Quora answer: I heard that people used to believe that genes were transmitted from fathers to children, and that mothers were incubators. True? Anyone know sources?

Well this is a Greek idea. Specifically it is in the Oresteia by Aeschylus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ore…) in the third part called the Eumenides. Basically there is a court case over whether Orestes should have killed his mother Clytemnestra for killing his Father Agamemnon. This occurs in Athens and Apollo takes the side of the rights of the father and says that he should have been revenged by Orestes while Athena takes the side of the rights of the mother who says that she should be revenged by the Furies. The chorus are the Furies who are driving Orestes mad. At the end Apollo proposes that the mothers are only the soil into which the seed of the father is planted, and therefore the rights of the father should prevail. Athena eventually comes up with a compromise by offering the Furies at home in Athens if they will leave Orestes alone. This play recounts the myth of the establishment of courts in Athens. Interestingly there were actually five courts in ancient Athens all in different spots and all for trying different offenses.

I would like to draw your attention to the work of Page Dubois who has written several books on the role of women in Ancient Greece. And she interestingly says that there are many metaphors for women, and this one of the empty field is only one metaphor, and so the problem of the status of women in Ancient Greece is problematic and complex and not one dimensional. However this theory proposed by Aristotle was widely quoted among ancient authors despite the fact it was wrong. It shows the extremity of the distrust and the alienation of women in their own country at that time. Due to the extremes of female infanticide it is estimated that there was only one Greek woman for every ten Greek men at that time. You could only have children who were citizens if it was from parents who were both citizens. So Greek women were a very prized commodity and they were kept virtual prisoners in their own homes. See the work of Eva C. Keuls for the references.

I make reference to the work of these and other women authors concerning the Greek Classics in my work The Fragmentation of Being and the Path beyond the Void. There I study Ontomythology of the Greek City state, as an example of the ontological structure of the Indo-european worldview. And the place of women in this worldview is crucial as the radical and nihilistic Other to man. Basically the five metaphors that Page Dubois corresponds to the meta-levels of Being that are structurally coded into the pattern of the city, and the relations between the classes in the city. Apollo’s argument is an excellent example of Monism, which attempts to utterly suppress its dual. Slavery is the fundamental underlying model of human relationships. It is interesting that Hegel sees this too in his Phenomenology of Mind which harkens back to the slavery of the Greeks to the Romans in later history. Basically all of the first philosophies that Hegel treats are those of the enslaved Greeks, like skepticism, epicurianism, and stoicism. Hegel says only Slaves can be self-conscious and thus develop philosophy. Nietzsche of course tries to reverse this and come up with the morality of the slave owners. But, one way for men to dominate women is to take away from them their role in the reproductive relationship to justify the wrongs done to them. The reversal of these roles can be seen in the comedies of Aristophanes. He comes up with the idea of the liberation of women and communal property as crazy ideas have played an important part in the history of ideas within the worldview. Aristophanes and Plato shared these ideas.

Anyway this is a good example of the extreme dualism of the Western worldview which continually tries to force a monism by completely subjugating or perhaps obliterating the Other who is the nihilistic opposite. Part of that is to deny women any role in reproduction which was seen as their primary social function at that time. This is a way of producing what Kristeva calls Abjection.

Note this term appears in Shakespeare:

“I read in’s looks
Matter against me, and his eye reviled
Me as his abject object.”

Henry VIII, Act I. Scene 1 lines 125-127

The abject object is the one which has been completely drained of its life. This is what Mary Wollstonecraft called the Monstrous Woman. In Greek myth that is seen in Medusa, and perhaps in Media and other women who were wronged in the extreme. In the Greek case Apollo is essentially taking away the right to participation in reproduction by women at the beginning of the Western justice system. The Fates were placated and bribed by Athena who joins in the game of Apollo. Thus the myth portrays Justice as being founded on Injustice to women, and thus it sets the domination of a Monism over its dual at the very foundation of the Justice system.

In my book I talk about the Negative Fourfold attributed to women that is the opposite of the Positive Fourfold attributed to men. It is very interesting that this Negative Fourfold has been lost in oblivion for so long. The negative fourfold is Chaos, Night, Covering, and the Abyss. These are the Other or duals to the characteristics of the worldview attributed to men in the Greek sources which are Order, Light, Uncovering, and Grounds. This is a better definition of the Fourfold of the World than that given by Heidegger taken from Socrates which is Heaven, Earth, Mortals and Immortals. In another answer on the nature of art I talked about Heidegger’s essay on the Origin of the Work of Art where he mentions the fourfold, not just World and Earth. Thus the interaction of Men and Women is in some way a manifestation of Art, seen as Arte (excellence). The excellence of men is seen as the opposite of the flawed nature of woman. But in the interaction between these nihilistic opposites through the dominance of the men over the women there is a coming to the fore of excellence in the production of Greek citizens. But this is based on a fundamental assumption that the Artist or Man imposes form on the matter (mater, mother) of his children. In Aristotle Soul is seen as Form. Thus Soul comes from the Father that informs the matter that comes from the mother. We see this idea of dominance in Husserl’s idea that the Intentional Morphe informs the Hyle (content) of consciousness to give rise to synthesis within experience. He says that the two can never be separated and thus must be understood in terms of noesis (meaning) and noema (sensory content) but still the underlying model is subjectivist. For Husserl to understand objectivity such as in the nature of numbers or logic one must completely understand subjectivity and the operations of consicousness. So the fundamental Cartesian dualism of Mind and Res Extensia is still in place for Husserl. Heidegger tried to find a way to get beyond this duality with the idea of dasein (being-in-the-world).

Anyway, I guess that has taken us far enough afield from the original question. But your question points to the fundamental dualism of the Western worldview which attempts to obliterate not only its other but also any nondual concepts as well. For a kind of history of this theme running through our culture see Coming to Our Senses by Morris Berman.




Posted March 26, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

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