Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Ivory Cubicle | Marriage and the "Duh" Factor

On this week’s episode of “Has America Completely Lost Its Mind” we have an exciting throwback to the massive 2010 WikiLeaks scandal. That’s right, in a move that can only be described as a real-life soap opera, the man behind a number of the leaks, he-who-was-formerly-known-as-Bradley-Manning, has assumed the name “Chelsea Manning,” written a letter to Today informing them of his decision to move forward in life as a woman, and asked everyone to begin referencing him with the female pronoun (except, apparently, for official prison correspondence).

The Army, apparently, wasn’t too keen on the idea, and issued a statement saying, “the Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder,” and has continued confining Manning in cells with guys.

But apparently, that’s not good enough. According to Manning’s attorney, if Fort Leavenworth does not supply hormone treatment for Manning, “then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so.” 

Apparently, the American military has an obligation to provide sex-change treatments for incarcerated traitors if they so desire.


How to Get Out of This Mess

Well, if public discourse remains at the current status of shouting, elaborate posturing, and appeals to the word “discrimination” to defend all the gender expressionism nonsense, I’m not too optimistic that we can return to a traditional understanding of marriage. But if the battle is engaged on an intellectual level, then hopefully we can root out the faulty presuppositions that we've seen popping up over the past few weeks.


The problem is that essentialists and existentialists actually part ways over whether an Order of Being even exists. Anytime an essentialist posits that something actually is a certain way, and that truth is NOT relative, the existentialist can fall back to the classic skeptic’s question, “how do you know?” At its core, it's an question we've been familiar with since age three, but it still appears powerful when dressed up in all the trappings and logical gobbledygook of modern philosophical discourse.

The answer lies in a little known discourse about the existence of one’s hands.

That’s right. Hands. Hang with me here.

Back in the early 20th century, when skepticism was all the rage, it was in vogue to question the existence of certain things that we find obvious. Like cause and effect. Or the existence of morality. Or, in severe cases, the existence of any external reality whatsoever, and, by extension, the existence of one’s hands.

At this point, a philosopher by the name of G.E. Moore offered a comprehensive refutation of the claim that one could not know of the existence of hands. According to Moore, one could hold up both of one's hands, make a certain gesture with the right and say “here is one hand” and then make a certain gesture with the left saying “and here is another” to prove the existence of an external reality.

In short, Moore introduced a concept that had been sorely lacking in philosophy for an extended period of time – common sense. According to Moore, if the skeptic presents you the following syllogism:

1). If skepticism is true, then I cannot know that my hands exist.
2). Skepticism is true.
3). Therefore, I cannot know that my hands exist.

And wastes all his time trying to prove point 2, you can simply reply, in a common sense fashion, that:

1). If skepticism is true, then I cannot know that my hands exist.
2). But I do, in fact, know that my hands exist.
3). Therefore, skepticism cannot possibly be true.

And refute the skeptic thusly.

What’s the application?

Well, if someone comes at you and says, “if existentialism is true, then you can’t know anything about the nature of reality,” and you can prove that you do know about the nature of reality, then you can overthrow the existential paradigm. Instead of starting with an abstract philosophical system, you simply start with what you know and work your way from that. So, for instance:

1). We know that there are some unifying traits that men share.
2). We know that there are some unifying traits that women share.
3). We know that, besides anatomical differences, there are critical psychological and physiological differences between men and women, and that those differences complement each other.
4). We know that you need one of each (man and woman) in order to get children.
5). We know that human beings are creative in nature, and that bringing life into being is perhaps the most powerful manifestation of the human impulse to create and nurture.
6). We know that children do best if raised by their biological parents.
7). We know that marriage is a useful social institution because it is oriented towards the bearing and raising of children.

So we take all that knowledge and say, “hey, maybe there’s a reason this all works this way.” Namely, maybe there are actual gender roles, men and women are supposed to fulfill them, and they are supposed to be fulfilled in heterosexual marriage.

But maybe I’m just old fashioned.

Posted by Nick Barden.

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