Books on Science and Religion #34: More Pausing and Considering

Books on Science and Religion #34: More Pausing and Considering

Stephen Friberg

To believe in God means to see that the facts of the world are not the end of the matter. To believe in God means to see that life has a meaning.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Feb 15, 2015

There is website called You May Be a Fundamentalist Atheist If… that is both funny and disheartening. It has a list of entries that capture much of the flavor of online conversations about religion, atheism, science and religion. Personally, I’ve been on chat groups where even the slightest indication that you are in favor of religion can lead to furious attacks on your character, your integrity, and your mental capacities. (Of course, it goes without saying that atheists have found themselves in similar positions on some strongly pro-religious sites.)

Blake Dante HellHere are some representative quotes. You may be a fundamentalist atheist if:

You say things like, “I can’t tolerate religion because religion is intolerant. And no type of intolerance should be tolerated.”

You believe the astronomical size of the universe somehow disproves God, as if God needed a tiny universe in order to exist.

You think you arrived at your position because you are a free-thinker who rationally weighed the evidence, and then freely chose atheism over theism. YET, you also believe that your thinking and actions are nothing more than the FIXED reactions of the atoms in your brain that are governed by the Laws of Chemistry and Physics.

You think that religious wars have killed more people than any other kind of war, even though the largest wars of the last 200 years (World War I and II, Civil War, etc.) had no discernible religious causes.

The distinguished British philosopher and educator A. C. Grayling takes strong objection to the characterization of some atheists as fundamentalist. In “Can an atheist be a fundamentalist,” he writes that atheism is “a philosophy, or a theory, or at worst an ideology” and that therefore it cannot be fundamentalist because it isn’t a religion. Fair enough. But he ruins the effect by following up with an intemperate attack on religion that seems to be the very personification of what people mean by fundamental atheism:

256px-AC_GraylingWhat would a non-fundamentalist atheist be? .. one who does not mind that other people hold profoundly false and primitive beliefs about the universe, on the basis of which they have spent centuries mass-murdering other people who do not hold exactly the same false and primitive beliefs as themselves – and still do?

Christianity is a recent and highly modified version of what, for most of its history, has been an often violent and always oppressive ideology – think Crusades, torture, burnings at the stake, the enslavement of women to constantly repeated childbirth and undivorceable husbands, the warping of human sexuality, the use of fear (of hell’s torments) as an instrument of control, and the horrific results of calumny against Judaism.

These views are basically the same those advanced by d’Holbach and other anti-religious atheists France 250 years. And they are completely out of touch with the findings of historical and religious studies. Grayling even claims that “no wars have been fought, pogroms carried out, or burnings conducted at the stake, over rival theories in biology or astrophysics.” Astrophysics, no, but is he uninformed about social Darwinism, communism, fascism, and colonialism and the extraordinary loss of life – in the tens or hundred’s of millions of men, women, and innocent children – that it has entailed?

Why are these “fundamental atheist” views, views both profoundly anti-intellectual and at odds with what we know about the world, so often voiced with such extraordinary vitriol? Certainly, it is easy to become incensed about Islamic terrorism – provided that you don’t know much about the last two hundred years of history of colonialism, the extraordinary history European occupation of Islamic countries, and Western military campaigns during the last twenty years. But the antagonism to religion seen in many “fundamentalist atheists” is far beyond what a reasoning observer of the current scene would expect.

baron_dholbachTwo of the things that are occurring, in my view, are as follows:

  1. One is a rearguard response to the failure of irreligion and materialism to transform the world, a failure now apparent everywhere.This is a response of anger and frustration over failure of a system of thought that seemed foundational to many.  It strikes me that it is much the same as that which inspires modern Islamic anti-western theologies and appeals so strongly to disenfranchised Muslim youth.
  2. The other is the failure to follow the systematic methods of science, a failure that was characteristic of the rise of modern scientism and that still characterizes its approach. Science in the 19th century enjoyed such incredible prestige that pronouncements in its name – often on very vague and speculative grounds – were accepted as if they were proven scientific fact. The failure to distinguish between scientific fact and scientific fiction is at the basis of much “fundamentalist” atheist belief.

A Legacy of Distrust

It seems to me that those who rail so strongly against religion – the new Atheists, angry secular humanists like Steven Pinker, Victor Stenger, A.C. Grayling, and their equally impassioned co-workers – are part of an intellectual rearguard action stemming from the leftover dreams of the enlightenment and powerful 19th and early 20th century visions of the world as a secular paradise free of the baneful effects of religion. (Whereas once the devil reigned as the king of evil, religion is now deemed his modern replacement – this upgrade seems to have struck some thinkers as more intellectually respectable.)

Their opposition – a legacy of a time when the rise of modern industrialization, the rapid growth of technology, and a veritable explosion of scientific creativity was accompanied by a widespread rejection of religion – now comes across as dogmatic, ill-informed, lacking in logic, and unobjective. And it is derisively scornful and dismissive of religion, its history, its core beliefs, and the multifold forms it takes.

industrializationAgain and again, what strikes me is the unwillingness to recognize the near-universal role of religion in the affairs of the world throughout all of history. And they fail to see the extent to which their own perspectives and views fall into the category of blind belief and religious fanaticism. Yes, among these thinkers there are some apparent exceptions to the rule. Daniel Dennett, many say, wishes to study and understand religion. But he writes with the same scorn and derision about religion as used by French ancien regime philosophes accustomed to veiling their hatreds and antagonisms.

Jonathan Sacks, writing in The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning, describes their approach too well:

Atheism deserves better than the new atheists, whose methodology consists in criticising religion without understanding it, quoting texts without contexts, taking exceptions as the rule, confusing folk belief with reflective theology, abusing, mocking, ridiculing, caricaturing and demonising religious faith and holding it responsible for the great crimes against humanity.

Religion has done harm; I acknowledge that candidly … But the cure of bad religion is good religion, not no religion, just as the cure of bad science is good science, not the abandonment of science.

The critics of new Atheism, even the moderate “old” atheists, are coming around to the same point of view. Some too are calling the new, populist, best-selling versions of atheism fundamentalist atheism or evangelical atheism and see it as following the same methodologies, the same spirit of intolerance, the same lack of openness to reason, and the same ideological fixedness that they see in religious fundamentalism.

And this stands to reason. Atheism and materialism – world dominating creeds and ideologies that came of age in the 19th century – have run through both their rise and fall. The later, thanks to the information age, is plain to see. Yes, on one hand, atheism and materialism has played a major role in the shaping the modern world, especially the European and American versions of it. And this role has included seminally important contributions in all aspects of human life. But on the other hand, the “moral vacuum” of the 20th century, and the untold deaths, disruption, and misery that make up the century’s death toll is no longer veiled by history. Thanks to the television and internet, all can see the results.

scientific methodIgnoring the Scientific Method in the Name of Science

I’m puzzled and alarmed by how the materialists, atheists, secular savants, and the like-minded we have been reading or reading about have ignored the basic fundamentals of science, especially the need for empirical validation of hypotheses. Rather than recognizing that most of the inferences they had drawn about the social world – the world of day-to-day life – are speculative theses, not scientific facts of proven validity, they ignore the need for test and confirmation.

Social Darwinists – from Darwin’s time to E.O. Wilson and the 21st century evolutionary psychologists – have been among the worst of the offenders. (Communism, of course, was the very worst.) By social Darwinism, I mean the application of ideas derived from evolutionary science to social phenomena – national policy, health, economics, and so no.

By no means is social Darwinism automatically a bad thing. Think of the extraordinary progress made in medicine and health care that derives from an understanding of evolution and the related areas of genomics, ideas inspired by evolutions.

But, social Darwinism also means things like scientific racism – some of the greatest scientists of the 19th and first half of the 20th century believed that there were distinct subspecies of humankind that had evolved competitively, Amazingly, shockingly, and certainly altogether unscientifically, they believed that Northern European – the British, Germans, French, and white Anglo-Saxon Americans – were shown by science to be the superior breed. And this morphed into eugenics – the idea that undesirables (meaning the weak, the infirm, the mentally handicapped, and those who were non-Northern European races such as southern European, Jewish, Slavic, and other non-northern European races and nationalities) had to be prevented from having children (or in the case of German eugenics, just prevented).

Clearly, these were conclusions unsupported by any scientific evidence or any empirical results. My guess is that much that pertains to materialism, atheism, and the like are just surmises, wild-eyed guesses, prejudiced enthusiasms, bigotry, or ideas concocted for political or material gain. If they were to be investigated scientifically – if standards of scientific proof were to be applied rigorously – many of them would just dry up and blow away.

Next Blog

In the next blog, we will continue our review of the history of atheism.

………………………

This is the 34th in a series of blogs on the modern science and religion literature. The author, Stephen Friberg, is a Bahá’í living in Mountain View, California. A research physicist by training, he wrote Religion and Evolution Reconciled: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Comments on Evolution with Courosh Mehanian. He worked in Japan for 10 years before joining the semiconductor industry in Silicon Valley.

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54 thoughts on “Books on Science and Religion #34: More Pausing and Considering

  1. I don’t see anything wrong with Grayling’s statement that:

    “Christianity is a recent and highly modified version of what, for most of its history, has been an often violent and always oppressive ideology – think Crusades, torture, burnings at the stake, the enslavement of women to constantly repeated childbirth and undivorceable husbands, the warping of human sexuality, the use of fear (of hell’s torments) as an instrument of control, and the horrific results of calumny against Judaism.”

    It is a fact that Christianity has been recently modified from having been a group of dangerous cults that sponsored things like Crusades (even crusades against fellow Christians in other churches), torture (in fact many Christians in the US still support the tortures that George W. Bush has ordered), burnings at the stake (they burned famous people like Jan Hus, and Giordano Bruno at the stake, and also many not famous people, including many people, especially women, suspected of witchcraft, even some Protestants used to do that), for many centuries just about all Christian churches opposed birth control, causing many women to be exhausted or even ill from too many births, some churches even now ban divorce and some churches allow divorce only in case of adultery, most churches still ban homosexual sex even in committed relationships, most churches still use fear of hell torments as an instrument of control, and for many centuries most churches committed calumny against Judaism, resulting in many centuries of discrimination, abuse, pogroms, expulsions, and also Inquisition persecution of Jews who converted to the Catholic faith publicly and were suspected of still practicing Judaism in secret. Ultimately this hate of Jews culminated in the Holocaust of 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis and their collaborators. And let’s not forget slavery. The Civil War in the US was mainly a religious war, with Southerners defending slavery by citing Bible verses, and Northerners citing other Bible verses which however did not mention slavery, verses like “do to others what you would want done to you”.

    And WWI was also in part a religious war, with clergy on both sides telling soldiers that God supports their side, their country in the war. And in WWII, German soldiers went into war with a sign on their clothes saying “Gott mit uns”, meaning God with us.

  2. Hi Tom:

    The problem is that what Grayling says is so one-sided and so out of touch with what history tells us that it cannot be taken seriously. For example, consider the “warping” of human sexuality, of which the church’s main concerns – and very successful efforts, were to keep women from being used as property and chattel and to use marriage to establish the equality of men and women. The real accomplishments of Christianity were just the opposite of what Grayling believes.

    Yes, there were things like the crusades, but these are small potatoes concerned with the escapades of world domination and conquest of secular powers for, say, the last 5000 years.

    The point is that if you line up everything that was done wrong by one of the most long-lived and widely spread human activity there is, ignore all the good done, exaggerate the bad, use subjective standards without a basis in science or fact as a basis for opinon, you can’t make any claims to objectivity. It is simply prejudice, wish fulfillment, and politicization.

    With respect to your examples. Yes, Christianity was involved in the Civil war. In some ways, it was urged on and strongly supported as a Christian anti-slavery movement. But to claim that it was therefore a Christian war isn’t at all correct, according to historians and what the facts tell us.

    With respect to Judaism, there was at times Christian prejudice. But to say that prejudice exercised by Christians was responsible for the Holocaust is simply not true historically, even though it was a component of it. I would argue just the opposite. When Germany was a Christian nation, there were no mass slaughters. When Germany lost its Christian status – and social Darwinism, atheism, and materialism became the norm – civilization foundered and mass murder became acceptable.

    Stephen

    1. Stephen and Tom, I’d specificy that during the Middle Ages Christianity and Roman Catholicism were seen as one and the same. There are a lot of Catholic Church specific criticism in the talked about quote. In America, you have a great diversity of denominations. Assemblies of God, Mormons, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians, and the United Church of Christ are just a few examples. You can add the Unitarian Universalist Assoication as well, but it’s more of a post Christian liberal religion rather than a denomination as according to surveys most Unitarians are Humanists, Buddhists, or Pagans rather than Christians. I also listed them from most conservative (Assemblies of God) to most liberal (Unitarian Universalist Association).

      Also the general sentiment in the West is that Western nations will be Christian or nothing. They have Christian majorities and secular majorities are plausible, but any non Christian religion being more than a single digit percentage of a Western country seems impossible ever. That is the general sentiment regardless of whatever truth it has. This is part of the assuption behind the Secularization hypothesis. Individuals can be any religion, but catching on in general seems impossible.

      The Religious Transformation hypothesis by contrasts predicts the New Age worldview becoming bigger than Naturalism as religion trasnfroms itself to accomodate the modern Western beliefs of dignity, freedom, and individualism for all indivudals with a more eclectic approach to spirituality as a result.

      The Middle Ages were like a Lawful Evil theocracy that emphasized Order without mercy based on God’s Law as found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Also, Stephen, that is not the actual history of the Middle Ages. Women were less equal in the Middle Ages than in Classical Antiquity not more. Christian Marriage didn’t equalize the genders. The Church was more concerned about moralistically following the Word of God to the letter than about protecting women. Absolutely any sex act even those between consenting free adults that wasn’t within a one man one woman marriage was subject to capital and/or corporal punishment. Lots of women would probably given the choice rather have live in Antiquity than the Middle Ages.

      1. Maybe by Catholics during the Middle Ages, Catholicism and Christianity were seen as the same, but not by other Christians.
        Christian churches existing already at the beginning of the Middle Ages included not only the Catholic church, but also the Oriental Orthodox Churches (monophysite or miaphysite in theology), the Church of the East (nicknamed the Nestorian church), and the Paulicians. Other Christian churches originated later in the Middle Ages and were persecuted by the Catholic church, some of them were the Bogomils, the Cathari, the Albigenses, the Petrobrusians, the Waldenses, the Lollards, the Hussites, the Unity of Brethren etc. The Hussites, when they controlled the Czech Kingdom, also persecuted other churches. Also of course in the middle of the Middle Ages, the Catholic church split into the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox church.
        The Middle Ages ended with the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, when soon also Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican churches were persecuting other churches. And also murdered (executed) lots of people accused of witchcraft. And lots of cats. Of course that made mice and rats happier.

    2. Hi Stephen Friberg:
      I disagree that it was Christianity which led to the equality of men and women. For many centuries, Christians were guided by the words of Paul in the New Testament telling women to obey their husbands, and the words of Paul restricting bishops, elders and deacons to men, even though they chose to ignore his exact words that to be ordained into any of these offices, the man has to have one wife.
      Also for many centuries Christians believed that the husband has the right to beat his disobedient wife, after all, the Bible did not ban such behavior. And for many centuries, wives could not own any property. They were in effect the property of their husbands. And when the husband died, his property was usually inherited by his sons, rather than by his widow or his daughters, based on the precedent in the Law of Moses in the Bible.

      1. Hi Tom:

        I think that there is no doubt about it – Christianity, especially western Christianity – played a major role in establishing the equality of men and women. In the classical age – in the Greek and Roman cultures of pre-Christian times – women very rarely enjoyed any freedom outside the family except as pawns in making elite family alliances or as mothers in powerful families where they could maneuver their children to inherit leadership of the family. Those ancient societies – the Greeks, the Romans – were slave societies, and women were far below male family leaders in status. (The exceptions proves the rule. Cleopatra, the last reigning monarch of the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty ruling Egypt, was one of the few women to enjoy power and equality. But even she came to fame as the consort of a powerful Roman general.)

        Christ taught the equality of all people, men and women, and early Christian history shows the emergence of women from “behind the screen” (as the Japanese would put it) into active positions of influence and leadership. Christian teachings are radically different in this regard than the then dominant Greek and Roman philosophical and legal points of view. Everybody has a soul. Women have a soul. All people – ALL people – have souls. This idea was quite different than the Greek exaltation of a male leader’s rationalizations.

        Of course progress was slow and women only occasionally took visible leadership roles. But, the very fact that Paul, a major force in the enabling of women, had to address the issue shows that there was emerging a culture of rebellion against male dominance.

        With the collapse of the western Roman world, Germanic “barbarians” with very retrograde cultures – women were basically chattel except in very rich and powerful families – the problems of the inequality of women in the ancient world reemerged and progress was slow. But by the end of the middle ages, canon law and the organization of the Catholic church had enshrined the principle of the equality of all souls increasingly into church law and made it a part of the emerging European university system. It was celebrated in the great songs of courtly love 1000 years ago as seen in the romances of Sir Arthur and Lancelot. Again, at work is the idea of individuals all having equal rights because they have God-created souls.

        In time, ideas about the equality of men and women came to the forefront in western culture, although Darwin opposed it on evolutionary grounds.

        In Baha’i law the last 150 years, women and men are equal. This, Baha’is believe, is the law of God.

        Stephen

        1. I have seen a website that gives a less simplistic summary of women in the ancient world.

          http://www.womenintheancientworld.com

          Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, and Rome are all parts of the women in the ancient world sections. Lots of topics are covered like mystery religions, Bachanalia sects, the difference between Athens and Sparta, etc. Too bad no section are given for societies outside this limited selection.

          I should point out Vestal Virgins or basically nuns of the ancient Roman religion.

          “The dignities accorded to the Vestals were significant.

          in an era when religion was rich in pageantry, the presence of the College of Vestal Virgins was required in numerous public ceremonies and wherever they went, they were transported in a carpentum, a covered two-wheeled carriage, preceded by a lictor, and had the right-of-way;
          at public games and performances they had a reserved place of honor;
          unlike most Roman women, they were not subject to the patria potestas and so were free to own property, make a will, and vote;
          they gave evidence without the customary oath, their word being trusted without question;
          they were, on account of their incorruptible character, entrusted with important wills and state documents, like public treaties;
          their person was sacrosanct: death was the penalty for injuring their person and they had escorts to protect them from assault;
          they could free condemned prisoners and slaves by touching them – if a person who was sentenced to death saw a Vestal on his way to the execution, he was automatically pardoned.
          they participated in throwing the ritual straw figures called Argei into the Tiber on May 15.” Wikipedia article on Vestal Virgins

          “Women offered advice and schemed in the background, and on occasion they demonstrated in the open, but they were denied public office and a role in the government. A few exceptions existed in matters of religion. With never more than six at a time, the position of Vestal Virgin was hardly a career opportunity for the average woman and it had little real power, but it possessed prestige rivaling that of most magistracies and provided benefits and a lifestyle unavailable to any other woman in the land. Whenever there was need for a replacement, the chief pontiff would choose 20 well born girls between 7 and 10 years of age who showed promise of developing great beauty and talent. To give the goddess the opportunity to express her preference, the final winner was chosen by lot. Vestal Virgins signed on for a thirty year term. The first ten were spent learning the job, the second carrying out the duties of a Vestal Virgin, and the final ten were devoted to teaching the newcomers. They would be 40 at most at the end of their term and free to marry, but most chose to remain in service, for rumor had it that the few ex-Vestals who did marry had not done well.

          Most women took rather seriously the responsibility of keeping alight the kitchen fire at home, for it was the sole source of warmth, light and heat for cooking, and restarting it involved the arduous task of rubbing two sticks together. Just as the fireplace was the symbolic centre of the home, so was the eternal fire burning inside Vesta’s temple seen as emblematic of the heart and soul of Rome. The eternal flame was Vesta, an ancient Roman goddess whose responsibility was the hearth, and if the fire, and by extension Vesta herself, were extinguished, then disaster would strike the city. Along with keeping the fire burning the Vestal Virgins assisted at other religious ceremonies throughout the city and kept secure any important documents that had been entrusted to them in the temple for safekeeping. They had to make a vow of chastity and would be executed if they ever broke that vow or allowed the flame to go out, but otherwise they lived a life of great privilege. The virgin priestesses of Ceres, the goddess of grain and harvest and one of the twelve great deities of Rome, enjoyed privileges almost as great as those of the Vestal Virgins.” Page on Vestal Virgins of the WITAW site

          Women who worked in taverns, actresses, procuresses (madams), and prostitutes were also occupation of women independent of a husband, thought they were in fact forbidden from marrying free males in the Theodosian Code despite Empoeror Justinian marrrying an actress centuries later. The ancient world didn’t have morality laws like that Christian Middle Ages despite the attempts by Emperor Augustus to inject some social conservatism into Ancient Rome. It didn’t stick and Augustusian moralism didn’t impact Rome at all and the laws were netutral by Tiberius and never brought back. The Augustan Reformation only lasted as long as Augustus was alive, but his daughter was exiled while he was alive for being immoral. Too bad she lived under that emperor rather than other emperors who would have been more indifferent to that stuff.

          There is lots of specifics to go through, but above is a good enough summary of the ancient world that differed from your summary.

          1. Hi Stephen:

            Thanks for doing some legwork on this.

            While its very much in keeping with my summary for the pre-Christian world – “respectable” women almost completely in the family and those looking for independence being viewed as disreputable – it does ignore what happened with the advent of Christianity, which was strongly supported by women, especially in the middle-classes, and soon in the upper classes, across the whole of the urban environment in the Roman empire. Upper class Roman women even supported great thinkers – Jerome, if I remember correctly, is one of them – and certainly were a mainstay of the church. Rodney Stark, if I recall, documented this in detail, but the standard histories by Peter Brown and D. MacCulloch are good here too. Let me know if you want help looking further.

            For western Europe, its important to recognize that it was overrun by mainly Germanic tribes – the Lombards, the Visigoths, the Franks – and then other groups from the steppes like the Hungarians. These groups, which set up kingdoms in Northern Italy, in Spain, in the areas now comprising modern France, Germany, and the lowlands, and then Austria, Hungary – to be followed by other settlements throughout eastern Europe, the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, and north of the Black Sea, had their own mores and customs, and like traditional societies everywhere, kept women both as a working force as slaves or serfs in slave or serf families, or inside the family in elite families for interfamily and intrafamily politics, etc. Inequality – not equality – was the touchstone of both ancient civilizations and the “barbarous” tribes who overran the west.

            Only slowly did the Christian idea of the equality of ALL people – men, women, serfs, slaves – seep in. But, by the 11th and 12th century, the Christian teachings came to be widely accepted in theory, although practice was slow to follow. It took centuries longer – it still hasn’t taken been firmly established anywhere (see the current controversies in SIlicon Valley) – but the trending is clear as are the core ideas of the equality of women and men.

            Stephen

            Stephen

          2. Women’s rights involve both equality and liberty. Women’s rights are individual rights and individual rights are women’s rights due to half of all indivudals being female. Equality means that people have the same amount of rights as other people while liberty means that people have rights. Liberty without equality means that people have unequal amounts of rights. Equality without Liberty means that while rights are equal, they are minimal or non existent.

            “Individualist feminists attempt to change legal systems in order to eliminate class privileges and gender privileges and to ensure that individuals have equal rights, including an equal claim under the law to their own persons and property. Individualist feminism encourages women to take full responsibility for their own lives. It also opposes any government interference into the choices adults make with their own bodies because, it contends, such interference creates a coercive hierarchy (such as patriarchy). One central theme of individualist feminism revolves around the Free Love Movement, which indicates that a woman’s sexual choices should be made by her and her alone, rather than by government regulations.

            Individualist feminism was cast to appeal to “younger women … of a more conservative generation” and includes concepts from Rene Denfeld and Naomi Wolf, essentially that “feminism should no longer be about communal solutions to communal problems but individual solutions to individual problems”, and concepts from Wendy McElroy and especially Joan Kennedy Taylor.

            The Association of Libertarian Feminists, founded in 1973 by Tonie Nathan, the Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential nominee in 1972, is one of a number of different kinds of individualist feminist organizations. It takes a strong anti-government and pro-choice stand. Other libertarian feminist organizations include Mothers for Liberty, the Mother’s Institute, and the Ladies of Liberty Alliance.

            Wendy McElroy and Christina Hoff Sommers define individualist feminism in opposition to what they call political or gender feminism. Some scholars and critics have commented that the label “feminist” is often used cynically in this context, as a way to co-opt general feminism rather than actually be part of feminism. Other scholars note that individualist feminism has a long history that is somewhat different in tone that currently advocated by McElroy and Sommers.” Wikipedia on Individualist Feminism

            “Ezra Heywood – (1829–1893)
            Voltairine de Cleyre – (November 17, 1866 – June 20, 1912)
            Dora Marsden – (March 5, 1882 – December 13, 1960)
            Suzanne La Follette – (June 24, 1893 – April 23, 1983)
            Tonie Nathan – (born February 9, 1923)
            Joan Kennedy Taylor – (December 21, 1926 – October 29, 2005)
            Mimi Reisel Gladstein – (born 1936)
            Sharon Presley – (born 1943)
            Wendy McElroy – (born 1951)
            Virginia Postrel – (born January 14, 1960)
            Cathy Young – (born 1963)
            Tiffany Million – (born April 6, 1966)” Wikipedia list of Individualist Feminists

            “Sommers describes equity feminism as an ideology rooted in classical liberalism that aims for full civil and legal equality for women. Experimental psychologist Steven Pinker expands on Sommers to write, “Equity feminism is a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology or biology.”

            Sommers contends that “Most American women subscribe philosophically to the older ‘First Wave’ kind of feminism whose main goal is equity, especially in politics and education”. However, Sommers also argues that equity feminism is a minority position in academia, formalized feminist theory, and the organized feminist movement as a whole, who tend to embrace gender feminism.

            Feminists who identify themselves with equity feminism include Jean Bethke Elshtain, Christina Hoff Sommers, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Noretta Koertge, Donna Laframboise, Mary Lefkowitz, Carrie Lukas, Wendy McElroy, Camille Paglia, Daphne Patai, Virginia Postrel, Alice Rossi, Nadine Strossen, Joan Kennedy Taylor, Cathy Young, and evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker.

            Varieties of equity feminism include classical liberal feminism and individualist feminism.” Wikipedia on Equity Feminism

            Back to the ancient world from my Liberty and Equality distinction. When talking about ancient Greece and ancient Rome, people mean back during the earlier periods, and not when they fell and became dominate by Germanic tribes to the north.

            Also, it was Irene of Athens becoming Empress of the Byzantine Empire that caused a crisis in the West that led to the establishment of Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire because of the need for a Roman Emperor. The Western Roman Empire collapsed on 476, the Byazntine on 1453, and the Holy Roman on 1806.

            On lower class women, they stubbornly stuck to paganism which eventually led to witch trils eventually which targeted lower class women for this reason. Obviously, it was a threat to their liberty. While it wasn’t all women burned or hanged, it was mostly women burned or hanged. The fact lower class men were executed too gives equality without liberty. The fact that pagan originally meant rural shows that the rural and lower class women were the demographic mostly likely to stay pagan.

            As the Middle Ages progressed the trend was toward more and more social conservatism and towards less and less liberty. The trend was from tolerant to moralistic. Moralistic religious laws kept getting more and more oppressive over time. Oppression whether equal or not is still bad.

            Generally when people refer to Ancient Rome, they refer to the Roman Republic or the unified Roman Empire before Diocletian divided it into West and East in 285 or when Constantine the First moved the capital to Byazantium in 330. The article about women in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome from the previously linked WITAW website is when those civiuzlations were about their societies before the fall of the Roman Empire and not during Germanic barbarian control. The article weren’t about women under Germanic tribes. Under Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civil law, not Germanic customary law, those I egalitarian aspects of Germanic customary law were absent.

          3. I forgot to mention the section on ancient Israel.

            “The Ancient Hebrew law code outlined in the Bible unfortunately lacks the detail that can be found in other ancient legal systems such as the Babylonian and Roman, but we can at least summarize the general principles.
            1. Marriage was called “taking a wife”

            2. It involved sexual intercourse

            3. While there was no death penalty in Hebrew law for property crimes, adultery was a capital offence for both participants.

            4. Marriage and children were necessary to have a fulfilled life. A childless woman could call herself a mother by giving her maid-servant to her husband as a second wife (assuming, of course, the maid-servant did indeed produce a child).

            5. A widow had the right to marry her husband’s brother if he lived in the same town.

            6. Polygyny was permitted but uncommon.

            7. Divorce was easy for a man and impossible for a woman.

            8. Childlessness was the most common reason for divorce

            9. The woman moved to the husband’s home and family

            10. While the husband was clearly the boss, each expected love from the other and a wife had the legal right to support” Women and law in ancient Israel

            Only the above can be known of ancient Israel as the Bible lacks a great deal of detail with regards to the exact nature of the ancient Israeli law code.

            “The Apostle Paul urged wives to obey their husbands and husbands to love their wives. This simple exhortation neatly sums up the traditional idea of the family throughout Jewish history as pictured in the Bible. The man was the head of the house and the woman was the helpmate, but they were to work together for the benefit of each: the outcome was to be a partnership.

            As in most of the Ancient World marriage was the ideal state. Parents arranged the marriage with a view to finding a suitable match from the same tribe and the same or a neighboring village. There were rules that prohibited a man from marrying his sister, mother, daughter or anyone else that would mean that his wife would be tied to him in more than one way. Marriage between cousins, however, was acceptable. Polygamy was acceptable though not very common beyond the wealthy, who could afford the extra expense, in the earliest days.

            The bride’s family was giving a daughter to the groom’s family; it seemed reasonable that the groom’s family should give an appropriate gift in return so that both families could be seen as giving and receiving something of value. While the woman moved to her husband’s home she still retained a kinship relationship with her birth family.

            The husband was obligated to support his wife, but she could keep her own property. It was assumed, however, that a married couple was an economic partnership, and if the man was bankrupt and unable to pay his debts she would be sold into slavery along with him.

            A wife’s first duty, and greatest joy, was to give birth, preferably to a son to continue her husband’s name and lineage. So important was it for a man to have a son that the most common reason for divorce—easy to obtain for a man—was childlessness. In well-to-do families it was common for the wife to have a personal slave. It the wife could not conceive she could give the slave to her husband. Any child that resulted would give the wife as much status as actually giving birth herself.

            If a married man died without a son, the man’s brother (or closest male relative) was expected to marry the widow. In this way she would have a husband to support her and could still produce a son closely enough related to her dead husband to continue his name. This was quite feasible since polygyny was acceptable. The Biblical story of Ruth gives us a picture of how this worked.” Women in ancient Israel section WITAW

          4. According to Chinese lore, the Prophet Fu Hsi brought marriage to humanity because before this a child never knew its father, but only its mother. He brought other progressive teachings as well, of course, but marriage was a development that allowed for community and stability.

            In Bahá’í marriage, the ideal is equality between the spouses with decisions being made through loving and frank consultation. Neither gender of child is preferred, but when it comes to education, Bahá’u’lláh has said we must give preference to female children for we are the first educators of the next generation. In practical terms this means that if you have resources to put only one child through college, say, the girl should receive the priority treatment.

          5. I should note that since he is a humanist I should bring up the Humanist stance on sexuality.

            “Humanism is a lifestance that supports full equality for LGBTQ individuals including the right to marry. Humanism and Its Aspirations, a statement of humanist principles from the American Humanist Association, states that “humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views…work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.” The American Humanist Association provides a LGBT Humanist Pride award and has funded a LGBT-inclusive prom for Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi. The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association from the U.K. promotes “an awareness and understanding of the Humanist ethical outlook, bringing lesbian and gay rights issues to the attention of the public, and playing a full part in the campaign for lesbian and gay equality,” and in 2009 they gave Stephen Fry an award “for his services to humanism and gay rights.” The Galha LGBT Humanists “is a United Kingdom-based not-for-profit that campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality and human rights and promotes Humanism as an ethical worldview.”” Wikipedia Humanism section on Religion and Homosexuality article

            Then, we will go back to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome

            “Freeborn women in ancient Rome were citizens (cives), but could not vote or hold political office. Because of their limited public role, women are named less frequently than men by Roman historians. But while Roman women held no direct political power, those from wealthy or powerful families could and did exert influence through private negotiations. Exceptional women who left an undeniable mark on history range from the semi-legendary Lucretia and Claudia Quinta, whose stories took on mythic significance; fierce Republican-era women such as Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, and Fulvia, who commanded an army and issued coins bearing her image; women of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, most prominently Livia, who contributed to the formation of Imperial mores; and the empress Helena, a driving force in promoting Christianity.

            As is the case with male members of society, elite women and their politically significant deeds eclipse those of lower status in the historical record. Inscriptions and especially epitaphs document the names of a wide range of women throughout the Roman Empire, but often tell little else about them. Some vivid snapshots of daily life are preserved in Latin literary genres such as comedy, satire, and poetry, particularly the poems of Catullus and Ovid, which offer glimpses of women in Roman dining rooms and boudoirs, at sporting and theatrical events, shopping, putting on makeup, practicing magic, worrying about pregnancy — all, however, through male eyes. The published letters of Cicero, for instance, reveal informally how the self-proclaimed great man interacted on the domestic front with his wife Terentia and daughter Tullia, as his speeches demonstrate through disparagement the various ways Roman women could enjoy a free-spirited sexual and social life.

            The one major public role reserved solely for women was in the sphere of religion: the priestly office of the Vestals. Freed of any obligation to marry or have children, the Vestals devoted themselves to the study and correct observance of rituals which were deemed necessary for the security and survival of Rome but which could not be performed by the male colleges of priests.” Women in Ancient Rome article on Wikipedia

            “The status and characteristics of ancient and modern-day women in Greece evolved from the events that occurred in the history of Greece. According to Michael Scott, in his article “The Rise of Women in Ancient Greece” (History Today), “place of women” and their achievements in Ancient Greece was best described by Thucidydes in this quotation: that The greatest glory [for women] is to be least talked about among men, whether in praise or blame. However, the status of Greek women has undergone change and more advancement upon the onset of the twentieth century. In 1957, they received their right to vote, which led to their earning places and job positions in businesses and in the government of Greece; and they were able to maintain their right to inherit property, even after being married.

            “The status of women in ancient Greece varied from city state to city state. Records exist of women in ancient Delphi, Gortyn, Thessaly, Megara and Sparta owning land, the most prestigious form of private property at the time.

            In ancient Athens, women had no legal personhood and were assumed to be part of the oikos headed by the male kyrios. Until marriage, women were under the guardianship of their father or other male relative, once married the husband became a woman’s kyrios. As women were barred from conducting legal proceedings, the kyrios would do so on their behalf. Athenian women had limited right to property and therefore were not considered full citizens, as citizenship and the entitlement to civil and political rights was defined in relation to property and the means to life. However, women could acquire rights over property through gifts, dowry and inheritance, though her kyrios had the right to dispose of a woman’s property. Athenian women could enter into a contract worth less than the value of a “medimnos of barley” (a measure of grain), allowing women to engage in petty trading. Slaves, like women, were not eligible for full citizenship in ancient Athens, though in rare circumstances they could become citizens if freed. The only permanent barrier to citizenship, and hence full political and civil rights, in ancient Athens was gender. No women ever acquired citizenship in ancient Athens, and therefore women were excluded in principle and practice from ancient Athenian democracy.

            By contrast, Spartan women enjoyed a status, power, and respect that was unknown in the rest of the classical world. Although Spartan women were formally excluded from military and political life they enjoyed considerable status as mothers of Spartan warriors. As men engaged in military activity, women took responsibility for running estates. Following protracted warfare in the 4th century BC Spartan women owned approximately between 35% and 40% of all Spartan land and property. By the Hellenistic Period, some of the wealthiest Spartans were women. They controlled their own properties, as well as the properties of male relatives who were away with the army. Spartan women rarely married before the age of 20, and unlike Athenian women who wore heavy, concealing clothes and were rarely seen outside the house, Spartan women wore short dresses and went where they pleased. Girls as well as boys received an education, and young women as well as young men may have participated in the Gymnopaedia (“Festival of Nude Youths”).

            It has been convincingly argued, based on records and laws from the various Greek states, that contrary to the popular scholarly notion that Sparta was unusual among the ancient Greek states, in fact it was Athens that was unusual in its low status for women. One possible reason for this is that the creation of the democratic system in Athens, which favored free-born adult males, led to an obsession among the Athenian citizenry with restricting wives’ activities outside the home, so that they might not mingle with foreigners and slaves. The ancient Athenians feared the possibility of adultery on the part of women, since it could lead to uncertainty about the paternity of children, and according to law, if paternity could not be established, then the child could not be a citizen. Thus we see that the Athenian patriarchal system was not a natural facet of early Greek society but rather the result of ideologies which arose at a relatively late period in their history.

            Plato acknowledged that extending civil and political rights to women would substantively alter the nature of the household and the state. Aristotle, who had been taught by Plato, denied that women were slaves or subject to property, arguing that “nature has distinguished between the female and the slave”, but he considered wives to be “bought”. He argued that women’s main economic activity is that of safeguarding the household property created by men. According to Aristotle the labour of women added no value because “the art of household management is not identical with the art of getting wealth, for the one uses the material which the other provides”.

            Contrary to these views, the Stoic philosophers argued for equality of the sexes, sexual inequality being in their view contrary to the laws of nature. In doing so, they followed the Cynics, who argued that men and women should wear the same clothing and receive the same kind of education.They also saw marriage as a moral companionship between equals rather than a biological or social necessity, and practiced these views in their lives as well as their teachings. The Stoics adopted the views of the Cynics and added them to their own theories of human nature, thus putting their sexual egalitarianism on a strong philosophical basis.” Women in Greece article of Wikipedia section on Ancient Greece

            Only four of six Greek schools of philosophy are addressed in the Ancient Greece article. The six schools I know are Platonism, Aristotelianism, Cynicism, Stoicism, Episcurenianism, and Cyrenaicism.

            “Although the rights and status of women in the earliest period of Roman history were more restricted than in the late Republic and Empire, as early as the 5th century BCE, Roman women could own land, write their own wills, and appear in court. The historian Valerius Maximus devotes a section of his work On Memorable Deeds and Speeches to women who conducted cases on their own behalf, or on behalf of others. These women showed ability as orators in the courtroom, even though oratory was considered a defining pursuit of the most ambitious Roman men. One of these, Maesia Sentinas, is identified by her origin in the town of Sentinum, and not, as was customary, by her relation to a man. The independent Maesia spoke in her own defense, and was acquitted almost unanimously after only a short trial because she spoke with such strength and effectiveness. Since these characteristics were considered masculine, however, the historian opined that under her feminine appearance, she had a “virile spirit,” and thereafter she was called “the Androgyne.”

            Maesia’s ability to present a case “methodically and vigorously” suggests that while women didn’t plead regularly in open court, they had experience in private declamation and family court. Afrania, the wife of a senator during the time of Sulla, appeared so frequently before the praetor who presided over the court, even though she had male advocates who could have spoken for her, that she was accused of calumnia, malicious prosecution. An edict was consequently enacted that prohibited women from bringing claims on behalf of others, on the grounds that it jeopardized their pudicitia, the modesty appropriate to one’s station. It has been noted that while women were often impugned for their feeblemindedness and ignorance of the law, and thus in need of protection by male advocates, in reality actions were taken to restrict their influence and effectiveness. Despite this specific restriction, there are numerous examples of women taking informed actions in legal matters in the Late Republic and Principate, including dictating legal strategy to their advocate behind the scenes.

            An emancipated woman legally became sui iuris, or her own person, and could own property and dispose of it as she saw fit. If a pater familias died intestate, the law required the equal division of his estate amongst his children, regardless of their age and sex. A will that did otherwise, or emancipated any family member without due process of law, could be challenged. From the late Republic onward, a woman who inherited a share equal with her brothers would have been independent of agnatic control.

            As in the case of minors, an emancipated woman had a legal guardian (tutor) appointed to her. She retained her powers of administration, however, and the guardian’s main if not sole purpose was to give formal consent to actions. The guardian had no say in her private life, and a woman sui iuris could marry as she pleased. A woman also had certain avenues of recourse if she wished to replace an obstructive tutor. Under Augustus, a woman who had gained the ius liberorum, the legal right to certain privileges after bearing three children, was also released from guardianship., and the emperor Claudius banned agnatic guardianship. The role of guardianship as a legal institution gradually diminished, and by the 2nd century CE the jurist Gaius said he saw no reason for it. The Christianization of the Empire, beginning with the conversion of the Emperor Constantine in the early 4th century, eventually had consequences for the legal status of women.” Women and the law in Ancient Rome

            “During the classical era of Roman law, marriage required no ceremony, but only a mutual will and agreement to live together in harmony. Marriage ceremonies, contracts, and other formalities were meant only to prove that a couple had, in fact, married. Under early or archaic Roman law, marriages were of three kinds: confarreatio, symbolized by the sharing of bread (panis farreus); coemptio, “by purchase”; and usus, by mutual cohabitation. Patricians always married by confarreatio, while plebeians married by the latter two kinds. In marriage by usus, if a woman was absent for three consecutive nights at least once a year, she would avoid her husband establishing legal control over her. This differed from the Athenian custom of arranged marriage and sequestered wives who were not supposed to walk in the street unescorted.

            The form of marriage known as manus was the norm in the early Republic, but became less frequent thereafter. Under this early form of marriage, the bride passed into the “hand” (manus) of her husband; that is, she was transferred from the potestas of her father to that of her husband. Her dowry, any inheritance rights transferred through her marriage, and any property acquired by her after marriage belonged to him. Husbands could divorce on grounds of adultery, and a few cases of divorce for a wife’s infertility are recorded. Manus marriage was an unequal relationship; it changed a woman’s intestate heirs from her siblings to her children, not because she was their mother, but because in law her position was the same as that of a daughter to her husband. Under manus, women were expected to obey their husbands in almost all aspects of their lives.

            The custom of manus fell out of favor by the 2nd century BCE, when the conditions of marriage changed dramatically in a way that favored greater independence for women. So-called “free” marriage caused no change in personal status for either the wife or the husband. Free marriage usually involved two citizens, or a citizen and a person who held Latin rights, and in the later Imperial period and with official permission, soldier-citizens and non-citizens. In a free marriage a bride brought a dowry to the husband: if the marriage ended with no cause of adultery he returned most of it. So total was the law’s separation of property that gifts between spouses were not recognized as such; if a couple divorced or even lived apart, the giver could reclaim the gift.” Marriage in Ancient Rome

            “Divorce was a legal but relatively informal affair which mainly involved a wife leaving her husband’s house and taking back her dowry. According to the historian Valerius Maximus, divorces were taking place by 604 BCE or earlier, and the law code as embodied in the mid-5th century BCE by the Twelve Tables provides for divorce. Divorce was socially acceptable if carried out within social norms (mos maiorum). By the time of Cicero and Julius Caesar, divorce was relatively common and “shame-free,” the subject of gossip rather than a social disgrace. Valerius says that Lucius Annius was disapproved of because he divorced his wife without consulting his friends; that is, he undertook the action for his own purposes and without considering its effects on his social network (amicitia and clientela). The censors of 307 BCE thus expelled him from the Senate for moral turpitude.

            Elsewhere, however, it is claimed that the first divorce took place only in 230 BCE, at which time Dionysius of Halicarnassus notes that “Spurius Carvilius, a man of distinction, was the first to divorce his wife” on grounds of infertility. This was most likely the Spurius Carvilius Maximus Ruga who was consul in 234 and 228 BCE. The evidence is confused.

            During the classical period of Roman law (late Republic and Principate), a man or woman could end a marriage simply because he or she wanted to, and for no other reason. Unless the wife could prove the spouse was worthless, he kept the children. Because property had been kept separate during the marriage, divorce from a “free” marriage was a very easy procedure.” Divorce in Ancient Rome

            There is lot more info I could find on Ancient Rome than Ancient Greece, but the above info does contradict the summary you gave, but you didn’t specify an ear you refered to in the summary. You keep referring to the post fall of the Roman Empire Western Europe overal by Germanic barbarians, that is not the time period people refer to when they speak of Ancient Rome. Ancient Rome lasted from 753 BCE to 476 CE. Ancient Greece lasted from circa 800 BCE to 146 BCE when it was conquered by Rome and ceased to be distinct. It did reemerge as distinct due to the Byzantine Empire from 330 CE onwards.

            “The practices and views in the Hippocratic Corpus regarding women’s bodies and their perceived weaknesses were inadequate for addressing the needs of women in the Hellenistic and Roman eras, when women led active lives and more often engaged in family planning. The physiology of women began to be seen as less alien to that of men. In the older tradition, intercourse, pregnancy, and childbirth were not only central to women’s health, but the raison d’être for female physiology; men, by contrast, were advised to exercise moderation in their sexual behavior, since hypersexuality would cause disease and fatigue.

            The Hippocratic view that amenorrhea was fatal became by Roman times a specific issue of infertility, and was recognized by most Roman medical writers as a likely result when women engage in intensive physical regimens for extended periods of time. Balancing food, exercise, and sexual activity came to be regarded as a choice that women might make. The observation that intensive training was likely to result in amenorrhea implies that there were women who engaged in such regimens.

            In the Roman era, medical writers saw a place for exercise in the lives of women in sickness and health. Soranus recommends playing ball, swimming, walking, reading aloud, riding in vehicles, and travel as recreation, which would promote overall good health. In examining the causes of undesired childlessness, these later gynecological writers include information about sterility in men, rather than assuming some defect in the woman only.

            Hypersexuality was to be avoided by women as well as men. An enlarged clitoris, like an oversized phallus, was considered a symptom of excessive sexuality. Although Hellenistic and Roman medical and other writers refer to clitoridectomy as primarily an “Egyptian” custom, gynecological manuals under the Christian Empire in late antiquity propose that hypersexuality could be treated by surgery or repeated childbirth.” Women’s health in Ancient Rome, Gynecoloy and Medicine specific

            It’s specifically weird in contrast to the above position of Ancient Rome on women’s health that the Church takes such a moralistic stance on family planning and other women’s health issues.

            “Roman women were not confined to their house as were Athenian women in the Archaic and Classical periods. Wealthy women traveled around the city in a litter carried by slaves. Women gathered in the streets on a daily basis to meet with friends, attend religious rites at temples, or to visit the baths. The wealthiest families had private baths at home, but most people went to bath houses not only to wash but to socialize, as the larger facilities offered a range of services and recreational activities, among which casual sex was not excluded. One of the most vexed questions of Roman social life is whether the sexes bathed together in public. Until the late Republic, evidence suggests that women usually bathed in a separate wing or facility, or that women and men were scheduled at different times. But there is also clear evidence of mixed bathing from the late Republic until the rise of Christian dominance in the later Empire. Some scholars have thought that only lower-class women bathed with men, or those of dubious moral standing such as entertainers or prostitutes, but Clement of Alexandria observed that women of the highest social classes could be seen naked at the baths. Hadrian prohibited mixed bathing, but the ban seems not to have endured. Most likely, customs varied not only by time and place, but by facility, so that women could choose to segregate themselves by gender or not.

            For entertainment women could attend debates at the Forum, the public games (ludi), chariot races, and theatrical performances. By the late Republic, they regularly attended dinner parties, though in earlier times the women of a household dined in private together. Conservatives such as Cato the Elder (234–149 BCE) considered it improper for women to take a more active role in public life; his complaints indicated that indeed some women did voice their opinions in the public sphere.

            Though the practice was discouraged, Roman generals would sometimes take their wives with them on military campaigns. Caligula’s mother Agrippina the Elder often accompanied her husband Germanicus on his campaigns in northern Germania, and the emperor Claudius was born in Gaul for this reason. Wealthy women might tour the empire, often participating or viewing religious ceremonies and sites around the empire. Rich women traveled to the countryside during the summer when Rome became too hot.” Social activities of women in Ancient Rome

            “”One of the most curious characteristics of that age,” observed French classical scholar Gaston Boissier, “was that the women appear as much engaged in business and as interested in speculations as the men. Money is their first care. They work their estates, invest their funds, lend and borrow. We find one among Cicero’s creditors, and two among his debtors.” Although Roman society did not allow women to gain official political power, it did allow them to enter business.

            Even women of wealth were not supposed to be idle ladies of leisure. Among the aristocracy, women as well as men lent money to their peers to avoid resorting to a moneylender. When Pliny was considering buying an estate, he factored in a loan from his mother-in-law as a guarantee rather than an option. Women also joined in funding public works, as is frequently documented by inscriptions during the Imperial period. The “lawless” Politta, who appears in the Martyrdom of Pionius, owned estates in the province of Asia. Inscriptions record her generosity in funding the renovation of the Sardis gymnasium.

            Because women had the right to own property, they might engage in the same business transactions and management practices as any landowner. As with their male counterparts, their management of slaves appears to have varied from relative care to negligence and outright abuse. During the First Servile War, Megallis and her husband Damophilus were both killed by their slaves on account of their brutality, but their daughter was spared because of her kindness and granted safe passage out of Sicily, along with an armed escort.

            Unlike landholding, industry was not considered an honorable profession for those of senatorial rank. Cicero suggested that in order to gain respectability a merchant should buy land. Attitudes changed during the Empire, however, and Claudius created legislation to encourage the upper classes to engage in shipping. Women of the upper classes are documented as owning and running shipping corporations.

            Trade and manufacturing are not well represented in Roman literature, which was produced for and largely by the elite, but funerary inscriptions sometimes record the profession of the deceased, including women. Women are known to have owned and operated brick factories. A woman might develop skills to complement her husband’s trade, or manage aspects of his business. Artemis the gilder was married to Dionysius the helmet maker, as indicated by a curse tablet asking for the destruction of their household, workshop, work, and livelihood. The status of ordinary women who owned a business seems to have been regarded as exceptional. Laws during the Imperial period aimed at punishing women for adultery exempted those “who have charge of any business or shop” from prosecution.

            Some typical occupations for a woman would be wet nurse, actress, dancer or acrobat, prostitute, and midwife — not all of equal respectability. Prostitutes and performers such as actresses were stigmatized as infames, people who had recourse to few legal protections even if they were free. Inscriptions indicate that a woman who was a wet nurse (nutrix) would be quite proud of her occupation. Women could be scribes and secretaries, including “girls trained for beautiful writing,” that is, calligraphers. Pliny gives a list of female artists and their paintings.

            Most Romans lived in insulae (apartment buildings), and those housing the poorer plebeian and non-citizen families usually lacked kitchens. The need to buy prepared food meant that takeaway food was a thriving business. Most of the Roman poor, whether male or female, young or old, earned a living through their own labour.” Business and women in Ancient Rome

            You wrote: “For western Europe, its important to recognize that it was overrun by mainly Germanic tribes – the Lombards, the Visigoths, the Franks – and then other groups from the steppes like the Hungarians. These groups, which set up kingdoms in Northern Italy, in Spain, in the areas now comprising modern France, Germany, and the lowlands, and then Austria, Hungary – to be followed by other settlements throughout eastern Europe, the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, and north of the Black Sea, had their own mores and customs, and like traditional societies everywhere, kept women both as a working force as slaves or serfs in slave or serf families, or inside the family in elite families for interfamily and intrafamily politics, etc. Inequality – not equality – was the touchstone of both ancient civilizations and the “barbarous” tribes who overran the west.”

            What does that have to do with the status of women in the Roman Empire before the fall like in the articles I quoted above? It also doesn’t say Greece and Rome shared those views of those barabarians as quoted above as well. You switched between talking about ancient Greece/Rome and barbarian controlled EUROPE to see which you are talking about.

          6. Hi Stephen:

            Can I ask you to not post large “cut and paste” postings? A posting should primarily be your comments with some supporting quotes from other sites.

            I’m doing this for several reasons. First of all, it works against discussion and dialogue. While quotes are helpful to support a point of view or questions, its the point of view or questions that are important.

            Second, its plagiarizing and there are laws against it as well as standard scholarship practices that proscribe it.

            Third, it burdens the reader. If someone wants to understand your point, they wll have a very hard time doing it if there are huge amounts of other text.

            Finally, you should be drawing your own conclusions from what you read and then sharing that. Its OK to share some quotes to illustrate.

            Let me know if you don’t agree and we can talk about it. In the future, lets talk about better indicating quotes (for example, HTML tags, etc.)

            Stephen

          7. Actually, it’s not plagiarism if there are quotation marks and the source is named after the quotation marks. Quotation marks are the universal standard for quoting hence the name quotation marks. Plagiarism requires someone to take credit for words that aren’t there, hence quotes aren’t plagiarism. The quotes came with attribution.

            Also, do you have any quotes at all to prove your views of women in Ancient Greece and Rome beyond simple asserations?

            Also, Vestal Virgins and other independent women weren’t looked down upon as disreputable like you asserted. Vestal were one of the highest positions in ancient Rome. Though, you didn’t specify between Greece, Rome, and Germanic barbarians clearly. You flips between talking about the classical world and the early barabarians Middle Ages several times in the previous posts without distinction between the two.

          8. Hi Stephen,

            Can I assume that you are willing to abide by my request not to post a lot of materials from other sites? I’ve asked this several times before.

            Stephen

          9. Thanks! This will help make things a lot more readable for everybody else. Can you see tags in the Reply to Comment box. One is labelled “b-quote”?

            It causes the text to read like this.

            Stephen

          10. I haven’t noticed those things at the bottom before until you pointed them out.

        2. There were female pharaohs other than Cleopatra.

          “Apart from Hatshepsut and Cleopatra, whose careers are described elsewhere in this web site, the record is too murky to produce a definitive list of women who reigned as pharaoh. There are some who probably ruled, but might not have, and there are some who probably did not, but might have. The names of the possible women pharaohs are listed below along with the evidence that supports the claim that they did indeed rule Egypt.” Warning about the incompleteness of the historical racers on the WITAW site

          Merneith of the 1st Dynasty
          Ankhesenpepi/Ankhnesmeryre the Second of the 6th Dynasty
          Nitocris of the 6th Dynasty
          Sobeknefru of the 12th Dynasty
          Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty
          Twosret of the 19th Dynasty

          Cleopatra the Seventh of the Ptolemaic Dyansty (not a dynasty under Egyptain control but post Alexandrian Greek dynasty)

          “An inscription over the door to the tomb of Khentykaues I declares that she was the mother of two kings. Her image shows her in a regal pose with a false beard, and the text can quite legitimately be translated as “king and mother of a king”, leading some to suggest she served as regent for one of her sons. Her name never appears in a cartouche.

          Ahhotep I was the mother of Ahmose. There is a stela at Karnak praising her for guarding Egypt, looking after her soldiers, pacifying Upper Egypt and driving out the rebels. Her deeds appear to go well beyond what was normal for an ordinary King’s Great Wife, leading some to wonder if she might have served as regent for her son Ahmose when he first came to the throne.

          It has also been suggested by some that Ahmose-Nefertari acted as regent for her young son, Amenhotep I. This is based on little more than the length of his reign and the fact that a brother had been named heir apparent about five years earlier.

          A minority of scholars have suggested that Nefertiti ruled as Pharaoh for a couple of years after the death of her husband Akhenaten. This Website remains unconvinced and so her name is not included in the list of Women Pharaohs. Notes on her life can be found at Nefertiti—Partner in Akhenaten’s Religious Revolution, and a review of the argument about her status as Pharaoh can be found at Did Nefertiti Share Akhenaten’s Throne?” Section speculating other possible female pharoahs on the WITAW site

        3. Stephen Friberg,
          it was not Christianity, but instead the new idea that the Bible is not infallible, that gave women in the west rights, like to own property even when you are married, to have the right not to be spanked by the husband, to vote, to become a minister, etc.

          1. Hi Tom:

            You say “it was not Christianity, but instead the new idea that the Bible is not infallible, that gave women in the west rights, like to own property even when you are married, to have the right not to be spanked by the husband, to vote, to become a minister, etc.”

            Is it your point of view that it was Catholicism in particular, or Christianity overall, or just the whole Bible as infallible that blocked women having rights? Catholicism, of course, developed canon law that established that women had rights 800 or 900 years ago. Protestantism lately has developed the idea that the Bible is infallible and to be taken literally, but how you interpret varies from preacher to preacher, so seems pretty flexible.

            So, in this case, what I think it is certain is that the Bible – i.e., the New Testament and Paul especially – indicated that ALL people – men, women, children, lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors – have souls and are equal in the sight of God. There may be great souls or souls condemned to hell, but that all people had souls was sacred dogma and the care of souls was the responsibility of church and of society.

            This broke what has been called the “corporate” view of society – that the family leader, or the tribal leader, or the city leader – was superior in rank in terms of rights and was an essential part of the eventual establishment of women’s rights.

            Stephen

          2. Tom and Stephen, I’d say it was Protestant culture that led to women’s rights. Protestant culture led to both individualism and capitalism. Also, Protestantism is based on faith alone, grace alone, scripture alone, Christ alone, and glory to God alone which are the three alone statements or the five alone statements (the last two aren’t always included). For example, Baptists believe in soul competency/liberty. Each indvidual has the competency and Liberty to do whatever they want with their own soul, but also each individual is accountable responsible to God for that as well. Each individual is responsible to care for their own soul, not their family, not their church, not their preacher/clergy, not the Church, and not society. This led to indvidual rights of which women’s rights are a subset because half of all individuals are female. Individual liberty also goes in tandem with the concept of individual responsibility. You can’t have one without the other.

            Though around the eighteen century and later, popped up secular philosophies that believed in individual rights like Deontological Ethics (Kantianism), Utilitarianism, Existentialism, and Objectivism.

            I should point out also that women’s rights and gender equality aren’t the same thing. In one post you say Christianity established women’s equality in the Middle Ages and in another post you say it eastavlished women’s rights. Gender equality means that the average man isn’t better off than the average woman or that the average woman isn’t better off than the average man. Gender equality means that things are equal wether it’s equality in rights or equality in lack of rights, equality in prosperity or equality in poverty, equality in liberty or equality in tyranny. A society that discriminates agianst women isn’t gender equality, but one without women’s rights isn’t neccesarilly gender inequality if men don’t have much rights either. Equality and inequality are relative markers while rights indviduals have are absolutes, so conflating the two is prolematic.

            Ancient societies and Medieval societies both were societies that really didn’t care for the individual and individual rights. Ancient Rome was the inspiration for Fascist Italy! The first documents to refer to indvidual rights appeared during the early modern period around the seventeenth century or the sixteenth century at the earliest.

            What I said in an earlier post below:

            Gender equality means that an indvidual’s lots in life isn’t harmed by discrimination based on gender. Other factors unrelated to discrimination and other non gender forms of discrimination are irrelevant to a discussion of gender equality. To prove discrimination you have to prove indivudals were coercively prevented from various oppurtunities.

            You mentioned various equal opportunity offenders like they only affected women. Schadenfreude is a loan word from German that means the happiness from knowing that there is equality in suffering which is a flip side of equality. You mentioned various equal opportunity offenders that were true of people in general in Ancient Rome and not just women.

            None of your points mention that any of those things were the result of discrimination based on gender or unique to women. An example is slavery in that both women owned slaves and were slaves. The institution didn’t discriminate based on gender. The same could be said for any of the other points about lack of privilege, wealth, infuence, central role in society, etc as being caused or affected by gender.

            An individual in a perfect society wouldn’t be subject to discrimination of any sort. The individual wouldn’t have any thing as certain other than that they wouldn’t be subject to discrimination or coercion. An individual would be free to pursue wealth, fame, privilege, influence, status, a central role in society, or anything else they desire, but should recognize that they aren’t guaranteed and that they may have poverty, infamy, a peripheral role in society, or anything else they don’t desire. This would be the result of choices of the indivudal and their effects as well as individuals merit rather than unfair discrimination for or against the individual. No previous society was any closer to a perfect society than societies of the modern world and these societies are still moving toward perfection.

            The triangular or pyramidal class stratification would mean the points you mentioned earlier were true for people in general and not just women. The status of women was, not exactly but more or less, reflective of the status of people in general. None of you points were the result of discrimination based on gender. It has more to do with the economic of previous societies as found in slave society (slavery) and feudalism (serfdom) versus capitalism (wage employment). Imporvements in the status of women in each economic transition was due to the status of people improving. Equality has to do with an individual or group of indvidual’s status not being affected by discrimination. The difference between discrimination and being a reflection of the status of people in general in society is that the former is women having low status because they’re women and the second is women having low status because people in general have low status rather than discrimination based on gender, thus women are people who have low status while being female as opposed to because of being female. All people and all women didn’t have low status, but people and women were placed variously on the triangle/pyramid of society. The shape of a pyramid/triangle shows that you start with huge base that tapers of gardually to a minuscule elite capstone.

            End of previous post reference above.

            I should point out that the Catholic Church had no problem with corporatism as you claimed earlier. It also showcases the Catholic Protestant divide on things like capitalism and individualism. Also, Catholic Corporatism was a major inspiration for Italian Fascism.

            (Removed wikipedia material – Moderator)

          3. Stephen, can we try for brevity in our posts? It makes for much more focused and clearer discussions.

            I agree that Protestant culture helped develop women’s rights and that it helped lead to both individualism and capitalism. But a most important point, one understood in the Catholic church for a long time, is that the root of women’s rights and individual rights lies, at least in Western Europe, in developments in the Catholic church and in monasticism associated with the extraordinarily influential monastery of Cluny and the subsequent development of canon law in the 12th and 13th centuries in the church and the newly instituted European university system it created. And these developments trace their roots back to St. Augustine and St. Paul and forward through Franciscan nominalist thinkers like William of Ockham to the foundations of modern science.

            This is the argument of Larry Siedentop, the distinguished U.S.-born Oxford political philosopher in “Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism.” The New Republic, not noted for its enthusiasm for church history writes:

            It is a magnificent work of intellectual, psychological and spiritual history. It is hard to decide which is more remarkable: the breadth of learning displayed on almost every page, the infectious enthusiasm that suffuses the whole book, the riveting originality of the central argument or the emotional power and force with which it is deployed.

            Siedentop takes us on a 2,000-year journey that starts with the almost inconceivably remote city states of the ancient world and ends with the Renaissance. In the course of this journey, he explodes many (perhaps even most) of the preconceptions that run through the public culture of our day—and that I took for granted before reading his book.

            These are also my sentiments. Perhaps we can explore these topics more? I have asked Ian Kluge to review the book for us. Of all the books I’ve been discussing, this may be the most important.

            Stephen

          4. “Gender equality means that the average man isn’t better off than the average woman or that the average woman isn’t better off than the average man.”

            I think we may all be defining gender equality differently. In the Bahá’í writings gender equality means that both men and women have equal opportunity in all aspects of society—education, use of resources, business, government, etc. “Better off” is, frankly, too squishy a concept to have meaning in this context. You could argue that because men and women all lived in comparable houses, they were equally well off, ignoring what women’s treatment in that house was.

            So, I think in order for the conversation to have meaning and bear fruit, we need to clarify whose definition of gender equality is in use or we’re just talking past each other.

          5. Stephen, you used the word establish which is too strong a word for saying it eventually got the ball rolling as opposed to it synonyms. Establish doesn’t mean cause to happen through ripple effects through time, but something more immediate and direct as the quote of the Oxford English Dictionary below shows. The example quotes involving trade deals and parliamentary sovereignty show this.

            establish
            [ iˈstabliSH ]
            VERB
            1. set up (an organization, system, or set of rules) on a firm or permanent basis:
            “the British established a rich trade with Portugal”
            synonyms: set up · start · initiate · institute · form · found · create · inaugurate · build · construct · install
            2. achieve permanent acceptance or recognition for:
            “the principle of the supremacy of national parliaments needs to be firmly established”
            Oxford English Dictionary found via Bing

          6. Stephen Friberg, the problem that caused lack of women’s rights can be traced to the Bible. Sure women and men were equal in terms of availability of spiritual advancement, as you said equal before God, both sexes could be saved, there were plenty of women among the saints. But in terms of woman’s place in society, rights in society, the Bible caused a lot of problems for women, among both Catholics and Protestants. For one thing, in the New Testament Paul explicitly, in several passages, tells women they have to obey their husbands. In fact in one passage he equates women obeying husbands with slaves having to obey masters. So what happens when a woman disobeys? The Qur’an explicitly allows the husband to spank his wife. The Bible nowhere forbids him from beating her. So no wonder it was legal in almost all predominantly Christian countries for the husband to beat his wife, until at least the end of the 19th century.
            The New Testament also has rules that a bishop, elder and deacon has to have one wife. Sure some interpreted it as at most one wife. But with lesbianism banned by Paul in Romans 1, this rule for bishops etc. meant that clearly only men were entitled to become bishops, elders, deacons. And Jesus showed the way by his example, when he appointed 12 men as apostles, and no women. And Paul also wrote that women are to be silent in church, and if they have a question, they should ask their husbands at home. Many churches interpret it as that women are not to speak in church, but they can sing with the congregation.
            There is also lots of sexism in the Old Testament, in the Law of Moses, that often served as a good example for Christian countries in making laws. For example women could not serve as priests in the Levitical priesthood. Also the inheritance rules forbade women from inheriting, unless there were no male heirs. So no wonder that for many centuries, until at least 19th century, predominantly Christian countries did not allow wives to own anything, so anything she had was owned by her husband. Sex with a married woman meant in the Law of Moses death penalty, but if a married (or also unmarried) man had sex with an unmarried, not engaged, woman, then he paid a fine to her father, and had to marry her, unless her father objected. Objection by the woman or by her mother was not considered relevant. Men could have more than one wife, but women could have only one husband (though at least subsequently Christianity limited men to one wife).
            Catholicism has always taught that the Bible is infallible, so this was not a new Protestant idea. What some Protestants added was an emphasis on interpreting the Bible literally, while Catholics have always taught that some parts of the Bible are not to be taken literally, but are to be interpreted as symbolic, and that holy tradition is equal to the Bible, which is rejected by Protestantism.
            So it was finally a rejection of the infallibility of the Bible, an idea that started gaining popularity in the 19th century, that led to equal rights for women, like the right to vote, to go to university, to own property even when she is married, to inherit equally when there is no will, to not be beaten when she disobeys, to work in any occupation, and in some churches also to be an elder or even a bishop (I might note that in some churches the titles elder and bishop mean the same).

          7. Hi Tom:

            Great discussion here. It is starting to look to me like we might want to do some blogs on the topic.

            You write:

            Stephen Friberg, the problem that caused lack of women’s rights can be traced to the Bible. Sure women and men were equal in terms of availability of spiritual advancement, as you said equal before God, both sexes could be saved, there were plenty of women among the saints. But in terms of woman’s place in society, rights in society, the Bible caused a lot of problems for women, among both Catholics and Protestants. For one thing, in the New Testament Paul explicitly, in several passages, tells women they have to obey their husbands. In fact in one passage he equates women obeying husbands with slaves having to obey masters. So what happens when a woman disobeys? The Qur’an explicitly allows the husband to spank his wife. The Bible nowhere forbids him from beating her. So no wonder it was legal in almost all predominantly Christian countries for the husband to beat his wife, until at least the end of the 19th century.

            Is the Bible the problem or part of the solution? Clearly, the Bible, especially the Christian part of it, spoke deeply and profoundly about the equality of all people before God. Man, woman, Jew, non-Jew – all were endowed with a soul and shared in the fundamental reality of being individuals and accountable only to god. So the fundamental teachings are clear, I think, men and women are equal. The Bible is not the problem in this department.

            The challenge, then, is instituting that as reality – the social teachings. And there, the issue is the baseline – where society was at the time – and the role that the church played in turning the basic fundamental principles into a lived reality. We are still at it today.

            More later.

            Stephen

          8. “…the problem that caused lack of women’s rights can be traced to the Bible.”

            This might be true if all cultures traced their religious heritage to the Bible, but they don’t. Societies molded by Biblical teachings as such are only a portion of the world’s population and with few exceptions (such as the Longhouse Federation tribes pre-anglo invasion) women fared no better in cultures untouched by Biblical interpretation.

            “The New Testament also has rules that a bishop, elder and deacon has to have one wife.”

            The New Testament has no such rules because those formalized positions did not exist and are not addressed specifically even in the letters of the Apostles.

            What led to equal rights for women was the introduction in the revelations of various Manifestations of God of the reality that women had souls and were also beloved of God. Muhammad set the stage for the appearance of a woman like Tahireh—the outspoken female apostle of both the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh who was taken even by early secular feminists as one of the mothers of the suffrage movement. The Prophet did this by teaching that men should revere women, that women were equal with men in the sight of God and would have equal rewards for their fidelity and service, that they had human rights of self-determination, etc. He said of His daughter, Fatimih, that if she sad a thing it was as if He had said it.

            The Báb (Bahá’u’lláh’s Forerunner) said something similar of Tahirih, whose last words were “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.” Full stop.

            It is not the teachings of the Prophets that have hampered women’s progress in the world, but what men have made of them. There are innumerable cultural and situational elements that have gone into the interpretation by the “leaders of thought” of scripture. Most, if not, all of them have to do with what human beings (especially men) believe is important. To govern, to control, to own, to mold their material lives and, therefore, the lives of those on whose cooperation they depend.

            I’m sorry, but you cannot blame “The Bible” in whole or in part for the status of women in the world. Nor even, really, in Western society. The buck stops with human application of its principles AND in our reluctance to view religion as a thing that must evolve as all things must evolve. The principles around gender introduced by Christ or Muhammad were a step forward FOR THEIR TIME. Now, they are not. Hence, Bahá’u’lláh teaches an equality of women that even contradicts the opinions of a 19th century paragon such as Charles Darwin, who believed women to be inferior to men in all things.

          9. Equality has three meanings: equality before the law, equality of opportunity, and equality of outcome. We were talking about comparing Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome to Medieval Europe. (The Byzantine Empire is an overlap between the two, but for the most part they are separate categories.) We are also talking about issues of freedom/liberty as well. But on equality, everyone uses the equality before the law definition. Gender equality means equality before the law with regards to gender. Also, he wasn’t using equality of opportunity in the earlier post. It looks like he was either using equality of outcome or a definition that easily unraveled or otherwise led to equality of outcome.

            Equality of opportunity and equality of outcome as opposed to equality before the law are hard to have a hard line between the two as proponents of opportunity usually go beyond opportunity to outcome in their arguments. How do you measure oppurtunity as most oppurtunities are unused by the nature of competing oppurtunities being mutually exclusive? Also, some oppurtunites require other oppurtunities have been used as prerequisites. Also, some of his arguments assume there is such a thing as collective rather than individual oppurtunities. Individuals have oppurtunities or don’t, indivudals don’t project oppurtunities other members of a group have on to themselves. The individual is the basic building block and unit of society, so any and all measurements should focus on the individual rather than the group.

            An example of oppurtunity is self employment. A Swiss friend of mine I know via the Internet, Swiss Cross (Internet handle due to Swiss nationality and devout Swiss Reformed Church faith) is interested in self employment. From Financial Freedom to Slavery, the spectrum is: Financial Freedom, Self Sufficiency, Business Owner, Independent Contractor, Employee, Serf, and Slave. There are no real barriers to Swiss Cross being self employed and it does give more freedom than other options. Swiss Cross is still considering options. I’m (America-sama, again Internet handle) for self employment while a mutal friend Filipa (Internet handle, Portuguese) is against it. Filipa considers self employment a big burden, requires lots of self discipline, fairness and impartiality with regards to one self (as opposed to being aggrandizing or depreciating), complicated difficult self employement taxation, and a big chance of doom to failure. Whatever choice Swiss Cross ultimately makes, it illustrates the fact that people have oppurtunites all the time, but choose whether or not to utilize them. Stats on oppurtunities can’t really measure missed or avoided oppurtunities. It also illustrates that having the freedom and oppurtunity to do something doesn’t guarantee that someone will. I for example favored freedom arguments while Filipa favored prosperity arguments. Freedom isn’t free and choosing freedom can threaten one’s Proseprity as well as vice versa ie thay prosperity isn’t free and choosing prosperity can threaten one’s freedom. Swiss Cross leans toward freedom arguements and is still considering self employment. An agoraphobe has the freedom and oppurtunity to go outside, but by definition avoid and misses going outside. To claim that an agoraphobe lacks freedom or oppurtunity to go outside based solely on choosing not to is fallacious.

            If you look at any gender equality index, they do in fact compare average well being. They also factor for non discrimination factors out as well. The difference between discrimination based factors and non discrimination based factors are important, because it’s the difference between actual discrimination and merely claimed discrimination. You can belong to any given discriminated category, but you have to prove that specific things are either the result of discrimination or not. Discrimination can and does happen, but some people go to extremes and claim that everything bad that happens to a person are the results of discrimination even things with obvoius other exclamations. It’s only a joke my friend said but he joked thay his getting a low grade in a test was discrimination, but we talked and it was because he didn’t study as much. It was just a joke rather than a serious claim though, but people make simmilar claims all the time while serious.

            Back to avoiding and missing oppurtunites and sometimes not even seeing oppurtunites. Some oppurtunities require special pre requisites, like college classes as an obvious example. You have to take a class before you can take a specific one and maybe even so on in a chain of prerequisites. If an individual fails to take prerequisite oppurtunities, fails to take oppurtunities without prerequisites that are more available, destroys their oppurtunities, or otherwise don’t see, avoid, miss, etc oppurtunities for whatever reason, the individual can’t go around and claim a lack oppurtunities. An individual or a group have to prove that any lack of oppurtunities on their part are the results of discirimination and not either persona choices of luck related factors like a famine, shpwreck, economic depression, plague, or any other misfortune thay can happen to people through no one’s fault.

            None of the claims Stephen Frieberg gave earlier didn’t specify whether discrimination or other factors were the cause of personal choice or luck were involved in his states on women in ancient Rome. A huge luck based stat in ancient Rome was class, whether an individual was patrician, plebeian, or non citizen, that decided and affect lots of stuff in the life of the individual in Ancient Rome. I despite some of his stats, but the point is none of his stats factor in non discrimination factors in as well.

          10. Hi Stephen:

            I must admit that I’m really frustrated with this discussion, or should I say lack of discussion. You don’t answer me, for example, when I ask you what you are trying to get at. Without a focus, without a target, we can’t make any progress. A discussion has to have some questions and a purpose. That you don’t agree with something I said is a start, but is not enough to sustain dialogue.

            And you are not responding to my questions and comments. That’s not discourse, not a discussion.

            – In a previous post, for example, I wrote “I’m not understanding what you are getting very well. Maybe I could ask, do you think that ancient Roman and Greek society DID have gender equality if we look at men and women’s relative status in various economic groupings”.

            – I also asked “Am I right in thinking that you are arguing that women DID enjoy freedom and equality outside the context of family?” You didn’t respond to that either. Or if you did, it was buried in a lot of other discussions.

            This is twice that I asked what you were trying to get at and it is twice that you didn’t respond.

            So I agree with Maya, its off topic and its just using up a lot of storage. We can talk about something else later, and lets then talk about how how we are going to have productive discussions.

            But now on this topic, the discussion is ended.

            Stephen

          11. Stephen, I did clarify. If you didn’t agree, that is more than OK. But you wouldn’t say what you believed to be the case, although I tried several times to find out your views.

            It doesn’t work to just say a lot of things. There has to be a focus, a discussion! I’ll help you with this later, but for now, the discussion is closed.

            Stephen

          12. Maya, it is true that Paul declared a rule that bishops, deacons and elders have to have exactly one wife, see 1 Timothy 3:2 (bishops), 2:12 (deacons) and Titus 1:6 (elders, some translations say presbyters). Clearly Paul was inspired by the fact that Jesus had appointed 12 apostles, all of them male. Paul was also inspired by the fact that in the Old Testament only men could serve as priests, in the Aaronic priesthood. Paul, to emphasize it further, he made a rule that women have to be silent in the congregation, and if they have a question, let them ask their husbands at home (1 Cor. 14:34-35). Though he never wrote what happens if the woman’s husband is an unbeliever. Tough luck, I guess. Likewise in 1 Tim. 2:12, Paul forbids women to teach, or to supervise a man, but to be silent instead. He did not write if he meant it only on teaching religion, or also teaching secular subjects, or to be forbidden to supervise a man only in religion, or also in secular jobs. Anyway, how sad. And not only Paul, but also Peter ordered women to obey their husbands, see 1 Peter 3:1. So one can’t just blame Paul’s sexism, but the whole Bible.

          13. Hi Tom.

            Discussion on this thread is closed. We can pick it up again some other time or in some other context – I’m thinking it would be very nice to have a blog or series of blog on the topic, but for now the topic is closed.

            Stephen

    3. Stephen, the best summary of the what A. C. Grayling means by the “warping of human sexuality” is all the moralistic teaching of the Catholic Church. Birth control, abortion, family planning, masturbation, fornication, and adultery are all condemned by the Catolic Church. The same could be said for Eastern Orthodoxy, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostalism, Rastafari, and the Unification Church, but the time period we are talking about is the Catholic Church. All of the above things (sins list) earlier were illegal in the Middle Ages, but legal in the Classical period with an asterisk for a prostitution loophole in the Middle Ages. The strict position on divorce is the reason why the Anlican Communion and Church of England exist.

      A. C. Grayling believes that the state/government shouldn’t interfere with sex between consenting adults. Liberty, one of the chief values of Western civilization, requires not interefering in people’s choices unless those choice involve interfering in other people’s choice which is a really complicated and tongue unwieldy way of saying the NAP (Non Agression Principle). If the Church in the Middle Ages had only banned gender inequality, forced marriage, and things like that, he wouldn’t have criticized the Church, but it cast the net too wide and banned stuff that inolve interefering with the freely chosen practices of individuals in their private lives. Basically, the issue of one of liberty rather than one of equality. Let’s return to the list of sins referenced earlier, who would really want society to have capital and/or corporal punishment for the above acts at the top of the page like during the Middle Ages?

      Basically, the Middle Ages were moralistic while the Classical Era was more tolerant. Today, we have the seperation of church and state so that the church can be as moralistic as it wants and the state can be as tolerant as it wants without either or them telling the other to be like it.

      I couldn’t find an article on sexuality (in general) in Ancient Greece or the Middle Ages, only in Ancient Rome. I wanted to talk more about the Middle Ages than the Classical Era in this post, so I will have to look for Bing to find such articles later. There were articles on Homosexuality in the Middle Ages, but I also wanted to deal with other issues like birth control, family planning, fashion choice, etc. I didn’t bring up fashion earlier, but women’s fashion of the Middle Ages were more bland and modest than during the Classical Era, but I can’t tell if it was due to law mandating that or the economy and climate during that period.

      1. Stephen:

        Superb e-mail!

        And very too the point. You’re right – A.C.Grayling has strong beliefs along the lines you describe, and believes that anyone who doesn’t believe as he does it just wrong (and unscientific to boot). And he just knows his belief – one that Voltaire and other famous libertines subscribed too – to be true, regardless of what others may think.

        More on the middle ages and ancient times later. Are you up to doing some serious reading? Much of the real scholarship on these things is in books and not available online.

        Stephen

        1. I wouldn’t call A. C. Grayling a libertine. A true libertine believe that sex and pleasure should be subject to no standards. While A. C. Grayling and most if not all Westeners believe in standards like consent, majority age, sobriety, not dangerous, no blood or family relation, etc. A more nuanced spectrum would be useful. Most Weterners, find libertinism too lax, but they also find the traditional absolutely no sex outside of a heterosexual traditional closed monogamous marriage to be too strict at the same time. A good example of a nuanced view would be the current archbishop of the Church of England who if I remember correctly that the Anglican view of sexuality is absolutely no sex outside of a closed monogamous marriage regardless of things like gender or sexual orientation. It’s not exactly the traditional view, but it’s pretty close to it on the spectrum.

          Despite having liber (Latin for free and also Roman god equivalent to the Greek Dionysus/Bacchus) as the root, Libertinism, Liberalism, and Libertarianism aren’t the same or equivalent phisophies. It’s made even more complicated by all three philosophies being forms of indidivudalism. All libertines, liberals, and libertarians are individualists, but all individualists aren’t neccesarily libertines, liberals, or libertarians. For example, Walter E. Block and Frank S. Meyer have both written papers differentiating the three philosophies from each other.

          Interesting note is the infamous Aleister Crowley is on the list. Of the English speakers who are libertines, most if not all are familiar with libertinism due to Aleister Crowley and not any of those other famous libertines. Various singers and music groups have written songs about Mr. Cowley or sang covers of said songs. Neo paganism and the New Age movement are based off his philosophy of Thelema. I have heard a theory, don’t remeber the source, that Aleister Crowley is the true identity of Sgt. Pepper. Ozzy Ozbourne and Cardle of Filth are examples of singers and groups who literally have sung a song named Mr. Crowley. Thelema, Crowley’s religion, basically boils down to “Do What Thou Wilt”. He also self professed to be the wickedest man on Earth and the Great Beast Anatichrist.

          Back to the nuance, there is a very good quote on the issue.

          The quote can be generalized to any culture war issue like abortion or stem cell research or any other issue of moral controversy. While mutually incromphensible and mutally incompatible schools and systems of morality exist, they still recognize the existence and even need for morality itself.

          Gordon Gecko infamously said thay greed is good in that movie which is a statement of morality despite it contradicting the morality of other systems. Ayn Rand’s Objectivism views selfishness (constrained by the NAP as shown by her viewing parasitism as evil) and pride as virtues and being a parasite who leeches of others as a vice, immoral, and a sin. Interestingly enough, Ayn Rand viewed homosexuality as disgusting and immoral. Anarchists view the very existence of the state as evil and immoral. Secularists and atheists view morality as having it basis in reason while they think of religious people irrationally doing and thinking whatever tradition tells them to.

          Culture wars have their basis not on whether he morality exists, but rather on what is moral and what is immoral and the fact that people and their belief systems differ on that. A. C. Grayling and New Atheists view religion itself as evil and immoral. This would be meaningless if they were truly libertines who didn’t believe in morality as opposed to people who differed in what was moral and immoral.

          Communism, Objectivism, and Secular Humanism all are moral systems based on secular reason and the imugnation as religion as evil, immoral, primitive, and insert any other spurning adjective here. Thay third one, Secular Humanism, is the tradition of A. C. Grayling. The three systems differ on the morality of economics. Karl Marx, and Communism, views Socalism/Communism as moral economics and Capitalism as immoral economics. Ayn Rand, and Objectivism, views the morality of economics as the direct opposite that Capitalism is moral and Socialism/Communism is immoral. A. C. Grayling, and Secular Humanism, contradicts both views and views both as immoral economics and favors some third thing as moral economics, probably social democracy Third Way or something simmilar.

          Like I meantioned earlier at the beginning, even religious people differ on what is moral and immoral. This goes not just between religions, but between denominations within religions as well. Anglicans, despite being simmilar to Catholicism in lots of ways, differ greatly from Catholics when it comes to morality and the culture wars, at least in the liberal provinces of the Anglican Communion like Europe, Americas, Oceania, and South Africa.

          Libertines, like Marquis de Sade, believed that morality didn’t exist at all and that there were no problems with hurting others of preying on others at all. He advocated for things like the abolition of religion and government and the legalization of murder. He believed absolutely nothing should be taboo. He also didn’t believe in the goals of the French Revolution as he held the concepts of liberty, equality, and fraternity to be hogwash and meaningless. He especially held the concept of fraternity in contempt. He believed that people should embrace, rather than deny, cruelty. His x rated novel, exposing his philosophy, are full of rape and torture and acts based on his philosophy. I have read excerpts from Philosophy in the Bedroom for example, but not the whole book. It is quite ironic that he was as jailed for something he accidentally did rather than something he did on purpose. He accidentally poisoned some people with Spanish fly under the still common belief that it is an aphrodisiac rather than a poison. The symptoms of Spanish fly poisoning can easily be mistaken for sexual arousal which is the source of the misconception.

          A. C. Grayling and most Westerners reject the above viewpoint. Humanists, like Dan Savage, have said that consent is the major deciding point of what is moral and what is immoral with regards to sex. This is obviously an acceptance of the moral universe in which people all live even if it contradicts the moral viewpoints of others. While secularists may agree with the abolition of religion, they disagree with the rest of libertinism as they base said belief on the existence rather than the non-existence of morality as a category.

          1. Opps, typing error on my first attempt to blockquote accidentally removed all the quotes and quoted the non quote portions.

            A libertine is one devoid of most moral restraints, which are seen as unnecessary or undesirable, especially one who ignores or even spurns accepted morals and forms of behaviour sanctified by the larger society. Libertines put value on physical pleasures, meaning those experienced through the senses. As a philosophy, libertinism gained new-found adherents in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, particularly in France and Great Britain. Notable among these were John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, and the Marquis de Sade. Wikipedia article on Libertinism

            Some notable libertines include:

            Tallulah Bankhead
            Ivan Barkov
            Charles Baudelaire
            Lord Byron
            Giacomo Casanova
            John Cleland
            Aleister Crowley
            Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
            Otto Gross
            Sebastian Horsley
            Ami Perrin
            Lorenzo Da Ponte
            Arthur Rimbaud
            Marquis de Sade
            Matthew Turner
            Paul Verlaine
            John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester
            Wikipedia list of Libertines from Wikipedia article on Libertinism

            For years homosexual behavior was considered immoral by most of society. Now a large number of people challenge this. But they do so not on the basis that no moral categories exist but that this one area -homosexuality- really ought to have been on the other side of the line dividing the moral from the immoral. Homosexuals do not usually condone incest! So the fact that people differ in their moral judgments does nothing to alter the fact that we continue to make, to live by and to violate moral judgments. Everyone lives in a moral universe, and virtually everyone -if they reflect on it- recognizes this and would have it no other way. James W. Sire’s The Universe Next Door page 46

            My typo messing up th quote lock earlier messed up the earlier post, but now you have the quotes I meant to put in there.

            I really should go further and quote the following paragraph. I didn’t intend to quote it earlier but changed my mind now.

            Theism, however, teaches that not only is there a moral universe but there is an absolute standard by which all moral judgments are measured. God himself -his character of goodness (holiness and love)- is the standrad. Furthermore, Christians and Jews hold that God has revealed his standard in the various laws and principles expressed in the Bible. The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Apostle Paul’s ethical teaching – in these and many other ways God has expressed his character to us. There is thus a standard of right and wrong, and people who want to know it can know it. IBID

            I really hope the quote blocks work this time unlike the earlier post. The earlier quote is also really great in that it shows how people who follow a Western religion like Judaism, Christianity, and any other religion from West Asia differs from people who don’t on the basis of their morality. Islamic Theism is a seperate chapter from Christian Theism, but shares the same views on morality. It differs in that the Quran rather than the Bible is the standard.

          2. I quoted the chapter on Christian Theism for an example of morality being part of all worldviews, well almost all as libertinism doesn’t recgonize morality as a category and neither does nihilism, but other than those two cases the point stands. God centered (an indirectly religion centered morality) can be seen in Christian Theism and Islamic Theism as well as theism of all Westenr religions (ones from West Asia). The morality point of Eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, etc and their spinoff in the West the New Age movement are dealt with seperately than this. Basically, those religion’s view of morality can be summed up in one word: karma.

            I will try to fix the quote locks once I get the hang of it.

            For years homosexual behavior was considered immoral by most of society. Now a large number of people challenge this. But they do so not on the basis that no moral categories exist but that this one area -homosexuality- really ought to have been on the other side of the line dividing the moral from the immoral. Homosexuals do not usually condone incest! So the fact that people differ in their moral judgments does nothing to alter the fact that we continue to make, to live by and to violate moral judgments. Everyone lives in a moral universe, and virtually everyone -if they reflect on it- recognizes this and would have it no other way. James W. Sire’s The Universe Next Door page 46

          3. The follow up quote gave morality in theism as opposed to morality in other worldviews.

            Theism, however, teaches that not only is there a moral universe but there is an absolute standard by which all moral judgments are measured. God himself -his character of goodness (holiness and love)- is the standrad. Furthermore, Christians and Jews hold that God has revealed his standard in the various laws and principles expressed in the Bible. The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Apostle Paul’s ethical teaching – in these and many other ways God has expressed his character to us. There is thus a standard of right and wrong, and people who want to know it can know it. James W. Sire’s The Universe Next Door page 46

            There is a great deal of denominational variation in the practical day to day implications of the above quote among Jews and Christians, but they all believe in the above quote. I earlier gave the difference between Anglicans and Catholic on sexual morality as an example.

            Other worldivews have a moral universe but have a different absolute standard to go by. For Diests and Naturalists, reason is the absolute standard. For followers of Eastern religions and the New Age spin offs in the West, karma is the absolute standrad.

            Karma is the notion that one’s present fate, one’s pleasure or pain, one’s being a king or slave or a gnat, is the result of past action, especially in a former existence. It is, then, tied to the notion of reincarnation, which follows from the general principle that nothing that is read (that is, no soul) ever passes out of existence. It may take centuries to find its way back to the One, but not soul will ever not be. All soul is eternal, for all soul is essentially Soul and thus forever the One.

            On its way back to the One, however, it goes through whatever series of illusory forms its past action requires. Karma is the Eastern version of “you reap what you sow.” But karma implies strict necessity. If you have “sinned,” there is no God to cancel the debt and forgive. Confession is of no avail. The sin must be worked out. Of course a person can choose his future acts; thus karma does not imply fatalism.

            James W. Sire’s The Universe Next Door Pages 228-229

            I have finally mastered the HTML system.

            Regardless of whether a person believe in God, the system if a God exists within doesn’t allow for the possibility of God interefering with or negating the workings of karma. Also, karma doesn’t have the same implications as the word sin. Also, there is ambiguity inherent in the system as to what exactly creates good karma, neutral karma, and bad karma. Different religion and denominations within this worldview have different karmic standrads by which morality and actions are to be judged. The issue of ahimsa (non violence) versus issues like abortion, assisted suicide, execution, meat eating, and pacifism are also heavily subject to debate. Then there is the issue of karmic weight. How severely good, neutral, or bad an act the karma it produces is an issue as well. For example, a Buddhist may believe that acts like telling white lies, drinking alcoholic beverages like sake, eating meat, and visiting brothels (a euphemism that implies far more than just visiting the physical building) produce bad karma, but believe that those acts create a microscopic minuscule negligible amounts of bad karma. This effectively makes those acts have neutral karma in practice as opposed to theory. Another example would be the Dalai Lama that through the lens of karma that homosexual behavior was equivalent to telling a white lie and I have explained the implications of how little weight some actions have with regards to karma.

      2. Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah’s Witnesses and most Pentecostals generally have no problem with birth control or family planning. Some Pentecostals even allow masturbation, since it is not banned in the Bible.

  3. It brings up issue of blue and orange morality, where people have systems of morality mutually incomprehensible to each other.

    “In the Mahabharata the river goddess Ganga bears King Shantanu several children…and drowns them. When he gives her a What the Hell, Hero?, she explains that it’s Not What It Looks Like; the children are reincarnations of holy souls that need to transcend reincarnation. (They committed a minor offense in a past life, and so were forced to be reincarnated as mortals, so Ganga lets that happen, and then kills them while they’re still young and innocent so they can be released from reincarnation. Because she knew that there’s no way King Shantanu would be able to comprehend this, she had asked him to never question her…and since he just did, she left him shortly afterwards.

    If it is any consolation, however, that eighth child turns out to become the legendary Bhishma, who was blessed with wish-long life and had sworn to serve the ruling Kuru king, and grand uncle of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Long story short, when Bhishma died, he was the eldest living ancestor to the equivalent of 5 generations of the Pandava line, and was strong enough to overcome even Arjuna in battle.

    In general and to a lesser extent, this tends to happen with religions, both ancient and modern (not naming any names). When someone gets perplexed by the seeming arbitrariness and contradiction of the dogma, the official answer tends to be that god(s) are incomprehensible and the problem is on your end. The best we can do is obey their inscrutable commands and hope for the best. This also comes up in response to the common question of why, in an ordered universe, bad things happen to good people. Many philosophies and religions recognize that the needs of an individual and the needs of the universe at large simply won’t mesh up, and a transcendent being is probably only interested in the latter. So while it might look like your god/gods/spirits are cruel bastards for killing your family with that flood, a believer needs to remember that from a divine standpoint it was probably the right thing to do (e.g. the flood was a necessary evil, or death isn’t actually bad, etc.). The Omniscient Morality License trope is all about this.” Religion section of Blue and Orange Morality on TV Trope

    The above quote deals with religion. The Mahabharata is given as a particular example brought up within a religious text. Also, the issue of religion in general is brought up.

    “People with certain kinds of psychological disorders and conditions. Functional sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists tend to develop a morality along these lines. They create this form of morality as a construct to survive, Some of these are usually considered amoral, or lack of a recognition of morality; however there are people like this who hate things that are absolutely normal, accept things that most people disdain, and judge other people by things that are usually not associated with morality.

    While not quite to the extreme of ‘bacon and necktie’, some high functioning Autistic people claim that things seem to be this way, whether they want to think like that or not. While ‘normal’ people think about a topic one way, the Autistic subject has an unwavering alternative view on it, which is often rebuked equally unwaveringly by the ‘normal’ people. This can be a distressing problem and a source of considerable conflict and, eventually, depression. Imagine a world where everything is just wrong, but everything and everyone around you thinks that’s not true.

    Very young children tend to have this sort of morality. Their sense of “right/Good” or “wrong/Evil” maps more accurately to a sense of “I like it” and “I don’t like it.” This is why gaining a clear sense of right and wrong is considered one of the first signs of growing up.

    Most animals don’t even have concepts of morality or empathy. Those that do (apes, dolphins, dogs, etc.) tend to be absolutely incomprehensible to humans. For example dolphins will aid sick or injured creatures (even those not of their species) and have even been known to rescue humans from sharks, but the males are casual rapists (to the point that they’ll sometimes beat baby dolphins to death to force the mother to mate) and some dolphins are sadists, brutally killed other animals for fun. How they reconcile such behavior is simply unknowable.

    According to Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, humans are this to each other. Humans progress through different value systems as they age, starting as infants and toddlers (as stated above) with a pure pleasure/pain dimension and eventually maturing toward more and more complex systems. Those at different stages really don’t understand each other at all, especially when the less mature try to comprehend the more mature. However, Kohlberg was famously criticized by feminist philosopher Gilligan, who claimed his theory was androcentric and focused entirely on the concept of morality-as-justice, while women cared more about morality-as-care. Other critics question the entire idea that morality is governed by principles such as “justice” or “fairness,” and believe humans really have an evolved emotional repertoire which is based on our emotions and developed for other reasons. More at the Other Wiki.

    Similarly, Stephen Pinker assembles other works that come to define systems for moral thought used by humans, namely Communal Sharing (including in-group loyalty and purity/sanctity), Authority Ranking (obey your superiors), Equity Matching (sharing), and Rational/Legal (markets and laws). Each of these has a different neural pathway in the brain and each normal human uses all of these. No system is strictly better or worse. Each has its moments in different situations. He then establishes that a person understands a moral issue by applying one or more of these systems. Anyone who uses different models than you then becomes Blue-and-Orange to you. For example, a restaurant is governed by Rational/Legal morality. No one goes in and after the meal offers to repay the chef by hosting his or her family in the future (Equity Matching). Applied to real dilemmas, consider same-sex marriages. Conservatives view it through the purity/sanctity aspect of Communal Sharing and Authority Ranking with religious authority as the authority figure, while Liberals tend toward a Rational/Legal point of view. The two sides literally do not use the same brain system to examine the issue.

    An important point is that all of the systems are valid at times and anyone using a different system will seem to just “not get it” in a blue-and-orange way. Imagine paying for a parking spot on a busy street when a cop comes and orders you to move your car because an ambulance needs access where you parked. Most of us bow to Authority Ranking and believe moving our car is the right thing to do. Someone who engaged in Equity Matching by asking the officer if he could park in front of the cop’s house sometime or stopped to argue with the cop about the legality of forcing you to move and when you’ll be compensated for the cost of parking (Rational/Legal) seems blue-and-orange to us.” Real Life section of Blue and Orange Morality

    Blue and Orange Morality means incomphrensible moral systems to each other. It also means any criteria used in a moral system other than Order versus Chaos and Good versus Evil, which also happens to be the Character Alignment system. Though people equate being a good person with following the rules do one dimensionalize the Character Alignment chart.

    One dimensionalize do example
    Lawful Good
    Lawful Neutral, Neutral Good
    Lawful Evil, True Neutral, Chaotic Good
    Neutral Evil, Chaotic Neutral
    Chaotic Evil

    I also findSteven Pinker’s system interesting. It remind me of the moral foundations questionnaire. Liberal values are caring versus harm and fairness/proportionality versus cheating. Conservative values are ingroup/loyalty versus betrayal, authority/respect verus subversion, and purity/sanctity verus degradation. Liberals are people who use primarily Equity Matching. Conservatives are people who primarily use Communal Sharing and Authority Ranking. For example, I personally know a neocon friend who just doesn’t simply understand non-interventionism and pacifism. According to him, he thinks they are too concerned with purity/sanctity to kill people hence why they holid the position in direct contradiction to authority/respect and ingroup/loyalty. The fact that they base their positions on caring and fairness/proportionality instead shows how incomprehensible each set of values is to people who hold the other. People actually caring about the lives of the enemy or wanting a to have a fair response just didn’t even seem to come up in his mind.

    Back to the point that started the posts on morality. The Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches hold complementarianism as their view of gender and are anti-feminist. The four positions on gender are patriarchy, complementarianism, egalitarianism, and feminism. It is like a spectrum from patriarchy to feminism. Feminist philosophy dates back at the earliest to Mary Wallstonecraft and her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in the eighteenth century well after the Middle Ages where you say gender equality was established.

    I will look for reading books on the subject in full. I have read quotes and excerpts from the following books on women in ancient Rome and will need to get back to you after I read them in full.

    Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars
    A Casebook on Roman Family Law
    Roman Citizenship
    Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians
    A Companion to the Roman Republic
    Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture
    From Good Goddess to Vestal Virgins: Sex and Category in Roman Religion
    Children and Childhood in Roman Italy
    The Great Roman Ladies
    The Family in Ancient Rome: New Perspectives
    Law and Life of Rome 90B.C.-212 A.D
    Fathers and Daughters in Roman Society: Women and the Elite Family
    Women and Politics in Ancient Rome
    Latin Language and Latin Culture
    Women and Politics
    Roman Law in Context
    A History of Women from Ancient Goddesses to Christian Saints
    The Spirit of Roman Law
    Women and the Law in the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook on Marriage, Divorce and Law in the Roman Empire
    The Private Life of the Romans
    A Companion to Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds
    The Sleep of Reason: Erotic Experience and Sexual Ethics in Ancient Greece and Rome
    The Roman Wedding: Ritual and Meaning in Antiquity
    The Oxford Handbook of Social Relations
    Women in Roman Law and Society
    Family and Familia in Roman Law and Life
    Law and Life of Rome

    Those are loads and loads of books, but all good source of quotes. Remeber, I haven’t read any of the books in full, but the quotes and excerpts I have read from A Casebook on Roman Family Law, The Private Life of Romans, Roman Law in Context, and Roman Law all say Roman Law required autonomous marriage where both partners freely consented to marry. There were also strict age of consent laws and marriage age laws defining both at 12 minimum for females and 14 minimum for males, but marriage usually talking place later than this absolute minimum.

    You assert action that women very rarely enjoyed any freedom outside the family except as pawns in making elite family alliances or as mothers in powerful families where they could maneuver their children to inherit leadership of the family has been contradicted just by that alone as well the other points raised in the books I mentioned.

    Your assertion that “respectable” women almost completely in the family and those looking for independence being viewed as disreputable is also false in that Vestals and Heterae were highly respected clases of women and Independent. The poet Sappho of Lesbos was honored as the Tenth Muses and known as the greatest poet of all time in Greece and Rome.

    1. Stephen:

      I’m having very hard time understanding what you are trying to get at in your posts. As the professionals would say, you are burying the lead and abandoning us in a flood of words

      A strong recommendation – start your posts by addressing the points you are pursuing and do radical surgery on the amount of material you include. And then edit, edit, edit. In the current post, you apparently introduce your main point after about 2000 words or so of preliminary notes. Those preliminaries should be in your notes, not in your comment.

      In this comment, what you really want to say is the following, right?

      You assert action that women very rarely enjoyed any freedom outside the family except as pawns in making elite family alliances or as mothers in powerful families where they could maneuver their children to inherit leadership of the family has been contradicted just by that alone as well the other points raised in the books I mentioned.

      Here, you need to lay out your proofs and arguments from the books clearly. Lacking that, I can’t see what you are driving at (all I see is support for what I was claiming).

      Make your case! Fashion your argument! Then fine tune it and edit it. Then edit it again.

      Your assertion that “respectable” women almost completely in the family and those looking for independence being viewed as disreputable is also false in that Vestals and Heterae were highly respected classes of women and Independent. The poet Sappho of Lesbos was honored as the Tenth Muses and known as the greatest poet of all time in Greece and Rome.

      Your argument here is very much in support of what I said, or am I wrong?

      As you point out, only a very small group – one women poet in, say, seven hundred years of history – and only an extremely small number of women – maybe seven at a time – who were chosen by a man (the head priest, or pontifex maximus) had much influence outside of their family connections in ancient Rome. And of course, the vestal virgins were chosen in good part because of their family. Note, they were the priestesses of the goddess of the hearth, which is to say, of the family.

      The Heterae were entertainers and courtesans, perhaps of an exalted sort like geisha, but I don’t see how including them helps your arguments.

      But the problem runs much deeper than this. Rome and Greece were aristocratic slave societies, meaning that only a very small percentage of women enjoyed the privileges that family wealth and power provided. Most women were slaves or menials – by far the vast majority.

      As anybody aware of the status of women in traditional families knows, the status of women in the family can be substantial, high, and decisive, but the ancient world still was almost completely oppressive when it came to women playing a role outside of the family. Of course, some women did play such a role, but only very rarely was it a central one in society.

      The Baha’i point of view seems apropo here – women and men are the two wings of the bird of humanity. Without both wings equally engaged in all aspects of the life of society, humanity will fail to reach its capabilities.

      Stephen

      1. Your post actually focuses on issues related to class rather than gender. The who point of an aristocratic slave society is that few people have privilege and wealth period regardless of gender. Class issues are irrelevant to the issue of gender equality. Gender equality means how gender affects one’s lot in life and how a person’s lot in life compares to a person of simmilar and equivalent circumstances, but different gender.

        Gender equality isn’t aboslute measure of how well any given male or female’s life in absolute terms, but in related terms to how a hypothetical opposite sex fraternal twin’s life would be. Pay equality is an example, but hard to calculate as it’s hard to be sure if you isolated all other non gender variables to establish whether or not gender causes and to what degree how high or low and individuals pay is.

        The real point is that Christianity in Medieval Europe brought improvements in gender equality according to you. You say it established it.

        Equality by it’s nature is comparative. Equality is meangless without comparisons or statistics. I of course know neither the ancient or medieval world were feminist paradise Utopias. Nonetheless, you only say what the absolute status of any random indvidual Roman woman was without giving any comparsion or contrast to what the equivalent Roman male’s life would have been like. If a person is a slave or works in menial labor, one’s gender didn’t cause that, but other class related variables caused that. You keep bringing up issues of class equality as being relevant to gender equality. How wealthy, influential, powerful, or privileged a person is meangless without showing how comparative it is to other persons in a society. The pyramidal nature of such a society means that stratification by class would affect an individual much more than non class factors like gender.

        Your points have to do with economics rather than gender inequality. Feudalism was an improvement over slave society. Any improvements in the lives of individuals in the Middle Ages (of which women are a subset) would have been due to the feudalist economy. That still is meangless with regards to equality since the improvements were across to board to society as whole. Capitalism is an improvement over Feudalism as well as being the penultimate economic system. Interesting note is that feminism popped up around the same time as Capitalism did. I don’t want to say economic determinism is true per se, but this fact can lead credence to Capitalism improving the lives of women like economic changes before it. This doesn’t neccesarrily deal directly with gender equality as equality deals with how women’s lives one average compare with men’s lives on average. Again improvements in people’s lives wer across the board so as to not be related to gender equality.

        Also, you mentioned most women not having any freedom, but it leads to philosophical issues with the definition of freedom. As someone who has studied various political ideologies, I know how radically different the concept of positive freedom/liberty is from negative freedom/liberty. When I use terms like liberty/freedom, I mean negative freedom/liberty, but leads to communication problems for people who use the other concept instead. I’ve quoted Wikipedia below, but try and probably not give a clear of definition of the two concepts. Negative freedom means the absence of coercion, the absence of interference, and that someone isn’t preventing you from doing something regardless of whether or not one has the ability, power, resources, support, etc to do so. Positive freedom means being able to do something, to be subsidized in one’s undertaking, to be supported in one’s goals, and to have assurance of success at achieving what you want. I should note that I believe that only negative freedom is a real concept and that positive freedom is meanignless. The sentence women very varely had freedom outside the family takes on radically different meanings depending on which concept of freedom you use. Oppression being the absence of freedom and liberty, naturally suffers the same varying meaning depending on which type of freedom is absent.

        Negative liberty is freedom from interference by other people. Negative liberty is primarily concerned with freedom from external restraint and contrasts with positive liberty (the possession of the power and resources to fulfil one’s own potential). According to Thomas Hobbes, “a free man is he that in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do” (Leviathan, Part 2, Ch. XXI; thus alluding to liberty in its negative sense).
        An idea that anticipates the distinction between negative and positive liberty was G. F. W. Hegel’s “sphere of right” (furthered in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right), which constitutes what now is called negative freedom and his subsequent distinction between “abstract” and “positive liberty.” In the Anglophone tradition the distinction between negative and positive liberty was introduced by Isaiah Berlin in his 1958 lecture “Two Concepts of Liberty.” According to Berlin, the distinction is deeply embedded in the political tradition. In Berlin’s words, “liberty in the negative sense involves an answer to the question: ‘What is the area within which the subject — a person or group of persons — is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons’.” Restrictions on negative liberty are imposed by a person, not by natural causes or incapacity. Helvetius expresses the point clearly: “The free man is the man who is not in irons, nor imprisoned in a gaol, nor terrorized like a slave by the fear of punishment … it is not lack of freedom, not to fly like an eagle or swim like a whale.” Negative Liberty article on Wikipedia

        1. Gender equality means that an indvidual’s lots in life isn’t harmed by discrimination based on gender. Other factors unrelated to discrimination and other non gender forms of discrimination are irrelevant to a discussion of gender equality. To prove discrimination you have to prove indivudals were coercively prevented from various oppurtunities.

          You mentioned various equal opportunity offenders like they only affected women. Schadenfreude is a loan word from German that means the happiness from knowing that there is equality in suffering which is a flip side of equality. You mentioned various equal opportunity offenders that were true of people in general in Ancient Rome and not just women.

          None of your points mention that any of those things were the result of discrimination based on gender or unique to women. An example is slavery in that both women owned slaves and were slaves. The institution didn’t discriminate based on gender. The same could be said for any of the other points about lack of privilege, wealth, infuence, central role in society, etc as being caused or affected by gender.

          An individual in a perfect society wouldn’t be subject to discrimination of any sort. The individual wouldn’t have any thing as certain other than that they wouldn’t be subject to discrimination or coercion. An individual would be free to pursue wealth, fame, privilege, influence, status, a central role in society, or anything else they desire, but should recognize that they aren’t guaranteed and that they may have poverty, infamy, a peripheral role in society, or anything else they don’t desire. This would be the result of choices of the indivudal and their effects as well as individuals merit rather than unfair discrimination for or against the individual. No previous society was any closer to a perfect society than societies of the modern world and these societies are still moving toward perfection.

          The triangular or pyramidal class stratification would mean the points you mentioned earlier were true for people in general and not just women. The status of women was, not exactly but more or less, reflective of the status of people in general. None of you points were the result of discrimination based on gender. It has more to do with the economic of previous societies as found in slave society (slavery) and feudalism (serfdom) versus capitalism (wage employment). Imporvements in the status of women in each economic transition was due to the status of people improving. Equality has to do with an individual or group of indvidual’s status not being affected by discrimination. The difference between discrimination and being a reflection of the status of people in general in society is that the former is women having low status because they’re women and the second is women having low status because people in general have low status rather than discrimination based on gender, thus women are people who have low status while being female as opposed to because of being female. All people and all women didn’t have low status, but people and women were placed variously on the triangle/pyramid of society. The shape of a pyramid/triangle shows that you start with huge base that tapers of gardually to a minuscule elite capstone.

          1. I won’t repeat what is in the above two posts, but point out that things like having influence, power, privilege, and wealth are prosperity related issues rather than freedom/liberty related issues. Your arguement confuses and conflates freedom/Liberty with prosperity. You said women rarely had any freedom outside the home, but your arguments really amount to women rarely had any prosperity outside the time. The point being is that there is no such thing as an individual entitlement (of whatever gender) to influence, power, privilege, wealth, etc.

            “Here at least we shall be free; the Almighty hath not built here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice to reign is worth ambition, though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.”
            —Satan, Paradise Lost

            Because people are opinionated, everyone has a different idea about what the most important aspect of life is. Some would say it is prosperity, and to them a restrictive governing body that provides them with a Utopia is worth sacrificing freedoms for. Others, however, will refuse to bow down, and would prefer to be responsible for their own future regardless of the cost. They view freedom as the ultimate right, and will leave or refuse to join the prosperous nation, as long as they keep their independence. Those who decide not to become citizens know what they are giving up. To them, though their nation might be a World Half Empty, at least it is theirs to do with as they please.

            Could be used in Character Alignment systems to portray the difference between Law and Chaos. When it comes to Chaotics, stifling their freedom is the worst thing you could do to them: it’s leaving them with no air to breathe, it makes them physically suffer and decay. Freedom, or the illusion thereof, are as vital to them as water and food. Often, they can deal with harsh living conditions the same way Lawful people can endure a lack of freedom: for either party, it’s a minor inconvenience in the face of what they really, viscerally need.

          2. Hi Stephen:

            Am I right in thinking that you are arguing that women DID enjoy freedom and equality outside the context of family? Or are you making a more subtle point that I’m not getting. I say this as you write:

            You said women rarely had any freedom outside the home, but your arguments really amount to women rarely had any prosperity outside the time. The point being is that there is no such thing as an individual entitlement (of whatever gender) to influence, power, privilege, wealth, etc.

            The argument that I am making is not an uncommon one – that women were very rarely participants in the city, or in tribal counsels, or in war or economic activities, or in government. And that was in large part due to the social structure and the religious structure of male-oriented society two thousand years ago, and very much the case for Roman and Greek society. Western humanist who idolize those times are idolizing, essentially, elite male oriented aristocratic slave-holding societies.

            If women in elite families, despite their wealth, power, etc. didn’t have any clout outside the family (not the house or home, the family and perhaps the extended family), its hard to believe that women in serf or slave families, or even peasants in the countryside or working the estate, would have much of a role either. This reality still dominates many traditional family-based societies today.

            Am I misunderstanding your point?

            Stephen

          3. Stephen, you points don’t bring up gender equality as they aren’t comparative. You should compare how much percantage of men versus what percentage of women were involved in each and every category and sector of society. Equality cares not how high or low each percantage is in absolute terms, but how high or low the two are too each other.

            Example of a fallacy due to not being comparative: Most women in ancient Rome were plebes or non citizens. Therefore, that was due to sexism and misogyny. Rebuttal: Most men were plebes and non citizens as well, thus the above argument is exposed as fallacious. This example how class rather than gender affects a lot of the stats of women as absolute versus relative. This is a good example of several of the points you mentioned.

            Another example: Women were rarely engaged in business. Rebuttal: Business was the privilege of an elit class, the patricians, with the exceptions of some jobs. This is not a women only issue. There is a difference between things that affect women and things that discriminate against women. If something affects people across the board with regards to gender (across the board may be a bad term as there are two genders only, then it’s not a gender equality issue.

            Another exampe: Womean aren’t realistically portrayed in video games. Rebuttal: Neither are men. Men aren’t realisitcally portrayed in video games. The average man is so unlike Batman, Superman, the Flash, Iron Man, or whatever other male character you can think of so its not a gender issue. Video games by their nature for the most part aren’t realism based media. Superhoeros, mages, and all to most characters aren’t everyday regular people but awesome cool supers. Kotaku specifically had an article based on rebutting the above fallacy as fallacious with the above points.

            All the above examples consider women, but aren’t comparative, so don’t invole gender.

            On freedom, I don’t see any laws actually preventing women from holding a job for example. I don’t see many of the laws you say keep women in the home that you suppose exist. Freedom is about choice rather than coercion. It’s not about the stats about how many percentages acted upon their oppurtunities like equality is. I can’t remeber a quote from a book on political philisohy on the role of the individual in a perfect economy, but it basically said than an indivudal has the responsibility to make use of the oppurtunities they have and if they don’t they have no rights to say they didn’t have choices or oppurtunities. Even minimum wage jobs are considered oppurtunites and choices to count and simmilar things. Circuses, theaters, brothels, etc were examples of places of employment in ancient Rome for example. No woman was prevented by law from any of those places.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pournelle_chart

            I don’t really like Humanism’s political and economic implications. Humanism goes on the 3/5′ part of the Pournelle Chart for an example of where it stands compared to other secular ideologies at 1/5′ and 5/5′ respectively. For example in one of his books A. C. Grayling showcases his anti capitalism which would skew Humanism closer to Communism on the chart than I gaves, so maybe a 4/5′ would be a more accurate position.

            Back to comparing the ancient world to the modern world, Ancient Greece and Rome weren’t the indivudal dominated societies of the West, they weren’t the exact opposite of such in all ways and forms.

          4. Hi Stephen:

            I’m not understanding what you are getting very well. Maybe I could ask, do you think that ancient Roman and Greek society DID have gender equality if we look at men and women’s relative status in various economic groupings?
            I wouldn’t agree.

            Stephen

          5. Percentages are, by their very nature, relative. They are the expression of a portion to the whole and the inverse of a percentage (40%) say is the relative expression of the “opposite” side of a whole made up of binary parts.

          6. I will bring a quote on the business topic, but also talk about the political topics as well. No societies had universal suffrage until 1792 (France, universal male suffrage) or 1893 (New Zealand, universal male and female suffrage). Take the United States for example, 1868 (for males), 1920 (for females), and 1965 (for all ethnicities) are the dates of universal suffrage. France was first in universal male suffrage in 1792, but female suffrage only came in 1944. New Zealand had universal male suffrage in 1879 and was first in female suffrage in 1893. Neither France nor New Zealand had any issues with ethnicity in the laws regarding suffrage, so they always had universal ethnic suffrage. Universal male suffrage means all men can vote. Universal female suffrage means all women can vote and no dsicrimination on the ability to vote on account of gender due to universal male suffrage excluding women. Universal ethnic suffrage means that all people can vote regardless or ethnicity, race, language, religion, etc.

            The quote doesn’t say how common or rare, participation in business was for men and women, just that the rates were comparable. Equality only cares that men and women receive equal treatment without discrimination based on gender. It doesn’t say how low or high any specific things are just that those things are equal hence the term equality.

            We’re women very rarely engaged in economic activity? The quote only says that women were engaged in economic activity at the same rate as men. Mid wives, wet nurses, actresses, acrobats, prostitutes, etc. we’re widely available option of employment. The term panem et circenses (bread and circuses) show the lots of circuses in ancient Rome and hence acrobats as well. The point being I couldn’t find any laws in Ancient Rome preventing women from participating in economic activity. Also, you have to compare labor participation rates among men and women. Gender equality doesn’t care if both are as high as 90%/99% or higher or as low as 10%/1% or lower, just that there isn’t a disparity based on gender. Stats aren’t availabe, so we will have to argue equality before the law rather than equality of opportunity or equality of outcome. Gender equality is equality before the law with regards to gender.

            (Removed wikipedia material – Moderator)

          7. Equality before the law has been a priniciple of Western legislation for thousands of years dating back even to Pericles and before. No Western society or any society has perfectly and consistently upheld equality before the law, but all Western societies had law codes that enshrined it in their legislations. Supporters of flat taxation, top freedom, no quotas in education or any other field, etc base their positions on holding true to equality before the law showing that even modern societies have problems living up to equality before the law.

            Where exactly in Roman law were women prevented from seeking freedom and equality outside the home or having it? To have extensive knowledge of any society, the most important thing is to look at its law code. I prefer talking about Roman law because it was more centralized and easily defined. Greece was a bunch of city state each with their own law code, so there was no Greek law, as opposed to Athenian law, Spartan law, (insert city here) law, etc. I’d have to look through dozens perhaps even hundred of law codes to understand Ancient Greek law. It’s impossible to generalize for Greece, due to the variety of city states. Specific court case info is good as well as it record the law in action as well, but this is also more useful for studying Ancient Rome as well.

            Roman law shows an interesting lack of moralism (social legislation which has limitation of personal freedom for moral reasons) and paternalism/materialism (economic legilsation which has limitations of economic freedom for people’s own good and well being). For the most part as a rule of thumb but not an absolute rule, people were left to their own devices. Freedom/liberty is the absence of coercion, force, obstacles, constraints, barriers, interference, meddling, walls of any sort external to the indivudal. As long as someone isn’t prevented or forced in regards to any speicifc chocie, they are to make a choice even if they for whatever reason don’t make a choice or make another choice.

            Moralism as influencing legislation and being a source of legislation started in the Middle Ages hence the A. C. Grayling. Christians (because of social traditionalist conservatives, Moral Majority, etc) are often stereotyped as moralistic meddlers who want to regulate all the minute details of people’s personal lives and bullies who enjoy telling people what to do which does have some basis in fact. Some denominations are more moralistic than others, and some aren’t moralistic at all. It really depends. Christianity isn’t divided equally between deoninamtions in that each denomination varies from microscopic to a billion people. Catholics, Orthodox, Mormons, Pentecotals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Holiness Movement, Adventists, etc are the most moralistic denominations and form a collective majoirty of Christians.

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/

            The link above deals with all the philosophical implications of freedom/liberty which is too much info for me to go into in this post. It isn’t specific to any society, but a general discussion in general on the topic in philosophy. Stanford Encylcopedia of Philosophy is a great source in general.

            {moderator: removed wiki material}

          8. Stephen, have you read the Wikipedia article on equality of oppurtunity or any books on the concept? Can you tell me the difference between equality of oppurtunity and equality of outcome? Can you specify the correction methodological use and interpretation of stats used to prove whether an inequality of outcome is or isn’t an indicator of inequality of outcome of not?

            Formal equality of oppurtunity and meritocracy are closer to, if not equivalent to, equality before the law. Substantive equality of oppurtunity, equality of fair oppurtunity, and level playing field, are closer, if not equivalent to, equality of outcome.

            For a criticism of equality of outcome and versions of equality of oppurtunity close to it: Equal oppurtunity and equal outcome are two serparet things. An oppurtunity doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome and also requires that the indiviudal must act to try to make use of that oppurtunity. Who measures and allocates equality if need be? Does equality paradoxically require treating people unequally (reverse discrimination) to achieve its goals? Does equality recognize the diverse variables to factor in and out or just ignore all of them other than its goals? Does equality require a nanny state, paternalism/materialism, or authoritarianism/totalitarianism?

            Defense of equality before the law and versions of equality of oppurtunity close to it: Equality means equality of rights, not of talent, wealth, or whatever else. It means the absence of discrimination and that people are treated the same. It means that individual success or failure should be the result of individual choices and merit. It means the call should be open to all individuals, that indivudals should be judged fairly, and that this is the basis for success and failure. It only means that oppurtunity shouldn’t be discriminative, but rather any preferences should be based on things like ability, ambition or talent. It means that each indiiduals has the right to a fair competition. It doesn’t cocern itself with what the outcomes are, but rather were the outcomes the result of a fair process or not.

            Have you read the short story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut? It’s about a society where talented people are hindered and knocked down in the name of equality of oppurtunity/outcome. Also, I’d recommend listening to any and every Rush song ever!

            Also, the commonality or rareness of an argument is meaningless, the logically of an argument is what matters. Are the given statements true? Does the conclusion logically follow the given statements? Is the conclusion the only conclusions thay can be made for the given statements? Was the right methodology used if statistics were quoted? I could go on and on with simmilar questions, but those are sufficient.

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