Sunday, 6 May 2007


Mark Dery doesn’t get it. He thinks homosexual men are feminine. Ha! They’re the opposite of feminine; they’re hypermasculine. As Marilyn Frye observes in “Lesbian Feminism and the Gay Rights Movement: Another View of Male Supremacy, Another Separatism,” homosexual men don’t limit themselves to women, sexually speaking. They “fuck” men. What’s more masculine: “fucking” only women or “fucking” men as well as women? Here is Frye:

The proscription against male-male fucking is the lid on masculinity, the limiting principle which keeps masculinity from being simply an endless firestorm of undifferentiated self. As such, that proscription is necessarily always in tension with the rest of masculinity. This tension gives masculinity its structure, but it is also forever problematic. As long as males are socialized constantly to masculinity, the spectre of their running amok is always present. The straight male’s phobic reaction to male homosexuality can then be seen as a fear of an unrestricted, unlimited, ungoverned masculinity. It is, of course, more than this and more complicated; but is this, among other things. (Marilyn Frye, The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory [Trumansburg, NY: The Crossing Press, 1983], 143 [italics in original])

Frye is an analytic philosopher as well as a feminist.

All Fred, All the Time

Here is your daily dose of Fred Thompson.

Addendum: I like the comments policy of The Washington Post:

Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain “signatures” by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The key word is “responsible.” I do not understand, after three and a half years of blogging, why someone would post or comment anonymously. It’s cowardice, plain and simple. It’s like talking to someone with a bag over one’s head, or worse, throwing stones at people from behind a tree. I’ve never said or written anything anonymously in my life. Not one word. I take full responsibility for everything I say: in my scholarly publications, in my blog, in my correspondence. If it hurts me, so be it. That it might hurt me forces me to be thoughtful, careful, and civil. Don’t be a coward; own your words.


Here is a New York Times story about wisdom. It’s a conceptual mess, and therefore frustrating to read. How can you study something without first getting clear as to what it is? Imagine studying rape without clarifying the concept. Is it forced intercourse? Coerced intercourse? Nonconsensual intercourse? Unwanted intercourse? I notice that no philosophers are mentioned in the story. No wonder it’s a conceptual mess. The best thing ever written about wisdom is still Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Here is a taste:

What has been said is confirmed by the fact that while young men become geometricians and mathematicians and wise in matters like these, it is thought that a young man of practical wisdom cannot be found. The cause is that such wisdom is concerned not only with universals but with particulars, which become familiar from experience, but a young man has no experience, for it is length of time that gives experience; indeed one might ask this question, too, why a boy may become a mathematician, but not a philosopher or a physicist. Is it because the objects of mathematics exist by abstraction, while the first principles of these other subjects come from experience, and because young men have no conviction about the latter but merely use the proper language, while the essence of mathematical objects is plain enough to them? (Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, trans. David Ross, rev. by J. L. Ackrill and J. O. Urmson [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980 (1925)], 148)

Only a scientist could think Aristotle irrelevant.

Abusing Freud

This New York Times op-ed column purports to be a critique of religion, but in fact it’s a critique of ethical objectivism. Finding values in God is just a special case of finding them “out there” in the world, independently of valuing subjects. If the former is a delusion, then so is the latter.

Reagan Derangement Syndrome

The editorial board of The New York Times must be tired of bashing President Bush. In a nostalgic mood, it goes back in time to bash President Reagan. His journal entries are said to lack “nuance” and to “drone.” One of his public utterances is said to be a “facile turn of rhetoric.” This is petty. Ronald Reagan is one of the most important people of the 20th century, as even his critics are beginning to acknowledge. Nobody will remember the editorial board of the Times—except as whining, carping children.

A Routed Left

The French people have chosen order over chaos, prosperity over stagnation, liberty over equality, and nationalism over cosmopolitanism. Good for them.

R. M. Hare (1919-2002) on the Limits of Moral Argument

[I]t is impossible, and moral philosophers ought not to try, to find methods of argument which will settle, determinately, disputes between upholders of different ideals in all cases. Suppose, for example, that one man has the ideals of an ascetic and another those of a bon vivant. Is it at all likely that moral arguments between them will be such as to compel one of them to adopt the other’s point of view—assuming that neither is, by pursuing his own ideal, affecting one way or another the interests of other parties? The moral philosopher who thinks that he is failing his public if he does not provide a logic for settling such questions, would do well to ask almost any member of the public whether he expects them ever to be settled.

(R. M. Hare, Freedom and Reason [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963], 151 [italics in original])

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

While I have some sympathy for the children in cases like that of the Mancías, the fact remains that their parents came here illegally, worked illegally and were caught. No matter how bad things may be in their own country, that does not entitle them to come to this country without permission. They could have moved to a different area of Honduras, or to another Latin American country.

Illegal immigrants should be deported, and their children should go with them to keep the families together.

We need to accelerate the rate of factory and other raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and speed up deportations to convince illegal immigrants that we are finally getting serious about our immigration laws. It’s about time that we did!

S. R. Richardson
San Angelo, Tex., May 1, 2007

Note from KBJ: I salute The New York Times for publishing this letter.

Safire on Language