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Re: [stoics] The Feminist Critique of Traditional Moral Theory (Part I)

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  • Grant Sterling
    ... I wrote a long response to this, and then junked it right before sending it. I have looked at the article, and I have applied the principle of charity to
    Message 1 of 23 , Dec 2, 2008
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      At 06:57 PM 11/26/2008, jan.garrett wrote:
      
      Again, the charge of gender essentialism seems misplaced to me: The main empirical claim is that women tend to have certain kinds of experience (and a lot more of it) than men. The point is not that all women have that kind of experience or that no men approach parenting in what some feminists might consider a maternal and I would call an attentive nurturant mode. Whether or not the tendency to that kind of experience is somehow complexly tied to the genetic or biological difference between women and men is not fully understood. What is suggested (in the section of the article corresponding to the notes I'll likely send tomorrow) is that males and female children (tend to) develop differently because they react differently to the experience of being nurtured by a mother and this reaction tends to predispose them to individualist and relational types, respectively, of moral approaches. Whether this is a result of their biology or the social pressures to conform to conventional gender identity is again a partly open empirical question (so far as I know).
       
      Perhaps my notes are too sketchy to give a sense of this article's sophistication. Some simplification inevitably creeps in as a result of my teaching method which tries to bring out the main points. Also, a variety of feminist perspectives are included in the article, not all of which Held agrees with.
       
      Anyone who wants to look up the original article and read it in full can find it in the anthology in which I found it, mentioned in two earlier recent posts, or in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Fall 1990 (Supplement), 321-344. Discussion will be fruitful to the extent to which one applies (as a general rule) the principle of charity (i.e., thou shalt not attribute absurdities to an author who comes with considerable credentials unless one has tried numerous plausible ways of interpreting what she or he says and found that none of them releases a coherent or plausible meaning. (Caricaturing can be justified as an art form but only under special circumstances.)

               I wrote a long response to this, and then junked it right before
      sending it.  I have looked at the article, and I have applied the principle of
      charity to it--I cannot find any construction that is both a) a conceivable
      rendering of her main positions consistent with the English language and
      b) remotely plausible.  Really, seriously, I think the article is hopelessly
      flawed from beginning to end.  [And, yes, I know that it is a compilation
      of ideas not all of which Held embraces.  I think both the ones she does
      and the ones she doesn't embrace are absurd.] 
               But I junked the response I wrote because it would lead us a long
      way afield of Stoicism.  So for the purposes of this List let me just add
      the following note.  What follows is not along the lines of scholarly
      and detailed criticism, but rather a broad-strokes alternative rendering
      of the issues that I think is consistent with Stoicism.  If my job were to
      refute Held, I would have chosen the other approach and send the other
      post, but here goes....

               {Needless to say, all statements in the following about "women
      think this" or "men do that" are _generalizations_ about _most_ members
      of those categories, consistent with my own personal experience and
      the empirical evidence with which I am familiar.  Saying that _should_
      be needless, but in my experience it rarely is.  :)}

               Held is right that ethicists have traditionally regarded Reason as
      a counter-weight to emotion, and have associated women with emotion.
      This is based on an empirical truth--women are emotional, and frequently
      do not making ethical decisions rationally. 
               What Held gets from this is that ethical theories are therefore
      biased, and do not take into account the experience of women.  I
      deny the former, and affirm the latter.  Ethical theories traditionally do
      not take into account the emotional experience of women, and it's a
      wonderful thing that they don't.  Making ethical decisions on the basis
      of emotion is a disasterous thing, and traditional ethicists were right to
      hold that insofar as the experience of women is an emotional one, it
      should be rejected and excluded from ethical theorizing, and consigned to
      the outer darkness wherein there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Held
      gives us no reason to think that the emotional approach of women to ethics
      is _correct_ or _beneficial_, since she appears (like most feminist ethicists
      that I have read) to think that showing that women feel this way suffices
      as proof that it's somehow correct. 
               Now I don't take the ancient view that this means that men are simply
      superior to women, because my experience suggests that they're just as
      emotional and irrational.  Men typically experience different emotions...
      for example, violent anger, obsession with 'saving face' and appearing
      powerful and in control.   We all agree that making decisions based on
      _these_ sorts of emotions is a bad thing, and no-one argues that showing
      that men feel this way suffices as proof that it's somehow correct.
               Held sees reason- and principle-based ethics as a male-dominated
      counter-weight to the emotion- and care-based approach of women.  But
      I think reason- and principle-based ethics is just as much a counter-weight
      to the emotion- and power-based approach of men.  On many occasions
      I have heard people say things like "if women ruled the world, we'd have fewer
      wars".  That's probably true.  Many wars are produced by irrational typically-
      male emotional reactions to situations, and if women ruled the world there
      would be statistically fewer such situations.   But I don't want women to rule
      that world if that means that they will simply substitute their own typical
      irrationalities for the typical irrationalities of men-- we would have fewer wars,
      but more problems of other kinds. 
               I think reason-based ethical theories are the appropriate counter-weight
      to the irrationality of women _and_ to the irrationality of men.  No doubt men
      weilding such theories have on some occasions been blinded by their own
      irrationalities and have mistaken them for reason.  By all means, let us correct
      such errors.  No doubt men have developed theories that were inadequate.  I
      myself reject utilitarianism, and _one_ reason I reject it is precisely the fact that
      it gives insufficient weight to our moral commitments to relationships with other
      people.  But Utilitarianism isn't wrong because it's male-biased, nor it wrong
      because it doesn't account for the "experiences" of women, and it's certainly
      not wrong because it's based on reason or principles.  It's wrong because
      it's based on the _wrong_ principles.  By the same token, I think that Kant's
      ethical theory is incorrect.  But the assumptions underlying Kant's theory
      have virtually nothing in common with those underlying Utilitarianism....and the
      few things they have in common are the things that are _right_, not the ones
      that are wrong.

               So to return to Stoicism.  Stoics hold that happiness, virtue, and true
      goodness all revolve around the correct use of reason.  There's no good reason (pun
      acknowledged) to think that this is an inadequate male-biased view of things.  If it is--well, to
      be frank, that would mean the misogynists were right.  If men really are rational
      and women emotional, then men are superior to women.  That's not my experience.
      I wish it were true--I wish _one_ sex was rational. 
               Emotional decision-making, regardless of whether the emotions are care-based
      or not, regardless of whether the emotions are experienced by men or women, is
      bad.  Reason can take into account everything that's right about care-based ethics,
      without any need to go beyond reason into the moral outer darkness....

               Regards,
                        Grant
    • Kevin
      Grant, your comments make sense to me. More generally I think that the traditions and ideals of the West should be vigorously defended, when they accord with
      Message 2 of 23 , Dec 2, 2008
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        Grant, your comments make sense to me. More generally I think that the traditions and ideals of the West should be vigorously defended, when they accord with Reason.

        We should not forget that democracy and individual freedom arose from these traditions. It is not clear to me that they would have arisen anywhere else or would again in the future.

        In the past a "liberal" education meant that these concepts and traditions were taught. Now it seems that many wish to destroy them. "Replace them with what?" is my question.

        I can never know your experiences but I can understand your reasons

        Kevin


        --- On Tue, 12/2/08, Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...> wrote:

                 I wrote a long response to this, and then junked it right before
        sending it.  I have looked at the article, and I have applied the principle of
        charity to it--I cannot find any construction that is both a) a conceivable
        rendering of her main positions consistent with the English language and
        b) remotely plausible.  Really, seriously, I think the article is hopelessly
        flawed from beginning to end.  [And, yes, I know that it is a compilation
        of ideas not all of which Held embraces.  I think both the ones she does
        and the ones she doesn't embrace are absurd.] 
                 But I junked the response I wrote because it would lead us a long
        way afield of Stoicism.  So for the purposes of this List let me just add
        the following note.  What follows is not along the lines of scholarly
        and detailed criticism, but rather a broad-strokes alternative rendering
        of the issues that I think is consistent with Stoicism.  If my job were to
        refute Held, I would have chosen the other approach and send the other
        post, but here goes....

                 {Needless to say, all statements in the following about "women
        think this" or "men do that" are _generalizations_ about _most_ members
        of those categories, consistent with my own personal experience and
        the empirical evidence with which I am familiar.  Saying that _should_
        be needless, but in my experience it rarely is.  :)}

                 Held is right that ethicists have traditionally regarded Reason as
        a counter-weight to emotion, and have associated women with emotion.
        This is based on an empirical truth--women are emotional, and frequently
        do not making ethical decisions rationally. 
                 What Held gets from this is that ethical theories are therefore
        biased, and do not take into account the experience of women.  I
        deny the former, and affirm the latter.  Ethical theories traditionally do
        not take into account the emotional experience of women, and it's a
        wonderful thing that they don't.  Making ethical decisions on the basis
        of emotion is a disasterous thing, and traditional ethicists were right to
        hold that insofar as the experience of women is an emotional one, it
        should be rejected and excluded from ethical theorizing, and consigned to
        the outer darkness wherein there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Held
        gives us no reason to think that the emotional approach of women to ethics
        is _correct_ or _beneficial_ , since she appears (like most feminist ethicists
        that I have read) to think that showing that women feel this way suffices
        as proof that it's somehow correct. 
                 Now I don't take the ancient view that this means that men are simply
        superior to women, because my experience suggests that they're just as
        emotional and irrational.  Men typically experience different emotions...
        for example, violent anger, obsession with 'saving face' and appearing
        powerful and in control.   We all agree that making decisions based on
        _these_ sorts of emotions is a bad thing, and no-one argues that showing
        that men feel this way suffices as proof that it's somehow correct.
                 Held sees reason- and principle-based ethics as a male-dominated
        counter-weight to the emotion- and care-based approach of women.  But
        I think reason- and principle-based ethics is just as much a counter-weight
        to the emotion- and power-based approach of men.  On many occasions
        I have heard people say things like "if women ruled the world, we'd have fewer
        wars".  That's probably true.  Many wars are produced by irrational typically-
        male emotional reactions to situations, and if women ruled the world there
        would be statistically fewer such situations.   But I don't want women to rule
        that world if that means that they will simply substitute their own typical
        irrationalities for the typical irrationalities of men-- we would have fewer wars,
        but more problems of other kinds. 
                 I think reason-based ethical theories are the appropriate counter-weight
        to the irrationality of women _and_ to the irrationality of men.  No doubt men
        weilding such theories have on some occasions been blinded by their own
        irrationalities and have mistaken them for reason.  By all means, let us correct
        such errors.  No doubt men have developed theories that were inadequate.  I
        myself reject utilitarianism, and _one_ reason I reject it is precisely the fact that
        it gives insufficient weight to our moral commitments to relationships with other
        people.  But Utilitarianism isn't wrong because it's male-biased, nor it wrong
        because it doesn't account for the "experiences" of women, and it's certainly
        not wrong because it's based on reason or principles.  It's wrong because
        it's based on the _wrong_ principles.  By the same token, I think that Kant's
        ethical theory is incorrect.  But the assumptions underlying Kant's theory
        have virtually nothing in common with those underlying Utilitarianism. ...and the
        few things they have in common are the things that are _right_, not the ones
        that are wrong.

                 So to return to Stoicism.  Stoics hold that happiness, virtue, and true
        goodness all revolve around the correct use of reason.  There's no good reason (pun
        acknowledged) to think that this is an inadequate male-biased view of things.  If it is--well, to
        be frank, that would mean the misogynists were right.  If men really are rational
        and women emotional, then men are superior to women.  That's not my experience.
        I wish it were true--I wish _one_ sex was rational. 
                 Emotional decision-making, regardless of whether the emotions are care-based
        or not, regardless of whether the emotions are experienced by men or women, is
        bad.  Reason can take into account everything that's right about care-based ethics,
        without any need to go beyond reason into the moral outer darkness....

                 Regards,
                          Grant
      • Steve Marquis
        Grant writes: __________________ Held is right that ethicists have traditionally regarded Reason as a counter-weight to emotion, and have associated women with
        Message 3 of 23 , Dec 2, 2008
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          Grant writes:
          __________________

          Held is right that ethicists have traditionally regarded Reason as a
          counter-weight to emotion, and have associated women with emotion.
          __________________

          and later . . .
          __________________

          Ethical theories traditionally do not take into account the emotional
          experience of women, and it's a wonderful thing that they don't.
          __________________

          Grant, I agree with your excellent and eloquent rebuttal to Held.
          There is one quibble I have, more from a previous post of yours, that
          sets reason and emotion up as antagonists. This is the typical way
          Stoicism is talked about even here, but it implies emotion and reason
          are two separate functions of the mind or person even from the Stoic
          point of view. And part of what drives arguments like Held's is this
          very assumption: that reason and emotion _are_ indeed two separate
          but _equally valid_ ways of experiencing or organizing one's
          experience. I think you can see that if reason and emotion are not
          separated to begin with then the unspoken premise on which 'emotion
          is just as good as reason but different' arguments stand falls
          apart. `Equally valid' makes no sense if there isn't two or more
          things to be called equal.

          Instead, if we wish to contrast the Stoic position with Held's I
          think it is better to say that all rational beings reason and that
          emotion of one kind or another follows from that reasoning. Instead
          of saying, as you imply above, that reason is good and emotion is bad
          it would be better IMO to say that right reason is good and wrong
          reason is bad. I know this is how you think for your entire response
          is based on emotion resulting from bad reasoning in either men or
          women, which I of course agree with. But this is _bad_ emotion which
          needs to be seen as a subclass of affect in general.

          So, the first point to make is that Held's position assumes a
          bifurcated mind which the Stoics did not. This is a common
          assumption for both modern popular psychology and some more serious
          technical scientific views. But it is not the Stoic position.

          My second point is more for Jan. Held's argument can be generalized
          if we see different classes of types of experience as generating
          different metaphorical models of reality. But, since it is assumed
          each different model would start with equally valid experience that
          these are just 'different' models leaves us no easy way to
          discriminate the better models from the not so good ones. A similar
          situation is at hand if we presume Creationism (the literal 6000 year
          kind) is at an equal level of validity as evolution and emergence.
          These are certainly two explanations for some of the same questions;
          does it automatically follow that they are then equally valid
          explanations? Going back to my purple methane breathers this is why
          us humans should not expect any common ground with such creatures for
          our way of seeing the cosmos evolved in totally different
          environments. Held's argument is similar in citing differences in
          experience between the genders. From this perspective we might be
          able to say that `reason' as developed in the western philosophically
          tradition is indeed gender biased for it was created after all mostly
          from male patriarchal viewpoints (Grant has challenged this
          assumption but I can see how it could be valid with certain other
          supporting premises in place). On this view this `reason' is only
          one of possibly many equally valid ways of seeing reality. But that
          is not the Stoic view either.

          In Stoicism reason is, in my simple correspondence way of stating it,
          a correct understanding of how reality is. There is a correct one to
          one correspondence between what is and the image in my mind of what
          is and the causal chain leading from one experience to the next.
          That is what the cognitive impression represents. Reason, on this
          view, needs to have a capital `R' and it looses its relativistic
          nature that it gets entangled with from a metaphorical explanation.

          So, my second point is that an argument like Held's can only hold
          water if reason is presumed to be just one of many but in the end
          always incorrect views of reality. That lets the cat out of the bag
          for now reason cannot be the unbiased arbitrator between competing
          views for reason itself is assumed to be prejudiced, which Held does
          with her gender bias argument.

          So, take away the metaphorical model of reason and the bifurcated
          split between reason and emotion and what Held says makes no sense.

          My question for Jan is, when he presents this lecture (if he hasn't
          already done so ;)), will he present another view of reason such as
          this that competes with the metaphorical view and show how that model
          of reason undermines Held's position?

          On my view emotions are schemas for engaging with the world of one's
          experience, a complex amalgam of judgments with specific objects.
          All rational creatures make these judgments and experience emotion;
          men, women, and purple methane breathers. What ethics needs to do is
          drive us towards _correct_ judgments, that's all, and then we will
          have correct emotion. We don't really need to play the game of which
          group is more pathological. It is sufficient to understand that
          almost everyone is and further that all rational creatures by
          definition of being rational have the potential to make correct
          judgments consistently, IOW to choose virtuously.

          Held would have got more of a hearing from me if she had talked about
          intuition instead of emotion quite frankly for intuition I see as
          also an avenue to the correct understanding of things. Then we might
          have genuine gender differences that nevertheless are both aimed at
          right reason. And Grant may then have had a more difficult rebuttal
          if intuition was not used in such an argument as a cloak for
          irresponsibility (what anyone does is OK) like those who favor
          emotion many times do.

          Grant concludes:
          _______________

          I think reason-based ethical theories are the appropriate counter-
          weight to the irrationality of women _and_ to the irrationality of
          men.
          _______________

          Exactly.

          Live well,
          Steve
        • Curt Steinmetz
          ... In fact, the history of the West is a history of totalitarianism. The continent of Europe was completely under the boot of totalitarian regimes a mere
          Message 4 of 23 , Dec 3, 2008
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            Kevin wrote:
            > More generally I think that the traditions and ideals of the West should be vigorously defended, when they accord with Reason .... We should not forget that democracy and individual freedom arose from these traditions. It is not clear to me that they would have arisen anywhere else or would again in the future.
            >
            In fact, the history of "the West" is a history of totalitarianism.

            The continent of Europe was completely under the boot of totalitarian
            regimes a mere (historically speaking) 6.5 decades ago. All of Eastern
            Europe remained so until almost the end of the 20th century.

            At the beginning of the 19th century Napoleon and the Tsar of Russia
            ruled most of Europe.

            During the 18th century nearly all of Europe was ruled by despotic
            monarchs. One of the few bright spots was the establishment of the
            Corsican Republic in 1755 - but it didn't last long.

            The 16th and 17th century were characterized by bloodthirsty religious
            intolerance giving rise to horrors with names like "The Thirty Years
            War", "The Hundred Years War", "The Court of Blood", "The St.
            Bartholomew's Day Massacre", "The Wars of Religion", etc.

            Not to mention the Inquisition, The Witch-Hunts, The Albigensian &
            Northern Crusades (both of which were nothing but Christian Jihads), and
            so forth. Along the way the West has also given the world such uplifting
            advancements in "individual freedom" as the African slave-trade, the
            cultural genocide (and nearly the literal physical genocide) of an
            entire hemisphere, and the brutal, dehumanizing colonization of most of
            the earth's population (that is, most of the non-European population).

            One can keep going back if one has the stomach for it. For example, the
            10th - 12th centuries were a time of widespread persecution of Jews,
            lepers and anyone unfortunate enough to be suspected of any kind of
            "heresy" or sexual "deviance".

            Curt Steinmetz
          • Kevin
            Curt, which of these types of activities would you say is unique to western culture?   Kevin ... From: Curt Steinmetz Subject: Re:
            Message 5 of 23 , Dec 3, 2008
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              Curt, which of these types of activities would you say is unique to western culture?
               
              Kevin

              --- On Wed, 12/3/08, Curt Steinmetz <curt@...> wrote:
              From: Curt Steinmetz <curt@...>
              Subject: Re: [stoics] The Feminist Critique of Traditional Moral Theory (Part I)
              To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 2:40 PM

              Kevin wrote:
              > More generally I think that the traditions and ideals of the West should be vigorously defended, when they accord with Reason .... We should not forget that democracy and individual freedom arose from these traditions. It is not clear to me that they would have arisen anywhere else or would again in the future.
              >
              In fact, the history of "the West" is a history of totalitarianism.

              The continent of Europe was completely under the boot of totalitarian
              regimes a mere (historically speaking) 6.5 decades ago. All of Eastern
              Europe remained so until almost the end of the 20th century.

              At the beginning of the 19th century Napoleon and the Tsar of Russia
              ruled most of Europe.

              During the 18th century nearly all of Europe was ruled by despotic
              monarchs. One of the few bright spots was the establishment of the
              Corsican Republic in 1755 - but it didn't last long.

              The 16th and 17th century were characterized by bloodthirsty religious
              intolerance giving rise to horrors with names like "The Thirty Years
              War", "The Hundred Years War", "The Court of Blood", "The St.
              Bartholomew' s Day Massacre", "The Wars of Religion", etc.

              Not to mention the Inquisition, The Witch-Hunts, The Albigensian &
              Northern Crusades (both of which were nothing but Christian Jihads), and
              so forth. Along the way the West has also given the world such uplifting
              advancements in "individual freedom" as the African slave-trade, the
              cultural genocide (and nearly the literal physical genocide) of an
              entire hemisphere, and the brutal, dehumanizing colonization of most of
              the earth's population (that is, most of the non-European population).

              One can keep going back if one has the stomach for it. For example, the
              10th - 12th centuries were a time of widespread persecution of Jews,
              lepers and anyone unfortunate enough to be suspected of any kind of
              "heresy" or sexual "deviance".

              Curt Steinmetz

            • Robin Turner
              ... I am still not convinced that women are more emotional than men. I have seen men engage in fisticuffs in parliament. I have seen men slip in pools of
              Message 6 of 23 , Dec 4, 2008
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                2008/12/3 Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...>:

                >
                > Held is right that ethicists have traditionally regarded Reason as
                > a counter-weight to emotion, and have associated women with emotion.
                > This is based on an empirical truth--women are emotional, and frequently
                > do not making ethical decisions rationally.

                I am still not convinced that women are more emotional than men. I
                have seen men engage in fisticuffs in parliament. I have seen men slip
                in pools of spilt beer while trying to hit other men who have looked
                at their girlfriends. I have seen men weep because a group of men have
                failed to kick a ball into a designated place more often than another
                group of men. Men are certainly emotional creatures.

                Robin

                --
                "Everyone in the past needs to stop preemptively plagiarizing my
                ideas." - Dinosaur Comics


                Robin Turner
                IDMYO
                Bilkent Üniversitesi
                Ankara, Turkey

                http://www.bilkent.edu.tr/~robin
                http://solri.livejournal.com
              • Steve Marquis
                Robin writes: _____________ I am still not convinced that women are more emotional than men. _____________ Robin, from what I ve read on Briggs-Meyers
                Message 7 of 23 , Dec 4, 2008
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                  Robin writes:
                  _____________

                  I am still not convinced that women are more emotional than men.
                  _____________

                  Robin, from what I've read on Briggs-Meyers personality typing of the
                  four main areas tested for only the feeling-thinking category shows a
                  definite gender bias with 75% women on the feeling side and 25% on
                  the thinking side (not concerning ourselves with the exact
                  distribution too much) and it is exactly reversed for men taking the
                  test.

                  That said I agree with your implication because it favors the Stoic
                  psychological model that emotion is a consequence of the particular
                  type of reasoning we do. And that means that everyone reasons and
                  everyone experiences emotion of some kind as a consequence. Since,
                  for the Stoics, emotion (that is, impulse) is another part of the
                  same psychological chain of events as assent it makes no sense for
                  Held or anyone to lump Stoics in with a general criticism of those
                  who (is claimed) want to set reason on a pedestal as the only right
                  way to be at the expense of other ways, one of which might be
                  emotional. For someone to think of Stoicism this way is an
                  indication of a basic misunderstanding of how the Stoics thought the
                  mind works. There is no `other way' for the mind is monolithic.
                  There is only right reason or wrong reason but we cannot get away
                  from reasoning any more than we can avoid choosing.

                  I think what B-M measures is what stereotypical categories we think
                  we are in. How I read Stoic theory for women to demonstrate emotion
                  and rely on emotion `more' than men only means that might be where
                  their conscious attention is (learned in a large part from the
                  cultural tradition), but they had to make rational judgments
                  nevertheless to have those emotions in the first place. The reverse
                  goes for men. That men consciously focus on deliberation more does
                  not mean we do not have emotion as a consequence of our choices as
                  you point out, nor does it follow that the deliberate reflective
                  choice is always the more correct choice (I do think it ups the
                  odds ;)). Stoic rationality includes all of these stages in each and
                  ever complex choice the mind makes. What in common parlance
                  is `reasoning' and `emotion' is thought of as occurring separately or
                  at least in parallel and not being entirely causally connected
                  whereas for the Stoics there is a sequential chain of causality going
                  on (albeit many such chains occur in a very short span of time and
                  overlap).

                  Live well,
                  Steve
                • Amos
                  It seems to me not only that men and women are culturally conditioned to exhibit different emotions, but that the emotions that both men and women show vary
                  Message 8 of 23 , Dec 5, 2008
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                    It seems to me not only that men and women are culturally conditioned
                    to exhibit different emotions, but that the emotions that both men
                    and women show vary from culture to culture. Men don't cry in
                    Anglo-Saxon cultures, but they do in Latin cultures. Women never
                    show anger in public in many cultures, but they let loose their anger
                    at home. In any case, it would be difficult to measure which sex
                    is more emotional. Do we measure intensity of emotion or frequency
                    of emotional outbursts? How many male screams after a soccer goal
                    are equivalent to how many female screams because they see a
                    mouse? Behind the wheel of a car, men are definitively more
                    emotional; road rage is generally a male emotion. I think that it
                    would be simpler to say that both sexes are emotional and should try
                    to be more rational. Amos

                    --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Marquis" <marquis@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Robin writes:
                    > _____________
                    >
                    > I am still not convinced that women are more emotional than men.
                    > _____________
                    >
                    > Robin, from what I've read on Briggs-Meyers personality typing of
                    the
                    > four main areas tested for only the feeling-thinking category shows
                    a
                    > definite gender bias with 75% women on the feeling side and 25% on
                    > the thinking side (not concerning ourselves with the exact
                    > distribution too much) and it is exactly reversed for men taking
                    the
                    > test.
                    >
                    > That said I agree with your implication because it favors the Stoic
                    > psychological model that emotion is a consequence of the particular
                    > type of reasoning we do. And that means that everyone reasons and
                    > everyone experiences emotion of some kind as a consequence. Since,
                    > for the Stoics, emotion (that is, impulse) is another part of the
                    > same psychological chain of events as assent it makes no sense for
                    > Held or anyone to lump Stoics in with a general criticism of those
                    > who (is claimed) want to set reason on a pedestal as the only right
                    > way to be at the expense of other ways, one of which might be
                    > emotional. For someone to think of Stoicism this way is an
                    > indication of a basic misunderstanding of how the Stoics thought
                    the
                    > mind works. There is no `other way' for the mind is monolithic.
                    > There is only right reason or wrong reason but we cannot get away
                    > from reasoning any more than we can avoid choosing.
                    >
                    > I think what B-M measures is what stereotypical categories we think
                    > we are in. How I read Stoic theory for women to demonstrate
                    emotion
                    > and rely on emotion `more' than men only means that might be where
                    > their conscious attention is (learned in a large part from the
                    > cultural tradition), but they had to make rational judgments
                    > nevertheless to have those emotions in the first place. The
                    reverse
                    > goes for men. That men consciously focus on deliberation more does
                    > not mean we do not have emotion as a consequence of our choices as
                    > you point out, nor does it follow that the deliberate reflective
                    > choice is always the more correct choice (I do think it ups the
                    > odds ;)). Stoic rationality includes all of these stages in each
                    and
                    > ever complex choice the mind makes. What in common parlance
                    > is `reasoning' and `emotion' is thought of as occurring separately
                    or
                    > at least in parallel and not being entirely causally connected
                    > whereas for the Stoics there is a sequential chain of causality
                    going
                    > on (albeit many such chains occur in a very short span of time and
                    > overlap).
                    >
                    > Live well,
                    > Steve
                    >
                  • Steve
                    Amos writes: ____________ I think that it would be simpler to say that both sexes are emotional and should try to be more rational. _____________ It might be
                    Message 9 of 23 , Dec 5, 2008
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                      Amos writes:

                      ____________

                       

                      I think that it would be simpler to say that both sexes are emotional and should try to be more rational.

                      _____________

                       

                      It might be simpler but this way of speaking still sets up emotion as ‘bad’ and reason as ‘good’, the same quibble I had with Grant.  And for the majority of women who think of themselves as more emotional and that this is a good thing will just see this as the latest insult from condescending males and that those like Held are right.

                       

                      It’s easy for me to envision resentment at the stereotypical scene of a man telling an angry woman to calm down and just be more rational.  This approach seems to have the potential of generating more pathos and not resolving anything.  Rather if we develop our communication and negotiation skills I think we stand a better chance.  If we try and understand what the other person really is angry about or want and ask her (or him) questions to get to that point they will inevitably ‘calm down’ because we are trying to see their perspective.  And this will also enable more deliberate consideration on the angry person’s part, whith the increased chance of assenting to a more correct proposition.  We certainly do not need to make a war out of emotion vs reason.

                       

                      An injustice being presented needs to be addressed anyway.  We have to overlook that those presenting the injustice might be quite upset and disregard the issue because of that.  Anger is after all a response to a perceived injustice.  Calmness on our own part and attention to the concerns of others leads to more rationality and less emotion; our goal right?

                       

                      I hardly see the Stoic as disregarding relationships as secondary, another claim of Held’s evidently against ‘individualistic’ philosophies.  Pure bunk.

                       

                      Live well,

                      Steve

                    • Grant Sterling
                      ... Nor am I. That s why I made no such claim. :) ... And that s just irrational. Now weeping because one group of men were unable to carry a odd oblong
                      Message 10 of 23 , Dec 5, 2008
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                        At 05:15 PM 12/4/2008, Robin Turner wrote:
                        >2008/12/3 Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...>:
                        >
                        > >
                        > > Held is right that ethicists have traditionally regarded Reason as
                        > > a counter-weight to emotion, and have associated women with emotion.
                        > > This is based on an empirical truth--women are emotional, and frequently
                        > > do not making ethical decisions rationally.
                        >
                        >I am still not convinced that women are more emotional than men. I

                        Nor am I. That's why I made no such claim. :)

                        >have seen men engage in fisticuffs in parliament. I have seen men slip
                        >in pools of spilt beer while trying to hit other men who have looked
                        >at their girlfriends. I have seen men weep because a group of men have
                        >failed to kick a ball into a designated place more often than another
                        >group of men. Men are certainly emotional creatures.

                        And that's just irrational. Now weeping because one group of men
                        were unable to carry a odd oblong "ball" in such a way as to break an
                        invisible plane more often then the other group of men does is legitimate,
                        of course.

                        >Robin

                        Regards,
                        Grant
                      • Grant Sterling
                        ... An excellent point, with which I partially agree. Emotion stems from our beliefs, and so does not exist on a separate and incommensurable standing than
                        Message 11 of 23 , Dec 5, 2008
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                          At 09:15 PM 12/2/2008, Steve Marquis wrote:

                          >Grant, I agree with your excellent and eloquent rebuttal to Held.
                          >There is one quibble I have, more from a previous post of yours, that
                          >sets reason and emotion up as antagonists. This is the typical way
                          >Stoicism is talked about even here, but it implies emotion and reason
                          >are two separate functions of the mind or person even from the Stoic
                          >point of view. And part of what drives arguments like Held's is this
                          >very assumption: that reason and emotion _are_ indeed two separate
                          >but _equally valid_ ways of experiencing or organizing one's
                          >experience. I think you can see that if reason and emotion are not
                          >separated to begin with then the unspoken premise on which 'emotion
                          >is just as good as reason but different' arguments stand falls
                          >apart. `Equally valid' makes no sense if there isn't two or more
                          >things to be called equal.

                          An excellent point, with which I partially agree.
                          Emotion stems from our beliefs, and so does not exist on a
                          separate and incommensurable standing than reason. You are
                          exactly right that one presumption of an argument like Held's is
                          that it makes sense to choose whether to approach ethics from the
                          standpoint of cognitive structures (beliefs and reason) or from the
                          standpoint of affective dispositions (desires and emotions). Given the
                          Stoic position (of which I am convinced), this is a false dichotomy.
                          All affective structures result from cognitive ones.

                          >Instead, if we wish to contrast the Stoic position with Held's I
                          >think it is better to say that all rational beings reason and that
                          >emotion of one kind or another follows from that reasoning. Instead

                          Where I disagree with you is in this claim. All ethical
                          emotions stem from beliefs, but not all beliefs stem from
                          _reasoning_. Most people who act emotionally do not have
                          emotions that stem from bad reasoning, they have emotions
                          as a result of assenting to impressions without reasoning
                          about them at all.
                          Now of course we can extend the meaning of 'reason' or 'reasoning'
                          so that it covers all cognitive processes. And I don't really have a
                          problem with that, as long as it is clearly delineated. But I do think
                          it makes sense to point out the distinction between bad reasoning and
                          lack of reasoning.
                          In any event, this won't matter for Held's point. Emotional
                          approaches to ethics will only be satisfactory if the emotions stem
                          from true value beliefs, in which case they cannot serve as a challange to
                          ethical theories according to which right conduct is based on good reasoning.
                          [Of course, as I use the terms, there are no emotions that stem from
                          true value beliefs, but I know that you and others prefer to use the term
                          'emotion' more broadly than I do.]

                          >Held would have got more of a hearing from me if she had talked about
                          >intuition instead of emotion quite frankly for intuition I see as
                          >also an avenue to the correct understanding of things. Then we might
                          >have genuine gender differences that nevertheless are both aimed at
                          >right reason. And Grant may then have had a more difficult rebuttal
                          >if intuition was not used in such an argument as a cloak for
                          >irresponsibility (what anyone does is OK) like those who favor
                          >emotion many times do.

                          Exactly. If Held were an ethical intuitionist, with a coherent
                          account of moral epistemology according to which intuitions allow
                          us to grasp moral truths, and if she then showed us reason to think
                          that women had different fundamental moral intuitions from men,
                          then this would require more work. But of course, she isn't and she
                          didn't. :)
                          {And if she holds that there is no objective truth in ethics,
                          then the solution is not to develop a care-based ethical theory, but
                          rather to throw all of ethics in the wastebasket. If witches don't
                          exist, that doesn't mean we need to develop new feminist theories
                          of witches, it means we need to stop talking about witches altogether.}

                          >Grant concludes:
                          >_______________
                          >
                          >I think reason-based ethical theories are the appropriate counter-
                          >weight to the irrationality of women _and_ to the irrationality of
                          >men.
                          >_______________
                          >
                          >Exactly.
                          >
                          >Live well,
                          >Steve

                          Regards,
                          Grant
                        • Steve
                          Grant writes: ____________ But I do think it makes sense to point out the distinction between bad reasoning and lack of reasoning. _____________ Grant, you ve
                          Message 12 of 23 , Dec 6, 2008
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                            Grant writes:

                            ____________

                             

                            But I do think it makes sense to point out the distinction between bad reasoning and lack of reasoning.

                            _____________

                             

                            Grant, you’ve separated ‘reasoning’ out from a parent set of cognitive processes.  I think of this as conscious deliberation, and I will be the first to agree that most of our daily choices and responses do not result from this conscious deliberation.  Part of Stoic training is aimed at increasing the amount of choices subject to deliberate thinking, but that is a long term habit formed slowly.

                             

                            Still we are left with the Stoic premise that emotion as you call it (ie, pathos) is a consequence of erroneous judgments (ie, mistaken or incorrect assents).  So, unless you are proposing something new to the Stoic theory I am familiar with the emotional responses to daily events that are non-thinking responses still are assents to false impressions.  I am led to believe that the Stoics assume all assents are conscious assents.  And this leads us with a dilemma.  The way I’ve resolved this uses the non-Stoic modern notion of the subconscious and equates that roughly with the classical ‘disposition’ that we are working so hard to change for the better.  IOW our non-thinking emotional responses are default reactions triggered by certain stimulus in the current experience and association with similar experiences of the past and the assent(s) made at that time.  There is, of course, much layering, and which assent we are associating with a particular impression exactly becomes very difficult to ferret out.  Nevertheless, emotional responses based on an unexamined disposition keeps the Stoic theory intact of _all_ emotion being the result of some assent to some impression at some point and seems to fit the criteria for your lack of reasoning.  In this case the bad reasoning I am referring to becomes lack of reasoning in the current moment because it is an unexamined reaction.  This group of responses, which I say are almost all assents to false impressions and you say are unexamined (that is, lack of reasoning), is not a trivial size group; it is how most of our so-called choice making is done.  However, it does not seem how each of us want to characterize this is in conflict from what I can tell unless you have something further to add.

                             

                            Live well,

                            Steve

                          • Grant Sterling
                            ... No, we quite agree. I only pointed it out because ordinarily people do not say someone has reasoned badly when they have not reasoned at all, and
                            Message 13 of 23 , Dec 6, 2008
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                              > reasoning. In this case the bad reasoning I am referring to becomes lack of
                              > reasoning in the current moment because it is an unexamined reaction. This
                              > group of responses, which I say are almost all assents to false impressions
                              > and you say are unexamined (that is, lack of reasoning), is not a trivial
                              > size group; it is how most of our so-called choice making is done. However,
                              > it does not seem how each of us want to characterize this is in conflict
                              > from what I can tell unless you have something further to add.
                              >
                              > Live well,
                              >
                              > Steve

                              No, we quite agree. I only pointed it out because
                              ordinarily people do not say someone has reasoned badly
                              when they have not reasoned at all, and ordinarily
                              people do not call unexamined reactions "reasoning".
                              I did not think we had any substantive disagreement
                              in this regard.

                              Regards,
                              Grant
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