"Heads I win, tails you lose": A foray into the psychology of philosophy


Abstract
One of the classic papers of Australian feminist philosophy is G. Lloyd's "The Man of Reason" (Lloyd, 1979). The main concern of this paper is the alleged maleness of the Man of Reason, i.e., the thesis that our philosophical tradition in some deep way associates the concepts rational and male. Lloyd claims that her main goal is to bring this "undoubted" thesis "into clearer focus" (p.18), and indeed she makes no strenuous effort to demonstrate that the to-be-clarified thesis is actually true. There are however a few places where she advances material she seems to be taking as some kind of evidence that the Man of Reason is male. One is on the second page, where she quotes from Augustine: And finally we see man, made in your image and likeness, ruling over all the irrational animals for the very reason that he was made in your image and resembles you, that is because he has the power of reason and understanding. And just as in man's soul there are two forces; on which is dominant because it deliberates and one which obeys because it is subject to such guidance, in the same way in the physical sense, woman has been made for man. In her mind and her rational intelligence she has a nature the equal of man's, but in sex she is physically subject to him in the same way as our natural impulses need to be subjected to the reasoning power of the mind, in order that the actions to which they lead may be inspired by the principles of good conduct. Now an interesting feature of this passage is that it appears to directly contradict the thesis of the maleness of the Man of Reason. Far from saying that rationality is a male prerogative, Augustine claims that "in her mind and her rational intelligence she has a nature the equal of man's" (my emphasis). Certainly Augustine claims that in sex woman is subject to man, and he also claims that there is an analogy or parallel between the dominance of man over woman in sex and the dominance of the rational part of the mind over the natural impulses..
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