Carnap, Kuhn, and the Philosophy of Scientific Methodology by Earman

By Earman

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Initiation rituals for men differentiated them from women and children, and in doing so initiated them into social life. How, then, are we to read women into Durkheim’s more general argument about the sources of the social? Denied entry into collective ritual, or access to the representation of the social via totemic symbols, women’s bodies mark them as not-social. Man is located in, yet transcends his body in religious ecstasy, substituting a collective sentiment for his own sense-perceptions.

Women are gradually differentiated from men in the morphological characteristics of height, weight and even brain size – women’s are smaller than men’s – so that the ‘two great functions of psychic life’ are separated, one taking care of the ‘affective functions and the other of intellectual functions’ ([1933] 1964a: 60). This progressive differentiation of the sexes is part of the ‘conquest of society over nature’ (Durkheim [1933] 1964a: 386). The conquest of nature involved the ‘subordination of external forces to social forces’ so that freedom and autonomy, at least for men, are the product of the regulation of ‘the state of nature’ (Durkheim [1933] 1964a: 387).

He works with an A/B contrary distinction, yet this is articulated within a metaphysical ontology of being. He repeatedly attempts to think woman into society and culture but is forced by the power of his own metaphysics of gender to admit defeat. Simmel’s (1984a) question of whether a ‘female culture’ is possible, given that objective culture is shaped by a male principle is, of course, an apothetic or unanswerable question which cannot be pursued without encountering major contradictions and antinomies that must necessarily emerge from his dualistic gender metaphysics (Lichtblau 1989/90; see also Oakes 1984b; van Vucht Tijssen 1991; Witz 2001).

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