Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gender Domains

In my comment on a post by Major Generalist, I referred to ranges of certain human dispositions that span a common origin. In that context I posited that for each of these dispositions one side of the origin could be labeled female and the other male. This post is a list of the dispositions that I have been able to come up with so far.

I made a conscious effort to go deeper than the stereotypical, often anti-female, gender labels. My goal was to make both the male and female dispositions I’ve listed represent a valid way of being in the world.

I am the primary template for my male domain. These male dispositions are how I recall being for most of my life (though interestingly less so since I became a father, but that’s a story for another posting). The women who shaped my worldview are the basis of my interpretation of the female domain. The female dispositions listed here are generally the complements of the male ones, vetted through my perception of the women I’ve known. This reflects my personal belief that we are not opposite sexes but complementary genders.

The Female Domain

  • Pursuing Perfection (“I want the best”)
  • Process-oriented (“Its not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game”)
  • Efficient (“Waste Not Want Not”)
  • Strategic (“The future is what we make it”)
  • Nurture (“Greatness is made, not born”)
  • The Threat of Change (“Most change is for the worse”)
  • Inhibitive (“What happens is what I do not prevent”)
  • The Power of Desire (“Show me that you want it”)
  • Safety First (“If I am not Safe, I am not truly Free”)
  • Communal (“From each according to her abilities to each according to her needs”)
  • Distributive (“Water Divided is Water Multiplied”)

The Male Domain

  • Pursuing Novelty (“I want what I don’t have”)
  • Results-oriented (“Just win, baby!”)
  • Effective (“Make It Work”)
  • Tactical (“Take care of the present and the future will take care of itself”)
  • Nature (“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”)
  • The Opportunity of Change (“You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs”)
  • Exhibitive (“I did it my way”)
  • The Power of Fear (“Winning through intimidation”)
  • Freedom First (“If I am not Free, I am not truly Safe”)
  • Competitive (“Survival of the fittest”)
  • Acquisitive (“He who dies with the most toys wins”)

Neither genitalia nor sexual orientation is the sole determinant of which of these domains a person occupies. Beyond the expected distributions there are gay men and straight women in the male domain, lesbian women and straight men in the female domain and bisexual and transgendered individuals all over the place.

In this division of dispositions, being in a given domain does not invalidate you as a person. Though each domain can be subjected to negative characterizations, they can also just as easily be positively characterized. Which you choose to do is most likely based on your personal prejudices.

I am sure there are more such dispositions but these are the ones that meant the most to me. Note that during the short time I have worked on these lists, several of these dispositions have flipped sides. While I obviously do not think I am completely wrong here, I readily acknowledge that this is a work in progress and so I am open to constructive suggestions.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Death of Santa Claus

My 12 year old daughter just confided in me that it is becoming increasingly difficult for her to continue to believe in Santa Claus. That she sees the existence of Santa Claus as still worth considering is a testament to the sophistication of her perception of his (its) nature. I explained to her at a relatively early age that Santa Claus is the name that many European-influenced cultures give to a seasonal spirit of selfless giving.

My idea of spirit is a bit more precise than the prehistoric concept of independent, non-material, sentient manifestations that are capable of influencing the world around us. I regard spirit as the connection among a collection of minds that inclines them to act in unison. Spirits do not exist without component minds any more than minds exist without component neurons. Sports fanaticism, market forces, patriotism, racism and religious zeal are examples of spiritual manifestations.

In this context I explained to my daughter that Santa Claus is simply a spirit that inclines people to be more loving, kind and giving between Thanksgiving and New Years. Santa Claus is an intentional spirit, specifically created by people to bring out the best in them at this time of year. Every mind that contributes to and thus acts out of this spirit is an avatar of Santa Claus. The fat, bearded guy in the red suit is merely how people who cannot imagine such manifestations without bodies choose to picture that spirit.

Over the last few years my daughter has noticed a strong sense of obligation underlying many people’s efforts to give at this time of year. But isn’t Santa about giving freely out of love for others? There must be a different spirit underlying such compulsory giving. The fact that selfless giving is never coerced means that this other spirit must be in competition with Santa Claus. Since these days most people seem to be doing forced giving during the holiday season, Santa must be losing. I guess I should explain to her that, “Yes Akilah, there is a Santa Claus, but he is being killed and eaten by the Spirit of Commerce”.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Evolution of Wisdom

In the beginning there was Wisdom.
This primitive Wisdom came in two forms, Temporal and Spiritual.
Our Temporal Wisdom told us how to survive.
Our Spiritual Wisdom told us how to grow.

As we contemplated and meditated upon our Spiritual Wisdom it deepened beyond the intuitive grasp of most of us.
As a result, our Spiritual Wisdom came to be seen as Revelatory Knowledge.
When it was written down this Revelatory Knowledge lost much of its depth and complexity as it came to be the scriptural basis of Religion.

As we generalized and extended our Temporal Wisdom in the context of the world around us, we began to accumulate Empirical Knowledge.
This rationally generated, Empirical Knowledge of the world is the essence of Philosophy.
A falsifiable portion of Philosophy subsequently emerged as what we call Science.

The incredible success of Science in explaining our world led to our nearly universal infatuation with rationality.
But rationality has been largely divorced from Spirituality in the context presented by both Science and Religion.
As such, in the domain defined by Science and Religion no rational growth path is evident since in this perspective rationality constrains our capacity to grow spiritually.
However, in the context of our Revelatory and Empirical Knowledge there is no inherent contradiction between rationality and spiritual growth.

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