Art, Education, Features, Interview, Must Reads

Camille Paglia: It’s Time for a New Map of the Gender World

I discovered Camille Paglia’s work when I was pursuing my undergraduate arts education at The University of Adelaide, South Australia, in the early 2000s. I was deeply disillusioned with the courses in my arts degree and their monomaniacal focus on social constructionism, and was looking for criticism of Michel Foucault on the internet. I stumbled across a 1991 op-ed written by Paglia for The New York Times, in which she described the followers of Lacan, Derrida and Foucault, as “fossilized reactionaries,” and “the perfect prophets for the weak, anxious academic personality.” I was hooked.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that my university’s library contained each of her books, including the essay collections Vamps and Tramps and Sex, Art and American Culture. For the final year of my arts degree, (before pursuing my studies in psychology) I spent the bulk of my time at the university reading Paglia in the library. She was like a revelation. Her work was subversive but erudite, and she synthesized insights made in the realm of the arts, ancient history and folk biology—something that no other scholar of the humanities had attempted to do. Thirteen years later, it is an honour to be able to interview Camille Paglia for Quillette. 

Paglia is an essayist, author, and professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has taught since 1984. She completed her PhD at Yale under the supervision of Harold Bloom, author of The Western Canon. Her first book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence, from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinsonwas listed by David Bowie as one of “100 books we should all read.” 

Her other books include Break, Blow, Burn, a close-reading of 43 classic poems, and Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. In recent years, her essays have been collected and published in new editions, including Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender and Feminism (February 2018) and Provocations: Collected Essays on Art, Feminism, Politics, Sex and Education, which was released by Pantheon in October 2018.

I interviewed Paglia over email for Quillette. What follows is an unedited reproduction of that interview.

*   *   *

Claire Lehmann: You seem to be one of the only scholars of the humanities who are willing to challenge the post-structuralist status quo. Why have other humanities academics been so spineless in preserving the integrity of their fields?

Camille Paglia: The silence of the academic establishment about the corruption of Western universities by postmodernism and post-structuralism has been an absolute disgrace. First of all, the older generation of true scholars who still ruled the roost when I arrived at the Yale Graduate School in 1968 were not fighters, to begin with. American professors, unlike their British counterparts, had not been schooled in ferocious and satirical debate. They were courtly and genteel, a High Protestant middlebrow style. Voices were hushed, and propriety ruled at the Yale department of English: I once described it as “walking on eggs at the funeral home.”

An ossified New Criticism was then still ascendant. I had been trained in college in that technique of microscopic close analysis of the text, and it remains a marvelous tool for cultural criticism: I have applied it to everything from painting to pop songs. However, my strong view at the time (from my early grounding in archaeology) was that literary criticism had to recover authentic historical consciousness and also to expand toward psychology, which was still considered vulgar. Harold Bloom and Geoffrey Hartman (whose Yale careers had begun amid tinges of anti-Semitism) were moving in a different, more conceptual direction, heavy on European philosophy.

By the early 1970s, when I was writing my doctoral dissertation (Sexual Personae, directed by Bloom), change suddenly arrived from outside: deconstruction was the hot new thing, hastened along by J. Hillis Miller, who left Johns Hopkins for Yale. I thought Derrida and DeMan and the rest of that crew were arrant nonsense from the start, a pedantic diversion from direct engagement with art. About the obsequious Yale welcome given to the pratlings of one continental “star” visitor, I acidly remarked to a fellow grad student sitting next to me, “They’re like high priests murmuring to each other.”

The New Criticism desperately needed supplementation, but that opaque hash (so divorced from genuine art appreciation) was certainly not it. I was disgusted at the rapid spread of deconstruction and post-structuralism throughout elite U.S. universities in the 1970s, when I was teaching at my first job at Bennington College. The reason it happened is really quite prosaic: a recession hit in the 1970s, and the job market in academe collapsed. Fancy-pants post-structuralism was the ticket to ride for ambitious, beady-eyed young careerists on the make. Its coy, showy gestures and clotted lingo were insiders’ badges of claimed intellectual superiority. But the whole lot of them were mediocrities from the start. It is doubtful that much if any of their work will have long-term traction.

As I argued in my long attack on post-structuralism, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf” (Arion, Spring 1991; reprinted in my first essay collection, Sex, Art, and American Culture), Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault were already outmoded thinkers even in France, where their prominence had been relatively brief. There was nothing genuinely leftist in their elitist, monotonously language-based analysis. On the contrary, post-structuralism was abjectly reactionary, resisting and reversing the true revolution of the 1960s American counterculture, which liberated the senses and reconnected the body and personal identity to nature, in the Romantic manner. It is very telling that Foucault’s principal inspiration, by his own admission, was Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, which I loathed as a college student for its postwar passivity and nihilism. (As a teacher, I admire Godot as a play but still reject its parochial and at times juvenile world-view.)

Post-structuralism, along with identity politics, made huge gains in the 1970s, as the old guard professors proved helpless against a rising tide of rapid add-on programs and departments like women’s studies and African-American studies. The tenured professoriate seemed not to realize that change of some kind was necessary, and thus they failed to provide an alternative vision of a remodeled university of the future. I myself was lobbying for interdisciplinary innovation in the humanities—something that remained highly controversial right through the 1980s, when there were fierce battles over it where I was then teaching (during the merger of the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts with the Philadelphia College of Art to form the present University of the Arts). Another persistent proposal of mine has been for comparative religion to become the undergraduate core curriculum, an authentically global multiculturalism

Most established professors in the 1970s probably believed that the new theory trend was a fad that would blow away like autumn leaves. The greatness of the complex and continuous Western tradition seemed self-evident: the canon would surely stand, even if supplemented by new names. Well, guess what? Helped along by a swelling horde of officious, overpaid administrators, North American universities became, decade by decade, political correctness camps. Out went half the classics, as well as pedagogically useful survey courses demonstrating sequential patterns in history (now dismissed as a “false narrative” by callow theorists). Bookish, introverted old-school professors were not prepared for guerrilla warfare to defend basic scholarly principles or to withstand waves of defamation and harassment.

However, it is indeed difficult to understand why major professors already in safe, powerful positions avoided direct combat. For example, although he had made passing dismissive remarks about post-structuralism (“Foucault and soda water”), Harold Bloom never systematically engaged or critiqued the subject or used his access to the general media to endorse debate, which was left instead to self-identified conservatives. The latter situation was clearly counterproductive, insofar as it enabled the bourgeois faux leftists of academe to define themselves and their reflex gobbledygook as boldly progressive.

In October 1990, I sat with my longtime mentor Bloom at a presidential dinner preceding his Shakespeare lecture at Bryn Mawr College in the Philadelphia suburbs. I told him about the exposé of post-structuralism that I was writing for Arion (and that took six months to do). He flatly replied, “You’re wasting your time.” I must suppose there was simply a generational divide: as a product of the 1960s, I still passionately believe in reform as an ethical imperative. Furthermore, most of my teaching career has been spent at small art schools, which have always spurned the conformist formulas and protocols of traditional universities.

Nevertheless, the poisons of post-structuralism have now spread throughout academe and have done enormous damage to basic scholarly standards and disastrously undermined belief even in the possibility of knowledge. I suspect history will not be kind to the leading professors who appear to have put loyalty to friends and colleagues above defending scholarly values during a chaotic era of overt vandalism that has deprived several generations of students of a profound education in the humanities. The steady decline in humanities majors is an unmistakable signal that this once noble field has become a wasteland.

Do you believe that politics and in particular social justice (i.e., anti-racism and feminism) are becoming cults or pseudo-religions? Is politics filling the void left by the receding influence of organized religion?

Paglia: This has certainly been my view for many years now. I said in the introduction to my art book, Glittering Images (2012), that secular humanism has failed. As an atheist, I have argued that if religion is erased, something must be put in its place. Belief systems are intrinsic to human intelligence and survival. They “frame” the flux of primary experience, which would otherwise flood the mind.

But politics cannot fill the gap. Society, with which Marxism is obsessed, is only a fragment of the totality of life. As I have written, Marxism has no metaphysics: it cannot even detect, much less comprehend, the enormity of the universe and the operations of nature. Those who invest all of their spiritual energies in politics will reap the whirlwind. The evidence is all around us—the paroxysms of inchoate, infantile rage suffered by those who have turned fallible politicians into saviors and devils, godlike avatars of Good versus Evil.

My substitute for religion is art, which I have expanded to include all of popular culture. But when art is reduced to politics, as has been programmatically done in academe for 40 years, its spiritual dimension is gone. It is coarsely reductive to claim that value in the history of art is always determined by the power plays of a self-referential social elite. I take Marxist social analysis seriously: Arnold Hauser’s Marxist, multi-volume A Social History of Art (1951) was a major influence on me in graduate school. However, Hauser honored art and never condescended to it. A society that respects neither religion nor art cannot be called a civilization.

The #MeToo movement seems to have many features of a moral panic, for example, there are exhortations to “believe all women” without relying on due process, and a great deal of weight is being placed on weak evidence, such as eyewitness testimony, and so forth. Would you agree that we are seeing a moral panic, the type of which has been depicted in Miller’s The Crucible, or Huxley’s The Devils of Loudon?

Paglia: The headlong rush to judgment by so many well-educated, middle-class women in the #MeToo movement has been startling and dismaying. Their elevation of emotion and group solidarity over fact and logic has resurrected damaging stereotypes of women’s irrationality that were once used to deny us the vote. I found the blanket credulity given to women accusers during the recent U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh positively unnerving: it was the first time since college that I truly understood the sexist design of Aeschylus’s Oresteia, whose mob of vengeful Furies is superseded by formal courts of law, where evidence is weighed.

I’m not sure that I would find “moral panic” in our recent glut of accusations and public histrionics. It is obviously a positive development that sexual abuse is no longer hidden or tolerated. In 1986, I developed moderate sexual harassment guidelines in my “Women and Sex Roles” class and presented them to the college administration for adoption. I am wholeheartedly in favor of women students or employees knowing their rights and speaking up to defend them. However, the #MeToo movement has gone seriously off track in encouraging uncorroborated accusations dating from ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. No democracy can survive in such a paranoid climate of ambush and summary execution. This is Stalinism, a nadir of politics.

What I see in both the Women’s March and #MeToo is an atavistic rediscovery by Western women of the joy of their own mutually nurturing solidarity—a primary feature of daily life during 10,000 years of the agrarian era that has been lost over the past two centuries of industrialization. As I have often noted, the sexes throughout human history actually had very little to do with each other. There was the world of men and the world of women, each with its own spheres of influence and activity. Women didn’t take men that seriously, and vice versa. I know this because I am the product of an immigrant family (my mother and all four grandparents were born in Italy), and it wasn’t that long ago that we were tilling the stony soil of the earthquake-prone motherland.

I am an equity feminist: that is, I demand equal opportunity for women through the removal of all barriers to their advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women as inherently paternalistic and regressive. Women have rarely worked side by side with men in the way they now do in the modern workplace, whose competitive operational systems were devised by men for maximum productivity. Despite their general affluence, professional women of the Western world have been chronically unhappy for decades, and I conjecture that it is partly because they have been led to expect happiness from a mechanical work environment that doesn’t make men happy either.

Second, the nuclear family as a standard unit of social life is a relatively new and isolating phenomenon. Wives returning from work to an apartment or house are expecting their husbands to fulfill all the emotional and conversational needs that were once fulfilled by other women of multiple generations throughout the agrarian workday in the fields or at home (where the burdens of childcare and eldercare were group shared). 

What I see spreading among professional middle-class women is a bitter resentment toward men that is in many cases unjust and misplaced. With divorce so easy since the sexual revolution, women find themselves competing with younger women in new and cruel ways. Agrarian women gained power as they aged: young women were brainless pawns whose marriages, pregnancies, childcare, cooking, and other chores were acerbically supervised and controlled by the dictatorial crones (forces of nature whom I fondly remember from childhood).

In short, #MeToo from a historical perspective is a cri de coeur from women who are realizing that the sexual revolution that many of us had once ecstatically embraced has in key ways devalued women, confused their private relationships, and complicated their smooth functioning in the workplace. It’s time for a new map of the gender world.

 

Camille Paglia is the University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her eighth book, Provocations: Collected Essays, was released by Pantheon in Oct. 2018.

Claire Lehmann is the founding editor of Quillette. Follow her on Twitter @clairlemon. 

Feature photo: Michael Lionstar

349 Comments

  1. Sydney says

    Yay! Love Paglia! Yay! A new interview with her! Ham to cats! Points for Quillette!!

    • Innominata says

      “As an atheist, I have argued that if religion is erased, something must be put in its place. Belief systems are intrinsic to human intelligence and survival. They “frame” the flux of primary experience, which would otherwise flood the mind. But politics cannot fill the gap….”

      And yet politics does. Politics has. Not just in America and in Europe but in the USSR and Commie China. The results have been hideous.

      I suggest this should lead Paglia and her ideological brothers and sisters to reconsider their assumptions. And I mean their deepest assumptions. Because it seems to me they are mistaken and their entire foundation slanted.

      Atheism is a blinkered ideology, not because there is anything wrong with asserting one does not believe in a god; but because it leads otherwise intelligent people (Stevie Pinker, Dick Dawkins, Paglia, et al.) to feel justified dismissing massive possibilities without measured consideration. Atheism (and its bigoted catchfart anti-theism) always relegates religions to “belief systems that frame” and presumes that religions are just sociological appendices and psychological coping mechanisms that sprouted like weeds in an otherwise rational mind (cf. Dawkins’s “virus” fable). It’s feeble thinking born of the prejudice they purport to eschew.

      Evolutionary psychology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, etc. have wrestled with a primary question: “WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT HUMANS SUCH THAT THEIR BRAINS AND SOCIETIES SPUN UP TO SUCH SOPHISTICATION? First it was “tool use” that pushed our minds to develop. Then it was group hunting and group interactions. Then it was language. Then habitat change. Then sexual selection. Then art. Then ….

      What thinkers in these atheist-dominated fields seem unwilling to even consider is that religion was in fact the catalyst. Religion didn’t spring up as a crutch for the sophisticated human mind as it developed; religion INDUCED the sophisticated human mind. Religion was the key that unlocked the upward spiral, leading to abstraction, symbology, art, language, mathematics, societal stability, and a runaway evolution of the brain. (Credit where credit is due: Stanley Kubrick seems to have adumbrated this possibility in the beginning sequences of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, when the ape people find the monolith and immediately start to use tools and communicate. He seemed to intuit that a push for the transcendental may have been what spawned humanity.)

      Many animals use tools and artifice, forms of communication, complex group structures, hunting, and sexual selection, yet they don’t spin up into human-level complexity … and all non-human animals are as far as we know atheists. Man is the only species that gives any sign at all of religion. It’s simply the only option that makes sense. Yet atheism can’t brook this possibility, because to do so would admit that religion is far more essential, complex, and natural than anyone thought. It would make religion fundamentally human and in a way inescapable, whether one decides to acknowledge god/s or not.

      I find it frustrating, like watching the proverbial man search under the streetlight for his keys because the light is better there, even though he knows he dropped them somewhere in the dark. If the academy continues to wage their cultural genocide against established religions (and particularly the Judeo-Christian line of development), politics will fuse with religion in evermore dangerous ways.

      Separation of church and state is healthy and vital for both institutions; but separation is undermined by attempts to erase religion, not supported by such attempts. The religious mind that finds itself without a house will move into the state building (Islam buttresses against this problem by making religion and the state the same thing). Art ain’t gonna cut it. Not even close. Aesthetic meanderings don’t provide structure to human society and protect from violence and disorder any more than scientific meanderings do. Both are marvelous in their place, but not a substitute.

      if we don’t have a second-wave Enlightenment on the basics of Judea-Christianity, I cannot see how the West avoids a holocaust. I don’t mean any particular church (I’m really not a fan of pan-paganism I consider to run through Catholicism, nor American Fundamental evangelism, et al.), but the moral roots need a watering. And if you think I’m wrong … well, I hope I am too.

        • Nita Metcalf says

          This is the first time I’ve read such a very thought out and well said rebuttal (?) to atheism. I will save it and if the opportunity presents it’s self, hope to use/repost it if I may? Thank you. (From a definitely non-scholar person)

          • Shalagh McCarthy says

            Agree – A fresh point of view I have not read before.

        • Edgar Faulkner says

          Actually, man is God’s greatest idea. Pure religion, as taught by our creator in the beginning, was the framework for governance and social construction. Some great thinking going on here, but much of it seems to identify God as little more than a social construct necessary for social order and the establishment of group think; politics necessarily following out of that.

          • Chris says

            Agree 100%. Imagine Christianity not taking hold around 1985 years ago. If it hadn’t we wouldn’t be here. Just read a smattering of history and the answer is clear. And, strangely, the Roman history (written by atheists) matches the Bible. A coincidence? I think not.

          • David Murphy says

            You have it the wrong way round – man created God, for better or for worse.

          • That’s what we learned in elementary school Russell, at the time, I had absolutely no doubt about it, and felt very proud about it, and the hierarchy was not limited to this alone, we, humans, were the boss on earth, but came under our creator God, of course.

        • lepauvre says

          Maybe it’s not an idea but a fruitful insight into Reality.

      • Burlats de Montaigne says

        “Atheism is a blinkered ideology”

        Atheism is NOT an ideology, blinkered or otherwise. Respectfully, atheism is the absence of ideology.

        • Allen says

          Please explain how can atheism NOT be blinkered ideology? It has an idea, and it’s fixation on that idea leads it to exclude vast, vast swaths of human experience, both raw and immediate, and reflective?

          • Burlats de Montaigne says

            Because it is not an ideology at all. It doe not have an “idea”. Theists always look at atheism as if it has to mirror their own particular faith based ‘architecture’. As if there must be an equivalence some how. There is no ideology in atheism because atheism is not dependent on ‘belief’. Thus there is no comparable atheist structure, or plan. As for being blinkered, I would argue that there is none more open minded than the atheist. Open to science, philosophy, every expression of art and creativity regardless of how it might contradict their hitherto held conceptions or understanding. They can explore without the fear of having a fragile and unverifiable belief system threatened, undermined or contradicted. You only have to watch a very few “debates” between theists and atheists to see who goes on the defensive first.
            If you would be interested in a more detailed look at the issues I would recommend you have a look at the work of Aron Ra. He speaks very well on all things atheist, theist and in between.
            https://www.youtube.com/user/AronRa/featured

          • Nevermind says

            You’re wrong. Atheism simply states that since there is no evidence of God then there is no God. That opens atheists up to an entire universe of possibilities and experiences.

          • Atheism is not a stand alone ideology, at best a dialectic. It is a reaction formation to something else. Without theism, there is no atheism.

          • Religion and theism comes, everywhere and all through humankind’s history, on the very first place, atheism and secularism (in some parts of the world now, about 10% of total) a rather good second. Not bad at all, still relevant for close to a billion!

          • David Murphy says

            “Please explain how can atheism NOT be blinkered ideology? It has an idea, and it’s fixation on that idea leads it to exclude vast, vast swaths of human experience, both raw and immediate, and reflective?”

            Firs there was religion and a demand we all have faith. These were theists. Many reject the and we are atheists. Atheism is merely a disbelief in a deity. It does not provide any other ideology for life.

        • Religion is not an ideology (Marxism is one), and atheism is positively denying the existence of a personal God, not of ideology.
          Without a doubt, Dennet Dawkins confesses to one or another ideology.

          • What I found in the meantime: R.Dennet believes in a future world with clean energy, a diverse nature and a pleasant environment for all. So, absolutely not in some Armageddon! That’s positive ideology, and maybe more the exception than the rule among modern citizens.

        • Stephen Clarke says

          not exactly. Logically, since a negative cannot be proved, the assertion of such is, generously, an assumption. Lacking self-skepticism, it can become ideology.

          • Evander says

            There are no parrots in my bedroom. I verified this when I woke up.

          • JoJoJO says

            Sometimes negatives can be proven. But in this particular case it can’t.

        • alan young says

          Sam Harris and Dawkins believe Atheism represents a practical way forward and express that with the fervor of an ideologue – but cannot explain how. I’m with nnominata.

        • Skallagrimsen says

          Atheism is the lack of belief of god. It is not an ideology, but does not preclude ideologies.

        • Susan McGee says

          If atheism is absent then does it exist? If atheism exists it is most definately it’s own brand if ideology.

        • Burlats de Montaigne,

          “Atheism is NOT an ideology, blinkered or otherwise.”

          Atheism is ONLY an ideology and a blinkered one at that. Saying “I believe not X, since X is an ideology” is an open declaration that you are an ideologue and not intelligent enough to understand what you’ve said.

        • Agnostics have the honesty to admit that they may never know the answer to the greatest question of existence. Atheists have a pre-packaged, apriori, answer. No Socratic validation, just a sophistic, low rent, and lazy statement of claim. Sounds like dogma or it’s inbred relative ideology to me.
          Bye the bye Burlats, do you find the fact that the largest human designed code base – the entire Google platform – of around 2 billion lines of code, is dwarfed by the, currently considered haphazard, lines of code in the human genome. Many sources confirm this. Check out http://www.visualcapitalist.com/millions-lines-of-code/
          None so blind as those who will not see.
          Yours, in numinous

          • There is still a third category, one that is probably even the majority. The Apatheists, meaning, people who are not even busy with (or suffering under) the questions of whether God exists or not, it is something rather irrelevant in their daily life. The Deists of once (like Voltaire and others, Enlightenment), stating there is an omnipotent God, but not at all a personal one interested in the fate of mankind (meaning praying does not make sense), does not exist anymore, I fear. Though, Spinozists of some kind still are among us, though purely in academic circles (Einstein was one of them).

          • Michiel says

            “Do you find the fact…”
            Do you find it what? You didn’t even write a proper sentence there. I assume you mean this is somehow evidence for a creator? Of course humans have billions of years of evolution to account for the complexity of their genome. The science of evolution is rather well established and shows clearly that there is no need for a god or gods to explain the complexity of nature and life.

        • M. Stone says

          You are correct. Atheism is not an ideology. It is the removal of a false ideology that enables ones based in reality to be honestly explored.

          • JoJoJO says

            I don’t know exactly what atheism is because I don’t know exactly what god is. Could a sufficiently advanced computer–say one trillions and trillion of times more powerful than the best modern ones–have god-like powers? If we’re a computer simulation is the simulator a god? Is it possible god is a creation (a real one) not a creaton?

      • Laura Hirschfeld Hollis says

        Who are you????? I’m a professor, and I’m hoping against hope that you are teaching somewhere! That comment is brilliant.

        • Who is it you are adoring so much, Laura? I doubt it is Susan!

      • Mike Patterson says

        Very interesting and stimulating response, but I think there’s no more room on the religion train for the species, with its mess of non-parallel and inconsistently-gauged tracks and spur lines. The only ‘hope’ left I think is an AI-enabled senescence for the species during the takeover by our superintelligent progeny.

        • camperdude says

          We’re killing off our creator. Why would our AI “progeny” not seek to kill us off in the same way?

        • Antonio says

          Can you please provide a atheistic basis for morality that would be built into this AI?

      • Paglia has been consistent and adamant that the core of the university curriculum should be comparative studies in world religions. She even says so in this very interview. Insofar as Western art has been informed and inspired by Christianity then I think the two of you are more on the same page than your comment here implies.

          • But for what reasons does she promote comparative religion? For the same reason, I suppose, as Jordan Peterson does delve into the stuff, so, not for clerical reasons (the ones I was raised with, and know religion, all that other philosophying around the theme is something completely different for me, were Spinoza and Bruno theists? or religious? yes of course, some say, no of course not, say others. and both are right, of course)

      • Atheism is not an ideology. It is nothing more than skepticism about anything which cannot be empirically verified as being true.
        Our frontal lobes developed as they have because having imagination and self awareness increased our chances of survival, in a world where we aren’t the most physically dominant creatures.
        If religion is removed, other ideologies (codified values), will fill the void. Ideologies are the software upon which our brains function most efficiently.

        • Belief is the precondition of ANY purposeful human activity. Can you empirically probe the sun will rise tomorrow? Can you empirically proove the water will come out of the faucet when you go to turn it on? Ultimately, can you empirically proove getting out of bed and going to work every day is guided by a purpose worth acting on in the first place? No, belief is required. Atheists engage in purposeful behavior governed by belief, all the while telling themselves belief is not required.

          • Phaedrus says

            I ‘believe’ that the sun will rise tomorrow because the overwhelming body of empirical evidence (compiled on my own) has reached the point that it is rational to conclude that, in fact, the sun will rise. In fact, the evidence that I have gathered allows me to *predict* with extremely high confidence the exact time that the sun will rise.

            ‘Belief’ in this sense is not the same as religious faith. In this sense, it is rational expectation based on evidence.

            Religious faith (belief) is entirely different and involves expectations that are wholly without empirical evidence.

            I am an atheist because there is no rational basis for divinity. There is no ideology here: I am prepared to accept a divine being the very instant I am presented with sufficient evidence. The proponents of religious faith have not met my (admittedly rigorous, but not unreasonable) standards of evidence. And why does God have to be so damn inscrutable, anyway? Why doesn’t he just pop on over for a pint one night and clear things up for me? Would only take a few minutes, really.

          • Few there be that believe what you say. And fewer still who are operationally able to practice what they think they theoretically understand. I doubt Jesus was speaking in metaphor when he said:

            “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘ Move from here to there,’ and it will move.”

            Yes, Atheism is a belief system. They believe there is no God. They don’t understand they have done the deed. They have blood on their metaphorical hands They have killed God

      • James Lee says

        @Innominata

        Thanks for the insightful comment.

        Also thanks to Ms. Paglia and Ms. Lehmann for a great interview.

      • @Innominata – Perhaps humans stand out because they killed off their competition? If “religion” created civilization, how is it there are so many religions, often incompatible, proven false in so many respects as we learned more, etc. Sure, religion may have helped propel society forward, but only because it was humanity’s first attempt to explain the world they saw around them, a world full of pain, suffering, death. But science eventually found that most of the religious stories were not true, provably untrue, and after that, human society exploded.

        • Burlats de Montaigne says

          As Hitch – blessed be upon him, surmised; In place of religion we now have philosophy. In place of alchemy, chemistry and in the place of astrology, astronomy. Religion is simply a vestige of a more fearful, uncertain time.

          • Evander says

            Let’s quote Hitch again: ‘What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.’ Care to expand on your claim about religion?

            I’m a Christian. I understand the atheistic position, but find it intellectually unsatisfactory. It can’t account for the origin of the universe, it can’t account for life arising from non-life, and it can’t provide a basis for objective morality. Hannibal Lecter is right to feel no pangs of guilt.

            There are weaknesses in the Christian position. There is no unassailable proof of God’s existence. Divinely-sanctioned violence in the conquest of Canaan understandably makes people uncomfortable. More points could be added.

            But I’ve engaged with atheists who have seen the reasonableness of the argument for God and belief in Jesus, and then chose not to believe, as is their right, because it destroys any claim to individual autonomy. They admitted this. That, I suspect, is the real rub for many people. Because, for their part, atheism at root is ideological, not truth-seeking: it sanctions the sovereignty of man. Religion binds man, whereas the atheist wants to be free from bonds.

          • Burlats,

            “As Hitch – blessed be upon him, surmised; In place of religion we now have philosophy.”

            Hitch is an excellent example of an ideologue who twisted logic and fact to his own ideology. In his rejection of God and his embracing the state, he exemplified Orwell’s essay Politics and the English Language. Hitch serves as a how NOT to be.

            FYI, philosophy IS an ideology.

          • “Religion is simply a vestige of a more fearful, uncertain time.” Try to make someone who has actually experienced a miracle in the presence of another who experienced that exact same miracle, believe that. We are overwatched by a force that cares intelligently about us.

        • Nita Metcalf says

          david of Kirkland You stated, “But science eventually found that most of the religious stories were not true, provably untrue, and after that, human society exploded.”
          Actually time has shown that science and archeology has revealed that many “stories” and statements in the Bible once thought to be merely that – “stories” or false statements are indeed true.

        • More or less what Giordano Bruno said about it, once, long ago. He was burned at the stake for it.

      • Bart d'Oerlé says

        let’s rewrite the bible?

        … and out of all animals created, God chose man and made him religious.

      • jimhaz says

        [Religion didn’t spring up as a crutch for the sophisticated human mind as it developed; religion INDUCED the sophisticated human mind]

        Come off the grass. Most of the greatest minds have been atheist, and more would have been if it was allowable by the powers that be.

        The sophisticated human mind came about due to having to deal with primate hierarchies and natures unusual intrusions. Status remains as the vital human driver. Much of religion is a just a status game.

        God just means we developed a mental system to ensure that submission to a greater power (the highest status ape for instance) had a positive side – I call it the emotion of “awe”. It is required for a herd to function without far too much conflict. Lol, it even induces a sort of release from having to constantly worry about status, once the need for submission has been observed, further questioning which could lead to danger ceases.

        As for things like the Christian religion enabling universities, I find all history to be hypothetical. There is just no way of knowing what might have occurred in the absence of the religion.

        • jimhaz says

          [I’m a Christian. I understand the atheistic position, but find it intellectually unsatisfactory. It can’t account for the origin of the universe, it can’t account for life arising from non-life, and it can’t provide a basis for objective morality]

          “It can’t account for the origin of the universe” – Yes it can. All one needs to create a universe is something that is self-creating. It need not have any other properties whatsoever making it the most simple possible “under-thing” – so instead of God, it can be say Time as a physical entity of self-expanding energy. This sort of answer is a zillion more times likely than a God existing without “existence” and time already existing. Never seen the point in God anyway.

          “it can’t account for life arising from non-life” – I personally do not believe there is a difference, other than in relation to the complexity of the parts. I see all matter as evolving matter (that may also devolve in certain circumstances eg survival of the fittest matter). All matter must be somehow “aware” of other matter and all matter appears to have an intrinsic attribute of “desiring” expansion of self. Life is merely overlapping, sequentially organised processes of awareness and expansion seeking.

          “it can’t provide a basis for objective morality” – why is it necessary for morality to be objective? We will still be tied to status and hierarchy and other herd requirements without any form of objective morality.

          • Evander says

            Thanks for engaging, jimhaz.

            i) So, “in order to create X, you just need already-existing X.” Stubborn fact: there is matter. Stubborn question: where did it originally come from?

            ii) Correct me if I’m wrong: you don’t differentiate between animate and inanimate matter? No difference between a rock and a rose bush in any biological sense? Geology and biology would then need to be collapsed into a single discipline.

            iii) You’re right, morality needn’t be objective. But if ultimate reality is materialistic, how do should we derive ethics and behave? Herd requirements? I can see herd benefit gains by eliminating the disabled, the elderly, overcrowded, low IQ populations on the African continent, etc. As an ethically subjectivist atheist, how would you counter this argument?

          • “instead of God, it can be say Time as a physical entity of self-expanding energy.”

            And the very original source of this physical entity of self-expanding energy is…?

        • Evander says

          “I find all history to be hypothetical. There is just now way of knowing what might have occurred in the absence of the religion.”

          “Most of the greatest minds have been atheist, and more would have been if it was allowable by the powers that be.”

          Contradiction with a bare assertion thrown in.

          You assert that atheists, historically, have monopolised cognitive achievement. Even if your undemonstrated claim were true, what’s your point?

          • jimhaz says

            Evander, my views are:

            [So, “in order to create X, you just need already-existing X.” Stubborn fact: there is matter. Stubborn question: where did it originally come from?]

            I do not see the complete universe in this way – as having a first cause. To me the “first cause” can logically only be a continuous cause without beginning or end. To me that which provides the power of causality to be causality must have always existed.

            [ii) Correct me if I’m wrong: you don’t differentiate between animate and inanimate matter? No difference between a rock and a rose bush in any biological sense? Geology and biology would then need to be collapsed into a single discipline.]

            I do not differentiate at the most fundamental level, at the base level. There are differences between any A and B, but overall the same fundamental process is at work. The more structurally complex a thing is, the more emergent properties will arise, increasing attributes and differences, and Geology and Biology are studies of emergent properties that can be categorised or grouped into disciplines. Although a computer ultimately works on 0/1 or empty and full bits, consider the variety of properties that can emerge from this simplicity.

            [iii) But if ultimate reality is materialistic, how do should we derive ethics and behave? Herd requirements? I can see herd benefit gains by eliminating the disabled, the elderly, overcrowded, low IQ populations on the African continent, etc. As an ethically subjectivist atheist, how would you counter this argument?]

            The evolution of empathy in animals benefitted mammalian herds, so it remains an attribute of us human animals to this day. With the human evolutionary path, such as our opposable thumbs allowing the use of tools, this lead to the brainiest surviving. Some of this braininess included imagination, and this imagination allowed empathy to be expanded to include more than direct offspring. Perhaps romantic love is an outcome of this empathy combined with desires, and the agape that saves “the disabled, elderly etc” is a further evolution of same.
            Herd leaders had to deal the needs of the herd, which included being able to manage feelings relating to empathy, otherwise they would be over thrown by dissatisfied underlings.

            I do not know the bible that well, but does Jesus talk about NOT eliminating the disabled, the elderly, overcrowded, low IQ populations? He did seem to accept slavery as a part of the social dynamic. Whether he did or did not hardly matters as there is no way of knowing the source of that viewpoint – was it just emotional habit in line with a morality set already created by mans evolutionary path?

            In terms of the disabled, it will be interesting to see how morality about the disabled applies or does not apply to genetic tailoring.

          • jimhaz says

            [You assert that atheists, historically, have monopolised cognitive achievement. Even if your undemonstrated claim were true, what’s your point?]

            Not monopolised as such, but were more significant overall than the religious. Adhering to any creed creates cognitive boundary on openness to reality. It is a bit like how the majority of physicists, astrophysics, cosmologists now automatically have to fit their research results into the standard model, even though it is full of holes.

          • Farris says

            @jimhaz
            “I do not see the complete universe in this way – as having a first cause. To me the “first cause” can logically only be a continuous cause without beginning or end. To me that which provides the power of causality to be causality must have always existed.”

            Are you saying that you believe the universe does not have a point of origin as in the “Big Bang Theory”?

            Are you saying you believe that matter can be created from nothing?

        • augustine says

          “Status remains as the vital human driver.”

          Certainly an important driver, but status seems to be just another expression of the will to autonomy and personal freedom, as Evander referenced previously. I notice you did not take him up on this important point, or the idea that we seek to be free of bonds.

          If atheism only asserted that “there is no evidence for God”, or “I don’t believe in God personally” then there is no ideology involved. But how often is that the case? More often, or usually, atheism is a jumping off point that leads to ideas (ideology) about how we should interpret the world in lieu of theism. It is often dogmatic and condescending toward believers, as if the latter are too dense to understand their enlightened stance. It is rare in my experience that an atheist can express his position and at the same time seem content and satisfied in it. Instead, there is almost always a trace at least of hostility and defensiveness, leading naturally to suspicion in the hearer. The atheist’s position is relative to, or dependent on, that of another class of people (theists), and without them his atheism would have no meaning. It doesn’t work the other way round.

          So what would it mean if the whole world were atheist? Would we cease to wonder about anything outside of material existence? Would our worst tendencies vanish? Would we be ruled by utilitarian values? Maybe atheists don’t worry about such things.

          • jimhaz says

            @ augustine

            it is a David and Goliath problem. As there are so many more religious, particularly in western politics, the minority that is David has to sling rocks at Goliath to hit right between the eyes.

            [So what would it mean if the whole world were atheist?]

            Well Paglia is correct in saying we need a new religion – but what that will be will be up to how we are caused to evolve through it.

            That religion could be art, but not as she sees it – I find art is too limited. To be a replacement for religion it is more likely to be something involving the morality of living in a fantasy based virtual reality dynamic.

            In the meantime I don’t have a great issue with Peterson’s “act as if God was real” scenario, providing it excludes the false spiritually and just deals with the development of self discipline and positive social contracts.

          • Evander says

            Thanks for replying to my points, jimhaz. I’m enjoying the conversation.

            i) I’m struggling to comprehend your position on the universe. The overwhelming scientific consensus supports ‘The Big Bang Theory’, which aligns with the traditional theistic viewpoint. The material universe we inhabit is either i) eternal or ii) finite and therefore has a beginning. I can’t conceive of a third category. Besides the primum movens, i.e. God, hypothesis, I can’t see clearly how you account for the origin of matter.

            Be more specific: what do you mean ‘that which provides the power of causality to be causality’? Is this a material object? Is it a concept? If it’s either, you’ve imputed godlike creative power to it, and we’ll need to ascertain the characteristics of it. (As well as scrutinise that position epistemologically).

            ii) A fundamental distinction in the natural sciences is between life and non-life. Rocks don’t respirate, reproduce or reason. Humans do. We share characteristics with other animals that we don’t share with inanimate objects. I want to know how living organisms arose in the first place. Do you i) accept the life/non-life distinction in the material world as significant, and ii) can you explain how the former arose from the latter?

            iii) If a powerful, majoritarian faction of the human herd willed the destruction of the feeble in order to benefit the many, how would you counter this? I’m not saying I’m in favour; merely pointing out the consequentialism you need to counter logically without objective morality. You’re left with the Melian rule of the jungle: ‘The strong assert themselves and the weak must yield.’

            Jesus, a moral objectivist, despised mistreatment of human beings, especially the vulnerable. So do I. I’m a biblical ethicist: infanticide, racism, neglect of the elderly are reprehensible, etc.

            Jesus didn’t endorse slavery. He regarded every person as inherently possessing dignity (source: canonical documents of the New Testament).

            iv) You haven’t justified your claim of disproportionate atheistic intellectual achievement. Some religion doubtless obstructs inquiry. But to particularise: how does Christianity – my brand – inhibit science?

            Plato, Cicero, Aquinas, Erasmus, Newton, Berkeley, Kierkegaard, Lewis and Plantinga (still living) – I tried to represent most eras – were all informed by metaphysics, mostly Christian metaphysics.

            I’m sure you know that thinkers from Descartes on, particularly in the enlightenment era, had a deistic framework. Explicit atheism and scientific achievement is a historically recent phenomenon.

            Atheism creates all sorts of philosophical and hence ethical problems, such as those I’ve tried to detail in my responses here. Atheism is not an automatic recipe for comparatively greater scientific inquiry. Hawkings (atheist) and Lennox (Christian) are both capable of excellent mathematics.

          • Same with vegetarians, augustine, there must be some psychological law defining all this.

        • RylanG says

          “Most of the greatest minds have been atheist, and more would have been if it was allowable by the powers that be.”. Then you breeze through the fact that universities tend to have Christian foundings.

          Wow! Glad you took time to think out an answer. You forgot to debunk the Communism/atheism link by simply stating it is not so either.

          The real problem with atheism is that it offers nothing. It throws stones at belief and religion but they’re not really stones of it’s own. Religions have what they term ‘mysteries’ within themselves. Among these mysteries are most of the criticisms atheism levels against religion. So not only does atheism not offer any answers of it’s own, it doesn’t really offer it’s own criticisms.
          There are probably no believers who, in looking at their beliefs, have not wondered at the lack of hard proof of all the questions that atheism offers as proof there is no God.

          If a believer says to an atheist “your arguments offer no absolute proof that there is no God therefore you are incorrect” does that prove atheism wrong? Of course not. It simply proves atheism is no more logical than belief. The beginning of everything (including God if there is one) is incomprehensible so for believer or atheist to tell the other they are wrong is demonstration of only one thing – that both believe in something. The only point in these two sides arguing is that one or the other cares about someone on the other side of the argument. It’s an odd situation to have someone tell you to believe them in not believing in anything.

        • jimhaz says

          Evander,

          I’m sorry but I have to admit to being too lazy to attempt to explain in depth. I’ve been posting on forums for so long now I don’t feel the need to fully explain myself anymore. I’ll give a partial response.

          [Be more specific: what do you mean ‘that which provides the power of causality to be causality’? Is this a material object? Is it a concept? If it’s either, you’ve imputed godlike creative power to it, and we’ll need to ascertain the characteristics of it. (As well as scrutinise that position epistemologically).

          If mass can be converted to energy, then energy can be converted to mass. Mass it appears can be converted to a black hole state.

          All I’m saying is that there is something that enables, that converts into energy. Perhaps only 3 things fit the criteria a) A God b) something that self-creates more of itself or c) some kind of inherent infinite (thus self-causing) fluctuation that we have evolved to see as being a dimensional world.

          God. No one can explain anything about this entity, as it can only be outside of what we see as existence. No logic can be applied to it. Nothing in what we have observed can be applied to it (other than the parents-create-child scenario – however note that requires two things not one).

          God is the top down approach and is as if your true self had to be managed and be subservient. It is not ego satisfying that your actions by necessity must be managed by the herd, so at the deeper ego level, you seek to replace that with something completely abstract that only reflects back to you.

          We don’t need that, we need to plan and work for a better future for the human race using the best possible compromise between masculine and feminine value systems, considered over the long term. Hard and soft as required by the circumstances with intelligent open examination of what really is justified and really matters. I do not think religious politicans are allowing us evolve relative to the technology and freedoms we now have.

          b) Something that self-creates more of itself.

          The universe does need a “life force”. All true forces ultimately use expansion. A cue ball does not move without losing something of itself in the process – it is expansion due to structural breakdown that causes the movement away from the point of impact. For us to have a thought requires chemical breakdowns that release electrons and pushes them around by a process of expansion.

          Why should not the whole process begin, no continue, with expansion. This provides for a number of basics

          1) a reason for the immensity or spatial infinity of the universe 2) a power source that makes change inevitable 3) fundamental level differentiation (the newest expansion grows into that which already exists) 4) space and centres of gravity (as the expansion is in all directions, inward, outward and 360 degrees – creating spherical forms with internal pressure due to inward expansion) 5) structural fracturing (the pressure inside the sphere will eventually create an energy break out from within – like light in atomic reactions for instance) 6) a flow of energy as result of this pressure break 7) layered differentiation and the path of least resistance (energy flows add a sort of infinite form of differentiation to the fundamental level and will occupy territory that is the least bounded, the least pressured by that which already exists)

          C) inherent infinite (thus self-causing) fluctuation

          I’ve not investigated this. It is similar to B) but is far harder to grasp. The problem is that it may mean spatiality itself does not exist but it is something else that we interpret as dimensionality as our senses convert it into the spatiality framework. A probable dead end.

          [ii) AI want to know how living organisms arose in the first place. Do you i) accept the life/non-life distinction in the material world as significant, and ii) can you explain how the former arose from the latter?

          [Do you i) accept the life/non-life distinction in the material world as significant]

          Yes, but not necessarily ultimately real. Categories are tools we use, but are not defined in reality.

          [and ii) can you explain how the former arose from the latter?

          I’m satisfied with the current science – the coincidental or situational joining of proteins strings to a point that enables replication of the same structure, in the right environment, and then further evolution.

          Of course though you are talking about consciousness, not life necessarily.

          Because our consciousness changes dramatically between awake and sleep, and other conditions, I view consciousness is a being like a movie – its an emergent property that only arises when the camera (the body) is on and a film is playing (sensual or internal experiences are occurring).

          • Evander says

            @jimhaz

            Thanks for taking the time to set out your position.

            re your points:

            i)

            a) I agree with Xenophanes’ critique (6th century!) that man’s religion is anthropomorphic, a cultural projection skyward. As a Christian, I believe in revelation which unties the ‘unknowable knot’. As I’ve said earlier, there’s no unassailable proof of God’s existence. But I accept the historicity of Jesus and the resurrection, which is the epistemological foundation of my faith.

            “We don’t need that, we need to plan and work for a better future for the human race.”

            This claim interacts with my point about objective morality. How do you define better and why should your view prevail? Because it’s Darwinian? Then on Darwinian grounds eliminate the weak to benefit the herd, etc. In any case, why must we survive?

            b) Something that self-creates or did you mean partially self-creates or self-perpetuates? It’s a logical impossibility to say ‘X was not, then X created X.’

            c) See point b). Something causative of the universe is effectively “God”.

            Thanks for engaging.

          • augustine says

            Evander said

            “How do you define better and why should your view prevail?”

            Thanks for asking this. I have often invoked very similar questions in discussions with people defending atheism. Of course it could be a question put as well to a Muslim or Buddhist. It lends support to the notion that atheism is at least comparable to religion on this level.

            Perhaps for some atheists a serious answer is not so important. Attempting to rationalize the extirpation of religious practice seems to be the larger motive.

          • jimhaz says

            Hi Evander,

            [b) Something that self-creates or did you mean partially self-creates or self-perpetuates? It’s a logical impossibility to say ‘X was not, then X created X.’]

            Yes, that is a logical impossibility.

            But that is my point, namely there is no “X was not” in the first place.

            It is the same as saying God has always existed – EXCEPT that God is a “whatever” that always existed with multiple properties, as opposed to what my idea of a singular unchangeable property. This is a massive difference.

            I am satisfied that anything with multiple properties, such as matter, god and even Space are evolved entities (space has multiple properties – it has distance or spatial related properties and can allow the transmission of energy or support matter).

            If there is a God it is evolved entity, not an Abrahamic creation from nothing entity, thus no more than a super alien.

            Mind you, there is one other option for God. Namely that God is an emergent property, and emergent properties have an additional causal effect to the aggregation of the individual parts ( a car can do different things that its parts can) . This means God would have no inherent self- existence – but exists as a result of the combined output of all consciousness. Consciousness exists by the use of electricity and electricity creates a magnetic field. With consciousness (as thoughts) this magnetic field would have differentiation. I am unable to discount the possibility that the combined magnetic fields of life, wherever it is, does not form a something else. Interesting the Jungian concept of “synchronicity” and “universal consciousness” would fit into this scenario. Nonetheless, I do not believe this to be true.

      • A. R. says

        Not sure where you get off calling Paglia ‘ideological’- clearly you aren’t familiar with the detail, history of her work- and reacting too quickly. If you read the article, Paglia says she thinks comparative religion should be core curriculum, starting early on. Her thoughts on this, and history of humanities, highly influenced Jordan Peterson- another who finds art, psychology, and religion to be deeply intertwined products of biology/culture.

        And all this nonsense like the damned world is gonna end without ‘Judeo-Christianity’ is absurdity. The arguments here are endless- Democracy was created in Athens, without any of that, and later the imagery used to describe Christ in the Bible, which would be used to define christian ritual, were stolen from earlier ‘pagan’ (pagan just meant ‘hick,’ back then- a careless insult) religions from Egypt, Greece, India and the cities of the fertile crescent – one example being the entire last supper being a total plagiarizing of dionysian/orphic ritual, among many others- and became both the bedrock of Christian thought (Plato, Aristotle, Augustine ect) and of course both our current democracy/republic, all founded by Greek thought and pagan (greece, rome) societies. In our evolutionary past, animism and panpsychism lasted millions of years- with the monothesitic religions, the earliest being Zoroastrianism (arguably, but it’s well supported)- only being a part of us for a few thousand, with strong traces of the earlier forces within them, often requiring genocide (inquisition, exiling of ‘heretics,’ witch burning ect) to quash any remaining beliefs of the earlier, nature focused religions. Also, if it werent for Nero’s army being lucky- the uprising of the Celts in early first century would’ve taken over Rome, as they almost did in response to the murder of the druids, and the raping of the daughters of Celtic queen Boudica by Roman soldiers. There is a reason that the bearded god painted in the Sistine chapel was actually an image of Zeus, and not Yaweh.

        The only ideology thats keeping people stuck is this damned ‘Christianity equals democracy, anything else equals communism/fascism’ dichotomy- which is patent bullshit, obvious to anyone who truly looks at history with nuance- the whole reason psychology emerged/was created in the first place was to address the hysteria outbreaks of the late 1800s, where Christian values became so anathema to the nature of the body, people began experiencing paralysis, and loss of control of limbs- things that no doubt were diagnosed as demonic possession in earlier centuries. Art, religion, and psychology are a fractured trinity that are only so because of the huge divides in mind and body caused by a christian born ‘enlightenment’- the Cartesian split- which is almost like a disease in how it keeps us from integrating, understanding formerly cooperative modes of human understanding that were integral to our primitive history. There is also something to be said about how no other religion in history has done such a great job of censoring the speech and creative thought of its citizens- the burning of the library of Alexandria only being one event in a miles long, well deserved shitlist. And yes- Islam is as shitty, worse now- but that is an entirely different subject. But def one needed to be addressed by the hypocritical scholars who endlessly lampoon Christianity- both are outmoded forms of state violence.

        There was well written article on some of this here, on Quillette, actually- here’s the link to it:

        https://quillette.com/2018/08/23/progress-and-polytheism-could-an-ethical-west-exist-without-christianity/

        • Evander says

          @jimhaz

          Weird that the btl platform on Quillette doesn’t allow us to reply directly to every comment.

          What’s wrong with the postulate that God is an uncreated, eternal creator? Its supposed invalidity isn’t self-evident. Could you point out why you think this is so?

          Also, why must God be an evolved and therefore changeable being? The biblical scriptures represent God as unchanging, a characteristic without which he couldn’t be all-powerful and all-good.

          I hope I’m not being uncharitable in saying that I’ve found your explanation for a first causative principle / agent riddling. You have spoken variously of a ‘life force’, some enabler of energy or causality, capital-t Time, etc. coupled with complex descriptions of fluctuation and expansion. Maybe I’m unfairly insistent on an idiosyncratic standard of clarity.

          Let me try again.

          i) The universe is entirely material according to the naturalist position.

          ii) ‘Laws’ ‘energy’ ‘expansion’ ‘time’ are simply human descriptors we have invented to help us understand material processes.

          iii) ‘Causation’ is a fundamental principle operative in the universe.

          iv) Which leads to the question: what is the first cause of the universe?

          v) Either it goes stretching back ad infinitum: all that is – matter – always was in some form or another, and always will be.

          vi) Or there was a starting point, i.e. God or some other non-caused cause.

          I’d also like to push you on your morality position. You spoke of a ‘better future’ for mankind. Do you simply mean survival of the species? Then on utilitarian grounds there are compelling arguments for measures both you and I would find repugnant. In any case, the universe is indifferent to our survival or extinction. Or do you have a different ideology? And what makes your ideology ‘better’?

      • Nita Metcalf says

        Innominata, This is the first time I’ve read such a very thought out and well said rebuttal (?) to atheism. I will save it and if the opportunity presents it’s self, hope to use/repost it if I may? Thank you. (From a definitely non-scholar person)

      • Tobias F says

        I fully agree with you, even though I do not like the institutions of the church. I believe that you can not rip out the foundation of our culture (religion) and then expect that the whole building (culture) will not collapse. Maybe instead of abolishing Religion Atheist should create one, but cut out the bad stuff.

      • Atheism is no more an ideology than theism.

        Christianity is an ideology. Theism is not. Theism is one of the cogs that makes up the ideology of Christianity.

        You’re ascribing to atheism itself what you read about certain atheists. Those atheists have other animating ideas in which atheism is one of the engines. It’s like you’re saying “all theists” pray 7 times a day while facing Mecca. This would be confusing the tree for the forest.

      • Connor says

        Ah, the classic “I am smarter than both atheists and theists” line, just in more words.

        Face it: You’re an atheist accusing other atheists of not being as thoughtful as you.

      • Forrest Cahoon says

        > Religion didn’t spring up as a crutch for the sophisticated human mind as it developed; religion INDUCED the sophisticated human mind.

        Even if this is true, it’s not an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against (your interpretation of) what some atheists believe.

        The only argument against atheism, by definition, is the assertion that God or the gods exist in a literal sense.

      • I would venture to say Paglia is arguing politics SHOULD not fill that frame of experience. By saying it “cannot” with such strength she means to allude to the horrors of Communist China and the Soviet Union. That was how I took it at least.

      • I agree that humans need belief, and some kind of communal belief. But does it have to come about through communally reciting the Nicene Creed on Sundays? The moral roots are watered by daily actions, fulfilling responsibilities and attempting to be kind. I think this is what Jordan Peterson is saying – ‘act as if god exists’.

      • designer says

        After reading the comments of Innominata and her defenders, I’d like to contradict from an “atheist” (better non theist) position with no puritan theocratic genes and socialization.
        I agree to the possibility that “religion INDUCED the sophisticated human mind”.
        But what is at the core of religion? It is betrayal – the pretension to know something that they don’t know, the creation of a ‘God’, an invisible power that is invented and expressed by a human (the prophet, the priest). This presumption gives the priest a power in the human society he couldn’t achieve otherwise. So the basic drivers of religion are selfishness, greed and megalomania put in a socially acceptable cloak. This original deception is assisted by the human hubris, called spirituality.
        Religion is the mother of ideology, because it exploited the human ability to believe into the virtue of faith, which is the antidote of “the sophisticated human mind”.
        Faith is the Swiss army knife of control over resources. “Atheism” is the struggle against faith and ideology, it is an anti-ideology.
        When religion is the expression of egoism then spirituality is narcissism, the easy way out for the ignorant or intellectually lazy.
        To come back to Paglia, art is a proper replacement for religion, because it fills the void at the narcissism dock, while capitalism fills the void at the religion dock.

      • “Atheism (and its bigoted catchfart anti-theism) always relegates religions to “belief systems that frame” and presumes that religions are just sociological appendices and psychological coping mechanisms ”
        What if religion could be objectively proved to impart a Darwinian fitness advantage to the beings who adopt it?

        • Michiel says

          I’d think it possibly might have at some point in our history. Perhaps some early tribes of man who had some kind of religion were better equipped to deal with certain psychological or communal issues than a tribe that did not. Although I have to assume that pretty much all humans would have developed some form of mythical/religious thinking since there were simply too many otherwise unexplainable things before science came along. So then it would be a question of “selection” between which kind of religious belief had the greatest benefit compared to other belief systems, which would allow one tribe to spread their particular religion to others that they would conquer. Of course we have seen this narrative play out over and over in humanity’s history.
          I think right now though, the evidence points to the most secular/atheistic societies (mostly North/West Europe) being the safest societies, with their inhabitants reporting the highest amount of happiness. Of course it’s still a bit early to tell how this will work out in the long run. It could be conceivable that in a clash between secular Western thinking and religion (Islam), religion would win, simply because it instills it’s followers with more zeal to fight for their belief.

      • Tobias Schultz says

        This is the most important discussion of the 21st century as far as I can tell We’re doomed to repeating catastrophes without it. Please write an article or book about this so we can read it and have this discussion

      • Atheism is the curious certitude that the ground-of-being is insufficiently like a person or mind so that we have no reason to relate to it personally. A certitude held in the face of the fact that the comprehensibility of nature, the very possibility of science, suggests quite the opposite: a circumstance poetically described in the old texts as “come let us make Man in our image an likeness.”

      • Well said, but the problem is that atheism is the correct perspective regarding the supernatural. Aesthetics replaces spirituality. Religion should be erased because it is, at its most fundamental exercise, destructive. There is no room for it in our diverse and multicultural society.

        • Evander says

          @designer

          So much hangs upon how you define ‘ideology’, so let me state up front how I understand it: an ideology is a belief-system that prioritises certain ideas and practices over others.

          “Religion is the mother of ideology.” You need to go up river: if religion is a fiction, the human mind is the mother of religion and by extension ideology. And it hardly needs pointing out that although it might be true that i) all religion is ideology, it doesn’t follow that ii) all ideology is religious, Marxian thinking and its offshoots, being a case in point.

          Empiricism and scepticism, the bases of the atheistic rejection of God’s existence, are not neutral modes of being. Why seek fact over non-fact? Why question assumptions? Science was invented and a sceptical stance adopted because people valued – key word – verifiability as well as incredulity towards unsupported claims and systems.

          But even allowing for atheism being free from ideology, how do you live your life? By what system? If you disavow any system, what guides your decision making? Valued living is impossible to avoid.

          @Rick

          “Religion should be erased.”

          I thought totalitarian politics was out of fashion. Do you believe in liberal democracy?

          “Because it is, at its most fundamental exercise, destructive.”

          Although I am a deeply flawed person, my faith drives me to charity, voluntary service of the poor, commitment to the dignity of every human person, passion for truth, a love for knowledge, and a desire to live wisely and discuss wise living with others. Almost all my Christian friends conform to this pattern. We exercise our faith ‘fundamentally’. However, I would back you in arguing that historically Christian-based institutions and nations have been profoundly destructive at times.

          “There is no room for it in our diverse and multicultural society.”

          Being an Aussie, I’m a huge fan and practitioner of dry sarcasm. So I’m disappointed that I can’t pick the seriousness or not of this comment. BTW, you do realise that diversity and multiculturalism are products of ideology, don’t you? Why prioritise them?

          Either allow for religion – multiple ideologies you disagree with – to be practised freely within our liberal democracy, or, to align more closely with your stated position, go and assist the regime in China that is seeking to persecute the house-church movement into non-existence in pursuit of a religion-free state.

          • RylanG says

            I would say that even the atheists here (and most of the ones I know personally) are so tainted with the residue of religious thought that they are blind to true atheism.
            They speak in terms of the common good, equality, blah, blah. True atheism has no place for the common good or any point to the future save where it applies to the individual atheist’s time on Earth. Forget Hitchens, Stalin was the truer atheist. If this is my time and there is no judgement beyond it what ever beyond myself that I worry about is an irrationality and a weakness to be purged.
            This is my view as a religious person, and demonstrates aptly why there is a need for religion. I have friends, atheists, who will ask “what if you found out with certainty today, that there is no God?”. My response makes it clear to them that the most dangerous place they could be that day is alone with me.

        • @ Rick

          “There is no room for it in our diverse and multicultural society.”

          Serious question: Was this ironic statement intentional? This is comedic gold, but I’m a little concerned that you might be serious. If you were trying to be funny, kudos. This statement is the perfect caricature of the conflict theory’s approach to diversity and equality.

          If you were serious, would you mind untangling it? Or at least rephrasing it so it isn’t so self-defeating. My take: Religion and non-religion have so much blood on their hands. History has proven that each one needs the other to achieve balance. Once one side manages to “erase” the other (as you so eloquently put it), the results are always horrific. This is why the “diverse and multicultural” society you clearly desire (but, perhaps, don’t understand) is so beautiful.

          If you were joking, please ignore the second paragraph.

      • Melody Rich says

        Appreciate your insights. (And unfortunately, I think you are almost right.) I do think the overall situation is less dire …

        … partly because I see how human nature reverts to a more religious mindset in times of great upheaval, strain or tragedy (ie. I’m in Southern California and we’re on fire). In those times, people recognizes, even if it doesn’t stick, that the government they want so badly to be worthy of their dependence (ie. worship) will inevitably disappoint. Why? Because its decision-makers are as frail and hopeless and inarguably human as they themselves.

        But we shall see.

      • harrync says

        @ Innominata [and also @ many others]: You seem to think religion is necessary for a successful society. Apparently you have not heard of that place called Scandinavia; from the studies I have seen, it is the least religious area on earth, and also the most contented.

        • Evander says

          @harrync

          Religion provides a binding meta-narrative that can be good or bad. What meta-narrative does the post-religious 21st century West live by?

          The Scandinavian countries were soaked in Christianity. Look at their flags and architecture; study their history. (They didn’t go from exploratory, human-sacrificing Vikings to polite, liberal atheists overnight.) As they’re drying off, like cormorants perched on a rock, we will see in time what they happens. Then claim atheism, contra religion, is a sufficient cause for societal happiness.

          Nietzsche’s passage from ‘Die fröhliche Wissenschaft’ (1882) on the death of God is essential reading here. If you’re going to be a consistent atheist, commit to its implications with a clean break from all Christian norms, construct a new morality and don’t pretend unbelief is responsible for the purported success of Sweden et al.

        • Johan Wolfgang von Goethe says

          Wer Wissenschaft und Kunst besitzt, der hat auch Religion

          Wer jene beide nicht besitzt, der habe Religion

          • jimhaz says

            “He who has science and art also has religion;
            he who does not possess those two, he has religion”

            Yes, but the ideal should be to minimise where faith is required.

        • Evander says

          @jimhaz

          That depends on what you mean by faith, doesn’t it?

          Bolshevism is an atheistic faith: human nature is malleable and a glorious telos awaits those of the revolutionary class. I would ally with you in minimising that.

          My faith compels me to love others and respect the dignity of every human being. Do you think such faith should be minimised?

          Am I right in thinking that you believe maximising atheism is a good thing? Why is that an ideal?

          • Jimhaz translation is not perfect, -er habe Religion- means, -he better have religion- (subjunctive form). So, yes, it’s all a matter of minimum/maximum. The idea that religion and belief is something for the uneducated masses, to keep stability in the state and law abiding where law enforcing was problematic, was quite common among the philosophers (not the theologians) of old times, see Bruno, Kant, Spinoza. Faith at the time was not yet so relevant for society, faith is something individual.

      • nathan oliva says

        Hmm. You do not supply much in the way of evidence for your post, which seems to be a long-winded support of the merits of religion. I take particular exception to the use of “Stanley Kubrick seems to have adumbrated….” The Monolith was not a symbol of the godhead, and if anything lightly mocked the religious agenda, being a technological tool to interact with the brain, specifically to cause uplift. Of course, you only know this if you have either read the Book, (by Clarke, an Atheist, not the polyglot document of christianity) or have researched the topic specifically. Nothing undermines a religious apology quite like approbation of a technological meme to support religious relativism.

        • Bisquit says

          So God does not exist, yet you do, in a universe independent of the energy of which all things exist, but not God. It’s OK with me if you live in your universe. I prefer the one that has always existed through billions and billions of years, yet is composed solely of particles, all of which are brand new every second through eternity.

      • Hmm. You do not supply much in the way of evidence for your post, which seems to be a long-winded support of the merits of religion. I take particular exception to the use of “Stanley Kubrick seems to have adumbrated….” The Monolith was not a symbol of the godhead, and if anything lightly mocked the religious agenda, being a technological tool to interact with the brain, specifically to cause uplift. Of course, you only know this if you have either read the Book, (by Clarke, an Atheist, not the polyglot document of christianity) or have researched the topic specifically. Nothing undermines a religious apology quite like approbation of a technological meme to support religious relativism.

        (apologies if this double-posted)

      • DCD in Indiana says

        This comment is an absolute goldmine (and not just because it taught me two new words: catchfart and adumbrate). Perhaps Quillete’s next interview subject should be Innominata.

      • McGardner says

        So well said. Thank you.
        My tea leaves are telling me traditionalism is the new punk rock. Rebel yell!!

      • Bisquit says

        Lots of tags and slogans here. I will reconsider my deep faith in the eternal Universal Soul, of which we are all a part, on that day when the particle is discovered that has as it’s basic property energy free matter. All it would take to fullfill my requirement is the discovery of one particle that does not disappear as fast as it appears. The chances of the particle existing are similar to dreaming of entering into a contract and waking up with the paper in your hands.

      • Dan Warren says

        Fantastic comment. Smartest thing I’ve read in a long time…
        Cant remember anything better.

        I have coined the phrase ‘the Leftist Cult’…..I think this encapsultes what you are saying.

        I’ve put this idea into many memes and essays on my meme site.

        You can google it…

        DanKWarren, flickr

        Sorry, I’m typing on phone
        …so, best I can do.

      • Laura says

        Wow. Some should interview you:) Very interesting and well written. Couldn’t agree more.

      • I agree wholeheartedly, except, Jude-Christianity’s mysticism should be eschewed. Do we really need god the savior or god the enforcer of better behavior? Not working nowadays? Take a look at Christianity today, rife with hypocrisy, prejudice, ignorance and ignoring of the social wisdom in the Bible and related dogma. Rather the humanistic moral values found there can be valued per se and become part of the every day thought and spoken words, in conversations by ordinary people in schools, the arts, literature, journalism, TV, politics and beyond. We need to see the value in these values. Society, communal living, becomes a better place.

      • The inescapable reality that humans possess no capacity to state anything with certainty about any metaphysical concept whatsoever (such as atheism or a belief in God), reveals a world of the imagination open to everyone. Metaphysical speculation can never go beyond the level of conjecture or wishful thinking. The atheist’s opinion that there is no god remains on equal footing with the believer’s wish that there is a God.

        This world of the unknowable is the perfect playground for art, literature and all of human aspiration. That being said, there are undeniable instances in this world where certain behaviors demand acknowledgment as being the right thing to do. We have the power to know right behavior, and so we make laws. If only we could approach the process of lawmaking with a universal mindset instead of favoring one group over another would our legislative bodies command the respect that currently eludes them.

        Whatever one may believe about the universe, this world actually provides the perfect arena for acts of righteousness.

      • Meanderings – Hmmm… I’m thinking “maunderings”? Let’s see

        meanderings: talk that continues for a longer time than is necessary and is not interesting

        maunder verb
        maun·​der | \ˈmȯn-dər, ˈmän-\
        maundered; maundering\ -​d(ə-​)riŋ \

        1 chiefly British : GRUMBLE
        2 : to wander slowly and idly
        3 : to speak indistinctly or disconnectedly

      • Rachel Floyd says

        This is gob-smackingly beautiful. Lehmann, Paglia, and now you in the comments! Thank you so much for bringing more sanity into the world, and so elegantly too – I’ve marinated in similar thoughts and feelings to all of the above but you all grow my edges and help my understanding on a deeper level. Unbelievably refreshing, thank you again!

      • The Discoverer says

        Physics tells us that the entire universe is fundamentally Light. In my view, this Light is the emanation of the intelligence that created the entire Universe. The implication is that each human being is also Light and that it is the Soul Light that is meant to create the Meaning for our life.

        So, what is Meaning? Meaning is Difference. The difference some thing or some one makes in the context of the situation, the Now, in which they exist. Thus, humans long to be meaning-makers, to be making a difference in Life. Unfortunately, we, as a species, do not understand it ourselves and thus cannot pass on that Word to our children.

        We do not understand because we are captured by the Things of the world and our entire life’s time is spent acquiring “things” and trying to dominate and/or control Reality and other human beings. All the great sages/guru’s of mankind have basically said the same thing. Here are some examples.

        Yeshua said,
        If your leaders tell you, “Look, the kingdom is in heaven,”
        Then the birds of heaven will precede you.
        If they say to you, “It’s in the sea,” (or under the earth)
        Then the fish will precede you.
        But the kingdom is inside you and it is outside you.
        When you know yourselves, then you will be known,
        And you will understand that you are children of the living father.
        But if you do not know yourselves,
        Then you dwell in poverty, and you are poverty.
        Gospel of Thomas, V. 3 (In the Gnostic Bible)

        When the world’s on the Way
        They use horses to haul manure.
        When the world gets off the Way
        They breed warhorses on the common.

        The greatest evil: wanting more.
        The worst luck: discontent.
        Greed’s the curse of life.

        To know enough’s enough
        Is enough to know.

        Lao Tzu; #46, Tao Te Ching

        “These children and riches are mine”; thinking thus the fool is troubled. Since no one even owns himself, what is the sense in “my children and riches”? Verily, it is the law of humanity that though one accumulates hundreds of thousands of worldly goods, one still succumbs to the spell of death. All hoardings will be dispersed, whatever rises will be cast down, all meetings must end in separation, life must finally end in death. Buddha. Udanavarga I.20-22.

        He told them a parable. “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.” Jesus. Luke 12: 13-21

        Innominata wrote: “if we don’t have a second-wave Enlightenment……” but confined it to Judeo-Christian Enlightenment. Since the angst was about the survival of the West, that is fair. But, we have far bigger problems coming at us and few are seeing it. The West’s Total Fertility Rate is crashing. All of the EU is now at 1.6. (2.1 is needed for a civilization to be sustained). Russia is 1.5-1.6. Japan is 1.4 and is closing schools every year. No children. Japanese women do not want Japanese men and thus have closed off their married life and wombs. The US and Canada are also at 1.6 (which is new for the US).

        Thirty years ago Iran was at 7.0. Today it is at 1.7-1.9, depending on the source. They achieved in 30 years what it took the EU, as a whole, two centuries to achieve. The Imam’s are frantic and are accusing the West of a nefarious plot. No plot. It’s the collision of Tribalism with Modernity and when women get control of their fertility, they stop having babies. Even immigrants do so.

        So, the question is: “Why do they stop having babies?” Because children are no longer an asset they were when the vast majority of the population was on farms. They have become a cost and burden. So far, the United States, since 1973, has aborted over 60,000,000 babies. How many geniuses did we kill? And children prevent these newly “freed” women from having the career they want.

        Finally, the need for Enlightenment is to see that the Soul Light is in each child and that children are the new emanation of the Creator (who goes by many names).

        And I want to congratulate Camille on her insights about how rabid our society has become. The future looks grim to me, an 81-year-old, white, male, father of four sons and married now 57 years. Political correctness is just one of the causes. Here’s a prescient Aussie who saw it all coming.

        On Political Correctness:

        http://www.ourcivilisation.com/pc.htm

      • Gary Gavegan says

        Atheism dear chap is the antithesis of ideology. As in atheist – a non believer in Theism it is a-ideology that is of no theistic ideology. Ok atheists may be of other ideologies Nazi, Commo, Astrologist etc. however Atheism is not an ideology of itself. You seem to be making a point that is leading to Jordan Petersons belief in the utility of Christian belief or observance as the way forward for civilised advancement of Homo Sapiens and the planet at large.

        • Evander says

          @Gary

          Atheism is a faith-commitment valued over theism, and therefore an ideology.

          You reject the existence of God based on… empiricism? rationalism? Why be an empiricist or a rationalist? Because you value – an ideological verb – those approaches to life. Non-valued living is impossible.

          I accept the existence of God based on historical testimony about the person of Jesus of Nazareth. A Christian framework also satisfies me philosophically regarding the origins of the natural world – creation in Christian parlance – and morality.

          Atheism also licenses ideology. If there is no God, there is no supreme authority or judge. behaviour. Totalitarians and dictators can then position themselves as rightful recipients of their citizens’ utmost obedience. And of course individual atheists can live their lives without worrying about a God who judges, which is an extremely attractive motivation for being an atheist.

      • Tom Todd says

        But you provide no argument or evidence to refute the notion that religions are “sociological appendices and psychological coping mechanisms”.
        And I am fairly certain that scientific and technical progress was primarily NOT encouraged by religion or its institutions per se.
        It seems far more that (e.g. in Renaissance times) philosophy (especially epistemology) and probably mathematics were key and indispensable factors in the development of our culture and technology.

        • Evander says

          @Tom Todd

          ‘You provide no argument or evidence to refute the notion…’

          ‘I am fairly certain…’ ‘It seems far more… and probably…’

          Care to provide what you demand of others, a narrative based not on conjecture but verifiable fact?

          1088, 1096, 1150 are the respective dates for the founding of the three earliest European universities: Bologna, Oxford and Paris. The university (original meaning: a unity of teachers and students) was set up for inquiry into the divine and natural, based on the belief that God had revealed himself through scripture and creation. Since the duty of the church and laity was to know the God in whom they believed, a dedicated scholarly community was conceived as the best solution.

          contra popular atheistic notions, there is no natural antithesis between religion and science. You get misguided religionists who insist on a flat earth. But they aren’t representative. Christians believe in a God of order: what he says in his word won’t be contradicted by the world he has created.

          I don’t mind atheists. But when they bang on ahistorically about the brave march of science through the gauntlet of obstructionist religion I feel the need, simply as a pursuer of truth, to point out: your narrative is crap; please pay your dues to Christianity.

      • Dylan Kanagaratnam says

        Before religion, perhaps even bigger than it, homo Sapiens gained the ability to think of “what does not exist”. This is crucial to our development as a species. This opened the door to comprehensive story telling (which developed into comprehensive religions).

      • We have a saying- don’t bind the cat on the lard-. The idea was, lard is for humans, but cats could be tempted to steal it, so what you should avoid in all circumstances, to have them too close together. But in the meantime, we are friendlier to cats, and buy all kind of special canned stuff for them. Anyhow, what I know, ham is too salty for cats, they prefer fresh meat, or fish, or, better even, a live mouse or fish. I can’t see the metaphor, anyhow.

    • frances says

      Could not agree more. I’ve missed her more than I dare to say in certain company. Now there’s someone who really knows how to think!

      • Greg Maxwell says

        . . . more than I dare say in certain company. Maybe you should find other company.

    • Of course Paglia is correct. An orgasm, like every transcendent endeavor, is a domination, a surrender or a breaking through. At least Sam Harris is honest about the compulsive need and search for it – and I find him honest and none threatening because his is a solitary search. The truly terrifying join hoards and mobs. I think Sam Harris must never have remained sober whilst his friends went tripping or I suspect he would regard the faith placed in the insights gained to be on par with an athiest attending a Benny Hinn revival.

    • jay hael says

      OMG. What is on display here is exactly what the interviewer and interviewee are supposedly railing against. This is the ultimate in sesquipedalian screed.

    • Loran Tritter says

      Wow! I almost quit reading amid the wilderness of college teacher jargon and argot. Then the author made her point. It is so spot on I can hardly believe it. Men and women are actually quite different at least until menopause. This has great ramifications for our modern society.

      The modern trend toward women in the workplace creates an enormous increase in the output of goods and services – we get materially prosperous. At the same time women and men instinctively want to live in different worlds as far as making a living is concerned. This is hardwired into our species going back to our pre-agricultural origins. Of course, child care and household chores need to be split down the middle.

      Camille Paglia gives me optimism that we poor humans will somehow find a way to make women in the workplace happy again.

  2. “In short, #MeToo from a historical perspective is a cri de coeur from women who are realizing that the sexual revolution that many of us had once ecstatically embraced has in key ways devalued women, confused their private relationships, and complicated their smooth functioning in the workplace.”

    Remarkable, coming fro Paglia, saying the Sexual Revolution was counterproductive.

    Heather Mac Donald has been about it, for a while.
    https://www.city-journal.org/contributor/heather-mac-donald_122

    • Peter from Oz says

      Yes, Heather MacDonald is actually much better than Paglia in getting to the real point at issue.

  3. Catherine Montalbo says

    Thank you but this was FAR too short! Will there be a Part II? Love me some Camille Paglia so it’s very exciting to see her here.

    • Swedish chef says

      Probably the same as when she commented on Jordan Peterson last week:”Crawl back under the rock you came from!”

  4. The small nuclear family as a standard is spreading like oil all over the globe, the chinese appartment conglomerates are made for mom and dad and 1 or 2 kids (whereas in the rural backyards, granny and the older aunts still reign in the homes). In rural Kenia, I still saw what Camille described so lively, partly even from remembrance of her own mediterranean childhood. Men go out in men groups, going often hand in hand, the women in groups with the smaller kids elsewhere, in church women left, men right. Women talk not very respectful of men, to say the least (and have often strong reason for that), and they even dance in groups. Men are not allowed in the kitchen, and eat with their friends at home what their women and daughters cook. So, no small nuclear standard family as in the West. Not yet! However, all this is seen now as rural and backwards, the modern Kenyan youngsters try to adapt the Western lifestyles, with mixed succes. Now , after reading the above, I wonder whether this Western style, after all, should be the new role model. Maybe, indeed, it’s time for a new gender mapping. Somewhere in between North and South? The question of course is: where exactly!

    • The small nuclear family was spawned by the needs of the industrial revolution. Now comes the digital revolution and the modern family is mom, children, government programs and a smart phone. How you gonna keep them down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paris?

      • But where is dad, Lenny? Somewhere in an even smaller nucleus? All alone ? (but, of course, not without smartphone).

      • James Lee says

        Have they seen Paris, Lenny, or a landscape full of anxiety, anomie, resentment, and pervasive dissatisfaction?

        99.9% of human evolution looked nothing like this Brave New World. Humans are currently attempting to run futuristic software on stone age hardware, with no idea of what they are doing, no foresight, no wisdom, and no restraints. Instead of sacrificing some of the present to make way for a better future, we moderns sacrifice the future for the present.

        Paglia insightfully addresses an aspect of this evolutionary mismatch in discussing how our current social expectations are virtually impossible to fulfill given modern conditions. She also rightfully points out that secular humanism has failed in its attempt to serve as a stabilizing moral and ethical framework for the bulk of human beings. It relies on the remnants of Judeo-Christian morality from which it has steadily eaten, and devolves into a demented political mind-set where the ends always justify the means.

        For many who follow the new religion, achieving political goals is now the only virtue and principle. Everything else is negotiable- freedom of speech, due process, the right to confront ones accuser, all of these principles can be easily discarded if they don’t further one’s political goals. This principle of no-principles, other than achieving abstract future goals, was at the heart of the Communist “ethical” system, and we now see it emerging within the new Western system.

        Like Innominata above, I don’t advocate specifically for the Judeo-Christian tradition, but the bulk of humans need some religious structure, and the current Identity politics religion is one of the crappiest I have studied. It certainly won’t survive (as it can’t unify anyone, it works in the opposite manner), but the question is what will follow it, and how much destruction that transition will create.

        • Andrew says

          Very good post James.

          “For many who follow the new religion, achieving political goals is now the only virtue and principle. Everything else is negotiable- freedom of speech, due process, the right to confront ones accuser, all of these principles can be easily discarded if they don’t further one’s political goals.”

          I see things slightly differently. My take on this is that political goals that we once casually adopted, are turning out to be much harder to achieve than anticipated, and so rather than owning our false assumptions and weaknesses, instead we are compromising centuries old rights in a desperate attempt to save face. Western society is now like the hypothetical employee who has been promoted to his level of incompetence.

    • Just Me says

      dirk –

      Poverty is what creates that extended family, the need to cooperate and the reliance on kinship ties to do so.

      Any time people have a chance to become more independent, as when they become better off, they take it.

      Because there was a lot of strife, domination, and submission, in those extended families.

      The small band of hunter gatherers, who when there was conflict, could just split up and move away, was the norm before sedentarization forced people to put up with a bad situation, no matter what.

      • Poverty, and the absence of state influence and markets, as explained at length in Harari’s Sapiens, it was an eye-opener for me, and am happy to have seen the early forms of society in rural Africa, to compare with. What I also saw here (and Ms Paglia also, even from family stories) that there were a lot of advantages and positive features (less stress and lonelyness) that with rising incomes seem to evaporate from society. But, I am not a nostalgic, though little bit romantic,and realise very well that every different time and situation needs its own face and lifestyle. As long as it a conscious choice, or positive developemnt, no problems! Hakuna matata!

        • See Harari’s chapter -The collapse of the family and the community- Just Me, pg 404: Modern family still has to provide for intimate needs, which state and market are incapable of. Yet, even here, the family is subject to increasing interventions… (as in romantic and sexual lives, by fashion designers,gym managers,dieticians,cosmeticians, and plastic surgeons).
          As you can see Harari is rather pessimistic and somewhat sarcastic, that’s why his books sell so good)

    • I live in Louisiana where most men cook and lots of women hunt and fish. There was an American happiness survey done a few years ago and the top five five happiest cities were all in Louisiana.
      In a lot of standard metrics, Louisiana ranks near the bottom (education, child poverty, etc.), so could it be that the looseness of our sexual role modeling be the big difference maker?

  5. Thomas Maigret says

    Great interview. It seems like every time I read something from Paglia, I’m confronted with something I’d never really considered.

    • Scott Rosenthal says

      A delightful ‘handle’….thank you for making me smile

  6. Farris says

    Camille Paglia is a type of near extinct Leftist. The type that one could sit down with have a beer, disagree all night and part friends with no one engaging in personal or ad hominem attacks. Her fidelity to ideals over political expediency is an admirable trait in persons of any creed. I miss these Leftist. I had a similar friend at work. We would argue throughout lunch and remain friends. Today if I am painfully aware that should I attempt such dialogue with my younger Leftist colleagues, I will be reported for some type of harassment.

    “I suspect history will not be kind to the leading professors who appear to have put loyalty to friends and colleagues above defending scholarly values during a chaotic era of overt vandalism that has deprived several generations of students of a profound education in the humanities.”
    Best quote I’ve read this year!

    “However, I oppose special protections for women as inherently paternalistic and regressive.”
    The quote above is indicative of truly progressive thinking.

    Ms. Paglia is a treasure to both members of the right and left, because though one may occasionally disagree with her, everyone can learn from her insights.

    • Farris says

      I would be curious to know her views on the politics and writings of Florence King.

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @Farris

      There was a nice decade or so when one could sit down over beers with friends having opposing views and discuss pretty much anything. Its sad that the political cultists across the spectrum have so poisoned the culture.

      • Farris says

        @C&B

        Thank you for your acknowledgment. I miss those times and I miss my friend, even though we frequently cancelled out each other’s vote.

      • Thrash Jazz Assassin says

        @Circuses and Bread. Camille Paglia mentions: “I have argued that if religion is erased, something must be put in its place. Belief systems are intrinsic to human intelligence and survival. They “frame” the flux of primary experience, which would otherwise flood the mind.” We were just discussing this very point, under ‘Reasons to Be Fearful’.

        • Circuses and Bread says

          @Thrash

          Yes, we were just talking about this the other day.

          I was surprised that Claire used one of her questions to ask about the relationship of politics to cults. I was even more for surprised at the response. Perhaps we’re at the start of intellectuals poking at some heretofore heretical notions on the nature of politics?

          Color me happy.😄

    • Helen says

      So true. I have finally found a “true” fellow feminist!!!

    • Mad Max says

      I don’t think today’s left considers Ms. Paglia to be a member of their tribe.

      There seems to be quite a bit of confusion as to what left and right stands for today.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Farris
      “I will be reported for some type of harassment. ”
      No, it would be assault. It is now violence to say something that a leftie does not want to hear.

  7. Brilliant! As a STEM professional, I have a new found admiration of the Humanities – provided it is delivered by Dr Paglia.

  8. Andrew says

    “I am an equity feminist: that is, I demand equal opportunity for women through the removal of all barriers to their advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women as inherently paternalistic and regressive.”

    Camille Paglia cannot see that the former (equal opportunity), is the cause of the latter (special protections for women). Let me explain. Equal opportunity is an almost universally held philosophical position and general movement in Western societies. It faces virtually zero opposition, and is therefore unbounded in its extent or aims. Therefore, there is nothing to prevent it morphing from something pro-social, to something anti-social. Mere verbal protests along the lines that things have gone “too far”, do not actually count as opposition. The only way any idea can be opposed is to counter it directly – a countervailing force must specifically target the concept, rather than just arguing over its boundaries.

    Every concept, including those that encapsulate what we consider to be “the good”, must be constrained by an explicit regulating concept. At the cognitive level, every belief, idea and value represented in the brain must be limited in scope by one or more inhibitors. The value of goods and services is inhibited by opportunity cost. The value of sex is inhibited by the risk of pregnancy and transmittable diseases. Criminal behaviour is inhibited by punishment and social ostracisation. What about our belief systems? Western society has in effect, deemed it inappropriate to place any inhibitions on any of the following: equal opportunity, multi-culturalism, anti-racism, individualism. Consequently these belief systems are running riot at the social level, because *they are running riot at the cognitive level*.

    The rapid rise in both support for and policies of censorship, de-platforming and co-ordinated attacks on individuals who espouse ideas either contrary to or that in some way undermine these belief systems indicates that, rather than seeing the value of opposing ideas as regulators of the ideals that define the status quo (regardless of whatever inherent value they may have), we see opposition as inherently harmful – something to be wiped out of existence by whatever means necessary. In other words we inhibit the inhibitors of our political ideals. This does not bode well for the sanity of society.

    • Eleanor Tams says

      excellent points andrew. I like Paglia’s work but there is a contradiction in her position as you explain, especially in relation to her feminism. But she cant let go of feminism as it would be career suicide to do so as a woman academic in the arts.

      • Just Me says

        Paglia’s big contradiction is not her feminism, that is what allowed her to be who she is, a female academic, and she herself is very independent, a tomboy, a lesbian, recently she started calling herself transgender, she lauds capitalism for having given her, i.e. women, independence, she seems to be a lone wolf who has no such female community, feminists hate her, etc.

        She is a second-wave feminist, i.e. wants equality of opportunity, not of outcome.

        It is ironic her experience has not soured her on this idea of a wonderful all-female, gender-segregated society.

        It has been said men rank, women exclude, and that is very true imo. All-female groups are very exclusionary to anyone who does not fit in.

        • jimhaz says

          It is her mental masculinity that made her a feminist, so I think she is right – she’s a male transgender.

          Women should not think people like Paglia are truly feminist, nor any dominant male minded transgender person. Everything in her relates to that which is masculine – it is why she so strongly supports equal opportunity ie for her own sake, not for females sake.

    • Patrick Graham says

      nice insight, and I generally agree – the cult of feminism has become one that no woman is allowed to totally disown – and any man who does so, in almost any arena of the intellect is laying themselves open to the full force of the mob.
      “Equality feminism” was what feminism was supposed to be when I was an ally, back in the 1980s. To try and reclaim those underdeveloped ideas with that new phrase is futile I feel.
      Whatever forces have driven us to the place that Paglia accurately analyses- I cannot see any recovery for feminism, however qualified, as a label of properly managed equality of opportunity…
      Anymore than a new Paganism can become a counter to the divisive actions made in the names of the established religions.

    • E. Olson says

      Very good analysis Andrew – you are absolutely correct that equality of opportunity is an almost entirely undisputed belief held across the political spectrum of Western thought, law, and practice. The problem with the “victory” of equal opportunity is that it also created the expectation of equal outcomes in the minds of leftist proponents. This expectation is based on the erroneous belief that “victim” classes have been kept down by barriers created by male/white/Judeo-Christian dominant classes to protect their power and status, but once such barriers to equal opportunity were shattered it was expected that the “victims” would achieve parity. This viewpoint is manifested in MLK’s “I have a dream” speech, but the subsequent failure to achieve this parity over the past 60 odd years despite great political and social efforts to promote and enforce equality of opportunity has led to great frustration and anger on the part of “victim” advocates. This failure to close the gap has in turn has led to attempts to provide explanations that continue the narrative of more subtle and hidden forms of racism, sexism, phobias (i.e. micro-aggressions), and affirmative action, quotas, and “checking privilege” as solutions, while ignoring or attacking solid research on IQ differences, cultural differences, gender differences, etc. as more likely/more important explanations for unequal outcomes. Attempts by the dominant leftist factions in the humanities and social sciences to use highly biased/fabricated “research” to support their social justice viewpoints, while actively blocking the viewpoints of anyone with contrary viewpoints, have in turn largely destroyed their fields as credible sources of knowledge and learning.

      • Great comment! I wonder, though, if it is not despite the efforts promote equal opportunity, but because of these efforts, that various gaps are as large as they are. I believe Thomas Sowell has argued that the efforts themselves, which were largely aimed at equating outcomes (e.g., affirmative action, welfare), were actually counterproductive, with many negative consequences for the supposed beneficiaries.

        • E. Olson says

          TW – Prof. Sowell is absolutely correct that attempts to artificially generate equality of outcomes will have negative consequences for the supposed beneficiaries. Prof Sowell has documented how the “Great Society” and “War on Poverty” programs, and rises in minimum wage since the 1960s have completely gutted the black American family and lower socio-economic groups more generally. Certainly affirmative action has had mostly negative affects on “victim” classes as documented by Sander and Taylor in their “Mismatch” book, but goes even further because affirmative action also leads to beliefs that all non-Asian students of color in elite schools are less capable preference admittances even when their scores and grades would have allowed admission without any special help. Female board membership quotas enacted in Norway (and recently in California) also seem to be having similar negative reputation ramifications on female board members who otherwise needed no special favors. Prof. Paglia and others note that pushing women into professions and positions that they may not be most suited for or desire has also had detrimental effects on female happiness, and such female “career” emphasis has almost certainly had detrimental societal effects on developed country fertility rates among the best and brightest.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson
        As long as we are chained by the wishful thinkings of Correctness, the Oppression narrative will stand.

        All Identities are exactly equal.
        Therefore all Identities should have identical outcomes unless they are Oppressed.
        All Identities do not have identical outcomes.
        Therefore some Identities must be Oppressed.
        Oppression is bad.
        Therefore Oppression must be ended.
        Oppression will not have been ended until all Identities have exactly identical outcomes.
        Therefore we must hire more Oppression-engineers to fix the problem.

        We must do what is now nearly unthinkable and actually mention the elephants in the room. All Identities are not equal. For example, at the risk of being arrested:

        The reason young black males are shot more often than other Identities is that they break the law something like 8X more often than other Identities.

        The reason that there are more men in STEM is that they are more interested in STEM and are also much more likely to be talented in those fields.

        The reason that trans people commit suicide so often is that their minds are fundamentally disturbed.

        … and so on. That should land me in jail but I’m glad I said it.

      • @E. Olson – There can be no equality of opportunity any more than there can be an equality of outcome. All you can realistically ask for (without imposing your view coercively on others, suggesting that harming the liberty of one for the benefit of another is a “good” rather than an “evil”) is that the government not impose barriers. Equal protection under the law — would it ever be done in reality! — is the best structure.
        Women think going to work 50, 60, 80 hours a week and not being at home will somehow create their “equal happiness” when the reality is they’ll just find “equal stress.”

        • Just Me says

          david of kirkland –

          No, there is more that can be done to provide equality of opportunity. Your assumption seems to be that “the cream will rise to the top no matter what”, so no need to help it along.

          The fact is children are born into different circumstances, and so providing better conditions early on for children is the best way to help create equality of opportunity, before it is too late, to create more of an even playing field.

          The solution isn’t to lower standards later on, or penalise those who did have advantages, but help ensure more kids from disadvantaged backgrounds get some of those advantages, too.

      • Andrew says

        Thanks E, and same back to you.

        A critical point in Western history occurred after WW2, when the very idea of genetic race and gender differences in cognitive capacities was deemed scientifically and morally unacceptable, and not only a threat to United Nations supported ideals of equality, but which also risked genocidal outcomes. We have never come to terms with the Holocaust. The fear of words such as ‘Nationalist’ betrays our collective phobia.

        This has left us with no choice but to suppose that unequal social outcomes are due to stubbornly widespread and acute levels of racism and sexism. Given that biological explanations are out of bounds, we can only ask ourselves the rhetorical question: “What else could explain it?”

        The belief that the scientific understanding and dissemination of knowledge of race and sex differences could be socially disastrous, is truly odd given our understanding of how scientific knowledge of the natural world and universe has been a force against superstition and fear. Instead we are now cultivating a new monster, whose name is Social Justice. The monster will grow and increasingly suffocate our culture, and will continue to do so until we summon the courage we need to slay it. This will not occur through violence, but by going to the tree of knowledge, and eating the forbidden fruit.

      • Claire's Landing Strip says

        This is the longest extrapolation of “jews will not replace us” that I’ve ever read.

    • Mike Patterson says

      This is an excellent comment and should be worked up into a full Quillette piece.

    • Andrew says

      Thanks for compliments.

      To generalize what i am saying, consider the notion that social ideals and political systems exist somewhere near the middle of a nature-nurture spectrum. The things we fight over are not fully defined concepts, that arrive in society after having been carefully architected by political philosophers, rather it is society itself that does much of the defining, and much of that involves the relative strength of oppositional philosophies. As an example, consider the decent of American culture into identity politics and victimology, subsequent to the demise of the Soviet Union.

      To suggest that the hierarchy of; philosopher > political agent > citizen is equivalent to; architect > builder > occupant – is to imply that things are close to 100% nature, 0% nurture – a view I’m arguing against. Note how proponents of Socialism always seem to blame the “builder” for Socialism’s failures, when these same Socialists are often claiming that the “occupants” are close to 0% nature, 100% nurture. I would also argue that the acceptance of the nurture dimension leads naturally to a belief in free speech, and its denial would lead to the opposite.

      • Andrew…..Do you write elsewhere? I would enjoy reading more of your thoughts regarding the way concepts morph from moderate to extreme.

        • Andrew says

          No David, I don’t.

          It is a complex subject, but let’s start somewhere. Consider @Just Me –

          “Most people balance their beliefs with other considerations, like plain common sense and humanity, while others are purists. But all it takes is for a society to give too much power to the extremists, and it is in trouble.”

          Suppose a world in which 80% want a balance of considerations, and 20% are activists for a purist position. Ceding *any* “power” to the purists causes a shift toward their position. The problem is that this creates a new normal. Further activism is pitted against the new normal, not the old. The process continues until the balanced position is eliminated. What is required to prevent this outcome? One could naively suppose that the answer might come from the Humanities. Unfortunately, it seems that the role of the Humanities is not to produce this sort of answer, instead it is to produce the purists! It is quite a spectacle for society to be searching for wisdom to counter the influence of those who should be responsible for developing it.

          What we can take out of the above scenario is the impact of perceptions of normality on political trends, and compare the situation in the sociological & political domains to the technological domain. This is a critical distinction due to the enormous success Western society has had in the later domain, versus the continuing struggles in the former (for example, the Iraq debacle). It is fairly straightforward to demonstrate that technology is fairly immune to issues of perceptual shift, even when a strong political element is present.

          Consider that on July 16, 1969, when Apollo 11 sat on the launchpad, the 1961 goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth” had not altered. By contrast, sociological goals always result in re-adaptations and complex feedback loops, plus the usual re-organization of relative status amongst competing groups. Thinking about this has led me to an even more radical position than simply supposing that social engineering is prone to failure. I would deny that society *as a whole*, can even ascertain the impact of social programs. Consensus regarding the past is unachievable, because whatever change occurs results in a change in perceptions of the same magnitude.

          Consider now that a given individual has conscious awareness that works as a monitoring loop on his/her own behaviour. Societies can be viewed as a best effort to achieve something analogous for an entire population. Identity politics can be seen as an effort to undermine this.

    • Just Me says

      Every ideal can get taken too far, that is the definition of any extremism. Maybe some extension of the Pareto principle? That any ideal, system of thought, ideology, when generally accepted, will be moderately accepted by most people, while a smaller number will take it to extremes, and appoint themselves as the enforcers. So you get the Puritans, the Inquisition, the Ayatollahs, the Kommissars, etc.

      Most people balance their beliefs with other considerations, like plain common sense and humanity, while others are purists. But all it takes is for a society to give too much power to the extremists, and it is in trouble.

      That is what we have done, they are now in charge of our major educational and cultural institutions, and indoctrinating the young.

      The problem isn’t the concept of equality of opportunity, it is having converted that moderate concept into equality of outcomes, and being very confused about the difference.

      • @Just Me – Two humans are born at different times, different places, with different wealth, different cultures, different physical abilities, different mental abilities, different interests/passions, different temperaments, but you think “equal opportunity” is even a real thing rather than an extremist view?

        • E. Olson says

          David – you are correct that equal opportunity can never truly exist, but what most rational people define as equal opportunity is the tearing down of barriers the restrict certain classed of people from even being considered for different types of educational and career opportunities. Thus the termination of official or even unofficial policies that prohibited otherwise qualified blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, Jews, Muslims, atheists, etc. from being considered for a position at a school or profession (particularly elite ones) just because they had the wrong color or sex or religion are what most consider “equal” opportunity. Certainly someone born into poverty in some remote part of the world will not have an equal opportunity to be equally qualified (i.e. test scores, grades, etc) for a spot at Harvard as a person born with the silver spoon in their mouth, but that type of “luck of the draw” inequality can never be “fixed”, and Leftist attempts to do so have repeatedly demonstrated that the results of such attempts is even greater unfairness and abuse of power.

          • Steve Walser says

            By the logic of the left the “cure” for such unequal opportunity should include banning from any role involving governmental or economic power all graduates of Ivy League schools.Fair is only fair.

        • Just Me says

          David of Kirkland –

          Yes, equal opportunity is just that – they both should have a chance to prove themselves. Period.

    • James Lee says

      @Andrew

      Great comment.

      It reminds me of the internal logic of certain systems like bureaucracies, which grow and grow until they reach some external and limiting force such as a competing bureaucracy or a shrinking pool of resources, etc. It’s also perhaps reflected in the classic experiment demonstrating exponential bacterial growth in a petri dish, until the colony collides with external limits and/or chokes on its own deadly by-products, before experiencing a rapid die-off.

      I have also thought about how equality of opportunity has led many to equality of outcome. One problem I see is that one can legitimately argue that we don’t have (and never can truly have) “equality of opportunity”. Chelsea Clinton was born with far, far more opportunity than the son of a divorced Appalachian coal miner and his single mom, or the inner city child raised by his aunt in subpar schools. They are not starting at the same starting line, and everyone knows it.

      As Thomas Sowell argues, likely the best we can do is to have neutral processes and systems, because when we attempt to engineer outcomes, the costs typically outweigh the benefits.

      Also, in light of your comment- what would be a competing concept that could place limits on the currently unbounded nature of “equality of opportunity”?

      Some form of acceptance of inequality, as inherent to life, as something to be worked with, but which is ultimately inescapable and ineradicable?

      An acceptance which also allows for compassion and for helping those less fortunate, and which attempts to mitigate rent seeking, nepotism, and the like?

      How could we as a society establish and propagate such a competing concept of “Acceptance of Inequality”? Do we need current insights from genetics to emerge from the ivory tower and spread to the masses? How will that spread look, if it is filtered by our current media organs, which are largely staffed by extreme ideologues who religiously uphold the unbounded equality concept?

      • Andrew says

        James, you are exactly right to suggest we have concepts that are running rampant and will only be contained once they reach hard, “mechanical” limits.

        Rather than massively open-ended concepts such as equal opportunity, which as you and others here have pointed out, is laughably idealistic as a practical outcome, but nonetheless great for anyone wanting to expand the size and scope of government, let’s start by placing the onus of plausibility on the supporters of these ideals.

        For any individual, we should consider what the limiting factor is on that individual, in terms of their ability to achieve and their capacity for flourishing, given both what they bring to the table of life, and the nature of the society in which they live. What is the bottleneck on any individual? Is it the government, society or some elements of society, or is it the individual him/herself? Regardless of how we answer that question, the necessary follow-up is; at what point could we say that the individual or group would be or is no longer constrained by external factors? To hear the idea of equal opportunity expressed, it sounds so sweet and intuitively right, that few of us ever bother to think of that question, let alone answer it.

        Both the equal opportunity ideal, and the rapidly growing victim culture, *are one and the same* in the sense that they both see social factors as the ultimate bottleneck on most individuals. Any individual or group of individuals that are said to be held back by a lack of reasonable opportunities, are by definition victims of that societies unfairness, and so victim culture is the morality expression of equal opportunity, itself representing the same ideas that support victim culture, but reformatted for bureaucracy. In that regard I see someone like Jordan Peterson, who both strongly supports the equal opportunity concept, and just as strongly opposes victim culture, as essentially a case study in hair-splitting.

        “How could we as a society establish and propagate such a competing concept of “Acceptance of Inequality”?”

        Again, by placing the onus of plausibility on the egalitarians. We can challenge them to contradict this premise:

        The forces that cause inequality are far more powerful that the forces that oppose it.

        • James Lee says

          @Andrew

          You wrote: “Both the equal opportunity ideal, and the rapidly growing victim culture, *are one and the same* in the sense that they both see social factors as the ultimate bottleneck on most individuals.”

          Wow. That’s quite an insight.

          I want to add another point. Liberalism was essentially founded on two main principles – Liberty and Equality. What we are seeing in the most progressive version of modern Liberalism is unbounded Equality attacking Liberty, and it looks to be winning. As you pointed out earlier (and as E. Olson has alluded to multiple times), it is winning because the concept which could constrain unbounded Equality is probably the biggest taboo that exists in the West.

      • Phaedrus says

        James,
        The existence of a few who misinterpret a concept does not invalidate the concept. I agree there are those who conflate equality of opportunity with equality of outcome, but I defy you to find significant examples of such as drivers of policy, rather than convenient cudgels with which to bash ‘the left’.

        E.Olson, above, captures the nature of equal opportunity: “…what most rational people define as equal opportunity is the tearing down of barriers the restrict certain classed of people from even being considered for different types of educational and career opportunities. Thus the termination of official or even unofficial policies that prohibited otherwise qualified blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, Jews, Muslims, atheists, etc. from being considered for a position at a school or profession (particularly elite ones) just because they had the wrong color or sex or religion are what most consider “equal” opportunity.”

        It is my argument that you (and Andrew) are creating a straw man (equal opportunity must mean equal outcomes), which helpfully avoids addressing the fundamental issue to which equal opportunity is a reaction: the deep-seated need for those in positions of privilege and power to put in place systems that maintain their power and privilege.

        I think if you were to do an honest interrogation of the leftl you will find that most embrace the “acceptance of inequality” as a simple fact of llife.But that inequality, where it exists, should be based on the individual, free from societal power structures that are designed inhibit opportunity.

        • James Lee says

          @Phaedrus

          Thanks for your response.

          I completely support and agree with you and E. Olson’s description of an equality of opportunity defined as the absence of arbitrary institutional barriers on individuals or classes of people (specifically in regards to legal and procedural matters, in the spirit of Thomas Sowell).

          But I think there is a fly in the ointment, which I’ll get to.

          I also agree that the principle of equality of opportunity arose in part as a reaction to “those in positions of privilege and power to put in place systems that maintain their power and privilege.”

          As I see it, the problem is this. Progressives look around and say, outcomes between groups still aren’t equal. Progressives by and large believe that there are no biological differences between groups and genders. This is probably the biggest taboo in the West, again for historical reasons.

          Even James Damore’s fairly tame presentation which argued that gender disparities at Google likely resulted from differences in interests, and not primarily from discrimination, led to accusations of sexism and his firing.

          Most progressives officially believe that even cultural factors such as the prevalence of single motherhood, increased spending habits on luxury items in the black community, etc. can’t be a significant factor creating disparities either. To even suggest that group disparities could significantly result from cultural factors and not primarily racism is to invite accusations of “blaming the victim.”

          When Harvard President Lawrence Summers suggested that one reason (out of several) for the relative lack of women in STEM could be the fact that at the tails of the IQ distribution, men significantly outnumber women, and certain fields such as theoretical physics require very high IQs–he was accused of sexism and fired.

          As the professor at American University said, when I see disparities, I see racism. This is a central plank in modern progressivism.

          Now to the fly in the ointment. One can be a good faith progressive, and wonder- do we truly have equality of opportunity? As you said, is “the individual, free from societal power structures that are designed [to] inhibit opportunity”?

          Sure, maybe we don’t have blatant Jim Crow laws on the books anymore, but I still see disparities between groups. In the current conceptual atmosphere, the only possible reason for those disparities is racism/sexism/oppression or “those in positions of privilege and power…[putting] in place systems that maintain their power and privilege.”

          So Western societies must have “systemic”, or “structural”, or “implicit” bias. These words are kept vague. But we *know* the bias is there, hidden somewhere, preventing a true equality of opportunity.

          How will we know when we really have equality of opportunity? When we have equality of outcome.

          It’s the natural logic of progression (or concept creep) given the fact that no competing or restraining concepts are allowed to exist in the public sphere.

          As far as providing significant examples of the principle of equality of outcome driving policy, look no further than affirmative action, where equality of opportunity has become a joke. Harvard gives bonus points to wealthy black and hispanic children who attend the world’s most elite prep schools while giving negative points to the asian kid raised by a single mother working two jobs in a poor NYC neighborhood.

          • Andrew says

            “As the professor at American University said, when I see disparities, I see racism. This is a central plank in modern progressivism.”

            This reminds me of the historical character, who, when asked why they believed the Sun revolves around the Earth, and not the reverse, responded “Because it looks like the Sun revolves around the Earth”. To which came the obvious reply “What would it look like if the Earth revolved around Sun?”

            Similarly, if group disparities make this professor see racism, what would he/she see if the disparities were due to genetic differences in populations, and/or differences in intra-group cultures?

          • Phaedrus says

            @James,

            Can admission to Harvard (or any other college) be anything but an opportunity? Surely you must agree that admission is not an outcome in itself. If that was the case, our resumes would only need state ‘admitted to Harvard’ and leave out any mention of actual completion. Students admitted via affirmative action are not awarded degrees at the freshman orientation; they must earn their honors or wash out.

            “How will we know when we really have equality of opportunity? When we have equality of outcome.” I think you’re the only one saying this–I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that anywhere else.

            I regret to say that you aren’t really engaging with anything like actual progressivism, but rather a few conveniently extreme examples that happen to be either fringe ideas or easily-defeated straw men.

            Your glancing mention of “increased spending habits on luxury items in the black community” leans toward over-simplification, too. I can only assume here that you mean the “[poor] black community,” as otherwise there would be no need to add judgement about “increased spending.” Increased compared to what? This ignores the effect that poverty has on decision-making, which is a real thing that doesn’t care what color you are. It’s tempting to believe that we are all rational actors all the time, regardless of our circumstances, but I imagine you know that’s not true.

            There are a lot of progressives out there (the author of this comment is one) who believe that it is a moral imperative of a wealthy state to ensure that the system attempts to provide equality of opportunity to all. This often means that the mechanisms of the state need to focus on the less fortunate and historically oppressed, in the same sense that to level the table, you boost one side up.

            I would hope that most progressives would just say ‘people just need a fair shake and they can take it from there.’

    • ga gamba says

      There ought to have be a parenthetical aside to explain Paglia use of equity.

      “Equity” in Paglia’s context precedes our contemporary understanding of it being outcome equality. I think this was due to earlier feminists calling themselves equality feminists whilst appealing for positive discrimination. Paglia and others opposed many of these goals. Sad to say it, but equity feminism is practically an anachronism. In the ’80s equity feminism was all about equality of opportunity and nothing about quotas, set asides, and special preserves. Today they’re called libertarian, individualist, or choice feminists and they’re very much anti-collectivist. Susanna Hoff Sommers is the other prominent one in that camp. I suppose Emiliy Yoffe, formerly of Slate and now occasionally at The Atlantic, could be placed amongst them too.

      • ga gamba says

        And that should have been Christina Hoff Sommers and not my merging of the lead singer of the Bangles with the academic’s surname.

      • Just Me says

        Actually there was no uniformity of thought amongst second wave feminists, and much infighting.

        To oversimplify:

        The main strains of though were liberal feminists, marxist feminists, and cultural feminists. The latter prevailed, but split between the “sex-positive” and the “sex-negative”.

        Now we are on the third or, some say, even 4th wave, and the liberal feminists have been deemed not even feminists by the others.

        • We are all waiting for the fifth wave! Who starts with it? And with what highbrow, intellectual considerations now again??

    • @Andrew
      Yes, exactly. You cannot raise the flag of ‘this is going too far’ without being accused of being diametrically opposed to the very concept. No, you can’t kill the patient in order to save the patient – which is what the West is currently engaged in. For those who are alarmed/dismayed don’t seem to realize the go along to get along mentality is the slow acting poison.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @Andrew… and everyone else that agreed with this passage

      I hate to be that guy that disagrees with what seems like half the commenters on this page, but it doesn’t look like anyone else is going to do it; so, what the hell. I will say, though, I thought your comment was well-written, insightful, and at times compelling. It just happened to be wrong. Well, actually, flawed may be the more accurate description – fatally flawed.

      For example, you claim the following:

      Every concept, including those that encapsulate what we consider to be “the good”, must be constrained by an explicit regulating concept. At the cognitive level, every belief, idea and value represented in the brain must be limited in scope by one or more inhibitors.

      Do you find it at all odd, that your call to constrain every concept is self-defeating; since, by holding this absolutist position, it follows that one would also, necessarily, take an antagonistic view towards the concept itself, ergo the concept is self-defeating. In other words, either it is the case (that your proposition is true), or it is the case (that your proposition is not true, i.e. false). But it cannot be the case that “Every concept… must be constrained,” and also be the case that not “Every concept… must be constrained,” at least not simultaneously, anyway. Thus, to subscribe to this position is to be caught on the horns of a dilemma.

      The more intransigent among us, might be inclined to appeal to special pleading, but it is mad work to unburden a confounding argument from the constraints of logic by exempting it from its own reckoning. No thinker of the first rank would put forth an injunction that implies the primacy of an obligation (to constrain ever concept) as its own warrant. The justification to hold such a belief must be held subject to verification. Let’s try a syllogism to see if we can’t flesh the problem out with a bit more clarity.

      PREMISE 1: “Every concept… must be constrained by an explicit regulating concept.”

      PREMISE 2: The belief that “Every concept… must be constrained by an explicit regulating concept,” is a concept.

      CONCLUSION: The belief that “Every concept… must be constrained by an explicit regulating concept,” must be constrained by an explicit regulating concept.

      So, yeah, this still seems troubling, although if this thread counts for anything, your argument’s lack of internal consistency (incoherence) may not be the non-starter I believe it to be. Unfortunately, I don’t subscribe to a consensus theory of truth, but if you still don’t find my rejoinder convincing, here’s a second point you might consider as well:

      The principle guiding your argument – “At the cognitive level, every belief, idea and value represented in the brain must be limited in scope by one or more inhibitors.” – is almost certainly an argument to moderation, i.e., golden mean fallacy.

      Tell me, anyone will do, how, precisely, do you (or anyone else) determine when and to what extent an idea, belief, value, and/or concept needs to be regulated? What triggers the mediating unit that mitigates these inputs (ideas, beliefs, values and/or concepts)? Surely, in many instances there’s more than one “countervailing force” capable of adequately targeting a concept – to believe otherwise may risk one running headlong into a false dichotomy. And who makes these determinations and on what grounds are they making them? No one asked me. I’d like a vote.

      Furthermore, it’s not clear to me why moderation is good for its own sake. That is, you seem to suggest that even as it pertains to our standards of conduct (values), moderation is always – and under all conditions – preferable to extrication. But why? Is it really true that virtues taken to the extreme will always become a vice? And if so, is the inverse also true: vices taken to the extreme will always become a virtue? This feels a bit too slippery for me.

      And speaking of slippery, you merely assert the necessity of moderation as if it simply is the case that moderated concepts are somehow ‘better’ or ‘preferable’ than those unbounded. Sure, you provide an example, saying that an absolute belief in equal opportunity can, or has, allow it to morph from “something pro-social, to something anti-social,” but determining (or knowing) the distinguishing difference between the two is subjective by its very nature. What’s anti-social in one setting may be pro-social in anther. So, once again, who makes that determination? Who says?

      • Andrew says

        @D.B. Cooper

        What I’m wanting to do is move some of the focus away from arguing philosophically correct positions, and onto our understanding of the human brain, before we start advocating for any particular political position or movement. Sure, what we know about the brain at this stage is quite limited, but we know enough about some of the broad mechanisms to bring cognitive issues into the discussion. The brain is more fundamental than philosophy, so philosophy on its own should be considered inadequate.

        Brain functioning would seem to be centered on two basic mechanisms; the excitatory and inhibitory. The inhibitory mechanisms are usually of a higher-level, more abstract nature, while the excitatory mechanisms are more primitive. Normal brain functioning, and therefore normal behaviour, would seem to be the result of some sort of balance between excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms. For the sake of argument, I’m going to refer to normal as appropriate balance.

        What concerns me is the apparent clash between what is deemed to be philosophically correct (by anyone or any group) on one hand, and appropriate balance, on the other. Our sense of being correct does not dovetail with the necessity of inhibiting our own correctness.

        Just as importantly, consider that our philosophical beliefs may actually be the result of the interplay of excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms. The net of all forces generates our perceptions, and our perceptions highly influence our beliefs. Therefore an uninhibited belief is not the same as when existing in an inhibitory environment, it is a different belief.

        This would imply that if, for example, the speech of those who oppose one or more of your beliefs is suppressed, the net of E & I forces changes, so your perceptions change, so your beliefs change. What we believe to be true politically and otherwise, is not independent of the opposition to those beliefs.

        I have more to say on this topic and your criticisms, but will leave it at that for now. Besides, this is getting way off the topics of the interview. Sorry Claire!

        • James Lee says

          @Andrew

          I strongly resonate with your response and your approach here.

          Are you familiar with Iain McGilchrist’s work “The Master and His Emissary”, on the specialization and lateralization of the cerebral hemispheres?

          If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it. He emphasizes an integral approach to the mind/brain, and attempts to contextualize more purely rationalist maps (which tend to be predominantly left hemispheric productions) within the overall brain and entire organism.

  9. Excellent! Thank you for this; I wish it could be shouted from the rooftops.

  10. Circuses and Bread says

    Wow. Just wow. An interview with Camille Paglia? Very cool. Much as I disagree with her at times, she is an absolutely brilliant woman with remarkable insights. Definitely an American treasure. This interview was an unexpected treat.

    As an aside, thank you for using one of your questions to ask her whether politics and particularly social justice were becoming cults. I was surprised by her response. But very pleased. 😁

  11. augustine says

    One of the best and most encouraging things I’ve read on this site. Thanks to you both.

  12. Brian says

    Paglia is one of my favorite people. We need a part II and III if possible Claire….

    Keep up the good work.

  13. W2class says

    I had heard the name Camille Paglia but didn’t really know her. This interview has made me a fan. I second the call for a part II.

  14. Vicki says

    I love Camille Paglia! Thanks for interviewing her. She is on the other end of the political divide from me but is always a delight to read. I truly wish there were more academics challenging the insanity on college campuses. My son is a college student now and I was loathe to send him due to the current climate on campus. It’s gotten so out of control with the radicalism! Who in their right mind wants to invest a fortune in college to radicalize their child? They end up with no ability to use reason and no real knowledge or understanding of the world. Thanks again for the interview!

    • annaerishkigal says

      “…My son is a college student now and I was loathe to send him due to the current climate on campus. It’s gotten so out of control with the radicalism! Who in their right mind wants to invest a fortune in college to radicalize their child? They end up with no ability to use reason and no real knowledge or understanding of the world…”

      If your son is a self-starter, you can have him CLEP or DSST-exam out of all those useless General Education Requirements that are basically a radicalized repeat of exactly what he just learned in high school. At the next school break, why not sit him down and show him what classes he can test out of to skip all those now-useless brainwashing humanities?

      Modern States has free test-prep materials for CLEP (google it), including books and sample exams. They are promoting “first year free” of college, which you can test out of for around $100 per class (way better than the $800-$1200 colleges charge per class).

      DSST (formerly Dantes) doesn’t have as many good self-learning materials — a lot of their exams are for more upper-level college courses — but you can usually download the syllabus for a similar college class, pick up a much older edition of the recommended college textbook for under $10, and then self-study. There are several online example tests.

  15. Jezza says

    Here in Australia, the oldest culture in the world, the aboriginal culture, still has separate areas of influence and responsibility in what they call “secret men’s business” and “secret women’s business”. I cannot claim any great insight into the way these “businesses” interact – they are after all “secret” – but I wonder how much this separation of powers contributed to the enduring longevity of aboriginal culture. This is a bit left field I know. Is there any way sexual (or gender, if you prefer) differences can be acknowledged and celebrated in a modern economy? Would this make us happier?

    • Josef Koch says

      Rise Sister Rise: A Guide to Unleashing the Wise, Wild Woman Within
      by Rebecca Campbell. I believe you might find it here.

    • augstine says

      “Is there any way sexual (or gender, if you prefer) differences can be acknowledged and celebrated in a modern economy?”

      Yes. It is the condition where market forces properly take a back seat to family, religion and the social order in general. The general population has been seduced by shiny things, perhaps more so than by modern ideologies.

    • E. Olson says

      Jezza, I believe the wife of National Review’s Jonah Goldberg commented something to the effect that “feminists believe the men and women are exactly equal on all dimensions except for the areas with women are superior.”

  16. Daniel says

    Outstanding. To get the full Paglia effect, read it about 3x faster than your comprehension can manage, and insert “okay” at every punctuation point. Almost like listening to her in person!

  17. I suspect that all the cheesy “lurv” for Paglia evident in this comment thread is the direct result of almost none of the lurvers having taken in her work on culture art and religion.

    Accountants and engineers may lurv to hear a woman say negative things about feminism (as they lurv to hear Uncle Coleman have a go a anti-racism) but her take on culture is antithetical to the kind of philistine embrace of desiccated “Enlightenment Reason” that gets so much play here.

    I have been a fan of Paglia since I devoured Sexual Personae in a frantic 3 or 4 day non-stop reading session, laughing and nodding my head and shouting out loud something along the lines of “Free At Last, Free At Last, Thanks Camille Paglia I Am Free At Last”. Free to celebrate the history of art and literature going back millennia that actually make life wortth living as opposed to the assholish idiocies of capitalist indoctrination that animates “classical liberals”, most of whom wouldn’t know a work of art if it came up and interrupted their harangue about “western women” and why they will never admit to being incels.

    So in the Paglia Fan Club I have to say there are no humanities-hating deadheads welcome. I suggest you all get back to watching Kenneth Clark’s Civilization on YouTube. More up your “alleys”.

  18. David Lee Off says

    Women don’t want to raise children anymore. Whether through sterilization, abortion, or dumping children off for someone else to raise while theyre at work – western women dont want kids around.

    And working with young women is a shitshow. They often view their male coworkers as combatants, not peers. They dangle the opportunity of a potential sexual encounter in front of araptura few favored male colleagues who blindly take the bait. Favored and in rapturous pursuit, these lucky guys begin subverting other male coworkers in this new, inverted hierarchy of workplace dominance.

    Paglia is wrong. The end result is a fully female work force. Atleast until the singularity. Then the machines will take it all, if Elon Musk is correct.

    • @David Lee Off, I’m sorry you have had this experience, but as a woman, and a mom of men, I can assure you there are many many women who want to raise children, who aren’t manipulative jerks in the dating scene/working scene. I agree that with a certain class and type of women, what you write is so. But it’s definitely not universal; it also appears more if you stay on social media.

      You are working in the wrong place. If you can leave and move states/companies, I’d encourage you to do so. I can’t imagine living in that climate. You deserve better.

      • @d – Methinks @David Lee Off doth protest too much.
        But, as women gain education and wealth, they do seem to choose to have fewer children, though that could be as much about balancing costs and time of raising a child in the modern world as any preference for fewer children. And once women were given money, many chose not to have husbands too.
        Women are being tricked into thinking the male life (competitive, violent, high pressure) is grand, while men are being told to act more feminine (sit still, talk it out, show empathy over competitive spirit). Both are finding out forced equality is making neither “side” happy.

  19. Leah - The Cow That Jumped Over The Moon says

    I much prefer the work of William Irwin Thompson. I first came across his work via his book The Time Falling Bodies Take To Light.
    His book Coming Into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness is extraordinary. By comparison all of the usual academic blather on both sides of the culture wars divide is
    incredibly boring. And of course his work is completely unacceptable in the academy too

    By the way his son is Evan Thompson who is the author of several remarkable books including The Embodied Mind, and Waking Dreaming Being

    This essay introduces the essays William wrote for The Wild River Review.
    http://www.wildriverreview.com/archives/bedtime-story-for-civilization

  20. Andrew says

    “Paglia: The headlong rush to judgment by so many well-educated, middle-class women in the #MeToo movement has been startling and dismaying. Their elevation of emotion and group solidarity over fact and logic has resurrected damaging stereotypes of women’s irrationality that were once used to deny us the vote.”

    The overwhelming popularity of #MeToo would seem to indicate that those damaging stereotypes were and are accurate.

    • Robert says

      Feminism is a synthetic, created simulacrum of “cultural enrichment.” In reality it is a tool managed by the social engineers who know how to use stereotypes and useful idiots. Read THE MIGHTY WURLITZER to understand what you are living in.

    • Just Me says

      Andrew –

      #MeToo demonstrates that a lot of women had experiences men can’t fathom, and which no one had recognized until now.

      What can and should be done about should be open for debate.

      The fact this took a nefarious turn should be chalked up to the same human forces that created all the other extremist ideological movements – the Inquisition, Islamic State, the Bolsheviks, the Red Guards, The Khmer Rouge, etc. None of which was particularly rational, or was rational in its own twisted way. What do you conclude about male rationality from those pretty exclusively male movements?

      • Andrew says

        @Just Me “What do you conclude about male rationality from those pretty exclusively male movements?”

        The lens you are looking though (and taking for granted) was also the product of a pretty exclusively male movement – namely the Enlightenment. However, I wouldn’t suppose the nature of any of these movements was particularly due to the maleness of those involved. Furthermore, none of these movements seem to be particularly anti or pro, male or female. Individuals who attempted to flee East Germany were shot regardless of their identity. Having said that, if you wanted to argue that these shootings were the product of masculinity or testosterone, I’m all ears. Similarly, can you argue that an exclusively female movement like #MeToo suggests that a female dominant world would be kinder and gentler than the status quo?

        • Just Me says

          Andrew –

          That is precisely my point. The craziness the #MeToo movement has come to isn’t a reflection of “female irrationality”, which is what you and Paglia claim:

          “Their elevation of emotion and group solidarity over fact and logic has resurrected damaging stereotypes of women’s irrationality that were once used to deny us the vote.”

          The overwhelming popularity of #MeToo would seem to indicate that those damaging stereotypes were and are accurate.”

          any more than the craziness of previous radical movements was a symptom of male irrationality,

          Social movements based on ideologies tend to go overboard, whichever gender is involved.

          I don’t for a minute believe women are morally superior to men.

    • Chad Jessup says

      Andrew – Your stereotype assessment is not supported at large, for if one examines the women on the proverbial right, a conclusion such as yours is rendered invalid.

  21. Pingback: Links 11/11/18 – USA News Hub

  22. Paolo Pagliaro says

    Paglia is evidently fresh air compared to her appalling colleagues, and that is a compliment to her courage in such poisoned environment. However, she should be more humble and honest: it was not some “pseudo-left” who brought about the disaster, but the very real left and, in that company, Paglia herself to a large degree.

    I’m reminded of a similar case with the left before 1956, when Khrushchev’s “secret speech” filtered out and Stalin’s sainthood crashed: it took some time for leftists to acknowledge the abomination of Stalinism but, when it happened, a strange thing also was revealed: Stalin had been very bad indeed, but Stalinists were nowhere to be found, as if they never existed: everybody in the “true” left had always been anti-Stalinists and, in any case, talking about those events became suddenly uninteresting, divisive and – of course – “reactionary”.

    • You rightly use the word -courage- here to describe Camille Paglia, Paolo, indeed, that’s more apt to place her than, for example, by analytical approach, ratio, intellect, though all these things also play their part, of course. But her courage is, in this case, the unique characteristic and foremost feature, I think. And these days maybe even more than it was before!

  23. This is exactly what we needed. Sharp analysis that slices through all the cowardly malaise on campus. Our colleagues in the affected departments who saw the looming crisis and hid in their offices, as professor Paglia points out, are in moral and intellectual collapse. More serious than we ever realized, the evidence that proves her point is the scandalous silence on the part of academia to the Evergreen Inquisition. A good part, perhaps the greater part, of the Humanities will have to be rebuilt at some point from scratch. In the meanwhile, the departments that have politely managed to fend off post-modernist theory and cultural studies have to now actively mobilize the standards of rational inquiry and science. Thank you for this interview!

  24. Notnot says

    “Post-structuralism” was a defensive move by people who are bad at math but want to be seen as intellectuals.

  25. Paul Schlacter says

    Camille Paglia is one of the few intellectuals on the left for whom I have great respect. Her intellectual honesty is very refreshing. She ALWAYS has something interesting and new to express.

    • Eleanor says

      well, something interesting anyway. I have found she can repeat herself quite a lot, and she tends to only reference herself rather than acknowledging being influenced by other writers/ thinkers. But we all have to blow our own trumpets I guess!

      • John Curran says

        Eleanor, If you read Paglia’s criticism you will see that she is about as widely read as anyone in modern letters. Sexual Personae is, I think, the best work of literary criticism since Edmund Wilson was alive and one of the best ever in English. But it’s 900 pages and many won’t even pick it up.

        Her more recent book on poetry is fantastic – Break, Burn, Blow – is brilliant criticism on some of the famous poems in Western literature.

        Camille Paglia writes beautifully but can be tedious to listen to. She does repeat herself, but maybe because she’s a professor and used to the students not getting her point.

        • Eleanor says

          Hi John,
          yes I like her books I have read most of them. i dont find her tedious to listen to just a bit frustrating at times!

        • Just Me says

          I devoured Sexual Personae when it came out, and most of other other work since then, and loved her earlier interviews and talks, but lately she has been terrible and hard to listen to, she has a terribly annoying verbal tic with the “okay, okay”, her age must be catching up with her or these is some health issue..But I force myself to listen anyway because what she has to say is always worth it.

        • DiTurno says

          “Sexual Personae is, I think, the best work of literary criticism since Edmund Wilson was alive and one of the best ever in English.:”

          I have no idea how you could say that. It’s like saying the Cleveland Browns are one of the greatest sports teams ever.

  26. SweetPeavey says

    When Paglia emerged into the public awareness in the early 90’s, her rise from obscure academic to intellectual superstar was similar to that of Jordan Peterson, and the critiques against her were similar, I remember her being sneeringly described as an overrated attention whore, a pseudo-intellectual and closet conservative.
    Then like now, it seemed clear that their was a huge craving for intelligent, non-partisan, unflinching rebuttals to the excesses of PC leftism and Paglia was everywhere.
    When the tide turned and society seemed to mostly come back to its senses, Paglia faded into the background, she’s like a mythical hero, who returns from the other realm to save the day in times of great travail, then disappears once the demons have been slain.

    That all being said, I thought Sexual Personnae was an inscrutable mess, although I might have been too young and dumb to grok it in fullness, I loved her essays though…

    • DiTurno says

      “When the tide turned and society seemed to mostly come back to its senses, Paglia faded into the background, she’s like a mythical hero, who returns from the other realm to save the day in times of great travail, then disappears once the demons have been slain.”

      Yeah, I can tell you’re a Jordan Peterson fan.

      I will say this about Paglia: while she uses hyperbole and polemics to cover her deep intellectual failings, she’s not as much of a clown as Peterson is.

  27. Just Me says

    I have been a fan of Paglia from day one in the 80s.

    But I think this idealizing of gender segregation is very wrong, and dangerous.

    It is one of the central differences between Islam’s conception of society, and the mainstream European one, and I prefer the European one, thanks.

    The reason feminism had its origin in western, northern European societies and is still weak in Sputhern Europe is precisely, imo, that the former had a head start in having less gender segregation than the latter to begin with, i.e. more social gender equality , more gender mixing in social situations.

    Men and women mixed freely in social space, whether at peasant fairs, markets, etc., or at aristocratic feats and balls, or bourgeois dinner parties, clubs, bars, concert halls and the theatre, etc.

    Women had a role in the French salons that produced the Enlightenment, they were integral parts of Court life and intrigues, etc., they were not relegated to harems or kept behind the scenes.

    That set the stage to demand admittance and equal status in other institutions like higher education and political life later.

    Please do not give encouragement to the kind of feminist that sees men as the enemy and sees extremist Muslim women, with hijabs and niqabs and gender segregation, as allies against “the male gaze”.

    Yes, we need to work out the rules for men and women working together, but gender segregation is not the solution.

    • Marie Lawrence says

      Thank you for this response. This idea that men should be with men and women with women is some great cultural idea just because it was a norm at one time is frightening. Some men prefer the company of women and some the company of other men. And vice versa. I see a lot of successful working women with stay at home dads popping up. Cultural evolution is fluid. And individuals with choices about who and how we live is what we are working towards.

      • I wonder, Marie, whether one single man or woman can be found to prefer only company from the same sex. It all depends (as Camille explains explicitly) on the type of subjects, urges, hobbies and emotions that are at play. Not long ago, I listened on a terrace girls among each other complain about their friends who, as soon as they visited their mother with them, left her for some time to go out fishing or playing soccer with old friends. Yes, that can happen! But why complain about that? Control freakism??

    • Forced segregation is something governments do. Forced inclusion is too, and both are bad.
      It’s often been found that all black schools can do well, as with all women schools. Segregation is bad, but choosing your associates is great, even if to you it seems they are not mingling at the right level for your tastes.

      • Just Me says

        david of Kirkland –

        Forced segregation was something cultures did, not governments.

        Unlike Western culture, Middle Eastern, Islamic culture is based on the belief women belong exclusively in the private sphere, i.e. their family, and should not venture into the public one unless absolutely necessary, and then be invisible, i.e. wear garments that make them inconspicuous. The difference goes back a long time, travelers to the West were astonished at the freedom western men “gave” “their “women.

        Christianity from Day One involved active participation by women, not sitting at the back of the church, invisible behind a curtain…

        That is a whole different issue from choosing one’s associates.

    • Carl Eric Scott says

      Important comment. Agreed. This might also be the place to register my strong objection to Paglia casually calling the architecture of the Oresteia sexist.

  28. Alphonse Credenza says

    I find Camille Paglia’s writing very much worth reading for her insight into matters which have never concerned me, frankly, and I read it as a complete outsider to that world she describes. Who exactly is arguing about these matters? No one I come in contact with. But I am not institutionalized as these people are — in the university systems that now constitute our insane asylums. Truly!

    Fascinating and sad to think that some intellectuals (although I’d call Camille Paglia a thinker rather than an intellectual) are only now coming to conclusions that the non-intellectual knows intuitively and lives by. As for example, that faithfulness to one another in a lawful marriage is beneficial to each and to both.

    One might conclude, as I have, that higher education in the West has so perverted the minds of youth with hogwash as to make them disdain the plain, natural and ordinary in favor of the abstruse, illusory and utopian. All of it theory and all of it wrong.

  29. Mark Rintoule says

    One of the few people I would like to meet, and one of the few pre-lobotomy Feminists existent.

  30. robocrawford says

    Camille is always fun, but I am never sure if she is serious or joking.

  31. Pingback: Camille Paglia completely trashes post-modernism, post-structuralism, identity politics and #Metoo-stalinism. - TPOok

  32. flyfishingnow says

    Paglia is a master of her own field, the intersection of art, literature, gender and culture. Unfortunately, she has gone on to make rather silly comments about subjects she evidently does not understand, such as climate science. In 2017 she described global warming as “…a sentimental myth unsupported by evidence.” (Weekly Standard 6/15/2017).
    Ironically, the urge to be maximally iconoclastic toward shibboleths of political correctness in the academy (certainly understandable) has led her to employ the same kind of “coy, showy gestures” to “epater la bourgeoisie” with which she reproaches the post-structuralists.

    • And that is also the case with Jordan Peterson of course. In fact, Quillette is the place to expose such crossfigures and freemasons. I wonder, why not give it a special Faculty name on the Universities. One can study the humanities in two ways:
      – Statistically describe, study and notice general/possible causes or tendencies of certain societal or psychological facts.
      – Attacking the common opinions or existing feelings with arguments or cherrypicked facts/features. Prophethood thus!

      Yes, strange, why certain intellectuals (always from the right) even take that climate change deniel as their pet, why is that??
      Also “epater le bourgeois”? Or is there more??

      • As name for that faculty, I suggest Faculty of Transgression, or Regeneration, or Reshuffle.

  33. Goldie Romero says

    Two colliding forces, the attempts to define men as predators, but unwilling to accept heterosexual relationships (not promiscuity) are healthy for 95% of the population and one can say the same for <5% of the population for gay relationships. The anything goes of "Love is Love" still has not drawn limits, gay promiscuity and HIV infection remains, reckless intercourse persuaded by men and to a lesser extent women, with the escape hatch of abortion remains.
    To push back on these is seen as being against legal abortion and homophobic. Sexual assault or harassment seems to be the only sexual vice many are willing to accept.

  34. peterschaeffer says

    “A society that respects neither religion nor art cannot be called a civilization”

    No, No, No, tell me it’s not true. I have no trace of art (including painting, sculpture, music, literature, poetry, dance, Theatre, etc.) in me. My colleagues call me “nekulturny” and they are not Russian.

    I once told my father that Opera was created by burning cats alive. He said that people would think ill of me, if I repeated such comments in public. I said that cruelty to animals was wrong. He groaned in shock. I suggested that we agree to disagree.

    Of course, I do know the isotopes of Hydrogen rather and the oxidation states of Titanium are familiar to me. Linear algebra is a no-brainer. Organic chemistry was trivial when I was a teenager.

    The cultural aspects of civilization are a mystery to me. The material aspects are quite familiar. Apparently, I am not civilized.

    • You are not the only one Peter, but as long as you aren’t bothering others, and contribute in some form (productively or otherwise)to society: hakuna matata!

      • peterschaeffer says

        Friend, dirk,

        Thanks folks. My actual views are (predictably) on this matter are somewhat complex. I do believe that culture and religion are part of the basis of human civilization. Yes, my ability to appreciate such things is deeply limited as stated above.

        Conversely, I would also argue that most students of the liberal arts don’t get how different (materially) our world is from the time before the Industrial Revolution. Human productivity (in some countries) is dozens of times higher than it was before 1750. Life expectancy has soared. Mortality (notably child mortality) has plunged.

        These vast gains have come from mankind’s conquest of the material world (science, technology, coal, oil, machines, etc.).

        Some number of years ago, I read a funny book on this subject. See “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. The book tries to introduce science to the liberal arts community. I found numerous errors in the book, but I would still highly recommend it.

        • @Peter: Natural science is as much culture as is Homer’s Odyssee, a certain C.P. Snow taught in the 1950s, but….. people belong either to the humanities/language world (the alfa’s), either to the engineer/mathematical one (bèta’s). I see this division very clearly among my family and friends. Engineers, for example, are not able to write even one sentence without some grammatical or spelling error, they simply don’t mind, there are more important things to worry about (that’s how they see it, at least).

          • peterschaeffer says

            dirk, I agree wholeheartedly with your alpha vs. beta distinction. Where did you get those terms? They are new to me. Strangely enough, I have found a few folks of late who don’t agree with the alpha vs. beta schism. By the way, the terms I have always used are left-brained (betas) and right-brained (alphas). Why? I think I have seen these terms before and that they correspond to different centers of activity in the human brain.

          • Read Snow’s ” The two cultures” Peter, to know the details. I wonder, for us Dutch, the distinction in alphas and beta,s is as real as stone or water, our education system was (in the time that education still meant something): first 3 years general , than the choice between a or b (in one schooling type) or in alfa or beta, in another one. It really is a sharp division,and Snow (who was a scientist, but also a novelist, and married with a novelist even) lamented this dvision. He was flabbergasted that highly educated British of the alpha type did not know even the most essentials of the beta world (like Newtons laws), and explained that this was not so in German education systems. By the way, he was on the list of 100 most dangerous British intellectuals of the Nazis, to be arrested as soon as possible, if England would have been invaded.

        • peterschaeffer says

          dirk, I take it that Snow used the terms alphas and betas. I should say that Americans of the alpha type, are just as ignorant as their British counterparts (at least in my experience). Bill Bryson’s book (“A Short History of Nearly Everything”) was predicated on that ignorance. He admitted his own ignorance and tried to remedy it (with partial success in my view).

          I attribute some of the UK’s decline to an elite overemphasis on the liberal arts. In 1900, the UK was being visibly overtaken by both the U.S. and Germany. Both countries were more strongly biased towards the sciences than the UK. The UK lost its global economic position as its economy declined (in relative terms) and retreated towards an ever more rigid defense of its empire. This was (in my opinion) one (of many) causes of WWI.

          The U.S. today has many of the same failings as the UK 100 years ago. In my opinion, the US elite is too strongly weighted towards the liberal arts versus science/technology/math/etc. Yes, I do get the irony of making such an argument in the letters of Quilette

          • This whole thing is keeping me busy again Peter, maybe also because, as a teenager, my school choice was alpha, but my father thought it better to do the beta (he was thinking on my future and a proper job, of course, unlike me, unresponsible youngster as I was). What I read on Google about Snow’s famous oratory, it was not a jolly and harmonious thing, rather something of: why you lousy alpha’s can’t develop and mature better with some more of our beta wisdom, some even reacted with acrimonious replies, wherein the beta world was put down. The question of course is: bèta’s field is not that of values and opinions, feelings and drama, even the book of your Bryson, I learned, is more about the personal and juicy details of scientists (their strangeness or autism) than on a harmonious cultural homogenisation. the german Bildung ideal. Anyhow, nice to have discussed the item again here with you, I think it will keep throwing up dust for another half century, or more!

  35. Brendan says

    500 words penned by Christopher Hitchens showed me that I was indeed an atheist the whole time. 500 words penned by Camille Paglia showed me that I was a humble atheist.

  36. Leah - The Cow That Jumped Over The Moon says

    Every aspect of human culture is a play on the male/female dynamic, and at a more fundamental human level the unresolved child-hood based Oedipal issues or patterning of all human beings. Especially that of the principal players male or female in all of our fascinating dramas, whether real as in politics, or fictional as in art and literature.
    All of the great classics of world literature are a play upon this dynamic.
    All modern novels including romance novels are a play upon this dynamic.
    All of our songs from high opera to pop songs, especially country and western songs are a play upon this dynamic.
    All of history is a dramatization on to the world stage of the unresolved childhood Oedipal patterning of the principle figures involved in any and every such incident.

    Put in another way everyone, without exception is always dramatizing their unconscious emotional-sexual Oedipal script. An emotional-sexual script which is developed and set in place during the first two to three years of their life.

    Even the naive essentially childish and even infantile concept of the mommy-daddy creator God-idea is an extension of this unconscious emotional-sexual script. Atheism is essentially an adolescent refusal to accept this childish mommy-daddy God-idea. At some level this refusal is quite justifiable.

    And all of it, without exception is an expression of the failure to understand, become responsible for, and to transcend this unconscious emotional-sexual patterning or script.
    Such understanding and responsibility is of course the necessary key to growing up.

  37. docknock says

    Many of my atheist friends all seem to have an alternative religious crutch of new age beliefs, meditation, yoga, Burning Man and an assortment of other pagan beliefs. Some tend more towards very passionate political beliefs as their religion to fill some void. Elements of progressive left are as guilty of this as elements of the religious right in this regard.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-wallis/the-idolatry-of-politics_b_1475132.html

    Mark Lilla has written some interesting works around this theme including The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction, The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics, and The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West are all good reads..

    • docwu says

      Paglia has this very prescient statement regarding aligning your beliefs in
      political religions.

      “But politics cannot fill the gap. Society, with which Marxism is obsessed, is only a
      fragment of the totality of life. As I have written, Marxism has no metaphysics: it
      cannot even detect, much less comprehend, the enormity of the universe and the
      operations of nature. Those who invest all of their spiritual energies in politics will
      reap the whirlwind. The evidence is all around us—the paroxysms of inchoate,
      infantile rage suffered by those who have turned fallible politicians into saviors
      and devils, godlike avatars of Good versus Evil.

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  40. Darwin T of BC Humanists says

    Please, Professor Paglia, get thee on podcasts that celebrate long form replies and respectful dialogues.

    Consider such gems as Sam Harris’s The Waking Up Podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, Atheist Republic, Ex-Muslims of North America, The Femsplainers, The Rubin Report, The Saad Truth et al.

    Your approach, discipline and wit need that exposure to help with the wave of dissent out there. We need you making time in your schedule and preserving your positive pushback for all time to come in the equivalent of the old ParisIan salon.

  41. Just Me says

    Re.: romanticizating gender segregation and the importance of the family as something we recently lost:

    “The study, published in the journal Science, set out to investigate the apparent paradox that while people in hunter-gatherer societies show strong preferences for living with family members, in practice the groups they live in tend to comprise few closely related individuals.

    When only one sex had influence over the process, as is typically the case in male-dominated pastoral or horticultural societies, tight hubs of related individuals emerged.

    “When only men have influence over who they are living with, the core of any community is a dense network of closely related men with the spouses on the periphery,” said Dyble. “If men and women decide, you don’t get groups of four or five brothers living together.”

    Sex equality suggests a scenario where unique human traits, such as cooperation with unrelated individuals, could have emerged in our evolutionary past.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/may/14/early-men-women-equal-scientists

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  43. First — love Paglia. As others have said as well, I may disagree with her on some political issues but find her viewpoints quite interesting and well articulated.

    Second — Denying that male behavior is based upon female behavior is nonsensical. It’s like saying Climate Change is 100% caused by man. All behavior is reactive based upon a combination of learned historical outcomes coupled with current, often in-flux, situations. The cheetahs’ behavior is based upon the gazelle or wildebeast. My dog’s behavior is based upon mine and that of the neighbor’s cat. A man’s behavior is based upon women and Women’s behavior on man.

    Weinstein — do you think he would have, for decades, used the pressured-for-sex angle if it weren’t for actresses more than willing to grant sexual favors in return for movie roles? Does it make his actions right? Not morally; however, some of the blame falls on the women who taught the lessons that his behavior provided the sought after reward. It’s straight out of positive reinforcement training’s handbook. The criminal justice system, when actually applied, is the negative reinforcement mechanism. If we as a Nation, for example, strictly enforced the immigration laws such that the employers faced tough, criminal penalties and that illegal crossers were locked up and deported without the Southpark-defence claim for asylum, followed by release and absconding, then you wouldn’t see migrant caravans risking the lives of women and children to the cartels and sex trafficers.

    If nice guys didn’t finish last, and bad-boys were sexually shunned, you’d see a different male/female dynamic and landscape. Instead, we glorify Sex in the City and 50 Shades, and then wonder why the genders act the way they do? Even the Access Hollywood tape is a good example. Contrary to the MSM’s twist, Trump didn’t say he grabbed anyone, only that if one is rich/famous, the women would let you do anything to “get with you” in the world where the Kardasians became rich and famous for making a sex tape with a rapper. Yet it’s the evil men? Really? Are the men the ones who made the Kardasian’s famous?

  44. As I get older, I can count the number of personal heroes (at least, personal heroes that I do not personally know) on one hand. Camille Paglia is one of them. SEXUAL PERSONAE is, in my humble opinion, nothing less than THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES for the Arts. I think it’s one of the most important non-fiction works of our time, and I really wish more folks would read it, it is absolutely astonishing.

    We’re at a point where being a stone-cold Moderate on issues of sex and gender has become a kind of radical position. And Paglia is possibly the best spokeswoman for folks who think like myself.

    Thank you for this interview. Her’s is a voice that is direly needed in the public sphere right now.

  45. Love her or hate her, agree with her or disagree with her, one is never bored reading Camille Paglia. I appreciate and concur with her observation on nuclear families. It isolates families and puts far too much expectation on husband and wife to meet each other’s needs. Craziness and stress needs to be spread around, not placed entirely on one other person (or worse, one’s children).

    • DiTurno. says

      I’m always bored by her. She’s been saying the same idiotic things for a quarter century.

      She’s not a smart person, and she pulls most of her “arguments” out of her ass.

  46. Greg Thrasher says

    Quillette is getting desperate now trying to revive this ancient relic for when she was marginally topical she was all bark and a groupie for Madonna .

    Rather than embrace the #MeToo Movement and allow it to mature and evolve she is the tiresome critic offering empty attacks and roadblocks . I would wage she ignored Black Women how challenged the Feminist Movement but never condemned it ………

    BLM

    • George McKenzie says

      Speaking of tiresome critics…
      I get you can’t please everyone but you could at least give her a little credit. BLM like #metoo has gone off the rails. They both are starting to resemble the inquisition where we hang people first and figure out whether they deserved it later….or not.

      • DiTurno says

        Evidence?

        Just kidding. We both know you don’t have any.

      • Greg Thrasher says

        BLM has been in America since Slavery…Stay in your lane when you are clueless about something

        BLM

        • Northern Observer says

          I like how you capitalize Slavery, like it defines you ( oh wait that’s the whole shtick)
          Have you seen a shrink for your condition? Or is that considered white devil knowledge? You know I had an insight about you guys (BLM) recently. One of the reasons we are seeing a return to African essential-ism and black supremacism in African American thought right now is because as we get further and further away from the time of Slavery (see capital letter, natch) what becomes most interesting and most relevant about African Americans is not their africaness (small letters for emphasis) but their Americaness (capital again for emphasis, yo yo) And the waxing of the Americaness and the waning of the africaness is freaking out the intellectual class of the AA community and it”s producing an atavistic retreat into “Pantherism” but it is a pale imitation (ouch, triple meaning) of the original Panther movement. The growing Americaness of the future african American can not be delayed, denied or defeated. It must be embraced, just like the captivity to America itself must be embraced, less one reject life itself and turn to self destruction.

          Just my observation. I think it’s an interesting development but man are the AA intellectuals not happy about it.

    • Northern Observer says

      Says the guy who’s a member of a desperate hate movement.

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  49. Jezza says

    The main impediment to clear communication between men and women is the way we filter incoming information through different lenses. A man may say something but a woman hears what he didn’t say, and vice versa. I have been married for more than fifty years and that STILL happens between me and my wife. ( note: I have a wife, not a partner.) However, we complement each other and I appreciate the fact that “thoughts go blowing through her that are wiser than her own” – well, wiser than mine, anyway. When she is wrong, I find it beneficial to defer confrontation and attempt to hear the notes between the keys. the unspoken message, the TRUE meaning in what was uttered. When I have something back to front she is quite non-confrontational – I just feel a gentle tug on the reins now and then. I like being married. I could say a lot more in my current role as wise old man but it’s time for my nanny-nap. Acknowledge the sacrifices that each of you makes and stop fighting for control.

  50. Jezza says

    Astute readers will have noticed I have no time for a new map of the gender world.

    • You are disappointing us Jezza, and that with your long experience!!

  51. Oregoncharles says

    So when is Paglia going to propose a “new map?” Certainly it’s needed; I’d like to hear what she has in mind.

    Would make a great Quillette piece.

    • In the Netherlands, I see some signs direction Paglia’s new map, Oregon c., in the phenomenon of the socalled “High Tea”, just only some10 yrs old, and similar, but not the same as the standard phenomenon from the UK. It is something where men are not allowed, and are not even willing to participate in. The whole procedure of special teas, chatter, sandwhiches, amuses and small trifles takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, before the girls have to go home again to their children (also not allowed) and spouse, to order something from the traiteur or bring home services. It seems to be out now already, no longer fashionable, and something new might appear soon, I can’t wait to see what it will be this time again.

      • And this ” High Tea” then of course is perfectly balanced again by the ” Early Morning Tea”, served in the bedroom, where mom and dad are still in their bed, very much together. Which one of the 2 will (or has already) vanish first? And, if so, what will replace the habits?

      • Funny, found out after some googling, the dutch High Tea is the Low Tea of the UK, with scoones, small sandwiches and “savouries”. But the time is the same. And, I think, this traditional Low Tea was not as sexist as the Dutch High Tea.

  52. you guys is smart….but we’ll see how smart you are when your dead!

  53. Jules Sylver says

    Camille Paglia tries to be iconoclastic, but her infatuation with Madonna, and later view that the 3rd episode of Star Wars is the epitome of art shows just how silly she really is.Talking fast means nothing at all, and saying “OK” at the end of every sentence shows just how dependent she is really is on others. She was once an interesting troll. Now trolls are everywhere.

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  55. estepheavfm says

    In the feminist future all women will be seven-figure salary CEOs with a family and their CEO stuff will be fulfilling and “green.” — Meanwhile a certain industrious non-Western is preparing to replace the West and its weak counterproductive behaviors: such as “gender” war and hiring incompetent people (on quota) for important government functions.

  56. Brian Villanueva says

    This is an amazing article. I have never encountered Paglia before. Oh, I know her name, but I always lumped her in with other modern angry, anti-Western, feminists. I’m in my 40’s, so the only feminism I know. It’s refreshing to hear a feminism rooted in the dignity of women rather than hatred of men. I’m a conservative, but I’ve already put a couple of her books on hold at the library.

      • Northern Observer says

        It’s correlated to feminism turning to shit since MacKinnon and Dworkin, followed by the further distortions of Hooks and Butler.
        When the field of study is shit, the ignorant novice is a Master.

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  58. Ken A. says

    I tend to find Camille as humorless, pompous, predictable and ridiculous as the entrenched academics she professes to despise. Case in point:

    “What I see spreading among professional middle-class women is a bitter resentment toward men that is in many cases unjust and misplaced. With divorce so easy since the sexual revolution, women find themselves competing with younger women in new and cruel ways. Agrarian women gained power as they aged: young women were brainless pawns whose marriages, pregnancies, childcare, cooking, and other chores were acerbically supervised and controlled by the dictatorial crones (forces of nature whom I fondly remember from childhood).”

    Now, as a man, it is true that all resentments directed against me personally by women are unjust and misplaced. I fully agree! But I do want to point out that all the claptrap about ancient Agrarian women and their role in human history is pseudo-science at its worst. You can’t just make shit up, Camille!

    • Ken, I don’t know the sociological studies done on this subject, but ask any 80 years old , or over, Greek, Italian, Spanish,Albanian (there, the 40+ women suffice) or Portuguese women with rural ancestors, and they will immediately agree with what Camille explained there. She also, of course, has it from hearsay, but is that often not more important than what the sociological, academic studies say? (if they exist on this subject, at least, what one may doubt).

      • Though, “brainless pawns”, of course is too strongly said, a style figure, to open our eyes and demand more attention for a tendency. That’s allowed in literature, though, less so in science of course.

    • Northern Observer says

      What’s funny is that you think her pastiche of Agrarian Women has no basis in reality. I don’t know ken were your ancestors grown on the vine? Hatched in eggs? Delivered by storks? These women existed and although Paglia may approximate they looked a hell of a lot more like her approximation then the Blasey Fords of our current era.

  59. DiTurno says

    “I stumbled across a 1991 op-ed written by Paglia for The New York Times, in which she described the followers of Lacan, Derrida and Foucault, as “fossilized reactionaries,” and “the perfect prophets for the weak, anxious academic personality.” I was hooked.”

    You were hooked by something that vacuous?

    Look, Paglia was an @ssclown 25 years ago. Her whole, tired schtick is dumb@ss caricatures of work she doesn’t understand, all wrapped up in reactionary politics and leaden prose.

    She’s a public intellectual in the same way that Vanilla Ice is a rapper.

    • X. Citoyen says

      DiTurno,

      I’m less interested in your judgement than why you think assertions without argument by an anonymous person on the internet would be persuasive. So let me take a guess. First, my observations: (1) You assume that asserting your judgments is enough because you’ve been persuaded in the same way—that is, by authority and the desire to conform to the attitudes of your peers. (2) You’ve paraphrased the opinions you’ve been handed in everyday speech, instead of directly parroting the opinions of your lecturer, which is a rhetorical necessity people only clue into in grad school. My conclusion: You’re about 28 and in grad school in the humanities (but not philosophy) in an American university, probably English lit. Am I right?

  60. GACooper says

    Sorry, Camille, but you lost me way back in 2008

    “I like Sarah Palin, and I’ve heartily enjoyed her arrival on the national stage,” Paglia continues. “As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is —”

  61. Mal Snide says

    This interview dripped of arrogance and contempt, as well as a tone deafness and self righteous/self absorbed snarkiness. And that was just the interviewer. What sad, sad people. Or perhaps not? Maybe going through life absolutely convinced of your moral and intellectual superiority to everyone is a happy place? I’m struggling with what there is to admire here.

  62. Bill Haywood says

    “Marxism has no metaphysics: it cannot even detect, much less comprehend, the enormity of the universe and the operations of nature.” Does this sentence actually mean anything? Taken literally, certainly not.

  63. Jules Sylver says

    Mal Snide: Yep. All of the words that have ever come out of Paglia’s mouth can be reduced to just 3: “I’m spiritually superior.”

    • Evander says

      @Mal Snide

      Lehmann and Paglia loathe postmodernism and political correctness. You don’t like them stating their opinions forcefully?

      Do you have a sense of irony? “Maybe going through life absolutely convinced of your moral and intellectual superiority…” I’d wager most readers would think you’re the one who needs to answer that charge.

      @Jules Sylver

      Did Paglia upset your worldview?

    • R Henry says

      My impression of Paglia is: “I am powerful because of my sexuality”

  64. Bruce Weber says

    Reading these comments gives me a headache. You people think too much. I wasted decades in futile mulling of all this nonsense. The day I gave it all up was the day I started enjoying life.
    One of the wisest statements I ever read was in Joseph Conrad’s Author’s Note for his novel, Victory. “Thinking is the great enemy of perfection. The habit of profound reflection, I am compelled to say, is the most pernicious of all the habits formed by the civilized man.” Old Joe was a neurasthenic ruminator if the highest order, so he knew what he was talking about.

    • So, Bruce you needed a book, and reading it, to know that thinking is the great enemy. Did that reading also give you a headache? Or is it the quality of these comments, maybe also the article itself, that does the trick?

    • ga gamba says

      Comments such as this mystify me. Here we have galoot who navigates to a website of thoughtful commentary, one he somehow happened upon despite his claim of avoiding such “nonsense”, who reads both the author’s article and the readers’ comments, and then submits a puddle of drool. What’s the purpose?

      Have you not heard of colouring books? Could you entertain yourself by listening to white noise instead? Are you biding your time awaiting a new episode of My Little Pony?

      This website attracts people drawn to such topics. It’s the nature of the beast. You’ll may be astonished to learn people have differing interests, ones that don’t match yours. Clearly this doesn’t appeal to you, yet… here you are. Are you lonely or something? Join a marching kazoo band and razzle dazzle parade viewers.

      Seriously… what gives?

      • Evander says

        Bit savage, ga gamba, but mostly fair.

        I’m puzzled by your comment, Bruce. Literally the opposite of what you say is true: not thinking enough is mostly our problem. Most readers of Quillette are committed to the Enlightenment ideal of ‘public reason’. Public reason is one of the best ways to inhibit vice (behaviour X or idea Y is harmful because Z) and stupid decisions so as to allow for their opposites to develop for the betterment of society. Cognitive headaches led to the development of Panadol: in other words, you’re the beneficiary of others’ too-much-thinking.

        At the same time, there is a grain of truth in what you say. I agree with Ecclesiastes that he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. Some knowledge I’m happy to go without. And like everyone else I have scarce time to devote to reading and thinking. But I’d still choose the Ancient Mariner’s lot – ‘a sadder and a wiser man’ – over the alternative every time.

        Matthew Parris wrote an interesting article earlier this year arguing for a connection between investment in politics and discontentment in one’s personal life. Worth checking out.

        https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/08/obsessed-with-politics-your-lifes-gone-wrong/

        • Indeed Evander, oh vanity of vanities, all is vanity! A temptative attitude, at times, some give in, others never.

  65. It looks like that negativity about the article (and even the comments) is growing, the more comments are added. A respectable total of 274 uptil now neverteless , meaning that the subject is relevant to more than just a few.

  66. Bisquit says

    I love Camille and I am a conservative. We conservatives are often misunderstood. Many of us, probably most of us simply want our civilization to survive as the most viable economic engine known in the modern world. We aren’t “Haters” or “sexists” or “homophobes” or “rich facists” or any of those countless labels ginned up in the middle of the night by insomiacs who seem to wish we were. Camille writes about the real America that we all live in, and the real people who populate it, in all their imperfection, nonetheless citizens who seek happiness in a society built for that purpose. I wish for all citizens, left or right, or apolitical, to enjoy the happiness that is so much more accessible in this incredible country in this incredible age. And I admire her for sharing her observations, so many of which are right on target.

  67. The real victims of the post-modernist craze are undergraduates the world over who have been subjected to it’s obscure jargon. I usually start my courses by saying to students: “I have just come from the funeral of post-modernism, therefore there is no further need to allude to it in this course”. And as a palliative, I recommend as required reading David Lodge’s “Small World”.
    And the real problem now is debunking those who occupy university chairs (and their petrified younger followers) who have actively contributed and continue to contribute to the spread of the disease. My best wishes to the Humanities for a complete recovery from the infection. And let’s have more serious-minded undergraduates like the University of Adelaide’s alumna to save the day and the academic world!

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  73. Area Man says

    I used to think people who used the word “scathing” were being dramatic, but this is, well, scathing. And encouraging! How refreshing it is to see this perspective presented in this politically poisonous climate. More personally, articles like this provide comfort to those of us surrounded by wrong-minded people.

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  75. Isaías says

    Always a pleasure to read Camille Paglia. I can easily recognize myself in Claire Lehmann’s words on how she stumbled upon Paglia’s work, in my case back in the 1990s, when I was also deeply immersed in po-mo theory and feminist literary criticism and all that. Though still in my twenties then, I aldready had some kind of nagging suspicion that the emperor, or the empress, if you wish, was naked. What has been happening over this last quarter of a century has proved Paglia right.

  76. I love Camille Paglia. Jordan Peterson’s interview of her taught me so much.

    IS THERE A VALID (great insight can flow from it) FORM OF ATHEISM? Yes. Go back to the Greek Socratics, following Leo Strauss (1899-1973) vs. the atheism of Sam Harris. I’m 63, a Catholic convert at age 36 (now unsure of Catholicism due to the recent horrors out of the PA grand jury) – prior in my 20s I had a couple experiences – one shared by my husband – that made me unable to push away, be unaware of, be unaffected by – the “divine” (at the very least, the “numinous” to use Jung’s term – by the way Jung said he never had a patient CURED who hadn’t undergone a numinous experience – Jordan Peterso (JBP) has had several – after composing his “logo” that he uses, had a massive one – also his dream of the chandelier in the middle of the cathedral (I think it was preparing him for his present task) – and his wife’s “It’s 5 minutes to Midnight” dream.

    Anyway, as to numinous experience, many of you reading this are young. I can assure you, let your life go on. if you ASK your honest questions, endure your doubts and put them forward, suffer them in your MIND and soul, I believe you will have one or more vouchsafed to you – no need to turn to ayahausca – tho if you insist on doing drugs, that’s where I’d go – keeping in mind Jung’s warning to “beware of unearned wisdom” – I feel lucky mine were unmediated. You’re much more sure of Something being there if you await an unmediated experience – tho you might have a really POWERFUL experience on ayahuasca – But can you trust it since YOU sought IT, IT didn’t seek YOU? Or can ayahausca open the Gate, and then you’re “found” and then you have helpers – the personages that appear – that help you “find”?). I’m trying to encourage you to be patient and go unmediated. Well, why can’t a person have both? JBP has had both, I believe. He’s admitted to taking mushrooms, AND has also had the separate discrete experiences outlined above.

    MAYBE THERE ARE 4 VERSIONS OF ATHEISM:

    (1) Socratic (pre-Jesus shall we say) per Plato (it’s playful, uses humor, reason, irony, questioning, plus listening to one’s daimon)
    (2) Nietzschean (evangelical)
    (3) Staussian (???)
    (4) Sam Harris (evangelical)

    Leo Strauss stopped pushing atheism publicly when he was 29. He in fact steel-manned Revelation (v. Reason – “Jerusalem [REVELATION] v. Athens [REASON]” being one of his great essays, also online) from then on. He believed, as JBP does, that our civilization is undergirded by these two and the tension (agreements & disagreements) between them.

    Have been reading a great article by Laurence Lampert, foremost Nietzsche scholar, published in the March 2005 Review of Metaphysics (“N’s Challenge to Philosophy in the Thought of Leo Strauss”), in which Lampert lays out where he thinks Strauss thinks Nietzsche went off track. OK. The article really, I would say, establishes what many have suspected, that Strauss is an unbeliever. Finding himself UNABLE TO BELIEVE, he wants to live in the best way. Trust me, his insights are crucial to understanding the SJW mess – possession shall we say – we’re in right now. IMHO Strauss is of utmost importance & worth.

    Strauss broke from Nietzsche at age 29, saying (p. 592 of the 2005 essay) in a 1935 letter to Karl Lowith, that Nietzsche “so dominated and charmed” him between his 22nd and 30th years that he literally believed everything he understood.

    His breaking away (tho of course he still valued N’s mind & insights) happened (if I’ve got this right) because S. saw that N’s “solution” was influenced – unbenownst to N. himself – by a sort of “Biblical probity” – in other words, that N.’s “solution” – pushing (evangelizing) into a ‘transvaluation of all values” WAS evangelization. N. laid out the reasons he wasn’t going back to the Greeks.

    Here is Strauss’s “diss” of N’s project:

    FROM THE END OF LEO STRAUSS’S (1899-1973) ESSAY “The Three Waves of Modernity” [these waves being Machiavelli, Rousseau, Nietzsche – full essay to be found online, CAPS that follow are mine]:

    “Whereas Rousseau’s’ natural man is compassionate, Nietzsche’s natural man is cruel.

    “What Nietzsche says in regard to political action is much more indefinite and vague than what Marx says. IN A SENSE, ALL POLITICAL USE OF NIETZSCHE IS A PERVERSION OF HIS TEACHING. NEVERTHELESS, WHAT HE SAID WAS READ BY POLITICAL MEN AND INSPIRED THEM. HE IS AS LITTLE RESPONSIBLE FOR FASCISM AS ROUSSEAU IS RESPONSIBLE FOR JACOBINISM. THIS MEANS, HOWEVER, THAT HE IS AS MUCH RESPONSIBLE FOR FASCISM AS ROUSSEAU WAS FOR JACOBINISM.

    “I draw a political conclusion from the foregoing remarks. The theory of liberal democracy, as well as of communism, originated in the first and second waves of modernity; the political implication of the third wave proved to be fascism. Yet this undeniable fact does not permit us to return to the earlier forms of modern thought: the critique of modern rationalism or of the modern belief in reason by Nietzsche cannot be dismissed or forgotten.

    “This is the deepest reason for the crisis of liberal democracy. The theoretical crisis does not necessarily lead to a practical crisis, because the superiority of liberal democracy to communism, Stalinist or post-Stalinist, is obvious enough. And above all, liberal democracy, in contradistinction to communism and fascism, derives powerful support from a way of thinking which cannot be called modern at all: the premodern thought of our western tradition.”

    Elsewhere Strauss writes: “The crisis of modernity reveals itself in the fact … that modern western man no longer knows what he wants-that he no longer believes that he can know what is good and bad, right and wrong.” Hence modern man goes back to the Greeks, to Plato.

    If you’re going to be a proper atheist (unbeliever), go back to the Greeks (starting with Plato’s The Republic, Allan Bloom’s literal translation). They’re so solid. They’re searching for the nature of man. And from that, the best life for man.

    p. 85 of Leo Strauss’s “Three Waves of Modernity”: “…all natural beings…are directed towards an end, a perfection for which they long.”

    In 2015 at Assumption College they (including a foremost Catholic Solzhenitsyn scholar who of course is a big Jordan Peterson fan – Ha! he recently told me his mother, now widowed, spends her evenings listening to JBP – I love it!) had the following conference which lists speakers & topics

    https://www.assumption.edu/strauss-conference

    Leo Strauss & His Catholic Readers
    HERE IS THE RESULTING BOOK OF PAPERS DELIVERED, etc. (can “Look Inside”)
    https://amzn.to/2O0QTNI

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  79. Charles G. says

    Absolutely wonderful. Paglia’s just getting started!

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  81. This weekend, I read an article in my newspaper on “Waiting for God”, of the French philosopher, activist and mystic Simone Weil. The similarities and parallel passions between these two women struck me, like her spiritualizing beauty, and idea that beauty is not something purely esthetic, it’s much more than that, and should fill a man’s life with creativity, love, freedom and spirituality. These parallel lines can’t just be coincidental, there must be more (did Paglia read her books??).

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  83. Claire's Landing Strip says

    This is becoming a newly considered position among the left. Most recently, put to me by an actual atheist — above the fray in his mind, and possibly — but convinced that the rabble not having a god to guide them, if put to exist in the classical-liberal, science-and-logic-based meritocracy, would eventually devolve to Holocaust. I tend to agree, as I don’t see individual rights — as a concept, surviving without an underlying morality. This idea is already being prioritized behind efficiency, competency and merit in the IDW circles. Social Darwinism is what’s left. What saves the undesireables? On ly “God.” (that’s the argument, anyway).

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