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[Xmca-l] Re: What is a Pedagogy of the Oppressors?

Hello David, Andy, and esteemed listeners,

Actually David, with regard to compassion and feeling you've misread me. That's OK. The magic of the list is that the word is never final, never cast in cement. And we can enjoy another round!

But it is true that men may forget how, if one is a woman, we must take out our imaginary black marker and write a "hu-" when reading pre-1960s texts that talk about the human species.

With regard to feeling and compassion, I was asking how that was taught, only because the quote discussed education. 

In reality, the way I feel, and I have checked myself on this matter so I have the references straight, it's not that feeling and compassion should be taught, it's that it should be retaught. My belief is that we have been untaught how to feel and to be compassionate. This is especially evident in the face of others in pain. 

For example, there has been research about mirror neurons that show we feel what others feel, especially when witnessing others in painful situations. 

But more specifically, what I was trying to point out with Andy's Marx quote is how there is a complete absence of words that describe emotion and feeling. Are they implied in the same way "men" implies "humans" ?

You see, my take is that there is a wrong belief handed down that emotion and feeling is somehow "irrational." When we know today from neuroscience that feeling and emotion are required in order to cognize properly. We know from patients suffering brain injury in the areas responsible for affect (I don't remember at the moment what area that is), that they make decisions that end up hurting themselves, in other words they make irrational decisions. 

Knowing this, what would it mean then, for humans making decisions for all humans, who have made it essentially taboo to speak the language of emotion and feeling? That one is rewarded for striking all emotion out of speech and punished for speaking it or of it?

The premiere of the new season of Downton Abbey began last night, and they have a sideshow they aired last night called, "The Manners of Downton Abbey," in which some fellow, who apparently can trace his lineage all the way back to Robert the Bruce in Burke's Peerage, explains to us the etiquette of Edwardians. His job is to "remind" all the actors on the set how to behave as Edwardians; they call him, the Oracle. 

What I found remarkable is his claim that the upper class, feeling threatened after WWI, sought to harden the rules of etiquette because they saw it as the glue for society, that they had to be an example of propriety. Otherwise society would simply fall apart. He doesn't actually say that, but that is implied. Society of course means "their society." Many landed families lost their estates for various reasons, some arising from changing social roles and opportunities for the working class in cities that were not jobs as servants, but mostly all this derived from fighting a terrible war. 

It seems manners was all that they had left. 

Then they indicate with scene clips from the series how displaying emotion (after a great and terrible war no less) is considered bad manners. Even one's body language most be one of "being in control." 

The stiff upper lip now has a whole new meaning to me. 

My facile connection here with regard to feeling and emotion, in the way I've been speaking about it on this thread, is that it appears that taking it out of speech creates stratification of class.

So, David, it is not "teaching" love that I'm talking about. It is unteaching insensitivity. These really are different things. 

I actually believe that we are innately feeling and thinking creatures. It is too bad there isn't a word in English that combines feeling and thinking. Maybe cognition, but I'm not sure. That word seems to be defined as acts of perception and knowledge.

In any case, what I don't understand is the denial of feeling if that is half of what we are. 

Kind regards,


From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 5:31 AM
To: Andy Blunden; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: What is a Pedagogy of the Oppressors?


Actually, Mary Wollstonecraft died about twenty years before Marx was born,
so she wasn't exactly contemporary. But she certainly did use the word
"man" as you say.

We often assume that previous ages had stunted, oppressive language while
of course our own is somehow completely liberated; not too far down in this
assumption is the assumption that it is possible to have an ungendered
language while we still have a highly gender-oppressive society.

Similarly, Annalisa seems to be assuming that compassion and feeling is
what needs to be taught, and that teaching it will somehow change the
exploitation rate, and the violence of the status quo. Actually, if we were
to look for an innate feeling on which higher psychological functions might
naturally build, compassion and feeling are a good place to start. I  have
seen no evidence that "teaching" love and compassion to fellow human beings
is either possible or necessary.

It is curious how many people in New York City, for example, are wlling to
pay the price of occasional black deaths through overpolicing simply
because the crime rate has fallen there. It is not that curious, though,
because so many of the people who feel this way are white. Nothing kills
like leaving things alone.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 6 January 2015 at 16:44, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> The quote is of course a translation. Marx wrote in German. In any case,
> the 19th century concept of "man" which he references, was used also
> without qualification by the great feminist, and English-speaking
> contemporary of Marx, Mary Wollstonecraft. The discovery of the oppressive
> function of gendered language was a gain of Second Wave feminism of the
> 1960s of which we are all the beneficiaries.
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> Annalisa Aguilar wrote:
>> Hi Andy!
>> With regard to this:
>>  "The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and
>>     upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of changed
>>     circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men who
>>     change circumstances and that the educator must himself be educated.
>>     Hence this doctrine is bound to divide society into two parts, one
>>     of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of
>>     circumstances and of human activity or self-change can be conceived
>>     and rationally understood only as **revolutionary practice**."
>> First I'd ask, what about the women? Where are they in this scheme?
>> Second, does this education that Marx considers (educating the educated)
>> concern the care of others? Where is the feeling? How is compassion taught?
>> What is the view on the pain of others? How is that "rationally understood"?
>> Third, revolution frequently is bloody. How does Marx answer for that? Or
>> is that just an inconvenience?
>> Also, I'm not certain how this defines the pedagogy of the oppressor. It
>> certainly identifies a need for "re-education," but what IS the education
>> that the educator must let go?
>> Kind regards,
>> Annalisa