

For more information on their home page, this one is better:

http://www.p4c.org.nz/

There is so much on this page of this latter site that I refrain from quoting any of it. Suffice to say that it encourages students how to think, not what they ought to think. They share views and experiences and, I think, are encouraged to speak their mind even if what they say turns out to be wrong. In this respect the role of the teacher needs to be paramount, for no student should feel that they are being put down. I will try to see if my wife might be interested and let you all know how I get along :-).

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Posted

The Society for Women in Philosophy (SWIP) UK aims to support and to raise awareness of discrimination against women in philosophy. We also endeavour to publicise ideas about how academia can be and is women-friendly by recognising women friendliness in philosophy departments wherever it occurs. With this in mind, SWIP UK implemented a new initiative in 2007 to recognise exemplary departments and departmental policies that provide support for women in philosophy. (For departments that have previously been awarded, see the results for 2008 & 2007.)

We are now asking for nominations for the SWIP Women-Friendliness Recognition 2009. Our primary focus will be on recognising women-friendly initiatives. We may also recognise whole departments as women-friendly, but that is not currently our main plan. If your department has women-friendly initiatives or policies that you consider worthy of recognition (or if you want us to recognise your whole department), please email Mari Mikkola with a brief description and case for recognition by 9th April 2009.

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Posted

Here is a quote and an abstract from an article about an online experiment investigating women playing chess that you can get to here. I am posting it because of the earlier mention in this thread of women and chess. I think you can extrapolate to other contexts from this.

"...findings suggest that women players showed a remarkable drop in performance when the stereotype was salient and when they knew that they were playing against a male opponent. Yet, they had good chances of beating the same (male) opponent when they were misled into believing that they were playing against a woman."

Abstract:

Women are surprisingly underrepresented in the chess world, representing less that 5% of registered tournament players worldwide and only 1% of the world's grandmasters. In this paper it is argued that gender stereotypes are mainly responsible for the underperformance of women in chess. Forty-two male-female pairs, matched for ability, played two chess games via the Internet. When players were unaware of the sex of opponent (control condition), females played approximately as well as males. When the gender stereotype was activated (experimental condition), women showed a drastic performance drop, but only when they were aware that they were playing against a male opponent. When they (falsely) believed to be playing against a woman, they performed as well as their male opponents. In addition, our findings suggest that women show lower chess-specific self-esteem and a weaker promotion focus, which are predictive of poorer chess performance.

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Posted

Mathsteach, but you didn't answer the question?

Could it be that you, just like most people, confuse philosophy being good, with philosophy being good for everyone?

And just so the sensitivity to sexism doesn't add words to the above question, note that even though there are more men in philosophy than women, there are still far more men and women who aren't interested in philosophy, than men and women who are. My view is that philosophy will always be a minority interest, and I can't justify my interest in philosophy beyond it being just my own interest.

So the question reduces to, under the hypothesis that philosophy is good for myself, which I'm by no means certain of, why presume that it's good for other people too? I guess the question of promoting philosophy to women specifically never comes up. I don't think encouraging women is any different than encouraging men, unless you want to only encourage women and not men (for the sake of evening out the numbers!).

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Posted

AllBlue, I read the beginning of that study and, you know, science that I'm not familiar with :) But what I thought was interesting was the idea of a woman winning at chess could put their femininity at risk. I know that seems to be true of a lot fields where female accomplishment is coupled with a loss of femininity. At least that's the point I could understand the most. Because, as social creatures, we do have a vested in how others see us. As a geek, that's much less the case for me, but it's still there.

I guess I don't know :)

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Posted

But what I thought was interesting was the idea of a woman winning at chess could put their femininity at risk. I know that seems to be true of a lot fields where female accomplishment is coupled with a loss of femininity. At least that's the point I could understand the most. Because, as social creatures, we do have a vested in how others see us. As a geek, that's much less the case for me, but it's still there.

The geek label is good if it keeps you somewhat immune from social pressures!

A good thing about getting older is that social pressures ease. It could be, like Paul Theroux says, older people are invisible. It could also be that the unimportant and important things separate out and become more clearly themselves. If you can see this separation at a younger age, the farther ahead and better off you are. Philosophy, history, science are all useful in this. Perspective is paramount and finding out more about the vastness and intricacy of the universe can help with that.

Both women and men so often pigeonhole themselves into their society's range of known types trying to do the expected. It's useful for the larger group but hell on the individual.

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Posted

Apologies for being absent for a while, domestic problems and computer down.

I guess the substance of my reply was to emphasize my role as a teacher, it's difficult to throw off even in retirement! Whether philosophy is good or bad has to be a very philosophical question, I think!! For me its good because I like it!

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Posted

Thought this was pertinent:

The recent discussion of the dearth of women in academic philosophy seemed to me, on reflection, to omit a crucial fact. There are just as few women among undergraduate majors (at least in my experience). The percentage of women majors here at Maryland has bounced around between about 25 and 30 over the last half-dozen years, even while our overall number of majors has doubled. This is very close to the percentage of women applicants we get for our graduate program (about 25%), which in turn is quite close to the percentage of women in the profession. If these figures generalize, it suggests that whatever is happening is happening right at the outset.

One possibility is that women are put off pursing a major where they perceive few women instructors. It might be a viciously confirming circle. A small piece of evidence against this, however, is that we did experiment with packing as many female instructors as we could into our intro classes over a three year period, with no discernible result.

Here is another hypothesis. Philosophers use the language of “argument” a lot. We tell our students that philosophy is all about learning how to distinguish good arguments from bad arguments, that philosophy will increase their ability to argue well, and so on. But the word “argument” does double-duty as a label for conflict. When one’s parents argue, this is not generally a good thing. Moreover, “argument is war” is one of Lakoff and Johnson’s famous structural metaphors. We defend our position, attack our opponent’s assumptions and so on. Since women tend, on average, to be less aggressive and competitive than men, and to be more inclined to cooperation, then the way philosophers talk about their discipline might be putting them off.

The idea should be readily testable, if any experimental philosopher were inclined to take this up. Two groups of students in a large intro class could be given a promotional flyer describing the philosophy major. The only difference between the two groups would be that one flyer would use “argument” where the other would use “reason” (“philosophy is all about distinguishing good reasons from bad reasons” etc.). The students could be asked to score how attractive they think the philosophy major looks on the basis of the flyer. If there are significant differences between the two groups, then that might suggest that it would be worthwhile making an effort to adopt the language of reason over argument.

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Posted

Having known some thoroughly confrontational and argumentative women in my time, I am going to have to say, from experience alone, the use of the word "argument" is not the reason there are few women in philosophy. Furthermore, any college level student considering philosophy as a major is presumably smart enough to know what is meant when they are told "Philosophy is all about distinguishing good arguments from bad arguments." It seems to me that the hypothesis is giving women less credit than they are due, intelligence-wise.

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Posted

But is the canon in English less uniformly male because philosophy is just somehow inherently more male, or because more serious and sustained interventions have been done in the English canon than in the philosophy canon? Was it more women working in English that altered the canon, or was it an altered canon that led to more women working in English (not that there's any reason it can't be both)?

I think that it might be more fruitful to recognize, as 10:17 does, that there is a shocking lack of women working in philosophy because there is in many quarters outright hostility to them. This runs the gamut from supposing every woman hired in philosophy to be an affirmative action hire, to not taking seriously what women do or say (because, as women, they can't have 'seminal' ideas), to seeing women who do philosophy (outside some pink-collar ghettoized subfields) as honorary men, to outright harassment, sexual and otherwise.

This conversation could benefit both from more empirical data as well as from the years and years of good work on gender and epistemology, some from within philosophy itself, from de Beauvoir to Haslanger.

Thanks for opening the conversation here.

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Posted

Thanks for the link, Acephalous. I found it interesting that in my link to the Canadian Philosophical Association (post 8), there is only a passing reference to philosophy as argument. I hope to write more later.

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Posted

Thanks, lingeries name, for the references. I looked up Haslanger and found a nice little blog entry about her and women in philosophy: http://crookedtimber.org/2007/09/06/sally-haslanger-on-women-in-philosophy/.

I'm going to read the Haslanger article that was linked in the blog right now, but the blog article brings up a point that I don't think has been mentioned in this thread: critical mass of women in philosophy - which sounds much more realistic than a theory that women are deterred by the argumentative nature of philosophy.

MTF when I'm done with the Haslanger link.

[EDITED to add:]

Doi, the Haslanger article is the one referenced in the first post. =p Maybe I should pay more attention to the authors of things that I read, lol.

Anyway, critical mass, women in philosophy, harrumph, harrumph!

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