White people cannot know how it feels to be a person of colour.

Sometimes a white person may declare that she knows how it feels to be a person of colour, because she has spent a lot of time amongst people of colour. Other people of colour may then declare that she does not know how it feels, because she is white. The white person may then think that she is being discriminated against because of the colour of her skin, that those who accuse her of not empathizing are just making assumptions based on stereotypes about white people.

However, the argument that a person would know how it feels to be of group X because she spent a lot of time with people of group X is fallacious. If you are not of group X, then spending time with people of group X does not change the fact that you are not of group X.

For example, most people would agree that if a visible person of colour spent a lot of time with white people, it does not follow that the person of colour must know how it feels to be white. Some white people find the reverse idea more plausible, because they believe themselves to be raceless or even racially disembodied.

If a white person spends a lot of time with people of colour, the racial power differences do not dissolve, and they may even be strengthened.

A pimp does not know what it is like to be a prostitute, even if he has spent a lot of time with prostitutes. A man does not know what it is like to be a woman, even if he has had many girlfriends. A husband does not know what it is like to be a wife, even if he is married to one. A slave merchant does not know what it is like to be a slave, even if he has interacted with many slaves.

A person’s whiteness does not disappear even if she eats dim sum, if she listens to Mos Def, or if she travels to India. If a white person participates in these activities, she is not living and breathing the presumed “essences” of people of colour. People of colour do not have racial essences, other than being confined because of the colours of their skins. No matter what a white person does, she is still embodied in white skin and embedded in a world that confers privilege to whites.

Racial empathy cannot be learned by simply surrounding yourself with people of other races, and racial empathy is different from knowing how it feels to be of a different race. When a white person declares that she knows how it feels to be a person of colour, it is another display of white privilege and assumed omniscience.

About these ads

157 Responses to “White people cannot know how it feels to be a person of colour.”

  1. Rallie Says:

    I agree completely. A better response from a white person would be to open up the dialog on race, rather than assuming that through prolonged contact with another ethnic group they understand how they feel. They might know how it feels to be a white friend of Group X, which can certainly be a different experience from a white person who only hangs out with other white people. But you are right, it is definitely NOT the same thing.

  2. jwbe Says:

    I think it is in general not possible to know how it feels to be anybody else. But I also believe that understanding doesn’t need explanations or words because you feel your own feelings

  3. Man of Leisure Says:

    First, I’d like to say that this is a very good post but I just have one small reservation. I’d say that it’s inaccurate to say that white people *can’t* know what it’s like to be a person of color. They can but almost all of them won’t because they refuse to put in the effort to both empathize on a deep level and actually learn more about minority experiences. Men can also empathize with women, etc and know what others feel.

  4. Restructure! Says:

    @Man of Leisure:

    People can empathize with others as people when it comes to common experiences that all people have, but it’s quite difficult to empathize with a very specific experience that only happens to some subset of people.

    Even if you can empathize by thinking analogously, it’s not the same as knowing how it feels to be X.

  5. kathy Says:

    Restructure, thanks for such a good post, as always

  6. jwbe Says:

    >They can but almost all of them won’t because they refuse to put in the effort to both empathize on a deep level

    No, I don’t think that this has anything to do with effort. You can feel or you can’t.

  7. Lxy Says:

    My opinion is that this impulse of Whites to “feel how it is to be a person of color” is frequently motivated not by political empathy but something else: Racial Tourism.

    This type of racial tourism is voyeuristic and driven by an implulse to experience (momentarily) the “exotic”–not unlike modern day tourists.

    Racial tourism also reminds me of how some rich people like to go slumming. It’s a way to see how the “other half” lives … and ultimately reassure yourself of your own privilege.

  8. kathy Says:

    I would like to add that white women, who benefited most from things like affirmative action, could use their own experiences with double standards and treatment as inferior or incompetent to at least garner some sort of empathy, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Perhaps this is due to the fact that white women are generally not motivated by self-interest to gain any empathy or understanding.

    I agree about tourism, that’s a great point ,Lxy,

  9. jwbe Says:

    >Perhaps this is due to the fact that white women are generally not motivated by self-interest to gain any empathy or understanding.

    the problem with white women was/still is that they wanted to be accepted by white men and try to copy white men instead of creating their own world. Trying to become the same and I think that white men realized that “solidarity” with white women will help them to remain in power. The white feminist movements are almost all about white women’s self interest and perhaps it is also some sort of internalized ‘weakness’, learned by European gender-roles, that so many white women are thankful to be able to run behind men and to be dominated. And how many women are silent even if they themselves are discriminated against, just not to ’cause problems’. How should such women emphasize with others when they are even not able to understand their own situation or fight for their own rights and dignity?

  10. Kathy Says:

    jwbe, the white liberal feminist has plenty of education, and resources to be able to recognize and fight for the dignity of others, as well as themselves. White women benefit from white male privilege, they can have all the benefits of education, and affirmative action, and still stay home, if they so desire.

  11. jwbe Says:

    Kathy I assume that you don’t understand what I mean, but doesn’t matter

  12. Kathy Says:

    jwbe, why would you assume that, unless you think i am stupid, uneducated or just plain dumb? Yes to me it does matter to me, I am not going to excuse any woman, white or not, for the lack of empathy. That is what I mean. Ok I am out, I am tired of being called (essentially) stupid.

  13. theboxman Says:

    lxy’s point on racial tourism hits the nail on the head. Even if it were in theory possible for the dominant group (be it in racialized or gendered terms) to fully and unconditionally empathize with minoritized classes, there is always still the ability — indeed the privilege — of opting out, an option that is not available to those who are literally made to embody racailization or gendering, i.e., PoC, or women (white or of color).

  14. jwbe Says:

    Kathy I didn’t call you stupid

  15. Kathy Says:

    jwbe maybe you did not spell out stupid, but u said it, don’t worry, that european mindset you spoke of is probably true.

  16. crescent Says:

    It isn’t that hard to understand, really. It’s not rocket science. Some people don’t look at the big picture and would rather toss someone’s empathy back in their face due to their bitterness, envy, and ignorance.

  17. ZoBabe Says:

    I totally agree with the gist of the post, I’m just a little confused about how the word “empathy” is used in some comments. To my understanding empathy is more of an act of emotional imagination. You can easily empathize with someone, without actually “knowing” how they feel.

    (well maybe not “easily” some people have a greater sense of empathy than others)

  18. Restructure! Says:

    @ZoBabe:

    Exactly.

    My post probably adds to the confusion because I didn’t distinguish between the two within it, so now I changed

    Racial empathy cannot be learned by simply surrounding yourself with people of other races.

    to

    Racial empathy cannot be learned by simply surrounding yourself with people of other races, and racial empathy is different from knowing how it feels to be of a different race.

  19. BAllen Says:

    While I 100% agree that white people can never-fully understand the experiences of people of color, I think that it is possible for white people (and all people!) to experience marginalization, alienation, and discrimination based on factors beyond their control. And while these experiences certainly do not qualify any white person to claim that they “know what it’s like” in regards to racism, and experiences including these issues do not necessarily relate to the larger structural issues of racism in a variety of ways (i.e. they are NOT parallel, as racism is its own social structure), I have found that experiences like this have given me (a white woman) glimpses (albeit small and limited) into some of the worlds of discrimination and subjugation. I think that while experiences like this in no way qualify me to speak on racism as someone who “knows” they do qualify me to speak on marginalization as someone who “knows” and this is where common ground and empathy can be found, I hope. It is also experiencing discrimination (and all of its horrible co-emotions) and trying to explain it to someone that doesn’t get it (say, explaining to a man how it feels to fear rape), that should remind us all of our limitations in true understanding, and allow us to accept that you don’t need to fully understand to “get it” and stand with people of color or any marginalized group or community.

  20. jwbe Says:

    >jwbe maybe you did not spell out stupid, but u said it, don’t worry, that european mindset you spoke of is probably true.

    there is nothing more difficult than dialogue with white Americans. Feeling offended where there wasn’t any offense and feeling personally attacked where there wasn’t any attack. I am sick and tired of that

  21. Restructure! Says:

    Kathy:

    jwbe maybe you did not spell out stupid, but u said it, don’t worry, that european mindset you spoke of is probably true.

    What does this mean?

    You know there is a stereotype that Americans think they are superior to people of other nationalities? This reminds me of Macon D, when he made fun of jwbe because her first language isn’t English.

    Even Obama’s inauguration speech was about ensuring that the United States is the “leader” of the world. There is such a long tradition of Americans positioning themselves as superior that even White American antiracists or White Americans against racism make claims about non-American inferiority, being completely serious, believing that it is a valid argument. After all, such nationalism goes uncriticized in real life, because Americans are usually surrounded by other Americans who think the same and agree.

  22. jwbe Says:

    My Restructure, don’t you know that America is the best, greatest, freest country on earth and the entire universe and all other superlatives included. We all non-Americans are just so jealous about what America is and stands for, you know, peace and justice and freedom. [/sarcasm]

    The best is when Americans make such claims, talking down on other nations without having the slightest clue about such other nations.
    Just yesterday I was wondering with my friend where this thinking in extremes and superlatives comes from and why America is so obsessed to be the best etc. and why it is also so obsessed to live in illusions

  23. HardLearn Says:

    If you’re raised to believe you that you reside in the greatest nation on earth and that because of this, you, by extension, have greatness running through your veins, you might also be obsessed to “keep it that way” or at least lie to keep the delusion going so that you can feel good about yourself.
    You can’t really say otherwise for fear of being ostracized. That’s one way the belief very rarely ever gets challenged.

    On a side note, check out this book by Alice Miller: http://www.nospank.net/fyog.htm
    It goes into how these poisonous beliefs we tend to have continue to spread. It’s a really great read.

  24. jwbe Says:

    thanks for the link, up to now I only know “The drama of the gifted child”

  25. Man of Leisure Says:

    @jwbe

    >>No, I don’t think that this has anything to do with effort. You can feel or you can’t.<<

    Of course it has to do with effort. first of all, people can empathise, that’s a fact. people can feel, that’s also a fact. so I don’t know how you;re getting this "you can feel or can’t" thing. it’s either irrelevent or a non sequiter. people who try to empathise with others consistently usually are much better at it than others who don’t. empathy is a skill that can be learnt and depends on effort.

  26. Man of Leisure Says:

    >>People can empathize with others as people when it comes to common experiences that all people have, but it’s quite difficult to empathize with a very specific experience that only happens to some subset of people.
    <>Even if you can empathize by thinking analogously, it’s not the same as knowing how it feels to be X.<<

    How would you define "know"? I’m using a justified true belief (JTB) understanding of "to know" which is standard in epistemology (even with the gettier problems associated with it). Therefore, we can know many times how it feels to be another if we are justified (have good reasons to believe) in a true belief of that person’s experiences which is common. I think you are using "know" so as to imply that knowing means believing something with certainty but I doubt many would agree to that definition.

  27. Restructure! Says:

    It’s not “know that”, it’s “know how”. It’s not declarative knowledge, but procedural knowledge.

    It’s also specifically “know how it feels“.

  28. jwbe Says:

    I think that many get empathy wrong with either paternalism, sympathy or pity. And also with projection, still walking in your own shoes and believing you understand somebody else but one doesn’t because your experience remains while listening, and also listening a skill a lot of people lack.

  29. jwbe Says:

    the above post of mine was addressed to MoL

  30. jwbe Says:

    and also, either is empathy not very widespread or the weakest emotional skill in humans and therefore probably difficult to relay on in creating a ‘better world’. It is for me personally far beyond any understanding that people are able to find pleasure in torture and the pain of others or are able to ignore the pain of others, that people can be killed in wars just because of ideologies. Humans as the entire group also seems to be unable to find another way than aggression and violence.

  31. Man of Leisure Says:

    >>It’s not “know that”, it’s “know how”. It’s not declarative knowledge, but procedural knowledge.

    It’s also specifically “know how it feels“.
    <<

    Most empathic knowledge is declaritive. In fact, the way that empathic endowment is measured in psychology is with self reports or with explicit descriptions of what test subjects think others are feeling. There is such a thing as empathic response that is more of the "knowing how" but that is just one aspect of empathy. I was mainly talking about empathic "knowing that". I also think that empathic response can be accurately learned and that many people are good at knowing how to respond in empathic ways cued in to other people’s words or body language. Though it is hard to identify with those who have had different experiences from you, cases of empathic failure in these cases are almost always due to empathic apathy or lack of effort, not any kind of strict inability.

  32. Man of Leisure Says:

    @jwbe

    >>I think that many get empathy wrong with either paternalism, sympathy or pity. And also with projection, still walking in your own shoes and believing you understand somebody else but one doesn’t because your experience remains while listening, and also listening a skill a lot of people lack.<<

    There’s always that worrying of paternalism. The empathic advocator (such as a Care theorist) would respond that paternalism is the result not of the failure of empathy to do what’s right but the lack of empathy or of empathic inaccuracy. Empathy is not just the professed act of doing for another what you think is good for that person, it is a skill that people learn to better and more accurately judge what is the truth of another’s experiences thoughts and feelings. No one ever masters it but there’s definitely room for improvement in our world.

  33. bikerbernie Says:

    I hate when you hit the wrong key and everything you wrote goes off into the twilight zone. Well I am going to try and duplicate what I wrote earlier but my first thoughts are always the best. Oh well.

    Black people cannot know how it feels to be a white person.
    Your flaw is that you have written this from the perspective of a black and a female. This is your racism and sexism coming out. You being an intelligent person has to realize that whites and men have been discriminated against especially in our generation. The brunt of this discrimination has been against men. Why is it that the vast majority of men are on the fire and police forces in the US? Do not even bring up because of prejudice because it is not true. The majority of the fire service is volunteer on the order of over 85%. Why is it that there are barely and women in this service of others? There is no one stopping women form doing this except the women themselves This is where female privilege plays a roll. It is expected that men are the protectors of women and children and not women.
    So I can easily say the opposite.

    Sometimes a black person may declare that she knows how it feels to be a white person, because she has spent a lot of time amongst white people. Other white people may then declare that she does not know how it feels, because she is black. The black person may then think that she is being discriminated against because of the colour of her skin, that those who accuse her of not empathizing are just making assumptions based on stereotypes about black people.

    However, the argument that a person would know how it feels to be of group X because she spent a lot of time with people of group X is fallacious. If you are not of group X, then spending time with people of group X does not change the fact that you are not of group X.

    For example, most people would agree that if a visible white person spent a lot of time with black people, it does not follow that the white person must know how it feels to be black. Some black people find the reverse idea more plausible, because they believe themselves to be above being racist.

    If a black person spends a lot of time with white person, the racial power differences do not dissolve, and they may even be strengthened.

    A pimp does not know what it is like to be a prostitute, even if he has spent a lot of time with prostitutes. A woman does not know what it is like to be a man, even if she has had many boyfriends. A wife does not know what it is like to be a husband, even if she is married to one. A slave merchant does not know what it is like to be a slave, even if he has interacted with many slaves.

    A person’s blackness does not disappear even if she eats quiche, if she listens to AC/DC, or if she travels to Europe. If a black person participates in these activities, she is not living and breathing the presumed “essences” of white person. White people do not have racial essences, other than being confined because of the colours of their skins. No matter what a black person does, she is still embodied in black skin and embedded in a world that confers privilege to blacks.

    Racial empathy cannot be learned by simply surrounding yourself with people of other races, and racial empathy is different from knowing how it feels to be of a different race. When a black person declares that she knows how it feels to be a white person, it is another display of black privilege and assumed omniscience.

    That said I can agree with what your blog stated. Can you agree with what mine said? From what I have observed about you through your blogs I do not think that you can. I am human and have made mistakes, so I have done for me to better myself. If you cannot do this then it is your problem not the white people in your life. You have to make the effort, you have to look in the mirror and say I need to change to better myself. There is the difference between you and me. I have made this journey, and continue to do so because it is a never ending journey again because I am human.

    I am still waiting for a face to face sit down over a cup of coffee or something. It should be a valuable learning experience for the both of us.

    b

  34. theboxman Says:

    Looks like someone is not able to grasp asymmetrical relations of power.

  35. jwbe Says:

    bikerbernie, I feel to start sorry for white women in America who have to deal with white males idiocy in a very high number as it seems, if internet is representative of the intelligence of white American men. Or do mostly those without brain post on internet?

  36. Restructure! Says:

    bikerbernie,

    Black people cannot know how it feels to be a white person.
    Your flaw is that you have written this from the perspective of a black and a female. This is your racism and sexism coming out.

    Your flaw is that you assumed that I was black. I’m not black, but I’m not white, either, and I’m not in between. This is your dichotomous racial view coming out already.

    You being an intelligent person has to realize that whites and men have been discriminated against especially in our generation. The brunt of this discrimination has been against men. Why is it that the vast majority of men are on the fire and police forces in the US? Do not even bring up because of prejudice because it is not true. The majority of the fire service is volunteer on the order of over 85%. Why is it that there are barely and women in this service of others? There is no one stopping women form doing this except the women themselves This is where female privilege plays a roll. It is expected that men are the protectors of women and children and not women.
    So I can easily say the opposite.

    I think it was my law teacher who once talked about this, and she said that many women couldn’t make the physical requirements to be a firefighter, because they were set unusually high to prevent women from joining. There is some documentary about this:

    The story begins in 1977, as New York City is emerging from a financial crisis. The New York City Fire Department has lifted its eleven-year hiring freeze and begun advertising for new recruits. The law has changed so that the Fire Department can no longer bar women from applying to be firefighters. As women begin to apply for the first time, the Fire Department unveils a new firefighter entrance exam. The new test, Exam 3040, suddenly becomes very different in form and content from firefighter exams administered over the past few decades. “This is the most arduous test we have ever given to anyone,” says the Assistant Personnel Director in charge of the test.

    Every woman applicant fails….

    This story would have ended right there, but for one woman – Brenda Berkman.

    Brenda, a marathon runner and law student at New York University had taken and failed Exam 3040. Finding it difficult to believe that there was not a single woman in the entire city of New York who was capable of performing tasks that firefighters do, she brought a class-action suit against the City and the Fire Department on behalf of herself and all other women applicants. Brenda’s lawsuit began landmark gender discrimination litigation that was to impact hiring not only in New York City but throughout the country.

    The lengthy lawsuit examined in detail the series of physical tests given in Exam 3040. In 1982, Judge Charles Sifton concluded that these tests had little bearing on the manner in which firefighters actually did the job. The court ordered the city to devise a new test that measured the ability of the applicants to successfully complete tasks that firefighters actually do on the job. Attorney Robert King, who represented Brenda, recalls, “Initially, we had very little trouble in agreeing with the City on a valid job-related physical test.” Once again, the story could have ended there.

    But then, taking the Fire Department by surprise, more than forty women (including Brenda) passed the new test.

    And with that, the story turns dark.

    There was widespread resentment among male firefighters – that a “liberal” judge made it possible for women to join the department based on what the men dubbed “the soft test.” Once in the firehouses, the women faced an array of hostile acts. Their safety equipment was constantly tampered with by male firefighters. On several occasions, the women rushed into burning buildings only to realize that someone had bled all the air out of their tanks. There were incidents of women being excluded from training and meals, and subjected to obscenity, verbal abuse, physical violence, death threats and even sexual molestations.

    Here is more information about discrimination against women in fire departments:

    Karyn Palgut was terminated from the Colorado Springs Fire Department’s training program on Jan. 18, two days prior to taking the state firefighter exams. She and her attorney, Rich Nagl, have filed charges against the department with the city’s human resources office alleging gender discrimination, reprisal and retaliation, several counts of harassment that took place during Palgut’s firefighter training program and wrongful termination.

    If Palgut’s allegations of discrimination are found to be valid, the Springs will join the ranks of other fire departments nationwide with a history of gender discrimination practices.

    [...]

  37. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    Most empathic knowledge is declaritive. In fact, the way that empathic endowment is measured in psychology is with self reports or with explicit descriptions of what test subjects think others are feeling. There is such a thing as empathic response that is more of the “knowing how” but that is just one aspect of empathy. I was mainly talking about empathic “knowing that”. I also think that empathic response can be accurately learned and that many people are good at knowing how to respond in empathic ways cued in to other people’s words or body language. Though it is hard to identify with those who have had different experiences from you, cases of empathic failure in these cases are almost always due to empathic apathy or lack of effort, not any kind of strict inability.

    Remember that I also wrote, “Even if you can empathize by thinking analogously, it’s not the same as knowing how it feels to be X.”

  38. Man of Leisure Says:

    >>Remember that I also wrote, “Even if you can empathize by thinking analogously, it’s not the same as knowing how it feels to be X.”<<

    I don’t see how that’s the case. Sometimes analogous reasoning fails and sometimes it succeeds, like all methods to knowledge. Analogous reasoning is used all the time in science and in common sense to get at the truth. So even if it’s not the "same as knowing how it feels to be X" it, on many times, does get at how it feels to be X. Evolution has given us reliable mechanisms for emapthy because such methods of reasoning conferred huge evolutionary advantages to those who had it. The possibility for close communal bonding, cooperation, and even deception likely is only possible with some form of empathy.

    Besides, it’s not a given that empathy is always by "analogous reasoning". See the debates in cognitive science regarding "theory theory" and "simulation theory" on the mechanism for emapthy.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/folkpsych-simulation/

    Reasoning by analogy is probably closest to simulation theory where one learns to be empathic by "simulation" or incorporating information from what the subject thinks is the subjective conscious or unconscious perseptive of the object of empathy and running a type of hypothetical simulation of how it would feel and what would be thought in that person’s "shoes". Theory theory is a causal or nomic approach to the emapthic mechanism. It posits that people develop empathic knowledge not through simulation but through developing "theories" using empirical inferences and causal regularities.

    (One of the leading proponents and founders of the simulation theory is Alvin Goldman. Two of the leading founders and proponents of the theory theory approach is Simon Baron-Cohen (see his book, "Mind Blindness," e.g.)and Jerry Fodor.)

    There are major problems with both simulation theory and theory theory in both empirical findings and from a theoretical perspective. But there are hybrid theories that are stronger than the two theories individually which are now very much accepted (though the details are still under debate) in the cog science community because there is quite a bit of data now supporting hybrid theories. Hybrid theories incorporate both a theory based approach to empathy as advocated by theory theory and a simulation based approach.

  39. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure:

    “Knowing how it feels to be X” is not some kind of proposition, so saying that analogous reasoning can lead to truth is irrelevant. Evolution has given us the ability to have some kind of Theory of Mind so that we can coordinate with other humans and predict their behaviour. However, it is not necessary for human survival to be able to communicate every single type of experience, but only the types of experiences and the aspect of the experience that results in successful social coordination.

    Also, even from your link, the debate is not about the mechanism for empathy, but about explaining Folk Psychology. Only a very racist white person would fail to attribute mental states to non-white people, viewing them as automatons, but this is not I’m talking about. Basically, I’m talking about embodied cognition:

    The next theoretical assumption to which most embodied cognition theorists ascribe is the belief that the embodiment of an organism simultaneously limits and prescribes the types of cognitive processes that are available to it. In other words, the particular way in which an organism is embodied (e.g., whether it has feet, fins, eyes, a tail, etc.) will influence how it performs goal-directed actions in the world, and the particular sensorimotor experiences connected with these actions will serve as the basis for category and concept formation.

    Being embodied in a body of colour is different from being embodied in a white body, mostly because society treats bodies of colour and white bodies differently. What cannot be experienced except first-hand are the sensorimotor experiences associated with being of a certain race in a society that treats you differently because of your race. Again, this is not about propositions or declarative statements about the world.

    An example is that the term “microaggression” sounds very abstract to white people who have not experienced it, especially if they are not even aware that happens or could happen. On the other hand, for people of colour, the term “microaggression” is a very useful and well-named term that refers to a very concrete experience. I also discussed this in another post, also suggesting that white people lack the conceptual background to understand many aspects of racism, because they do not experience them at a very basic level of perception.

  40. Lxy Says:

    I think that BikerBernie is actually a brilliant satirist, offering his perspective on the Orwellian worldview that many White males increasingly cling to.

    At least, that is the most generous possible take on his comments. :)

    Female privilege?

    White Males are now oppressed because of their race or gender?

    Only a self-serving moron could believe in such delusions.

    You could call this mentality White Male Victimology or White victim politics.

    EXPLAINING WHITE PRIVILEGE TO THE DENIERS AND THE HATERS
    http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise/explaining-white-privilege-deniers-and-haters

    Tim Wise on White Privilege
    http://www.africaspeaks.com/blog/?p=2650

  41. Man of Leisure Says:

    @restructure,

    I really think you’re venturing off topic here. My point is that you can’t say that whites “can’t” know what it’s like to be non-white. If they tried to know and put in the effort, they can. Now, they might, for the most part, not put in the effort or what not, but that’s a different issue.

    I will not argue what is and is not a proposition. Suffice it to say that most philosophers use “propositional content” to include cognitive content about other peoples’ (or our own) feelings, thoughts, etc. Now, the ability to recognize someone’s feeling is not propositional and may be a conative skill like playing a guitar but that’s wholly irrelevent. Like I said, there is both a declaritive and a “procedural” aspect to empathic knowing. Empathy is both knowing how to recognize other’s subjective states *and* what (the “that-ness”) that state is. But just because there is a non-cognitive aspect to empathy does not show that

    1. there is no declaritive aspect to empathic knowing

    2. that it’s impossible to know empathically at all (or through “analogy”)

    3. that white people cannot know through emapthy what minorities go through.

    Minorities do have different experiences from whites but they are not so different as to be able to say that whites cannot know how it feels to be marginilized and oppressed like a minority. There are likely many whites who do know how it feels to be a minority because they are good at empathizing with oppressed groups. The may have to make lots of effort and learn about minorities and learn to be better listeners and so on but it is possible. Moreover, it is mainly the empathic faculties, in both procedural and declaritive format that makes it possible.

    >>What cannot be experienced except first-hand are the sensorimotor experiences associated with being of a certain race in a society that treats you differently because of your race. Again, this is not about propositions or declarative statements about the world.<<

    You do not need to be able to experience things "first hand" to know about it. If you experienced someone else’s subjective states first hand, that wouldn’t even be empathy. Empathy, by definition, is knowledge of someone else’s subjective states by means *other than* directly experiencing them either through a simulation or through forming a "theory of mind".

  42. Man of Leisure Says:

    Just a quick explanation of how declaritive/procedural knowledge is distinguished in the general philosophical/cogsci literature. Declaritive knowledge (“knowing that”) is “cognitive” in the sense that it is representational and can be either true or false. Procedural knoweldge is not strictly speaking either true or false. If I know that you are sad, I use my empathic skils to know that by watching your facial features or body language for example. My knowledge of your sadness may be true or false (hence, it is a knowing that). It’s true when you really are sad and false otherwise. Now, the initial recognition of your sadness might use a procedural skill (a knowing how)but that is another aspect to empathy that leads to the cognitive aspect. Compare that with scientific knowledge. We say that scientific knowledge is declaritive but there is also a procedural aspect to scientific investigation. It takes non cognitive skills to know how to use the equipment and mix the solutions, etc. So when you say that it takes procedural skills to know how someone feels, that, though true, does not mean that empathic knowing has no declaritive content. It clearly does.

    Procedural knowldge OTOH, like playing a guitar cannot be true or false because it is not representational knowledge. You can play a guitar “correctly” and “incorrectly” but you can’t evaluate and judge knowledge of guitar playing as being true or false in the sense that you can when you evaluate and judge someone’s emotions.

  43. Kathy Says:

    “Kathy:

    jwbe maybe you did not spell out stupid, but u said it, don’t worry, that european mindset you spoke of is probably true.

    What does this mean?

    You know there is a stereotype that Americans think they are superior to people of other nationalities? This reminds me of Macon D, when he made fun of jwbe because her first language isn’t English.

    Even Obama’s inauguration speech was about ensuring that the United States is the “leader” of the world. There is such a long tradition of Americans positioning themselves as superior that even White American antiracists or White Americans against racism make claims about non-American inferiority, being completely serious, believing that it is a valid argument. After all, such nationalism goes uncriticized in real life, because Americans are usually surrounded by other Americans who think the same and agree.”

    Restructure, my comment has nothing to do with nationalism, I know full well the jwbe speaks fluently in at least two languages, the problem i had was her dismissal of my thoughts and then adding “it doesn’t matter” ,
    I do get very tired of white women excusing the lack of empathy and the absence of their ability to use their own experiences to gain some empathy, if this was some sort of novel idea, well, then, I could understand that, but the concept of white women being motivated by their own self-interest, and their unwillingness to give up the privileges and powers that they have accumulated has been around for a while, and unfortunately, seems to be an enduring picture.
    jwbe, maybe you were trying to say that i didn’t understand and that it didn’t matter for some other reason.

  44. jwbe Says:

    Kathy when you answer to a post of mine where I get the impression that you didn’t understand the post the way I understand it, what does this have to do with dismissing your answer?

    >I do get very tired of white women excusing the lack of empathy and the absence of their ability to use their own experiences to gain some empathy,

    Where did I excuse the lack of empathy?

    And for this “it doesn’t matter”. At that moment I posted it I was just not interested if you understand or not. Don’t be concerned, when I think people are stupid I directly let them now, I don’t see a reason to do otherwise

  45. Kathy Says:

    jwbe, ok i won’t be concerned, unless you say specifically that you think i am stupid.
    well, i do think you were excusing the lack of empathy, especially the “european mindset” that you think has affected white women in the US.

  46. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    In the beginning of this thread, I stated, “Even if you can empathize by thinking analogously, it’s not the same as knowing how it feels to be X.” You also quoted this in your first comment of this comment thread.

    Why, then, do you keep discussing empathy? You are the one who keeps venturing off topic, and now you even suggest that I made claims that contradict what I have actually claimed explicitly.

    #2 and #3 directly contradict my statement, “Even if you can empathize by thinking analogously, it’s not the same as knowing how it feels to be X.” #1 is also something I have never claimed.

  47. jwbe Says:

    Kathy, stating facts or observations doesn’t mean to excuse something

  48. kattycake Says:

    jwbe, what facts did you state that would explain the lack of empathy of white privileged feminist women? I find it hard to believe that white feminist women do not understand the ways in which they might be able to use their experience as a tool for understanding systems of oppression, what I cannot seem to figure out is why so many haven’t been able to do that, other than the fact that many white feminists benefit from both white privilege and affirmative action, the white feminist movement has not really worked for a more inclusive agenda, rather, it has been driven by self-interest.

  49. jwbe Says:

    >jwbe, what facts did you state that would explain the lack of empathy of white privileged feminist women?

    none. Re-read, quoted below, what I wrote to Kathy. Ask me direct questions, which part you don’t understand. I wasn’t talking only about white feminists.

    >Perhaps this is due to the fact that white women are generally not motivated by self-interest to gain any empathy or understanding.

    the problem with white women was/still is that they wanted to be accepted by white men and try to copy white men instead of creating their own world. Trying to become the same and I think that white men realized that “solidarity” with white women will help them to remain in power. The white feminist movements are almost all about white women’s self interest and perhaps it is also some sort of internalized ‘weakness’, learned by European gender-roles, that so many white women are thankful to be able to run behind men and to be dominated. And how many women are silent even if they themselves are discriminated against, just not to ’cause problems’. How should such women emphasize with others when they are even not able to understand their own situation or fight for their own rights and dignity?

  50. Man of Leisure Says:

    >>Why, then, do you keep discussing empathy? <>#1 is also something I have never claimed.<>#2 and #3 directly contradict my statement, “Even if you can empathize by thinking analogously, it’s not the same as knowing how it feels to be X.”<<

    No, it is an accurate representation of what you said and does not contradict what you said at all. Empathizing with someone entails (it’s just what empathy means, by definition) knowing what they are feeling and thinking. You might be confusing empathy is sympathy. If you empathize with X, by definition, you know how X feels or thinks in relevant ways. So when you say that you can empathize with someone and not know what its like to be them, that like saying that you can be a bachelor and not be single.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy

    2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner ; also : the capacity for this

  51. Man of Leisure Says:

    @restructure

    “Why, then, do you keep discussing empathy?”

    Because this thread is about empathy. Knowing what it’s like to be someone in some circumstance is empathic knowing and uses empathic skills. Not knowing how minorities feel and think is a failure of empathy. Knowing how minorities feel and think is a success of empathy. Knowing how other’s feel and think is the definition of empathic knowledge. In fact, you alluded to the fact that failures to know how a minority feels is a failure of empathy in the first paragraph of your original post.

    “#1 is also something I have never claimed.”

    Yes you did, you said, in your exact words,

    “It’s not declarative knowledge, but procedural knowledge.”

    It is very much declaritive (as well as “procedural”)

    “#2 and #3 directly contradict my statement, “Even if you can empathize by thinking analogously, it’s not the same as knowing how it feels to be X.””

    No, it is an accurate representation of what you said and does not contradict what you said at all. Empathizing with someone entails (it’s just what empathy means, by definition) knowing what they are feeling and thinking. You might be confusing empathy is sympathy. If you empathize with X, by definition, you know how X feels or thinks in relevant ways. So when you say that you can empathize with someone and not know what its like to be them, that like saying that you can be a bachelor and not be single.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy

    2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner ; also : the capacity for this

  52. Kathy Says:

    jwbe, i don’t think white women in the US are grateful to run behind their men, I think they have attained many choices, in education, as well as job opportunity, and also the decision/choice to allow the man to support and provide, in short, the white woman in the US has a self-interest in preserving a patriarchal white construct for middle/upper class women. i do agree that many women have attempted to imitate or copy men, partly because many women haven’t learned how to create their own world or, as in my case, must adjust to working within a male dominated workforce.

    Man of Leisure, empathy can also be viewed as a form of pity, no? It wouldn’t be the same as having a sense of justice or universal values, and it actually does seem to me to place a hierarchy on those who are targets of racism and those who must attempt to feel empathy.

  53. bikerbernie Says:

    jwbe Says:
    January 27, 2009 at 7:47 am
    bikerbernie, I feel to start sorry for white women in America who have to deal with white males idiocy in a very high number as it seems, if internet is representative of the intelligence of white American men. Or do mostly those without brain post on internet?

    So funny I forgot to laugh! It is not disputable that people who do not have facts or anything else beter to say resort to personal attacks and insults.

    b

  54. bikerbernie Says:

    Lxy Says:
    January 28, 2009 at 12:40 am

    See above.

    You are delusional if you do not believe in Female privilege or the fact that white men are not discriminated against.

    I have experienced this first hand through affirmative action. How else would you explain tying for first on a civil service test and not being hired when people numbered 1,500 and more were hired? What is that if not discrimination? I could have been retired by now and spending my time with my kids, oh yeah that is right women try to prevent this as much as possible as evidenced in divorce cases involving children. Go ahead and deny it, look and play the fool it is a refection on you not me. The true fact is that you cannot handle the truth.

    Female privilege, I have seen this first hand also. Men arrested for DWI spend the night in jail and women get to go home with an adult that will take responsibility. Women who rape their students are continually ROR’ed and treated with kid gloves when many men go away for 20 or more years. Please you cannot argue with me I am privy to the police and court system and know and see the truth. Many men have spent the day in jail for not having their dog licensed and women are given an appearance ticket. These are just the highlights and the truth get over you fragile lies because there are many of us out there that know and have witnessed the truth.

    Deny all you want it changes nothing.

    b

  55. bikerbernie Says:

    TRUTH

    Here is a short list of jobs where men are worth $0.78 – $0.57 on a dollar compaird to women:

    Funeral services workers
    Sales engineers
    transportation workers
    Speech-language pathologists Automotive service technicians and mechanics
    Library assistants, clerical
    Biological technicians
    Statisticians
    Motion picture projectionists
    Helpers, construction trades
    Legislators
    Motor vehicle operators, all other
    Baggage porters, bellhops and concierges

    You have been smoked

    b

  56. Restructure! Says:

    bikerbernie,

    TRUTH

    Here is a short list of jobs where men are worth $0.78 – $0.57 on a dollar compaird to women:

    Funeral services workers
    Sales engineers
    transportation workers
    Speech-language pathologists Automotive service technicians and mechanics
    Library assistants, clerical
    Biological technicians
    Statisticians
    Motion picture projectionists
    Helpers, construction trades
    Legislators
    Motor vehicle operators, all other
    Baggage porters, bellhops and concierges

    You have been smoked

    b

    Can you link to where you got these numbers from, so that I know you’re not making it up?

    You are delusional if you do not believe in Female privilege or the fact that white men are not discriminated against.

    I have experienced this first hand through affirmative action. How else would you explain tying for first on a civil service test and not being hired when people numbered 1,500 and more were hired? What is that if not discrimination?

    How do you know the scores of other people, and what are the other factors that affect who is hired? Which civil service test was this, and what was the job?

    I could have been retired by now and spending my time with my kids, oh yeah that is right women try to prevent this as much as possible as evidenced in divorce cases involving children.

    Most judges are men, so it’s mostly men who are stereotyping women as natural caregivers. The flip side of this stereotype is that women are seen as less effective workers. In both cases, the people who are making decisions about who gets the kids and who deserves a promotion are mostly men.

    Go ahead and deny it, look and play the fool it is a refection on you not me. The true fact is that you cannot handle the truth.

    You do realize that you are the one who looks foolish, right? You ranted about women being underrepresented in the fire services as evidence of discrimination against men, which is clearly delusional. You haven’t responded to the facts that I have presented regarding sexism in fire departments. You only ignored them, which gives the appearance that you cannot handle the truth.

    Female privilege, I have seen this first hand also. Men arrested for DWI spend the night in jail and women get to go home with an adult that will take responsibility.

    Can you give an example of this?

    Women who rape their students are continually ROR’ed and treated with kid gloves when many men go away for 20 or more years.

    What’s ROR?

    Yes, this type of sexism is damaging for males as well, because people assume that males cannot be raped, since all males are supposed to want any sex.

    Please you cannot argue with me I am privy to the police and court system and know and see the truth. Many men have spent the day in jail for not having their dog licensed and women are given an appearance ticket.

    Hmm, you may have a point that men are seen as more criminal than women in general. After all, black men are victimized by police much more than black women and white men.

    These are just the highlights and the truth get over you fragile lies because there are many of us out there that know and have witnessed the truth.

    Deny all you want it changes nothing.

    While it is good that you type like you are literate, the content of your comments make you look like a paranoid conspiracy theorist. It would help if your comments were not so unintentionally ironic.

  57. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    I apologize for writing in such a way that can be misinterpreted in so many different ways. I now realize that many white people (and others) may read this and interpret my words completely differently from what I was trying to communicate.

    I sometimes write very explicitly, but the sentences end up sounding like English translations of statements in propositional logic or predicate logic, which may make it even more confusing for many readers. I then tried to write more organically, but then it leads to ambiguity and misinterpretation.

    In the first paragraph of the original post, I was not suggesting that people of colour who accused the hypothetical white person of not knowing how it feels to be a person of colour were actually accusing the white person of not empathizing. This was the hypothetical white person’s straw man of what those people of colour were trying to communicate, along with the straw man of the PoC argument being based on stereotypes about white people. In other words, this hypothetical white person’s straw man of the PoC argument is:

    (1) “No white person can think of a person of colour as a person.”
    (2) that the argument is based on the stereotype that white people do not think of people of colour as people.

    Instead of this straw man caricature, what I am arguing is that white people cannot know how it feels to be a person of colour qua being a person of colour. That is, white people (in Western countries, at least) cannot know how it feels to grow up as a racialized person and live as a racial minority in their own country. Of course, white people can empathize that the phenomenal* experience of drinking Welch’s grape juice is the same for both whites and non-whites. However, this is the stupid, straw man interpretation of what the argument is about.

    Empathizing with someone in general does not entail knowing how it feels to have a specific experience of that person. Empathizing with another person’s specific experience also does not entail knowing how it feels to directly experience that specific experience.

    Although the dictionary definition makes sense in a general way, it does not account for non-standard cases. For example, someone who has never taken LSD can “empathize” with a person who is on LSD, but only through analogous thinking, which is not sufficient for “knowing how it feels to be on LSD.”

    I bring up this example to show that empathy does not necessarily imply knowing how it feels to be X. (I am not suggesting that empathy can never exist in conjunction with knowing how it feels to be X.) Thus, my argument that you can empathize without knowing how it feels is not contradictory.
    ____
    * as in phenomenalism, although it can be a double entendre as well, as Welch’s grape juice is tasty.

  58. Man of Leisure Says:

    “I sometimes write very explicitly, but the sentences end up sounding like English translations of statements in propositional logic or predicate logic, which may make it even more confusing for many readers. I then tried to write more organically, but then it leads to ambiguity and misinterpretation.”

    I don’t think I’ve missinterpreted you on the whole at all. It was just a very odd things to say that white people can’t know how it feels to be a minority and in my mind, I see no justification at all for it (I’m not white but I know that people have surprisingly accurate empathic skills when they put their minds to it and can birdge large cultural gaps in understanding). By saying that whites can’t know, I think not only is that wrong and unjustified but it gives white bigots an excuse for their racism; one that cannot be used as an excuse because they can be made accountable since there’s no basis to believe that they can’t empathize.

    “Instead of this straw man caricature, what I am arguing is that white people cannot know how it feels to be a person of colour qua being a person of colour. ”

    And that is precisely the position I have been arguing against. I know what you were saying in the first paragraph.

    “Empathizing with someone in general does not entail knowing how it feels to have a specific experience of that person. ”

    Careful with language here. I don’t know what you mean by “knowing how it feels to have a specific experience of that person”. All you need to do to empathize is know how it feels to have some experience like the object of your empathy. Obviously, you can’t have that very same experience. That’s nonsense (as Wittgenstein correctly pointed out). But just as obvious, you don’t need to have that person’s very experience *to know* that person’s experience (as Wittgenstein, again, has correctly pointed out). We know what each other think and feel all the time without explicit communication and with explicit communication. The former is by definition, empathy. So when you say that white people can’t know what it feels to…, that’s either not true, or so trivial as to be not worth saying at all because no one can have the same exact experiences of another person (see the token-type distinction in philosophy). I gave you a charitable interpretation that you weren’t just saying something vacuous and trivial but something that is, IMO, wrong. But now you seem to be arguing for the trivial interpretation. There are some, not many, white people who can and do know what it’s like to be a Asian American, or African American, etc. That’s a clear counterexample to you saying that whites can’t know what its like. I’ve never been a woman but I think I can know the mental anguish, injustice, humiliation, belittlement, frustration and dehuminzation of sexual harrassment. Did I ever have that experience. No. Do I have that very same exact experience of some woman who had been? No. I don’t need to have the very same one to know. Knowing other people’s feelings, thoughts, etc just implies having an accurate representation of some experience. This can be brought about by communication through language, careful observation or mental simulation quite faithfully many times, though obviously, not all. I’ve also never been fired from a job. Can I identify and empathize with those that have. I sure can. And I think, quite accurately (but all these examples of me empathizing only comes about with lots of effort and careful observation and learning with an open mind).

  59. bikerbernie Says:

    You know what is funny?
    ===

    Restructure! Says:
    January 31, 2009 at 7:22 pm
    bikerbernie,

    TRUTH,

    Here is a short list of jobs where men are worth $0.78 – $0.57 on a dollar compared to women:

    Funeral services workers
    Sales engineers
    transportation workers
    Speech-language pathologists Automotive service technicians and mechanics
    Library assistants, clerical
    Biological technicians
    Statisticians
    Motion picture projectionists
    Helpers, construction trades
    Legislators
    Motor vehicle operators, all other
    Baggage porters, bellhops and concierges

    You have been smoked

    b

    =====
    Can you link to where you got these numbers from, so that I know you’re not making it up?

    =====

    No one here has ever stated where the $0.78 comes from. This number is just parroted like a pavlovian response, in the news in the newspapers, in conversations, in blogs, it is virtually everywhere but there seems to be no source.

    So the bottom line is that I should not have to give you my source either, you should just accept it like you want me to swallow the $0.78 figure.

    Chew on that a while. Yep I am just a little angry because this is the nonsense that men have had to put up with for quite some time, what a woman says about work disparity is true, just because, or just because of hearsay, but when a man states something like I did that is easy enough to find out, he has to prove it. Educate yourselves BEFORE making statements and then you will not have these questions.

    Yes I had to get an intentional dig in because if I post it you can bet that I have a source or have first hand knowledge of it.

    Anyway I feel better now after my rant and shot so I will give you what you have asked for I hope you do the same and give me the direct source to the $0.78. I am guessing that it will be difficult other than a news story or newspaper, or a biased source like NOW.

    Data based on 2003 Bureau of Labor Statistics

    The above is difficult to argue with ***WARNING*** if you can not handle the truth do not go to the BLS because there are other jobs posted there also.

    b

  60. bikerbernie Says:

    Restructure! Says:
    January 31, 2009 at 7:22 pm
    bikerbernie,

    I have experienced this first hand through affirmative action. How else would you explain tying for first on a civil service test and not being hired when people numbered 1,500 and more were hired? What is that if not discrimination?

    How do you know the scores of other people

    They are a matter of public record

    , and what are the other factors that affect who is hired?

    You are not going to like the answer . . . IF YOU WERE A MINORITY, THIS INCLUDES PEOPLE OF “COLOR,” AND WOMEN. There was a judge in the city that strictly enforced “affirmative action” what I call discrimination based on sex and color. Like it or not that is what it is, get used to it.

    Which civil service test was this, and what was the job?

    It does not matter, what matters is that I was not hired, no it was not because of the interview because there was none, they did not even have the courtesy to call me and tell me that I will not get the job. I had many prior state certificates for the job which did not matter because they were only going to hire “minorities.”

    Truth be told someone hired people to go door to door to find minorities, ask them to take the test, and (this is rumor) I heard that they were supplied transportation to and from the tests (written and physical).

    Why would you hire some one that did not have the energy to go find the job for him/herself? How well do you think that they would do on the job if they had to be prodded to go take the test? As a tax payer, they should all be pissed because they did not hire the most qualified person for the job. I do not care what color you are if you cannot make the grade you do not get the job if I scored higher all other arguments are not relevant.

    b

  61. bikerbernie Says:

    Restructure! Says:
    January 31, 2009 at 7:22 pm
    bikerbernie,

    Most judges are men, so it’s mostly men who are stereotyping women as natural caregivers. The flip side of this stereotype is that women are seen as less effective workers. In both cases, the people who are making decisions about who gets the kids and who deserves a promotion are mostly men.

    ======

    Um, again you can fool some of the people . . .

    You know darn well that Judges are pressured by public opinion and if they did not do what the loudest squeaky wheel wants there would be repercussions and or loss of votes even if he did right and some radical rights group slants what he did. It has happened before and it will happen again. You also know that there are not very vocal or organized mens rights groups because (I am going to have fun) we are too busy working, at our normal job, and the other jobs we have to do like maintaing the car, the house, and the long laundry list of things to do just to keep our heads above water, just to survive, just to have a hole to put ourselves in when we go, (-= while women feel that they can demand more than this by complaining (protesting) rather than working for it. (-= Sure this does not describe all women but there is quite a number of them, you cannot deny it, neither can I.

    Many women have heard the urban legand rhetoric and it appealed to their emotional side instead of their logical and the rest is history, many otherwise logical women are letting their emotions override their intellect and the urban legend lives on.

    b

  62. bikerbernie Says:

    Restructure! Says:
    January 31, 2009 at 7:22 pm
    bikerbernie,

    You do realize that you are the one who looks foolish, right? You ranted about women being underrepresented in the fire services as evidence of discrimination against men, which is clearly delusional. You haven’t responded to the facts that I have presented regarding sexism in fire departments. You only ignored them, which gives the appearance that you cannot handle the truth.

    You do realize that I have a life and cannot always reply right away or spend all my waking hours blogging right?

    I will try to find out what you said and tell you how you are no doubt wrong since I am sure that you are not familiar with the intricate workings of civil service tests and fire departments.

    You do also realize that I did not reserve the statement about fire departments to just paid? I did mention this and the fact that about 85% of all firemen are VOLUNTEER and no one is stopping women from joining there right? They just do not have the interest, the nads, the physical ability, or the sense of civic service that men have.

    So it seems to me that you are not answering my points nor following your own rules so that makes you look hypocritical?

    b

  63. Kathy Says:

    Bikerbernie, your list of jobs that supposedly men are worth less on the dollar, you can’t produce any proof because it is just not true.
    Transportation workers are male dominated, and even if a woman is earning the same pay, male seniority on the rooster will give a huge advantage. Men earn more money.
    Fireman? give me a break, just look out your own window the next time a firetruck goes by, count all the women, how many do you see with your own eyes.
    Maybe you weren’t hired for some other reason.

    jwbe, that comment about male idiocy had me laughing, thanks.

  64. Lxy Says:

    Biker Bernie:

    Your pity party won’t find many sympathizers outside of delusional White males like yourself. Here’s a box of tissue. Knock yourself out.

    In the USA, for instance, the pay gap between men and women is worsening–to the detriment of WOMEN.

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/censusandstatistics/a/paygapgrows.htm

    In terms of race, your whining about limited remedial programs like affirmative action obscures the more fundamental reality that, in society in general, minorities like Blacks have significantly less median househould income than Whites.

    A recent study by Julia Isaacs found, among other things, that “There was no progress in reducing the gap in family income between blacks and whites. In 2004, median family income of blacks ages 30 to 39 was only 58 percent that of white families in the same age group ($35,000 for blacks compared to $60,000 for whites).”

    http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2007/11_blackwhite_isaacs.aspx

    That’s racism alright–the same old White racism that has plagued the world for hundreds of years without end.

    But only in the Orwellian world of Whiteness, can White males delude themselves into believing they are now “victims”–when in fact the only thing that these White manipulators are victims of is their own self-serving idiocy.

    Next, these people will claim that White slaveowers were in reality the victims of their Black slaves.

    It should be noted that the trope of White Male Victimology is one that admitted White Supremacists like former KKK leader David Duke often promote.

    Is it any surprise that the White Mainstream–showing its own White Supremacist colors–has picked up on this political tactic as well?

  65. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    “Instead of this straw man caricature, what I am arguing is that white people cannot know how it feels to be a person of colour qua being a person of colour. ”

    And that is precisely the position I have been arguing against. I know what you were saying in the first paragraph.

    It seems like you did not know what I was saying, since you commented, “In fact, you alluded to the fact that failures to know how a minority feels is a failure of empathy in the first paragraph of your original post.”

    The first paragraph could not be alluding to an identity relation between knowing how a minority feels and empathy, because the idea of “empathy” was part of the straw man misunderstanding.

    I don’t think I’ve missinterpreted you on the whole at all. It was just a very odd things to say that white people can’t know how it feels to be a minority and in my mind, I see no justification at all for it (I’m not white but I know that people have surprisingly accurate empathic skills when they put their minds to it and can birdge large cultural gaps in understanding). By saying that whites can’t know, I think not only is that wrong and unjustified but it gives white bigots an excuse for their racism; one that cannot be used as an excuse because they can be made accountable since there’s no basis to believe that they can’t empathize.

    As long as you keep equivocating “knowing how it feels” with “empathy”, we are not going to be able to communicate.

    Careful with language here. I don’t know what you mean by “knowing how it feels to have a specific experience of that person”. All you need to do to empathize is know how it feels to have some experience like the object of your empathy. Obviously, you can’t have that very same experience. That’s nonsense (as Wittgenstein correctly pointed out). But just as obvious, you don’t need to have that person’s very experience *to know* that person’s experience (as Wittgenstein, again, has correctly pointed out). We know what each other think and feel all the time without explicit communication and with explicit communication. The former is by definition, empathy. So when you say that white people can’t know what it feels to…, that’s either not true, or so trivial as to be not worth saying at all because no one can have the same exact experiences of another person (see the token-type distinction in philosophy). I gave you a charitable interpretation that you weren’t just saying something vacuous and trivial but something that is, IMO, wrong. But now you seem to be arguing for the trivial interpretation.

    Thank you for bringing up the token-type distinction. I think I’m saying something fairly trivial, but not as trivial as saying that one person cannot have the same token of experience as another person. The examples of “knowing how it feels to be on LSD” and “knowing how Welch’s grape juice tastes” are both types of experience, yet not knowable through empathy.

    There are some, not many, white people who can and do know what it’s like to be a Asian American, or African American, etc. That’s a clear counterexample to you saying that whites can’t know what its like.

    This idea is what my post argues against, because it is not logically possible unless the white people are also Asian American and African American because they are mixed-race. There is no proof that white people can know how it feels, except that often white people make these assertions and believe them, which have no basis.

    That’s not a “clear counterexample”, because you are just stating that it is so without concrete evidence.

    I’ve never been a woman but I think I can know the mental anguish, injustice, humiliation, belittlement, frustration and dehuminzation of sexual harrassment. Did I ever have that experience. No. Do I have that very same exact experience of some woman who had been? No. I don’t need to have the very same one to know. Knowing other people’s feelings, thoughts, etc just implies having an accurate representation of some experience.

    This is your problem. You reduce cognition to only what can be represented by English concepts, although (linguistic) representations of experience are only abstractions of experience. The terms “mental anguish”, “injustice”, “humiliation”, “belittlement”, “frustration”, and “dehumanization” are types of common human experience that are often found in works of fiction, because they are so universal.

    However, not all cognition is language-like. There is a huge difference in perception between reading a text description of a painting and seeing the painting yourself. These two experiences are not equivalent, and you cannot know how the painting looks like by only reading the text description.

    This can be brought about by communication through language, careful observation or mental simulation quite faithfully many times, though obviously, not all. I’ve also never been fired from a job. Can I identify and empathize with those that have. I sure can. And I think, quite accurately (but all these examples of me empathizing only comes about with lots of effort and careful observation and learning with an open mind).

    Again, whenever you use the term “empathy”, we are going to talk past each other.

  66. theboxman Says:

    I’m less interested in the content of Man of Leisure’s claims and more with how its very discursive utterance is symptomatic of what he’s arguing against. I have to wonder if the talking past each other taking place here as a consequence of the failure to distinguish between empathy and embodied experience is not itself precisely indicative of Man of Leisure’s lack of experience of racialization (or gendered embodiment, for that matter) and hence failure to be cognizant of its distinction from empathy?What’s at stake in his insistence here?

  67. Lxy Says:

    “What’s at stake in his insistence here?

    Man of Leisure’s insistence on the wonderful empathic nature of White people has nothing to do with empathy.

    It is about power.

    In particular, many White people have a hard time admitting that there are realms of knowledge and human experience that they cannot possess or colonize … sorry, I mean empathize … as their very own.

    That’s what this is really about–beyond all this disingenous proclamations of compassion and sympathy for people of color.

  68. Man of Leisure Says:

    >>I’m less interested in the content of Man of Leisure’s claims and more with how its very discursive utterance is symptomatic of what he’s arguing against. I have to wonder if the talking past each other taking place here as a consequence of the failure to distinguish between empathy and embodied experience is not itself precisely indicative of Man of Leisure’s lack of experience of racialization (or gendered embodiment, for that matter) and hence failure to be cognizant of its distinction from empathy?What’s at stake in his insistence here?<<

    Care to give a definition of “empathy”? It seems that I’m the only one here to have given one, one that is true to the real definition and not confused with some other meaning.

  69. Man of Leisure Says:

    @restructure

    If I have misunderstood you, it is because you have been very careless with your use of language.

    “As long as you keep equivocating “knowing how it feels” with “empathy”, we are not going to be able to communicate.”

    Like I said, you have yet to show how there is na important relevant difference. I’m using is correctly as per the definition I’ve given. You have yet to give a definition, and more importantly, yet to give a justified use of that definition. Just because you don’t like the definition of a word as it is really used does not mean you can assign whatever definition you fancy to it. That’s clearly fallacious.

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

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/empathy/

    From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Phil.

    “In its philosophical heyday at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, empathy had been hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds and as the method uniquely suited for the human sciences, only to be almost entirely neglected philosophically for the rest of the century.”

    And also, see the Webster Dictionary def I already gave.

    So I’ve been using it correctly. It is you that have been equivocating all along.

    I really think you have been *trying* to talk past the issues because at bottom

    1. You have yet to show that having a justified true belief of someone’s mental states (recognizing familiar facial features associated with certain emotions, certain body language, running a simulation by putting oneself in a “person’s shoes”), is not knowing what that person feels (again, this is some vital to your argument and you’ve as yet demonstrated)

    2. That this does not constitute empathy (care to elaborate why the dictionary, wiki, and Stanford Encyclopedia is wrong?)

    3. That white people cannot have this ability.

    The 3rd is the most devastating to your argument because all someone has to do is come up with one counterexample and your entire argument is rendered futile. There are many whites who have advanced the discourse on minority experiences in racist white society. Many of those who teach Asian American or African American studies are whites who have made contributions. Layman like Tim Wise have also given insight into both white privilege and minority marginalization and discrimination, etc in racist white supremacist culture.

    “This idea is what my post argues against, because it is not logically possible unless the white people are also Asian American and African American because they are mixed-race.”

    “Not logically possible”? This is what I mean when I say that you have been using language very carelessly. How is it logically impossible unless…. Surely you can’t mean logically impossible in the same sense as both P and ~P? That would be nonsense.

    “There is no proof that white people can know how it feels, except that often white people make these assertions and believe them, which have no basis.”

    Again, what do you mean by “proof.” That seems to be another instance of very careless use of language. There is good evidence that there are some, not many, whites that can and do feels to be minorities to relevant issues. That’s more than enough to show that your argument that whites cannot know is futile. Even if there were none, you have yet to demonstrate, in all this, that it is *impossible* for whites to know how it feels, which is a gaping hole in your argument. That, in itself, is good reasons to dismiss it.

    “This is your problem. You reduce cognition to only what can be represented by English concepts”

    First of all, what is an “English concept”?

    “The terms “mental anguish”, “injustice”, “humiliation”, “belittlement”, “frustration”, and “dehumanization” are types of common human experience that are often found in works of fiction, because they are so universal.”

    And yet the discrimination that minorities feel is not “universal”? Please explain.

    “However, not all cognition is language-like.”

    I didn’t say it was. Obviously, it isn’t. You seem to be using a strawman here.

    “These two experiences are not equivalent, and you cannot know how the painting looks like by only reading the text description.”

    That’s clearly nonsense. Of course I *can* know how a painting looks like by descriptions; especially good descriptions give me a good picture of what it looks like. Anyone with an imagination and good reading skills will be able to know what it looks like. Obviously, they won’t have a perfect knowledge of what it looks like but they don’t have to have a perfectly accurate knowledge. Even if they were there to see the painting up close, they won’t have a perfect image of the painting simply because they don’t have perfect vision, the conditions will not be perfect for observation, etc. The concept of a perfect image is incoherent (again, as Wittgenstein has correctly shown) And here we see the jest of the equivocation fallacy at the heart of your argument that underlies this whole confusion. You have a very unjustified definition of “knowing what its like to…” which is not commonly used but is your own private definition.

  70. Man of Leisure Says:

    Lxy,

    your post sound like a slogan. Can you elaborate some more?

  71. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    Wow. Your logic is quite convoluted.

    Like I said, you have yet to show how there is na important relevant difference. I’m using is correctly as per the definition I’ve given. You have yet to give a definition, and more importantly, yet to give a justified use of that definition.

    There is no need for me to define empathy, because I am not discussing empathy. In any case, I do not disagree with the standard definition of empathy. In fact, I’ll use the same definition as you did:

    “In its philosophical heyday at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, empathy had been hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds and as the method uniquely suited for the human sciences, only to be almost entirely neglected philosophically for the rest of the century.”

    Your circular logic is the following:

    1. Empathy is hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds. (Assumption that we both agree on.)
    2. “Knowing how it feels” is hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds. (Assumption that is yours.)
    3. Therefore, knowing how it feels is equivalent to empathy. (From 1 and 2, since both have the same definition, according to you.)
    4. Therefore, “knowing how it feels” is hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds. (From 1 and 3.)

    However, notice that the conclusion at line 4 is the same as your assumption at line 2. You are assuming (Assumption 2) what you are trying to prove (Conclusion 4), so asking me to define empathy to get Conclusion 4 about the definition of “knowing how it feels” is already assuming the identity relation.

    Just because you don’t like the definition of a word as it is really used does not mean you can assign whatever definition you fancy to it. That’s clearly fallacious.

    See above for an example of fallacy.

    So I’ve been using it correctly. It is you that have been equivocating all along.

    Clearly, you are the one who is equivocating “empathy” with “knowing how it feels”, because you believe that the two are equivalent, while I believe that they are not equivalent.

    I really think you have been *trying* to talk past the issues because at bottom

    1. You have yet to show that having a justified true belief of someone’s mental states (recognizing familiar facial features associated with certain emotions, certain body language, running a simulation by putting oneself in a “person’s shoes”), is not knowing what that person feels (again, this is some vital to your argument and you’ve as yet demonstrated)

    You have not shown that having a justified true belief of someone’s mental states is the same as knowing how it feels to be that person, except by reasoning circularly.

    2. That this does not constitute empathy (care to elaborate why the dictionary, wiki, and Stanford Encyclopedia is wrong?)

    You have to show that it constitutes empathy.

    Let’s say there is a clear definition of the concept “cat”. I am talking about “foobars”. For some reason, you believe that a “foobar” is just another word for “cat”. I say that “foobars” and “cats” are different concepts. Because I think that a foobar and a cat are not the same thing, you come to the conclusion that I have a non-standard definition of “cat”. Obviously, the problem here is your circular logic.

    3. That white people cannot have this ability.

    The 3rd is the most devastating to your argument because all someone has to do is come up with one counterexample and your entire argument is rendered futile. There are many whites who have advanced the discourse on minority experiences in racist white society. Many of those who teach Asian American or African American studies are whites who have made contributions. Layman like Tim Wise have also given insight into both white privilege and minority marginalization and discrimination, etc in racist white supremacist culture.

    If by “this ability”, you mean “empathy”, I agree that Tim Wise has “this ability”. I agree that giving insight into both white privilege and minority marginalization and discrimination in racist white supremacist culture is an instance of “empathy”. However, this only destroys my argument in your fallacious reasoning system, because you think that empathy is equivalent to “knowing how it feels”.

    “Not logically possible”? This is what I mean when I say that you have been using language very carelessly. How is it logically impossible unless…. Surely you can’t mean logically impossible in the same sense as both P and ~P? That would be nonsense.

    Yes, I mean “logically impossible” in the sense of P and ~P. But you cannot even begin to grasp what I’m referring to being logically impossible because you still think I’m referring to empathy. It is logically impossible in the sense that if it is given that “P(x) -> Q(x)”, it is not logically possible that “P(x)” and “~Q(x)” are both true. For example, P(x) means “x knows how it feels to be black”, and Q(x) means “x is black”.

    Again, what do you mean by “proof.” That seems to be another instance of very careless use of language. There is good evidence that there are some, not many, whites that can and do feels to be minorities to relevant issues. That’s more than enough to show that your argument that whites cannot know is futile. Even if there were none, you have yet to demonstrate, in all this, that it is *impossible* for whites to know how it feels, which is a gaping hole in your argument. That, in itself, is good reasons to dismiss it.

    Again, your “evidence” only works if you assume that empathy is equivalent to knowing how it feels, via your circular reasoning.

    First of all, what is an “English concept”?

    Linguistic concepts that happen to be in English in this case.

    And yet the discrimination that minorities feel is not “universal”? Please explain.

    There is discrimination, and then there is a particular type of discrimination. Not everyone experiences racial discrimination, just as not everyone experiences discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

    That’s clearly nonsense. Of course I *can* know how a painting looks like by descriptions; especially good descriptions give me a good picture of what it looks like. Anyone with an imagination and good reading skills will be able to know what it looks like.

    This is absurd. Do you also believe that you can describe how the colour “red” looks like to a person who has red/green colour blindness since birth, and that the person would know how the colour red looks because of your description?

    Obviously, they won’t have a perfect knowledge of what it looks like but they don’t have to have a perfectly accurate knowledge. Even if they were there to see the painting up close, they won’t have a perfect image of the painting simply because they don’t have perfect vision, the conditions will not be perfect for observation, etc. The concept of a perfect image is incoherent (again, as Wittgenstein has correctly shown)

    Sure, but my argument does not hinge on the any notion of perfection.

    And here we see the jest of the equivocation fallacy at the heart of your argument that underlies this whole confusion. You have a very unjustified definition of “knowing what its like to…” which is not commonly used but is your own private definition.

    Seriously, you are the one with the private definition. You should poll people about whether or not they agree with the statement, “A person can know how it feels to be on LSD even if he has never been on LSD,” or “A person can know how it feels to grow up in a war-torn country even if she has never grown up in a war-torn country.”

  72. jwbe Says:

    MoL, regardless definition, empathy is not living somebody else’s experience, therefore one can never actually know, how it feels to be for example a Person of Color. One can listen to PoC and can try to look at an issue from their point of view, but you will never know how it feels to be another person.
    I don’t understand your reason why you insist that somebody could actually know how it feels to be somebody else. Einfühlungsvermögen/Empathy is not being somebody else.
    And yes, most people can feel – most only their own feelings as a result from their point of view. And only a small number is able to actually emphasize with somebody else and if you walked through world with open eyes instead of just citing definitions you would understand that this is true.
    I come to the conclusion that empathy is just enother white ideal many whites would like to be able to feel, but they can’t. Watch interactions how often the feelings of the other are even not realized because of lack of empathy.

  73. theboxman Says:

    Didn’t theangryblackwoman have a post recently on arguments from reified definitions?

  74. Restructure! Says:

    Do you mean this one?

    Also, Man of Leisure said that he is “not white”.

  75. theboxman Says:

    Yup, that’s the one. Thanks for digging it up. I just find all this quibbling over definitions amusing, as if concepts and terms were actual things out there with clearly demarcated boundaries that were not contingent upon their deployment in discourse (and the embedded relations of power therein) and as such, themselves open to being called into question. Plainly reductive if you ask me.

  76. Lxy Says:

    Man of Leisure: Slogan? That’s funny. As opposed to your intellectual pedantry bordering on obsession?

    To repeat: I doubt your insistence on the ability of Whites to empathize, sympathize, identify (or whatever term you choose) with the experience of racial minorities is really about any of these things.

    Instead, it is about the refusal to admit that Whites cannot possess certain forms of experience as their own; that the experience of minorities cannot fully be colonized as an object of study by White intellectuals (no matter how well-intentioned they may or may not be); and in a more general sense, that White pretensions to universality of understanding and knowledge are fraudulent.

    In short, this “debate” is about the politics of knowledge–and not a question of empathy per se, which is largely a pretext issue.

    Your obsessive insistence over this issue suggests as much. It reminds me of academics waging one of their petty intellectual turf wars.

    BTW, you aren’t an academic are you?

  77. Man of Leisure Says:

    “That’s funny. As opposed to your intellectual pedantry bordering on obsession? ”

    It’s usually the case when less educated and intelligent individuals will resort to the “pedantry card when they fail to grasp the conversation.

    “I doubt your insistence on the ability of Whites to empathize, sympathize, identify (or whatever term you choose) with the experience of racial minorities is really about any of these things.”

    I doubt you lack the ability to understand this conversation. My doubt, unlimke yours, is based on good evidence from the posts so far.

    “Instead, it is about the refusal to admit that Whites cannot possess certain forms of experience as their own; that the experience of minorities cannot fully be colonized as an object of study by White intellectuals (no matter how well-intentioned they may or may not be); and in a more general sense, that White pretensions to universality of understanding and knowledge are fraudulent.”

    By that statement, you are clearly misunderstanding this conversation. Read my first post. It is not I that have made this a issue of meaning, it is restructure that has. I’ve just used the common everyday meaning of knowing and empathy, one that restructure and you and others have unusual difficulties with.

  78. Man of Leisure Says:

    “MoL, regardless definition, empathy is not living somebody else’s experience, therefore one can never actually know, how it feels to be for example a Person of Color. ”

    Did I say that it was “living somebody else’s experience”? Didn’t I say and argue that it *wasn’t* living someone else’s experience? I’m the one that is arguing that it is not that. Please reread this thread if need be. Your sentence doesn’t even follow. It doesn’t follow that if you can’t live someone’s experience that you can’t know what it’s like to be them. Again, you just don’t know what “know” means in the English language. Again, I will not elaborate with you any further of what it means to “know” something because this is something you should not have any trouble with.

  79. theboxman Says:

    “common everyday meaning of knowledge” is usually synonymous with knowledge as it is produced and practiced in the interests of a dominant class. The point is precisely to call such into question.

  80. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Wow. Your logic is quite convoluted.”
    But you have yet to show this while I have consistently demonstrated (with devastating counterexamples and counterarguments) the flaws of your argument.
    “There is no need for me to define empathy, because I am not discussing empathy.”
    That’s like saying you are not talking about bachelors when you had been talking about single adult males. Again, this is a crucial flaw in your argument that you have yet to adequately address. You spoke of knowing how minorities feels…. But two ways in which people can and do know how it feels to be someone else is through empathy and verbal communication. You have yet to show otherwise and it’s clear to me now that you are resorting to some crazy talk and red herrings to avoid responsibility for that confusion.
    “ In any case, I do not disagree with the standard definition of empathy. In fact, I’ll use the same definition as you did:”
    All the links I’ve supplied basically said that empathy means getting to know someone else’s subjective states of mind or feelings, thoughts or experiences, etc. The dictionary defined it as knowing the above without explicit verbal communication but some common uses of empathy include knowing and understanding through verbal means. That’s something you just have to deal with.
    “In its philosophical heyday at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, empathy had been hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds and as the method uniquely suited for the human sciences, only to be almost entirely neglected philosophically for the rest of the century.”
    Your circular logic is the following:
    1. Empathy is hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds. (Assumption that we both agree on.)
    2. “Knowing how it feels” is hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds. (Assumption that is yours.)
    3. Therefore, knowing how it feels is equivalent to empathy. (From 1 and 2, since both have the same definition, according to you.)
    4. Therefore, “knowing how it feels” is hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds. (From 1 and 3.)

    Wrong. I never made this particular assumption in 1 and 2. “Primary” is the word of the Stanford website, not mine. But the website did mention that empathy did get at knowing other’s mental states which is the crucial part that has completely confuted your argument that empathy did not get at knowing others’ mental states. You have yet to show that empathy cannot lead to knowledge of other’s mental states as you have claimed. You cannot because that argument is futile.
    “However, notice that the conclusion at line 4 is the same as your assumption at line 2.”
    Wrong. It was not circular. It was a definition showing that my use was the correct one and that your objection to my usage was wrong. Having shown that you were wrong about the meaning of empathy and “to know” by showing a definition of what those words mean shows that you have been using the term incorrectly. That’s certainly not circular.

    At bottom, it comes down to this: You have yet to show (give any kind of coherent argument and evidence for) the thesis that
    1. empathy does not get at knowledge of other’s subjective states
    2. that white people cannot know what it’s like to be a minority in relevant respects
    These are the basis of your claims that I was objecting to while acknowledging the rest of your original post was good.
    “Clearly, you are the one who is equivocating “empathy” with “knowing how it feels”, because you believe that the two are equivalent”
    Being a cat entails that you are a mammal but cats are not equivalent to mammals (obviously). Empathy simply means knowing how others feels or thinks using non-verbal cues. There are other ways that may be more effective at knowing how others feel and think like talking to them. In any case, you haven’t shown that whites can’t know how minorities feel and that empathy does not get at other’s subjective states of mind (you’d be arguing against just what the word empathy means when you do that).
    “You have not shown that having a justified true belief of someone’s mental states is the same as knowing how it feels to be that person, except by reasoning circularly.”
    Again, how would you define the “knowing” part of “knowing how it feels to be that person”? What criterion are you using for “knowing…”? Other than repeating yourself ad nauseam by saying that you can’t do it (which shows that you have been arguing by begging the question). How does anyone “know” anything in your definition? I’m using the standard JTB criterion, which though problematic, is problematic for technical reasons in epistemology, not in ways relevant to this discussion. That’s the million dollar question to which you have been avoiding all alone (since you probably know as will as I that here lies the fatal flaw in your whole argument so far)
    “You have to show that it constitutes empathy.”
    Wrong. All I have to do is show that empathy “constitutes” knowing what others feel, think, etc. And I did. Just as being a bachelor constitutes being a male. That has been demonstrated by me several times. If you want to argue that whites can’t do it, you have to give a substantive argument to that effect by giving good reasons and evidence and not beg the question by repeating yourself. I’ve already given good evidence that whites can.
    “Let’s say there is a clear definition of the concept “cat”. I am talking about “foobars”. For some reason, you believe that a “foobar” is just another word for “cat”. I say that “foobars” and “cats” are different concepts. Because I think that a foobar and a cat are not the same thing, you come to the conclusion that I have a non-standard definition of “cat”. Obviously, the problem here is your circular logic. “
    Wrong. If someone were to talk about “single adult males” and I said this person talked about “bachelors”, he would not be justified in refusing the truth of my statement by saying that since he never used the word “bachelors,” he was not talking about them. That’s analogous to what you have done.
    “If by “this ability”, you mean “empathy”, I agree that Tim Wise has “this ability”.”
    Again, since you have demonstrated that you have a non-standard “definition” of empathy the onus is on you to define what you mean or else risk the serious charge of using language very carelessly.
    “I agree that giving insight into both white privilege and minority marginalization and discrimination in racist white supremacist culture is an instance of “empathy”. However, this only destroys my argument in your fallacious reasoning system, because you think that empathy is equivalent to “knowing how it feels”.”
    Like I said, empathizing does entail knowing how someone else feels in relevant ways. “Empathy” as it is usually used in English, means the knowledge of how others feel and what they’re feeling (sometimes with the clause “by nonverbal means” or something similar though sometimes “empathy” is used to also mean knowing how others feel through verbal means. So it does destroy your argument completely because this implication is all that is required (not necessarily equivalence).
    “It is logically impossible in the sense that if it is given that “P(x) -> Q(x)”, it is not logically possible that “P(x)” and “~Q(x)” are both true. For example, P(x) means “x knows how it feels to be black”, and Q(x) means “x is black”.”
    Then you admit that you are making a trivial argument in the same sense as if someone were to say ~(P & ~P). The real issue is whether the conditional itself is true (which I’ve show it isn’t). That’s the issue you have been dodging with these diversions.
    “Again, your “evidence” only works if you assume that empathy is equivalent to knowing how it feels, via your circular reasoning.”
    I don’t need to assume anything. Like it or not, empathy entails knowing certain things (other subjective mental contents). That’s devastating alone for certain arguments you have made.
    “Linguistic concepts that happen to be in English in this case.”
    Words are in the “English case”. Concepts are not in any language “case.” The concept for “cat” and “mao” are the same (or roughly the same) but the words are obviously very different. That’s how translations across languages are possible. Concepts may be very similar or identical across language but words are different.
    “This is absurd. Do you also believe that you can describe how the colour “red” looks like to a person who has red/green colour blindness since birth, and that the person would know how the colour red looks because of your description?”
    That’s a false analogy fallacy. Discrimination and congenital vision disorders are clearly very different cases. Are you saying that whites have a congenital abnormality that prevents them from getting to know other people’s experiences? That is ridiculous. Normal whites, like normal minorities, can and do know what other go through (they do this often) without having experienced those experiences directly. Like I said, they do with a variety of means such as talking to others, careful observations, and thinking through using a simulation of what others go through.
    “Sure, but my argument does not hinge on the any notion of perfection.”
    Yep, it does. You assume that knowing means knowing with absolute certainty and accuracy (with “proof” in your own words) That was, as shown, wrong. If you had used that criteria, none of us would know much of anything. Empirical Scientists would not know anything at all which is absurd. Like I said, the JTB criterion is standard and you have not given any reason to reject it for a better criterion. You haven’t even specified what that criterion might be.
    “Seriously, you are the one with the private definition. You should poll people about whether or not they agree with the statement, “A person can know how it feels to be on LSD even if he has never been on LSD,” or “A person can know how it feels to grow up in a war-torn country even if she has never grown up in a war-torn country.””
    Poll people on this question: “Are there people capable (those with enough imagination, curiosity and learning to do so) of knowing what it’s like to grow up in a war torn country or be on LSD without direct experience?
    Now poll people on this “Are there white people capable of knowing minorities’ experiences using imagination, empathy, and learning widely about what it’s like to be discriminated against?”

  81. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Didn’t theangryblackwoman have a post recently on arguments from reified definitions?”

    That was a good post. But if anyone thinks that it had anything to say against my use of the dictionary to show that restructure was wrong, they’re clearly confused about this entire debate.

    angryblackwomen is correct in that there are many words used in informal or technical contexts for example, that are not in the dictionary. Using them does not constitute incorrect usage if they are used in those nuanced contexts. But it was “restructure” that objected to my usage of empathy (reread this thread if need be to see that) and I’d shown that my usage is not only correct in some context, but standard everyday contexts, that shows that he is the one that is in the wrong. How do you show that your use of some word is correct? Obvious, show them a dictionary entry or show them a context where that use is common. That’s all I’ve done (to devastating effect).

  82. Man of Leisure Says:

    To reinterate, these are the things that “restructure” would need to argue and give evidence for to refute anything substantive I have said

    1. that empathizing does not entail knowing what others feel

    2. that whites cannot empathize with minorities in regarsd to experiences of discrimination etc.

    3. that it is impossible to know what each others feel (which he seems to be saying at certain points)

    He has yet to demonstrate any argument or evidence whatsoever to show these. I have OTOH, shown them false. That’s just the bottom line.

  83. Man of Leisure Says:

    @restructure

    BTW, definitions are not gathered by “polling” but by direct observation of word in use in different actual contexts of discourse.

  84. newman Says:

    interesting read, enjoyed it very much

  85. Lxy Says:

    @ Man of Leisure.

    You never answered my question about whether you are an academic. But I have to give you props. You do have that haughty intellectual arrogance thing down cold.

    And you should step back and take a look at your litany of posts. They are the very definition of pedantry. This debate was allegedly about whether Whites can emapthize with the experience of racial minorities, and you’ve turned it into a long-winded debate about semantics.

  86. theboxman Says:

    Hell, I’m an academic and I think it’s pedantic, and perhaps more importantly, unproductive.

  87. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    I’m just going to deal with your logic first, because your insistence that I’m actually talking about empathy is the crux of the problem.

    Let:
    M(x,y) be “x empathizes with y”,
    F(x) be “x is a feeling”,
    K(x,y) be “x knows y”.

    This is what I believe about empathy:
    1. ∀x∀y(M(x,y) -> ∃z((F(z) ∧ K(y,z)) -> K(x,z)))
    [For all x and all y, if x empathizes with y, then there exists a z such that if z is a feeling and y knows z, then x knows z. (If x empathizes with y, then there is a feeling that y knows that x also knows.)]

    This seems to be what you believe about empathy:
    2. ∀x∀y(M(x,y) -> ∀z((F(z) ∧ K(y,z)) -> K(x,z)))
    [For all x and y, if x empathizes with y, then for all z, if z is a feeling and y knows z, then x knows z. (If x empathizes with y, then all feelings that y knows, x also knows.)]

    In my original post, I made this claim, which is not about empathy:
    3. ∃x∃y∃z((F(z) ∧ K(y,z)) ∧ ~K(x,z))
    [There exists an x, y, and z such that z is a feeling, y knows z, but x does not know z. (There exists a feeling that y knows that x does not know.)]

    Now, if one believes (1) and (3), there is no contradiction, and the claims are unrelated.

    However, if one believes (2) and combines it (3) about some x and y, one would conclude that (3) says something about x’s empathy towards y, specifically that ~M(x,y), that x cannot empathize with y (at all). However, we both agree that for all people x and y, it is possible that x can empathize with y. Thus, you think claim (3) is something crazy.

    This (2) is what I think your problem is. If it’s not, please explain why my claim about not knowing how someone feels to be R is saying something about empathy, if empathy is supposed to be about knowing.

  88. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    To reinterate, these are the things that “restructure” would need to argue and give evidence for to refute anything substantive I have said

    1. that empathizing does not entail knowing what others feel

    2. that whites cannot empathize with minorities in regarsd to experiences of discrimination etc.

    3. that it is impossible to know what each others feel (which he seems to be saying at certain points)

    He has yet to demonstrate any argument or evidence whatsoever to show these. I have OTOH, shown them false. That’s just the bottom line.

    #1 to #3 here are strawmen of my claims, which you should know if you are being intellectually honest, as I wasn’t talking about empathy or empathizing, and I specifically and explicitly denied that I was talking about empathy and empathizing. However, why you think I am arguing #1 to #3 can be explained by my previous post.

    Also, I am a ‘she’.

  89. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Hell, I’m an academic and I think it’s pedantic, and perhaps more importantly, unproductive.”

    That’s just because you don’t unerstand it. But that was very predictable coming from someone that doesn’t understand it.

  90. Man of Leisure Says:

    @Lxy

    “You never answered my question about whether you are an academic. But I have to give you props. You do have that haughty intellectual arrogance thing down cold. ”

    I didn’t answer because it is irrelevant much like the rest of your posts. I know it’s all hip now to sip your lates and denounce as “pedantry” and “arrogance” all coherent talk and use of evidence and reason nowadays among the hipsters like yourself but I try to avoid all such pretentious displays of posteuring.

    “This debate was allegedly about whether Whites can emapthize with the experience of racial minorities, and you’ve turned it into a long-winded debate about semantics.”

    If you had understood this exchange, you’d see that it was restructure that has turned this into a “semantic” quible. Not me. It is he/she that has repeatedly displayed pretentious (and incompetent!) understanding of not only critical thinking skills and basic english language but also first order logic. I’ve only used language a competent high schooler could understand (which would seem to exclude you). It was restructure that objected (incorrectly) to my correct use of “empathy” and has yet to show anything for his/her whacky claims.

    Now please go back to your waxing poetic about “power structures” all that other stuff you know nothing about but like to think you do.

  91. Restructure! Says:

    Maybe (1) should be:

    1. ∀x∀y(M(x,y) -> ∃z((F(z) ∧ K(y,z)) ∧ K(x,z)))

  92. Man of Leisure Says:

    @restructure

    wow! speaking of pretentious (and incompetent) uses of reasoning. Now I know you’re a fraud. You have no intellectual honesty to speak of. You don’t empress me with all this mumbo jumbo unlike the uneducated readers here impressed with such pretentious nonsense.

    “1. ∀x∀y(M(x,y) -> ∃z((F(z) ∧ K(y,z)) -> K(x,z)))
    [For all x and all y, if x empathizes with y, then there exists a z such that if z is a feeling and y knows z, then x knows z. (If x empathizes with y, then there is a feeling that y knows that x also knows.)]”

    Wrong! First of all, you’ve made a mistake in quantifying within your imbedded existential quantifier if this is the sentence you’re trying to express in first order notation:

    “If x empathizes with y, then there is a feeling that y knows that x also knows.”

    I’ll give you a HUGE hint, it involves the use of the conditional (as opposed to the conjunction).

    second, there is a redundency in the use of the K predicate.

    Wow! What ridiculous (and pretentious) lengths you’ll go to avoid taking responsibility for your mistakes! You get an F not only in 1st order logic but in critical thinking and intellectual honesty as well.

    “This seems to be what you believe about empathy:
    2. ∀x∀y(M(x,y) -> ∀z((F(z) ∧ K(y,z)) -> K(x,z)))
    [For all x and y, if x empathizes with y, then for all z, if z is a feeling and y knows z, then x knows z. (If x empathizes with y, then all feelings that y knows, x also knows.)]”

    Wrong again. I never said anything like that. How you get that ridiculous interpretation is beyond me. maybe you’re purposely trying to make strawmen now knowing that you have nothing left? If I had said anything like that I’d be making claims as fallacious as many of yours. I’ve only written at the high school level. It was very clear what I was trying to say. I was making a modal claim! That it is *not impossible* for all z, if z is an experience dealing with discrimination, that all x may also know z even if x had never experienced it first hand (they can learn it vicariously or through some other forms of thinking or learning). This contradicts your claim (also modal!) that it is impossible for some people (whites) to know.

    “[There exists an x, y, and z such that z is a feeling, y knows z, but x does not know z. (There exists a feeling that y knows that x does not know.)]”

    Wow, you don’t even know what you have said. No, you used the word “can’t” which is a modal term. Of course there are *actual* feeling we have that others don’t experience. That’s trivial. But many of those feelings *can* (modal term) and are sometimes experienced (therefore, not a “can’t”) if certain conditions (i.e. had certain empathic epistemological conditions been met).

    But you have made much stronger claims: e.g., that whites *can’t* know what it’s like. In other words, that for all x (or even for some x, etc), if x is a feeling or thought or an experience of discrimination from a minority, it is not the case that white people know this feeling and it is not the case that in any possible world whites know that feeling! That was clearly what I was first objecting to which is just wrong.

    “In my original post, I made this claim, which is not about empathy:”

    It doesn’t matter what you call it, you entailed that to empathize with someone, you need not know some feeling of that person. That’s clearly wrong per definition of empathy. You’re like the person that says “Chris is a bachelor” and when someone says that you implied that Chris is also a man, you then go on and say that since you never mentioned that Chris is a man, you never implied he was! You said that whites aren’t able to empathize with minorities. I said that that was inaccurate because it was way too strong a claim without any evidence offered from you (which you still do not provide any indirectly giving evidence that you can’t). Much as this person simply does not know what “bachelor” simply means and quibbles from this ignorance, and carp over semantics in trying to avoid the real issues, you seem to not know what “empathy” means and quibble over that exposing the fraud you are. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It is what it is. It doesn’t matter what anyone calls a bachelor, it is what it is.

    But the use of the word “empathy” is besides the point. You can’t even show that whites can’t *”know”* (your own term if you’re so insistent on using it) what it’s like to be a minority. I simply suggested that they can, had certain epistemic conditions both, external and internal to the subject, been met (read my other posts above again if you must) and that because occasionally sometimes these conditions are, indeed, met they know some of the discriminatory experiences of non whites (the existence of a fact entails its own possibility) and that at least it is possible (“can”) that all such experiences of discrimination maybe known to others had certain conditions been met even if those experiences are not experienced first hand.

    You now pull out the 1st order logic when you are shown incapable of plane reasoning in everyday english. That shows something itself. I’ve shown that you don’t understand the declaritive/procedural distinction which you have pretentiously used thinking I’d be impressed by your learning and now I’ve shown that you don’t even know simple 1st order sentence translation. what claptrap will in indulge in next to try and dodge the mess you’ve made!

    You have yet to show anything either demonstrating any of your crazy claims or countering any of mine. The onus is on you to give good reasons to believe since it is you that first bold claim that 1. whites can’t know… 2. that empathy does not entail knowing 3. that it is impossible to know what others feel simpliciter. You’re like many of the racists you denounce when they try to avoid using evidence and reason by dodging and passing off the burden of proof.

    The evidence card; play it.

  93. Man of Leisure Says:

    @restructure

    “Maybe (1) should be:

    1. ∀x∀y(M(x,y) -> ∃z((F(z) ∧ K(y,z)) ∧ K(x,z)))

    Haha, good girl.

  94. Man of Leisure Says:

    LOL. “maybe” doesn’t cut it. You still get an “F” in 1st order logic!

  95. Restructure! Says:

    LOL, when you said I did something “incompetent”, I checked it over again and saw my mistake. What do you mean by saying that the K predicate is redundant?

    I’m not sure how I’m being pretentious, because you were the one who first converted the English term “not logically possible” into the example of P and ~P. Since you think like that, and you seem unable to communicate in English, I thought that we could actually figure out what your assumptions were by making them very explicit.

    My post was in a type of English that a competent high schooler could understand, which is why many people could understand it and have linked to it (I assume that if this happens, then it is an indication that the post is accessible). However, you were the one who introduced epistemology and the idea of JTB, and I followed you down that path, assuming that it is your preferred method of communication.

    I’m not even sure how putting it into FOL so that you can read it better constitutes not taking responsibility for my mistakes. I sometimes wonder if you are purposely trolling, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt and assumed that you can be communicated with given the right language.

  96. Man of Leisure Says:

    @boxman

    ““common everyday meaning of knowledge” is usually synonymous with knowledge as it is produced and practiced in the interests of a dominant class. The point is precisely to call such into question.”

    Wow! I missed this pretentious little gem of a slogan. How academic. BTW, most of the words and concepts you and “restructure” have used to advance your own positions used “common everyday” meanings of words. Care to explain how communication is even possible without some core common knowledge? No. of course not. Explication is just so Bourgeois! Or should we just settle for “questioning” (using what?) them since they are just so much the tool of the powerful?

    No doubt common notions of knowledge should be questioned. What kind of philosophical fascist would doubt that?

    I am particularly favorable to some of the feminist epistemologists and their notions of knowledge (especially the feminist empiricists like Hankinson Nelson and others) and also some of the virtue/feminist epistemologists who have given alternative understandings of knowledge (Fricker, Zagzebski, and others). But none of these epistemologists would ever doubt the claim that people (white or otherwise) can know each others’ experiences with discrimination even had they not experienced it first hand. Hell, even the “radical” standpoint theorists presuppose that communication and mutual understanding through that communication or empathy is possible across ethnic and power structures.

    The difference is that you can only jabber on and wax poetic about your “questioning” (good for you) of common knowledge (whatever that means). These philosophers actually know a thing or two about epistemology and has done positive things to change our conceptions of knowledge using, gulp, evidence, reason, explication, and doing it with intellectual integrity.

  97. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    But you have made much stronger claims: e.g., that whites *can’t* know what it’s like. In other words, that for all x (or even for some x, etc), if x is a feeling or thought or an experience of discrimination from a minority, it is not the case that white people know this feeling and it is not the case that in any possible world whites know that feeling! That was clearly what I was first objecting to which is just wrong.

    Wow, where have I claimed this? I don’t even agree with the first part, but the “in any possible world” part is ludicrous. Of course, if people could change races, they would know how it is feels to be another race.

  98. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    Wrong again. I never said anything like that. How you get that ridiculous interpretation is beyond me. maybe you’re purposely trying to make strawmen now knowing that you have nothing left?

    I got that interpretation because I made claim (3) which is weaker than what I said specifically about “knowing how it feels to be a person of colour”, but even when I made claim (3), you somehow concluded that I was changing the definition of empathy. I gave you the benefit of the doubt and assumed that your reasoning was valid but unsound, which is how I came up with that interpretation.

    I’ve only written at the high school level.

    You are either purposely trolling, or you are delusional.

    It was very clear what I was trying to say. I was making a modal claim! That it is *not impossible* for all z, if z is an experience dealing with discrimination, that all x may also know z even if x had never experienced it first hand (they can learn it vicariously or through some other forms of thinking or learning). This contradicts your claim (also modal!) that it is impossible for some people (whites) to know.

    This explanation helps me a lot when I go back and re-read your comments. However, it does not explain why you think my “modal” claim is a claim about empathy.

  99. Man of Leisure Says:

    “What do you mean by saying that the K predicate is redundant?”

    Can you give me an example of someone who empathizes with another person and yet doesn’t know (broadly construed) that person in some form or another? “Knowing someone” is ambiguous. I can say that I know Obama meaning that I know who he is. Yet I don’t know him “personally.” But empathizing with someone only requires that one knows someone broadly construed, not necessarily personally. If I see Obama get called a “nigger,” though I am not black and have never been called such a term, I can empathize with him.

    “I’m not sure how I’m being pretentious, because you were the one who first converted the English term “not logically possible” into the example of P and ~P.”

    Nope. It was you that brought up “logically impossible.” Also, it was you that was (bragging?) about being “explicit” like you had just transated whatever it was you were saying directly from FOL (so don’t pass off your critical thinking transgressions on me!). You weren’t explicit and clear enough, obviously.

    I couldn’t understand how it was “logically impossible” to know someone’s feelings etc. Surely you don’t mean that it’s logically impossible in the same sense that it is logically impossibe that both P and ~P. That’s a common example of something that’s “logically impossible.” How you can come to that conclusion you have yet to explain at all never mind explain satisfactorily. given many everyday interpretations of “to know”, people *do know* how each other feel and think. i can’t concieve of a use of “know” that would allow it to be an *impossibility* (logically, nomologically, epistemically, deontically or otherwise) to not be able to know.

    Now, you might have meant epistemic impossibility or deontic impossibility(?). If the later, you would be mistaken in using “can’t” but should have used “won’t”. Anyhow, even that would be a very strong and easily refuted claim (it’s a hasty generalization).

    But to say that you “can’t” know, you either mean that it is physically impossible for white people to know how minorities feel or that it is logically impossible like it is logically impossible for both P and ~P. If this is the case, you’d have to give a justification of *why* it is logically or maybe physically impossible for them to know my experiences. That would seem to hinder on a particular usage (and your own, not the one that used by normal people competent in the English language) of “to know”. That’s why I kept asking for criteria and definitions of what you meant by “know.”

    There are parts where you seem to be making even a stronger (and hence an even more absurd) claim than that. There are parts where you suggested that no one can know what someone else feels at all. In any case, you have been very ambiguous and careless in your writing. All I was asking and which you do owe, as a epistemic duty, an explanation how you justify saying what you said which was prima facie absurd (and still is). People know each other’s feelings, thoughts and experiences all the time by observation, communication, simulation, etc even if they had never experienced those things themselves. That much is clear. You seem to have an obscure, unjustified, too demanding a standard of knowledge. Now, there are some philosophers who do have a very strict standard of “to know” like Peter Unger, e.g. But to maintain intellectual integrity, you would have to apply that same standard to other epistemic domains. You have to maintain that there’s really nothing we know. We don’t know each others’ feelings even if we’re minorities trying to empathize with other minorities of the same ethnic group. Scientists do not know anything about the world. etc etc. This is something that Unger has bit the bullet on and admits is a consequence of his skeptical epistemology. But he accepts these conclusions as following from that skeptical framework.

    You have to come up with a similar conception of what it means to know and accept all consequences to maintain intellectual integrity. you haven’t even come up with an alternative conception of to know yet. So are you or are you not using the everyday or commonly accepted criteria for knowing? Usually, if someone has a justified true belief that P, it can reasonably said that this person knows that P. Even if you were using such a private and demanding criteria, that still wouldn’t save you from being fallacious in your reasoning.

  100. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Of course, if people could change races, they would know how it is feels to be another race.”

    If white people “changed races” they wouldn’t be white would they? You aid that *white people* can’t know…

  101. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Of course, if people could change races, they would know how it is feels to be another race.”

    If white people “changed races” they wouldn’t be white would they? You said that *white people* can’t know…”

  102. Man of Leisure Says:

    @restructure

    “I got that interpretation because I made claim (3) which is weaker than what I said specifically about “knowing how it feels to be a person of colour”, but even when I made claim (3), you somehow concluded that I was changing the definition of empathy.”

    Nope, sorry, never made any statement that can be reasonable construed as what you took me as saying.

    To reiterate, you said that whites “can’t” know…. But when someone uses “can’t” as in x can’t P, they usually mean that

    1. it is logically impossible for x to P (like it is logically impossible for x to jump and not jump at the same time)

    2. That it is physically impossible for x to P (like it is physically impossible for x to travel faster than the speed of light)

    3. that x is constrained by coercion or force to not P.

    Since I didn’t think you meant that there was some mysterious force coercing or forcing whites to be unempathetic to minorities, I thought you meant 1 or 2. Since you, yourself, had used “logically impossible” I asked if you had really meant what you said. You then confirmed that you had but didn’t give an explanation of how this was even coherently concievable!

    occasionally, people will use “can’t” like they use “won’t”. For example, when they say that they can’t go to the party because they have some work to do. What they really mean is that they won’t go to the party due to their work. But, like I said above, even this claim is easily refuted because

    1. can’t is used somewhat loosely and contradictorily from your subsequent responses and in your original post would indicate.

    2. there really are some whites that willingly try to and do know what minorities experiences are. many of made original contribution of critical race theory, for example.

    If you had simply used the qualifier and more appropriate modal term “most whites won’t (or refuse to)…” I would have no problem with that. It wouldn’t have been that problematic in that case. That’s what I conveyed to you in my first post. I’d also would say that most whites who *think* they know what it feels like to be a minority simply has it wrong. They haven’t put in the effort or the learning to know. But that doesn’t mean they can’t know.

  103. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    “What do you mean by saying that the K predicate is redundant?”

    Can you give me an example of someone who empathizes with another person and yet doesn’t know (broadly construed) that person in some form or another? “Knowing someone” is ambiguous. I can say that I know Obama meaning that I know who he is. Yet I don’t know him “personally.” But empathizing with someone only requires that one knows someone broadly construed, not necessarily personally. If I see Obama get called a “nigger,” though I am not black and have never been called such a term, I can empathize with him.

    I’m not sure how it’s possible that you detected my error, but you still cannot read the K predicate properly. I did not write if M(x,y) then K(x,y). The second parameter of the K predicate is used here to refer to feelings, not the other person.

  104. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    Nope. It was you that brought up “logically impossible.” Also, it was you that was (bragging?) about being “explicit” like you had just transated whatever it was you were saying directly from FOL (so don’t pass off your critical thinking transgressions on me!). You weren’t explicit and clear enough, obviously.

    No, I did not say that I translated whatever I was saying directly from FOL. I said that it sometimes it sounded like that. I don’t think in symbolic FOL naturally, but my usage of “some” is closer to the existential quantifier than how most people would use it.

    This is the first time I have used FOL in a debate. If the goal was to “empress” [sic] people and be pretentious, I could have done it long ago with others who I argued with, and they would not know if I made a mistake. However, I did not, because there was no indication that it would have facilitated communication. I translated to FOL so that you could read it. You demonstrated some competence/success in communication in that you could detect the conditional error, although for some reason you misread the K predicate, so I’m not sure what to think.

  105. Man of Leisure Says:

    “I’m not sure how it’s possible that you detected my error,”

    It was a glaring error to anyone who had mastered formal logic (apparently not you! lol).

    “The second parameter of the K predicate is used here to refer to feelings, not the other person.

    Yes, I know that but that’s not why the whole predicate is redundent.

  106. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    It was a glaring error to anyone who had mastered formal logic (apparently not you! lol).

    I have not used formal logic for several years.

    Yes, I know that but that’s not why the whole predicate is redundent.

    Yet your explanation of why it is “redundent” [sic] is based on the assumption that the K predicate is about “knowing someone”, and about knowing someone “personally” versus “broadly construed”. How are these issues relevant if the K predicate here is used to express a person knowing a feeling, not “knowing someone”?

    Apparently, you have not mastered formal logic, either. I assume that reading the K predicate properly is easier than detecting the conditional error, yet if you misunderstood the K predicate, then you might have misunderstood all three statements.

  107. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Apparently, you have not mastered formal logic, either. I assume that reading the K predicate properly is easier than detecting the conditional error, yet if you misunderstood the K predicate, then you might have misunderstood all three statements.”

    No, I’m absoluetly correct about the fact that you can’t use the K predicate (though not because it’s “redundant”) but I seem to have mispoke (it was late). I got my objection confused with something else and didn’t mean it was redundant or anything like that.

    The actual reason why you can’t use the K predicate is for another (more technical) reason. You can’t quantify into oblique contexts (oratio obliqua) like that. See the de re/de dicto distinction. You can’t quantify over beliefs, feelings, thoughts, ideas, knowledge, etc. Ask a logician why not.

    Also, read Quine’s famous paper

    “Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes” (1956).

    And these wiki

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propositional_attitude#Issues

    “In logic, the formal properties of verbs like assert, believe, command, consider, deny, doubt, hunt, imagine, judge, know, want, wish, and a host of others that involve attitudes or intentions toward propositions are notorious for their recalcitrance to analysis. (Quine 1956).”

    and

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Kaplan_(philosopher)#Quantifying_in

  108. Man of Leisure Says:

    Oops,

    I didn’t mean you actually *can’t* (see, at least I’m admiting my misuses of words!) quantify over propositional attitudes (such as indirect or oblique contexts).

    David Kaplan actually has found a way to do just that using special operators and what not. See his classic 1968 paper, “Quantifying In” that, to some degree, solved this problem.

  109. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Wow, where have I claimed this? I don’t even agree with the first part, but the “in any possible world” part is ludicrous. Of course, if people could change races, they would know how it is feels to be another race.”

    When you said that it was logically impossible in the same sense that P and ~P is logically impossible. (P and ~P is impossible in all possible worlds).

  110. bikerbernie Says:

    Kathy Says:
    February 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm
    Bikerbernie, your list of jobs that supposedly men are worth less on the dollar, you can’t produce any proof because it is just not true.
    Transportation workers are male dominated, and even if a woman is earning the same pay, male seniority on the rooster will give a huge advantage. Men earn more money.
    Fireman? give me a break, just look out your own window the next time a firetruck goes by, count all the women, how many do you see with your own eyes.
    Maybe you weren’t hired for some other reason.

    jwbe, that comment about male idiocy had me laughing, thanks.

    ====

    What do you not understand about “Data based on 2003 Bureau of Labor Statistics”

    WOW speak of denial BTW I said that they did not call me so there was no other reason than being a white male considering that that particular class was made up of other ethnic groups and women, The graduating classes of such a large group are well televised here.

    Oh BTW you just blew it the “gap” of which you speak is NOT widening the number has been getting smaller every year.

    You really should do your own research or take the chance at being the fool

    The claims were

    1951 = 63.9%
    2007 = 77.8%

    WOW I am glad that you are on their side you make MRA’s look so good!

    As far as firemen go that is my point WOMEN DO NOT WANT THE JOB, DUH. Yes that is a generality but it IS generally true, and in volunteer departments they are even more scarce, there is that female privilege thing again, men have to do the dangerous things because very few women will

    b

  111. bikerbernie Says:

    Restructure! Says:
    January 31, 2009 at 7:22 pm
    bikerbernie,

    While it is good that you type like you are literate, the content of your comments make you look like a paranoid conspiracy theorist. It would help if your comments were not so unintentionally ironic.

    ===
    It is ironic that I have been accused of being aloof when I speak or type in the way to which I am accustomed and here you are praising me for it. You just gotta love people! This is in no way a negative reflection on you because I am sure you have met similar people in your life.

    Anyway, I can only state the truth to what I have witnessed which is exactly as I stated. When engaged in a serious conversation I do not and will not lie because all I have is my name. Now if I am spinning a yarn when out with friends I can push and enhance experiences quite well but that is attributed to getting the larger laugh out of them.

    There is a very apropos parable that states “Just because you are paranoid does not mean that they are not out to get you.”

    This is true in this case also. Let us just say that I am a fireman and have been for nearly three (3) decades. After five (5) years of active duty, a fireman was eligible to take the fire dispatch exam. Well, down sizing and consolidating to cut tax increases started back then and it was no different in the public service of dispatching. Shortly after securing this job also, the town decided to create “civilian” dispatch that would handle fire, EMS, and police. We also were thrust with the inimical duty of jailer. We have to make half-hour checks on prisoners. I can tell you that after many years I have witnessed what I stated that being that female drunks are released on their own recognizance (RORed) while men spend t he night in the hoosegow. Men are locked up for the mundane like a dog license not paid for and women have a visit by an officer to their house and they are delivered an appearance ticket to appear on court on a certain day for the violation. The disparity is wide and illegal but it goes on every day. I do not know what else to tell you. You have a great opportunity to pick the brain of someone in the know yet it appears you resist because of information that you do not want to hear or do not want to believe is true. I have seen men tased for being mouthy and I have seen women become physically violent with officers and . . . nothing.

    The truth will set you free. A man in the know.

    b

  112. bikerbernie Says:

    Restructure! Says:
    January 27, 2009 at 9:27 am
    bikerbernie,

    There is some documentary about this:

    The story begins in 1977, as New York City is emerging from a financial crisis. The New York City Fire Department has lifted its eleven-year hiring freeze and begun advertising for new recruits. The law has changed so that the Fire Department can no longer bar women from applying to be firefighters. As women begin to apply for the first time, the Fire Department unveils a new firefighter entrance exam. The new test, Exam 3040, suddenly becomes very different in form and content from firefighter exams administered over the past few decades. “This is the most arduous test we have ever given to anyone,” says the Assistant Personnel Director in charge of the test.

    Every woman applicant fails….

    ====

    A test is a test is a test. If we are discussing equality you should have no issue with the test as long as it is equal for everybody. It seems to me that by wanting to lower standards of the test for women is stating that women are NOT equal to men. Wanting to lower the standards is demeaning to women and should be taken as such if you are TRULEY striving for equality.

    Besides, your husband is a fireman and weight in at 175-200 lbs. or more and he is wearing 50+ lbs. of personal protection equipment (PPE) now puts him over 250lbs. I am sure that you do not want a 105-LB man or woman wearing half their weight in gear attempting to pull your husband out if he goes down weighing 250+. It cannot be done. So it is not fair to many people. IF your husband does not go down and the thrust of 200 pounds at the end of a hose line means that he will be doing most if not all of the work on the hose line. This increases the stress on his body and puts him at risk. Again problematic. So your unconscience relative is in a house fire, whom do you want to find your relative? The 175-225 LB fireman or the 105 LB fireman?

    There are jobs that the physically smaller or weaker people just cannot do; they have to accept that.

    You do realize that it will be almost impossible to argue points of firefighting with a state-accredited fireman with thirty years experience, right?

    b

  113. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    The K predicate I used was not about “knowing that” or about knowing a proposition. Quine said that those verbs “that involve attitudes or intentions toward propositions are notorious for their recalcitrance to analysis” (emphasis mine), so your oblique-context objection doesn’t apply.

  114. Man of Leisure Says:

    “The K predicate I used was not about “knowing that” or about knowing a proposition. Quine said that those verbs “that involve attitudes or intentions toward propositions are notorious for their recalcitrance to analysis” (emphasis mine), so your oblique-context objection doesn’t apply.”

    Jesus, you got to be kidding. I don’t want to get into what is the content of mepathic empathy again. I’ve already settled this. Experiences dealing with discrimination are especially propositional. But no matter because, if you had read Quine’s paper and the other papers, you see that it is *not limited to propositions.* BTW, that wasn’t Quine’s quote, it was the wiki artcle’s which tried to explain what Quine said in his paper (his paper talked about much more than just propositions.

    You’re really just carping now. Just stop it and grow up.

  115. Man of Leisure Says:

    BTW, you’re not understanding what a propositional attitude is. It’s not the clause or the content of the clause after the “that” in relation between someone and a belief etc. It is the whole prosition. In a propositional attitude sentence like “Quine wants a sloop”, sloop is not a proposition and yet this is an example (an example that Quine uses in his paper) of a propositional attitude.

  116. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    First of all, it is ironic that you accuse me of being pretentious and suggesting that I grow up, when your behaviour in this thread has been extremely pretentious, hostile, and immature. For an example of all three, you wrote, ‘You still get an “F” in 1st order logic!’, which is so pretentious and immature that I don’t know how to respond.

    The irony was intensified when you spoke on behalf of those who mastered formal logic, while not mastering formal logic yourself.

    Moreover, you also wrote, “Haha, good girl” in response to my self-correction, which is not only pretentious, but also patronizing and sexist. (Yet you claim to benefit from feminist philosophers, which you seemed to have disclosed only to defend yourself from being perceived as bigoted.)

    As for the propositional nature of empathy, you have already talked at length about this, but what I’m talking about is not empathy, so your arguments are irrelevant. You can continue to spend time typing up philosophical explanations of empathy all you want, but I won’t respond to them, because I find them irrelevant and uninteresting with respect to the point of the original post. Perhaps your thoughts on empathy are interesting as a separate topic, but you seem to be continually going off on a tangent away from engaging with the topic of the original post.

    Now I think Quine’s paper is quite far removed from the original topic, but I will read it anyway, because I should read it anyway. However, I have other priorities and other things I need to read more urgently, so it will take some time before I return to that particular point.

  117. Lxy Says:

    “I didn’t answer because it is irrelevant much like the rest of your posts. I know it’s all hip now to sip your lates and denounce as “pedantry” and “arrogance” all coherent talk and use of evidence and reason nowadays among the hipsters like yourself but I try to avoid all such pretentious displays of posteuring.

    You’ve probably have been living in the ivory tower too long, Professor. Latte-sipping intellectual pretension is de rigueur for the academic class and what passes for cogent argument in the universities these days. Your posts here are excellent examples of this trend.

    BTW, are you on sabbatical? You certainly seem to have a lot of time on your hands to spend so much of it on this site. The indolence and “leisure” of the chattering classes, eh?

    If you had understood this exchange, you’d see that it was restructure that has turned this into a “semantic” quible. Not me. It is he/she that has repeatedly displayed pretentious (and incompetent!) understanding of not only critical thinking skills and basic english language but also first order logic. I’ve only used language a competent high schooler could understand (which would seem to exclude you). It was restructure that objected (incorrectly) to my correct use of “empathy” and has yet to show anything for his/her whacky claims.

    Translation: You are offering a typically smug version of that playground complaint—Restructure started it first! Bravo.

    Now please go back to your waxing poetic about “power structures” all that other stuff you know nothing about but like to think you do.

    This muttered from the high priest(ess) of pedantry and intellectual narcissism incarnate. LoL.

    And you clearly have no clue what White racist power and institutions are about–except as occasions to launch into one of your boring lectures. After all, you have turned a discussion about how Whites supposed can empathize with racial minorities into an unintended self-parody of the (academic) windbag.

    Since your discussion of the definition of empathy has long ago ceased to convince or even mildly entertain, here is better topic for you to wax poetic on:

    Please give a lecture on what the definition of “is” is.

    This profound epistemological question certainly warrants the attention of a superior intellect like yours.

  118. Restructure! Says:

    Um, I’m pretty sure he’s NOT a professor. I certainly hope that professors don’t go home at night and grade strangers on the Internet with “You still get an “F” in 1st order logic!”

    He’s probably a philosophy student who specializes in epistemology, and also has a background in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind.

  119. Restructure! Says:

    Philosophy is pretty pretentious-sounding by default.

  120. Mike Says:

    I love your blog.

  121. Man of Leisure Says:

    @Lxy

    “You’ve probably have been living in the ivory tower too long, Professor. Latte-sipping intellectual pretension is de rigueur for the academic class and what passes for cogent argument in the universities these days. Your posts here are excellent examples of this trend.”

    I don’t work in academia. Never had much interest working there. Too many pretentious folks like yourself and restructure (only much smarter and far more educated ;)).

    It’s interesting and ironic that you call me pretentious when restructure first used the declaritive/procedural distinction, logical impossibility, and 1st order logic (albeit all incompetently) while *I’ am* called “pretentious” for using…the Webster’s online American dictionary….

    Using reason, good old American English instead of 1st order logic, and evidence is now seen as pretentious among the hipster intelligentsia such as yourself, I guess. Not all of us will trade in our old ways for masturbatory slogans and neologism (“racial tourism”!) while shirking all substantive dialogue. If indulging in self-aggrandizing celebration with “theboxman” over said slogans and neologisms, bullying others with snide sarcastic remarks when you don’t happen to agree with them only to dissipate like a fart in the wind, leaving the foul smell of pretension and all intellectual accountability behind when called on such nonsense is what you consider to be “cogent arguments,” then I guess I don’t engage in that kind of “cogent argumentation”.

    “Translation: You are offering a typically smug version of that playground complaint—Restructure started it first! Bravo.”

    No, it’s not like that at all. All I’ve tried to do is unravel and unweave all the claptrap and pretense that restructure has weaved just to avoid having her ego deflated a bit (hint: she’s not always right and does have something to learn from others) in order to get at the truth.

    It’s interesting and ironic that you call me pretentious when restructure first used the declaritive/procedural distinction, logical impossibility, and 1st order logic (albeit all incompetently) while *I’ am* pretentious for using…the Webster’s online American dictionary….(I know! I’m so ivory tower!)

    Using reason, good old American English instead of 1st order logic, and evidence is now seen as pretentious among the hipster intelligentsia like yourself, I guess. But not all of us will trade in our old ways for inane masturbatory slogans and neologism (“racial tourism”!) while shirking all substantive dialogue. If indulging in self-aggrandizing celebration with “theboxman” over said slogans and neologisms, bullying others with sarcastic snide remarks only to dissipate like a fart in the wind leaving the stench of pretension and all intellectual accountability behind when called on such nonsense is what you consider to be “cogent argumentation,” then I guess I don’t engage in that kind of “cogent argumentation”. I guess according to hipsters, “cogent arguments” also must be a neologism that stands for what us regular but less hip folks call “wind-bagging”, “intellectual bullying”, and “being just an overall jerk”.

  122. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Um, I’m pretty sure he’s NOT a professor. I certainly hope that professors don’t go home at night and grade strangers on the Internet with “You still get an “F” in 1st order logic!”

    Correct. I’m just a humble student of philosophy (you probably studied the subject too but haven’t seem to mastered much outside of the PoMo stuff but like to pretend you have)

    “He’s probably a philosophy student who specializes in epistemology, and also has a background in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind.”

    No, my interests are in comparative philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysics. The knowledge I used to confute your arguments is what many competent philosophy student knows even without specialization in those areas. I do have side interests in the philosophy of language, mind and epistemology though (like many other areas in philosophy).

    “First of all, it is ironic that you accuse me of being pretentious and suggesting that I grow up, when your behaviour in this thread has been extremely pretentious, hostile, and immature.”

    No, I don’t think I have (though please, just don’t try to pull out the first order logic to try and prove to me I have!). Anyway, I certainly haven’t been anywhere near as pretentious, pompous, arrogant, and lacking in intellectual honesty as you, Lxy and boxman.

    “Now I think Quine’s paper is quite far removed from the original topic…”

    I agree. See the mess you have weaved! lol

    But I’m just really sick of all this cliqueshness and high-school pettiness I’m seeing from you, Lxy and others. I think I really got on your nerves for some reason. That reason is probabl that I wasn’t here to inflated your already bloated ego with hot air like some of the rest of your readership. I just wanted to honest and informative discussions.

    I really wasn’t trying to or be acerbic and rub your nose in it, but I eventually realized that there really are those that do need to have their egos wounded it bit. So when you feel the need to hurl petty insults at me, maybe you should take a look at your own behavior in this thread and see that maybe you do have something to learn from others and that it was really your pettiness that led you down this path?

  123. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    You are an insult to anyone who studies philosophy. Did you think that I wouldn’t actually follow through with your suggestion and read Quine’s paper?

    BTW, you’re not understanding what a propositional attitude is. It’s not the clause or the content of the clause after the “that” in relation between someone and a belief etc. It is the whole prosition. In a propositional attitude sentence like “Quine wants a sloop”, sloop is not a proposition and yet this is an example (an example that Quine uses in his paper) of a propositional attitude.

    You are the one who does not understand what a propositional attitude is. The adjective “propositional” does not refer to the whole proposition, but the clause after the “that”. Even the Wikipedia explanation of propositional attitude confirms that I understood it correctly and that you don’t, or that you are purposely lying and betting that nobody would find out.

    Quine rendered the example of “I want a sloop” as:

    (2) “∃x(x is a sloop. I want x.)”, or
    (4) “∃x(x is a sloop. I wish that I have x.)”, or
    (6) “I wish that ∃x(x is a sloop. I have x.)”, or
    (25) “∃x[x is a sloop. I wish z(I have z) of x.]”

    Quine says that (2) is correct insofar as he wants a specific sloop, but (2) conveys the wrong idea if he wants a mere relief from slooplessness. The ideas that Quine tries to convey in (4) and (6) and conveys in (25) are about wanting as wishing that a proposition is true.

    You are completely wrong, due to either severe incompetence in philosophical literacy, or because you are an intellectually dishonest sophist who makes philosophy look bad by promoting philosophical debate as mental gymnastics. I truly thought that those who were interested in philosophy were primarily seeking truth, but you have shown that some philosophy students use their partial understanding of philosophy to simply make themselves look smart.

  124. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    Correct. I’m just a humble student of philosophy (you probably studied the subject too but haven’t seem to mastered much outside of the PoMo stuff but like to pretend you have)

    Given your incompetence in first-order logic and misunderstanding of propositional attitudes, I do not think you are qualified to evaluate other people’s mastering of philosophical subjects. You seem to readily accuse others of not mastering a topic, while you lack the foundational conceptual understanding of said topic.

  125. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Given your incompetence in first-order logic and misunderstanding of propositional attitudes, I do not think you are qualified to evaluate other people’s mastering of philosophical subjects. You seem to readily accuse others of not mastering a topic, while you lack the foundational conceptual understanding of said topic.”

    Care to elaborate? But all diversions aside, you have yet to show anyhthing so far related to the real issues and that’s just plane sad. I know I’ve humliated you in showing how pretentious and incompetent you are in 1st order logic and many other things but just stop it with the resentment. you’re looking to be very very childish.

  126. Man of Leisure Says:

    This is worse than your petty semantic carping. you’re just not understanding what quine is saying, dear. Here’s another instance of me schooling you again on logic.

    “You are the one who does not understand what a propositional attitude is. The adjective “propositional” does not refer to the whole proposition, but the clause after the “that”. ”

    You can formulate any non propostional entity as a proposition. that was Quine’s point. if z is a feeling and x knows z, this can be formulated as there exists come z such that x knows z and z is a feeling. That still doesn’t mean you can quantify into propositional attitudes. Even proper names can be rendered into propositional formate as Quine showed. “John likes Quine” can be read as “John likes some x such that *x Quines*.” Like I said, that still doesn’t mean you can quantify into propositional attitudes. Quine’s point (to which you have missed totally) is that wanting etc (involving relations between those who want and strictly speaking entities and not propositions) and believing (involving relations between believers and propositions) are incapable of quantifying in though both are capable of being read as that between some entity and a proposition. Of course, you are not smart enough to know way because you can only superficially read Quine’s paper.

    BTW, that’s not the only problem with your use of the K predicate.

  127. Man of Leisure Says:

    Irony. you read the first few paragraphs of that paper not knowing that the part you’ve quoted is actually devastating to your own interpretation.

  128. Man of Leisure Says:

    To reiterate, ANY entity may be rendered in propositional format thereby obviating your petty objection that since z is a feeling and not a “propositional attitude,” [sic], it is not subject to the famous proscriptions against quantifying in. Your own quote from Quine’s paper shows that your K predicate CAN be rendered as a relation between a person and a predicate(!) making it a propositional attitude (with all its associated technical problems!)

    The mess you weave to weasel out of accepting responsibility and protect your fragile ego!

    Pathetic.

  129. Man of Leisure Says:

    oops,

    I meant,

    “Your own quote from Quine’s paper shows that your K predicate CAN be rendered as a relation between a person and a *proposition*…”

  130. Man of Leisure Says:

    logic lesson for restructure!

    From “Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes”

    “Now intentions named thus by the “that”-clauses, without free variables, I shall speak of more specifically as intentions of degree 0, or propositions. *In addition* I shall…recognize intentions of degree 1, or attributes. These are to be named by prefixing a variable to the sentence in which it occurs free; thus z(z is a spy) is spyhood” [emphasis mine].

    In other words, consider your object of feeling, which you used in your example using the bounded variable “z” to denote; we can render z(z is a feeling) or z(z has the quality of feelinghood) which would both be propositional rendering of z (namely saying that it is a feeling or has the property of feelinghood).

  131. Man of Leisure Says:

    Also,

    from III

    “Striving and wishing, like believing, are propositional attitudes and referentially opaque. (3) and (4) are objectionable in the same way as (7),…”

    wow…

  132. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    You can formulate any non propostional entity as a proposition. that was Quine’s point.

    Prove it. He said no such thing in his paper.

    if z is a feeling and x knows z, this can be formulated as there exists come z such that x knows z and z is a feeling.

    You still have not expressed it as a propositional attitude. If it was expressed as a propositional attitude, the “that” would be after “know”, not “such”.

    That still doesn’t mean you can quantify into propositional attitudes.

    I assume that you again do not mean to make a modal claim here…

    Even proper names can be rendered into propositional formate as Quine showed. “John likes Quine” can be read as “John likes some x such that *x Quines*.”

    That is still not expressed as propositional attitude (and it’s not even the same meaning). The “that” should be after “likes”, not “such”.

    Quine’s point (to which you have missed totally) is that wanting etc (involving relations between those who want and strictly speaking entities and not propositions) and believing (involving relations between believers and propositions) are incapable of quantifying in though both are capable of being read as that between some entity and a proposition.

    I accept this, but you have not proven that any proposition can be correctly formulated as having an embedded proposition.

    To reiterate, ANY entity may be rendered in propositional format thereby obviating your petty objection that since z is a feeling and not a “propositional attitude,” [sic], it is not subject to the famous proscriptions against quantifying in.

    You have not shown that any proposition can be correctly formulated as a propositional attitude.

    Your own quote from Quine’s paper shows that your K predicate CAN be rendered as a relation between a person and a [proposition](!) making it a propositional attitude (with all its associated technical problems!)

    No. You have not shown this. A person wanting or believing believing something can be rendered as a relation between a person and a proposition, but you have not shown that this is the case for “any entity”.

  133. Man of Leisure Says:

    “Prove it. He said no such thing in his paper.”

    He did in another paper, and besides, it not a crucial point because 1. the point is easy to check for onself 2. he has shown that all intentional propositions or attitudes (such a feelings) objects can be formed into propositions. That’s all it takes to confound your incompetent and ridiculous reading of Quine.

    “You still have not expressed it as a propositional attitude. If it was expressed as a propositional attitude, the “that” would be after “know”, not “such”.”

    You usually do put a “that” behind it and you can with my examples. It’s not important to put a “that”. That’s just a bit of formalism. Consider “I know you are pretentious” and I know *that* you are pretentious.” Both mean exactly the same thing. But I can see why you’d want to harp on this point seeinbg that you’re very petty and small-minded.

    “I assume that you again do not mean to make a modal claim here…”

    Context…my dear, context. You can’t quantify into these propositional attitudes (using the basic logical apparatus you have used as Quine had shown). Let me guess, you’re the type that would carp with me if I had said, “the plane leaves tomorrow so let’s pack everything” with “you can’t pack everything in the universe inside the luggage including the luggage itself!”

    “I accept this, but you have not proven that any proposition can be correctly formulated as having an embedded proposition.”

    Umm,…where did I say that *any* proposition cannot have an embedded sub-prop? Those that involve propositional attitudes are special and deserve special treatment and are extremely problematic for logicians.

    “No. You have not shown this. A person wanting or believing believing something can be rendered as a relation between a person and a proposition, but you have not shown that this is the case for “any entity”.”

    I’ve shown enough to prove you wrong and that is more than enough. Since you can’t come up with a counter example, that relevant, I assume that you are conceding failure.

  134. Man of Leisure Says:

    And it’s clear to anyone competent in logic *why* quine objected to quantifying inside propositiona attitudes and why precisely for those same reasons your rendering of feelings as under the quantifier is problematic. (major issue here is substitutional failure).

  135. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    I do not know if you really are this illogical, or if you are just using rhetoric to defend yourself.

    And it’s clear to anyone competent in logic *why* quine objected to quantifying inside propositiona attitudes and why precisely for those same reasons your rendering of feelings as under the quantifier is problematic. (major issue here is substitutional failure).

    Of course, it is obvious that there are serious problems quantifying inside propositional attitudes.

    What you have to show is that a person knowing a feeling (knowing how) is a propositional attitude.

    He did in another paper, and besides, it not a crucial point because 1. the point is easy to check for onself 2. he has shown that all intentional propositions or attitudes (such a feelings) objects can be formed into propositions. That’s all it takes to confound your incompetent and ridiculous reading of Quine.

    Look, the reason why you want to reformulate my FOL statements into having “that” clauses was to show that it can be reformulated as a propositional attitude. However, right now, you are assuming what you are trying to prove, that a person knowing feelings (knowing how) is propositional attitude. You are begging the question, again.

    You usually do put a “that” behind it and you can with my examples. It’s not important to put a “that”. That’s just a bit of formalism. Consider “I know you are pretentious” and I know *that* you are pretentious.” Both mean exactly the same thing. But I can see why you’d want to harp on this point seeinbg that you’re very petty and small-minded.

    Yes, but you are unable to correctly formulate a person knowing a feeling (knowing how) as a propositional attitude with a “that” in the right place, because it is not a propositional attitude. I did not say that the “that” in the right place was necessary; I only mean that it is sufficient.

    Umm,…where did I say that *any* proposition cannot have an embedded sub-prop? Those that involve propositional attitudes are special and deserve special treatment and are extremely problematic for logicians.

    Jeez. What you were trying to prove is that a person knowing a feeling (knowing how) is a propositional attitude because it can be reformulated with the “that” clause in the right place. You have not shown that a person knowing a feeling (knowing how) is a propositional attitude, and if you just assume that it is and that therefore it can be reformulated, you are using circular logic again.

    I’ve shown enough to prove you wrong and that is more than enough. Since you can’t come up with a counter example, that relevant, I assume that you are conceding failure.

    You have not shown that my K predicate CAN be rendered as a relation between a person and a proposition, thereby making it a propositional attitude with all its associated technical problems. All you did was assume that it was a propositional attitude and that therefore it can be rendered as such, which is question begging.

  136. Man of Leisure Says:

    “What you have to show is that a person knowing a feeling (knowing how) is a propositional attitude.”

    That’s very easy to show. And the fact that you haven’t realized this shows, to my mind, a serious inability to come to terms with the fact that you have been displaying very dishonest methods of argumentation lacking integrity.

    This is what you thought of empathy

    “This is what I believe about empathy:
    1. ∀x∀y(M(x,y) -> ∃z((F(z) ∧ K(y,z)) -> K(x,z)))
    [For all x and all y, if x empathizes with y, then there exists a z such that if z is a feeling and y knows z, then x knows z. (If x empathizes with y, then there is a feeling that y knows that x also knows.)]”

    But it’s not enough to show that one knows how it feels to empathize so you must make a far stronger claim. I can know how it feels in the sense that I can have or have had an experience or feeling of someone else but not empathize at all with that person. That’s because our mutually shared feelings may simply be coincident, or even if this person’s feelings caused me to have the same type of feeling in some unconscious way, in order for me to empathize, I would need to not only know that I have a certain kind of feeling but that I would have to know *that* I have the same kind of *feeling or experience as that person*.

    An all powerful neurosurgeon can induce anyone to have any kind of feeling she wishes. But that would not make the person under her control empathic at all to anyone because such feelings would be “free floating” and not empathically related to anyone. So to have a empathic experience or to know what someone is feeling, I would not only need to know that experience (through direct experience with it or vicarious simulation or explicit or implicit communication, or some other method) but I would need to know that the other person has that kind of similar experience. Just because two individuals have the same kind of experience does not mean that they empathize with each other. To do so entails a that-clause that is propositional (“that x, the subject of my intentional thoughts, also has this kind of experience/feeling”).

    But knowing you, you’d probably just go on caviling over any arbitrary trifling minutiae trying to avoid the real issues.

  137. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    Look, you insufferable fool, all you did there was argue that empathy requires “knowing that”, which is what I agreed with at the beginning of this thread. Once again, whatever statements you make about empathy are irrelevant, because I’m not talking about empathy.

    You fail at reasoning. I had thought that education in philosophy had a protective effect against your type of idiocy, but I was completely wrong. Take your straw man arguments and circular reasoning and insert them into your philosophy essays and see what you get. Maybe you already do, and you are procrastinating online to avoid dealing with the numerous indications that you are in the wrong discipline.

  138. Man of Leisure Says:

    ^^^So predictable. It was you that brought in empathy when you said that “This is what I believe about empathy…”

    You just can’t handle the fact that you got your ass owned!

    This may be the most devastating ownage in blogging history. LOL But I don’t want to rub it in that much so peace.

    Try to keep up!

  139. Man of Leisure Says:

    What you now say:

    “Look, you insufferable fool, all you did there was argue that empathy requires “knowing that”, which is what I agreed with at the beginning of this thread.”

    The FOL statement you were responding to was the one involving your beliefs about empathy and the K predicate.

    “This is what I believe about empathy:
    1. ∀x∀y(M(x,y) -> ∃z((F(z) ∧ K(y,z)) -> K(x,z)))
    [For all x and all y, if x empathizes with y, then there exists a z such that if z is a feeling and y knows z, then x knows z. (If x empathizes with y, then there is a feeling that y knows that x also knows.)]”

    What you said few posts up

    “Look, the reason why you want to reformulate my FOL statements into having “that” clauses was to show that it can be reformulated as a propositional attitude. However, right now, you are assuming what you are trying to prove, that a person knowing feelings (knowing how) is propositional attitude. You are begging the question, again.”

    What an airhead!!!!

  140. Man of Leisure Says:

    It is so predicatble of you that you’d engage in petty insults and ad homs when you have been shown a fraud and completely confuted.

  141. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    I am engaging in ad hominem because it is obvious that you are some kind of stubborn troll who is either too stupid or too dishonest to own up to your mistakes. You even accuse me of ad hominem when I had been extremely patient and had given you the benefit of the doubt for all this time and let you insult me with sexist remarks, among other things. I should have known that you are not really interested in truth, but your purpose is to dominate and convince yourself with twisted sophistry that you are intellectually superior.

    Look, you illiterate, pathetic failure of philosophy student, you quoted and attempted to respond to this:

    “What you have to show is that a person knowing a feeling (knowing how) is a propositional attitude.”

    The fact that empathy requires knowing that does NOT show that a person knowing a feeling (knowing how) is a propositional attitude.

    When I said that I was not talking about empathy, “what I’m talking about” refers to knowing a feeling (knowing how). “What I’m talking about” does not refer to the damn FOL statement about empathy.

    You are supposed to correctly reformulate the K predicate so that it is in the form of a propositional attitude, not add a damn conjunction to the FOL statement about empathy.

    Seriously, your belief that you are the victor in “the most devastating ownage in blogging history” is true only within your private language.

  142. Man of Leisure Says:

    look, you spoiled little brat, this thread was never about the solipsistic act of knowing “a feeling” simpliciter. You are now trying to make it shuch (and even if you did, as Quine shown, you still be wrong).

    It is about knowing or not knowing *other peoples’ feelings or experiences* (!) as in white people’s supposed inability to know *other peoples’* (minorities) feelings.

    Not even you can be this ditzy and forget what the whole thread is about. But this is a tactic you’ve used repeatedly only to have it back fire on you. WHen you realize you’ve been utterly confuted by the evidence and shown how little you actually know, you lie, through around the red herrings and say that you never claimed such and such. You did this when you claimed that you never claimed that there was no declaritive content in knowing how others feel. You were humiliated when I posted the exact words from your own post showing that you, indeed, had denied it. Just about every major point you made had been shown to be false and that you are BSing your way through this discusion. You are a fraud and you have been exposed as such on your own blog.

    “When I said that I was not talking about empathy, “what I’m talking about” refers to knowing a feeling (knowing how). “What I’m talking about” does not refer to the damn FOL statement about empathy.”

    1. I already proved that you were talking about empathy

    2. You were the one that used the M predicate (that you described as the empathy predicate!) in explicating what you thought about knowing.

    “[For all x and all y, if x empathizes with y, then there exists a z such that if z is a feeling and y knows z"

    To which it was shown to be incapable of quantifying in per Quine (and you still haven't shown that you are literate enough to read and understand Quine's paper).

    Get this through your thick skull, it was *you* that was using the K predicate to talk about *empathy*.

    The K predicate should already be a propositional attitude. Stop avoiding reality. Can you fool yourself? Is your ego that fragile that you need to try and pull this crazy stunt? Do you know how hysterical, childish, crazy and pathetic you now sound? Get a grip, you sad excuse for a "feminist" [sic] and human being.

  143. Man of Leisure Says:

    the major difference between pretentious PoMos like you or Lxy and myself is that you use logic, critical thinking, and other epistemic resources as a weapon to elevate your own egos and bash others in the attempt to “win” debates while I use them to get at the truth.

  144. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    You did this when you claimed that you never claimed that there was no declaritive content in knowing how others feel.

    “Knowing that” involves declarative knowledge; “knowing how” involves procedural knowledge.

    You were humiliated when I posted the exact words from your own post showing that you, indeed, had denied it.

    I don’t remember this at all. All I remember is that you kept on insisting that empathy involved declarative knowledge, which is irrelevant, but which I agree with.

    Just about every major point you made had been shown to be false and that you are BSing your way through this discusion.

    You refuted straw men about empathy, not my points.

    You are a fraud and you have been exposed as such on your own blog.

    Fraud of what?

    1. I already proved that you were talking about empathy

    Do you mean the FOL statement that I used to distinguish empathy from what I am talking about (knowing a feeling (knowing how))?

    To which it was shown to be incapable of quantifying in per Quine

    But I didn’t quantify in.

    (and you still haven’t shown that you are literate enough to read and understand Quine’s paper).

    You have proven yourself to be illiterate wrt Quine’s paper when you said, “You can formulate any non propostional entity as a proposition. that was Quine’s point”, which was not the point of the paper. If it is, provide a quotation with a page number.

    Get this through your thick skull, it was *you* that was using the K predicate to talk about *empathy*.

    Yes, I did it to get through your thick skull that empathy and knowing a feeling are not equivalent.

    The K predicate should already be a propositional attitude. Stop avoiding reality.

    This is so typical of you, asserting your unfounded assumption without any proof.

    the major difference between pretentious PoMos like you or Lxy and myself is that you use logic, critical thinking, and other epistemic resources as a weapon to elevate your own egos and bash others in the attempt to “win” debates while I use them to get at the truth.

    lol @ irony

  145. Man of Leisure Says:

    ““Knowing that” involves declarative knowledge; “knowing how” involves procedural knowledge.”

    You are too obsessed with this distinction. But I can see that your red herring depends on some sort of distraction and this is yours and you’re sticken to it. The distinction isn’t even that interesting to many people and there’s probably a very gray line between the the domains.

    “I don’t remember this at all. All I remember is that you kept on insisting that empathy involved declarative knowledge, which is irrelevant, but which I agree with.”

    Selective memory is common to those who can’t handle being proven wrong. I think you’re falling to peices over this since you must have a eally fragile ego that must be maintain at all cost. It’s like those people who have been molested as childrena nd can’t handle the truth so they develop selective memory to avoid reality. It’s pretty clear that empathy is relevant, that I’ve proven it so, and that you have denied in explicit terms that there was no declaritive content in empathy from the start. This is really sad. It really is to see someone mentally collapse so hard after being delt with such a blow to their ego.

  146. Restructure! Says:

    Man of Leisure,

    Selective memory is common to those who can’t handle being proven wrong. I think you’re falling to peices over this since you must have a eally fragile ego that must be maintain at all cost. It’s like those people who have been molested as childrena nd can’t handle the truth so they develop selective memory to avoid reality. It’s pretty clear that empathy is relevant, that I’ve proven it so, and that you have denied in explicit terms that there was no declaritive content in empathy from the start. This is really sad. It really is to see someone mentally collapse so hard after being delt with such a blow to their ego.

    This is a textual conversation, and everything is recorded. I can easily use the browser’s search function and search for the word “declarative” to find all instances of where I used the word. Here is the list of my statements which include the word “declarative”:

    - “It’s not “know that”, it’s “know how”. It’s not declarative knowledge, but procedural knowledge.”
    - “Being embodied in a body of colour is different from being embodied in a white body, mostly because society treats bodies of colour and white bodies differently. What cannot be experienced except first-hand are the sensorimotor experiences associated with being of a certain race in a society that treats you differently because of your race. Again, this is not about propositions or declarative statements about the world.”
    - ““Knowing that” involves declarative knowledge; “knowing how” involves procedural knowledge.”

    All you have done previously and which you are still doing is argue against the straw man that empathy involves no declarative knowledge. But I didn’t say that empathy involves no declarative knowledge. I said that in knowing how it feels to be a person of colour, the “knowing how” is not declarative knowledge, and that the “knowing how” is not empathy or about empathy.

    Of course, you are too stupid to understand the nuance of what I am saying, so you are going to respond again with “But I have proven that empathy requires declarative knowledge!” or “But I have proven that empathy requires knowing that!” or “But I have proven that empathy involves a propositional attitude!” or other statements about the nature of empathy that are all straw men and irrelevant.

  147. Man of Leisure Says:

    you’re just repeating yourself all the points you’ve been shown to be wrong over and over again by me.

  148. bikerbernie Says:

    Seriously, many here want me prove what I said through citing, I have done that . . . more than once and some have ignored that I cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics and it was still ignored like I never said it . . . well it is your turn ladies all you ever do is state $0.78 on a dollar and I have never seen anyone cite any studies or links to these studies. Additionally, anything referenced involves single incidences and nothing that proves an “across the board” problem.

    The ball is in your court.

    It is impossible to argue with people that use elementary and female privilege arguments like “because I said so.” or “friend told me.”

    b

  149. Being Amber Rhea » Blog Archive » links for 2009-02-19 Says:

    [...] White people cannot know how it feels to be a person of colour. « Restructure! "Racial empathy cannot be learned by simply surrounding yourself with people of other races, and racial empathy is different from knowing how it feels to be of a different race. When a white person declares that she knows how it feels to be a person of colour, it is another display of white privilege and assumed omniscience." (tags: race racism privilege society) [...]

  150. Therese Says:

    I believe that the only reason that a person would ever say that they understand what another person of a different race feels like would be because they have been driven to the assumption that it is necessary to become like that race to be accepted among their peers. Also, why do certain people put such an importance on their race that if someone said I understand what it’s like to be a (insert race here) because I’ve done this, they would be insulted because their race had been. Firstly, it would probably be a complement, because this person wishes to be accepted as a (insert race here), secondly if we are ever going to live in a truly non-racist society we need to accept that everyone is a person, and that is what unites us, instead of finding difference that separate us.

  151. Patsy Says:

    Well I think you made a good point !HOWEVER my concern is that you are calling the race of people “WHITE” instead of Caucaisan HOWEVER you are calling everyone else ‘ PEOPLE OF COLOR’ that is just a way to discriminate against the Caucaisan people…..if we are going to call a race of people a color crayon then call them all the same thing !!!!BLACK, BROWN ETC….. Let’s be fair BECAUSE ISN’T THAT WHAT YOU WANT FAIR FOR ALL RACES!!! OR WAIT MAYBE JUST YOUR RACE!!!

  152. Jen Says:

    I absolutely agree.

  153. kathy Says:

    @Patsy,
    White and People of Color terms are more about construction of POWER, and unequal, double standards based on the power construct, therefore, there is no discrimination by using those terms as descriptives.
    Patsy, no need to yell, we know you are afraid you will get the same treatment whites been meting out, but sorry, that is not yet about to happen. I am sorry you are afraid you will lose all the unearned opportunities that you haven’t worked for, it’s sort of sad that you are MORE afraid of justice and equality for all than you are interested in seeing a world where color arousal doesn’t cause fear, hatred, pain, and unfair obstacles that block the way of people just trying to live a life with the same interests and concerns as you: housing, health care, education and employment opportunities and fairness in the justice system.

  154. Therese Says:

    ok… this is really weird… but the Therese person above there is not me… so, there must be another Therese person here, or they are trying to “speak like me” but with bad spelling.

  155. White Anti-Racists who hope to be White Saviours believe in White Supremacy. « Restructure! Says:

    [...] White people cannot know how it feels to be a person of colour. by Restructure! [...]

  156. Saxman Says:

    Restructure: ” Racial empathy cannot be learned by simply surrounding yourself with people of other races.
    to
    Racial empathy cannot be learned by simply surrounding yourself with people of other races, and racial empathy is different from knowing how it feels to be of a different race.”

    I’m obviously late to the discussion, so I haven’t read all 155 or so of the comments, but I would like a little more clarification, or expansion, of your comment above. I agree 100% with the first part of your statement, & agree, for the most part, with the latter. However, I do believe that true empathy IS knowing how those of a different race/gender/nationality/economic or social class, etc. may feel.

    For just as simply hanging around those of the different group won’t make someone empathetic, for that is something people either are, or consciously do, so too, how much, or how deeply one can empathize varies as to what their shared experiences are.

    I bet those freedom riders in the South learned pretty quickly what it felt like, being black, same as a reporter living & hanging in fox holes during WWII learned what it was like being a soldier. Now neither one became the others, but they could sure “know what it feels like”, that is, unless they refused to feel…

    I’m very wary of broad statements anyway, for you cannot assume that even though we may all be in America, life experiences of black people are about as diverse as those for white people. Sure there are some generalities, but I won’t even begin to list examples of blacks or whites who have little in common with any stereotypical life experiences one might assume.

    I’m also very disappointed & a bit discouraged, at how many white friends I have, who despite growing up, going to school or work, & living in the same neighborhood as their black classmates, or co-workers, still have nothing to do with each other, “after 5″. Which goes to your first point, simply being in school or at work all day, with others, does not create empathy, hell, it doesn’t even automatically create knowing much about the others’ culture.

    So, back to my question, what to you differentiates “racial empathy”, from “knowing what it feels like”?
    thank you…

  157. Restructure! Says:

    I can empathize with a man when he gets kicked in the balls, but I don’t know how it feels to be kicked in the balls, as I have none.


Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers

%d bloggers like this: