Feelings, functions, and the sexes

The basic contention of this article on male and female brains is that women pay attention to personal relationships and feelings, men to impersonal systems and functions. The author doesn’t do much with the claim except observe that women are sensitive, caring and empathetic, while men are clueless and incipiently autistic. The principle has other implications, however, some of which are not quite as PC.

For example, public life has to do with our dealings with people most of whom we don’t know well or at all. As a result, it is mostly a matter of the orderly functioning of impersonal and necessarily somewhat blind systems, like law, government and markets. If personal connections and concerns eclipse functional aspects the consequence is gross inefficiency and inequity brought on by an emphasis on special favors, manipulativeness on behalf of oneself and one’s friends, and general lack of concern for the public interest and overall justice. To the extent concerns rise above selfishness, what results is an attempt to extend the principle of special favors and immediate personal concern to everyone everywhere (i.e., to construct a universal nanny state).

Nanny states don’t work though, certainly not in the long run. While mothering is a very good thing, the Post Office and similar institutions are just not close enough to us to mother us. The Chinese have traditionally believed in the balance of yang and yin, the male and female principle, but also that feminine involvement in politics is a sign of the degeneration and approaching end of a dynasty. What this article suggests is that they may have been right.
Posted by Jim Kalb at April 23, 2003 11:41 AM | Send


The author’s description of typical sex differences rang true to me. This is one field in which the development of science is largely supporting rather than undermining traditional views.

By the way, I’m pleased to announce the birth of another traditionalist site on the web: my own site at http://www.ozconservative.com (The site is not fully functional yet and likely to change address soon.) There’s what I hope is a readable outline of traditionalist conservatism on the site at http://www.ozconservative.com/whatisconsshort.htm

Thanks to Jim Kalb and Lawrence Auster for pioneering traditionalism on the web - I hope my site is one of many to be inspired by VFR.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on April 24, 2003 6:02 AM

Yay and congrats on the new site! Keep us informed of developments.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on April 24, 2003 7:16 AM

Mr. Richardson’s article on conservatism and liberalism is terrific. Starting from two ideas, (1) that most of the things we value in life and that constitute our very existence are not chosen by us, and (2) that liberalism only values what is chosen by us, he constructs a clear, useful picture of liberalism and conservatism. This could be the basis of a much longer article or even a book.

On the difference he delineates between left liberalism and right liberalism (below), his earlier definitional concepts help us realize what the two different liberalisms have in common AS liberalism: It is that they are both trying to replace the unchosen with the chosen. Left liberalism tries to replace the unchosen by state action; right liberalism tries to replace the unchosen by the free acts of individuals as economic actors.

“There are two different varieties of liberalism. Left liberals place their focus on social individualism. They resent restrictions on the social behaviour of the individual, and so have sought to deconstruct traditional family life, gender roles, moral codes and so on. They are strongly statist, believing in a high level of government intervention in both society and the economy.

“The focus of right liberals is on economic individualism. They tend to see individuals as economic units, and oppose restrictions on the economic activity of the individual or on the operation of capital (such as the movement of labour, or restrictions on investment etc.) Right liberals have often preferred a more limited role for government.”

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on April 24, 2003 11:30 AM
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