Sunday, May 10, 2009

14a Mary Whiton Calkins

"I sincerely admire the scholarship of the three women to whom it is to be given and I should be very glad to be classed with them. I furthermore think it highly probably that the Radcliffe degree will be regarded, generally, as the practical equivalent of the Harvard degree

and finally, I should be glad to hold the Ph.D. degree for I occasionally find the lack of it an inconvenience; and now that the Radcliffe degree is offered, I doubt whether the Harvard degree will ever be open to women.

On the other hand, I still believe that the best ideals of education would be better served if Radcliffe College refused to confer the doctoral degree. You will be quick to see that, holding this conviction, I cannot rightly take the easier course of accepting the degree"

(For your information: Radcliffe was the women's college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the neighbour of Harvard.)

To this day Harvard has not issued any degree in honor of Mary Whiton Calkins and feels that there is "no reason to" award the degree. They refused to give her her well deserved degree because she was a WOMAN!

Numerous times during her life she really must have felt offended, humiliated, ignored, disrespected, because she was a woman, when you read about her biography.

At Harvard it was almost like in 1650, when Anne-Maria Van Verschuur was allowed to attend lectures of Voetius from behind a screen. Mary Calkins had to beg for being admitted, and when she finally was, only as a guest with no right of enrollement.

May I remind you: "The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man's attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman." That is not Aristotle speaking here. These are the words of a man from 1871: Charles Darwin. Mary was then eight years old!

But never could withhold her from becoming one of the most outstanding psychologists and philosophers on psychology. She was so outstanding that in March 2008 at the thirty-fifth annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (SAAP) a James Campbell, University of Toledo. held an introduction.

The title of this introduction was " Philosophy is . . . a phase of life, not an observation of life from the outside. --Mary Whiton Calkins, The Persistent Problems of Philosophy ".

"The Persistent Problems of Philosophy: an intruduction to Metaphysics",(1907) 572 pages and five editions and still availabe. Even more. When you google literally on this title you get more than 3000 hits of all kinds among which a lot of contemporary references to this book.

The content :
Ch. 1 : The Nature, Types and Value of Philosophy
Ch. 2 : Pluralistic Dualism: The System of Descartes
Ch. 3 : Pluralistic Materialism: The System of Hobbes
Ch. 4 : Pluralistic Spiritualism: The System of Leibniz
Ch. 5 : Pluralistic Spiritualism: The System of Berkley
Ch. 6 : Pluralistic Phenomenalistic Idealisme: The System of Hume

A Criticism of Preceding Systems

Ch. 7 : An attack on Dualism and Phenomenalism: The critical Philosophy of Kant

Systems of Numerical Monism

Ch. 8 : Monistic Pluralism: The System of Spinoza
Ch. 9 : The advance towards Monistic Spiritualism: The Systems of Fichte, Schelling and Schopenhauer
Ch. 10 : Monistic Spiritualism: The Sytem of Hegel


Ch. 11 : Contemporary Philosophical Systems: The issue between Pluralistic and Monistic Personalism

As you see, she covered a lot of ground (and I do not mention the extensive appendix) but the most important paragraphs of the book you will find in chapter 11.

There you find a paragraph called 'Monisitic personal Idealism', with subparagraphs with titles as:
The argument for the existence of the absolute self
The nature of the absolute self
The absolute self in its relation to the partial selves.

In her psychology the Self plays a main role. In fact all her psychological work is focused on these three elements: The "I", the Object and the relation between the "I" and the Object.

In the first chapter of her book she discusses the nature of philosophy in comparison with the nature of science: "... the physiologist, properly unconcerned about the completeness or about the utter irreduciblness of his object, confines himself to analysis within the arbitrary limits of his living cells,

leaving the philosopher the questions: What is the real nature of these psychaical end these physical processes? Is reality ultimately split up into psychical and physical? Is the division a final one, or is the psychical reducible to the physical?

Is thought a function of brain activity? Or, finally, is the physical itself reducible to the psychical; that is, is matter a manifestation of conscious spirit?"

This last statement is quintessential in the philosophical thinking and psychological thinking of Mary Calkins and it is absolutely necessary that we spend an extra lecture on her theory of the self, in which I want to try to relate it with present day ideas about The Self as philosophical issue.

As Mary Warnock remarks: "Mary Calkins was not, perhaps, a very original thinker, but she was probably the first devoted professional, a true academic, and a teacher, and as such she deserves hetr plac ein this collection." And I fully agree with that.

To be continued next Tuesday......thank you ^_^

Main Resources:
Joke J. Hermsen (ed.), Het denken van de ander (1997)
The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition

The Discussion

[13:26] Anne Charles: Mary as you said had had a passion for self-psychology involving, self, object and the relation of self and object, presumably around 1890 or so. In looking up self-psychology to see what all that meant, I found the concept of self-psychology is attributed to a Heinz Kohut for work done around 1970, and who coined the term "selfobject". Are there two unrelated versions of self-psychology?
[13:27] herman Bergson: make me think of a psychological test Mary developed
[13:28] herman Bergson: and was slightly modified and published by a man, who took full credit of it...
[13:28] ChatNoir Talon: :O!
[13:28] herman Bergson: His name begins with a T...:-)
[13:28] Anne Charles: That game again
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes...buI dont know the man you mention, I'll check on him definitely
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: oh heavens
[13:29] Anne Charles: OK
[13:29] Rodney Handrick: I hate when people take credit for something they did not do...
[13:29] ChatNoir Talon: meanies
[13:29] herman Bergson: It has happened....
[13:29] hope63 Shepherd: rod.. bankers do..
[13:30] herman Bergson: What is more interesting is the fact that her book on philosophy is still a popular work
[13:30] herman Bergson: It reminded me of the question why Lou Salome was on our list....
[13:30] Rodney Handrick: I agree Hope
[13:31] herman Bergson: She played a role in history, but Mary Calkins is still and quoted
[13:31] ChatNoir Talon: Hey Herman, I still don't understand why she said this: " On the other hand, I still believe that the best ideals of education would be better served if Radcliffe College refused to confer the doctoral degree"
[13:31] oola Neruda: i like what she said about philosopyhy being a phase of life...
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well...Radcliffe was a college for girls.
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: I think she was alluding to a watered down doctorate because of that
[13:32] herman Bergson: and by offering the Ph.Ds it in fact reinforced the Harvard behavior to refuse women a Ph.D
[13:32] herman Bergson: still keeping the women's title in a getto
[13:32] hope63 Shepherd: i agree ari.. a doc degree is more or less sterile..
[13:32] ChatNoir Talon: :)
[13:32] ChatNoir Talon: Ahh I see it now Thanks
[13:33] herman Bergson: You have a Ph.D and you have Radcliffe title (oh you are a woman)
[13:33] Anne Charles: Radcliffe had no doctoral program - they fabricated a degree for Mary
[13:33] herman Bergson: There were three other women involved Anne, but you can be right..that makes it even worse
[13:34] ChatNoir Talon: I agree
[13:35] herman Bergson: What is interesting to take notice of that we here see, a group of women from around 1900...
[13:35] herman Bergson: that period in history had been quintessential for women and education
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: thanks to them we have what we have today
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes. fact ..these ladies were very powerfull personalities
[[13:37] herman Bergson: When you read what Mary Calkins had to endure of sexist discrimination...and she never gave up
[13:37] herman Bergson: And I think that their fighting spirit opened the way to education for women
[13:38] oola Neruda: it sounds like she wanted one from harvard...
[13:39] herman Bergson: No..I wouldnt say that....
[13:39] oola Neruda: and for her intellectual prowess to be recognized for what it was... regardless of her sex
[13:39] herman Bergson: she didnt want a degree from Harvard....she wanted equal rights
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: The Radcliffe doctorate degee was much lik e the 'equal but separate' african amercian universtie's degeee in ther time
[13:39] oola Neruda: similiar...but i am a bit off in my approach...thank you herman
[13:39] Ze Novikov: good point Ari
[13:40] hope63 Shepherd: may be not just equal rights.. but that true work is recognized as such.. innovative work..
[13:40] Anne Charles: The Radcliff degree would have been a table scrap
[13:40] herman Bergson: No she fought for equal rights for women too....
[13:41] ChatNoir Talon: Good going, Mary!
[13:41] herman Bergson: she once got furious about a 'so called' experiment of a male psychologist, from which he concluded the standard male/female differences...
[13:41] hope63 Shepherd: well.. i think that she didn't fight just for the right of women to be as stupid as
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: oh i read about that!!!
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: lol and love her retort
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes gemma...:-)
[13:42] herman Bergson: I liked that too ^_^
[13:42] oola Neruda: what did she say
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: I advocate, and have named my daughter, with the male spelling of her name, so that admissions aps and employment aps do not get prejudged
[13:42] herman Bergson: I havent the text at hand Oola..
[13:42] herman Bergson: Clever Aristotle...^_^
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: something we say here at times that the environment so affects the so called differences between men and women's thinking
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: the Radcliife degree would be the same prejudgement
[13:43] herman Bergson: Name your daughter John and she gets admitted everywhere unseen
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: haha, yes Herman
[13:43] ChatNoir Talon: I'm gonna call my daughter "YouBetterNotDiscriminateMeForMySex"... we'll call her Yoube for short
[13:43] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle , I agree and so did Mary
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: you confirm my point of view..
[13:43] Ze Novikov: lol
[13:43] herman Bergson: lol
[13:44] herman Bergson: The thing is, that when I begin my research on a new subject I sometimes can cover it in one lecture..
[13:44] herman Bergson: but some women thinkers are to great to do that...
[13:45] herman Bergson: and her ideas about the Self are so interesting...
[13:45] ChatNoir Talon: I can't wait to explore those
[13:45] herman Bergson: but I need another day to relate them the present day theories on the Self..
[13:45] herman Bergson: And I now also have to look into that man Anne mentioned ^_^
[13:45] hope63 Shepherd: will it include a reflextion on that the self cannot be without the other?
[13:46] herman Bergson: As I mentions, her idea there were always there elements
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: the other is just an adjective to the self
[13:46] herman Bergson: the "i", the Object/Other. and the relation between the two
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: couldn't we be the adjective to the other? and make a self ôut of that ari?
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL, no
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: the self is supreme
[13:47] herman Bergson: Dont become too philosophical, Hope..:-)
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: i hate to do this again but i have to go to the newspaper office ... new building ..:-) thank you
[13:48] ChatNoir Talon: Ciao Gemma
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Gemma
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: see you tuesday i hope
[13:48] ChatNoir Talon: What if we make the relationship supreme?
[13:48] herman Bergson: Ok Gemma..
[13:48] Daruma Boa: bye gemma
[13:48] Rodney Handrick: bye gemma
[13:48] Anne Charles: bye gemma
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: grin.-. ok.. i'll get my bare feet down to earth lol
[13:49] Yamy Masala accepted your inventory offer.
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: how Chat, I will agree taht is aworthy pursuit
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: ahh not how
[13:49] herman Bergson: Hi Aurora..:-)
[13:49] herman Bergson: all...
[13:49] ChatNoir Talon: Thanks
[13:50] herman Bergson: I would say ..get ready for Tuesday..wont be an easy one
[13:50] Aurora Kitaj: Hello Herman, hello everyone
[13:50] Daruma Boa: hi aurora
[13:50] Rodney Handrick: Hi Aurora
[13:50] herman Bergson: Thank you for your participation today..^_^
[13:50] Anne Charles: hi aurora
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you , Herman, wonderful as always
[13:50] ChatNoir Talon: Thank you, herman
[13:50] Daruma Boa: thank u
[13:51] Aurora Kitaj: Hi Daruma and Ze and Anne
[13:51] Rodney Handrick: thank you Herman
[13:51] herman Bergson: Introductory lectures are always the easiest ones....^_^
[13:51] Ze Novikov: Hi
[13:51] Ze Novikov: smiles
[13:51] ChatNoir Talon: hehe
[13:51] Rodney Handrick: true
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: Ayn Rand will tell us a little about self too
[13:52] herman Bergson: So..this weekend no time for dancing..I have to study..^_^
[13:52] ChatNoir Talon: Before you guys leave, has anyone ever heard of a philosopher called Peter Singer?
[13:52] Ze Novikov: lol
[13:52] Qwark Allen: thank you herman
[13:52] Daruma Boa: no
[13:52] herman Bergson winks at Ze
[13:52] Daruma Boa: hi paula
[13:52] Paula Dix: hi :)
[13:52] Paula Dix: too late...
[13:52] Rodney Handrick: Hi Paula
[13:52] Qwark Allen: Hello sir paula
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: just in time Paula :).....hello
[13:52] Daruma Boa: bye qwark
[13:52] herman Bergson: Peter Singer.......
[13:52] Aurora Kitaj: Hello Paula
[13:52] Qwark Allen: cya later friends
[13:52] Anne Charles: hi paula
[13:53] Rodney Handrick: Bye Qwark
[13:53] ChatNoir Talon: Yeah,. Australian guy... very pro animal rights
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Qwarkster

Posted by herman_bergson on 2009-01-20 15:48:41

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