FreethoughtBlogs is doing a big shuffle, with many new people joining the network. Still other members are leaving (amicably) to form another atheism & social justice blogging network, The Orbit. As part of this, A Trivial Knot is moving to FreethoughtBlogs.
I will look fondly upon my time at atrivialknot.wordpress.com, when I’ve written some of my best material (so far). This will not be the last post of this blog quite yet. I have to tie up a few loose ends (mainly posting a “best of” summary) later. But please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds. And sorry for the ads, I don’t like them either.
I just got done writing two posts which explicitly apply philosophy to the practical issues of gender and orientation. Meanwhile in the atheosphere, PZ Myers wrote two posts defending philosophy as a field, to the disagreement of many commenters. Anti-philosophy sentiments in the atheist movement are nothing new, but I continue to find them strange since the atheist movement is more dependent on philosophy than literally any other social movement I know of.
A lot of this has to do with what people consider to be the central example of philosophy. My central example of philosophy is modern analytic philosophy, particularly 20th century philosophy of language and logic. Most atheists, on the other hand, seem to think the central examples of philosophy are anti-scientific skepticism and religious apologetics.
One model of gender is that you are the gender that you identify as. This is a great model because everyone gets to be the gender that they want to be. It is, by definition, desirable for people to get what they want.1
Many people express concerns about the self-identity model of gender. What if someone abuses it? What if someone disingenuously claims to be a woman, not because they want it, but for some strategic advantage? I don’t think this is much of an issue, since empirically this does not appear to happen very often, if at all. But the concern is noted.
I think a far more common issue is when someone is deciding what gender to identify as. You can’t use the self-identity model as a guide when your self-identity is precisely the thing in question. When the self-identity model works, it defines what is desirable, and that is well and good. But it’s necessary to find at least one other model to supplement it so we can understand what it is exactly that we’re desiring. Here I will briefly describe a few alternative models.
In traditional color theory, there is the color wheel. The color wheel is nice and symmetric. But have you ever wondered why yellow seems brighter than the other colors? Why, when the color wheel is converted to gray-scale, isn’t it a uniform gray?
Two RGB color wheels are shown, but the right one is converted to grayscale.
12-unit Sonobe model
This model was created by assembling twelve Sonobe units (and variants) into a… thing. This shape doesn’t have a name, but it’s what you’d get if you replaced every face of an octahedron with a triangular pyramid.
But I don’t want to talk about the shape, I want to talk about the colors.