Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

changing thinking

fawei's picture

From the discussions we have had so far, I can’t really get a good feeling about the category abolition argument. It seems like every ‘solution’ is too easy to shoot down, especially with the all-encompassing ‘Well how are you going to implement it?’ Any modification to an existing system is going to cause public outcry or be difficult to physically apply and even creates new polarizing categories (those in favor and those against.)  

In class I said something about not going for the ‘extremes’ of the argument, but after thinking about it, this is garbage- we already live in that kind of society, based on class systems that have probably caused irreparable damage and make total acceptance impossible. The gray area here still applies polarizing categories in some way.

When it seems the argument is supposed to go like this, since there is no way to get mutually beneficial ‘leaky distinctions’...

This brings me to wonder if we are even hoping to better society by removing categories. Being ‘different’ relies on their being a category of ‘normal.’ Many solutions (raising awareness, enlisting support of authority and scholars, many of Roughgarden’s ideas) are trying to get us to appreciate or even ignore certain differences between people and cooperate as opposed to wiping out categories entirely. These have merit in practicality, raising awareness is at least possible. But as long as the categories are allowed to exist, I don’t think conflict can end. 

Cooperation seems to largely depend on the willingness of the majority, which in the current social structure seems to be those who associate themselves with the ‘normal,’,cisgendered’ male or female. Even with awareness built, I don’t really have faith that people can genuinely and completely give up social power for a concept as abstract as ‘equality’ or respect from a group they are able to force into minority. (Even though the groups are themselves quite abstract concepts biologically speaking, an excuse for something to benefit yourself is preferable over an excuse to lose power.)

It would take some kind of extreme law to enforce a new, classless ideology. But then there are the ethical limitations to the ways you can enforce change in both action and thinking. This kind of thing is apparent in a lot of dystopian stories. And will people really be happy without categories? In literature, there seems to be a lot of anxiety about the loss of identity and solidarity, since social groups don’t exist anymore/aren’t controlled in any way by the individual. Society functions efficiently but not necessarily happily without conflict…. A world without conflict is still considered a ‘dystopia’ because of the conditions needed to maintain it. A world with ANY DEGREE of conflict is still not right. In a way, there isn’t a complete solution, only a pathetic 'this is the best we can do with what we have.'

These are lousy bitter sentiments that probably have a really simple explanation that I am not seeing. That is how I feel by the end of every class, but I guess that’s the point of the dialogue, to have people cover what you have missed. 




Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
4 + 15 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.