Sunday, May 10, 2009

8a Belle van Zuylen, a first lecture

Where does our sense of duty come from and how can we have knowledge of morally good? How do we have to judge an action and when do we speak of a morally good or bad one?

Should we be guided in our actions by fixed principles, by feelings of sympathy for the other or by the results that are the consequences of our actions?

These are the fundamental questions of ethics which concerned Belle van Zuylen intensely. Kant was born 16 years earlier than Belle van Zuylen and died in 1804. Belle in 1805.

There are two aspects in this issue with Kant: on the one hand his ethical theory, his categorical imperative and on the other hand Kant's philosophical thoughts about women.

Before we give the floor to Belle van Zuylen herself I think it is necessary to pay attention to what of the leading philosophers in Europe had to say about women, especially in relation to ethics.

Kant is famous because of his epistemology, his Kritik der reinen Vernunft and because of his theory on ethics, his Kritik der praktischen Vernunft. He had a tremendous impact on the cultural development of Europe.

But what about his other writings, those which arent mentioned in 99% of the books on the history of philosphy. Wheren't they reaqd widely too? Shouldn't they be called as influential on European culture as his Kritiks?

Belle van Zuylen wrote a novel, "Three women" (1784) in which she discusses the fundamental philosophical questions on ethics of her days. A wonderful exploration of the ideas of Kant and Hume and Adam Smith.

But before we focus on her ideas we first have to deal with Kant, his philosophy on ethics and in what way his views on the woman affects that theory.

Are all men equal for Kant. Answer is no: there were men and there were women. And in his opinion it was nonsense that women would fill their heads with Greek, for study and reflection are too difficult matters, which not suit a person whose charme is only to look beautiful.

To quote Kant: "The philosophy of women is not to reason, but to feel.(...) Duty and obligation are alien to her. She isn't capable of holding any principles."

The french philosopher Sarah Kofman shows in her work "Le respect des femmes" (1982) that according to Kant the female isn't a full grown human being. In fact the very same thing Aristotle already claimed 300BC.

In some texts Kant speaks very high of women, but only to declare them saints to keep them away from men, while there always is the idea at the background that she is a hore who threatens to drag down men to a bestial level.

Our pitfall here is what is called 'presentism', judging history by applying present day standard. I am very aware of this but yet I am fascinated by what these male philosophers since Aristotle have said about women.

It means that in their philosophy there wasnt even nothing of an idea that the human being is an organism, generally speaking, with all kinds of features...but just an organism..just a being. All their ideas were socially biased.

What is coming to the surface now for me is that 2000 years of philosophy never delivered a neutral ontological description of the human being. It was a description of how men saw their place in society: men that weren't even capable of spelling the word 'woman' correctly, I am almost inclined to believe.

Though we have only reached 1750 I already come to the conclusion that ONE: what we call the history (of philosophy) gives a distorted description of reality and TWO: the ideas a lot of male philosphers had about women are too bizarre to repeat (though I had to do it again).

But forgive me, to defend myself with a Kantian argument, it was in the line of duty, which is maybe not the best defense in the given circumstances either.

The Discussion

[13:21] Daruma Boa: too bizarre?
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:22] herman Bergson: Next class I'll show you the interesting ideas of a woman from 1770 about ethics
[13:22] Alarice Beaumont: sound interesting
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: ah good
[13:22] Daruma Boa: yes i will come
[13:22] itsme Frederix: Lets keep it on ..Kant didn't answer his queation "What do I know .. about woman" and so went in the mistake
[13:22] Alarice Beaumont: I'm totally shocked about what men thought
[13:22] Alarice Beaumont: never really thought about it
[13:22] herman Bergson: lol..yes Itsme...and giganticly
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: amazing that all the ideas still persist in many minds
[[13:23] Qwark Allen: indeed
[13:23] Joan Horsforth: Well. Don't be Alarice, religions always put woman away as babymakers
[13:23] itsme Frederix: ideas are memen like genes Gemma
[13:23] herman Bergson: yes Gemma...that is what concerns me so much too
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: right
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: or chattel
[13:23] herman Bergson: if you read is primitive
[13:23] Joan Horsforth: I mean philosophy followed society
[13:23] Alarice Beaumont: mmhhh
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: i will look for it\
[13:24] herman Bergson: But wait till we discuss Nussbaum
[13:24] Joan Horsforth: and society was dominated by religion
[13:24] Joan Horsforth: and by woman unfriendliness
[13:24] Alarice Beaumont: yes, totally .. you are right Joan
[13:24] herman Bergson: she has a chapter on erotic passion in relation to ethics..
[13:24] Joan Horsforth: So, that makes you wonder
[13:24] itsme Frederix: Of course this also is a (very) colored view (using the perspective of female phil. as theme)
[13:24] oola Neruda: frankly, i think that what the men think of the women reflects MORE upon where the MEN's minds are at... what they think of when they see a woman...
[13:24] Joan Horsforth: Can we trust philosophy as I see no female members in that space
[13:25] oola Neruda: it reflects their own lacivious nature and small egos
[13:25] herman Bergson: In what way colored Itsme?
[13:25] itsme Frederix: oola, that's always been the question ... what's on a men's mind
[13:25] Rodney Handrick: wow...
[13:25] Joan Horsforth: Is the Philosophy not a mirror mark an excuse of the religion in power
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: oh now there are many
[13:25] oola Neruda: it's no question to a woman
[[13:26] Joan Horsforth: Well I am Joan, they burned my ancester Joan of Arc
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: well oola i wonder sometimes
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: about that!!!
[13:26] Joan Horsforth: be aware of that !!!
[13:26] itsme Frederix: Herman, you are now surprised about what you found out (anti-these) ... we need to go to synthese
[13:26] Joan Horsforth: be aware that history tells lies
[13:27] Daruma Boa: sometimes^^
[13:27] herman Bergson: No...Itsme....not surprised....offended
[13:27] Joan Horsforth: be aware they killed woman who know nature because that didn't fit in war plans
[13:27] Joan Horsforth: and called them witches
[13:27] Alarice Beaumont: yes
[13:27] itsme Frederix: Herman same step, we need one further
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:27] Joan Horsforth: I never hear a philosopher about that !!!!!!!!
[13:27] herman Bergson: It needed Women Studies to show that the way history was described was one sided
[13:27] Joan Horsforth: Well I think history should be rewritten
[13:28] Joan Horsforth: \and that means all science as well
[13:28] itsme Frederix: USSR did that, China did that
[13:28] Joan Horsforth: yes
[13:28] Alarice Beaumont: lol no.... let's the future better
[13:28] Joan Horsforth: we didn';t
[13:28] herman Bergson: just the fact that all what Kant wrote about women.....never heard of...never mentioned anywhere
[13:28] Joan Horsforth: but we should
[13:28] herman Bergson: But Belle van Zuylen is pretty much aware of his sayings
[13:28] herman Bergson: she corrects on it
[13:28] Joan Horsforth: but all religion dominated
[13:29] itsme Frederix: Herman didn't you know Kant opinion about mariage (the right to use each others body)
[13:29] Joan Horsforth: and that makes it polluted
[13:29] herman Bergson: He had weird ideas..just like that
[13:29] Joan Horsforth: It means for me, if you don't have the views of the woman correct, your other views will also not be sure
[13:29] itsme Frederix: Nevertheless he had great ideas to
[13:30] Joan Horsforth: sorry I am so direct
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes Itsme..exactly THAT is the problem...
[13:30] itsme Frederix: and again its always abut the woman ;)
[13:30] herman Bergson: Great ideas on epistemology..
[13:30] herman Bergson: but his epistemology only applied to men
[13:30] Joan Horsforth: yes, so half
[13:31] itsme Frederix: Well that means halve of the species has to come up with epistomology ... lets hear us about Belle
[13:31] Joan Horsforth: they overview society only to a certain part
[13:31] herman Bergson: No...that isnt fair, Itsem...dont say..ok ladies give us the same show
[13:32] itsme Frederix: mmmm
[13:32] herman Bergson: at leat that is sociologically incorrect
[13:32] hope63 Shepherd: as i was crash.. what did belle say about kant.. could you just in so few words repeat these sentences of her sayings?
[13:32] itsme Frederix: Herman not the same a better one
[13:32] herman Bergson: No Hope...that is the cream on next class ^_^
[13:33] herman Bergson: Her nover "THree women" is a philosophical discourse on ethics
[13:33] Daruma Boa: wb gemma
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: ty
[13:33] itsme Frederix: one that fits for both sexes (neglicting sexes, and speaking about people)
[13:33] herman Bergson: Search Amazon...lots of works onher, butI could find a translation of that novel
[13:34] herman Bergson: could not
[13:34] oola Neruda: better... makes for competition... wouldn't it be better if they communicated ... REALLY communicated... and came up with it together
[13:34] itsme Frederix: oola you got it
[13:34] Nana Zabelin is Online
[13:34] oola Neruda: i see you did too
[13:34] hope63 Shepherd: may bwe we would need a recall on what was thought about ethics since descartes before we go into detail with kant..
[13:34] Joan Horsforth: Shouldn't
[13:35] herman Bergson: I think present day women philosophers know how to make their point
[13:35] itsme Frederix: but maybe there is need for some "woman" time first I do not know but I can imagine
[13:35] Joan Horsforth: t we want to know why religions and also all scientience were so against woman.
[13:35] Daruma Boa: i would need a recall too^
[13:35] Daruma Boa: instead of more details
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well...the reason that religions adopted the standard views on women can have a few reasons
[13:36] herman Bergson: reason one
[13:36] itsme Frederix: I admit (or should I say proud in this context) the last 3 phil. books I'm reading are written by Nussbaum and Neiman (woman of these days)
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: i beileve the very first view of woman eve as temptress in teh bible set the stage for the whole future
[13:37] herman Bergson: the catholic church was controled by men and they adopted the views of Aristotle and Roman law
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: It has taken nearly all of recorded history for man's primitive power over women to mitigate, this is due I think to the enlightenment of both genders, but the road is just beginning to be paved, women must grip the sterring wheell and keep the 'pedal to the metal'
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: and even the athiests believed that first page :-)))
[13:37] herman Bergson: HOLD ON PLZ
[13:37] hope63 Shepherd: strange enough that the very early christians didn't have that view on women..
[13:38] herman Bergson: as reason one I gave Aristotle and the male controled system
[13:38] herman Bergson: reason two
[13:38] herman Bergson: the catholic church was in power...and those in power do not like to disturb social they reinforced the ideas on women
[13:39] herman Bergson: reason three
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: hope you are right, Jesus di not hold the same views that Paul did, but Paul wrote most of the new testament
[13:39] itsme Frederix: one reason should be enough, more is overkill (like 5 god proves of Thomas o. A.)
[13:39] herman Bergson: It was a perfect system of birth control..but in this case to have your citizens ceate as much kids as possible
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: finally came out
[13:40] Joan Horsforth: Well Actually there is one reason.
[13:40] itsme Frederix: tell us
[13:40] Joan Horsforth: That is the one reason to fight war.
[13:40] herman Bergson: That is the problem Aristotle....the Catholic church isnt about the views of Jesus
[13:40] itsme Frederix: ?
[13:40] Joan Horsforth: And you don't want that men love each other
[13:40] hope63 Shepherd: wait.. kan't timer is as much protestants..
[13:41] Joan Horsforth: So you do two things
[13:41] hope63 Shepherd: and he was protestant as far as i know..
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: I agree, Herman I have found in my studies that most christiian faiths have little to do with Jesus's philosophy
[13:41] herman Bergson: the Catholic church..through history was a systemof social control
[13:41] Joan Horsforth: Crucify male sex, and forbid woman rights
[13:41] itsme Frederix: I do not think you can actually blame religion, religion itself is also a (hu)men invention so ..
[13:41] hope63 Shepherd: if so.. let's not blame the for everything lol
[13:41] Woodstock Burleigh is Offline
[13:41] Joan Horsforth: and make Marriage important
[13:42] itsme Frederix: I think religion is mostly misused for other reasons, maybe like Joan said
[13:42] herman Bergson: That is exactly the point Itsme...we dont blame religion
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: of course itsme, the blame can only be apllied to the perpetrater
[13:42] Joan Horsforth: It's not a question of blame, it's a view
[13:42] herman Bergson: we blame an idiological organisation that involved itself with worldly politics
[13:42] herman Bergson: we blame tha men
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: i think we should have a view back to descartes leibnitz and especially voltaire to klnow what they said about women.. and then see what kind of psychpo kant was in that respect..
[13:43] herman Bergson: we dont blame religion
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: it is the human's responsibilty, both men and women
[13:43] itsme Frederix: But now you blame in a way yourself Herman
[13:43] itsme Frederix: But you came out ...
[13:43] herman Bergson: LOL
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: OMG!!!
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: omg
[13:43] herman Bergson: thnx Itsme..:-)
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: the church is merely a tool that is used
[13:44] hope63 Shepherd: ari.. the church is the hand that uses a tool..
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: 'the evil lurks in the hearts of men'
[13:44] herman Bergson: Well Hope...the intersting thing is , that Descartes is one of the few philosophers that treated women as eque=als inphilosophical discourse
[13:44] itsme Frederix: Oke we all agree men misused views, so that leaves only one thing - the view on yourself
[13:45] oola Neruda: ari.. that is what i was saying too... and that is where their thoughts about women come from
[13:45] Andret Beck is Online
[13:45] herman Bergson: Yes oola....and the more you study the women philosphers the more you begion to wonder, where does that male view come from
[13:46] Daruma Boa: haha
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: I think that the way women have be treated over time is what was 'allowed' by both men and women
[13:46] oola Neruda: need for power? competitive nature? the drive to reproduce ...
[13:46] Joan Horsforth: I think Erasmus did as only one
[13:46] Siggi Piek: yes where did this view come from?
[13:46] herman Bergson: DO we have to go back to Darwin, Conrad Lorenz, Desmond Morris???
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: modern society has moved on from that primitve view because of reasoned enlightenment
[13:47] oola Neruda: if you have ever been a battered woman... then the word... that a woman "allows" this... takes on a different hue
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: i ratrher wonder why male views like kant's fall back centuries before when talking about women.. everywhere in every field there has been "progress2 in thinking about humanity.. but not for women it seems..
[13:47] Joan Horsforth: It was politics to kill woman in society, they had no voice.
[13:47] oola Neruda: she allows... what choices did she that kind of society
[13:47] oola Neruda: who would she go to ?
[13:47] herman Bergson: Here again......YES HOPE.....
[13:48] herman Bergson: that is my point
[13:48] herman Bergson: point
[13:48] Joan Horsforth: Now there is hope
[13:48] Joan Horsforth: We have a woman leader in the US
[13:48] Joan Horsforth: Obama has woman feeling
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd:
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: I see society correcting some of thsose injustices, the march just needs to keep moving
[13:48] Daruma Boa: ^^
[13:48] Joan Horsforth: and thatcher was a disguised man ;-)
[13:49] Ze Novikov: ????
[13:49] Alarice Beaumont: waht?
[13:49] hope63 Shepherd: the correction must come from women.. and trher must be enough woman wanting that correction..
[13:49] Joan Horsforth: well in the whole policy she performed she just did nothing about woman rights
[13:49] herman Bergson: Typical male remark Joan
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: one problem I see is complacency....the next generation must be schooled on how it was for women before
[13:49] Joan Horsforth: thatcher ?
[13:49] Alarice Beaumont: i think Hope is right
[13:49] Alarice Beaumont: who is raising the children?!
[13:49] itsme Frederix: Am I wrong or ... I read the most explanations done by male-av's
[13:49] Siggi Piek: I do not know is this all a question of philosophy or a question of psychology?
[13:50] Alarice Beaumont: and who is teaching them?!
[13:50] oola Neruda: yes... the new generation does not realize what it is about...
[13:50] Alarice Beaumont: who spends the most time with the children?!
[13:50] Daruma Boa: correct siggi
[13:50] Daruma Boa: men also could do that
[13:50] herman Bergson: Even more Sigg...a question of biology too
[13:50] herman Bergson: atavism even
[13:50] Daruma Boa: spend time with children
[13:50] itsme Frederix: I raised my children (for most of the time)
[13:51] Daruma Boa: you see^
[13:51] Alarice Beaumont: :-) cool...but you are an exeption then Itsme
[13:51] herman Bergson: But ok ENOUGH OF THIS
[13:51] Joan Horsforth: Basically we have to go back to the time went humans lived in balance with nature
[13:51] hope63 Shepherd: the time of aristoteles men were responsable fior bringing up boys :)
[13:51] Daruma Boa: men will not do this.
[13:51] oola Neruda: what is ethical... what is moral....
[13:51] itsme Frederix: I admit I found it a hard job
[13:51] herman Bergson: I think now we all know where I stand..:-)
[13:51] Alarice Beaumont: :-)
[13:51] Daruma Boa: + perhaps most women wil stay the weak woman.
[13:51] hope63 Shepherd: in front of us herman?
[13:51] Alarice Beaumont: perhaps they want it Daruma
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: women are not the only nurturers in society today , but they still are the majority
[13:51] itsme Frederix: and being lazy I would have left it to woman, but the circumstances were there
[13:51] herman Bergson: Very true Hope
[13:52] hope63 Shepherd: lol
[13:52] herman Bergson: Next class we'll see what Belle van Zuylenherself thought about Kant and Hume
[13:52] hope63 Shepherd: concentrating the good and the bad remarks on your person:)
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: all this weakend strong mentality is handed down from parents to child
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: I sorry..
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: ah i am I'm Sorry! there is so little in english
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: i could try the french
[13:53] Joan Horsforth: you Know Rudolf Bahro, Herman ?
[13:53] Daruma Boa: well, i think some children have a strong mind right from the astart
[13:53] Joan Horsforth: Thanks for the class Herman !!!!
[13:53] herman Bergson: when you go to Amazon. there is a lot in english in print...
[13:53] Qwark Allen: sounds more interesting even
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: there is a whole website
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: I think that a lot of our preducies and bigotry is inherited
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: ah ok
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: i will look there
[13:53] herman Bergson: she isnt forgotten...
[13:53] hope63 Shepherd: ari.. come on.. genetic cruelty towards women?
[13:54] herman Bergson: but mainly her correspondence with the intellectuals of Europe is in print
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: not biologically, but through nurturing
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: food is not inhereted ari lol
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: we must get a grip on ourselves and stop passing it on
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: body or soul food:)
[13:55] herman Bergson: I dont apologize of giving my personal opinion so explicitely..but as a philosopher I honestly feel embarressed by history
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: mind food , hope
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: we have to go now
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: see you tuesday
[13:55] Daruma Boa: by gemma + qwark
[13:55] itsme Frederix: Shouldn't we invite a female teacher (for one time)
[13:55] hope63 Shepherd: i think we should support all the women who desperately have to fight not as much men today.. but other women..
[13:55] herman Bergson: bye Gemma, QWark
[13:55] Ze Novikov: bye
[13:55] Qwark Allen: good bye soon my friends
[13:55] Qwark Allen: really interesting
[13:56] Qwark Allen: class today
[13:56] Rodney Handrick: Bye Gemma Bye Qwark
[13:56] Joan Horsforth: I can imagine that
[13:56] Alarice Beaumont: bye guys :-))
[13:56] Ze Novikov: bye
[13:56] Rodney Handrick: Bye oola
[13:56] oola Neruda: baieee Rodney
[13:57] Ze Novikov: bb everyone must be off to Rl
[13:57] Daruma Boa: by ze
[13:57] itsme Frederix: Herman, when I read these stupid things they wrote about woman ... well I just left it ... but maybe you got a point and is of more importance than I thought, is telling more about ideas then I noticed.
[13:57] Rodney Handrick: Bye Ze
[13:57] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation...class dismised ^_^
[13:57] Alarice Beaumont: Bye Ze .-)
Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-12-09 15:18:15

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