Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today we are moving from masculine based structures of the social to feminine based structures

Sexuation 1– The Logic of the Signifier
from Larval Subjects. To be-the-phallus (the feminine position) was to be the object of the Other’s desire, while to have-the-phallus is to possess signifiers of mastery with respect to identity (money, power, knowledge, strength, intelligence, wisdom, prestige, etc)... Thus, in the example of Monica Lewinsky, Clinton had the phallus in the sense of political power, but in her intimate dealings with him she discovered that he was a castrated subject, requesting, as my friend Tim jokingly put it, the ultimate rejoinder to Freud’s claim that “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”. Despite having complete power, Clinton still had a desire for something else and was still haunted by a structural incompleteness. What Lewinsky discovered is that Clinton, while having the phallus, also did not possess it...

Two Political Observations
On the basis of the foregoing, it can be argued that masculine and feminine sexuation also correspond to two different types of social and political organization. On the masculine side we get centralized and hierarchical forms of social organization often associated with nationalism, totalitarianisms, authoritarian leaders, etc. In my next post I will outline the jouissance that corresponds to these structures. Corresponding to the feminine side of the graphs of sexuation, we get networked, non-linear, decentralized forms of socialization. It can indeed be said that today we are moving from masculine based structures of the social to feminine based structures. However, it should not be presumed that these structures do not possess their own deadlocks and antagonisms. Indeed, it could be said that network based social relations are far more resistant to critique and engagement than are masculine based structures.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

There can be no global theory of intellectual change without paying attention to the dynamic between men and women

Book Review: Randall Collins' The Sociology of Philosophies,
By Hava Tirosh-Samuelson Metanexus Chronos. 2004.04.15.

What about women?
Obviously when one covers 2500 years of intellectual activity, seven major religious traditions, scores of intellectual networks, and hundreds of individuals, one must leave a lot out and cannot possibly do justice to the material under consideration. There is one particular omission, however, which concerns me most, not as a Jew but as a Jewish woman. Only five female philosophers are mentioned in the book - Ann Conway, Catherine Cockburn, George Elliot, Madame de Stael, and Julia Kristeva.

Collins, I must admit, anticipates this challenge from his readers and in the introduction he raises the questions "where were the women?" In the Introduction he mentions four women, whose names appear again later in the book. Yet, in truth, this book is but another illustration that the story of philosophy is "His-story" rather than "Her-story." This is not a cheap shot on my part simply to waive the feminist "party card" and rebuke Collins for not consulting the massive material that has been collected about the work of female philosophers from ancient Greece to the present. Rather, my point is that Collins's exclusion of the women from the sociological analysis distorts his reconstruction of intellectual networks.

How can one discuss Sartre while omitting Simon de Bauvoir, or Nietzsche without a reference to Lou Andreas-Salome, or Jacques Lacan without a reference to Luce Irigaray? These women are not only crucial to the analysis of the ideas of their male counterparts, they are essential to the critique of their ideas as well as the reception of those ideas. There can be no global theory of intellectual change without paying attention to the dynamic between men and women, and without recognizing that at least half of social reality in which all philosophic activity is embedded includes women.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Same-sex marriage is okay

Gay Marriage (by Don Boudreaux) from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
Here's a letter of mine that appears in today's Washington Times:

Thomas Sowell's case against affirmative action is sound; his case against same-sex marriage is not ("Affirmative action and gay marriage are frauds," Commentary, Sunday).

It's true that marriage laws emerged largely to deal with fact that heterosexual couples have children. But this fact does not imply - contrary to Mr. Sowell's careless claim - that "the government has a vested interest in unions that, among other things, have the potential to produce children, which is to say, the future population of the nation." Certainly in a free country, the state has no business governing in any way or for any purpose people's decisions on having children.

Additionally, the "married couple" has become a legal entity with unique status under tax, property, insurance and estate laws. Being married also carries with it important, largely positive, social implications. The fact that gay couples cannot (by conventional means) have children is no reason to deny these couples such status.

DONALD J. BOUDREAUX Chairman Department of Economics George Mason University Fairfax