Last year I had twoposts up where I compared genital cutting in males and females, and claimed that ultimately there aren’t any real, substantive differences between the two cases. The posts provoked heated reactions, as could have been expected on the basis of the reactions that anti-circumcision advocates usually receive.
Well, today I came across an article by Rebecca Steinfeld over at The Conversation that says everything I would like to say on the topic, but much more eloquently: 'Like FGM, cut foreskins should be a feminist issue'. In particular, she discusses why our perception of genital cutting of boys is so different from our perception of the same practice with girls. I copy some passages below, but everyone should really read the whole thing! (And yes, I’m ready for more heated discussion in comments. But let me just be clear that my issue is with the genital cutting of non-consenting children; what consenting adults do with their genitalia is none of my business.)
But this isn’t a harm competition. It’s about how FGC [female genital cutting], often referred to as female genital mutilation because it’s widely seen as a violation of women’s rights and a form of oppression and sexual control, is easily accepted when that girl is a boy.
Recently (in a satirical context) I endorsed the proposal that we should pay no attention to the boy-wonders in our midst. I really think we do a disservice to our community and to philosophy by focusing on boy-wonders. 'Boy-wonder' is a sociological term. In what follows I remain agnostic about the intrinsic merits of young philosophers (male or female) who just happen to be or appear to be fantastically good at philosophy.
I define a 'boy-wonder' as follows: a male -- aged 20-28 -- who is quick on his feet, precocious, often with gifts in formal areas of philosophic, and annointed as 'the next big thing' by Some Important Philosopher(s) (SIPS) at a top department.* Words like 'genius' and 'brilliant' are often used in this context. (Often SIPS and their boy-wonders are dismissive of other people's contributions.) Philosophy is by no means the only discipline that has 'anointed' boy-wonders (economics does, too), but we like them a lot. By this I mean that boy-wonders do not only show up in the inflationary context of letters of recommendation, but they also impact the sexist mores in philosophy.
I offer seven considerations to rid ourselves from the whole set of practices that involve boy-wonders.
The Feminist Philosophy Archive Project project began when the Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory (FEAST) and the Society for Women in Philosophy (SWIP) wanted a way to handle SWIP archives, dating to 1971. While the SWIP archive is the immediate goal, the ultimate goal is an inclusive and international Feminist Philosophy Archive (FPA).
The coordinators of FPAP are Samantha Noll of Michigan State (email), and Christina Rawls of Duquesne (email); the advisors include Alison Jaggar, Joan Callahan, Ann Garry, and Sandra Harding. A website is in progress but a listserv is already in operation. To join it, please send an email to: LISTSERV@LSV.UKY.EDU and in the body of the email include the message Subscribe FPAP .
[My wife is a physician-PhD, so I doubt I am an impartial observer here.--ES]
In reality, medical care during pregnancy seemed to be one long list
of rules. Being pregnant was a good deal like being a child again. There
was always someone telling me what to do, but the recommendations from
books and medical associations were vague and sometimes contradictory.
It started right away. "You can only have two cups of coffee a day." I
wondered why. What did the numbers say about how risky one, two or three
cups were? This wasn't discussed anywhere.
The key to good decision making is evaluating
the available information—the data—and combining it with your own
estimates of pluses and minuses. As an economist, I do this every day.
It turns out, however, that this kind of training isn't really done much
in medical schools. Medical school tends to focus much more,
appropriately, on the mechanics of being a doctor--Emily Oster in WSJ [HT Diana Weinert Thomas via Facebook].
Oster's editorial is a pre-publication to a commercial book. It's supposed to be provocative. Indeed, it 'ticks off' all the 'right boxes:' babies, a desire for self-ownership/autonomy ("Pregnant women...want to assess risks for themselves and make their own best decisions"), rejects scientific over-reach ("fuzzy science and half-baked research"), embraces the good life ("a glass of wine every now and then, plenty of coffee, exercise when I wanted it") etc. Her editorial also offers a glimpse into the eugenic ideals of the new epistemic elite: "the other big concern with alcohol [consumption during pregnancy] is low IQ" of the child. (Fetal alcohol syndrom is not just about IQ.)
UPDATE: 19 July 10:15 am: This message is from the organizers of the letter, not from me; I am only posting it:
Signatories to the Letter of Concern have heard from colleagues who wish to add their signatures in support. This is splendid, and sharing support is important; we are limited by the availability of those with the time to compile supporting signatures, but through Sunday, July 21, we will be checking firstname.lastname@example.org for those of you who wish to send in signatures.
We encourage those with job security and tenure to sign; because of the risks (including retaliation), we'd ask junior people not to sign in support. The letter should be signed by, and was initiated by, senior members of the philosophy profession because, given our privileges, it is one of our chief responsibilities to provide support for the more vulnerable members of our profession.
This NYT article provoked a good bit of discussion on FB and pushback in the blogosphere (here and here, at least). A few observations:
Generally speaking I don't care for the borderline moral panic articles about what college kids are doing in bed, but I do admit to sadness in hearing the way the language of return on investment has entered into the article's subjects. Then again, sex and love and commitment can't really be separated from the other ways a society treats personal and interpersonal relations, and maybe what I'm wincing at is just the the way in which what Foucault calls the neoliberal production of "self-entrepreneurs" has taken us all up in its grasp.
Today I came across this story by a man named Kim, whose
quest for a job was seemingly hampered by his gender-neutral but
female-sounding given name. The moment he added ‘Mr.’ to his CV, the interview
invitations started to pour in. In no time, he landed an excellent job, after
months of having his CV with the 'missing' ‘Mr.’ being systematically ignored. Of course, this
will not surprise anyone familiar with the studies on how a CV is perceived in
function of the associations created by the name at the top: in many cultures, everything other
than ‘white male’ associations is bound to make the CV be evaluated less
This phenomenon is related to something I’ve been thinking
about a bit as of lately, namely the concept of gender-neutral given
names. My two daughters have unambiguously female names, but if I were to name a
child now, I would opt for a gender-neutral name, both for a boy and for a
girl. The point is not to preclude the kind of discrimination documented in
these CV studies against female-sounding names, as the effect of a
gender-neutral name for a boy is likely to be detrimental (as in Kim’s story
above). The point is rather to counter the obsession with tracking gender that
seems to be pervasive in virtually every human society.
This is a fantastic collection on the gender imbalance in Anglophone philosophy. The essays represent a variety of approaches to the problem of women's underrepresentation. It is especially important that the book not only offers a way for philosophers to learn about psychological and sociological results that have a bearing on how we organize ourselves, but also a way for us to become more reflective about distinctively philosophical aspects of our practice.
This has been Annals of Everyday Sexism, volume 45,225.
Her response, though, was superb: "Ce n'est pas important. Oui je ne suis pas blonde. C'est un fait. Est-ce que j'ai rêvé de devenir mannequin ? Non, désolé. Mais est-ce que j'ai rêvé de gagner Wimbledon ? Oui. Absolument."
Two and a half years ago I wrote a post on
the impressive results that community-oriented campaigns to fight female genital
mutilation were having in Ethiopia. Now, again via David Slutsky over at the
Feminist Philosophers, I learn that Bogaletch Gebre, the founder ofKembatti Mentti Gezzimma
(KMG, the organization leading the campaigns), has
been awarded the 2012-2013 King Baudouin African Development Prize (arguably, a legacy of Belgium's colonial past, but now put to good use).
In this vein, Boge [Bogaletch
Gebre’s nickname] organizes community conversations to confront culturally
entrenched taboo subjects and challenge harmful customary practices such as
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and bridal abductions. By implementing this
approach across communities in Ethiopia, Boge and KMG lowered the incidence of
FGM in ten years from 100 percent to less than 3 percent of newborn girls in
the areas where they work. (My emphasis)
Given these results, the prize is more
than well-deserved. (Following the motto ‘good news is worth spreading’
(especially at times when we are confronted with NSA-related horror and such
like), I figured it might be good to remind us all that there are still reasons
to rejoice now and then.)
Inspired by some comments of Jennifer Saul on Rebecca Kukla’s remarks concerning the “aggressive, argumentative” style in philosophy, Eric Schliesser and Catarina Dutilh Novaes here at NewAPPS have taken up the question of what I would call the character of philosophy. Does it consist in contests in which adversaries, having occupied positions, not only defend them vigorously but also attack those positions which, being contrary to their own, they take to be opposed to their own? Readers of Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors we live by will recognize here a familiar conceit: argument is war. How warlike should philosophy be?
"Je sais qu'il y a eu des hommes qui ont fait jaillir le lait de leurs mamelles" [that is, "I know that there have been men who have brought forth milk from their breasts."]--Diderot (1754) Thoughts on the Interpretation of Nature PENSÉES SUR L'INTERPRÉTATION DE LA NATURE, 56. [I thank Charles T. Wolfe for locating the passage; and his general insistence that Diderot (recall) ought not be neglected.--ES]
This post was inspired by reading some unpublished papers by Sandrine Berges, who is a leading authority on the political philosophy of Wollstonecraft and Sophie de Grouchy. Prof. Berges points out that in contrast to Rossseau and Wollstonecraft, De Grouchy rejects the close link between birthing and nursing in her (1797) Letters on Sympathy, which De Grouchy attached to her translation of Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments. De Grouchy's move opens up the possibility of recognizing nursing as a distinct and politically significant activity that can be valued (morally, politically, and economically) by society within the division of labor. In fact, if Diderot is right, nursing need not be a gender-specific activity. Motherhood, thus, need not confine women to domestic careers.
Our very own Catarina has taken sides in the exchange between Rebecca Kukla (who started it in this very interesting interview), and Jennifer Saul. But in doing so, Catarina (a) endorses what I take to be a mythic origin birth of philosophy. (I hesitate to disagree with one of the great historians of philosophy of my generation!) This matters because consequently, Catarina (b) overlooks plausible alternative ways of doing philosophy available at the 'origin' of philosophy. But even if I were wrong about (a) and (b), Catarina's argument (c) tacitly embraces optimal institutional design (whereas I am skeptical that we can attain the circumstances in which we would endorse those institutions). At one point Catarina writes:
As Rebecca points out, this
argumentative model of inquiry is at the very birth of Western philosophy in
Ancient Greece. Philosophy has always been a dialogue of people disagreeing
with each other, and this is precisely what makes it a worthwhile enterprise.
First, I doubt that a "dialogue of people disagreeing
with each other" is "precisely what makes" philosophy "a worthwhile enterprise." I believe it's the searching after certain ends (truth, illumination, liberation, beauty, good, etc.) and the various to-be-expected by-products it generates (wonder, joy, insight, self-doubt, critical stance, etc.) that make philosophy a worthwhile enterprise. Second, Catarina endorses here an origin-myth of philosophy that is quite plausible if we focus on Platonic dialogues, but less so if we take a more expansive view of the origins of philosophy. For example, Parminedes' poem is very philosophical (with important reflections on the nature of reason). It certainly has dialogical elements in it. But its predominant mode is a magisterial stance.
Friend-of-the-blog Rebecca Kukla is the latest 3:AM Magazine
interviewee. Alongside lots of interesting observations about her philosophical
work, she was asked to comment on the poor gender balance in professional
philosophy. Here is one of her (somewhat controversial) comments:
[L]et me go on record
as saying that I think that the whole idea that women are put off by or
unsuited to the aggressive, argumentative style of philosophy is crap.
Discursive intensity and tenacity, a high premium on verbal sparring and
cleverness, and a fundamentally critical dialogical method have been central to
philosophy since its birth, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The fact is,
most people, regardless of gender, find that kind of discourse difficult,
overwhelming, and somewhat threatening; the Athenians didn’t crack out the
hemlock for no reason. This is why most people should not be philosophers, and
that’s just fine. A tiny number of women and men thrive on that kind of
engagement. I think the idea that women are disproportionately bad at it or put
off by it is based on anecdotes – anecdotes that are hopelessly distorted by
stereotypes and biases – and not on serious evidence.
Upon re-reading the Vindication in preparation for a class discussion, the second epigraph to this post, which we may loosely translate as Natura sive Deus, startled me. Could Wollstonecraft, who so often sounds like a Deist, be a kind of Spinozist? For, Wollstonecraft is quite clear that "propriety" is just "another word for convenience." (106) So, the substitution of "Nature" by "God" is really an act of social expedience. Yet, could this really be so? For, so much of Wollstonecraft's argument seems to rely on commitments that require commitment to immortal souls and, presumably, a judging God (and one can find other Deist commitments).
Feminist philosophers drew attention to this THE article on gender equality in academia. The article highlights striking differences between countries on gender participation in academia, with a 47% female participation rate in Turkey, and an abysmal 12.7% in Japan as two extremes (see the map through the link). For most of my academic career, I have studied and worked in Belgium, where gender participation is very poor (it's one of the red countries on the map). Only 13% of full professors in Belgium are women. In the EU, only Cyprus and Luxembourg do worse. In this post, I want to examine causes for the disparity (the high % in Turkey; the low % in Belgium), drawing amongst others on personal experience, and on this highly relevant article on Turkish academia.
Being in Brazil this week (but flying back home tonight) allowed me to follow some of the local current debates more closely than I would have otherwise. One of the ‘hot topics' at the moment is the new legislation regulating the working conditions of domestic workers. It is still very common in Brazil for a middle-class family to rely on a wealth of domestic workers, including cleaners, drivers, gardeners and perhaps most importantly, the (almost always female) live-in domestic workers who are responsible for the big chunk of domestic chores (cooking, cleaning, laundry, caring for children), known as ‘empregadas’. (Here is the trailer of a very interesting film/documentary on the phenomenon of a few years ago.)
Up to now, these live-in maids were basically expected to be ‘on call’ 24 hours a day, starting with breakfast early in the morning all the way until washing the dishes after dinner. Needless to say, salaries are usually pretty low, and there was until now no control over the amount of hours they were expected to work; thus the concept of ‘doing extra hours’ did not apply to them. To most foreign eyes, it is a very strange arrangement, which can only be understood as a painful reminiscence of Brazil’s recent slavery past (where slavery was only officially abolished in 1888).
So I’m not going to get into the game of thinking thoughts too many, of
trying to break down the wrong of raping an unconscious person in terms
of psychic discomfort at disapproval. It’s the wrong game to play.--Jacob T. Levy at BHL.
demonstrates, first, the familiar problems with blunt hedonic
utilitarianism that has been detached from utilitarianism’s roots as a
moral theory, and, second, the selection effect about what kinds of
people are attracted to that theory. Lansburg [sic] is entirely too pleased
with himself for being willing to Think Challenging Thoughts (thoughts
that pretty much get covered in a first semester moral philosophy class
as the frosh learns why blunt hedonic utilitarianism is not a very good
theory), and determined to get through his cute hypotheticals for the
fun of it, regardless of whether they convey anything useful or not.
It's just a fact of the matter that economists are not trained to be philosophers (and they are no better at it [recall here and here] than we are at economics [here]). But (not unlike philosophers) they do get socialized into thinking they are really smart boys (recall this). Since the Samuelsonian, revealed preference revolution cut the link between economics and hedonic utilitarianism (utility curves are not supposed to refer to mental pleasure entities entities, they are just a ranking of choices--recall this post), Landsburg is not even bringing any of the standard economic's tools to bear on the case. He is simply out of his depth. (Of course, that's just a daily fact of life in blog-land, the problems start when one forgets this.)
Now, the interesting issues here pertain to Levy's decision to speak up about Landsburg's moral and intellectual obtuseness without giving Landsburg credibility in doing so.
year the Eastern Division of the Society for Women in Philosophy comes
together to honor a woman philosopher whose contributions to the support
of women in philosophy and to philosophy itself are outstanding and
merit special recognition. A panel and reception celebrating the
honoree's accomplishments will be organized for the Eastern Division
meeting of the American Philosophical Association, December 27-30, 2013.
should include a copy of the nominee's curriculum vitae and a minimum
of two supporting letters, which summarize the nominee's contributions
to philosophy and support of women in philosophy.
Two-thirds of letter writers for any given nomination must be members
of the society for women in philosophy, in good standing.
Please e-mail all nominations to Rochelle Green, ESWIP Distinguished Woman Philosopher Award Secretary (email@example.com) no later than April 1, 2013.
As is well known, philosophy is a very male-dominated (and white, straight, etc) field, when compared to all other humanities, social sciences, and even several STEM disciplines. Even if we take into account the difficulties that minorities face in academia, we cannot explain why philosophy does worse than most other academic fields. I'd like to put a slightly controversial idea on the table: there are good reasons to believe that philosophers are less effective than academics from other fields in their ability to counter their own biases, i.e., they exhibit a larger bias blind spot.
Pornography has been a topic of interest to feminist philosophers
and feminists in general for quite some time. (It has also been an important topic in aesthetics and philosophy of art, but here I will not engage with this literature at all.) I think it is fair to say that
most feminists (philosophers or otherwise) tend to be critical of pornography
and to view it as yet another form of oppression of women, for a variety of
reasons. (For an overview, see Watson’s 2010 review article in Philosophy Compass.) But at least some feminists (e.g. Betty Dodson) have defended more
favorable views of pornography, for example by recognizing that there is wide diversity under the general heading of pornography. Some say that there is no such thing as Pornography with capital P, but rather a range of pornographies, different instantiations of the general idea.
Let me state from the outset that I (feminist or not)
identify with the second camp. I do not endorse the view that pornography is in
principle, by definition, degrading (to women or others). So to define
pornography as “the
graphic sexually explicit subordination of women, whether in pictures or words”
(as MacKinnon and Dworkin did in the early 1980s) is in a sense conveniently question-begging.
Moreover, it seems to exclude from the realm of pornography manifestations
which most of us would not hesitate to call pornography (say, a graphic
sexually explicit encounter between two men).
Here I am, back from my vacation and trying
desperately to catch up with the accumulated work and all the interesting
events in internet-world of the last week. At NewAPPS alone there are quite a
few posts I want to react to, in particular Eric’s post on the genealogy of
genealogy. But let me start by commenting on the ‘hot topic’ of the moment, at
least among philosophy geeks: L.A. Paul’s draft paper on how decision theory
is useless when it comes to making life-transforming decisions such as having a
child. Eric and Helen already have nice posts up reacting to the paper, but I
hope there is still room for one more NewAPPS post on the topic.
Perhaps the first thing to notice, which
comes up only at the end of Paul’s paper, is that the very idea of having
children being a matter of choice/decision is a very recent one. For the
longest part of human history, and for the largest portion of the human
population (excluding, for example, some of those who took up religious vows), finding a partner and procreating was simply the normal course of
events, no questions asked. (Indeed, Christian faith even views it as a moral
obligation.) It is only fairly recently, possibly only towards the end of the
20th century, that having a child became a matter of choice at least
for some people, in some parts of the planet. Contributing factors are the
availability of contraceptive methods, and a wider range of life options which
are now deemed ‘acceptable’, or at least more acceptable than before. (People
who choose to remain child-free, in particular women, are still often looked at
Res Philosophicahas just announced a cfp "on the topic of transformative experiences for a special issue of the journal." The invited speaker line-up is fantastic. Papers are invited that explore "the
implications of the possibility that certain major life experiences are
phenomenologically transformative: that is, they are relevantly just
like Mary’s when she leaves her black and white room." (For a refresher on Mary see here.) One of the invited papers, "What Mary can’t expect when she’s expecting," by the eminent metaphysician, L.A. Paul, was first called to my attention after my post on the lack of available vocabulary for the emotional life of fatherhood. Paul argues that:
[H]aving one’s own child is an epistemically transformative experience. If it is impossible for me to know what it is like to have the transformative experience of seeing and touching my own child, to know what emotions, beliefs, desires, and dispositions will be caused by having a child, and by extension to know what is like to have the emotions, beliefs, desires, and dispositions caused by having my child, it is impossible for me to gauge the expected value, in phenomenal terms, of having a child. If I cannot gauge the expected value of having my child, I cannot compare this value to the value of remaining childless. And if I cannot compare it to the value of remaining childless, I cannot—even approximately—determine which act would result in the highest expected value. And thus, on the standard model, I cannot use our ordinary, phenomenal-based approach to rationally choose to have my child, nor can I rationally choose to remain childless.
Now the point of the paper is not to argue that becoming a parent is fundamentally an irrational act; Paul allows that there may be ways of thinking about rationality far removed from standard rational choice models that can capture the rationality of such a decision. Paul's paper also allows that models that merely capture the extrinsic features of having children (predator-prey models in ecology, Malthusian growth models in economics and ecology, etc.) do a good job explaining or predicting observed regularities. Paul's approach is even compatible with the possibility that we can experimentally induce utility curves for prospective parents to estimate their willingness to pay for a child.
December 2012 will be remembered as the month when two
horrific events took place: the Newtown shooting, which cost 26 lives (if I’m not
mistaken), and a brutal gang-rape in New Delhi, which cost the victim’s life. (UPDATE: One of many, but for once the victims survived long enough to tell their story, and for once people listened.) In both cases, the events set in motion a wave of collective outrage, raising in
particular the inevitable questions of how something like this could have
happened, and what can be done to prevent similar atrocities in the future.
What do the two events have in common? One thing they have
in common is the imperativeness of viewing both from the perspective of gender
roles. With respect to the rape case, the gender dimension is immediately
apparent, as rape is one of the most brutal and yet extremely widespread forms of
male domination over women. But the mass shooting in Newtown, and in fact mass
shootings in general in the USA, may (and should!) also be discussed against
the background of gender roles. The fact is that virtually every mass shooting
has been perpetrated by men (and in fact, mostly by white, middle to upper
class males), and this is no coincidence.
I was asked the question in the title of this post during the closing moments of an Eastern APA job interview. I believe I stammered "that's illegal," but maybe I only thought of that response in the bar later. In reality the conversation continued with the Chair of the department after the interview and that was even less edifying. (I have shared more unprofessional interview moments here.) This by way of calling attention to our friends at Feminist Philosophy, who are having an important discussion about what to do in situations like the one I encountered. Those with wise council (I don't have any, alas) or in need of it should join in there.
A colleague in the discipline had warned me against the department with whom the 'are-you-gay-incident' occurred. (I was, in fact, trying to replace that person, but did not receive an 'on-campus-interview.') Given the deplorable situation on the professional philosophy junior/tenure-track job-market, we often forget that interviews are two-way encounters. Departments should be mindful that they are also 'selling' themselves not just to people desperate for a decent paying job in philosophy, but also to future professional colleagues in the discipline. I sometimes wonder if I will ever bump into the self-described "philosopher of economics" who asked me the question about my sexual orientation/sense of self. I imagine the conversation starts with, "Actually, we have met before. You may not recall..."
You have to be narcissistic and regularly tap into your inner anger to succeed at blogging. Given that professional philosophy has treated me extremely generously during most of my career, my blogging floats along happily on my narcissism. But sometimes what animates my blogging are the memories of the many unprofessional experiences undergone and witnessed....
Recently, I wrote some young scholars who ended up hosting a resource-rich conference with a line-up of ten (mostly early career) males. (I wouldn't be surprised this particular conference also ends up being a special issue of a journal.) This surprised me because I had noticed the cfp and it explicitly mentioned blind review of abstracts, and had made no mention of invited speakers. Their response is illuminating because it shows how even selection designs that aim at quality can lead to unfair, gender-imbalanced outcomes without any malice or gender bias (I'll qualify this in a bit) at all:
From a call
for papers, we have selected 7 papers (out of a total of 10 to be presented at
this workshop). Possibly 7, but at least 5 (out of 24 submitted), abstracts
have been submitted by women (judging on the basis of first names). All
abstracts have been anonymously evaluated double blind by a pool of 30
reviewers (of which roughly half were authors that had submitted abstracts).
The resulting rank order was arrived at by straight averaging, gender was not a
factor in the decision. The group of authors selected remained the same
irrespective of assigning weights (between 60/40 and 80/20) to reviewers’
scores or authors’ scores. We checked for gender only after the blog post [by the GCC] had
become known to us. The best “female abstract” is probably on rank 11.
3 out of 10
talks are given by invited speakers. These had been planned before the call for
papers. 2 of these are given by scholars from [our home universities]. These authors had been asked before
the call for papers, as we seek to give precedence to work originating [at our
home universities]. Prof. X is the one invited speaker external to the
Before my son was born (nearly three years ago) I showed very little interest in children. I was not 'anti-', just indifferent in the way that I am still indifferent about, say, Nascar racing, clubbing, or (I apologize to my academic friends) wine-tasting. On a glorious late afternoon after I got my flu-shoot I was walking along the Brouwersgracht (see here for a picture, but imagine less leaves on the trees), grateful for the lack of rain and thinking about various deadlines. When I walked by a crowded playground (see here, but imagine lots of children), I stopped and looked at the kids absorbed in their play. Before I knew it I was filled with joy, fatigue and innumerable number of other recently familiar feelings. After a moment's immersion in the scene and the accompanying feelings, it occurred to me that some kind of associative mechanism had done its work.
While I have an impossible-to-find publication that argues there are fatal problems in Hume's account of the associative mechanism, I never doubted that we do associate. But this may have been the first time I felt the mechanism's existence as a kind of brute force that could overwhelm a prior disposition otherwise. But this realization did not please me; rather, I was reminded of another fact--I completely lack a vocabulary for the recently familiar feelings that accompany the recurring mixed joy-fatigue state. (Not all of these are joy.) Echoing Socratic midwifery, Hume famously describes the fate of his philosophical works with parent-child metaphors, but it occured to me that many of the philosophers (e.g., Plato, Hobbes, Spinoza, Hume, Adam Smith, Nietzsche) that I have been thinking about during the last fifteen years, or so, died childless (or at least without acknowledging their children). A few of them had very intense experiences tutoring young men, but their accounts of the passions do not offer me the concepts to name the feelings. Reading Rawls or other more recent philosophers and economist hasn't helped. Has, say, feminist philosophy made a difference on this score? It ought to, so I would love to hear from informed readers.