Sand in the Gears

« Home »

Professorial logic

February 13th, 2012 Posted in Curmudgeonry

There are many plausible explanations for why men commit nearly all murders and start most wars. It could be that we’re just hard-wired to smash skulls. Or perhaps it’s that we’ve learned how much chicks dig a man in uniform.

Or maybe, according to Jesse Prinz, philosophy professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, it’s because our superior strength makes us better farmers. Being better farmers makes us able to feed women, thereby making them dependent on us. This in turn makes us violent in defense of our hegemony, unless we have no hegemony, in which case it makes us violent in pursuit of said hegemony.

What can’t be the case, however (for most social science work any more is predetermined by the quasi-religious a prioris of the writer), is that men have an inherently greater predisposition toward violence.

Except that they are willing to use violence when they don’t have power, while women — relatively powerless in the modern era, by Prinz’s telling — are not.

Let’s sum up Prinz’s thesis, then: Men are not inherently more likely to use violence than women, except insofar as they are more likely than women to use violence.

It used to be the case that professors of philosophy were charged with teaching logic; now they seem to be in charge of dismantling it.