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Sunday, June 26, 2011

A few bits

There's an interesting NYT's philosophy blog post from last year that's on the imagination -- Reclaiming the Imagination -- by Oxford philosopher Timothy Williamson. I find the imagination interesting partly because I spend a lot of time imagining stuff :) and partly because it's an important part of Ignatian spirituality. Here's an article on that aspect -- Pray with Your Imagination by David L. Fleming, SJ

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There's also an interesting current post at the NYT's philosophy blog -- The Ways of Silencing by Jason Stanley -- that touches on pornography. It reminded me of a past article by David Bentley Hart on pornography -- The Pornography Culture. I didn't like Hart's article that much - he seems to have something of a "Theology of the Body" view of women? Here's just one (long) paragraph from his article ...

I may be revealing just how quaintly reactionary I am in admitting that nothing about our pornographic society bothers me more than the degraded and barbarized vision of the female body and soul it has so successfully promoted, and in admitting also (perhaps more damningly) that I pine rather pathetically for the days of a somewhat more chivalrous image of women. One of the high achievements of Western civilization, after all, was in finding so many ways to celebrate, elevate, and admire the feminine; while remaining hierarchical and protective in its understanding of women, of course, Christendom also cultivated—as perhaps no other civilization ever has—a solicitude for and a deference towards women born out of a genuine reverence for their natural and supernatural dignity. It may seem absurd even to speak of such things at present, after a century of Western culture’s sedulous effort to drain the masculine and the feminine of anything like cosmic or spiritual mystery, and now that vulgarity and aggressiveness are the common property of both sexes and often provide the chief milieu for their interactions. But it is sobering to reflect how far a culture of sexual “frankness” has gone in reducing men and women alike to a level of habitual brutishness that would appall us beyond rescue were we not, as a people, so blessedly protected by our own bad taste. The brief flourishing of the 1970s ideal of masculinity—the epicene ectomorph, sensitive, nurturing, flaccid—soon spawned a renaissance among the young of the contrary ideal of conscienceless and predatory virility. And, as imaginations continue to be shaped by our pornographic society, what sorts of husbands or fathers are being bred? And how will women continue to conform themselves—as surely they must—to our cultural expectations of them? To judge from popular entertainment, our favored images of women fall into two complementary, if rather antithetical, classes: on the one hand, sullen, coarse, quasi-masculine belligerence, on the other, pliant and wanton availability to the most primordial of male appetites—in short, viragoes or odalisks. I am fairly sure that, if I had a daughter, I should want her society to provide her with a sentimental education of richer possibilities than that.

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There's a post at dotCommonweal about the vote in NY for marriage equality, and it's opined that Archbishop Timothy Dolan didn't have that much to do with trying to stop the passing of the bill. I think that's untrue and I thought I'd mention a post I saw recently which is worth reading if only for the title ..... Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the Zombie Apocalypse


4 Comments:

Anonymous David Smith said...

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Philosophy is over my head, but I like what Hart writes. Sorry :o(

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12:26 AM  
Anonymous David Smith said...

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Hmm, "marriage equality"? Oh, well.

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12:27 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

It was this part that bothered me ...

One of the high achievements of Western civilization, after all, was in finding so many ways to celebrate, elevate, and admire the feminine; while remaining hierarchical and protective in its understanding of women, of course, Christendom also cultivated—as perhaps no other civilization ever has—a solicitude for and a deference towards women born out of a genuine reverence for their natural and supernatural dignity

It's like he's talking about some alternate history in which women were respected and had equal rights and opportunities both in secular society and the church - hah! :) And that last part about women's "supernatural dignity" sounds like JPII's letter to women.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous David Smith said...

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Stanley's examples are all politically loaded. It's as though he wants not only to illustrate a point, but to preach politics while doing it. That's a dishonest use of language, because he's implicitly pretending to be doing only philosophizing. Is it possible he didn't realize he was doing it? Odd.

You seem determined to see Hart as a misogynist. I think that may be wide of the mark, at least so far as this text is concerned. He's speaking of a civilization with a high respect for the feminine, not of any contemporary notion of rights and equal opportunities for making money or achieving power. I think it's a common mistake people make to judge other cultures in other times by the political standards of our own age. Apples and oranges.

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1:18 AM  

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