I’m coming to the end of my 31 days of blogging and I’ve been thinking about how this practice has changed my habits. Like blogging when I travel, I think blogging every day for a month has made me pay more attention to the thoughts that flit in and out of my head. They’ve also made me think about whether I want to develop something I’ve already written about a bit or if it matters enough to me. At the end of last year, I was recognizing a reticence in myself to write whatever insight or thought I had in a way that it looked to me that many people–mostly men–on social media did not have. I felt like I would circle around the idea four or five times and wonder whether it was worth putting in the world, which I talked about in my mid-month reflection on blogging.
Naming that problem has not necessarily changed it. Right now, I’m having one of those moments. I don’t know if my thought is worth sharing — I felt a little like this about yesterday’s post too — or if everyone already knows this except me. But I decided in these moments that the blog was just as much for me as for the world, and if it was important to me, it was worth sharing. Blogging about it gave me the opportunity to work through and clarify an idea that was percolating. I also tried to get out of my head the idea that my audience was other philosophers. In fact, I think this might be one thing that keeps philosophers from effectively engaging in public philosophy: we’re so tough on each other, we end up being more concerned with crafting the argument to be unassailable and original that either we just don’t write or we write to an audience that already is our audience!
The thought I had this morning was about the notion that women are more associated with their bodies than men that I discussed yesterday. I had always thought that the reason for this is that women bear children and so their work is literally in their body. But this morning I was thinking that is not sufficient. After a week of discussing Anne Fausto-Sterling’s work, it occurs to me that we think of men as less involved in reproduction because of our views of women as more their bodies and men less so, not the other way around. Read more
In Charles W. Mills’ essay, “But What Are You Really? The Metaphysics of Race,” he offers an array of markers that are used to identify a person’s race–ancestry, immediate family, self-identity, appearance, experience, self-awareness of culture, and so forth. He argues that the fact that we shift from one criterion to the next in identifying race suggests that we have a political not an epistemological investment in identifying race. Put another way, it’s because we want to maintain a certain structure of power that we shift our notion of what race means in different settings so that it applies in ways that serve that power structure in different moments. This move demonstrates that race is not something we wish to determine for the sake of some uninterested knowledge, but for political purposes.
While arguments against nature might be easier to make in terms of race, many more people think nature supports different roles for men and women. Witness, Larry Summers. Today, my Introduction to Gender Studies students came to the conclusion that we shift our definition of what nature means (either the ground for how things are or the thing that must be overcome) in a similar way to how we shift our definition of identity markers determine race. The shifting senses of nature show that we are invested in nature as a category that grounds certain power structures rather than as a real ground that will give us information about how things out to be. We change what we mean by “nature” depending on what allows us to justify the way things are in a particular context. Read more
I know you’re thinking, wow, Adriel’s run out of things to say in her 31-day blogging challenge and now we’re going to talk about the weather. Stay with me. I am going to talk about the weather, but not because I’ve run out of things to say. It actually turns out that I have become someone for whom weather is an interesting topic of conversation. You know that famous line from My Fair Lady when Mrs. Higgins tells Henry, “I suggest you stick to two topics, the weather and your health,” because Henry seems to be unable of speaking without offending Eliza. That’s the thing about talking about the weather, no one could be offended by it. Talking about the weather really seems to be talking about nothing at all. Read more
As part of the GLCA Ancient Philosophy Collaborative Initiative, I and my collaborators Lewis Trelawny-Cassity and Kevin Miles will be discussing my book Aristotle and the Nature of Community tomorrow, April 17, 2015, at Antioch College, MacGregor 149 at 4 PM. This panel will be convened in conjunction with the philosophy roundtable that meets regularly in Yellow Springs. I’m posting my comments below:
It’s an honor to be given this time and this venue to discuss my research. I’m grateful to Lewis Meeks Trelawny-Cassity and to Kevin Miles for the time and the consideration they have given my book. Kevin Miles was the first person with whom I read the Politics. Since reading Plato and Aristotle with him as a graduate student, I have found a persisting tension between the project of elucidating the question of a text and offering a sympathetic account of it. My own interest in developing a positive account of Aristotle’s Politics might seem to repress rather than illuminate the questions of the text. My drive has been to give the strongest reading in an effort to find an alternative to modern conceptions of political life. I hope that today and not only today, I can try to get clearer about the questions this reading forces upon us. Read more
I asked my students to write a paper explaining how Zeus in Hesiod’s Theogony is a model of what a standard for nature is, what such a standard reveals about Hesiod’s view of nature or “the way things are”, and what is difficult about establishing a standard for how things are. I decided I would do this assignment, too, to give them a sense of what I am looking for and for an opportunity to continue blogging about Greek mythology. Read more
I wrote most of this post in Nafplio, living close to nature. The photograph is of the abandoned robin’s nest found in our hanging ivy planter.
There’s been a resurgence of conversation in philosophy about the role of the nonhuman in recent years. I’ll be honest, I haven’t given it that much thought. But I came to this ah-hah moment the other day in conversation with my lovely husband about sacrifice as the production of the distinction between gods and beasts and the subsequent production of the space in between: the site of the mortal. How sacrifice does that is complicated (see Vernant, Girard, Burkart and Agamben), but the implication of this account is that the line between the beast and the human (and the god) needs to be produced. Read more
Let me start this saga by saying I am not a cat person. Oh, we had cats when we were growing up. But those are sad stories, like most cat stories. Read more