Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Simone de Beauvoir


Philosophie : Qu est-ce que l’homme ?

Du latin humanitas, le terme se traduit par nature humaine, culture générale de l’esprit.

L’Humanitas est le caractère de ce qui est humain.  Elle désigne aussi « les hommes » en général, le genre humain considéré dans son unité.

La plupart des philosophes définissent comme humain tout être doué de raison. Qu’est-ce que l’homme ? est la question métaphysique par excellence. A noter également que la définition de l’homme préoccupe les scientifiques.

Chez les Grecs, le but de la philosophie était d’enseigner aux hommes comment devenir humain, c’est-à-dire comment “coller” à la nature humaine (et à ses vertus) alors que les modernes, depuis Nietzsche, ont déplacé la question de la manière suivante : Comment l’homme, en dehors de toute nature humaine, peut-il devenir lui-même, s’inventer en toute liberté  ?

Définitions de l’homme par les Philosophes :

– Simone de Beauvoir:

« L’humanité est une suite discontinue d’hommes libres qu’isole irrémédiablement leur subjectivité. »

– Husserl sur l’homme :

« Chaque figure spirituelle se situe par nature dans l’espace de l’histoire universelle […]. Ce procès fait apparaître l’humanité comme une unique vie embrassant hommes et peuples et liée seulement par des traits spirituels : elle enveloppe une multitude de type d’humanité et de culture, mais qui, par transitions insensibles, se fondent les uns dans les autres. »

– Nietzsche sur la notion d’homme et d’humanité :

« L’humanité ! Fut-il jamais entre toutes les vieilles, une vieille plus horrible (si ce n’est peut-être la vérité ; un problème à l’usage des philosophes ? »

“L’homme est une corde tendue entre l’animal et le Surhomme, une corde au-dessus d’un abîme” (Deja une vieille corde qui va se cassee’)

– Merleau-Ponty sur l’historicité de l’homme :

“L’homme est une idée historique et non pas une espèce naturelle”

– Sartre :

“L’homme n’est rien d’autre que son projet, il n’existe que dans la mesure où il se réalise, il n’est donc rien d’autre que l’ensemble” (extrait de l’existentialisme est un humanisme)

– Heidegger :

“L’homme est un être des lointains”

– Pascal :

“L’homme n’est qu’un roseau, le plus faible de la nature; mais c’est un roseau pensant. Il ne faut pas que l’univers entier s’arme pour l’écraser : une vapeur, une goutte d’eau suffit pour le tuer.

Mais quand l’univers l’écraserait , l’homme serait encore plus noble que ce qui le tue, parce qu’il sait qu’il meurt, et l’avantage que l’univers a sur lui, l’univers n’en sait rien” (explication du roseau pensant)

Incest was inevitable to multiply mankind: It generated a multitude of dysfunctional humanity

Before the advent of faster and affordable locomotion to main urban centers in provinces, incest was inevitable

Simone de Beauvoir wrote:

The western socio-political structure of the 20th century was based on this premise: Incest is no longer permitted.

You read this cliché: Tribes looted neighboring tribes for the goods and wealth.

A rational reasoning that hides the tacit and more urgent purpose of attacking another tribe: Bringing in “fresh meat” of girls to increase the tribe’s choices.

Thus, razzia main objective, and tacitly acknowledged by most tribes, was to make sure that the tribe would Not die from incestuous customs.

A few tribes around the world made sure in their traditions to marry outside the village or tribe. Otherwise, the custom of incest was predominant in human procreation.

With the exception of France throughout its history of admitting mistresses as a custom in the nobility, in order Not to break the marriage and retain the wealth within the family, Britain and Germany were the hotbed of incestuous intermarriage in Europe.

It is documented that Hitler’s father married his daughter, probably without knowing this fact before he hired her to care for his house and then marrying her. He had intercourse with his close relative and the mother didn’t divulge to him explicitly that he is most probably the father.


The secret meeting of The Being and the Giant: Jean Paul Sartre and Charles De Gaulle

Jean Paul Sartre and Charles De Gaulle met in secrecy on May 18, 1969 between 11 pm and 2 am in the town of Sneem in Ireland, in the province of Kerry, close to Heron’s Cove where his wife Yvonne and him were settled during their vacation.

De Gaulle had resigned a year ago from power and refused to meddle in the presidential campaign that was raging in France.

Maurice Clavel arranged for this secret meeting by whisking Sartre clandestinely to the meeting place. The two men wanted that the conversation to be kept secret and not to talk about the conversation to anyone and no one was with them to record the communication.

Sartre had written “ L’Etre et le Neant” (The being and the void) and had declined the Nobel of literature for his book “Les Mots“. A decision that frustrated President de Gaulle because it touched the honor of France.

Bernard Fauconnier asked Sartre to write about the meeting and he was to submit the draft to Sartre. The latter died before reading the manuscript.  Fauconnier published his book in 1989.

Did Sartre divulged anything? Did De Gaulle transmit any thing from the conversation?  Or this conversation is a fiction gathered from the literature and stories of these two men?

Apparently, de Gaulle was worried about the Future and wanted to listen to the input of Sartre on the future. Probably, de Gaulle wanted to influence Sartre to convey his worries since the philosopher fascinated the new generations, was considered the godfather of the recurring upheavals and de Gaulle admitted that Sartre was doing well in his mission.

Jean Paul Sartre (this 150 cm and very ugly French philosopher) crossed all the red lines confounding the common sense consensus in the French and European communities.

When Sartre entered the room, de Gaulle was taking a nap and he didn’t stand up to meet Sartre.

De Gaulle was curious: Did you understand anything from the May 1968 upheaval by the youth? My first impression was that these rich kids organized a vast carnival but I had to take action.

Sartre: The movement has taken me by surprise. I met with the youth and followed their discussions but I remained clueless as to their purposes. It was an important symptom, but Not an event. The youth didn’t want to change the world: They wanted to change their traditional life, a path course that was determined by their parents and the community.

De Gaulle was upset that Sartre had signed on a letter that encouraged killing for a cause…

Jean Paul Sartre wrote: When we transcend our pen for a sword, we inevitably end up signing on calls for murder.

De Gaulle said:  We pretended to fight confused passions. We struggled for a cohort of denied and refused principles. And we strove to pay back a very cruel reality.

Jean Paul Sartre told de Gaulle: When I read what I published decades ago, I don’t understand much of what I meant. It is as my double was dictating to me. All these lucubration trying to affirm the free-will of individuals and encouraging them to stand fast. It is my double the clever one and I have been carrying him all along.

Sartre poured some whiskey in the glass of de Gaulle who reacted obfuscated. Sartre said: Come on. This time it is a little for France.  De Gaulle laughed internally and had tears. He said: If Yvonne could see me laughing. I have been told you are the Devil.

Sartre retorted: That would make you the Good God? You see, we always end up talking about our women.

Simone de Beauvoir is far more intelligent than I: She see everything and comprehend everything. For me, I am this hard working writer, and nothing comes easily to me.

De Gaulle: Why you never married Simone?

Sartre: I proposed to her long time ago but she didn’t care for marriage. It is better that way: I wouldn’t have been that prolific in my writing. I wonder what I would have done if I had kids.

De Gaulle: I couldn’t imagine you having children. It is like Flaubert, Stendhal, Balzac, Chateaubriand… You writers are like religious clerics, you live an apostolic style, churning out book after book

Sartre: Apparently I have a daughter.

De Gaulle: That is refreshing to know and I’m glad for you. You can consider yourself among the normal people after all.

De Gaulle was feeling slightly tipsy after two shots, even though Sartre had already emptied half the bottle. He said:

A person is but two dates: When he is born and the other date is inscribed without his consent. Do you believe in the role of the individual?

Sartre: Yes, I do. A game of dupes.

De Gaulle: You wouldn’t have tackled all these problems if you didn’t believe in the individual. Otherwise, you would have behaved as a fascist or a true Communist who care only for the masses.

De Gaulle resumed: If I couldn’t write and talk and converse, I would have let go of all these struggles for power. Reasonably, you should not have kept any friend siding with him, but you have been the conscious of Europe for many decades.  Simply, save the grain. Avoid inciting or fomenting further useless catastrophes and killing.

Sartre didn’t regret what he wrote: It was too late to back track and regurgitate many of the non-sense that circumstances cornered him into taking dubious positions.

What Sartre was convinced of was that the western societies will tremble from the mass uprising of the third world for all the damages and plunders they effected upon these people. The Western nations will have to pay dearly, but at the end the reparation will be in blood.

Note 1: Andre Malraux also had a final conversation with de Gaulle and published “Les chenes qu’on abat” in 1971 (after de gaulle passed away). Malraux is to have commented “After Auschwitz, all tragedies are insignificant”. If Malraux lived long enough he would have witnessed the genocides in Cambodia by the Red Khmer, Rwanda, Congo, kid soldiers, food embargo on Iraq. De Gaulle considered Mao of China as the biggest criminal in history who let millions of his people die of hunger.

Note 2: De Gaulle wanted to visit Ireland because his grandmother was Irish. He insisted on visiting Derrynane to pay a tribute to Daniel O’Connell who joined the Irish brigade during the French revolution. Daniel returned to Ireland totally disgusted with the excesses committed by the revolution and preferred exile to joining confrontations with the British in Ireland.

Note 3: During the conversation, de Gaulle reminisced of his stay in Lebanon in the 30’s and said that the girls in Lebanon were more beautiful than anywhere else. (Currently, it is Brazil ranked #1 for beautiful women. Probably, the beautiful girls of Lebanon had immigrated to Brazil since then)

A few catchy statements

1. For every “remote miss” that renders a person stronger, there are countless near-misses that crush people and render them disabled to function properly in society.

2. Every success disguises an abdication (Simone de Beauvoir)

3. Success flees between my fingers… and it is my own life that counts the most. (Marguerite Yourcenar)

4. Love is what people torture you in order to force you to say “I love you”. All people lie. (Orhan Pamuk)

5. My leg is sufficiently cured to know that it will never be all right

6. No act is too superficial until we covers it with a decent word.

7. There are always music during an execution

8. Fear preserves you by your dread of punishment, which never fails.(Niccolo Machiavelli)

9. Love is preserved by the links of obligation, which is broken at most opportunity for its advantage. Lay it on the baseness of mankind.

10. Do you know of an unhappy person writing a “self help” book? About their failures and unhappiness?

11. Should mankind stick to ancestral traditions that no longer work or are valid?

12. Nothing can ever be as shocking as life. Except writing. (Ibn Zerhani)

13. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think feeling a little different… And must a name mean something? (Lewis Carroll)

14. Never use epigraphs: They kill the mystery in the work (Adli)

15. If that’s how it has to die, go ahead and kill it. Then kill the false prophets who sold you on the mystery in the first place (Balti)

(I couldn’t help but think that all these extremists should eventually kill their caliph or cult leaders)

16. It is perfectly childish. People separate for a reason. They do not run away without telling you their reason. They even give you a chance to reply. (Marcel Proust)

17. If you wanted to be cheerful, melancholic, wistful, thoughtful or courteous… you simply had to act those behaviors with every gesture (Patricia Highsmith)

18. Idle men, chasing after fairy tales (Rumi)

Revised “Declaration of Women’s Rights”

Joan Smith, in her “The Public Woman” book, ended with a “Declaration of the rights of women”.

This declaration was drawn from the experiences and activism of many women who fought for the rights of women since the American and French Revolutions such as:

1.  The French Olympe de Gouges:  Born Marie Gouze, she produced her own version of the French declaration of human rights in Sept.1791, which had excluded women from the document on the ground that women are not considered citizens. She wrote:

Woman has the rights to mount the scaffold. She should have the rights to equally mount the rostrum, provided that these manifestations do not trouble public order as established by law…”

She was sent to the guillotine on Nov. 3, 1793 because she challenged the “barbarous prejudice” against unmarried women with children…” and for denouncing publicly the increasing savagery of the revolution…

2. The English Mary Wollstonecraft wrote “A Vindication of the rights of woman”, promoted woman’s right to education, and lambasted the marriage institution as “legalized prostitution”

3. The Suffragist movement

4. Simone de Beauvoir of “The Second Sex”…

I added clauses in parenthesis to the original 12 clauses, which Western culture takes for granted:

1. Women are born free and equal to men

2. Women and girls have the same rights of bodily integrity as men and boys

3. Women have a right to safe contraception and abortion

4. Girls are entitled to same level of education as boys

5. No one, male or female, should be married under the age of 16

6. Both genders have an unconditional right to use and enjoy public spaces

7.  Women have the right to exercise, take part in sport and observe it on the same terms as men

8. Children should not be required to adopt religious forms of dress

9. The law should not dictate how adults dress

10. Women have a right to equal working conditions and pay as men

11. The law should require full transparency in pay schedule and the equal pay right be enforced by the government

12. Women should enjoy the same property and inheritance right as men

13. Sexual abuse is as abhorrent as racism

14. Separation of State and Church is essential to protect secular equality between genders

15. The State has a moral obligation to ensure that women and girls are free to enjoy their rights and to guarantee them when denied…

16. (Women have the same right as men to vote and to run for public offices)

17. (Women must acquire full citizenship as men).

For example, women in Lebanon cannot pass citizenship to their non-Lebanese husband or to their children. Unless the husband is from a western developed State or pretty rich. In such cases, women won’t give a hoot about her Lebanese passport… Read: Lebanese women cry out

18. Equal opportunities to higher level jobs (regardless of the biased qualification criteria drawn by men)

19. Women right to drive car, train, airplane…

20. Women rights to mount a bike, a horse, a man (her preferred intercourse technique…)

21. (Unmarried woman with children should enjoy the same rights as unmarried men…)

22. Children should remain the joint custody for both parents at any age of the children, and never separate them to give preference to any party of the family, if the conditions do not involve criminal activities or addictions

23. Mortgage evaluation to purchase properties should not discriminate against single working women, on the assumption that they will eventually get pregnant and stop working full time. And the State should guarantee the enforcement of this law.

24. Women and adult girls should have the right to travel without the written consent from husband, father, or elder brother…

25. Women and adult girls should have the right to have a personal bank account without the written consent from husband, father, or elder brother…

Do add as many clauses as your particular society discriminates against women. Do not assume that any clause implicitly cover your particular case.

Note 1: French women got Full citizenship in 1944

Note 2: English women snatched the right to vote by 1914

Note 3: US women got the right to vote around 1912

How have you been “existing”? (Jan. 25, 2010)

            The main philosophy of the last century was called “Existentialism” that Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) disseminated after WWII with the cooperation of Simone de Beauvoir who published “The second sex”.  What differentiated Sartre’s existentialism from Kierkegaard, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger is that Christianity is no longer a crutch to lean on for processing the concept to its final outcome.

            In that philosophy, man and woman have no innate “nature” to fall back on.  They just have to create themselves, their “natures” (their “essence”).  The feeling of alienation is that mankind was created without his will and yet, he is condemned to be free for taking responsibility of his actions knowing that there are no eternal values or norms for guidance and directions.  The individual has to create his set of values and his nature from actions among choices, even default choices.

            That Sartre’s existentialism allied to Marxist movement (Sartre never accepted to be a member of a political party) is part of this century struggle for enjoying the freedom that we never asked for; but “man is condemned to be free” in taking responsibility of his actions simply because he is created to be conscious of his existence and his death: mankind is not “in itself” but “for itself” and an individual relies on his existence to be whatever he might otherwise be “his nature”.

            For example, Stephen Hawkins, this crippled astrophysicist, grabbed the question of his interest (nature) “How the universe was created”.  That Hawkins offered the Big bang theory is irrelevant to the universe or to everyday man is important philosophically.  What is most important is that Hawkins must have enjoyed “the meaning of his life”.  The Big Bang proposition may be accompanied by all kinds of mathematical formulas it does not make it more believable than a childish storytelling in Bibles that are so funny to kids.  For example, why just one Big Bang? Is it because God must be one and only one?  Anyway, how many of us seriously engaged on his journey for discovering the meaning of his life existence?

            Current nuclear physicists are fundamentally pre-Socratic in their quest for the elemental matters; they want to be able to offer a satisfactory explanation of “what is matter?” This problem is thus a vital part of their “life’s philosophy”, the “essence” or an answer to the question “what is my nature”?

            Existentialism was the source of modern style in writings called the “absurd”.  For example, when you show the lack of coherence or meaning in life, then the reader or audience is forced to cultivate his “own meaning” of the story.

            Things have changed.  The world can be felt as reduced to a Town Square; instant audio-visual communications around the world is discouraging people to move out and investigate “his universe”.  The Renaissance man had to travel on horses for long distances to educate his curiosity and talents.

            Arne Naess disseminated the eco-philosophy which stated that western paradigm line of thinking is taking the wrong direction for a sustainable earth: Man is not in the upper chain of evolution and he has no right to destroy the other living creatures for his perceived universe.

            The new wave of occultism, New Age, alternative lifestyle, mysticism, spiritualism, healing, astrology, clairvoyance, and telepathy are consequences of collecting mass “coincidental” happenings among the billion of people and which are relayed instantly on the Internet.  These coincidences can be explained rationally, especially if we believe in the power of the subconscious for erratic behaviors.

            The worst part is that millions are still brandishing old Books or Bibles claiming every word for “truth”; as if we are in the Dark Ages.  Sciences and technologies have done serious empirical attempts to answering most of the dialectical problems in philosophy such as how the universe was started, how knowledge developed and progressed.  What is outside the realm of sciences is in the domain of faith which should not be confounded with religious philosophical belief systems.

            The “meaning of life” is not a solution: it is the trip, the journey to answering a single definite bothering question, a question that interest you mostly among hundreds of other pretty much non answerable questions.  This trip means working toward a resolution to the question “What is my nature?”  It is hard work, relentless, and tricky journey but nothing has meaning if we don’t feel the obstacles and hardships.

“The Second sex” by Simone de Beauvoir (Written in September 21, 2007)

Note:  It is a long fat book.  I reviewed what I have read so far.

The Second Sex is of two books; the first book is on Destiny, History and Myths, and the second book discusses the formative years, Situation, Justifications, and toward Liberation.

I started at page 282, chapter 3 of the first book about Myths and Reality.

A myth is a transcendent Idea that escape the mental grasp entirely, and is confused with the recognition of significance in the object:  the significance of an entity is revealed to the mind through a living experience.

Few myths have been more advantageous to the ruling caste than the myth of woman: it justifies all privileges and authorizes their abuse.

The first static myth is the division of humanity into two classes of individuals, male and female.

The myth on women is sublimating an immutable aspect of the human condition and project into the realm of Platonic ideas a reality that is directly experienced.  In place of facts, value, significance, knowledge, empirical law, it substitutes a transcendental Idea, timeless, unchangeable, and necessary.

This myth Idea is indisputable because it is beyond the given and is endowed with absolute truth. Against the dispersed, contingent, and multiple existences of actual women, mythical thought of two classes opposes the Eternal Feminine, unique and changeless.

If a woman does not match this conception the woman is not feminine, instead of considering that the myth of Femininity is wrong.  It is the mutual recognition of free beings who confirm one another freedom; the relation is a struggle between conscious beings each of whom wishes to be essential.

The second myth is to define Woman with Altruism, and thus to guarantee to man absolute rights in the devotion of his woman.  Altruism is to impose on women a categorical imperative. Paternalism that claims women for hearth and home defines his woman as sentiment, inwardness, and immanence.

When paternalism offers the woman’s existence no aim, or prevents her from any aim, or rob her of his victory then this transcendence falls back into immanence. This lot assigned to women is in no way a vocation, any more than slavery is the vocation of the slave.

It is not reality that dictates to society the choices but society’s needs in every period.  Very often, society project into the adopted myth the institutions and values to which they adhere.  Patriarchal society centered upon the conservation of the patrimony; this implied that women should not take property away and put it in circulation.

Men who swindle and speculate are repudiated by the group of men; women employing erotic  attraction can induce men to scatter their patrimonial and still be within the law.  While society view women who use their attraction to influence men are regarded as evil and called “bad women”, these women are considered within their families as the guardian angels who saved them from destitution.

Since a man can show his love actively by supporting his woman financially, or giving her a social standing, or making her presents then man economic and social independence allow him to take the initiative.

For example, very often the man is busy and the woman idle: he gives her the time he passes with her… Does the woman accepts these benefits through love or self-interest?  One thus can almost judge the degree of man’s affection by the total picture of his attitude,but a woman hardly has means for sounding her own heart: she submits passively to her sentiments and moods.

When the situation is reversed and she becomes the bread-winner then the mystery is reversed.  Kept on the fringe of the world, woman cannot be objectively defined through this world, and her mystery conceals nothing but emptiness.

A woman is taught from adolescence to lie to men, to scheme, to be wily; she wears an artificial expression on her face, she is cautious, hypocritical, and learns play-acting because her situation as servant is to turn toward her master a changeless smile or an enigmatic impassivity; the mystery belongs to the slave. 

Mystery is never more than a mirage that vanishes as we draw near to look at it.

The third myth is to assimilate women to Nature and to simply act from prejudice.

Humans are rooted in nature but women are more enslaved to the species than are males and thus, woman’s animality is more manifest. Men need not bother with alleviating the pains and the burden that physiologically are women’s lot, since these are “intended by nature“.

Man use this myth by making his woman work like a beast of burden and refusing to grant her any rights to sexual pleasure. Man has written the laws under this bloody epigraph: “Woe to the weak“.

The fourth myth of feminine “mystery” in essence is firmly anchored in masculine hearts, surely “mysterious as is all the world”.

Instead of admitting ignorance, man is happy to substitute an objective resistance for a subjective deficiency of mind.  A capricious behavior in a woman or a stupid remark is excused on ground of mystery.

In the company of a living enigma, man remains alone with his dreams, his hopes, his fears, his love, and his vanity…the active relationship is replaced by mystical ecstasy. The opacity of knowing oneself is thus denser in women because of her complex physiological nature, a body where she feels a stranger most of the time.

To say, not that a woman is silent, but that her language is not understood, hidden behind veils, then the mystery is carried to the level of communication. One can say that a woman is good or bad in her work, an actress not that talented and thus, a female colleague is without mystery unless the mystery is shrouded in the nature of economy.

Discrimination between the imaginary and the real can be made only through behavior.

The myth of woman is a luxury and in large part explained by its usefulness to man.  The more relationships are concretely lived, the less they are idealized; the fellah (peasant), the Bedouin, the artisan, and the day worker of today has in the requirements of work and poverty relations with his particular woman companion which are too definite for her to be embellished with an auspicious aura. 

The epochs that have been marked by the leisure of dream, such as the period of feudal chivalry or the gallant 19th century, have been the ones to set up the images, black and white, of femininity.

Man would have nothing to lose if he gave up disguising woman as a symbol. Quite the contrary; cliché are poor and monotonous affairs beside the living reality.

To discard the myths is not to destroy all dramatic relation between the sexes; it is not to deny significance, to do away with poetry, love, adventure, happiness, and dreaming.

It is simply that behavior, sentiment, and passion be founded upon the truth. The 18th century regarded women as fellow creatures: the heroines were without mysteries and women were truly romantic.

The men of today are readier to accept women as a fellow, an equal and claiming autonomy, but they require women to remain the inessential, to be object, to be the Other.  It is disturbing to contemplate woman as at once a social personage and carnal prey.

It is becoming very difficult for women to accept at the same time their status as autonomous individuals and their womanly destiny.

It is more comfortable to submit to enslavement than to work for liberation, to be the sisters in intimacy without ulterior thought of exploitation, to regain her place in humanity, a free human being.

The sexual relation that joins woman to man is not the same as that which he bears to her:  the bond that unites woman to her child is unique.  Thus, women plights were not created by the bronze tool alone, and the machines alone will not abolish her and we cannot be blind to woman peculiar situation.

De Beauvoir rejects the sexual monism of Freud that interpret all social claims of woman as phenomena of the “masculine protest”; she also reject the Marxist historical materialism in its explanation of women plight that perceives in man and woman no more than economic units, woman sexuality expressed in relation to economic situation.

Thus, Simone view is that the categories of “clitorid” and “vaginal” like the categories of “bourgeois” or “proletarian” are equally inadequate to encompass a concrete woman.

Freudianism derives its virtue from the fact that the existent is a concrete body and the Marxian thesis’ virtue is derived on the basis that the project for becoming (ontological aspiration) of the existent take concrete form according to the material possibilities offered, mostly opened up by technological advances.

There must be an existentialist foundation that alone enables us to understand in its unity that particular form of being, which we call a human life. The contributions of biology, psychoanalysis and historical materialism can discover woman when they exist concretely for man only in so far as he grasps these contributions in the total perspective of his existence, when they are defined only in a world of values.  The basic project is that the existence seeks transcendence.

When two human categories are together, each aspires to impose its sovereignty upon the other.

Existentialist philosophy says that man acts to transcend life by risking life for a project such as to protect his family, his clan, his business, or his future. The warrior put his life in jeopardy to elevate the prestige of the horde, the clan to which he belonged.  Man has worked not merely to conserve the world as given… he has broken through its frontiers and laid down the foundation of a new future.

Because of its peculiar biology, woman, lacking birth control, was reduced to give birth almost every year and care for the offspring at her dwelling.

Although woman could not take part in the hunting and warriors’ expeditions, she still recognized her existence and the need to create and thus, she celebrated wholeheartedly with the warrior and bread-winner and shared his values and never set up female values in opposition to male values.

Woman was destined for the repetition of Life while man had to create values and get involved in a project for transcendence.

While women lot was very hard in the primitive horde and the offspring did not enjoy men’s attention, the situation changed when early man settled down to tilling the soil. 

Property, even in a communal setting, offered man a purpose for caring for his offspring in order to inherit them continuity in his life effort, to achieve survival through the land and that they would exploit.

Since man was still not perceived to have any bearing on the procreation of women, but that women gave birth through the medium of spirit, the woman was given a mystical position of fertility that extended to the harvest.

Woman was viewed as the one capable of keeping the prosperity of the clan and man erected totems in the image of women. The Goddesses in that era were all-powerful and remained powerful until the Bronze Age when man acquired new realization that he can control matters and forge them to his desire and purposes.

This was a period of matriarchal society but it was man who wanted this matrilineal system of mystical elevation of women so that he keeps his freedom to act as the sole category relevant to the real world.

The transition from all-powerful Goddesses to all-powerful Gods was done incrementally as man asserted his victories over nature and comprehended his contribution to fecundity and his real input in increasing the output of the harvest in working the fields through his numerous ingenuousness in irrigation projects, improving the crops with different seeds, soil fertilization and letting the soil fallow.

Man encouraged exogamy (marriages outside the clan) because it had advantages to expanding commerce and a mean for communication with the outside; woman was a possession that could be traded or sold for improving the lot of the clan.  The religion of woman was bound to the reign of agriculture, of chance, of waiting, and of mystery. The reign of “Homo Faber” is of time management, of project, of action, and of reason.

Thus, from the day agriculture ceased to be an essentially magic operation and became creative labor then man laid claim to his children and to his crops.  Man put the legal system into harmony with reality of what he already possessed and conquered.

Aeschylus and Aristotle stated that man is “better and more divine” than woman because man is movement and woman just matter. Woman was referred to as the Evil as Pythagoras wrote: “There is a good principle, which has created order, light, and man; and a bad principle, which has created chaos, darkness, and woman“.

The laws of Solon give no rights to women.  The Roman code puts women under guardianship and asserts her “imbecility”.  Canon law regards women as “the devil’s doorway“.  Only when woman marries does she becomes a rivulet that join the main river.

How to make of the wife at once a servant and a companion is one of the problems that man seeks to solve.

The advent of private property dethroned woman and her lot became bound up with the property.

In Egypt, where land was the property of the Pharaoh and the noble casts woman kept her standing in society as an equal to man; when private property was established, marriage transformed into a contract because women would not relinquish their well established traditional privileges.

In Persia, families with no women and whose sons died could adopt a wife and her offspring belonged to the family that adopted her so that property survives.  Thus, when the system of private property took hold man instituted a system where property transcended his life and the owner could transfer and alienate his existence into his property and continue to exist beyond the body’s dissolution.

Man refused then to share with woman either his gods or his children and wives were shut away in the gynoecium where they could not mingle with men.

The Greek society did not include polygamy, but in practice man could satisfy his carnal pleasures as he wished. Demosthenes proclaimed: “We have hetaerae (modern women with artistic inclinations) for the pleasures of the spirit, concubines for sensual pleasure, and wives to give us sons.”

Thus, in ancient Greece, the concubine replaced the wife when she was ill, indisposed, pregnant, or recovering from childbirth; there were no differences with our more recent harem. Greek law assured the wife a dowry and thus the widow no longer passed like a hereditary possession to her husband’s heirs or the oldest male in the larger family but returned into the hands of her parents.

In the city of Sparta, since the land was communal, women were treated almost on an equal level, but could not participate in the public affairs.  Girls and boys were hoarded into military activities and the husband saw his wife fleetingly and occasionally at night.  The wife didn’t have to be confined in her husband domicile and the very idea of adultery disappeared when the patrimony disappeared. Woman underwent the servitude of maternity but no restraint was put upon her liberty.

Prostitution was rampant in all regions in the antiquity and the sacerdotal class made profit by allowing prostitutes in the temples for the maintenance of the religious institutions.

Herodotus relates that in the 5th century BC, each Babylonian woman was in duty bound once in her lifetime to yield herself to a stranger in the temple of Mylitta for money and thereafter she went home to lead a chaste life. The seacoast towns instituted the “dicterions” where portion of the proceeds reverted to the State and where sailors and travelers relieved their sexual needs.

In Rome, regardless of the strict laws of guardianship women enjoyed practically a god standing.  The wife sat in the atrium; she guided the education of the children and shared the labours and cares of her husband and she was regarded as co-owner of his property.

The legal status of the Roman woman was brought into agreement with her actual condition and gained a positive guarantee of independence; as Plautus said: “In accepting the dowry, the husband sold his power”.

Under Marcus Aurelius and after 178, the children were the heirs of their mother, triumphing over the male relatives….




February 2023

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