|More thoughts on my conversation/kind of argument from last night
||[Oct. 5th, 2010|09:51 pm]
I am actually pretty happy that my friends and I had a fiery argument, as it's made me think about some things! :) Here are some more thoughts. Yay friends!|
Topic the first:
Destruction of meaning through analysis.
This is such a trivial complaint against analysis that I am sad I even have to state a defense, but without analysis there would be NO NEW THOUGHT! (Trivial in an academic sense, which is that is does not posit complex effects from its thesis, not in the sense that it's a silly or wispy thought.)
Think about art for me for a second. Think of the thousands of paintings and installations and sculpture that you have seen in your lifetime. Even books and music that you have digested. Which ones stand out to you? For me, for certain, even ones that had great emotional resonance are nothing more than a vague memory unless I thought more deeply about the piece. That's just a surface response: if you don't use language and thought to understand something you can never do more than have a nebulous feeling or notion about something. We *are* our language capacity, and there certainly is not cognition to the level of humanity without it.
More deeply, analysis provides different levels of meaning and understanding, and in no way "destroys" the initial sensory impression. I do believe that point was brought up in the discussion. But even if it *DID* render the feeling less powerful I would be happier to have a deep understanding of things (as couched in modern perspective as they are and always will be) then a passing glance. Studying what meaning is and what thought is and how we do that is, for me, the essence of the examined life, a life worth living!
I have heard the argument from many a naysayer of modern academia that all of these ridiculous ideas are out there, these radical ideas, these ideas that don't resonate with their worldview(which of course necessitates that they are hateful, apparently) are ABSURD and NOT IMPORTANT and WORTHLESS and JARGON and on and on and on....I've had to fight that notion inside my own head because I do NOT think intellectual exploration is ever any of these things, even if their products are. Or even as flawed as their proponents are, because certainly intellectuals will always be flawed in different manners.
99% of ideas will probably turn out to be wrong in science, and "wrong" in more subjective fields. But the act of generating ideas itself is never either of these things, because of its own intrinsic value.
Here we can approach feminism, without entirely abandoning esoteric academia, because they oftentimes go hand in hand. Eventually I'd also like to refine my definition of feminism that I gave at the bar (which was something along the lines of reducing the societal divide between men and women as much as possible with respect to biological differences. But I think at times those biological differences can even be in flux. Not to the point that there is no difference, mind you, but when we think of this topic[the royal we] we tend to make WOMEN and MEN these monolithic things that have no internal variation), because while I think what I was discussing is an important aspect in thinking about equality, I do not think of it as the totality. That's an aside for now though, and may have to wait for another time.
It is just PATENTLY ABSURD to suggest that whatever problems Americans have with debt and money mismanagement and an economy where men and women both have to work is the direct result of feminism. Putting that aside for a moment, who cares if it is? If you hold a value to be important, such that every member of a society should be able to make their own choices about how to live their lives (as much as possible, of course; nothing will ever be perfectly equal)...then changing that society to reflect that ideal more fully is of course going to cause repercussions that have to be dealt with! Nothing happens in a vacuum.
But, coming back to reality, it is impossible to exhaust the list of other things that have contributed to the state our the American economy today and the necessity for two income households. Here's a sample: concentration of wealth, emphasis on consumer goods, factory mass production, mass media, World War II, the industrial revolution, the emphasis on celebrity and luxury made into the way to be, Congress' overspending and borrowing from other nations, the military-industrial complex, suburban sprawl, the civil rights movement, corporate monopolies and oligarchies, dependence on foreign oil, the massive increase in cost to go to college, the service economy creating more ways to spend, emphasis on branding, less savings, ballooning health care costs, obesity, bad lending and the housing issues, real wages going down since the 1970s, outsourcing, a lack of Americans in science and technology, and overall de-emphasis on and denigration of intellectual pursuits, inflation, cars, the weakening/corruption of the labor movement and subsequent loss of worker power....I'm not certain how long you want me to go on.
Things change. Nothing occurs in a vacuum. There is never one cause or effect for anything that happens. If you think there is, you are reductionist to the point of not even being worth talking to(about that particular subject).
Okay, if you think that a woman who hates men, or even a strand of this in modern academic feminist thought, means that feminism can never come up with any worthwhile ideas, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, because re: ideas always being valuable, even if their products of the moment are not.
Now here's a moment where I'll play devil's advocate a little.
So what if some feminists hate men? More power to them. I don't hate men, but I can see where they get some of the ideological power of their arguments. One of the friends that was in the discussion last night and I had a recent conversation about a co-worker of his who dismissed everything someone had to say because they were an ideologue. The same point transfers here, one to one. Just because you disagree with the overall stance of a person does not mean that everything that comes out of their heads is automatically wrong.
Men *have* been in charge of Western society for quite a bit of time, and it *is* tempting to blame some major things on them. And while I think that is reductionist for my above reasons, it does not follow that some of the ideas that come out of an anger toward men will not be interesting, further thought provoking, or fruitful in some tangential way.
We talked a bit about Malcolm Gladwell as well, and part of his theory of outliers. So if you can agree that NHL players had a disadvantage because they were 8 when everyone else was 7, and therefore got more ice time and coaching and practice, which translated roughly in their NHL status...then what does 7000 years of male dominance do to women?
Do you think it changes their perceptions of what they even believe they can do?
Do you think it slightly starts to modify they way DNA gets activated throughout lifetimes?
Do you think it means we should give society and women a little more time to adjust to a wider freedom of choice than, say generously, 50 or 60 years?
No matter what your personal answers to these questions immediately are, maybe they're worth looking into a little more scientifically, a little more academically, a little more critically, a little more analytically.