[OPE-L] Sexuality, Rationality & Irrationality under Capitalism

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Mon Apr 03 2006 - 13:14:41 EDT

Hi Jerry,

You wrote:

I think it could equally be said that there is also irrationality of parts
and overall rationality:

Sure - what you perceive as "rational" is in good part shaped by your own
station in life, or, if you like, by your position in the hierarchy of
social classes and your background. In a deductive argument, the conclusion
holds, if the premises are accepted. But if you have different premises or
different values, a different conclusion follows... and the "logic" of the
situation might shape the "logic" in your mind, or vice versa.

You wrote:

The issue of consumer behavior is one we've wrestled with over the years
on the list...

Yes - if advertising psychologists are to be believed, it has a lot to do
with habits, and people get habituated/conditioned to a consumption pattern
(a certain culture). But even that might have a certain rationality to it.

You wrote:

How is it that you were able to arrive at this generalization?

It's just my experience of life, that is all. I don't deny that we can do
some pretty whacky things in sexual relations, but usually people rather
quickly find out what their limits and abilities are, in that area. You can
have addictions and all sorts of psychopathologies too, but most sexual
worries are about what might/could/should/would happen, or fails to happen,
not what actually does happen, at least in my experience, leaving aside real
epidemics of sexual diseases. I mean, people might like to watch the Jerry
Springer show, but would they genuinely act like that themselves? My hunch
is, they mostly wouldn't.

You wrote:

I don't think that most people are even consciously aware of the
underpinnings of their sexual beliefs and practices.

Maybe so, but does that stop them from being rational - in the sense of
consciously weighing up choices and decisions based on their experience? If
there's something progressive about postmodernism, it is among other things
about trying to understand the "Other", who might have a rationality framed
in quite a different way than your own. But obviously there's ways and ways
to go about that, and merely professing a concern with the Other, is no
guarantee that anything much is truly understood. But really we don't get
anywhere much with this controversy, unless we have some kind of agreed
concept of rationality. For example, is terrorism irrational? From one point
of view, it is. From another point of view, it might not be. I'm generally
rather suspicious of claims about how irrational people are, in the same way
that I'm rather cautious about calling people stupid - the thing is that the
appearance of stupidity might just mask the real motivation for behaviour
which, if correctly understood, might not be so stupid at all. Moreover,
were I to dismiss people as irrational, I would not be able to learn much
from them either.

As regards revolutionaries, you're the expert, not me... but I agree that
people change themselves while they try to change their circumstances.


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