Misconduct

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

There are at least two reasons why I don’t talk often about art. The first is that I have never had a true interest in the discipline of aesthetics, and that makes me even less of an expert than what I am on an average with respect to other topics. The second is that I love to contemplate art with my poor knowledge of art history, rather than necessarily try to find a meaning to it. Still, as you have probably by now noticed, I like to explore the paradoxical nature of certain phenomena and, in this sense, “art” offers me the perfect field for today’s little inquiry.

In particular, I will focus on the following question: Should we enjoy the work of an artist, even if we know she is a horrible person?

Few months ago, after the Weinstein’s scandal, the wildfire of allegations for sexual harassment and violence has been spreading and has reached many men in powerful positions. Probably, the most rumored of the “targets” of such allegations has been the actor Kevin Spacey. Many people consider him an extraordinary good actor, and his exclusion from House of Cards’ last season – the tv series of which he has played the leading character so far, has caused outrage.

According to the allegations, Spacey has been involved in several cases of moral misconduct. If this picture is correct, we might conclude that Spacey has been an extraordinary good actor over a considerable amount of time, while being a sexual harasser. Our dilemma is ready: are we justified in enjoining his movies, if we believe that he has been a sexual harasser?

Apart from watching a couple of episodes of House of Cards almost a year ago – without understanding much of what was going on, I really don’t have any knowledge of the actor’s ability – I can’t judge actors in general, for the record. To put myself in Spacey’s fans shoes, I will refer to an example, which has been more familiar to me, but still presents the same dilemma.

In 2009, the singer Chris Brown was taken to trial with the accusation of domestic violence against his girlfriend at the time Rihanna. When the photos of Rihanna’s bruises were released, my repulsion for Chris Brown mounted to the point that I couldn’t hear or read his name anymore. Every time I could recognize even the least of his background vocals at the radio, I automatically changed station. Chris Brown was to me a dead man.

Was I justified not to listen to a singer, who is considered by who-knows-how-many-people a music genius, just because he beat up to death another human being, insofar as she is a woman?

There are two perspectives, which we should consider when confronted with such cases. The first is the historical one. According to the historical perspective, the events in a person’s life are a sequence of interlocked facts. A person is the direct and indirect cause of her doings and can be directly or indirectly influenced by external happenings in being what she is.

This perspective is just descriptive of a person’s psychology and history, but it doesn’t allow to ascribe justification. It is impossible to say that “because she is aggressive-genial-depressed-…, she is justified in doing immoral/artistic things”. The historical perspective simply links events: person X is depressed and depression is linked to her doing immoral and/or artistic things, for instance. This doesn’t mean X is justified in doing those things.

The second perspective is the evaluative one. From this point of view, we have the faculty to “stop time” and judge. We stop time at the moment when Chris Brown is singing and we judge his performance as an extraordinary one. We stop time at the moment where he raises his hands over his girlfriend and we judge his action as loathsome.

For this time, I must surrender to skepticism. Chris Brown, Kevin Spacey, Caravaggio, Woody Allen, etc. are unified human beings, hence we can’t detach the two perspectives or separate our feelings for them insofar as they are artists rather than immoral individuals. We shouldn’t endorse the activity of a horrible person but, at the same time, we can’t deny that that horrible person has done very valuable things.

However, there is something that differentiates Caravaggio from the other men I’ve mentioned. Caravaggio died a murderer in 1610. And he belongs without doubt to the most restricted club of the greatest painters ever. It is the time that has passed that allows us to adopt the historical perspective and detach the evaluative ones from one another. That is, if ever there is a value to the other above mentioned men, only future history will tell. And future history will do justice to their triumphs as well as their baseness. Or will just forget.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

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Rational-Nazi

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

Sometimes I have the impression that it is easy to misunderstand the nature of what I call “principles”. Some friends have expressed the worry that the moral, rational and scientific principles I talk about might be too dogmatic. Months ago, after earning the infamous title of “rational-Nazi”, I realized that clarification was needed. Foremost, I was in the need of a little rehab from my “psychological rationalism”, which I have hopefully reduced to livable standards by now.

But the worry remains: how can we understand those principles, which I take to be so important to navigate the insecure waters of our relativistic era, where it seems that climate change can be legitimately held as a “Chinese hoax”, where liberal societies are confronted with the paradox of non-ironic Nazi talks at universities, and where science is held either religiously as a Bible or an opinion among that of the local priest, of tabloid journalists or of your neighbor Joe, who never misses a chance to warn you about the next alien invasion?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to explore extensively the implications of my intuitions, so let me just sketch the broad meaning of my “principles”. In few words, principles are parameters framing debates concerning morality, science and topics whose discussion generally requires rationality. Those parameters are constructed through continuous dialogue but, once established, they constrain further discussions in a normative way. In other words, they are always negotiable at a certain level of discussion, that of discussing the best method or the best framework to talk about a certain phenomenon. However, once they have been established, they stop being negotiable in further discussions, and deviance from them is fallacious. The conditions of agreement are given by mutual understanding, mutual recognition of rationality, mutual recognition of sincere intents and probably something else I have not yet figured out.

To put it simple: principles are an outcome of constant dialogue and, in turn, they constrain further dialogues. This does not mean that everyone can question principles at any time. For instance, principles of science are outcomes of dialogues within the scientific community, and can’t take into account, say, inconsistent monologues of bizarre White House’s tenants.

My idea of principles remains very sketchy, but I hope that, at least in this context, it will save me from the direct accusation of dogmatism, given the importance I concede to its dialogical component.

And here we come to today’s topic: Are there cases in which the possibility of dialogue is undermined by the very nature of the topic of the dialogue? Or are there topics which can’t be talked about for their very content? It might sound dogmatic (actually authoritarian), but I think the answer is yes.

Take for instance the following questions: “Are women less intelligent than men?”; “Is homosexuality based on a moral perversion?”; “Are Muslims worthy of respect?”; “Do white people constitute a superior race?”. Consider the first question concerning women. In a dialogue involving a woman, it seems that her ability to discuss at the same level as men is put at stake. Therefore, the validity of the dialogue itself is put at stake. Even if the answer were “no, there is no a priori difference in intelligence”, the dialogue would be based on the suspension of the recognition of the woman’s capacity to argue for a position or another (at least, not at a man’s level).

The same can be said with respect to the questions that follow. If a lesbian were to argue about the possibility of homosexuality being a perverted moral choice, her ability to judge might be deemed as unreliable for a “conflict of interests”. That is, it seems that she would have an interest in defending a position rather than another and her appeal to the evidence of her subjective experience would be unreliable. Even if she were taken as reliable-no-matter-what, given the possibility of a positive answer to the not-yet-settled question, there would still be a chance that she is morally perverted, hence that she is not as reliable as her non-homosexual interlocutors. I think it is clear why the questions about Muslims and white people present the same flaws, for similar reasons.

Should we establish taboos to go side by side with principles then? I don’t think so. Instead, I think we should focus on what level of discussion to adopt. There are certain questions, which require dialogues about the validity of the questions themselves. I think I have shown that some of those questions don’t stand scrutiny. We see how absurd they are and how absurd it would be to engage in debates concerning them.

I don’t know if this way of thinking can be still considered a sort of “rational-Nazism” (term that I abhor). But, if so, I would still by far prefer rational-Nazis to talk at universities, rather than actual Nazis.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

Choices

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

“Man is what he eats” is a famous pun from the 19th century German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. Being a defender of materialism, he wanted to emphasize the materiality of human identity, against the idealistic philosophical trend of his time. If eating equals being, however loose that might be intended, choosing what to eat defines to a certain extent what we are. In certain historical periods and places, choices about what to eat have been constrained to the point that the alternatives couldn’t have been but two: to eat anything you could find or die of starvation. But in the world of today, especially in what is called the “western world”, we face the opposite problem: we have an endless amount of things to eat among which to choose, and finding the criteria of choice has become an issue.

Last summer I read an article from Spiegel, about the many ways we construct our identities by means of eating: there are reasons based on health, ethical reasons, religious reasons, and many others. None of these reasons is apparently transparent enough as to give a guarantee that our choice will escape incoherence and inconsistency. One could be tempted to say that the only perfectly rational choice would be to weigh price and value and find each time a solution. But this proposal begs the question of what criteria we should consider to understand value. Again, is it how healthy a product is (its nutritional value)? Ethical considerations? Religion? Else?

In this letter I would like to defend the vegetarian and vegan choice (from now on, VVC) as a rationally plausible one, not strictly insofar as it is ethical, but insofar as it is a cultural phenomenon. To be more precise, I will consider vegetarians and vegans as people who choose what to be by choosing what to eat, namely to give up meat and derived products. The criterion of choice is based on emphasizing ethics, however sharable the ethical considerations might be.

Defending VVC against what, you might legitimately ask? Against the worry that individual choices to contrast vast-scale ethical problems, such as the capitalistic exploitation of animals, offer no solution to those problems at all. This critique is found among people, who are skeptical about the possibility of changing our systems of production without structural changes of the economy. Since individual choices have no influence other than slightly re-orient the market, those choices will always be taken in a capitalistic framework and are doomed to be either irrelevant or just to change the nature of the problem without solving it, say by destroying forests for the mass production of soy instead of directly killing animals.

My defense is simple and I have already exposed it. If you consider VVC as a strictly ethical choice, to be evaluated in terms of its practical consequences, the worry just proposed will be valid. But VVC is also a choice about what certain people want to be: they don’t want to be insensitive to animal sufferings, to waste and to ecological damages. They possibly don’t find any truly successful theoretical or practical solution, but they want to understand themselves as “caring for those matters”. And they find expression of their distress, hopes, value system, etc. in VVC.

This is also a way of putting ethics into practice, however less demanding it might be. It shouldn’t be a way to feel ethically superior, but it is a way to show some sort of “existential commitment”, which resembles a religion, and just like all religions it can sometimes fall into fanaticism. The difference with religion is however, that the foundation of VVC doesn’t come from unconditional faith in a divinity, but rather from theoretical and factual assumptions on reality and coherent and consistent deductions from those assumptions. How far reaching and comprehensive of reality those assumptions are, is certainly questionable. But ethics and rationality require us to get to action, even if sometimes we don’t have enough evidence for stating the perfect morality or perfect rationality of our actions. Likewise, not making a pondered decision, would be clearly more ethically and rationally controversial. There is no escape.

I really don’t see a way of believing that the phenomenon of VVC should be a priori labelled as an irrational trend for rich people, forgetting the “true enemy”. The “true enemy” remains, and VVC is most probably not a way to fight it successfully. But, as far as vegetarians and vegans are concerned, please, let them eat cake (vegan, if necessary).

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

Sleep

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

I wouldn’t like to turn my letters into remorseful reports of my personal failures. The point is, however, that I fail at a lot of things, and my letters give me a chance to transform some of my negative experiences into something positive, like a thought, an argument or just to have some funny diversion. So what happened last? I overslept and missed almost completely a class. And what’s especially wrong with that, you might wonder? Nothing, if you are not supposed to give a presentation on an essay it took you a week to prepare. I was.

I won’t bother you much with the details, the whys and the morals. I just thought about how imperfect machines we are, with our need of sleep. How great it would have been, for just one time, to be exonerated from sleeping. Just to give the damn presentation.

Some transhumanist authors, like James Hughes, take the idea seriously. Transhumanists think that human beings should transcend their biological constrains by means of technology and become less imperfect beings. In his book Citizen Cyborg, Hughes expresses his frustration about being robbed of one third of his life by sleep. Think about how much time you would have to write presentations if scientists were to find a drug eliminating permanently your need of sleep, without negative symptoms for your health. How much more “real life” you would live, without sliding from time to time back to the darkness of the unconscious.

At the same time, an eerie feeling surrounds the idea of sleepless human beings, doesn’t it? I imagine them as some kind of zombie-like figures, with sunken eyes and always on the edge of a nervous breakdown – like many students already are, you might argue. But the transhumanist would calmly reassure us: there wouldn’t be any loss, just benefits. Our skin would remain smooth and our eyes would lack any trace of black circles. We would simply live happier ever after.

Somehow, I am not reassured yet. Perhaps because the eerie feeling didn’t really come from the image of the zombie-like creatures, but from a more fundamental worry. As if there is some part of me, which doesn’t want to give up sleeping. Is that just an irrational and quite conservative affection to a limit of mine?

In an article appeared on Die Zeit a month ago, the journalist Friederike Gräff took a completely different perspective. She went as far as claiming that we should consider “sleep as the last subversive action under the conditions of modern capitalism”. What she means is that, in a world oriented at maximizing the profits of all our activities, sleep remains the only (non)activity, which produces absolutely nothing. Can we afford to waste one third of our lives or would we rather think that sleep is the last human (non)activity capitalism has not yet found a way to exploit?

I find myself on Gräff’s side. We shouldn’t regret our sleeping hours, but find comfort in the thought that capitalism has not yet enslaved us completely. However, it shall be admitted that the “sleeping rebellion” doesn’t give much reassurance concerning the value of sleeping, if there is any at all.

I would rather focus on what Freud found particularly interesting in sleep, namely the dreaming activity. Dreams offer us keys to open drawers of our minds, which are kept locked to our wakefulness. Losing sleep would mean losing dreams and, with the loss of dreams, we lose the part of our minds that secretly records our most profound desires, our fears and our past.

Probably, the author who put this idea in the most radical form is Schopenhauer, in The World as Will and Representation:

“Life and dreams are leaves of one and the same book. The systematic reading is real life, but when the actual reading hour (the day) has come to an end, and we have the period of recreation, we often continue idly to thumb over the leaves, and turn to a page here and there without method or connection. We sometimes turn up a page we have already read, at others one still unknown to us, but always from the same book.”

Sleep is a constitutive part of our lives, independently of its strictly biological function. It is an imperfection from a capitalistic point of view but, if we lose it, we lose a very important source of self-knowledge, if not ourselves. And we must have a lot of imperfections because guess what? We are not machines, definitely not simple machines. At least, this is what I said to myself to find the courage to show up at the class with more than one hour of delay.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

Dating

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

The search for a partner, for either a long lasting relationship or a one night stand, is often frustrating and things don’t seem to get better with dating apps. So why listen to an overthinking delusional anti-romantic relationship-proof frigid failure like me on the topic? Well, first and foremost, no one forces you to read this letter, at any rate. But if you really want a reason, I think you can judge only by reading my words and suspending your judgment on the person.

I would like to focus on dating apps in particular, for they are a very controversial topic. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine even laughed at the thought that I was on dating apps, as if that was something to be embarrassed about, for it must be embarrassing not to be able to find a partner in real life and be forced to such subterfuges. But of course, that friend had no true understanding of what “real life” means nowadays. Social networks have become a constitutive part of the lives of most of us. They are not only an instrument to communicate or distantly exchange contents: we daily spend hours on them and not necessarily to do anything useful. Dating apps are not as pervasive and engaging as Facebook or Instagram, but to question the very concept of “real life” opens already a space of legitimacy for dating apps to be taken seriously as means to interact with people. How good they take over the job is a complete different question.

The most common objection led against dating apps is the “we-were-better-off-when-we-were-worse-off” objection, i.e. that dating apps have spoiled the “noble art of courtship” and reduced it to a form of online shopping or, at best, cynical bargaining. However, as you surely know, courtship is a practice strongly anchored in gender roles and usually ends up being a rehearsal to hide one’s own insecurities. If dating apps are reducing the impact of gender roles in our relationships, admitted that they do, that can’t be necessarily considered a negative outcome. However, the reduction of complex human beings to gaunt profiles to scroll through or even swipe left and right can be considered too superficial. At the same time, this is an unavoidable effect of the great availability of people we could contact online, which would be impossible in person.

Communication on dating apps comes with practically no commitment. It is quick, direct and can’t go deeper than a certain threshold. Otherwise there is a real risk to be “catfished”, that is cheated on by people who will never show up. And it’s not funny, I tell you because I kind of experienced it personally. Not funny at all.

Dating apps seem to be very useful, but also to have a dangerous side. They are frustrating, it is easy for people to create fake profiles and they force us to choose among a catalogue of items, which are actually much more complex sentient beings than what we can even imagine from their profiles. So why not going back to the old personal romantic proposals with all that blushing, shy complicity and less shy reciprocal glances? Well, because we can’t. I hope to illustrate why with an example.

Consider a group of ancestors of ours, living in Africa tens of thousands years ago. Because of an unexpected famine, they are forced to migrated with their friends from Africa to Europe. In Europe they don’t find anymore the great amount of little and elusive preys they were used to in Africa. Now they have to deal mostly with mammoths. But mammoths are big and scary, and hunting them requires a huge investment of energies. However, the reward in terms of meat is going to be much greater than the one granted by eating rodents. It doesn’t make any sense anymore for our ancestors to spare energies to capture the few rodents they could still find in the icy European lands of that time. The amount of energies required to hunt such rodents has increased, because they are now uncommon animals and the meat gained wouldn’t be enough to justify even such efforts. In a way or another, those ancestors are rationally compelled to find the appropriate means to hunt mammoth.

The same happens nowadays with dating apps. It could still be possible for us to be so lucky as to find a partner simply by looking around on our working place or among our friends. But for many of us, technology has changed the world to a degree that it wouldn’t be rational to still believe in the possibility of finding a partner without dating apps. Like our ancestors dealing with mammoths, we need to find appropriate means to deal with dating apps, guarding ourselves from deception and trying to avoid pointless frustration. How? I don’t know, but I suspect that it takes time, exercise and self-irony.

Otherwise, you might always believe that you don’t really need a partner to be happy. And be an overthinking delusional anti-romantic relationship-proof frigid failure, but still struggle to be a decent human being. And that’s enough.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

Islamization

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

Talking about Islamic culture in western societies is an extremely hard task, which needs multidisciplinary knowledge and can’t be settled by simplistic political standings. Still, Islam has grown in recent years as a major worry for many political parties, which catalyze fears and insecurities of the masses against what seems to be a clear and well defined enemy. The major worry of such parties is not Islam within traditionally Islamic countries. It is rather the process sometimes called “Islamization”, taking place, according to such politicians, in western societies.

But what is this so-called Islamization? To my understanding, the term is often understood as referring to a group of phenomena regarding the growing presence of people of Islamic faith and habits in western societies. I try now to sparsely list what I think certain people find most worrying about this presence:

  1. There is a neat incompatibility between “western values” and “Islamic values”;
  2. Islam, as a religion, has a higher potential to lead people to violence than other religions, especially the Christian one;
  3. Islam is intrinsically oppressive of women and lgbt people;
  4. Western populations have a lower birth-rate on an average than people of Islamic culture that, together with immigration, would result in the uncontrolled growth of Islamic population and a consequent negative influence of Islamic values on western institutions;

I know few or nothing about Islamic culture, but knowledge of Islamic culture is not necessary to analyze the four points I consider constitutive of the worry of Islamization.

Let’s start with point 1. How can we understand this incompatibility between western values and Islamic values? Is Ramadan incompatible with Christmas? Or the religious prohibition to drink alcohol incompatible with wine and beer culture? Such things are not incompatible, they can perfectly coexist in a multicultural society. So what does this incompatibility consist of? I see no answer other than connecting point 1 to points 2 and 3. Islamic values are incompatible with western values because they would have a higher potential of spreading violence and they would be oppressive of women and lgbt people.

The question is now: are western values innocuous and not oppressive of women and lgbt people? What do we understand as western values in the first place? If we think of western values in terms of Christian values we have a history of compatibility of Christianity with spreading of catastrophic violence and oppression of women and lgbt people, which goes on nowadays. If we think of western values as the evolution of the ideas of Enlightenment, feminism and progressive social phenomena, we must understand western values as liberal and secular values. But then, the contrast with Islamic values would be void, for liberal and secular values are overarching religious and cultural values, not exclusive of them. What gets excluded are archaic cultural and religious understandings of moral and scientific matters, but not cultures and religions themselves. If such incompatibilities were intrinsic to religions, there wouldn’t be place for Christians in secular societies.

We can think of the incompatibility of point 1 as the one existing between Christian and Islamic cultures, but then again, do we think western values are exclusively Christian? If this were the case, we would be blind to centuries of social, moral and scientific progress, which has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity, and was often condemned by religion. Instead, if western values are supposed to be those of culturally-inclusive secularism, then there is nothing intrinsic to Islam that would imply “neat incompatibility”. Of course, this doesn’t mean that integration is an easy process or that western societies are as secular as they should be. But the hardness of reality isn’t a good reason to draw false conclusions about Islam.

Finally, point 4 addresses the concrete issue of the growing number of people of Islamic faith in western societies. This has of course to do with very complicated migration policies as well as with the birth rate of different populations. Still, if we think about the true causes of migration and uncontrolled birth rates, we see that religion is just a contextual factor. Migration crisis are caused by wars, famines, but mostly by lack of opportunities and poverty. Uncontrolled child birth by lack of education and (guess what) poverty.

“Ok with that” might say the defender of the I-word, “Islamization is contextual, not necessarily depending on religion and not necessarily incompatible with western societies. But still it coincidentally takes place and we have to deal with that”. The problem now is one of definition: do we really think it is fair to label all the phenomena related to people who by chance happen to be of Islamic faith and/or customs “Islamization”? Isn’t this term putting too much weight on religion, when the big problems are actually to be found in the global history of economic and political inequality? Religion certainly doesn’t help simplify such issues, but does it give enough reasons to talk about Islamization?

I don’t think so and I’ve explained why. Not only is Islamization a simplistic myth about a much more complicated reality, it is also dangerous for it might easily hide xenophobia. Let’s hear the words of experts on the topic rather than those of politicians talking about apocalyptic “clashes of civilizations”, for we might start believing that we owe all our modernity to Christianity, and witches certainly wouldn’t cherish.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

Realism

Dear princess ‘Ishka,

Time for a pinch of not-better-defined philsophical speculations!

Because of all our critical theories of society, feminism, cultural anthropology and the like, it has become harder and harder to understand what we can take as “existing”. We live within social and cultural frameworks that are constrained by our use of language, by our “rationalizing attitudes”, but also by prejudices and misconceptions. Is sex less or more existing than gender? They may have a different kind of existence but, in our minds, we often confuse them and it could also be the case that we can’t think of the former without the latter. To what extent is science a reliable tool to inquire reality? It is a system developed in western, white, patriarchal societies, constrained by heteronormativity (think about biology textbooks of our generation), and often depending on funding (think about the pharmaceutical industry). But without going as far as that, we are already restricted by our senses in perceiving the world outside. How would it be like to “see” the world with the eco-localizing systems of bats, or perceiving UV rays like certain species of turtles or chasing preys by thermo-localization like snakes in the desert? Is there a world outside our social systems, our language, our minds in the first place?

Too many questions and too little space. What I feel like to do is simply to offer an argument, which won’t settle even one of such questions, but could contribute to understand what stance we should adopt when confronted with metaphysical qualms about what-there-is-at-all. The argument starts with the assumption of the folk conception of the theory of evolution. I will argue that, given the plausibility of the theory, we are forced to take a realistic stance on the world.

What are the alternative conceptions of the theory of evolution? I chose three exemplary ones: idealism, pragmatism and realism. According to idealism, the theory of evolution is part of a huge system of scientific assumptions with a certain degree of coherence and consistency. All the value there is to it, is in the relation with the other scientific ideas: the world outside is irrelevant for it to be a good theory. The pragmatist position holds that what is important for the theory of evolution is not the theoretical content it has, but rather the scientific practice it is constituted by. The value of the theory is determined by how useful the theory is for our society and for scientific progress itself, but it is always contextual: outside the specific practice of science, the theory of evolution completely loses its meaning. Finally, the realistic stance argues that the theory of evolution says something true about the world outside, a world which exists independently of our castles of ideas and of our specifically human social practices.

Now, all I need to assume for the theory of evolution to work for my argument is the principle of natural selection: the conformation of the environment and genetic mutations determine the degree of adaptation of species. If this is so, species which are unable to “fit in” in a particular environment will die out. But what determines survival? It seems to me that it is precisely the systems of detecting the environment outside that enable species to survive. If a species has a not-enough-reliable “sensory system”, its chances of surviving will be dramatically narrowed down.

If we still are on this earth, it means that our sensory system has been reliable enough so far. But our sensory system is not the only way human beings interact with their environment. Human beings have discovered rationality and, with it, science, and all possible theories about the world outside. Furthermore, Man has also started “creating environments”.

Still, if the theory of evolution is true, we must take it as a true explanation of why and how it happened that we are still here. And if we follow the consequences of this explanation, we see that our “reliable enough” interaction with the world outside implies that the world outside exists and we have “reliable enough” access to it. The first assumption we ought to hold about us as knowers is that we are “realistic beings”, i.e. beings who consider the world as an entity outside their minds and practices.

There is indisputably bias in our realism and natural selection plays hardly a role nowadays in human societies (for someone no role at all). So how can I tell that we are not self-delusional or that we aren’t totally biased? Well, I can’t. All I can tell is that most of our tools to inquire reality are “realistic” and we are still here on this earth to tell it.

Rationality can’t be evolutionarily accounted for, because it stands at the foundation of our highly complicated knowledge systems, together with our “evolutionary realism”. In this independence of rationality from the evolutionary world hides the risk of improper rationalization of reality. Castles in the air can be created because of improper assumptions on reality and it is impossible to detach realistic enterprises from the specific social contexts they are embedded into.

But we can’t ignore the fact that we are realistic beings, because evolution made us so, with all the shortcomings of the case. We need feminism, cultural studies, idealism and pragmatism to contrast stagnation of human knowledge. But, this said and done, I really don’t see a way out of realism, which is the prison we have been caged into by evolution, and home sweet home at the same time.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha