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Monday, October 22, 2012

35

The Philosophers Don't Know Either

"Wittgenstein’s response to me was humiliating, and his response to female students who tried to attend his lectures was even worse. If a woman appeared in the audience, he would remain standing silent until she left the room. I decided that he was a charlatan using outrageous behavior to attract attention. I hated him for his rudeness. Fifty years later, walking through a churchyard on the outskirts of Cambridge on a sunny morning in winter, I came by chance upon his tombstone, a massive block of stone lightly covered with fresh snow. On the stone was written the single word, “WITTGENSTEIN.” To my surprise, I found that the old hatred was gone, replaced by a deeper understanding. He was at peace, and I was at peace too, in the white silence."
Death.

35 Comments / Post A Comment

Lucienne

I am skeptical of any book where the philosophers are more interesting than the philosophy. And there are no women interviewed.

social theory

@Lucienne yeah.

social theory

i'm not technically a philosopher, so i get to use informal language when i say: this is some crazy ass shit. i really like the premise behind this book, and i'm possibly the world's biggest wittgenstein fan (ray monk excluded), and i should maybe know more about who freeman dyson is, but his objections are kind of wack and his definition of science is unproblematized and narrow. i'm just not buying his "there are no more great philosophers" schtick and i'm not comfortable with his rosy version of scientific inquiry. (someone more eloquent can take over from here hopefully.)

social theory

@social theory but i was jealous of his encounter with wittgenstein.

Lucienne

@social theory The definition of philosopher is also much too narrow. There's nothing wrong with another book on metaphysics, but acting like metaphysics is the only legitimate area in philosophy is 1) already a shitty problem in philosophy 2) faaaaaalse.

social theory

@Lucienne much, much agreed.

ETA: this article made me turn to the drink, so i'm not so good for coherent comments. but i'll situate myself as one who appreciates the local turn in philosophy/sociology of knowledge. overarching attempts to understand what is "out there" get on my nerves.

Lucienne

@social theory Philosophy drives everyone to drink, I get it!

TheBourneApproximation

And gee, philosophy is still an academic field with one of the smallest fractions of women!

Lucienne

@TheBourneApproximation If you care enough about philosophy to read the comments on this post, you probably already know about What is it like to be a woman in philosophy? but I'll link it anyway.

Lucienne

@Lucienne OR I WOULD LINK IT IF I WERE COMPETENT. I got that tunnel vision, that girls get?

What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

highfivesforall

@Lucienne I really want to look at your link, but it seems to be broken - would you mind fixing it? I don't usually care that much about philosophy, I just read the comments on every hairpin post (doesn't everybody?? no, just me?), but I do care about women's experiences in traditionally male fields since I'm in technology.

highfivesforall

@highfivesforall Aaaaand that's what I get for not refreshing the page before commenting.

fondue with cheddar

@Lucienne Clearly, it never crossed his mind...that I might actually be available despite being in a relationship...

This dude is basically saying, "I realize you're married but I am available for no-strings sex if you're up for it." Ugh.

Lucienne

@all Enjoy being driven to drink!

Seriously, there is a reason philosophers drink so much.

TheBourneApproximation

@Lucienne Ooooff, that website. I'm not a philosopher, and I usually don't follow happenings in philosophy, but I am in a field with the *lowest* representation of women (physics), so this is an issue near and dear to my heart. I've actually been quite lucky to have avoided the most nasty come-ons and examples of discrimination, being in a fairly lady-filled subfield. But I know friends who have had it much worse. Reading that website could be pretty much be "What is it like to be a woman in Physics?" with some minor edits.

fondue with cheddar

@TheBourneApproximation What subfield is that? Asking for a friend who wants to go back to school for science but hasn't figured out which field.

Lucienne

@TheBourneApproximation Which reminds me of this delightful extract from Holt's interview with Vanity Fair:
"VF: Bone to pick: your list excludes women.
JH: It wasn’t meant to be that way! I was going to include a Harvard physicist who’s not only a woman but she’s extremely attractive. But then I alienated her by writing an insufficiently favorable review of a book of hers in the Times. So I never asked her—it would have been too gelid an atmosphere."

highfivesforall

@Lucienne Oh good lord. What a fucking joke.

TheBourneApproximation

@fondue with cheddar High Energy / Particle physics. Though the big collider LHC experiments can be kind of dick-wavingy (frankly, this is more of a massive ego thing than a gender thing), and I recommend staying with smaller things like neutrinos, cosmic rays, and dark matter. Things with "astro-" in the name also tend to be more egalitarian. Actually, the further you get away from engineering and "applied" physics the better the environment is.

@Lucienne Oh shit! He's talking about Lisa Randall! Man is a juicebox, no question.

fondue with cheddar

@TheBourneApproximation Very cool! I'll keep that in mind. :)

@Lucienne A Harvard physicist who's female AND good-looking? IMAGINE THAT.

I read a bunch of posts on that blob, but once I got to the head-pat one I got so angry I had to stop.

TheBourneApproximation

@fondue with cheddar Ooh, a fair-warning postscript. All of the HE Physics fields I mentioned usually require a ton of travel, for conferences, work meetings, on-site shift, etc. Which can be either good or bad depending on the person, but can be reaaally not family friendly (or exciting!).

(Also, that is when I stopped reading the blog too, hah!)

fondue with cheddar

@TheBourneApproximation I don't have kids! I might be okay with travel, if only because I haven't traveled much. My sinuses don't like airplanes, but I could deal with that if I liked my job.

Saaoirse

Oh, boy, my great-grandma used to hang out with Wittgenstein. My grandma has a couple stories about him, but she was very very young so they're foggy and handed down and probably inaccurate by now, so I have no idea how sexist he was or what was going on there.

While I'm philosophy-boasting, her mother, my great-great-grandmother, had an affair with Bertrand Russell. But he had quite a few affairs, so that's not so special.

Megasus

Whatevs, I still woulda spit on his grave.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I don't know a lot about philosophy, so I don't know why I'm feeling so distressed by that paragraph, but I am feeling quite distressed by that paragraph.

fondue with cheddar

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Probably because it's quite a distressing paragraph.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@fondue with cheddar It's like you're reading my mind. Are we Internet best friends yet?!

fondue with cheddar

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose YES.

fondue with cheddar

@fondue with cheddar By the way, I had THE WORST fondue with cheddar at a restaurant this weekend. It gave me ALL THE SADS.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@fondue with cheddar Ugh. That is the worst. I'll be real with you, now that we're IBFFs: I only like sweet fondue.

fondue with cheddar

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Oh, so THAT'S why you drank so much wine last week! You were hoping I wouldn't notice!

Seriously though, this fondue had cheddar and Swiss in it but it was mostly American cheese. And not the deli-style American that tastes like actual cheese, we're talking Kraft singles. It had that tacky texture and was exceedingly salty.

Chocolate fondue is pretty awesome though, I'll give you that.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@fondue with cheddar Oh man. Kraft singles and Velveeta cheese freak me out. But, to be fair, so does goat cheese. I'm kind of hit and miss.

fondue with cheddar

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Haha. Goat cheese freaks me out a bit too, but I like it. Only as a complement to other things though, not as the main ingredient.

Velveeta is totally gross but I sometimes like it in grilled cheese. And their shells and cheddar.

I'm glad I'm not the only one whose dairy choices make no sense. ;)

dontannoyme

I studied philosphy at Oxford and not only did I not have a single woman tutor in three years (or lecturer), we were not prescribed a single female philosospher to read in three years. As a result, three years of moral philosophy study and endless dissection of rights, what they are, how humans acquire rights, and there was not a single mention of pregnancy and how the idea of rights fits in with a situation where one person carries another "person" and gives them access to the human world. Who has rights there? At what point? What happens when their rights (if they both have them) conflict? Not one mention. Instead lots of theoretical situations constructed by men to test the theories they had thought up without ever spending 5 seconds thinking about humans come into the world and whether women might have a different perspective.

whateverlolawants

@dontannoyme Blows the mind, doesn't it? This is a major part of the human experience!

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