September 30, 2015 § Leave a comment
The following is an exchange with Prof. Gad Saad from the comments section on Karen Straughan’s youtube page.
“I appreciate Prof. Saad stomping the hell out of SJWs and he’s pretty good at it, but post modernism doesn’t begin with the assumption that there aren’t any universals, nor is it solely the product of a social constructivist or view hell bent on political correctness.
How exactly do we square these ideas? Implicit within political correctness is a normative claim about absolute morality, which of course like any normative ethical claim presupposes the universal.”
To my surprise, Prof. Saad responded:
“I rarely respond to YouTube comments that are not on my own channel. But here we go.
The defining premise of postmodernism is the rejection of universals in general and human universals in particular.
Here are a few quotes that I culled in five minutes via a cursory search:
1) “Postmodernism tends to revolve around the following themes: (1) the attainment of universal truth is impossible; (2) no ideas or truths are transcendent; (3) all ideas are culturally or socially constructed;…”
2) Here is another (top of p. 9): “Let us then resist the intimidations of postmodernists who like to cant: ‘there are no universals!’ ”
3) Here is another quote: “Postmodernism is ‘post’ because it is [sic] denies the existence of any ultimate principles…” From: http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/postm-body.html
4) Here is another: “So the idea [inherent to postmodernism] that there is nothing essential, in the sense that there are no human universals, is dogma.”
When I interacted with the postmodernist in question, she obviously fully agreed with the foundational premise that no human universals existed (according to postmodernism). This is what allowed us to have the outlandish conversation that I described in the clip.
I should just mention that the rejection of human universals as an article of postmodernist faith is about as unequivocal as the existence of gravity. I don’t wish to engage in an ongoing exchange but I thought that I should weigh in to correct your statement (not that I had to but felt it a courtesy to do so). Cheers.”
“Well ok. I guess I should thank you or something. Not that I’m expecting a response, but right off the bat, from your first source:
‘Postmodernism encompasses the idea that people tell stories in order to explain the world. None of these stories is reality but are simply representations of reality based on incomplete and often inaccurate information.’
This is what ancient Greek philosophers called ‘mimesis.’ It’s the appearance of truth as distinct from truth itself. Truth as we are capable of grasping it can only be appearance or “imagined” in the sense that we can never have full access to truth in its entirety. To do so would make us omniscient. Truth as we experience it is always to some degree appearance in that it is in part what we imagine it to be rather than what it actually is.
If the appearance of truth is distinct from truth itself, it is implicit in the argument that truth exists and can be known, even if we don’t yet know it or can ever know it.
This is hardly cultural marxist academic wankery, it’s an idea that is 2500 years old and is at the root of western philosophy, including the philosophy of science, both ancient and modern.
It is related to the concept of falsification, both in the modern sense as defined by somebody like Karl Popper and in the ancient sense as defined by somebody like Plato’s fictional Socrates. We can never assume we have the whole truth in the form of a theoretical explanation for the factual. All theories are falsifiable or they are not by definition scientific or rational. There are only theories of lesser or greater degrees of explanatory power for the factual. No theory becomes a fact itself. Theories explain facts, they are not facts themselves. No theory can be said to be true, or The Truth, no matter what current of future evidence might suggest, or otherwise it would be dogma, or a claim by faith rather than reason.
Put another way, all theories can only be regarded as the appearance of truth. The recognition of this is basic to rationality, not an attempt to disregard rationality or truth.
‘Postmodernism is ‘post’ because it is [sic] denies the existence of any ultimate principles…’
It is ‘post’ modernist in the sense that it questions the foundation of modernist pretensions to universality, not universality itself or its possibility.
Let me give you an example from art which can be applied to ideas generally:
Aesthetic regimes begin, typically, with folk art, parables, religious allegory, and myth. With the rise of a development like economic affluence, political stability, or the development of civil society and democratic modernity, mythic art gives rise to its critique in the form of modernism, which attempts to tear down a traditional mythic and religious idealism and its artificial symbolic or aesthetic tropes in order to replace it with realism. You see this everywhere in 19th and 20th century art, particularly in literature. Think lost generation writers or somebody like Sinclair or Steinbeck, but you also see it in the critique of divine right monarchy by the end of the 18th century. Mythologized history that was served up by theology and which purported to explain the given social arrangement was recognized as myth, artifice, or construction, an image of reality, not reality itself.
Post modernism becomes “post” when it attempts to carry this realist critique to its conclusion. It’s in the recognition that modernism’s realist pretensions were themselves artifice just as surely as myth was artifice, that art itself can’t represent life but only recreate it in the form of a new idealism, a new set of myths which pass into anachronism, theology, and kitsch. So post modern art doesn’t attempt to portray life, but explores its own constructed nature, since it is only the work of art itself which can be said to be truly real, or at least more real than any subject an artist might attempt to capture according to any realist or modernist formulation.
So post modern art becomes “meta” in the sense that it explores its own construction. And since theory, like a movie, a narrative, or any other representation of reality is only an image rather than the genuine article, it is true for theory just as surely as it is for art.
Godard’s Breathless is a great example. At first it appears to be a b-movie about gangsters, one that apes the style of American films of the same genre. About 10 minutes into it, however, the main character looks at the camera and addresses the audience, shattering the illusion of the film and revealing its artifice. Breathless isn’t a movie about gangsters (or life), it’s a movie about movies.
You could argue that this is the abandonment of realism, of modernism, or of the possibility of truth, but it’s really a recognition that no movie’s realism can ever be the truth. The artistic construction or commodity in the form of the film itself is reality while the gangsters portrayed in such a film can never be anything but appearance. What is real, or true, is the artifice of the film. There are no gangsters, there is only an artistic commodity and an audience which consumes a movie which attempts to make artificial and constructed images of gangsters *That* is the truth. Or it at least is a closer approximation of it than any on offer by modernist or pre modernists. Breathless attempts to “deconstruct” American film noir, which was itself supposed to be a gritty form of realism, but one that had passed into kitsch by revealing its own mythology, construction, tropes, and artifice.
This was the basic idea behind pop art, think Warhol’s campbell soup cans or David Bowie creating a self consciously fictional rock star persona in the form of Ziggy Stardust. Before that it was Duchamp or dada.
The bottom line here is that post modernism, at least as it was conceived of by somebody like Derrida, wasn’t the contention that there is no possible meaning or truth, but about accounting for the way meaning is produced. The point of deconstructing a “text” like an American gangster film, a novel, a newspaper article, theory, or manifesto, was not to render it meaningless or to assert that there is no possible meaning, but to account for what its true meaning is.”
He responded (dismissively):
“Divided Line, thank you for your response. It is indicative of a PoMo mindset, which leads me to think that you are vested in this movement (and hence this explains the impetus of your original comments). In any case, good chatting with you. Cheers.”
“I’m invested in it in the sense that I think it leads to truth. If you deconstruct feminist texts in the way Derrida deconstructed texts generally, you tease out the feminist’s unexamined, implicit, and unconscious ideological assumptions and the results I think are pretty embarrassing for them. It’s not as if anything feminists or SJWs are doing is immune to the same forms of critique, it’s that they’re rarely held to the same standard because most of their critics are prone to various forms of anti intellectual bias. I think that’s a huge mistake. There’s no reason to concede post modernism to them than there is to concede the humanities to them generally.
In fact, if you go this route, and employ deconstruction against them, they begin to resemble social and religious conservatives, which is what, I think, they are at the end of the day. Modern feminism owes more to the prudery, grievances, and fears of 20th century upper class white women than it does to post modernism or marxism. Their arguments are faith based rationalization that grows out of unexamined ideological assumptions and they lead to hysterical persecution politics just as surely as religious faith does. All I’m saying is there’s no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Anyway, have a nice evening.”
In conclusion: There is no possibility of an anti feminist left. Oh well.
September 20, 2015 § 2 Comments
If sexual orientation is biologically rooted, rather than socially constructed, then gender would be similarly biologically rooted to the degree that it is related to sexual orientation.
Nobody would claim that gender is entirely biological, of course. I think it’s pretty unlikely that there is a genetic basis for little boys preferring G. I. Joes and girls Barbie dolls. We can probably say with relative confidence that superficial aspects of gender are indeed attributable to cultural convention, but unless we’re prepared to either argue that gender has no connection to sexual orientation or that sexual orientation is culturally constructed, the feminist contention that gender is constructed is inconsistent.
What coherent counter argument can a feminist make? If she argues that sexual orientation is culturally constructed, then she has put herself on the same side of the debate as religious conservatives who believe that homosexuals can pray the gay away in Jesus camp. If she wants to argue that sexual orientation has no relationship to gender identity, how would she even support this argument? Maybe it’s possible to support it, but it certainly seems counter intuitive and highly unlikely.
I suppose she would have no choice but to choose the latter counter argument and contend that gender has no relationship to sexual orientation, because otherwise she would have to concede to a position which would render the whole of feminism incoherent. If gender is not culturally constructed, then there is no possible equality, no possible victory for feminists to win.
So our hypothetical feminist is stuck in this corner and has to dissociate a biologically rooted sexual orientation from a culturally constructed gender identity, unless there’s some other way out of the trap that I’m not thinking of.
September 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
Most women don’t find “the right guys” sexually attractive, even if they and society thinks they should. That’s the whole problem in a nutshell.
The sad truth is that a lot of guys you think are the wrong guys are only behaving that way because they figured out that if they don’t, they face pretty devastating social consequences, like being ignored, resented, divorce raped, friend zoned, used, treated like a doormat or emotional tampon, and so on. So it is not true that the big bad menz manipulate and use women because of patriarchal male privilege. It is more often the case that those men behave that way because women have left them no other reasonable option. And this assumes those men are even capable of adopting or affecting those traits women seem to respond to. Many men aren’t capable of it at all nor do they even find them desirable or valuable.
After all, why do you think it is that so many men would complain about “women only liking douchebags and assholes?” If men are predisposed to be assholes and privileged douchebags, as feminists claim, then why wouldn’t men be happy about the fact that women seem to respond most favorably to these men? Consider this the next time feminists demonize “nice guys” and blather about “sexual entitlement.”
Nobody chooses their sexual inclinations, just as nobody chooses their sexual orientation. So if women don’t find a particular guy sexually attractive, then that is how it is and there isn’t much that can be done about it other than men attempting to adopt whatever male role it is that women seem to want and expect. It’s not even clear that it is fair to ask women to attempt to change this if sexuality resists reason and cultural or moral convention because it has a biological root which is not chosen. How different is it from demonizing and criticising homosexuality and concluding that gays should attempt to deprogram at Jesus camp?
If we tried to pop the hood on a cultural convention like slut shaming, I suspect what we would find is that its real origins are in previous generation’s attempts to deal with the problem of a female heterosexuality which privileges male traits and behaviors that are out of step with what is necessary for a civil society. To be sure, on its face, slut shaming seems to simply be about our anxieties about female promiscuity, but I’m willing to bet that men’s real investment in it was more about criticizing the kind of men women seemed to respond to, not the number of them. And in that respect, I doubt it is much different than women resenting other women for being more sexually attractive than them and stoking their insecurities.
Maybe the answer is just for women to come clean about the fact that they find sociopathic douchebags to be sexually attractive and be done with it. As depressing as such a set of gender norms is bound to be, it would be far more coherent and probably a lot less damaging to men if we stopped lying to them about what women actually want and expect of them.
September 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
Emily Toten said:
“Why are people attacking all women/feminists in the comments? It’s not like all of the women in the world got together and plotted against the guy. It was the actions of one sadistic, young girl who took advantage of her boyfriend’s mental health issues. Why don’t you all jump on her instead of the entire female population?”
Mathew Taylor said:
“Remember Elliot Rodger? remember when mental health professionals started saying “this guy had a lot of ignored warning signs” like one would expect, but Several feminists said no, this textbook case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder was not about mental health, its because masculinity was toxic?
Yeah, that was ridiculous.
Just like saying feminism and women are to blame for the Carter suicide.
it’s dumb, your right, but its exactly what dudes went through with isla vista, despite the fact he had three times as many male victims as female ones.
Sometimes this kind of thing starts to make us guys wonder if our lives are worthwhile and cared about. When rhetoric and divisive tactics of the current fringe of any ideology (masculinity, not clear mental problems, are why Isla Vista happened was fringe as hell but somehow gained traction) gains traction, all levels of the rhetoric go to butthurt extremes to follow it.
In short, this is the Dude’s Elliot Rodger. The solution is a reasoned response: expect she get the same treatment by the court as if the genders were reversed, and nothing more. Don’t blame women or feminism if she gets off free or with a slap on the wrist non-penalty.
Human beings, however, as we know, are irrational,emotional beings, and that won’t happen, and it’ll be another bullshit wedge used to keep men and women enemies.”
There’s some truth to what you’re saying, but I also think that Elliot Rodger was a product of our current gender norms. Elliot Rodger was a psychopath and in that way he was atypical. You’re right, it was a mental health issue, not a masculinity issue. But what happens when you drop one of those atypical psychopaths into a situation that men experience which is entirely typical?
Sexual and social invisibility is primarily a male problem, a product of a set of norms that women create and impose. How would an atypical psychopath react to that completely typical male experience? I guess now we know.
Feminists were right in considering the gender dynamic of it, but they drew the wrong conclusions because they at all times refuse to recognize that women are half the culture and that it is women who create the social landscape in which Elliot Rodger’s or any other guy’s masculinity is formed.
The same is true for Michelle Carter. Just as school shootings are a primarily male perpetrated phenomena, munchausen (or whatever you’d like to call this kind of attention whoring), is a primarily female perpetrated phenomena, and even if it is true that Carter, like Rodger, had mental illness, that mental illness is still being experienced within the context of gender norms.
Now what’s interesting is that feminists won’t want to consider the gender dynamic that produced Carter at all. And that’s just like men refusing to consider the gender dynamic of Rodger at all. I think both approaches are disingenuous ways of looking at it which ultimately lead away from the truth.
If we do work out the gender dynamic, what happens, I think, is that we come to a conclusion in both the Rodger and Carter cases that blows the feminist narrative and body of theory apart.
September 3, 2015 § Leave a comment
Patriarchy did it… somehow… right?
If she did it for sympathy, it’s Munchausen, something that women are primarily guilty of. What does it mean that so many women will kill children (or manipulate their boyfriends and friendzoned orbiters into committing suicide) just to get attention? Do we think we could find non-lethal and non-criminal or latent forms of munchausen throughout the culture? And how often do women intentionally drive men to suicide? If it were common, would we even know?
If it’s true that men don’t have emotional intimacy with anyone other than women in their lives, that would make women uniquely capable of committing such a crime, wouldn’t it? What about the deference that so many insecure young men pay to women, the tendency of women to despise weak and emotionally needy men, the importance such young men place on women’s opinions of them, their sensitivity to women’s judgement of them in a culture where women still impose an archaic 19th century role on to men in courtship, a culture in which men’s adolescent self concept is shaped most powerfully by what they perceive women’s expectations of them are? What role could widespread, post-sexual revolution blue pill white knight social programming, relative male social weakness, and existential supplicating and pandering to the golden vagina play in disarming young men who happen to seek manipulative, sociopathic, and abusive women’s approval?
Carter (to victim): “You always say you’re going to do it, but you never do it. I just want to make sure tonight is the real thing.”
Talk about the “burden of performance!” How deep does this particular gender theory rabbit hole go, one wonders.
Oh wait, as it turns out, nobody wonders. Nobody gives a flying fuck.
The “gender studies” scholars and theorists in the tax payer funded ivory towers don’t seem particularly interested. And something tells me Amanda Marcotte, Jessica Valenti, and the rest of the blubbering herd of tabloid feminist journalists won’t be ramping up the smug, hipster feminist girl snark and faux white women’s moral hysteria like they did the Duke Lacrosse, and UVA rape hoaxes. How “fabulous” does Sharon Osborne think this young man’s suicide is? I guess we’ll never know.
If women will do sociopathic shit like this for attention and sympathy, do you think that maybe they might make false rape allegations for the same reason? Is that why Jackie made up her story in Rolling Stone? Oh, we can’t ask those questions cuz misogyny, embittered man babies, 2% false allegations, and second- rape theory. Listen and believe, right?
So if men do horrible shit, it’s “the patriarchy” and “rape culture,” and we all need sensitivity training, the guiding hand of feminist moral superiority, and a renewed jihad on masculinity. But when women do horrible shit – even when it is a type of behavior that is a common form of female pathology or crime – it’s just one bad apple, so there’s no need to think about any wider cultural context which produces the behavior – unless we can pin it on “the patriarchy,” of course.
Carter (texting to a friend after Roy’s suicide): “Like, honestly I could have stopped it. I was the one on the phone with him and he got out of the car because [the carbon monoxide] was working and he got scared. I fucken told him to get back in.”
So if we deconstruct masculinity, it’s “social justice” or “gender studies.” Should we attempt to deconstruct femininity, it’s “misogyny.”
Are you getting sick of this yet? My hunch is quite a few people are. Search for this story on youtube and note how many clips have the comments disabled.