☆☆☆ "Appropriate & subvert the patriarchal semiotic hegemony of the hetero-normative dyad!" ☆☆☆

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sexist A Priori & Radical Feminological Ontology

Nobody reads this shit . . . Updated 12/21/15 Winter Solstice

Phenomemological, Feminological -- It's a play on words, jeux de mots, think Derrida and "differance."

Inquiry: "Is physiological sex difference a sort of a priori knowledge, or ontological state?" 


A Priori Justification and Knowledge 

First published Sun Dec 9, 2007; substantive revision Mon May 19, 2014

A priori justification seems to rest on rational intuitions, or insights, but there are a variety of views about the nature of these intuitions or insights. There are different explanations of how these intuitions provide justification, if they do. Some philosophers do not see a priori justification as resting on any evidence, either experiential or nonexperiential, and so not resting on rational intuitions or insights at all. Their idea is that in some circumstances it can be default reasonable for a person to accept a proposition, or that the person is entitled to accept certain presuppositions independent of any evidence. Of course, there are also many objections to the idea that there can be a priori justification. Finally, rationalists think that there can be a priori justification and knowledge of the world while empiricists deny this.

Because most philosophers believe that knowledge requires justification, it is widely thought that a priori knowledge is just a special kind of knowledge, namely, knowledge that is based solely on a priori justification. That makes the notion of a priori justification central, and that is why I will focus this discussion on that notion. I will make only a few remarks about a priori knowledge at the end of this essay. The following list indicates the topics that will be presented and addressed.


Let's posit that sex is a priori knowledge. Sex is fundamentally instinctual. Sex drive is fundamental to the human condition.

A new-born infant is arguably a discrete physiological entity distinguished and categorized according to one feature: Reproductive capacity/function. This new-born functions in the reproductive capacity of either "male" or "female." And we're absolutely, categorical about the nexus between sexual physiology and reproductive function.

And so we might conceivably assert that sex is instinctual behavior, innate, determined by anatomical physiology, and arguably a form of a priori knowledge.



First published Sun Nov 16, 2003; substantive revision Mon Dec 16, 2013
Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object. An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning (which represents the object) together with appropriate enabling conditions.

Phenomenology as a discipline is distinct from but related to other key disciplines in philosophy, such as ontology, epistemology, logic, and ethics. Phenomenology has been practiced in various guises for centuries, but it came into its own in the early 20th century in the works of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and others. Phenomenological issues of intentionality, consciousness, qualia, and first-person perspective have been prominent in recent philosophy of mind.

In philosophy, qualia (/ˈkwɑːliə/ or /ˈkweɪliə/; singular form: quale) are individual instances of subjective, conscious experience. The term "qualia" derives from the Latin neuter plural form (qualia) of the Latin adjective quālis (Latin pronunciation: [ˈkwaːlis]) meaning "of what sort" or "of what kind").


Let's argue here that phenomenologically, sex is directed toward the intentionality of perpetuation of the species. (Never mind that there seems a great deal of recreational intent associated with sex. At bottom, sex is about reproduction and the instinctual knowledge [sex drive] to reproduce.)


We're getting in over our head here . . .


The Distinction Between Innate and Acquired Characteristics

First published Tue Aug 4, 2009
The idea that some characteristics of an organism are explained by the organism's intrinsic nature, whilst others reflect the influence of the environment is an ancient one. It has even been argued that this distinction is itself part of the evolved psychology of the human species. The distinction played an important role in the history of philosophy as the locus of the dispute between Rationalism and Empiricism discussed in another entry in this encyclopedia. This entry, however, focuses on twentieth-century accounts of the innate/acquired distinction. These accounts have for the most part been inspired by the sciences of mind and behaviour.

Innateness must be clearly distinguished from heritability, at least in the scientific sense of that term. The idea that heritability scores measure the degree to which a characteristic is innate is a vulgar fallacy. Heritability is a statistical measure of the sources of individual differences in a population. While heritability itself is well understood, its relationship to the innate/acquired distinction remains highly controversial.

The belief that a trait is innate is today commonly expressed by saying it is ‘in the genes’. But genes play an essential role in the production of every trait. Consequently, it will not do to say simply that innate traits are ‘caused by genes’ whilst acquired traits are ‘caused by the environment’. Any relationship between genetic causation and the innate/acquired distinction will be far more complex than this.

Recent philosophical analyses of the innate/acquired distinction can be classified into four types:

The first identifies innate traits with those characteristic of an entire species and identifies acquired traits with those that vary between populations and individuals.

A second type of analysis identifies innate traits with those that can be explained by natural selection.

The third, and currently the most influential, identifies innate traits with those produced by a particular patterns of interaction between genes and environment.

A fourth, quite different, type of analysis suggests that labelling a trait ‘innate’ is a way to indicate that it lies outside the domain of psychology.

Finally, there is a tradition of scepticism about the innate/acquired distinction. Sceptics argue that it confounds a number of distinctions that are better kept separate, or, perhaps equivalently, that there is no one property of a trait that corresponds to its being innate.

We probably need not, for our purposes here, refine the philosophical distinctions between innate behavior and instinctual knowledge. Sex drive is innate. Sexual behavior is learned.

Sexual behavior is an amalgam of innate sexual drive and a socially constructed behavioral paradigm which mediates sexual discourse. Insofar as the agents of sexual behavior entail some sort of "discursive intercourse" with another (Husserl's "phenomenological other"), sexual behavior is mediated in order that the participatory agents might be afforded a necessary (nontheless lawfully conditional) measure of sexual autonomy.

These "mediations" with regard to sexual autonomy include religious, legal, statutory, social constraints.  By virtue of biological destiny, these mediations, social conventions, "rules" . . . are most essentially configured as the "hetero-normative dyad."

The hetero-normative dyad holds the default position as a mediating agent because and insofar as it is the sexual union configuration which begets offspring -- thereby perpetuating the species. All this sexual union and reproduction seems arguably a sort of a priori teleological outcome of the hetero-normative dyad.

Phenomenology and Ontology, Epistemology, Logic, Ethics

The discipline of phenomenology forms one basic field in philosophy among others. How is phenomenology distinguished from, and related to, other fields in philosophy?
Traditionally, philosophy includes at least four core fields or disciplines: ontology, epistemology, ethics, logic. Suppose phenomenology joins that list. Consider then these elementary definitions of field:
  • Ontology is the study of beings or their being — what is.
  • Epistemology is the study of knowledge — how we know.
  • Logic is the study of valid reasoning — how to reason.
  • Ethics is the study of right and wrong — how we should act.
  • Phenomenology is the study of our experience — how we experience.
The domains of study in these five fields are clearly different, and they seem to call for different methods of study.

Philosophers have sometimes argued that one of these fields is “first philosophy”, the most fundamental discipline, on which all philosophy or all knowledge or wisdom rests. 

Historically (it may be argued), Socrates and Plato put ethics first, then Aristotle put metaphysics or ontology first, then Descartes put epistemology first, then Russell put logic first, and then Husserl (in his later transcendental phase) put phenomenology first. (emphasis added)


We have epistemological ontologies -- "How we know what is" How we know our "being."

We have phenomonological ontologies -- "How we experience what is." How we experience our "being."

The distinction between epistemologies and phenomenologies  is pretty nit-picky. The existential question being: "How do we know and experience our being?" How do we know and experience our personal identity?

Sex difference may be biologically determined, a sort of innate physiological a priori state of sexual knowledge. The physiological disposition is fixed. The resulting behavioral outcomes are socio-culturally mediated. The mediating agents in this discursive performance are semantic, linguistic, and accordingly subject to the inherent linguistic ambiguities and arbitrarality of the signified/signifier relationship.

This discursive schema is subject to post-structuralist deconstruction. Signifiers are arbitrary and culturally derived. It is this assertion of arbitrary signification which problematizes the semiotics, heuristics, discursive narratives, which throws into a contingent state the discourse of sex. This "discourse of mate selection, sexual union, pair bonding, discourse of sex," thereby opens
its expressive potentials to an infinitude of poetical transcendence.

The dyad denotation of "sex" transmogrifies into the connotative nuance of "gender" and gender expression. Gender expression is a posteriori knowledge, socio-culturally determined, and like everything semiotic, subject to mis-readings per Jacques Derrida.

Ultimately, how we experience "sex" is linguistically, post-structurally determined through a veil of arbitrary semiotic signification. What we experience phenomenologically  is a discursive expression [performance] of gender [not sex]. The performance of gender may be ontologically grounded in the a priori physiological dyad of cis-M and cis-F "sex" -- but ultimately the performance or presentation of gender is some several removes (Plato's cave) from the physiologically determined "sex" of the subject.

Sex is a physiologically determined ontological state.

The gender expression of sex -- gender performance -- is in some sense mediated by the underlying ontological "sex" of the subject. The presentation (performatives) of gender as an ontological state is semantically mediated . . . and subject to deconstruction, mis-reading, and ultimately subversion when our interpretation of the discourse discloses frames, structures, paradigms, schema, which are for one reason or another "problematic."

From a radical feminist perspective, what is "problematic" about gender expression is that it is fundamentally a patriarchal semiotic hegemony. As regards the hierarchy of human concerns, sex and perpetuation of the species seemingly tops the list. The discourse we engage in day-to-day is heavily freighted with sexual allusion. We are capitalistically motivated, and sex sells . . .

With regard to our existential state as human beings, with regard to who we are and how we perform,  maybe we need to reconsider and re-define precisely what it is we're talking about? 

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