I am not a mathematician. I say this first so the people that my opinions will bother will be able to leave without reading further. I’m a finitist.
I am just a math hobbyist. I enjoy tinkering. I treat math like I treat programming, video games, and swearing: it’s something I regularly inject into my life but I wouldn’t want to do it for a living. Part of the reason I wouldn’t want to make a living with mathematics is that I cannot stand real numbers. Oh, I know the usual constructions. I don’t argue with Cantor’s proofs that the reals are uncountable. I can play that game at least as well as I can play Bayonetta (not the sequel, though, it’s still in its shrink wrap).
But I’d like to address a few points that come up on this topic which I think are at best unfair and at worst disingenuous when leveled against finitists.
I am not a biologist, but one of my stranger hobbies is reading academic papers that I find on accident. Usually I stick to things like economics which I have just enough math to understand, or can at least expediently teach myself, unlike physics, where I definitely do not and don’t have the patience to resort to autodidactism. For some reason I ended up wondering if sexual selection ever led to extinction and this led me to a weird world of apparently recent research on the question.
Since identity politics has poisoned everything beyond reason, I see no cause to not apply this poison liberally to female choice. Unfortunately this means I run the risk of saying terribly stupid things, but I find it adds a bit of spice to modern living if you take such chances. The primary paper I will be looking at here is Sexy to Die For? Sexual Selection and the Risk of Extinction by Kokko and Brooks, from 2003.
In my previous post on relativism I had a particular subsection devoted to the idea that sloppy relativism is reification or privilege escalation.
In short, this is elevating grammar to ontology.
And so it was with a small bit of glee that I read The Nation’s article, Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars. Some of it seems a tale of a much-needed comeuppance but I think there’s a more important issue underlying this, which is the idea that if more people were relativists the drama detailed in the article would be hard to get started. Let’s see if we can show the fly the way out of the bottle.
In On Certainty, from which I will quote copiously in this post, Wittgenstein has the thought:
185. It would strike me as ridiculous to want to doubt the existence of Napoleon; but if someone doubted the existence of the earth 150 years ago, perhaps I should be more willing to listen, for now he is doubting our whole system of evidence. It does not strike me as if this system were more certain than a certainty within it.
This is what I think of when I hear “the patriarchy.” I don’t dismiss feminists as crazy. They aren’t offering alternative facts, they’re offering an alternative viewpoint. When someone doubts something like whether or not evolution happens, they have a question from within our framework; this can be debated. Things speak for it, or against it. But the patriarchy is not like this, it is not a bare fact about which we can leverage our pre-existing tools to determine whether or not it happened; instead, the patriarchy is a name for institutions looked at in a certain (new?) (different?) light.
I think a lot of people who resist feminism view the patriarchy like they view a rock someone says is in their backyard. We can just go see. And then they don’t see the patriarchy. So anti-feminists are often like a man looking in a drawer for something, not finding it, and then opening the drawer to look again. Like LW said: he does not know how to look for things. I am not a feminist, but I am a relativist, so maybe I can help some of you learn how to look.
Wagons are circling now around the narrative of misogyny in gaming. The narrative must survive at all costs. I want to take a survey of some of the articles that have been written since this all started. What are they saying, and what aren’t they saying?
I will always endeavor in this blog to not put words in other people’s mouths, except for humor. But I won’t try very hard. The point of this blog is to try to get you and me to ask questions that show issues to be larger, smaller, or different than the narratives that surround us. I write these in one sitting, as a sort of heavily-edited stream-of-consciousness. Let’s flex our inner child who asks stupid questions because we’re not steeped in the narrative.
Also I’m sure it’s clear I think misogyny in gaming is bullshit, but I hope I never come off that I’m demanding you agree. Wittgenstein noted in On Certainty: “‘I know’ seems to describe a state of affairs which guarantees what is known, guarantees it as a fact. One always forgets the expression ‘I thought I knew’.” I try very hard not to forget it.
Sexy, dead women are beside the point, really.
1. You Don’t Even Know Who Elizabeth Hertz Is
Feminist Frequency founder. Host. Um. Anita uploaded a video yesterday, “Women as Background Decoration Part 2” and Anthony Burch chirped up: “I’d say some of the stuff in the latest @femfreq is literally indefensible, but I’m sure a fedoramancer somewhere will try his best.” I don’t like hats. I guess the practice of whatever Anita claims is happening (which is, I infer, bad) is what I’m supposed to defend. But before I will defend it as “not bad” I’d first like to make sure, just real quick like, just make sure that “good” and “bad” are useful terms here. Continue reading
Two ongoing events at the time of this writing uncover the problems with social justice. Specifically, they are good examples for why social justice causes feuds rather than change. Social justice is an important tool for everyone unsatisfied with the status quo but its underlying foundation is intrinsically questionable, and its ability to maintain itself in the face of questions rests upon the willingness to reject such questions as improper, not to answer them.
1. Social Justice
The corner of the internet where people talk a lot is littered with social justice, social justice warriors, feminists, MRAs, racists, and trolls. Social justice, rather broadly, is simply the notion of people struggling to create a social context in which they can flourish as people. Like “feminism” being “the radical notion that women are people,” it sounds great. Who could argue? I cannot. You cannot. And that’s the point. It’s such a broad statement that is so innocuous that it is impossible to disagree. But this is a very big warning sign, for where there is no disagreement possible there is no agreement possible. Right and wrong, agreement and disagreement play no part in this game.
Instead, you have to look at what happens when people clamor for social justice. Continue reading