Seems like we could do with an entire thread on gender issues in the SES/SoPP as all threads seem to lead down that road eventually...
TB replied??if the differences are natural and genetic, there is no need to enforce them culturally"
Can you expand upon this?
Sure. Biological differences between men and women have been one of the historic bases for treating the sexes differently, and as Freethinker writes, ?surprise surprise, unequally.? It?s the only basis that still has any currency for the majority of people ? the Biblical basis that Eve tempted Adam with the apple and so women are unfit for leadership because they can?t be trusted is only applicable in a fringe element (although in America, at least, this fringe is alive & strong & gaining a disproportionate degree of power to their actual numbers). And apparently Senior SES/SoPP people find something in advaita Vedanta that reinforces the idea of male superiority. I have some familiarity with advaita and I don?t find support for that view in the philosophy at all. But biological difference remains an acceptable ground for ?treating people differently,? or put another way, discrimination.
As far as genetic and cultural differences, the classic nature vs nurture debate, these are so interdependent that they cannot operate in isolation.
Actually my point is that genetic differences are totally unaffected by cultural codes. No matter what the rules of the society, women can get pregnant and men can?t. No matter what laws the culture has, that basic genetic difference will remain. However, there is no natural difference between the sexes that prevents men from wearing skirts or women wearing pants. It?s strictly a cultural difference.
(BTW, I don?t want to be misunderstood ? I?m not arguing that men are naturally inferior to women, or any such claptrap. I?m just stating something I think is obvious but for some reason frequently ignored: that the single biggest natural difference between men and women is not that women have less upper body strength or muscle mass, but that women have a capability men do not possess.)
So genetic sexual differences are actually completely INDEPENDENT of cultural differences. I understand that cultural differences are intended to come from/be dependent on natural differences, but I would argue that the number & magnitude of actual natural differences are much smaller than it seems, because we all grow up with culturally enforced differences which we begin to assume are natural. I would also argue that many of the cultural differences which are NOT actually based on something genetic come from the tendency for groups who have power to ascribe their dominance to a natural and genetic cause. This doesn?t apply only to gender differences, but also presumed natural differences between races.
I am deeply suspicious of rules or laws claiming to be based on ?natural? differences, I think it?s really difficult to pin down which differences are natural and which are cultural, and all too often the dominant group, which wants to hold onto power, declares their authority as rulemakers based on ?natural? differences which are really a result of their subjugation of the other group. I?m thinking of whites in America in Martin Luther King Jr.?s day, who opposed integration with blacks on the grounds that blacks were ?too violent, too angry and uncivilized,? to be fully integrated into American society, somehow failing to notice that perhaps blacks were angry and violent in response to their cultural situation, not out of an innate tendency to impulsivity.You mention that 'yes the sexes are different', but do not comment if there should be different treatment based upon those differences.
I have less suspicion of the softer sort of social codes, where the only penalty for breaking it is social disapproval. I?m thinking of things like men giving way to women if both approach a doorway at the same time ? When I was young it irritated me if men opened the door, I always found myself thinking ?I can open the door myself, old man, you aren?t so much stronger than me,? but as I got older and started having sexual relationships I saw the value in socializing men to treat women differently than they do other men. The differences between the sexes are certainly part of what makes life fun, at least for us heteros?
I think the key point I want to make is that historically, culturally enforced differences between men and women have been confused with natural differences and that these artificial differences are used to hold women in an inferior position. The Greeks apparently didn?t bother to teach women to read because they thought women were not very intelligent, somehow not noticing that all the women they knew were totally uneducated and thus not very good thinkers. It?s a cyclical and self-reinforcing approach.
RE the SES - I wouldn?t be so mistrustful of splitting the Senior participants into men?s groups and ?ladies? groups if the SES did not have this horrifying history of abuse.
Innate worth, the intrinsic value of a person is not tangible.
?Intangible? means you can?t touch it, it?s not material. It doesn?t mean ?indefinable,? although intangibles like justice or love or innate value are a good bit more difficult to define than tangibles like ?keyboard? or ?house.?
You mention that 'equal inherent worth' is not hard to understand, yet later falter when asked to define it, calling it intangible. I am well aware that having a sense of something does not always easily translate to a verbal definition. This is no reason to avoid trying.
Saying that innate worth is intangible is not a full definition, it?s true, but it is a description, circling around what innate worth IS by clearing out what it IS NOT.
I have to admit, I was a little surprised at how hard it was to say why ?all humans have equal innate value? without resorting to religious language. I know that something like ?innate value? is the basis for human rights & the UN uses language which is not specific to a particular religious tradition, but I?m not up on what that language is.
You confidently assert that intrinsic worth is intangible, saying you cannot define it. You do not say so directly, but I sense you think it cannot be done by other people either, and you do not appear willing to try.
Well, once again, intangible doesn?t mean indefinable. And actually, I do think that other people could & have done a far better job of defining innate value than I have in the post. I gave it my best shot in the time I can take to mess around on the computer, but I have no doubt that there are plenty of thinkers/writers who have defined it more clearly & more poetically than I.
You also paraphrase me saying that abilities and acts do not affect a person?s inherent worth, and that this worth arises from life itself. As you say elsewhere, we are in violent agreement! I do think people?s equal inherent value arises from their existence ? the fact they are alive, embodied, their ?beingness,? to put it in weird philo language.
I know that some people will say that while everyday actions don?t touch one?s innate worth, really horrific things (like humiliating and terrorizing children) could reduce it. I don?t think this is so ? though I can?t take the time to find secular language for why this would be right now. My belief that all people have a baseline of equal innate value, regardless of their capabilities and independent of their actions, (even evil ones) is first an intuitive faith-feeling and second defensible on utilitarian principles of maximizing good-- basically I mean that this belief in equal innate value makes the world a better place, therefore, it?s a good idea to have. It makes people treat each other with a basic regard, and if put into practice would inhibit actions like those taken at St James/St Vedast.
Don?t know how to answer this. Put it here as kind of a flag for future discussion, or other people?s participation if they want to.does karma only operate at the level below advaita?
I devalue them as human beings [people w/out integrity] and would deprive them of the rights that we offer others. I believe in justice systems that carry penalties. At a more everyday level, if I am lied to by a vendor or customer, they have less inherent value in my eyes. I will be less likely to do business with them than those who act with integrity.
By all means, if a vendor is dishonest with you then the sensible thing to do is respond, take your business elsewhere, etc. If someone rapes and murders then yes, please, let?s have a reliable system of justice that can remove such a person?s ability to do so again. And I do think there is room to lose respect for people who behave badly ? on top of maintaining a baseline regard for their humanity. I don?t think it?s necessary to ?devalue them as human beings? while we deprive them of rights. Maybe a semantic point, but I think it?s worth refining/defining.
I want to be clear that I don?t think it?s necessary to tolerate criminal behavior & just let people run around hurting each other, but within the system of punishment & think it?s possible to maintain an awareness of even the worst criminal?s humanity/innate worth, even though the criminal maintains no such regard.If you, as a mature person, can tolerate and show love of inherent value to people that behave the way many criminals do, then you are a far better person than I.
If I can resort to spiritual language ? it?s got to do with recognizing the atman in them, which is untouched by their body, mind, actions, anything. It?s there no matter what they do, based as you say on embodiment, life itself. And it affects attitude more than action I think ? if someone is proved convicted of heinous crimes, we can put him/er in jail for life but we shouldn?t demean them, torture them, etc. BTW, I don?t have to actually interact with such people, so it doesn?t require much of me personally in the way of good behavior -- but I think it?s important for me to maintain that respect in the abstract.
(Re people getting upset) I have to say that I think this happens because people become uncomfortable with being able to justify their opinions.
mmmm?you have a point but it?s possible to challenge someone to substantiate in a gentle way, and I think if you leave them ?face-saving? room you?ve got a better chance of getting an actual answer.
(Re SES people in particular) They usually parroted the party line when questioned. I often found myself facing brick walls as they rolled out pat phrases.
I haven?t been taking the evening courses for decades or anything, but I have yet to hear a tutor say ?I don?t know? in response to a question and I think that I could go years and years and YEARS and probably not hear it. It is obvious to me that these volunteer tutors are doing the best they can but don?t have ALL the answers, so I just wish they would sometimes say ?that?s a good question, I really don?t know, let?s think & see if we can figure it out? instead of using one of their many tactics to sidestep or as you say ?parrot the party line.?
Yes TB, I found your response to my criticism very fair-minded. Hope we can get you to post in some detail about teachings in SES in Senior level re natural order. Do they just bald-facedly state that women must obey men? (Perhaps you could post it on the ?Attending the adult schools? thread ? I think it would be valuable to hear a detailed description from a former tutor of what the teacher training for tutoring is like.As for my tone, I tried to moderate it, hopefully I partly succeeded.