Tuesday, 13 November 2012

An Evolving Masculinity (Conclusion)

What determines our identity - gender identity, racial identity, cultural identity - is the unique features of our relationship to each other and the environment. A lot of it has to do with context. The common and uncommon features, the shape our relationships take. 

Sometimes we share similar features of relationship. This is what we can legitimately call a culture.

Sometimes, our relationships differ starkly. This is what we can call individual character.

Relationships are by their nature evolutionary entities. (They are not entities at all, but calling them this brings out the quizzical nature of objects, distinctions and relationships). All forms of meaning come down to relationship. Conditioned or habitual ways of relating.

This does not mean that we subscribe to either cultural relativism or absolutism. This distinction itself is a product of primitive thinking. As is the notion that we can have a moral relativism or a moral absolutism. Or a fundamental truth or a relative truth. 

Examining human reality in this way is the primitive dualism I talked about in a previous post. All dualism comes down to the false duality of human versus environment. Consciousness versus matter. It's a false distinction but it carries a lot of weight in our culture because we are so used to thinking of ourselves in this way.

An evolutionary concept is a concept that is not fixed, but which is nevertheless useful. Is it useful to think of light in terms of a wave, or a particle? It depends. Whichever way of talking most successfully makes sense of what we are observing.

An evolutionary concept is a fluid concept. It works, but it does not need to be rigid and unchanging for it to work.

Is there a body of humans that share similar levels of hormonal charge, and who have similar, though not exactly similar, experiences of life because of it? Yes. Is it useful, at times, to address this body of humanity as a group in certain intellectual contexts? Yes, it is. Is it useful to reduce everything about humanity to that particular distinction? No, it is not.

It makes sense to talk of masculinity as opposed to femininity. It simply does. In the same way that it makes sense to talk about humanity as opposed to environment. But to be reductive about these distinctions is where the problems start. 

Yet to perpetually question every distinction we make is intellectual masturbation. It's what people hate about philosophy. You can never get anything done.

Masculinity is an evolutionary concept. It makes sense to use the concept, but the concept itself changes, because human experience changes and evolves. Language evolves as culture evolves. 

Meaning is not a free for all, but in some sense it is relative. Again, sometimes light is a particle, and sometimes it is a fucking wave. 

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