Today’s Phrase for Latin Lovers

Rex in Regno suo superiores habet Deum et Legem.

The King in his Realm hath two superiors: God and the Law. -- Henry Care (1646-1688) on English liberties and the Magna Carta


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Ancient History

|Pop Culture | Prudence Potpourri

Gendercide: Sex-Selection Slaughter in India

The Economist has an eye-opening article on India’s rampant problem with gendercide—the aborting of babies once they are determined to be girls. Over 600,000 Indian baby girls per year meet that cruel fate.

Parents choose to abort female fetuses not because they do not want or love their daughters, but because they feel they must have sons (usually for social reasons); they also want smaller families—and something has to give. Ultrasound technology ensures that this something is a generation of unborn daughters, because it lets them know the sex of a fetus. Sex selection therefore tends to increase with education and income: wealthier, better educated people are more likely to want fewer children and can more easily afford the scans.

According to WebMd, “The sex of your fetus can sometimes be determined by about the 18th week of pregnancy.” Eighteen weeks is well over four-and-a-half months into a pregnancy. Some other sites suggest gender may be determined as early as 16 weeks. But still, that’s at an age that no one could argue it’s “just a mass of cells.” This is a baby, with all its toes and fingers, with fingernails.

The Economist article notes that:

If sex ratios stay the same, 600,000 missing girls this year will become, in 18 years’ time, over 10m [million] missing future brides. Robbery, rape and bride-trafficking tend to increase in any society with large groups of young single men. And because in China and India men higher up the social ladder find wives more easily than those lower down, the social problems of bachelorhood tend to accumulate like silt among the poorest people and (in India) the lowest castes. This is unjust as well as damaging.

Unfortunately, the practice of killing baby girls doesn’t seem likely to go away anytime soon. The Economist says:

India, for example, bans ultrasound scans from being used merely to identify a fetus’s sex; it also makes sex-selective abortions illegal.

And still, despite the illegality, over 600,000 couples a year destroy their baby daughters in the womb.

This, gendercide, is what the pro-abortionists have wrought. When abortion is made so commonplace, so acceptable, so stripped of any morality, it becomes a casual thing to kill an unborn child. The writer of the piece seems more concerned over the loss of future feminist women than the mass, meaningless slaughter of 600,000 babies a year, saying things such as “whereas sex selection may be understandable for a family, it is disastrous for a nation.”

Aborting a baby for sex selection is never understandable. The only way to stop this epidemic is to bring back the shame that used to be associated with abortion.

As China also has a similar problem from the long-running government-enforced One Child policy, here is a chilling, relevant article on China’s “bachelor problem.

|Pop Culture | Prudence Potpourri

Fill-in-the-Blank Apology Script

At first I was appalled and mesmerized and giggly when this video first came to my attention. The members of a new group, Conscious Men—a bunch of emasculated men (an oxymoron?), many with interesting hair and grooming choices—apologize to women for being men.

Part of the communal script from which they all read says:

“I may not have done these things myself, but I am aware of the forces of the unconscious masculine psyche, that men feel threatened by and seek to dominate the feminine. Many of the men that have oppressed and abused you are no longer alive. Among the living, many men may not be able to apologize because they remain shackled in a prison of anger, fear and shame. On behalf of my gender, I apologize to you for our unconscious actions when we were angry, scared and in the grip of destructive forces in our psyche.”

But then it occurred to me that much of their script is perfect for any historically villainous group to express remorse for their predecessors’ actions towards their victims. We can just turn it into a sort of Mad Lib:

“I may not have done these things myself, but I am aware of the forces of the unconscious [bad guy] psyche, that [bad guy, plural] feel threatened by and seek to dominate the [good guy]. Many of the [bad guy, plural] that have oppressed and abused you are no longer alive. Among the living, many [bad guy, plural] may not be able to apologize because they remain shackled in a prison of anger, fear and shame. On behalf of my fellow [bad guy, plural], I apologize to you for our unconscious actions when we were angry, scared and in the grip of destructive forces in our psyche.”

Now replace with your preferred good guy and bad guy.

For instance, we Southerners would love to hear a bunch of Northerners read it to us. Therefore, replace “bad guy” with “damn Yankee,” and replace “good guy” with “salt-of-the-earth sweet-tea-loving grit-eating gentle folk.”

Or the citizens of President Obama’s world would replace “bad guy” with “damn American,” and replace “good guy” with “rest of the world.”

Have at it. Fill in the blanks with you and your oppressed. Let the meaningless blanket apologizing begin so we can all cleanse our souls and “move forward into a new era of co-creation,” as one of the hippy dudes so emotively said.


|Daily Tread

Meditation on Pythagoras and Women

From Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras:

After that, [Pythagoras’] reputation greatly increased: he found many associates in the city of Croton itself (not only men but also women, one of whom, Theano, achieved some fame), and many, both kings and noblemen, from the nearby non-Greek territory. What he said to his associates no one can say with any certainty; for they preserved no ordinary silence. But it became very well known to everyone that he said, first, that the soul is immortal; then, that it changes into other kinds of animals; further, that at fixed intervals whatever has happened happens again, there being nothing absolutely new; and that all living things should be considered as belonging to the same kind. Pythagoras seems to have been the first to introduce these doctrines into Greece.

Tangents and Non Sequiturs From Prudence:

It wasn’t until I read that paragraph that I realized I could not name a single female philosopher until reaching the 20th century and Ayn Rand.

I don’t go around taking score on gender diversity in anything really. I figure that if you excel at something, you will be admitted to the club. It doesn’t bother me that some fields are predominated by women and others by men.

But as I am just starting on this philosophical journey, I have to wonder, am I venturing into an area that women typically don’t excel at? Why is there such a dearth of women philosophers? Don’t worry, it won’t scare me off. I’m used to going places where I make a surprising addition. I just hadn’t considered the possibility that I wasn’t supposed to be doing this.

Could it be as Larry Summers said, and was roundly chastised for, about women mathematicians and scientists: that even in the brain, we’re just built different. Gary Kasparov, the former world chess champion and Russian politician, once said that women could never equal men in chess either. Our brains just couldn’t handle the mathematical complexities. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s true. But that doesn’t mean of course that we can’t make our own contributions to the science, or have occasional “freaks of nature” that do find themselves competing on the same level. It would, of course, be nice to see more women give it a try.

It does strike me as odd that the first mention I find of a female philosopher is one attached to Pythagoras, whose philosophy was heavily intertwined with mathematics (see preceding paragraph).

I looked up Theano on the internet, and found a website dedicated to women philosophers. It turns out that Theano was Pythagoras’ young wife who took over his school upon his death. Ah, so that’s how you become the first famous female philosopher. (Not to take away from her own intellectual abilities, which in her writings showed she was one smart cookie.)

The website has lists of women philosophers in different eras. Upon review, there are a few names that I recognize, but couldn’t tell you why I have heard of them. Upon reaching the 20th century there, I see that I left Mary Shelley Wollstonecraft off my one philosopher list. (I hadn’t really thought of her as a philosopher, even with her Vindication of the Rights of Women, but I can the classification now. Apologies to Mary.) There was also Iris Murdoch, whom I know as a novelist, but wasn’t aware of her philosophical writings.

It’s funny. The one female philosopher that I could name—Rand—and who had a great impact in my conservative/libertarian evolution, she wasn’t to be found at all on the Women Philosophers website.

Pre-Socratic Self Quiz:

Bertrand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy, says:

The influence of geometry upon philosophy and scientific method has been profound. Geometry, as established by the Greeks, starts with axioms which are (or are deemed to be) self-evident, and proceeds, by deductive reasoning, to arrive at theorems that are very far from self-evident.

Q4. What 18th century American document models itself on this method?


Tomorrow: Alcmaeon

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