Re: explination of feminist perspective

Gary F. Blanchard (
Wed, 26 Mar 1997 12:11:05 -0800

Dear Bob-

Thanks for your response.. I may have been making some incorrect
assumptions about your comment to Kaia, that...

> ...a constructivist perspective would, it seems to me,
> have to posit a human being prior to the active construction of > her/his own gender role concept. At least I hope so.

I just assumed that this was only your reaction/opinion, and
characterized is as 'logical.'. Perhaps I was wrong? Perhaps more is
involved, some further theory or thinking? Let me know, would you?

Now, to your comments.....
> >(Me:)But the essence of the idea that we construct our worlds is that > > we do so any damn way we happen to. There are no rules. The only > > logic is the one we impose.

You responded:
> If this is true, then there is no point in trying to understand or
> interpret human development. In fact, there would hardly be any human
> development. There are constraints provided by the nature of the > physical world and by the nature of our bodies. A baby suckles and > finds a nipple produces milk while other things sucked do not. There > is no "rule" about how to construe those events, but I would hardly
> call the baby free to construe the nipple in just any way. There are
> limits that have to do with prior experience and constructions as well > as the properties of the world experienced.

Bob, I interpret this as likening Kaia commenting about her view of the
nature of feminist psychology, to a baby mother's breast. If I am
correct, this is obviously an inaccurate comparison....
-Kaia's interpretation is a purely linguistic activity; the
baby sucking is not.
-Kaia's linguistic activity is primarily nurture-based, in the sense
of resulting from conscious learning; while the breast-feeding is
primarily nature(instinct)-based.

Perhaps what you are mainly concerned about is the matter you touch on
in your second point:
> > (Me:) Kaia sees it the way she sees it.
> This is surely true. What is the point? There must be some point to
> communication and persuasion; otherwise, why would we attempt to share
> constructions. How would you have learned the "languaging" perspective > if someone had not made the effort to present you with concepts > sufficient to allow you to share that perspective?

I gather you are saying that there must be some standard accepted if we
are to coordinate meaning and action. I agree. Many of our most
difficult conversations are about what they should , or can, be.
What I was saying is that you seem to be unaware that you appeared to me
to criticize Kaia's summary because it didn't meet YOUR standard:

> ...a constructivist perspective would, it seems to me,
> have to posit a human being prior to the active construction of > her/his own gender role concept. At least I hope so.

I was noting that, however interesting/useful that might be, there is no
REQUIREMENT that it be done, not is her summary diminished because it
was not. I base my thinking about the use of constructivism here on the
PRINCIPIA CYBERNETICA WEB's definition of Epistemological

....The function of cognition is adaptive and serves the subject's
organization of the experiential world, not the discovery of an
objective ontological reality...

...The importance of constructivism is best understood by comparing
it with the opposite, more traditional, approach in
epistemology or cognitive science, which sees knowledge as a passive
reflection of the external, objective reality.

...Since constructivism rejects any direct verification of knowledge
by comparing the constructed model with the outside world, its most
important issue is how the subject can choose between different
constructions to select the "right one". Without such selection
criterion, constructivism would lapse into absolute relativism: the
assumption that any model is as adequate as any other.

The two most often used criteria are coherence, agreement between the
different cognitive patterns within an individual's brain, and
consensus, agreement between the different cognitive patterns of
different individuals. The latter position leads to "social
constructivism", which sees knowledge solely as the product of social
processes of communication and negotiation (the "social construction
of reality"). We reject these positions as unduly restrictive, and
take a much more pragmatic stance, where we note that the adequacy of
knowledge depends on many different criteria, none of which has an
absolute priority over the others. People can very well use incoherent
models, over which there is no agreement with others, but which still
are valuable for adaptation to a complex world. These criteria will
include at least subjective coherence, intersubjective consensus,
and(indirect) comparison with "objective" environment.

Sorry for the length, but this seemed helpful grounding.
Now, your third and final point:
> >(ME:) Others may have questions and concerns, and those are theirs. > > They need to take responsibility for them and, if they wish to > > query the speaker, see if the speaker is willing.
> I'm not sure what the point is with this comment. Did you believe I > > had said something in opposition to the idea of taking responsibility? > or query?
Yes, I felt you did not take responsility for your notion about what a
'good' statement should include. AND I interpreted a subtle tone of
chiding of her, about not having done what you thought she should have

If I am accurate, and I could be wrong, I am sure you did not do this
intentionally. But that's what I was reacting to. ( I, too, wish to be
rigorous, but also courteous and accepting, whenever I can.)

And that, in fact, as I read it, is the whole point she offered about
feminism and the role of women, today; and what the true causes and
dynamics of women's situation are in the world today: That they have
been leading lives controlled and dictated by not themselves, socially
and individually, and this needs to stop. Now.


Sincerely, Gary