by Naï Zakharia
Friday, 18
November 2022
Dispatch
11:56

Kathleen Stock wins free speech debate at Cambridge

The philosophy professor faced down the protests — and won
by Naï Zakharia
Prof Kathleen Stock

Cambridge

The Cambridge Union’s Debating Chamber was filled to capacity last night with students eager to hear philosopher and UnHerd columnist Kathleen Stock argue in favour of the motion “This house believes in the right to offend”. 


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Stock, the author of Material Girls: Why Material Reality Matters for Feminism, was forced to resign from a tenured position at the University of Sussex in 2021, after three years of targeted campaigning by students. They were offended by her view that sex is an immutable biological fact distinct from gender, and that this distinction is frequently important in law and policy.

Before and throughout the debate, trans rights advocates, unhappy with the Union’s decision to platform Stock, loudly protested. Banging on drums and an assortment of makeshift instruments, they chanted, “No TERFs on our turf”. One sign read: “We’re offended. Now what?”, an unfortunately rhetorical question. 

The proposition also included Arif Ahmed, a philosophy fellow at Cambridge and a champion of free speech. Last month, his invitation of gender-critical feminist Helen Joyce to speak at the college was met with a notable backlash among parts of the student body who consider her ‘transphobic’. On top of this, college leadership proudly threw their weight behind this backlash, a decision which supporters of Joyce emphatically denounced. 

In contrast, the motion’s opposition consisted entirely of undergraduate students. A speaker from the floor lamented this discrepancy: “Inviting a huge and polarising figure to debate no invited opposition, only students, is just not good enough,” he said. In response the Union’s president, Lara Brown, clarified that although many speakers were invited to argue in opposition, all declined.

The proposition’s core belief was that while offending people may not be good, the right to do so is. For the opposition, offensive speech was linked inextricably to actual harm. On several occasions, the opposing speakers decried racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, transphobia and homophobia, but never mentioned misogyny as an attitude equally worthy of offence.

An impassioned undergraduate student gave the opening argument by the proposition. But it was immediately obvious that he had chosen instead to argue for the other side.

He began by invoking his own non-binary identity and his motivating support for transgender people, whom he described as “those who offend by their identity […] The mere fact of their existence is the tool by which they offend, through choice or through not”. Refusing all points of information from the audience, he insisted that “the hatred perpetuated by certain people in this room should be a damning indictment on them”. In conclusion, he proclaimed his disgust for Stock. Many booed as he ceded the floor.

Unruffled, Stock stated that what is considered offensive is dependent on individual circumstances and social context. Not everything that is offensive is wrong, she argued, and many shared social attitudes we now recognise as wrong were, historically, considered acceptable – racism, sexism and anti-Semitism, for instance. “I’m not a free speech absolutist,” she concluded, “You can restrict speech on grounds other than offence. You can restrict it on genuine harm.”

The opposition cited Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson and JK Rowling as examples for why restricted speech is necessary. Last year, Ahmed led the charge to re-invite Peterson when the latter’s offer of a visiting fellowship was rescinded in 2019, following the emergence of a photograph showing him standing beside a man wearing an Islamophobic t-shirt. 

When the right to offensive speech is not secure, Ahmed warned, it will invariably be those with the most power who decide what is offensive, not “the minorities or the oppressed people”.

In 2020, the University issued a statement on freedom of speech which supports the right to “express new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions within the law, without fear of intolerance or discrimination”. 

Protesters shouted into their bullhorns, at times making it difficult to hear the speakers. But ultimately, it was the speakers in favour of the motion who won, with Stock and Ahmed securing a 247-72 victory. Free speech may not be flourishing on university campuses, but there was at least a glimmer of hope at last night’s debate.

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Adrian Matthews
Adrian Matthews
21 days ago

I am full of admiration for Kathleen Stock for facing off her critics in this over-heated environment. After what she went through at Sussex, it takes huge courage to do so. And thanks are also due to Arif Ahmed for not giving way to pressure after he facilitated the event with Helen Joyce at the university a couple of weeks back. It is great news that the motion was so overwhelmingly carried and provides hope that maybe Cambridge undergraduates haven’t been quite as fully captured by tedious gender ideology as their counterparts at Sussex. We owe both Kathleen and Arif a huge debt of gratitude.

Michael James
Michael James
21 days ago

Academics shouldn’t have to be ‘courageous’ in defending their universities’ own professional values. Kathleen Stock had to be courageous because her colleagues were so cowardly.

Last edited 21 days ago by Michael James
Adrian Matthews
Adrian Matthews
21 days ago
Reply to  Michael James

I agree they shouldn’t have to Michael but sadly that is the reality of academia today. Even maths is under attack for God’s sake with calls for it to be ‘de-colonised’!

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
19 days ago

Well, my one country + your one country = two in the bag for my empire! Colonialism of course. What could be more obvious?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
21 days ago

I’d wager most university graduates don’t subscribe to the identity politics nonsense, the majority merely get drowned out by a noisy minority amplified by social media

Daniel Bowman
Daniel Bowman
19 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Given the massive margin of Stock’s win, I’d suggest University Students don’t subscribe and it’s just a minority of aggressive and vocal advocates.

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
21 days ago

I hope the ‘Woke’ BBC (more specifically R4 which panders to Wokeness) takes heed of the outcome and gets a grip on itself.

Michael James
Michael James
21 days ago

People who try to shut down debate should be accused of being secretly afraid that their ideas can’t withstand scrutiny. In responding to that charge they may be forced into the debate they want to avoid.

Last edited 21 days ago by Michael James
Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
21 days ago
Reply to  Michael James

The ideas of these protesters don’t withstand scrutiny, as seen here. That’s why they make a noise to drown opponents out…although the ‘opponents’ they dislike are never as extreme as the activists claim anyway…

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
21 days ago
Reply to  Michael James

That is amply demonstrated by the apparent reluctance of official speakers to oppose the proposition put forward by Kathleen Stock. Only the arrogance and ignorance of young students were prepared to undertake that. It is heartening that the debate was won by a reasonably healthy margin.

harry storm
harry storm
21 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Agreed. The “official” speakers knew they would get whupped by Kathleen Stock, so they slithered away and let undergrads take the shellacking. They really are cowards.

Jim R
Jim R
21 days ago

Well of course she won. The problem isn’t that liberal ideas don’t win debates – they were formed and refined over hundreds of years of debating in universities. The problem is that rational debate no longer resolves arguments or changes minds. It’s not liberalism that’s being rejected in our post-modern hellscape – its rational argument itself.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
21 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

Logic and reason are identified with patriarchal and colonial thought by certain groups and as such to be rejected. In Canada and New Zealand other ways of thinking are being introduced:
‘How can Indigenous concerns and Indigenous knowledges take a centre place in the science of light? Concordia researchers are exploring this question together with students and Indigenous community members in the project Decolonizing Light.
Join us for a virtual symposium on the Decolonizing Light project: tracing and countering colonialism in contemporary physics.
The Decolonizing Light project explores ways and approaches to decolonize science, such as revitalizing and restoring Indigenous knowledges, and capacity building. The project aims to develop a culture of critical reflection of science and its relation to colonialism. The project is funded by the New Frontiers in Research Grant (NFRF).
Learn about two initiatives from this fascinating project:’ An advert for a lecture.
https://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/three-concordia-researchers-set-out-to-decolonize-contemporary-physics-research
‘Physics has historically been a white, male dominated field—more so than any other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field. This creates and reproduces inequalities, reflected in the under representation of women, racial minorities, and Indigenous peoples.’

Last edited 21 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
21 days ago

Downvoted, why? I am stating a fact, not giving my own opinion.

Last edited 21 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
21 days ago

I haven’t downvoted you but I was, at first read, turned by “Join Us” which initially entered my mind as an invitation by YOU to take part in the project.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
21 days ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

Thank you. I appreciate the reply. I would really appreciate when people downvote my comments they state their objection, assuming nobody else has stated the objection: no need for repetition. I actually find physics fascinating and spend many a happy hour walking and listening to YouTube videos on quantum mechanics and cosmology (amongst other topics). I admire great intellects regardless of there sex and appreciate the incredible hard work and talent required to achieve the level they operate at.

Last edited 21 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago

I think your comment is, unfortunately, ambiguous. There is no indication as to your position regarding what is in the comment.
I have a suspicion as to your position because I have past knowledge of your other comments.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago

Why does my position matter?

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
20 days ago

Because I believe that :
a ) many people who read and either uptick/downtick or comment on Unherd identify with specific tribes and they feel uncomfortable if you don’t announce your tribe upfront (right, left, neo liberal, neo conservative ….)
b) the raison d’etre of Unherd is Opinion generally unencumbered with supporting facts. This generates lots of comments / discussion (also generally unsupported by anything one could recognise as evidence) which of course = subscriptions.
As many people have commented on this forum before “follow the money”
c) the purpose of having an Opinion / Position is so that other people can take pot shots at it or agree with you – it makes for a sort of stilted conversation

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago

I have no tribe. I prefer to think for myself. I enjoy exploring ideas and trying to understand why people believe the things they do.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
21 days ago

I’m unclear if you support or oppose the decolonization of curriculum.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
21 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Why do want to know whether I support or oppose the decolonisation of the curriculum? My post was neither support nor opposition. I copied and pasted to provide evidence for my claim that certain groups do believe rational and logical thought are part of patriarchal and colonial dominance and consequently wrong-think.

Last edited 21 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago

In the opening statement in your comment
Logic and reason are identified with patriarchal and colonial thought by certain groups and as such to be rejected.
it is not clear whether you identify with the certain groups or not.
I don’t particularly care one way or the other because I would analyse the propositions. But others do care of course.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago

Which is ironic given the topic of the article.

Claire D
Claire D
19 days ago

I don’t think downticking a comment implies people want to silence you, it means they disagree with what you have said and downticking is a way of joining in without getting involved in a direct argument, which not everyone wants to do all the time.

Last edited 19 days ago by Claire D
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago

Thank you for pointing it out. The ambiguity was unintentional but I am rather glad it is there. It just demonstrates a number of Unherd readers are actually anti-free speech and not interested in debating ideas they disagree with. Though I knew that already really. My comments are frequently flagged and as a consequence keep disappearing and reappearing.

Will Rolf
Will Rolf
20 days ago

Your intent was clear to me and likely also clear to anyone doing a careful read.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
20 days ago

Well 10 out of 10 for trying.
As you are obviously aware, there are as many entrenched religious beliefs expressed on Unherd (by up and down ticks) as on any other main stream media outlet.
By definition, these non commenting individuals really have no wish to waste their time on alternative views of the world or indeed wish to put themselves into a position where they have to question their heartfelt beliefs.
The only plus on Unherd as far as I can see is that most of the actual comments are devoid of ad hominem attacks and are in the main thought provoking and entertaining.
Many thanks for the link. I note that it is dated November 2019. So has this intiative progressed at all ? I followed another link to “An evening of indigenous star stories”. All very respectful and polite and possibly a hypothesis generator but I don’t see that any of these belief systems adding directly to our knowledge of any area of astrophysics.
But what do I know ? I’m not an astrophysicist.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago

Hi Elaine, the project was still going strong a year ago:
file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/d9/09/1BBB9B85-B867-4EBA-A5E5-C9B6003E85CC/v77n1.0-a4130.pdf
I have read a little and from what I have read it seeks to confound the reader with newly invented terminology in an attempt to make the mundane appear extraordinary. I suspect research grants are awarded on how woke the subject matter is and how abstruse it is hence the need to invent or steal incomprehensible (to the vast majority) terms (stochastic is an example). Given that science has its roots in mythology and superstition and sought to breakaway suggests they are doing science in reverse. The thing about indigenous thought is it is not scientific, people are not naturally scientific, they have to undergo years and years of training. From what I have read, Newton was closer to the alchemists than to contemporary scientists. Newton was criticised by his contemporaries for introducing gravity on the grounds it was an occult power. Apparently his work was ‘tidied’ up in order to distance him from alchemy and make it appear more scientific. Alchemy did evolve into chemistry. I have no doubt there is a place for indigenous thought and it is well worth studying. I am a fan of the work of Jung and Marie Louise Von Franz and am very interested in the relationship between projection and scientific theory, the rational and the irrational – for a few years I struggled to understand uncountable infinities and then I dreamt I was trying to escape from a forest but every time I walked between two trees, I saw the entire forest in front of me which pretty much sums up uncountable infinities.

Last edited 20 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Brett H
Brett H
20 days ago

“people are not naturally scientific,”
So where did science come from?

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago
Reply to  Brett H

Sorry, my writing was sloppy. I meant to be a professional scientist requires many years of training not that some people are not more scientifically inclined than others.

Last edited 19 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Claire D
Claire D
19 days ago

I think some people are definitely “naturally scientific”. When my son was 2 yrs old, walking home from the town along the country lane to our house took hours because he would stop and pick up twigs, stones, flowers, an insect if he could and examine them. This interest continued throughout his childhood, he is now a scientist, a biologist in fact.
My daughter was curious too but never in the same way, much more interested in painting pictures and creating patterns. She went on to become first an artist and then went into mathematics.

I am surprised if you are as you say interested in Jung and von Franz that you do not think an individual can be “naturally scientific”. The whole point of Jungian psychology, as far as I know, is to become the self you were born to be.

Last edited 19 days ago by Claire D
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago
Reply to  Claire D

Sorry, my writing was sloppy. I meant to be a professional scientist requires many years of training not that some people are not more naturally more scientific than others. I think we have very different understandings of Jung. I think Jung believed both the anima and the animus should be developed, the feminine and masculine aspects of the individual. When one has a natural ability in one direction it is tempting to only develop in that direction. Which was the self your daughter was meant to be? According to the principle you applied to your son she was initially the self she was born to be and now is not whereas your son is living as the person he was born to be.

Claire D
Claire D
19 days ago

Not at all, Art and Maths don’t cancel each other out. Like feminine and masculine they complement each other. One of the corner stones of great art is The Golden Section and there’s Fibonacci’s sequence of numbers. Harmonies of colour and form are what makes something aesthetically pleasing, ie beauty.
Surely selfhood is ongoing throughout our lives.

Last edited 19 days ago by Claire D
Claire D
Claire D
19 days ago

I have replied to you but blow me down it’s “Awaiting for approval” , I don’t really understand why, there’s nothing bad about it.

I’ll try writing it differently; Art and Maths are not opposites, they complement each other in the same way that m e n and w o m e n do.
One of the cornerstones of great art is The Golden Section, also Fibonacci’s sequence of numbers. The harmonies of colour and form which make something beautiful are mathematical.
Surely becoming one’s self is ongoing throughout life.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago
Reply to  Claire D

Jung’s use of the word self is a technical term in his psychology and it’s quite different from everyday usage. Jung’s aim was individuation: the incorporation of the shadow and the withdrawal of projections. The incorporation of the shadow involves recognising ones’s true motives and withdrawal of projections would remove imaginary enemies and the need for scapegoats. He believed/ hoped that if people acknowledged and incorporated their shadow then another event like the Holocaust was far less likely to occur. I read Steppenwolf by Hesse when I was young in which Hesse recommends developing all aspects of the self (non Jungian) and I have tried to do that. I have never thought art and maths are opposites – I have a copy of the Godel, Escher, Back book.

Last edited 19 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Claire D
Claire D
19 days ago

Sorry, my turn for sloppiness, I meant self as individuation.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
18 days ago

I often find that btl commenters in all forums confuse prescribing and describing. It’s wise to make clear what you’re aiming to do. Otherwise the meaning of your post is unclear. If you simply wish to describe that’s fine, but tell us first.

B Emery
B Emery
20 days ago

So you state at start ‘Logic and reason are identified with patriarchal and colonial thought by certain groups and as such to be rejected.’
So are you saying that we should reject rational thought and logic because it is ‘patriarchal and colonial’? (I would strongly disagree with this statement)
I would refute the quote Physics has historically been a white, male dominated field—more so than any other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field This creates and reproduces inequalities, reflected in the under representation of women, racial minorities, and Indigenous peoples.’
You cannot create ‘inequalities’ in physics. Physics is physics, that’s just ludicrous, that’s the biggest pile wordy nonsense I’ve read in a long time. Physics doesn’t care who discovers it, it doesn’t ask to see your passport. It makes me want to smash my head into the computer, I am refraining from swearing a lot. See Marie Curie for a start.
Next quote How can Indigenous concerns and Indigenous knowledges take a centre place in the science of light
What should be at the centre of the science of light, is the science of light. If you want to study what Indigenous people know about light and then see if that has any application in modern science, fine. That’s the study. You don’t need to ‘decolonialise’ anything. There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing that already! Or applying what they find.
That is why I downvoted you. Especially as your statement at the start seems to suggest you support the rejection of logic and reason based on the ridiculous notion its ‘patriarchal and colonial’.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

Thank you for your response. Yes their is an ambiguity I was unaware of but has been pointed out to me. My intended meaning was that the certain groups believe that logic and reason should be rejected on the grounds they are patriarchal and colonial.

Last edited 20 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
B Emery
B Emery
20 days ago

Ok I see, so do you think that the ‘certain groups’ are correct?

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

I have kind of explained my position in my response to a comment by Elaine Gyedris- Leeper above if you are interested.

Last edited 20 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
B Emery
B Emery
20 days ago

Don’t get me wrong here before I start. I’m drawing you out on this because the original comment you shared is something I consider personally, to be incorrect and counter intuitive. But that doesn’t mean I’m right in thinking this. You are equally as able to be correct as I am. If you honestly believe that patriarchy and colonialism is a problem in physics I’m drawing you out to test your view and see if you can change my mind through debate. Don’t be afraid of down votes, say what you think. I’m interested in what has lead you to your conclusions.
First I would add to my earlier point it’s likely that it was mostly blokes in physics because of attitudes back then, not attitudes now. It shouldn’t matter who discovered what just that it stacks up when put the test.
I’ve read you’re post above I can see you’ve taken a trip down the Esoteric rabbit hole regarding Isaac Newton. Isaac Newton disputed the trinity in favour of one god I believe, that was what made him contraversial at the time, I think they had to put him out the way at Cambridge for a bit because of this, he was an alchemist but do not mix that up with any weird occult stuff, think chemistry. I’m sure the guy Edmund Halley, of comet fame, helped tidy some of Newtons maths up so everyone could use and understand it, there’s many people, that would know better than me on here that could help clear this up a bit.
I’ve seen on the Internet all kinds of crazy Newton theories. I have honestly never seen this stuff or Newton linked to justification for ‘decolonisation’ though, hence my intrigue.
The university of Amsterdam is one of the few that offers a degree in the Esoteric, this guy, is a good guy to stick to and expand from, he sticks to the old texts. He has a doctorate from Amsterdam University. He has the books by Briggs that cost like £600 that you need to study this stuff properly. He obviously likes to hype it up a bit cos he’s gotta clock up the views, so bear that in mind. You’ll find that this stuff when you get down to it is not shrouded in secrecy so much as all over the place, some stuff has just been forgotten and not studied for ages, apparently its all having a bit of a renaissance at the moment and this guy has actually participated in digitising some of these old texts for all to see. There’s one that specifically tackles Newton and alchemy.
https://m.youtube.com/c/ESOTERICAchannel/featured
If you like the alchemy stuff, there’s a fair bit explaining the furore around it on his channel, ‘the alchemical works of geber’ are described: The Latin works that are attributed to Geber have long been considered among the most important of medieval chemical treatises
Read about it free online here: https://archive.org/details/WorksOfGeber/page/n3/mode/2up
So you see, this stuff, anyone can get hold of, it’s not colonialised or restricted it’s actually becoming more and more widely available. And people are studying it, learning from it, taking it into account. If you like this stuff also check out ‘balds leech book’
A few universities have done studies to see if any of the old medieval remedies worked with surprising results: ‘a team in Nottingham discovered that one of its recipes—for a poultice for an infected eye— can combat the superbug MRSA.’
Source: https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2016/01/balds-leechbook-now-online.html
So you aren’t wrong in saying we could learn a thing or two from any of our old texts or indigenous people really, but physics is not ‘colonialised’ as far as I can see as such, and people are studying all this stuff at the moment. It’s all getting digitised so more and more people can access it too. You have to bear in mind there’s only one of some these texts, previously they might have been stashed in the dusty back corner of a university, now digitisation has blown all this stuff wide open to everyone, so it’s no wonder theories abound.

Last edited 20 days ago by B Emery
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to post. The history of maths can be considered the product of colonialism: Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Arabic and European, or the product of the great civilisations. Now it is a worldwide effort. Science is not separate from maths. I am not sure about the patriarchy. An extremely intelligent female researcher in a very new and innovative area of science was complaining to me about the patriarchy in science. This was the first time I had every heard of the patriarchy in science. I assumed it was a just a hierarchy of men. I asked her if she would accept the hierarchy if it was one of women, a matriarchy. She just looked taken aback and dropped the subject. I don’t know what patriarchal and colonial thinking is supposed to be unless it is just reason and logic. As to Newton and alchemy (thank you for your suggestions), I have a single source, a documentary I saw on the BBC in the late 1980s, in those days it was considered a credible and reliable source. I have a friend who I think has the right contacts, I will ask what he thinks. I prefer to read source materials because I like to make up my own mind, or to read trusted translations. As to the dark ages, my view is the Dark Ages were not so Dark and I think much that was known has almost been lost.

Last edited 19 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Brett H
Brett H
20 days ago

“I am stating a fact, not giving my own opinion.”
Apart from the existence of the Decolonising Light project and the fact that more men have worked in physics where are the facts?

Last edited 20 days ago by Brett H
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago
Reply to  Brett H

The fact is there is a group of people who believe that science is the product of patriarchal and colonial thought.

Brett H
Brett H
19 days ago

I think you need to think about how you present your point. Not that you made one anyway.
“ … and as such to be rejected.”
What has to be rejected, patriarchal thought or the groups who think it?

Last edited 19 days ago by Brett H
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago
Reply to  Brett H

I keep replying to the same question. It has been pointed out to me more than once, my point is ambiguous. I was offering evidence there is a group who believe scientific thought is patriarchal and colonial and as such to be rejected.

B Emery
B Emery
19 days ago

How big is this group by the way? Where does this group exist? Are there pockets of people in different countries that beleive this, or is it unique to Canada and New Zealand. Lol, just realised – Canada and New Zealand – Trudeau and Ardern? Think we may have found the problem….

Last edited 19 days ago by B Emery
Jack Tarr
Jack Tarr
20 days ago

“Other ways of thinking” were common in Europe pre-Enlightenment and lasted well into the colonial era. There are still practitioners of ‘alternative’ therapies, and some modern followers of Wicca. In rural Britain there were ‘cunning women’ and warlocks well into the 20th century, providing ‘medicine’ to those who could not afford the fees of orthodox doctors (pre-NHS). The last prosecution under the Witchcraft Act was in 1941.
Could it be that ‘reason and logic’ became dominant because these ‘ways of thinking’ delivered the goods (effective medicine, increasingly efficient machines, feeding an increasing population, etc. etc.)? If you object to reason and logic, whenever you feel ill just take yourself off to the nearest cunning woman – she’ll soon put you right!

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

Why do you think I object to reason and logic? My original post is an example of the abandonment of logical and rational thought and the reasons why in response to the comment posted by Jim. I wrongly assumed readers of Unherd would be interested instead they seem to be infuriated.

Last edited 20 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Brett H
Brett H
20 days ago

“Why do you think I object to reason and logic?”
Because you said this:
“Logic and reason are identified with patriarchal and colonial thought by certain groups and as such to be rejected.”

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

It’s not liberalism that’s being rejected in our post-modern hellscape – its rational argument itself.
I think rational is too broad if rational is a synonym for reason. My view is that when I reason I am actively linking two or more thought-statements together in such a way that one or more provides support for, or justifies, another – that is, I am engaging in inference using premise-statements and a conclusion-statement. Such inferences as statements are arguments.
I think, then, the question is not whether rational argument is being rejected – I think not – but rather, whether arguments are sound, that is whether they have true premises and logical strength.
And as far as I can see, it is the debate over what constitutes what are true premises that is the problem. And of course this involves epistemology and ontology, and I think this is recognised by woke marxists, hence the attack on these philosophical theories. So that by re-engineering what constitutes the methodology of how we measure true statements, all manner of propositions about reality are let in as being true, and incorporated into what I call woke arguments, arguments that allow woke marxists to get their way.
I think it is all a kind of gerrymandering in order to get their way, irrespective of whether reality matters or not.

Last edited 20 days ago by michael stanwick
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago

I completely agree. This is a copy of a comment I posted below another article which is currently c*nsored: two and a half millennia ago, Plato was working on a method to apply to arguments to to check their validity, to weed out sophistry – plus ca change, plus la meme chose.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago

Agreed. Two and and half millennia ago, Plato was working on dialectical argumentation with the intention of creating a method to separate valid arguments from sophistry: plus ca change, plus la meme chose.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago

Why do your comments get thumbs down?
When I clicked on a thumbs up for one of your good comments, the negative number went up! Very strange.
Ah, just clicked on the one above and it went down so OK now, but doesn’t resolve the negative numbers though.

Last edited 20 days ago by michael stanwick
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
20 days ago

Have you noticed how my comments keep disappearing? There is a group of Unherd readers who really don’t want my comments displayed. I guess they flag the comments and the comments are then removed.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago

I hadn’t noticed TBO. I think that behaviour might be worth mentioning to UnHerd?

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago

I am trying. One thing that has happened is some of my posts were temporarily flagged in red as waiting for approval but then disappeared anyway. I emailed Unherd once on the 10th of November, once on the 16th, once on the 17th, twice on the 18 and three times on the 19th November about this form of censorship. My comments always eventually remain. I am not constantly looking at my comments. I suspect there is a strategy. If I post on a Friday evening or on a Saturday or Sunday and my post is flagged and I don’t email, it will disappear until Monday morning after 9am. It is very effective form of censorship given most readers move on after the weekend. I have only mentioned the most recent emails. I am unlikely to notice flagging so much during the week as the censors are working.

Last edited 19 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago

I listed the number of and dates of the emails I have sent to Unherd over the weekend regarding the topic and the comment appeared briefly but has now disappeared

Last edited 19 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Claire D
Claire D
19 days ago

It only takes one person to flag a comment to get it removed, imagining “a group of UnHerd readers” flagging your comments is probably overegging the omelette.
I have had quite a few comments flagged and removed myself on certain issues, they usually come back, it is frustrating I know.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago
Reply to  Claire D

Thank you for telling me I am exaggerating. Though it tends to be the same comment which suggests there is more than one person.
Apologies. You could be right, it maybe just one person but then I would feel stalked.

Last edited 19 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
Claire D
Claire D
19 days ago

I think if that’s the case then perhaps it is worth contacting UnHerd.

B Emery
B Emery
19 days ago

I had trouble the other day too, think they sometimes get churned up waiting for moderaters, if you post late at night, moderaters are in bed and your comment won’t show till the next day, I posted similar saying I was having trouble and another user said it just gets messed up sometimes. It’s all computers remember, they never do as they’re told 🙂

B Emery
B Emery
19 days ago

I don’t think it’s possible for someone to stalk you through a comments thread where no pictures or personal details are shared.
The original comment you shared was highly contraversial, the viewpoint it espouses is not the mainstream view, some people, myself included, consider the narrative on ‘decolonisation’ of education downright dangerous. Now if you are going to share something that at the start, seems to reject logical and rational thought, I’m sorry but you really should expect a reaction. People have voted down to show that they don’t agree with it. I would never flag a comment myself, I believe in freedom of speech, I argue like hell with people in the hope of changing their mind, if they make good points I’m happy to change my mind.

Last edited 19 days ago by B Emery
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

Flagging my comments has been going on for a while. Not just this post. It took quite a while before I figured out what was going on. My post was just pointing out that there are people who view scientific thinking as patriarchal and colonial. To disagree with my post is to disagree with a statement I provided evidence for. I was unaware of the ambiguity but others indicated they believed if my post was read carefully, my intention was clear. I was offering no opinion. Your attitude to discussion/ argumentation sounds like a healthy one.

Last edited 19 days ago by Aphrodite Rises
B Emery
B Emery
19 days ago

I understand, I hope they sort it for you, do no be disheartened by getting down voted, unpopular views are not always wrong, remember that. Sometimes it impossible to be right or wrong if you see what I mean? If you believe in something, but you know that it is an unpopular view, prepare for an onslaught 🙂 and don’t be afraid to say what you think. I honestly am quite obnoxious sometimes, so sorry, but if someone posts something I don’t agree with I try to push as far back the other way as can to make my point. Others will do the same. Don’t worry about the votes. I had a cracking debate on here a while ago about china, the gentleman I argued with was very fair and open, he could have wiped the floor with me to be honest if he’d wanted to I think, or just not replied, you will find good people on here open to all kinds of ideas and even willing to debate sweary midlanders with sometimes shoddy spelling like me 🙂 the alchemy stuff is interesting, I honestly got lost in it myself, so don’t give it up!

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
19 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

Thank you

Lana Hunneyball
Lana Hunneyball
21 days ago

I’m still gobsmacked that the very people whose war cry is ‘we will not be defined by others’ want to do exactly that. What’s that Oscar Wilde quote – “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them.”

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
21 days ago

I’m stuck by the margin of victory in the debate, 77.4% voting in favour of the motion. It’d be interesting to have more insight into the composition of those in the chamber. Did many potential naysayers absent themselves, to take part in the attempts to drown out free speech from without? It would probably be unfair (or impossible!) of the university to expect it make provision for balance in the those attending, but nevertheless the significant majority in favour of the free speech motion does tell us there’s plenty of people in academia whose views do not support the woke brigade. Now Cambridge has provided a breach in the wall of woke, perhaps many others will follow. This debate may just signify a turning point, i sincerely hope so.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I was a Cambridge undergraduate in 1976-77. My recollection of the Cambridge Union is that it leaned a little to the right at the time mainly because it had high fees to be a member, so it drew the wealthier students more than the working class. Given the vote 3:1 vote and the noisy protests, we may deduce that the CU does not solicit a lot of wokists to its membership?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The best way to measure results is Oxford style. Ask people to vote yea or nay to the question beforehand and afterward. That way you can measure the change in opinion.

Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree – what’s at issue is who is the better debater, not who is morally right. The Oxford method achieves that.

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
21 days ago

No wonder, Kathleen Stock won the debate: she clearly has logic and reason on her side (as anyone who has read ‘Material Girls’ will tell you…) – I wonder how her opponents actually got into Cambridge. Their grammar, slogans and arguments seem very poor and weak. What grades did they get, in what subjects?! ….. And they want to restrict the speech of Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro and JK Rowling, too? Simply for being ‘offensive’ ? ….disagree with them, if you want, but don’t ban them. Helen Joyce has not only set out reasoned arguments in her book ‘Trans’ but also worked with the group ‘Sex Matters’ – who speak sense on sex/gender – and are worth supporting: https://sex-matters.org/

Last edited 21 days ago by Graeme Kemp
Andrew F
Andrew F
19 days ago
Reply to  Graeme Kemp

Like you, I am amazed that so many Cambridge students voted against the motion.
These people are supposed to be our future elite.
In lesser universities probably majority would be against the idea of free speech.
God help us…

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
21 days ago

What seems to me to be most telling, is that no one was prepared to take Kathleen Stock on, in the debating chamber. Surely those who are confident in the intellectual content of their argument, would also be confident in debating the relevant points & merits of it.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
21 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

Have you ever heard of or witnessed a debate about the extent or causes of man made global warming – or whether you can change your sex – or whether electric cars are better for the environment – or whether society is in fact systematically racist? Of course you haven’t. As progressive ideas have become increasingly detached from reality they can’t be debated – they can only be imposed on others through intimidation.

DA Johnson
DA Johnson
21 days ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Excellent and spot on comment

:_
:_
19 days ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I don’t think the first or third examples are anything like the second example (and I’m dubious about the fourth). The trans debate is an example of the fact that the left is just as susceptible to intellectual pseudo-cults as anyone else. Taking this specific example of terrible left-wing thought and extending it to global warming and electric cars? Really?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
21 days ago

The lopsided final vote, 247-72, confirms what I’ve always suspected, that much of the woke cancel culture movement is simply a case of a relatively small group of people shouting loud enough that it seems like there’s a lot more of them than there actually are. They’re so loud and obnoxious that for normal people with normal lives, it’s tempting to just let them have their way on their ‘turf’ just to get on with day to day business and not have to deal with the distraction. Sooner or later though, there comes a point when reasonable people realize that too much slack has been given and the situation is getting out of hand. We have definitely reached that point with cancel culture types. Hopefully, this affirmation of free speech is another sign that our ‘woke’ moment is passing.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Well at universities many of them are professors who have power over students – and staff. It is not a surprise that people remain silent.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

… a relatively small group of people shouting loud enough that it seems like there’s a lot more of them than there actually are.
That may be the case but IMO there are nexuses of power and influence occupied by holders or sympathisers of a woke marxist mindset. A couple of examples are in the Chair of the Society of Authors and in the Master of two Cambridge Colleges.
Individuals in those types of positions do not shout loudly and instead employ a method of reasoning and rhetoric which has proved very difficult to counter, that of pathos. I think the reason for that is the devaluing of logos and its supplanting by pathos as the mode of interpreting reality by those who lean into that as a feature of their personality.

Last edited 20 days ago by michael stanwick
E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
20 days ago

Yes, and particularly your last sentence. The realm of pathos is simply too subjective to serve as any kind of regulating bright line.

Daniel P
Daniel P
21 days ago

Maybe there is hope.
If we can just get the sensible people to have the courage to face down the insensible and brittle.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
21 days ago

“For the opposition, offensive speech was linked inextricably to actual harm.”

For postmodernists (and all these people including likely Stock are postmodernists) words create reality, so hateful words ARE harm. All the rest of this is a side show. The debate isn’t over “free speech” at all. The debate is over whether the world actually exists or is just a shared delusion created by our description of it. Until the academy is sane enough to reassert the existence of objective reality without question, the rest is pointless.

Fiona P
Fiona P
21 days ago

I’m with the floor speaker who basically said “you’re wasting my time” after the first 2(?) contributions. I wondered if I was just being slow as I really couldn’t follow any of the arguments until Kathleen and Arif spoke. Not fully in agreement with all their points, but at least they were coherent.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
21 days ago
Reply to  Fiona P

Totally agree.
What struck me is the incoherence of most of the “invited” speakers. There were better, and more concise, contributions from the audience (I still have about 20 mins to watch).
The first guy was something else…

Methadras Aszlosis
Methadras Aszlosis
21 days ago

Can someone explain to me the logic of why the Sussex administration fired this professor? The absolute denial by these trans lunatics that biological sex and gender are not inextricably linked is the problem here. They would in fact be science deniers. Can any of them prove that this isn’t so? Can any one of them prove with evidence that XX and XY chromosomes are linked to two distinct genders? Any person, administration, corporation, or government body that believes this ridiculous nonsense does not deserve to be in power or should be respected in any way. You can hold the belief all you want. I would never take that away from anyone, but do not think for a moment that I would take you serious because you do believe in it. You should be summarily chastised and ignored for your luddite and anti-science thought processes.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
20 days ago

Sex and ‘gender’ are most definitely not ‘inextricably linked’. That is the whole point. Sex is a biological reality that exists for the reproduction of the species. ‘Gender’, outside linguistics, is utter nonsense.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago

I am not a believer in the concept of “gender”. I am a believer in personality and how that is expressed. Using that concept there is a non trivial general correlation between personality and its expression and sex.

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
20 days ago

So true. I have been saying this for years (to unselfconscious incomprehension mostly.) Surely, using a linguistic construct to classify the “meat world” is a barbarism. Modern education has a lot to answer for.

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
20 days ago

The application of the grammatical concept of gender to people allowed this confusion to thrive. The misapplication of the term is an academic sleight of hand which, if it had not been tolerated, might not have prospered to the detriment of so many people and organizations.
erik hildinger.com

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
20 days ago

Biological sex and gender are not inextricably linked nor are they immutable because they are biological and therefore by definition, subject to change over time e.g. Different environments turn different genes on and off at different times; what happens to a parent can genetically effect their grandchildren (The Dutch Famine Birth Cohort Study)
The brain sits marinading in a neuro hormonal soup that we know next to nothing about. This, combined with our innate and flexible neuronal wiring, determines who we believe we are, not the “bits” we are born with.
Minimal observation of the human condition will tell you that how people perceive their personal gender and sexuality is a moveable feast and changes as life progresses.
I personally know 2 trans individuals. Both biologically XY but transitioned to female personas, one with a full gender reassignment and the other (at the age of 62) content with just dressing and acting and being around other trans women. Both are married with families. Both doctors. Both gentle souls.

Brett H
Brett H
20 days ago

“Different environments turn different genes on and off at different times; what happens to a parent can genetically effect their grandchildren (The Dutch Famine Birth Cohort Study)”

I don’t see evidence of genetic change in this study.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
18 days ago

Stock wasn’t fired, she resigned because Sussex was reluctant to support her. She was being targeted by masked activists with flares.

B Emery
B Emery
21 days ago

I got smoted on a different thread yesterday for sticking up for the Cambridge debating society. Saying they can’t all be hopelessly extreme left wing. Case and point.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
21 days ago

xx≠xy offensive? How so?

Janet G
Janet G
21 days ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

What does xx≠xy mean?

Lewis Lorton
Lewis Lorton
21 days ago
Reply to  Janet G

female is not the same as male. XX. XY chromosomes

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Unfortunately that is not accurate if XX and XY are used as an exclusive indicator of sex.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago

XX and XY are not exclusive indicators of sex, sex meaning male or female. There are edge cases of XY females (as in DSD CAIS) and XX males (as in DSD XX male Syndrome/La Chapelle Syndrome).
That is why chromosomes are not used to define what sex a person is.

Claire D
Claire D
19 days ago

As far as I know Y is the decider. Wherever there is a Y, even if the chromosome pattern is XXXXY (rare), the Y means testes are there as part of the body, even if they are miniscule and deep within. Therefore, Y makes you essentially male; no Y at all makes you essentially female.
I wonder if where the cases you refer to are concerned sex has been designated on the basis of appearance, ie, convenience, rather than science. A slippery slope.

Last edited 19 days ago by Claire D
Andrew E Walker
Andrew E Walker
20 days ago

As a matter of statute and common law, citizens in this country have the right to offend others. There is nothing to be debated.

Andrew F
Andrew F
19 days ago

Yes in theory.
What about application of law?
People facing police action for views expressed on social media.
What about College of Policing ignoring relevant laws.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
20 days ago

I listened to the entire debate on YouTube and would say that Kathleen Stock, Arif Ahmed and Oscar Collier of Trinity College (heard at 1:05:40) won the debate.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
19 days ago

I sometimes wonder whether the hysteria we are witnessing in the universities isn’t simply triggered by the subconscious realisation that these institutions have effectively been rendered obsolete by the Internet – accompanied by a panic-stricken attempt to seize unfettered political power in order to defend them and the privilege they confer.

Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
18 days ago

I’m just surprised that free speech is still considered a fit subject for debate. I thought that was worked out around 1776.