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Max Price
Max Price
2 months ago

The “explanations”given for why women aren’t getting ahead in certain fields sail very close to affirming the very stereotypes of women as inferior to men that feminism has fought so hard against.
The same can be said for affirmative action programs. This is how it is perceived by the average punter on the street and it’s hard to argue with that point of view.
Women gaining access to the professions has been a social revolution and it was always going to take time, perhaps several generations for a natural equilibrium to be obtained.
The constant harping about implicit bias, stereotype threat and the need for affirmative action undermines womens achievements and creates resentment and pushback.

Michael K
Michael K
2 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Exactly. When looking for a job about a year ago, I noticed some openings that would “preferentially choose women and handicapped people”. Do they seriously not see the irony in that?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael K

Are some handicaps preferred over others?

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

I expect that you are correct. The difficulty will be that ‘the natural equilibrium’ will never be where some activist thinks it should be.

mike otter
mike otter
2 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Wise words – Myron Magnet says it well in the Dream and the Nightmare. If these wretched kids (agess 16-90) sobered up and stayed off the internet they may yet learn there is no finite sweet spot in the paradoxes of liberty or equality. They may even accept such as a false goal and accept all we can hope for is gradients of improvement. In the meanwhile i think the best solutoin is give all of them a free transfer – to Putin’s conscript army – that’ll learn ’em.

Last edited 2 months ago by mike otter
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 months ago

I teach Western Civilization & American Government to private high schoolers. We argue all the time: them with each other, them with me, sometimes me with me while they watch. Philosophy got started largely when 1 man refused (unto the point of his own self-administered execution) to back down from an argument with Athenian elites.

A philosophy department that refuses to argue is pointless. Who would go into such a discipline? How would you even learn?

Last edited 2 months ago by Brian Villanueva
Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago

Ahem. Do you have another question?

Terry Davies
Terry Davies
2 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

I don’t understand your post. Can you elucidate?

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago

Crikey, I spent my undergraduate days in a London University philosophy department. Admittedly it was a long time ago and I was pretty semi-detached, having healthier obsessions such as sex and drugs and rock and roll, but even so, you are describing an alien place: You are describing a society in a state of wretched decline.
The men and women who attempted to guide me were kind and generous: “I don’t think that you have thought this through” being the worst thing ever flung at me. And it was fair comment.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I studied political philosophy at LSE, p: there were some famous names including the conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott and Elie Kedourie. We sat around a large table with these titans. All of my fellow postgrad students were male and to my everlasting humiliation, I contributed only once to the seminar because I felt so intimidated. This wasn’t because the other students were bullies. It was because I needed to gather my thoughts before speaking, while my male colleagues had the confidence to contribute intelligently ‘on the hoof’. How I’ve always envied them! I don’t know whether this was simply a cultural difference at the time, when perhaps we females lacked the confidence of the males, or whether there is a deeper reason connected with biological/evolutionary difference.
To return to the article: the newer, ‘kinder’ opening to discussion, ‘could you say more about that?’ is straight out of psychotherapy. It’s designed not to criticise but to encourage the client to talk. But in philosophy I suspect it’s a deflection away from challenge and conflict which in today’s atmosphere is uncomfortable, even ‘hurtful’ and ‘offensive’. It has become dangerous to be direct.

Michael K
Michael K
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

The difference, I would assume, is in the experience of men and women when growing up. Where women are often consoled, protected and allowed to be weak, men must learn to survive and deal with an uncomfortable reality. The latter of course promotes confidence, as one starts to see that failing at something doesn’t kill you. Once confidence sets in fully, fear retreats and thus lets the intellect work undisturbed. Hence the ability of your past comrades to contribute without much preparation. I am quite certain you could have done the same, but a lot of your energy went into dealing with the inevitable dread of speaking up. Men deal with it, too, but learn to just take the leap without thinking too much (which can also be detrimental, of course!).
If you don’t believe me, just look at the difference between a crying woman and a crying man. While the first is worthy of protection, consolation and possibly even revenge, the second is just seen as pathetic and weak. I didn’t make this up – evolution did.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael K

“but a lot of your energy went into dealing with the inevitable dread of speaking up” – that’s spot on. Thanks for giving me something to think about (I’m smiling, I just realised what I’ve typed!).

Last edited 2 months ago by Judy Englander
David Batlle
David Batlle
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael K

Sounds about right. Even as a man, I can fluctuate between both states of mind— highly confident and on the hoof, or cautious and tentative. The subject matter might have something to do with that, or the setting, or what side of the bed I got out of that morning. And perhaps men are more socialized towards the former, and women towards the latter.

Last edited 2 months ago by David Batlle
Rosy Martin
Rosy Martin
2 months ago
Reply to  David Batlle

Excellent observation,. As a woman- chromosomes XX, promise !- I too find I can be in either mode. I was in a profession- medicine- which required decisiveness and at times leadership. I found I could do it, tho was more comfortable in the other mode. I have also noticed that women from the minorities are often excessively anxious and deferential by our standards.I think it is a question of socialising and learned behaviour, and that of course shifts with each generation.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael K

Perhaps there is a role for personality differences between males and females?
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00178/full

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Young males tend to be impetuous to the point of recklessness. Is that a form of courage or confidence? I don’t know, but if they weren’t that way how would females ever get asked for a date? The cool girl in the corner smoking a gauloise was a lot more intimidating than any fusty old professor. And we both knew it. But needs must, and even if she was amenable she knew that my interest was more urgent than hers. I guess this leans towards a biological/evolutionary explanation.
Don’t forget that a display of intellectual self-confidence is easily misinterpreted as evidence of intelligence. How many academic careers were built on that error? My first tutor, a woman not much older than me and very beautiful, told me on our first meeting, that most of the books that I would read would be poor and recommended one particular book for my first read – A form of intellectual inoculation I suppose. I wish I had listened to her more.
As for “kind and generous” I mean nothing more than that my tutors understood that their role was to guide, encourage, correct perhaps, and interrogate me in what they (mistakenly) believed was the study of my chosen vocation. They were not there to pose or boost their flagging masculinity at my expense. And they were certainly not given to intellectual cowardice – a contemptable trait in a supposed scholar.
Judy, I am surprised to hear you say that you were slow in coming forward.
PS: The cats are creating chaos. I found one in the dishwasher, this morning. I look forward to the day when I can shove them through the catflap.
Edit: I didn’t really address your final paragraph at all: I got deflected by my own thoughts. Sorry.

Last edited 2 months ago by polidori redux
polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

¬¬

Last edited 2 months ago by polidori redux
Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yes, I’ve often sympathised with boys and men who were (are?) supposed to make the first move. That really does take reckless courage. You make a good point. I also agree about the difference between intellectual self-confidence and intelligence.
I’ve changed as I’ve grown older. I’m much more confident. In fact in later intellectual ventures I became quite a troublemaker or – at least – a stirrer of the pot especially where my colleagues were mostly/all women. I found women to be annoyingly ‘nice’ and pushed against what I saw as lack of challenge and straight talking. So a big difference from my early twenties.
I laughed re cat in dishwasher! In my experience trying to shove a cat through the flap is even more distressing to the owner than to moggie.

Katrina McLeod
Katrina McLeod
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Always put the cat through the flap backwards!

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I suspect you were raised in a family which valued harmony, and where one of the prime duties of a woman in her family was to attain harmony, after there has been some ‘unpleasantness’.
I grew up without this requirement. Indeed we children were given notes before dinner about what we were scheduled to argue in the half hour to one hour argument session after *next* dinner — thus plenty of time to head for the library the next day. Best arguers got to do it again on Saturday after lunch, or Sunday if the theme came from moral philosophy or religion.
‘Contributing intelligently on the hoof’ is something that can be trained, and my grandfather — in whose house I was living along with other cousins and various relatives, made very sure that we were all well grounded in the art.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

As a fairly shy male kid, I was afraid too of speaking up during University, but as experience in work ( with scientists) showed me that I understood the matter better than others, I gained the confidence to query and challenge in my early twenties – becoming a real pain in the arse devils advocate on any topic as I progressed to middle age. But people, often women, would thank me for asking questions or putting points that they were just too scared to do.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

That was my experience in the same domain of study.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I missed this article and was alerted to it by a FSU newsletter.
You probably expect me to say how terrible this all was. Actually, I wonder if it wasn’t the best of all possible worlds in comparison to what came next.
It seems to me Kathleen Stock doesn’t overtly put her finger on the embodiment of “what came next’. Is she saying what came next was a marked increase in participation of women in philosophy, and the inherent nature of that participation was an expression of female aggression and a hollowing out of a commitment to argumentative rigour?
I would welcome your observations on this matter.

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence
1 month ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

‘on the hoof’ & biological differences – well, how about fighting? that seems like an arena where ‘on the hoof’ is quite necessary. I mean, you could be a strategist, and hold back while you consider your options, and possibly go away – but you often don’t get a chance to come back *and* fight another day. So you have to do it there and then… Just off to check the origin of the phrase now… many suggestions, including ““in the wild” or “in [one’s] natural state” or even “off the cuff”.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Snap. I did my philosophy BA at UCL as a relative youngster in the mid-90’s, followed by a middle-aged MA and PhD at Bristol. There is no way I would return to university now, because I simply will not pay £9k to subject myself to woke.

Elena Lange
Elena Lange
2 months ago

As an academic philosopher, I can confirm the regression in terms of intellectual vigor and curiosity. Moreover, it seems that *maintaining* these qualities will get you cancelled, sooner or later. For Kathleen Stock, it was a bit sooner, for me a bit later. The solution? Sticking it up for theory.
This piece is a first big step in the direction of processing what went wrong with academia, and we need more of that.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 months ago

It’s always fascinating when a member of a cult escapes and reveals what’s really going on inside.

Sam Wilson
Sam Wilson
2 months ago

Delightfully learned, well written, and powerful. One note – how to salvage what philosophy used to be? That in itself is a philosophical question, namely, what SHOULD philosophy be? I don’t know, but I can tell you that when Socrates set forth his anti-sophist project he certainly didn’t intend for the end result to be a set of posturing intellectuals vying for recognition in a field far more concerned with whatever’s en vogue politically than serious academic discourse.

Leo Strauss distinguished between “great thinkers” who came up with revolutionary systems answering the greatest, most fundamental questions, and the “scholars” who followed on their heels, debating minutiae and interpreting their predecessors. Perhaps, if we want a return to the philosophy of bombastic responses to fundamental problems and then careful debate about the intricacies of those answers, we need to rethink whether current academia will support future great thinkers, or crush them under whatever internal difficulties got Ms. Stock fired.

Last edited 2 months ago by Sam Wilson
Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 months ago

If every philosophy department in the UK was closed down tomorrow would intellectual life be any the poorer? Discuss.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
2 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Richard Feynman had something to say about philosophy in his book “Surely you’re joking Mr Feynman”. He describes a discussion he had with a group of philosophy students at lunchtime. They were discussing the term “Essential Object” and he was asked if an electron is an essential object. In reply he asked them what the term meant and in particular was a brick an essential object. The discussion broke down when they couldn’t decide if the term referred to a particular brick or to the general idea of a brick and it’s essential brickiness. It became clear that they all had different ideas about what was meant by “essential object” even though they used the term in their books and previous discussion.
Richard Feynman’s conclusion was that Philosophy is fatuous.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Thanks Steve. I’ve put that book on my reading list.

Keith Jefferson
Keith Jefferson
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Feynman was probably the greatest scientist of the 20th Century, and also a great engineer with his mind rooted in reality rather than being up in the sky. One of the fundamental differences between scientists of his ilk and the philosophers described by Stock is that scientists absolutely want their ideas to be rigorously challenged. You put up an idea or thesis and invite others to demolish. If it is demolished, you go back to the chalk board, change your ideas, and science as a whole benefits from that. My worry is that the culture described by Stock has already infiltrated the sciences. I could not, for example, be seen to challenge the orthodoxies (on environmental or trans issues, for example) of the Institutes relevant to my own fields without suffering consequences. Science, and philosophy and all other areas of academic study, suffers from that.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Perhaps Feynman, like me, was a slave to a defunct philosophical school but, unlike me, wasn’t aware of it.

Last edited 2 months ago by polidori redux
Alan B
Alan B
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Well theoretical physics has the wave/particle thing and Plato insisted upon maths as a prerequisite to philosophy so I don’t find this straw-manning of philosophical discouse very compelling. What Feynman had to say about his experience teaching in Brazil is more to the point: “I discovered a very strange phenomenon: I could ask a question, which the students would answer immediately. But the next time I would ask the question — the same subject, and the same question, as far as I could tell — they couldn’t answer it at all!…

…After a lot of investigation, I finally figured out that the students had memorized everything, but they didn’t know what anything meant. When they heard “light that is reflected from a medium with an index,” they didn’t know that it meant a material such as water. They didn’t know that the “direction of the light” is the direction in which you see something when you’re looking at it, and so on. Everything was entirely memorized, yet nothing had been translated into meaningful words. So if I asked, “What is Brewster’s Angle?” I’m going into the computer with the right keywords. But if I say, “Look at the water,” nothing happens – they don’t have anything under “Look at the water”!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Speaking as an ex-philosopher – I quit philosophy the day I got my PhD 10 years ago – the term “essential object” doesn’t mean very much to me. On the standard philosophical understanding, “essential” denotes a relation between properties and the objects possessing them, such that a property F of an object a is essential to a if and only a ceases to exist when it ceases to possess F.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Wasn’t there a time when ‘philosophy’ included what we now call science?

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
2 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

It’s interesting that the standard qualification for entry into politics these days is Philosophy, Politics and Economics, so called PPE. Personally I think maths might be a better subject to include and last time I looked there wasn’t a single maths or science qualification in the cabinet.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Don’t despair, Jamie Wallis MP is a Chemistry graduate from Christ Church, and also holds PhD from somewhere else.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Are you winding us up?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yes.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Nadhim Zahawi read chemical engineering, but that’s a case of the exception proving your rule. I believe scientific education is rare not only for politicians, but for civil servants, too.
I read physics, and as I read the above article, I had insurmountable trouble in understanding how anyone could distinguish between those who should succeed in graduating and those who shouldn’t, and also wondering if there was the slightest use for either, other than for the, I hope, limited number of jobs available in teaching.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Yes its terrifying that they seem to have no idea about objective biological truth. Was Thatcher the last scientist to rule????

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

I think it is deeper than that. They have no idea how we have come to understand reality is organised. Consequently, they have no idea how reality is organised.

Dee Carter
Dee Carter
2 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

You seem to overlook/forget/be unaware (?) that ethics is philosophy: a key plank of philosophy along with epistemology and formal logic. Some would claim ethics as the whole of philosophy.
Are you suggesting that ethical theory and discussion are a waste of time? In the current time where emotivism rules, unfortunately, surely some robust intellectual counter to this is badly needed?

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 months ago
Reply to  Dee Carter

No, I am not suggesting that these topics are unimportant or should not be discussed; quite the contrary. But I wonder if the philosophy departments of our universities have anything useful to contribute to those discussions given the way that Kathleen Stock’s views, for example, were outlawed.
‘We cannot tolerate your views because they are unfashionable’ is hardly a basis for rigorous intellectual discussion.

Dee Carter
Dee Carter
2 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Yes, I agree with all that. It’s a sorry state that’s come to pass. Students invited to give their ‘opinions’ rather than to argue a case for these; then all ‘opinions’ affirmed as equally valid. But now something worse: a narrow band of ‘opinion’ is the only ‘right belief’ – without any demonstration of its validity – and to reject this, via argument is simply ‘worthless hate-speech’.
That a situation such as the treatment of Kathleen Stock should occur, be tolerated, excused, covered up is truly shameful and craven.
The world has gone mad.
Simon Edge’s novel, ‘The End of The World is Flat’ is worth a read.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago

Also predictably, the new report also declares that “philosophy is unwelcoming to trans philosophers”.

Reality is also not welcoming to trans philosophers, but where do we go from there?

Richard Beale
Richard Beale
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Nicely done!

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Well said!!

Last edited 2 months ago by Alison Wren
David McDowell
David McDowell
2 months ago

Philosophy gave up on the truth in the aftermath of the second world war because of where the search for truth had led. The result was relativism, which feminism exploited to deny that men and women are fundamentally different animals. Trans-activism is exploiting relativism to legitimize next stage genderism and delegitimate post war feminism. You reap what you sow.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

I know no second wavers in the UK who ever suggested men and women are the same!! And we weren’t “equality feminists” they came from the USA, we were liberation feminists ie reward and value the things more women are good at (caring, empathy,child bearing and rearing) as much as we value the things more men are good at (building maths etc). And never forgetting that whilst there is a lot of overlap in these skill sets they still tend to cluster according to sex.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

I very much agree with the second part of what you say but feminist mainstream publications like the Guardian in the early 2000s were littered with articles suggesting that biological differences between men and women were either imaginary or irrelevant. More importantly, the philosophical basis for those arguments was relativism, which is the same basis the trans activists are using to undermine contemporary feminism.

Last edited 2 months ago by David McDowell
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Can you tease out the relativism a bit more? Are you talking about the postmodern relativistic notion regarding knowledge acquisition for example?

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 months ago

I’m thinking mainly about the denial of biological reality perpetrated by feminists to seize power from the patriarchy back in the 1960/70s. What you refer to is much more recent and frankly less relevant to the position Stock and other anti trans activists now find themselves in.

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence
1 month ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Suppose one discusses two biological systems, which are supposedly the same in basic function except that one system produces outcome A as a building block 55% of the time and outcome B 45% of the time, whereas the other system has different probability distribution (say 45/55). Are the systems intrinsically different? Do they produce instrinsically different outcomes? I would say No; Yes.

Martin L
Martin L
2 months ago

As ever, a well thought out piece. If only more members of academia would stand up and be counted we might see the tide turn completely and the gender ideologues forced into retreat. We can then begin the full dismantling of the structures that have promoted the infiltration of gender identity theory into the mainstream. We need to get organisations like Stonewall and Mermaids out of our schools, out of corporate offices, out of the ‘training’ environment, out of the NHS, out of police forces, out of political parties and, preferably, out of business altogether. Then we need to make every person accountable for what has been allowed to happen in our institutions.

Michael James
Michael James
2 months ago

From speaking truth to power, academia is now devoted to speaking power to truth.
Kathleen Stock paints a picture of academic philosophy as completely exhausted and futile, and dominated by personal mischievousness and delinquency, just as the number of students has never been greater. Are all academic subjects going to the dogs like this? If there was any investigative journalism left in the msm the public might hear more about it and many young people diverted into something more worthwhile.

Last edited 2 months ago by Michael James
Michael K
Michael K
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael James

It’s already happening, with academic jobs not really paying as much as the “privileged class” (that is everybody with a useless degree) would like.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 months ago

“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato”

(* Sir Alfred North Whitehead, OM. 1861-1947.)

Michael K
Michael K
2 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

This cracked me up. Plato the healthy weightlifter, who was wise beyond his years, and sadly we have consistently failed to understand his message.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael K

Yes I agree, a bit of a disaster since, but some may differ.

Paul Scannell
Paul Scannell
2 months ago

Kathleen’s book is, by its very nature, reasonable – as is she. She strikes me as a sincere person who seeks reason and truth.

Michael James
Michael James
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul Scannell

That’s why she was a threat to some of her colleagues.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 months ago

The scum who organised the open letter against Kathleen Stock are a married couple called Jonathan Ichikawa and Carrie Jenkins, both Philosophy professors in Canada. If I was still in academia, I would refuse to share a platform with them.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 months ago

Take the old Greek philosophers, and many of the later ones. They were mostly about the best way for a person to live. That seems to have been superseded in the more recent philosophers (almost all academics) by a need to promote their own concepts that will get them to the top of the greasy pole.
Jaundiced view of philosophy, moi?

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 months ago

If we can, after birth, transform men into becoming women without injecting them with estrogen (naturally, nutritionally or artificially) and without physical sex operational identity change, AND, likewise, if we can transform women to become men without injecting them with testosterone, in any manner, and without physical sex identity change, then I would be cool with all this haranguing of transgenderism.

Otherwise, this transgender species discussion and efforts are all fruitless because they will not self-reproduce in any case, thus self-destruction and self identity mutilation is it’s own destiny.

Some hundreds years later from this date circa year 2022, no element of transgenderism will be even discussed or immediately obvious except to be noted as the least fruitful subject of philosophy of all time.

Thank God for that.

Warren T
Warren T
2 months ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

LOL

Lindsay Snoman
Lindsay Snoman
2 months ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

Which would be nice but that’s why they’re grooming children into their cause and pushing for a “don’t question just accept” approach.It’s gone from being a fringe fetish to being a mainstream cult!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

Ahhh…. followers of the words of little known philosopher Testiclese…

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
2 months ago

This article confirms my conclusion when graduating a very long time ago in PPE that western philosophers would do better to study choice than seek truths. There being no absolute truths that were not tautological. Ethics is about choice with no absolute answers.
What a name means depends entirely on usage and historically man and woman have been used for a biological differentiation. Naming is arbitrary so it can be changed and the words used to name something different such as “self-identified gender”. However you cannot change the usage of a word without re-examining its appropriateness in all the instances of its usage. In doing so society will almost certainly find the words are no longer appropriate in some of the old situations. Society will also find new names are required to describe the biological differentiation it used to be used for, simply because it is a useful distinction that needs a name.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Male and Female are already very adequately described in biology. Adult and Human are also defined. Just keep the words that have been adequate for centuries and stop erasing woman!!

Alan Groff
Alan Groff
2 months ago

It seems the truth is under attack, yet it may be the decadent phase of an ending era. Our society has more to commend it than we may think.
Anthropologists suggest that early communities tore themselves apart because members wanted the same thing they couldn’t all have, producing uncontrolled infighting. Eventually, mobs formed and killed a member they resented. Paradoxically, peace fell across the community as the execution demonstrated the risk of desiring what the dead person was aiming for. The retelling of the story further attenuated human desiring harmful to the community. 
The violent cycle soon repeated, but the momentary peace was so profound that communities came to believe these gods in human form saved the community from tearing itself apart. And so emerged mythology, and from mythology, religion.
Psychoanalysts call all that we deny ourselves our “shadow,” largely thrust upon us by our community and perhaps our biology; our failure to conform produces shame and restrains us. 
Nietzsche explicitly attacked this phenomenon labeling it slave morality built upon the ressentiment felt by enslaved Jews who revolted by inverting the aristocratic values of their masters. Foucault carried on the attack. Freud saw the shadow enmeshed with sexuality and aimed to throw off restraint. Marcuse and Lacan followed suit. 
No-one stopped to ask if those constraints served a societal good at the foundation of functioning communities.
Having freed ourselves from the psychological restraints produced by our mythologies, we should not be surprised by a return to ancient behaviors of mob scapegoating or a decline in mental health.
Having attenuated our shadows to such a degree, we are free to feel resentful. 
But instead of a philistine return to old values, I will put forward the Groff Hypothesis: social media is a marketplace for cultural creation powered by ressentiment. 
We had something great—mythology and religion—but it had big problems, so together, we’re going to create shared mythology and religion suited for our time, not by bringing it into safe harbors of certainty and conformity but to the open seas where change is a permanent sanctified element
We can make an analogy to the economic market that channels humans’ instincts of pugnacity and acquisitiveness into productive materialism. One person’s desire constraints the next’s greed and the web of negative feedback applied to collective energy guides toward productive ends. 
Negative feedback is the foundation of high-functioning biological and electronic systems. The story of Howard Stephan Black’s negative feedback is central to the foundation of all electronic communications and computing and a metaphor for the functioning of the hypothesis. 
Rather than a sign of a decadent society, the cacophony of expressed ressentiment is a healthful commotion that can lead to renewal. Those who would censure and compel speech may have their way in the purview of their Facebook network and the University Department. Still, none can ascend to the position of the Catholic Church, Lenin in Russia, or Mao in China. Their apparatus of truth will not lead to safe harbor as Foucault, and other reformers hope, but to the open sea.  

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
2 months ago

As a white male, alas well over forty, uninterested in engaging with the new barbarians’ passionate intensity, this is my belated first encounter with professor Stock’s acute perceptiveness and delightfully original voice. Those in my ‘identity group’ have lately found themselves transformed into reluctant connoisseurs of the near-nothing. Hence, what a treat to read someone who knows what Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens even are.

The Wikipedia entry on professor Stock suggests her main focus is literature, but she seems ideally positioned to give us a book on the sociology of philosophy and its professional practitioners. The fact that she knows and understands the players, and respects the rules of inference, should enable her to develop relevant research approaches of her own and draw enlightening conclusions from the data.

I would welcome any insight into the prerequisite mental gymnastics–the mass bobbing and weaving–that somehow allows anti-intellectual ideologies to take root in minds capable of being attracted by philosophical issues in the first place. If, back in the 1970s when I was a graduate student in the University of Toronto’s then-excellent Philosophy Department, there existed anybody farsighted enough to anticipate the circumstances in which professor Stock currently finds herself, that individual breathed no warning word. The ivory tower, never free from pettiness and intrigue but for centuries a refuge for the intellectually able, has remarkably become one of anti-intellectualism’s principal institutional agents.

Last edited 2 months ago by Mark Kennedy
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Kennedy

“Hence, what a treat to read someone who knows what Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens even are.”
It would be remarkable if Professor Stock didn’t know about Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens. Pretty much all 1st year philosophy undergraduates have to pass a course in elementary logic, and will be very well acquainted with these two terms.

Last edited 2 months ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
2 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Sure… but philosophy students comprise a vanishingly small proportion of the set of people sharing their thoughts online in articles and discussion forums. Most contributors to public discussion have never opened a book of logic in their lives; and while ideally, in a very different society, that wouldn’t be true, it’s definitely true in this one (alas!).

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
2 months ago

“It told them that self-aggrandising and bullying others was acceptable in the philosophy profession as long as it was in the name of social justice.” This is happening everywhere.

mike otter
mike otter
2 months ago

The dirt bags who the writer describes may be able to destroy the philosophy depts where they work or study, and with them the love of learning in those who study there for genuine reasons. In the same way the Beghards or Henry VIII could destroy an Abbey and its library, or Putin do the same to the seats of learning in Donetsk. However they will not destroy philosophy itself – from Plato through the enlightenment to pseudo philosophers like Sartre and Derrida ideas cannot be killed – only papered over to bounce back at a later time. The kindergarten kids at Uni of Sussex may be vicious and stupid morons but the canon of philisophy has with stood far stronger foes – Trajan, Vikings, the Inquisition, NSDAP and Soviets to name a few.

Nicholas Rynn
Nicholas Rynn
2 months ago

Could we please have more articles from Kathleen Stock.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 months ago

The most obvious manifestation of this change was that younger British members of departments started talking like fake Yanks.

I’m glad I took philosophy long before Society for Women in Philosophy destroyed it. Women in Mathematics is worse: https://quillette.com/2018/09/07/academic-activists-send-a-published-paper-down-the-memory-hole/

Last edited 2 months ago by Rod McLaughlin
Graff von Frankenheim
Graff von Frankenheim
2 months ago

Look at the photo….look at it again….does anyone miss the resemblance with ISIS warriors? If so, this would be a good time to go for therapy. The unhappy reality is that fundamentalism has the same external face wherever it appears….

Alan B
Alan B
2 months ago

Happy birthday Thomas Hobbes!

“Words are wise men’s counters but they are currency to fools.”

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 months ago
Reply to  Alan B

YAY! Thank you for reminding me of that quote!

Kerry Godwin
Kerry Godwin
2 months ago

This article is flat-out terrifying. If the venerated halls of truth have become this toxic, what is our true condition? (Man/Medium size)

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
2 months ago

Transgender Studies Quarterly, …. it’s certainly impressive how quickly (or stealthily?) these previously non-existent ideas have entrenched themselves in academia.

Marty
Marty
2 months ago

I saw this brave new world coming in the mid-‘90s when I took my partner and her children bowling, and was introduced to the abomination known as ‘gutter guards.’ My dad had been a champion bowler in Buffalo, NY in the 1960s and he intended for my brother and me to learn proper bowling technique. “Shake hands with the pin!” He would demonstrate over and over till we were numb with fatigue and had bowled gutter ball after gutter ball. Took all the fun right out of the game.

But more than fifty years later, I remember the techniques he taught and am a passably good bowler. When I took those children bowling in the ‘90s and learned that gutter guards would prevent them from ever bowling a gutter ball, I knew the species was doomed. How, I asked my then-partner, were children supposed to learn a new skill if they never experienced failure? These same children didn’t play outside with friends, getting scratched and scraped and dirty; they had pristine ‘play dates’ carefully organized and mediated by adults. When contests were held in their classrooms, every student got a prize.

Many Americans are dismayed by these unfortunate exports. I’m hardly a Trumper; I’m a lifelong feminist lesbian who’s always leaned left. I just never managed to divest myself of common sense and a critical eye. And so it’s hard not to think the far future as outlined by HG Wells in ‘the Time Machine’ is nearly here. We are raising, have raised, the Eloi.

Last edited 2 months ago by Marty
Anthony Lewis
Anthony Lewis
2 months ago

Thankfully I did science avoided the humanities and all this insanity – or have I – how longe before someone argues evolution is transphobic – or even gravity – they probably already have ….

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 months ago

Well, I’m just coming to the end of The Other Nietzsche by Joan Stambaugh, a philosophy prof, and she has knocked my socks off by pointing out that Nietzsche demolishes Kant by saying that there is no true world or real world or phenomenal world. But what is there? Well, all I can say is that there is Groundhog Day, every year on Feb 2, and don’t you forget to watch.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago

I suppose it’s a good thing that nobody pays attention to philosophy these days except for people in the trade.

Ian Burns
Ian Burns
2 months ago

All i can say to this Dr Stock, is brilliant confessional, well said, and about f*****g time. Philosphy debating society grew out university fencing clubs, now as you rightly point out, they are little more navel gazing knitting circles.

Jacob Mason
Jacob Mason
2 months ago

I have to say I enjoyed this article for many of the reasons brought by other commenters.
But also because Kathleen stock is a hilariously funny writer.

rod tofino
rod tofino
2 months ago

I think the reaction of a typical layperson to this piece would be to say “philosophy departments are of neither use nor ornament – close them all all down”. They certainly seem staffed with wretched specimens of humanity.
I’m surprised there still Wittgenstein hacks about. A most tedious and overrated person.
Kathleen – you are well out of that cesspool. I hope you find other employment.