Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How (some of) your professors see you

Lydia McGrew, my esteemed co-blogger at What’s Wrong with the World, calls attention to this moment of honesty from the late liberal pragmatist Richard Rorty:

It seems to me that the regulative idea that we—we...liberals, we heirs of the Enlightenment, we Socratists—most frequently use to criticize the conduct of various conversational partners is that of “needing education in order to outgrow their primitive fear, hatreds, and superstitions.” This is the concept the victorious Allied armies used when they set about re-educating the citizens of occupied Germany and Japan. It is also the one which was used by American schoolteachers who had read Dewey and were concerned to get students to think ‘scientifically’ and ‘rationally’ about such matters as the origin of the species and sexual behavor [sic] (that is, to get them to read Darwin and Freud without disgust and incredulity). It is a concept which I, like most Americans who teach humanities or social science in colleges and universities, invoke when we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own.

What is the relation of this idea to the regulative idea of ‘reason’ which Putnam believes to be transcendent and which Habermas believes to be discoverable within the grammar of concepts ineliminable from our description of the making of assertions? The answer to that question depends upon how much the re-education of Nazis and fundamentalists has to do with merging interpretive horizons and how much with replacing such horizons. The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire “American liberal establishment” is engaged in a conspiracy. Had they read Habermas, these people would say that the typical communication situation in American college classrooms is no more herrschaftsfrei [domination free] than that in the Hitler Youth camps.

These parents have a point. Their point is that we liberal teachers no more feel in a symmetrical communication situation when we talk with bigots than do kindergarten teachers talking with their students....When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization. We assign first-person accounts of growing up homosexual to our homophobic students for the same reasons that German schoolteachers in the postwar period assigned The Diary of Anne Frank.

Putnam and Habermas can rejoin that we teachers do our best to be Socratic, to get our job of re-education, secularization, and liberalization done by conversational exchange. That is true up to a point, but what about assigning books like Black Boy, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Becoming a Man? The racist or fundamentalist parents of our students say that in a truly democratic society the students should not be forced to read books by such people—black people, Jewish people, homosexual people. They will protest that these books are being jammed down their children’s throats. I cannot see how to reply to this charge without saying something like “There are credentials for admission to our democratic society, credentials which we liberals have been making more stringent by doing our best to excommunicate racists, male chauvinists, homophobes, and the like. You have to be educated in order to be a citizen of our society, a participant in our conversation, someone with whom we can envisage merging our horizons. So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours.”

I have no trouble offering this reply, since I do not claim to make the distinction between education and conversation on the basis of anything except my loyalty to a particular community, a community whose interests required re-educating the Hitler Youth in 1945 and required re-educating the bigoted students of Virginia in 1993. I don’t see anything herrschaftsfrei about my handling of my fundamentalist students. Rather, I think those students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents. It seems to me that I am just as provincial and contextualist as the Nazi teachers who made their students read Der Stürmer; the only difference is that I serve a better cause. I come from a better province.

Richard Rorty, from "Universality and Truth," in Robert B. Brandom, ed., Rorty and His Critics (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 21-22.

So there you have it. You either accept liberal and secular attitudes about religion and sex, or you are a “bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalist,” comparable to a Nazi or a racist, or at best to an ignorant child. There is no third option, and in particular no philosophically sophisticated and scientifically respectable way of holding conservative religious views or traditional attitudes about sexual morality. A college education, then, is not about studying the debate between different sides on these questions, but about indoctrinating students into one side by painting the other, conservative side as beyond the pale, possessed of no interesting arguments or thinkers to speak of, a political obstacle to be surmounted rather than an intellectual and moral alternative to be considered.

Do all academics think this way? Even all liberal academics? By no means. But a hell of a lot of them do. If you doubt this, take a look at the comboxes of philosophy blogs where the APA petition controversy has been discussed. Or sit in on a course in ethnic studies, women’s history, or gay and lesbian history – where, as everyone knows, you will never hear that there are two sides in the debate over affirmative action, or feminism, or “gay rights.” What you will hear instead is rather: “Here are the good guys (liberals) and the bad guys (conservatives), here’s how the former have made ‘progress’ in defeating the latter, and here’s where further ‘progress’ still needs to be made.” This is liberal apologetics, politics by other means, masquerading as objective scholarship. Not that all left-wing academics realize this. The inability of some of them even to conceive of a serious argument for conservative religious and moral views – that is to say, their own bigotry and ignorance – is touted precisely as unanswerable evidence of the objectivity and rational superiority of their position. “Such ideas are beyond the moral and intellectual pale. I know that because there are and can be no serious arguments for them. And I know there are and can be no serious arguments for them because, you know, look how immoral and intellectually frivolous they obviously are!” The circle is closed. Like the fundamentalist of liberal caricature who dismisses all objections a priori as Satanic deceptions, (some) left-wing academics dismiss conservative arguments a priori as mere rationalizations of superstition and prejudice.

It is amazing how exactly Rorty’s acknowledged program corresponds to the agenda I attributed to the modern university in the second of a three-part Tech Central Station series on universities and the Left I wrote several years ago. (See here, here, and here.) As I argue in the series, that agenda cannot properly be understood except in religious terms – as the propagation of a counter-religion intended to supplant the traditional religious worldview of the West. The origins of this counter-religion, and its inherently immoral and irrational character, are among the themes explored in The Last Superstition.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Prefatory remark: I'll admit to being more or less unfamiliar with Rorty beyond what you've posted here, so you may write off the following immediately if you like.

Actual remarks: Are you sure you're understanding Rorty's use of the term "liberal" correctly--to mean left wing? I would've thought that he was using the term in a broader sense that encompassed much of what constitutes the liberal and conservative spectrum of American politics (in a way analogous to how both most small 'l' liberals and conservatives in America are, to quite an extent, classical liberals). It seems to me that one could hold many of the views that you espouse in this blog--and which you deem conservative--and not fall under the heading of those Rorty believes require reeducation. Didn't Rawls think that his liberalism didn't entail any specific policies on abortion and stem cell research and that people of deep religious faith could be part of the overlapping consensus?

The beliefs that Rorty seems to indicate as requiring reeducation--fundamentalist ones--aren't ones held by most conservatives. As far as I can tell, the only belief that, according to Rorty, you would require education regarding would be gay marriage.

Thus you err in equating reeducating fundamentalists and bigots with antipathy to any conservative ideas. How would seeing squelching fundamentalism and bigotry as part of the mission of the academy preclude serious discussion of Aquinas in philosophy class, Friedman in economics class, and Eliot in literature class?

Athanasius said...

I was amused by Rorty's reference to himself as a 'Socratist'. Socrates would not have been impressed.

Michael B said...

Rorty's is a formal but otherwise unironized irony, an ideologue's irony, from what I can gather. Roger Scruton, in an intriguing exploration in the current issue of City Journal if otherwise unrelated, places Rorty's irony in perspective:

"The late Richard Rorty saw irony as a state of mind intimately connected with the postmodern worldview—a withdrawal from judgment that nevertheless aims at a kind of consensus, a shared agreement not to judge. The ironic temperament, however, is better understood as a virtue—a disposition aimed at a kind of practical fulfillment and moral success. Venturing a definition of this virtue, I would describe it as a habit of acknowledging the otherness of everything, including oneself. However convinced you are of the rightness of your actions and the truth of your views, look on them as the actions and the views of someone else and rephrase them accordingly. So defined, irony is quite distinct from sarcasm: it is a mode of acceptance rather than a mode of rejection. It also points both ways: through irony, I learn to accept both the other on whom I turn my gaze, and also myself, the one who is gazing. Pace Rorty, irony is not free from judgment: it simply recognizes that the one who judges is also judged, and judged by himself."

Michael B said...

Actually, it's not unrelated.

Anonymous said...

With regards to the last part of Ed's post - I can't help but notice that many of the people who rail against religion seem downright religious, and a number of atheists don't seem to reject God, but simply have a vastly different one in mind.

Edward Feser said...

Anonymous,

Yes, I am sure. The quote above alone would show why, if I didn't already know Rorty's views from his own work. It is obvious from what he says there that Rorty doesn't just put opposition to same-sex marriage beyond the pale, but any sort of moral criticism of homosexual acts (he never confines "homophobia" to the former); not just a "fundamentalist" reading of the Bible but any argument claiming "to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures"; etc.

By "fundamentalist," Rorty, like most other leftists, essentially means "Anyone whose understanding of religion is to the right of my own." And like Rawls, those he would allow into the "overlapping consensus" are only those willing to take on board a liberal egalitarian conception of justice. Conservatism need not apply, unless it redefines itself as a variant of liberalism, with the remaining "conservative" elements reinterpreted as irrational or at best non-rational matters of taste. Same with religion: think mainline social-justice Protestantism, nothing to the right of William Sloane Coffin.

Re: Aquinas and Eliot, my point isn't that Rorty and his ilk would not allow them to be taught -- of course they would. The point is that anything these writers have to say that is inconsistent with the liberal secularist project will inevitably be dismissed as no longer worthy of serious consideration. Hence Aquinas's arguments vis-a-vis homosexuality are routinely presented in the form of an easily refuted one or two sentence caricature and then set aside as no more relevant today than his views on astronomy. And Rorty certainly would not regard Aquinas's arguments for God's existence as worthy of serious consideration today:

http://newhumanist.org.uk/1440

Friedman might be another story, though I doubt it. But I was in any event talking about conservative views on religion and personal morality, not economics.

Athanasius,

Indeed. Rorty was a Sophist nonpareil, and the comparison to Socrates is too ludicrous for words.

Edward Feser said...

Whoops. The above is directed at Anonymous at 6:18, not the later Anonymous.

You anonymous guys need to pick some pseudonyms!

Jime said...

As I argue in the series, that agenda cannot properly be understood except in religious terms – as the propagation of a counter-religion intended to supplant the traditional religious worldview of the West. The origins of this counter-religion, and its inherently immoral and irrational character, are among the themes explored in The Last Superstition.

In the TLS book, professor Feser wrote that secularism, especially in the "new atheism" version, is intrisically and necessarily immoral and irrational (I fully agree with that description)

An example of that (not mentioned in Dr.Feser's book, but fully consistent with it)is how the leading naturalist, atheist, skeptical and secularist publishing house "Prometheus Books", in the section of human sexuality and autobiography, has books presenting paedophilia, zoophilia, prostitution, abortion, infanticide, sado-masochism, etc. in a positive light (or at least, subtly suggesting that these behaviours aren't bad or immoral per se)

For example, take a look in the book entitled "Transvestites : The Erotic Drive to Cross-Dress"

According to "Prometheus Books" website, that book explains how: "Transvestism is a firmly rooted psychological phenomenon and cultural tradition, in spite of religious, legal and social sanctions

And: "This book conclusively demonstrates that transvestism is a natural extension of the infinite variations of human personality"

http://www.prometheusbooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=30&products_id=484

Transvestism seen as a "natural extension of the variations human personality", and supported by cultural traditions (in spite of religious and legal santions) will give you a hint about the contents (and hidden propagandistic agenda) of that book.

In other topic, professor Feser in your new book on Aquinas, are you going to critically examine modern and contemporary criticisms and objections to Aquinas' arguments for God's existence?

As far I know, most philosophers, even some familiar with Aquinas' thinking, don't take his arguments for God's existence seriously. But your book TLS has convinced me that a contemporary case for God's existence based on Aquinas' arguments is possible.

A very common criticism is that Aquinas' arguments are based in a flawed medieval science. But I think Aquinas' arguments use the science of his time as to illustrate his points, but his arguments as such (and those of Aristotle) don't depend on medieval science as an intrisic part of them.

I think the above point is made very clear in your book, but I think an in depth and detailed explanation of that specific point is probably needed to convince contemporary philosophers and scholars of Aquinas' current relevance for the debate on God.

Jime said...

As a complementary addendum to my above comment, the author of the book on trasvesties is Magnus Hirschfeld, who according to Wikipedia: "was a gay German-Jewish physician, sex researcher, and early gay rights advocate"

"Around 1900, Hirschfeld developed the theory of a third, "intermediate sex" between men and women. He was interested in the study of a wide variety of sexual and erotic urges, at a time when the early taxonomy of sexual identity labels was still being formed. His scientific work extended that of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and influenced Havelock Ellis and Edward Carpenter."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_Hirschfeld

Prometheus Books has published two books by Hirschfeld:

http://www.prometheusbooks.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=Magnus+Hirschfeld

T'sinadree said...

Jime: "As far I know, most philosophers, even some familiar with Aquinas' thinking, don't take his arguments for God's existence seriously. But your book TLS has convinced me that a contemporary case for God's existence based on Aquinas' arguments is possible."

I completely sympathize with you. You might want to check out Norman Kreztmann's The Metaphysics of Theism and the follow-up The Metaphysics of Creation, both which are considered definitive studies of the natural theology of Thomas Aquinas as found in the Summa Contra Gentiles. Unfortunately, Dr. Kretzmann passed away before he could complete The Metaphysics of Providence, which was going to be the final volume in his trilogy. However, you can find a good portion of the manuscript at the online journal Medieval Philosophy and Theology.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to skip over the comments on transvestitism, which seem to me to betray some sort of weird obsession on the part of their author...

What does Rorty mean when he talks about 'liberals,' and does it have more to do with being left-wing? As someone who doesn't feel comfortable classifying himself as left or right, but has much (though not uncritical) sympathy with something I would call 'liberalism,' Rorty just pisses me off. I don't think any honest educator in the humanities could deny that they want to have an effect on their students' thinking. I also don't think that any of us would feel that we are in a symmetrical conversation when we talk with genuine 'bigots' and 'homophobes.' That is to say, all of us probably recognize some point at which a student (or anyone with whom we are engaged in conversation) begins to express views or attitudes that do not deserve our respect. What troubles me about Rorty and many of his ilk is that they draw that line at the very suggestion that, say, homosexuality is morally questionable. I, for one, am not convinced that it is, but I certainly do not think (as Brian Leiter and pals apparently do) that the morality of homosexual conduct is beyond reasoned dispute. To my mind, what makes a bigot, a homophobe, or whatever, is not so much the view they hold as the attitude they take toward it. There really are people out there who genuinely just hate and fear homosexuals, non-whites, etc., etc. Those attitudes do not deserve my respect. However, the majority of people who oppose homosexual conduct on moral grounds do not do so out of sheer hostility to homosexuality, and so their views *do* deserve at least the minimal respect that is shown by responding with reason rather than dismissal. I, for one, do not think it is my job (or anyone else's) to teach my students what views to have on any subject. I may argue in favor of some position, but I expect my students to treat my argument as an argument, to assess it and judge it on its merits. So long as students (or anyone else) are willing to give and receive arguments, I am willing to do the same.

Rorty has no business calling himself a 'Socratist' or comparing himself with Socrates in any way. The main difference is that Socrates, unlike Rorty, believes in truth. Believing in a truth that transcends our chosen attitudes (as even most defenders of coherence theories of truth would) and caring about that truth should make a person completely unwilling to take Rorty's attitude to education and to discourse. I, for one, cannot bring myself to the level of hubris required to claim knowledge of the truth independent of my best arguments for it, and even where I am extremely confident that my arguments are best, I take it as a necessary component of my concern for the truth that I listen to and assess arguments against the positions that I hold. Similarly, I take it as obvious that anyone who is willing to engage in reasoned argument ought to get that from me, and not mere assertions. I am not optimistic about the likelihood that most people will really be willing to engage in that process, but such failures are largely a matter of degree, and going the way of indoctrination is no alternative. If, like Socrates, you believe in truth and have a realistic assessment of your ability to know it with any certainty, your educational aims ought to be to help students develop the ability to engage in reasoned discourse, not to get them to hold some particular substantive view or other. Since any of the views we hold may actually be false, it is counter-productive (if truth is actually our aim) to try merely to persuade people to share your substantive views rather than to hold them for good reasons. As I said, there are some views and attitudes that really are beyond the pale -- but even when confronted with people who hold those views, we are more likely to disabuse them of their errors by engaging them in reasoned argument than by talking to them like they are a four-year-olds playing with knives. Not everybody is so willing, and sometimes the situation will call for outright denunciation -- but even such denunciation doesn't exclude reasoned argument.

All this is painfully obvious, I think, yet it needs to be said in light of views like Rorty's. Rorty could, I suppose, take this attitude consistently with his views on truth if he just insisted on having that commitment, but in fact his views on truth push against it and towards the dissolution of any distinction between rational and irrational persuasion.

By no means let it be said that Rorty speaks for 'liberals' of any variety. He certainly doesn't speak for those of us who think that the liberal tradition is still worth defending in some form, but he doesn't even speak for leftists -- I, at least, am unwilling to sully my leftist friends with the accusation that they are irrationalist charlatans like Rorty.

Anonymous said...

Let it also not be said that 'liberalism' is wedded to a Rawlsian view of anything at all, let alone the bizarre views of the later Rawls (who seems simply to have admitted defeat but tried to put a positive spin on it), nor even of a Rawlsian egalitarian view of justice. I do not hold such a view, and yet I don't think that a merit-based conception of justice is incompatible with a basically liberal conception of politics.

Jime said...

Thanks T'sinadree , I'll check the books you recommend.

I'm going to skip over the comments on transvestitism, which seem to me to betray some sort of weird obsession on the part of their author...

As any charitable reading of my comment shows, I used the transvestism reference as an example to illustrate Dr.Feser's commentary on the irrationality and immorality of secularism and its view on sexuality and related topics.

But it seems that my comments weren't clear enough and they were asummed (for whatever reasons) as personal attack by the anonymous... (his ad hominem reply suggest he took them personally)

Anonymous said...

Jime,

I didn't take them personally. I just don't quite understand them. Frankly, I don't think men dressing up like women is really a huge problem. I'd agree that that sort of thing might manifest deeper psychological issues, but I'm just not worried about it. At least, it's not a sufficiently huge problem in comparison to most others out there.

Of course, you may be worried about transsexuals rather than transvestites, and that's a different story, but again, not one that I find worth serious attention when placed next to far more serious problems. At the very least, I wouldn't bother to discuss the issue with someone who wasn't clear on the difference.

Jime said...

Anonymous,

I didn't take them personally. I just don't quite understand them

If you didn't understand them, then the intellectually honest and rational is ask me for clarification, not to attack me with an irrelevant ad hominem (because it suggest an emotional reaction, and support the idea that you took them personally)

Frankly, I don't think men dressing up like women is really a huge problem. I'd agree that that sort of thing might manifest deeper psychological issues, but I'm just not worried about it. At least, it's not a sufficiently huge problem in comparison to most others out there

I totally agree. But I've never said it was a "huge problem". Obviously, you misunderstood my position.

My point was support, with concrete factual examples, how a leading secularist publishing house promote practiques and behaviours considered commonly as immoral (because it supports Dr.Feser's argument of the secularism intrinsic immorality and negative anti-religious values agenda).

I took the example of transvestism at ramdom; I could have used other examples (like books supporting abortion, bisexuality, etc.)

But I agree with you that it is not a great problem, and certainly I'm not "worried" about it (even though I'm concerned about the secularist agenda in general and its social influence, specially in young people)

Of course, you may be worried about transsexuals rather than transvestites, and that's a different story

No, I don't. You misunderstood me.

I'm not "worried" about them. My commentary was a mere factual illustration of one of Dr.Feser's arguments.

And yes, transexuality is different than transvestism; I'm conscious of the difference, but the difference is not relevant to my point about the secularist irrationalist agenda.

The difference between them don't justify the secularist promotion of men dressing as women or viceversa. And again, it's not a "huge problem", but it isn't a "rational" behaviour either (in fact, as you wrote, "that sort of thing might manifest deeper psychological issues", because intuitively, you also can see that something is wrong in that. If that is a "huge" or a "small" problem, is another question and completely irrelevant to my comment)

but again, not one that I find worth serious attention when placed next to far more serious problems

I agree. But I don't limit my comments in this blog to "serious problems" alone; small problems, or even no problems at all could be of interest or be relevant to support some claim, or to be discussed in a blog.

And as far I know, Dr.Feser hasn't established in this blog that the readers' commentaries be limited to "serious problems" alone.

I think you'll agree with me on that.

At the very least, I wouldn't bother to discuss the issue with someone who wasn't clear on the difference

My either. But in this blog, I think everybody has clear the difference. Only that some tend to misrepresent other people's arguments or intentions with uncharitable or superficial readings.

Like you, I'm interested in serous problems too; but I'm also interested in general social and philosopphical topics, wheather problematic or not; and this is why I regularly visit this and other blogs.

So, let's to forget the topic on transvestism, and keep going reading Dr.Feser's interesting posts on philosophy

All the best,

Jime

Anonymous said...

Jime,

You list: paedophilia, zoophilia, prostitution, abortion, infanticide, sado-masochism, etc.

You then flesh out the 'etc.' with comments about a book claiming to show that the desire to "cross-dress" is "natural." Why are you surprised that I thought you were "taking it seriously?" Frankly, if you think cross-dressing is in the same ballpark as the other things on your list, I'm worried about your psyche. For what it's worth, I'm perfectly willing to defend the thesis that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with men wearing women's clothing or women wearing men's clothing. I'd agree that it can be a symptom of underlying psychological problems, but not that it must be. Paedophilia, zoophilia, prostitution, abortion, infanticide, and sado-masochism, on the other hand, I would argue are intrinsically evil, i.e., that there are no cases in which actions of those types could be good (though not every case need be blameworthy) or even neutral. Furthermore, they are all kinds of actions that involve inflicting direct harm on others as well as oneself. Cross-dressing, even in its problematic manifestations, inflicts no harm beyond reinforcing the psychological problems that it may manifest. Those problems may be severe, but their severity does not make the actual act of dressing up like a member of the opposite sex intrinsically evil or even very serious. When you add into the mix that the conventions about the kinds of clothing that count as appropriate for one sex or the other are in all but a few cases arbitrary cultural practices, the whole issue seems far less serious or interesting. Certainly it deserves no place on your list of serious and intrinsic moral wrongs.

And for the record, when you quote a book that talks about Hirschfeld's "theory of an intermediate sex" after you've been talking about 'transvestitism,' it does make you seem as though you don't understand the difference between transvestitism and 'transsexuality.'

Jime said...

Anonymous,

You have took the topic of transvestism more seriously than I'd thought. (I could add that, due to that, I'm worried about your psyche, maybe because some "weird obsession" of you about it; but I'll avoid the ad hominem game)

Some commentaries:

Frankly, if you think cross-dressing is in the same ballpark as the other things on your list, I'm worried about your psyche

No, I don't think they're in the same "ballpark". The list was only illustrative of a secularist agenda, not intended to make a rigid category of similar things.

For what it's worth, I'm perfectly willing to defend the thesis that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with men wearing women's clothing or women wearing men's clothing

From your fist comment in this post, I knew this was probably your opinion. It explains your initial ad hominem reply and why you took personally my comment.

However, I doubt you can defend the thesis that transvestism is not intrinsically wrong, because your thesis (according your posts here) is self-refuting.

There is a logical contradiction in your position. Your defend the case for transvestism as a practique that isn't intrinsically wrong. But then you say "Cross-dressing, even in its problematic manifestations, inflicts no harm beyond reinforcing the psychological problems that it may manifest"

That's an important concession, because it shows that, for you, reinforcing psychological problems is not intrinsically wrong! (I must suppose that for you, suicide, when it affects only the own subject, is not intrinsically bad neither)

For me, reinforcing psychological problems IS intrinsically wrong (in the same way that helping people to overcome his psychological problems and emotional suffering is intrinsically good).

And if transvestism (according to your concession) reinforces psychological problems, then I consider it intrinsically wrong.

Your contradiction is more obvious when you said that paedophilia, zoophilia, etc. are intrisically bad and give as a reason that "they are all kinds of actions that involve inflicting direct harm on others as well as oneself"

However, according to your concession, tranvestism reinforces psychological problems! (that is, causes direct psychological harm to tranvesties); and so, logical consistency would demand that you include, according to your ethics, tranvestism as intrinsically wrong.

So, according to your own ethical criteria, there are at least some cases of tranvestisms that are intrinsically wrong (i.e. the cases where it reinforeces psychological problems of transvesties), and it logically contradicts too you next point: "Certainly it deserves no place on your list of serious and intrinsic moral wrongs"

Finally, and as another evident example of superficial reading, you said: "And for the record, when you quote a book that talks about Hirschfeld's "theory of an intermediate sex" after you've been talking about 'transvestitism,' it does make you seem as though you don't understand the difference between transvestitism and 'transsexuality"

But I never quote such book.

The quote about Hirschfeld's "theory of an intermediate sex", is from WIKIPEDIA, not from an specific book.

Having created such crude straw men (I ignore if due to intentional or unintentional misreading) you draw an arbitrary non-sequitur: That I don't understand the difference between transvestism and transsexuality.

As I said, I agree with you that tranvestism is less interesting or important than other problems (but you insist in discussing the question, in another example of logical inconsistency, because in one of your comments above you said "I wouldn't bother to discuss the issue with someone who wasn't clear on the difference. Thus, if your think I don't understand the difference, why are you bothering to discuss it with me?)

But I'm interested in you ethical's ideas, because I can't understand it totally, and I want to ask you for clarification. It could be philosophically interesting for the readers of this blog (so, let's to forget for the moment the topic of tranvestism)

You correctly include paedophilia, zoophilia, etc. as practiques intrinsically bad. You support that view arguing that it involves inflicting direct harm on others as well as oneself.

So, if an act doesn't cause harm or damage to "others" or to "oneself", the act isn't intrinsically bad, according to your view.

But let's to do a thought experiment to test your ethical criteria: a guy called John is caught with a great deal of child pornography. He took pictures of naked children while they were having a bath, and the children were wearing masks.

This wouldn’t affect the children, since they wouldn’t know about the pictures. Suppose (for the sake of the example), that there is no conceivable way for the children to be affected by the pictures (because, e.g. John destroys each picture some hours after of "enjoying" them, and nobody has any clue of John's pornographic activities)

In that case, John's child pornography is not causing a direct harm in the children or in anybody else (except, maybe, in himself, reinforcng his psychological problems...).

My question for you, Anonymous is: Do you consider John's pornographic activities with children as immoral or, on the contrary, as moral behaviour? And why?

Note: to avoid possible straw men and misreadings, the above example is intented as a thought experiment to test the Anonymous' ethical ideas; not as an example that fall in the same category of transvestism (remember that I said "Let's to forget for the moment the topic of tranvestism")

Anonymous, I expect your ethical evaluation of the above thought experiment; this ethical discussion is far more important for me than any discussion on trasvestism or ad hominem sterile exchanges.

Please, don't misrepresent the example; make an effort to understand it correctly, and give me your ethical opinion on it.

Thanks my friend.

Jime said...

By the way, to avoid the Anonymous' misrepresentation of my commentary on suicide, when I said "I must suppose that for you, suicide, when it affects only the own subject, is not intrinsically bad neither", I was refering to cases where suicide doesn't affect indirectly other people (e.g. relatives or sons who depend economically of the person killing herself).

Suicide is not comparable with psychological problems; but they have in common a harm or damage caused in the own person making the act or behaviour, so relevant to the examination of anonymous' ethical ideas in the context of my comment.

Keep in mind that english is not my mother language, so I have some grammatical and linguistic problems to express me with absolute perfection in english. But I hope I've made my arguments clear enough.

Jime said...

For the sake of clarity, in the about example (or thought experiment) John is taking the pictures with an hidden camera, and nobody (except himself) has any clue or knowledge of his actitivies.

So, it's not possible that the children, or somebody else, be directly (physically, emotionally or psychologycally) affected by John's child pornography.