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View Diary: TX-Gov: Abbott (R) Advisor Charles Murray, "No evidence that women are significant thinkers" (241 comments)

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  •  It's doubtful that the guy knows a damn thing (14+ / 0-)

    about philosophy. More than likely he was just spouting off shit he heard at a local Klan Rally or Tent Revival.

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 04:54:46 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  No, that would not be true. (12+ / 0-)

      One thing he certainly is, is educated -- steeped deeply in the western tradition.

      He has an historical habit, however, of misunderstanding the meaning of his own statistics. For example, he is largely correct, certainly from a western perspective, that there are no "big-name" women in philosophy: No one comparable to Socrates, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Hegel, Hume, Heidegger, Hobbes, Locke, Confucius, Buddha, Lao Tzu,  etc etc etc. The truth of the empirical observation, however leaves us with the question: so what? What does this fact tell us about anything that matters?

      I don't know what the hell Murray thinks it means, but for some of us, looking back at the last 6000 years of human history, it suggests that one half of the species hasn't been listening to what the other half has to say. And that is all that it means. I can't think of any reason to even mention the data, unless one intends to highlight the millenia-old forcible exclusion of women from public intellectual life.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 06:55:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Besides, the Klan is for plebians (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Subterranean, Eyesbright

        Real powerbroker white supremists are in the White Citizens Councils or the various state Sovereignty Commissions, but you can't just "join" those:  You have to be of 1% birth and/or be invited in by members in good standing.

        Visit for Minnesota news as it happens.

        by Phoenix Woman on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 08:26:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have met (unfortunately) a lot of people (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Subterranean, samanthab, nchristine

        who received college degrees and some who even taught, who--in spite of their access to knowledge, were not good examples of either our higher education, nor our educated adults.

        What does that tell us? It tells us a lot.

        Women in ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire were not free. In Greece if a woman wanted to be educated, and do something with it, outside of a royal family, she most likely would have been a Hetaira.

        And that meant that by the time Greco-Roman Classical knowledge "trickled down" to Europeans post-Dark ages, the voices of "Whores" would have been censored, irregardless of their contributions.

        In the Christian tradition in the West, Paul instructed women to be silent in the church in spite of their early leadership roles and the fact that much of the travel by Jesus was funded by wealthy widows. That order for silence carried over and true to the heart of Mission Creep, silenced women in every aspect of culture with few exceptions.

        The same could be said for Women Scientists, and Women Artists--even Queen Elizabeth I had to contend with rumors that a) she either slept around, depositing her illegitimate children in the New World, or b) she died in childhood to be replaced by a male who pretended to be her under the reign of her insane father.

        How in the fucking name of all that is holy, can one pretend at even the shadow of an education and MISS ALL OF THAT?

        Even now in this modern age, female authors fight to not be pigeonholed as "Chick-Lit" And this doesn't even scratch the surface.

        A person could spend hours in college, and even make decent grades, but in the end, if they are unable to put pieces together independently and see THE OBVIOUS--then their degree is nothing more than a piece of paper that denotes perseverance, but certainly nothing more than that.

        Not much of an accomplishment if you ask me. Maybe something slightly harder than watching grass grow or waiting for ripe fruit to fall from the branches.

        "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

        by GreenMother on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 08:42:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  well, if so, how did he never hear of these? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        samanthab, virginwoolf, Cali Scribe

        So if the guy is so educated, albeit conservatively, why did he never hear of, say,

        ... St Theresa of Avila
        ... St Catherine of Siena

        or even of the - more recently popular - St Hildegard of Bingen?

        Or if his education was more geared to the classics, why did he never hear of

        ... Aspasia of Miletus
        ... Diotima of Mantinea (who was amply quoted in Plato's Symposium)
        ... Hypatia of Alexandria

        And if he's more into English tradition, well, there is a whole batch of socialite-philosophers the British aristiocracy produced of the last five centuries.

        And, last but not least, how could you know about Ayn Rand but ignore, say, Simone de Beauvoir and Hannah Arendt?

        Whatever that guy spent his youth on, it was not education.

        •  Sigh. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fixed Point Theorem, jqb, DQKennard

          Everyone is piling on with lists of philosophers.

          He did not claim no woman had ever been a philosopher, nor did he claim that nobody remembers the name of any woman who had been a philosopher.

          If you believe that St. Theresa was a philosopher whose ideas were original and influential at the level of the people I listed in my comment, you are welcome to make the argument, and possibly to refute Murray -- I am not competent to make the judgement, though I will note that I could not tell you anything at all about her ideas, while I can tell you quite a good bit about the ideas of Hobbes and Locke and Socrates and James and Kant and Jung and Hume and so on. Murray is trying to make an argument about the "giants" of philosophy.

          Meanwhile, the responses to this diary are filling up with long lists of remarkable, accomplished, intelligent women, most of whom (e.g. Marie Curie) weren't philosophers at all, in the sense Murray is using the word; of those who were, most are not known to any significant fraction of the population, regardless of education level. In other words, they have nothing to do with what Murray is saying.

          Which isn't to say that I don't think he's an idiot. He's a very erudite, very well-educated idiot. I've no doubt that he knows far more about Theresa and Catherine than I do (it wouldn't have to be much), and that he would dispute the assertion that they meet his litmus test.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 05:28:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I replied (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cris0000, AR2

            with a list of women philosophers, who no one can discount are/were actual philosophers. My point was that the reason that these women's contributions are not seen as being on par with male philosophers of old is that philosophy, in general, has not held the same universal respect and influence as it did when women were excluded from philosophy. Ergo, Murray's statement that there are no important women philosophers is based on historical bias. They are not seen as important simply because from the time they entered philosophy, philosophy itself is not seen as being important.

          •  you are inappropriately narrowing philosophy (0+ / 0-)

            Your ideal image is that of the king-philosopher, the man who is in command of himself and his existence and has the time and the intellectual environment to entertain deep thought about the human existence and the mechanisms of being; in philosophical terms, Epistemology and Metaphysics.

            But pre enlightenment, women were very rarely in such a postion. Especially in medieval times, none were.  You would even be hard pressed to find male medieval philosophers of this model either.

            But philosophy is not that narrow. There are fields like Logic, Ethics, the nature of the divine and its relation to man; and these are equally important and valid.

            Both Teresa and Catherine were medieval mystics, whose writing on the essence of spirituality deeply moved and influenced generations of their contemporaries.

            Teresa was a noted church reformer, whose teachings and activism played a substantial role in moving the church away from the errors that earlier had been cauase for the protestant schism.

            Catherine of Siena was an early proponent of similar reforms; she also played a major role in overcoming the politically motivated church schism of her time; she is widely credited with bringing the Popes back to Rome.

            You can not discount the influence or activities of either as "un-philosophical".

            Oh, and taking up my final sentence, if you manage to ignore Hannah Arendt and Simone de Beauvoir as substantial modern philosphers and consider them "remarkable, accomplished, intelligent women, (who) weren't philosophers at all" your education is as sadly lacking as is Mr Murray's.

            •  If you can't parse a sentence that includes the (0+ / 0-)

              phrase "most of whom" -- in fact, if you need to remove the phrase "most of", thus necessitating the obviously conscious substitution of the subject pronoun "who" for the object pronoun "whom" -- then you're in no position to question either my education or Murray's. That is one of the most blatantly disingenuous turns of rhetoric to which I've ever been subjected on dKos, at least by anyone who wasn't a raving troll, which you certainly are not.

              Mocking Murray as uneducated is simply inaccurate, and it makes the critic, rather than Murray, look the fool. If you want to attack him please do -- but do it truthfully, honestly, and accurately. There's no shortage of ammunition.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:42:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  the "most of" was a hedging phrase (0+ / 0-)

                the point of that sentence was to suggest they are not philosophers. The "most of" was just a hedging phrase, which I stripped from your sentence.

                The purpose of your construction was to make a claim, without opening yourself up to a rebuttal by counterexample.

                But it is the claim that counts, and the hedging itself is the rhetorically disingenuous part. Brushing aside your cop-out phrase and going for the substance was a straightforward argument technique, and not disingenuous at all.

                •  It wasn't a hedging phrase. It wasn't a vague (0+ / 0-)

                  pseudo-statistic referring to some imprecisely defined group of people. It was an accurate statement about some very-precisely-specified sets of people -- the lists of women that were being presented as refutations to Murray's remark about philosophers. It would have been more accurate had I made the stronger assertion that "few" of the women on "most" of the lists were philosophers, or the even stronger assertion that "almost none of the women on almost all of the lists" were philosophers. Margaret Thatcher? Seriously?

                  I didn't, not least so as to avoid an inane debate over how small a fraction of the women on how large a fraction of the lists would warrant such a strong assertion, because that has nothing to do with the problems at issue. The problems at issue are (A) whether Murray knows anything about the accomplishments of all those non-philosopher women (Ans: almost certainly, despite the superabundance of condescension labeling him an uneducated ignoramus), and (B) whether the accomplishments of those women refute Murray's assertion about philosophers (Ans: No, for the obvious reason.) The question is not whether Murray said something idiotic, because he clearly did. The question is whether counter-arguments based on the commenters' own sense of smug superiority rather than on apposite facts</> are valid, or whether they are silly.

                  Meanwhile, you explicitly altered what I said and then used your altered version as the foundation for a condescending snub -- a ridiculous one, incidentally, that I didn't bother to dispute. The purpose of my construction was to make a claim that was accurate. Yes, I do find that sufficient accuracy in one's claims does generally protect one's claims against rebuttal -- except of course when someone else chooses to reconstruct what one has said and rebut that, as if doing so represents some sort of significant achievement.

                  My complaint was, and is, that most of the women on those lists weren't philosophers in the modern sense, and thus their names only clutter the lists, confuse the issue, and embarrass the enumerators. Some commenters avoided that misstep by linking to a wikipedia page that lists dozens of women who were philosophers -- "almost none" of whose names are known to anyone who hasn't made a particular study either of philosophy or of women's intellectual history. That isn't a rhetorical dodge, it's a recognition of fact.

                  And no, I'm not saying that the comment thread doesn't contain thoughtful and applicable rebuttals. There are comments that take Murray to task for his premise that "significant thinking" is evidenced in the historical record only by high achievement in formal philosophy; there are comments that take him to task for his conclusion that women are sparse in the Philosophy Hall of Fame because they're incapable of thinking deep thoughts, rather than because the men viciously excluded them from the domain. Even a conversation about what reasonably constitutes "philosophy" would have some legs, given that once upon a time political thinkers (Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, Marx) were considered to be philosophers, but that recognition seems to have faded away after Marx, just in time to exclude Anthony and Stanton, the Pankhursts, et al.

                  To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                  by UntimelyRippd on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 08:39:19 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the intellectual honesty. (0+ / 0-)

            It's extremely rare in this thread.

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