Sexual Dimorphism

Anything to do with gender and the status of women and men.

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chasw
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Sexual Dimorphism

Post by chasw »

Most higher order animals exhibit substantial differences in size, shape and features of the bodies of male and female members. What are the philosophical implications of these differences for Homo sapiens? As usual, the analysis begins with the biological purposes of dimorphism and its effect on the mental and cultural life of individual people. The typical male habitus is larger, with emphasis on relatively large shoulders, long legs and strong muscles. The female physique is smaller, with enhanced development of the pelvic girdle and associated reproductive organs. From an evolutionary POV, males specialize in fighting and females specialize in child rearing.

Those roles are still operational, men and women still chase each other and engage in pair bonding, men still get into fights with other men, but otherwise the physical differences have begun to lose their impact in modern industrialized societies. More and more people earn a living by performing tasks that are blind to gender, especially so-called knowledge workers. Our built in dimorphism is suppressed to a large extent in everyday life. That is, we consciously suppress impulses to chase after the opposite sex or start fights with members of the same sex, in spite of our raging hormones and animal instincts. To do otherwise would upset the apple cart and diminish our chances of getting paid for our work.

Once we have our thin veneer of civilization on, men and women can and do regard themselves as equal and not dimorphic. In my lifetime, I've seen this paradigm shift first hand. Before the mid-1970s, women and men were routinely relegated to gender specific occupations. Now, 40 years later, most of those attitudes are gone. Domestically, men and women frequently share household and child-rearing tasks. Professionally, it is commonplace for ambitious women to take on positions with men as their subordinates. Women are even being considered for duty in the combat arms of the US military.

Will this paradigm shift in our culture change the way we think? Do women perceive the nature of reality any differently, now that they feel less subjugated? IMO, except for the obvious changes in ethical and moral attitudes, the rest of our philosophical beliefs remain unaffected by the cultural shift. Male and female minds may differ insofar as their biological roles, but once they begin to delve into philosophical matters, all those differences disappear, they become knowledge workers of sorts, intellectuals. As such they are working with pure reason which is and always has been unaffected by sexual dimorphism. I maintain Philosophy is largely blind to gender differences.

Granted, as our culture has changed, more women are pursuing higher education which draws some of them into the philosophical realm. For example, I notice the proportion of female philosophy students and professors at my local university has increased dramatically since my undergraduate days in the 1960s.

Any contrary thoughts? - CW
thedoc
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by thedoc »

One thought and a story.

Male combat has simply changed in style, instead of fighting over the female, males engage in contests that stress physical prowess.

In college my major left no room for electives but I was required to take Philosophy 101. My major was industrial arts, typically described as neanderthals hammering on rocks. In the class was another student who stated that she intended to transfer so that she could major in philosophy, not offered at this college. Walking to the campus coffee shop once after class I was explaining the difference between Objectivism and Subjectivism (I believe both terms have been replaced?) and she looked at me and said, "you mean people actually believe that." It struck me as odd that an IA major was explaining philosophy to a professed philosophy major.
thedoc
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by thedoc »

While I'm thinking about it, for one or two classes we had a substitute professor, and in the course of one of the classes someone made the comment that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and the professor jumped on it and said "No, in the "mind" of the beholder." It occurred to me that it was an unnecessary distinction and the professor was being particularly anal. The distinction between the brain and the eye in this case was completely unnecessary. I was glad when the regular professor came back.
Melchior
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Melchior »

chasw wrote:Most higher order animals exhibit substantial differences in size, shape and features of the bodies of male and female members. What are the philosophical implications of these differences for Homo sapiens?
None. Why do you think there should be? The differences are averages, anyway. Many women are taller than some men. Hormones give each sex (not 'gender') certain secondary sex characteristics (e.g., facial hair and greater musculature in males, larger breasts in females).
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chasw
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by chasw »

Melchior wrote:
chasw wrote:Most higher order animals exhibit substantial differences in size, shape and features of the bodies of male and female members. What are the philosophical implications of these differences for Homo sapiens?
None. Why do you think there should be? The differences are averages, anyway. Many women are taller than some men. Hormones give each sex (not 'gender') certain secondary sex characteristics (e.g., facial hair and greater musculature in males, larger breasts in females).
Thanks, Melchior. Good question. These secondary sex characteristics have a an obvious biological function. The way those functions come into play in our daily lives is heavily influenced by the associated instincts. Physical anthropologists and theoretical psychologists are quite interested in understanding more precisely how instinct influences behavior between subjects. Sex looms large in their thinking, as I recall.

Since philosophy explicitly underwrites all serious intellectual inquiry, especially the sciences, I was wondering if there are any philosophical puzzles or paradoxes these social scientists might need help with. Perhaps none, as you suggest. - CW
Melchior
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Melchior »

chasw wrote:
Melchior wrote:
chasw wrote:Most higher order animals exhibit substantial differences in size, shape and features of the bodies of male and female members. What are the philosophical implications of these differences for Homo sapiens?
None. Why do you think there should be? The differences are averages, anyway. Many women are taller than some men. Hormones give each sex (not 'gender') certain secondary sex characteristics (e.g., facial hair and greater musculature in males, larger breasts in females).
Thanks, Melchior. Good question. These secondary sex characteristics have a an obvious biological function. The way those functions come into play in our daily lives is heavily influenced by the associated instincts. Physical anthropologists and theoretical psychologists are quite interested in understanding more precisely how instinct influences behavior between subjects. Sex looms large in their thinking, as I recall.

Since philosophy explicitly underwrites all serious intellectual inquiry, especially the sciences, I was wondering if there are any philosophical puzzles or paradoxes these social scientists might need help with. Perhaps none, as you suggest. - CW
There are no philosophical questions having to do with sexual dimorphism. It is a brute fact, like the tides or the atomic weight of gold. Some species exhibit a great deal of sexual dimorphism; others little or none. In some species, the female is larger. In many birds, the two sexes are the same size. The dimorphism of Homo sapiens is rather insignificant compared to many mammals. There are all sorts of implications, but no philosophical ones. This is a biological question, not philosophical.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/11 ... ce-022014/
Blaggard
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Blaggard »

There are few things that differentiate the man from the woman. Men are clearly physically stronger, taller and so on. Clearly they are better at spacial acuity, women clearly seem to excel more than men at language and seem to be more visually perceptive in terms of colours possibly due to the visualisation of colour appearing on the x sex chromosome for the most part and women hence having two, not sharing the lack men have from only having one, hence women tend to be more astute at colour tests. Interestingly although IQ tests which I am not saying denotes intelligence, far from it, tend to show women share the same average as men, but women tend to have less high level IQs than men, but men tend to have more people who are on the lower end of the IQ scale, so it balances out. So clearly there is some difference between the limited amount of skills an IQ test actually tests, spacial acuity being part of the test. Most everything else is probably a matter of social conditioning rather than actual differences, for example there is no evidence men are better at maths than women, but there is evidence that female children learn to talk before male children, which shows they seem to be linguistically more adroit. Also fucking blue is blue not aqua marine, and magenta is just pink what are you on about dear? ;)

All joking aside though, I say vivre le difference, womens' skills compliment mens, an "organism" which is only men loses out to a diverser one.


Sexual dimorphism clearly exists, and it would be unwise not to acknowledge such differences, but the question is in modern times, does it really matter much any more?
Melchior
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Melchior »

Blaggard wrote:There are few things that differentiate the man from the woman. Men are clearly physically stronger, taller and so on. Clearly they are better at spacial acuity, women clearly seem to excel more than men at language and seem to be more visually perceptive in terms of colours possibly due to the visualisation of colour appearing on the x sex chromosome for the most part and women hence having two, not sharing the lack men have from only having one, hence women tend to be more astute at colour tests. Interestingly although IQ tests which I am not saying denotes intelligence, far from it, tend to show women share the same average as men, but women tend to have less high level IQs than men, but men tend to have more people who are on the lower end of the IQ scale, so it balances out. So clearly there is some difference between the limited amount of skills an IQ test actually tests, spacial acuity being part of the test. Most everything else is probably a matter of social conditioning rather than actual differences, for example there is no evidence men are better at maths than women, but there is evidence that female children learn to talk before male children, which shows they seem to be linguistically more adroit. Also fucking blue is blue not aqua marine, and magenta is just pink what are you on about dear? ;)

All joking aside though, I say vivre le difference, womens' skills compliment mens, an "organism" which is only men loses out to a diverser one.


Sexual dimorphism clearly exists, and it would be unwise not to acknowledge such differences, but the question is in modern times, does it really matter much any more?
I have heard for years that women have superior language skills, and for a long time I believed it. I am now convinced of the opposite. At least with regard to writing. Women's writing just doesn't cut it.
Last edited by Melchior on Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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vegetariantaxidermy
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by vegetariantaxidermy »

Actually testosterone in men waxes and wanes depending on need. In times of war it spikes. Compare rampaging vikings with flabby keyboard warriors. :) Take seemingly normal and mild males and see them turn into raping, murdering monsters when they go to war. Sad but true.
Blaggard
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Blaggard »

Melchior wrote:
Blaggard wrote:There are few things that differentiate the man from the woman. Men are clearly physically stronger, taller and so on. Clearly they are better at spacial acuity, women clearly seem to excel more than men at language and seem to be more visually perceptive in terms of colours possibly due to the visualisation of colour appearing on the x sex chromosome for the most part and women hence having two, not sharing the lack men have from only having one, hence women tend to be more astute at colour tests. Interestingly although IQ tests which I am not saying denotes intelligence, far from it, tend to show women share the same average as men, but women tend to have less high level IQs than men, but men tend to have more people who are on the lower end of the IQ scale, so it balances out. So clearly there is some difference between the limited amount of skills an IQ test actually tests, spacial acuity being part of the test. Most everything else is probably a matter of social conditioning rather than actual differences, for example there is no evidence men are better at maths than women, but there is evidence that female children learn to talk before male children, which shows they seem to be linguistically more adroit. Also fucking blue is blue not aqua marine, and magenta is just pink what are you on about dear? ;)

All joking aside though, I say vivre le difference, womens' skills compliment mens, an "organism" which is only men loses out to a diverser one.


Sexual dimorphism clearly exists, and it would be unwise not to acknowledge such differences, but the question is in modern times, does it really matter much any more?
I have heard for years that women have superior language skills, and for a long time I believed it. I am now convinced of the opposite. At least with regard to writing. Women's writing just doesn't cut it.
Well I never said anything about women being great literary agents, writing and the propensity to learn to speak in early life are not the same thing. So let me make it clear women seem to pick up speaking skills faster than men, if you heard women have greater language capabilities that made them better novelists, you weren't listening very well. They just seem better able to learn language and at an earlier age than men, generally learning to speak before men do, not write it down in prose. There's a huge difference between learning how to speak and learning how to write which are two vastly different skills. That said the average age boys learn to talk and girls is quite small, but it is known to exist. I can see how what I said may of been misleading, and perhaps I should of explained it better but meh there you go.
Melchior
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Melchior »

Blaggard wrote:
Melchior wrote:
Blaggard wrote:There are few things that differentiate the man from the woman. Men are clearly physically stronger, taller and so on. Clearly they are better at spacial acuity, women clearly seem to excel more than men at language and seem to be more visually perceptive in terms of colours possibly due to the visualisation of colour appearing on the x sex chromosome for the most part and women hence having two, not sharing the lack men have from only having one, hence women tend to be more astute at colour tests. Interestingly although IQ tests which I am not saying denotes intelligence, far from it, tend to show women share the same average as men, but women tend to have less high level IQs than men, but men tend to have more people who are on the lower end of the IQ scale, so it balances out. So clearly there is some difference between the limited amount of skills an IQ test actually tests, spacial acuity being part of the test. Most everything else is probably a matter of social conditioning rather than actual differences, for example there is no evidence men are better at maths than women, but there is evidence that female children learn to talk before male children, which shows they seem to be linguistically more adroit. Also fucking blue is blue not aqua marine, and magenta is just pink what are you on about dear? ;)

All joking aside though, I say vivre le difference, womens' skills compliment mens, an "organism" which is only men loses out to a diverser one.


Sexual dimorphism clearly exists, and it would be unwise not to acknowledge such differences, but the question is in modern times, does it really matter much any more?
I have heard for years that women have superior language skills, and for a long time I believed it. I am now convinced of the opposite. At least with regard to writing. Women's writing just doesn't cut it.
Well I never said anything about women being great literary agents, writing and the propensity to learn to speak in early life are not the same thing. So let me make it clear women seem to pick up speaking skills faster than men, if you heard women have greater language capabilities that made them better novelists, you weren't listening very well. They just seem better able to learn language and at an earlier age than men, generally learning to speak before men do, not write it down in prose. There's a huge difference between learning how to speak and learning how to write which are two vastly different skills. That said the average age boys learn to talk and girls is quite small, but it is known to exist. I can see how what I said may of been misleading, and perhaps I should of explained it better but meh there you go.
Don't you think that 'superior language skills' should be evident in writing as well as speaking?
Blaggard
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Blaggard »

No quite clearly learning to talk early as a child and learning how to create entertaining stories are not the same thing. If you think they are, you are probably not thinking very hard about the skill sets involved in a great author and being a 1 year old baby. Clearly they are not the same thing. You can write utterly badly and still sell millions of books, look at Dan Brown nobody would claim he was any good at writing. But what he is good at is telling an enteratining story, clearly in writing it's more important to entertain than it is to write magnificent and clever prose that transcends all generes. Ok book snobs may not agree but then they are pretentious twits, good authors entertain first if they can write like some sort of linguistic genius all the better but it wont mean jack unless they can grip the audience and create a page turner. I've read some books that had such brilliantly clever prose that I could not fault their skills, at the same time some of those same books left me cold because clearly although the author could write, what he wrote was just dull and often I never finished them. :)

Written language and spoke language as it pertains to picking it up are not the same thing, written and spoken language as in as you speak it as an adult and as your write it are not even the same thing. Some people sound like gibbering fools when they speak stuttering over sentences and talking such meaningless ideas that no one can understand them, some of the same people you sit down could write like a poet. You must of noticed that you have a different spectrum of talent in the spoken word from the written word?

Women learning to speak at a young age, in no way means they will hence be better writers, it just means they are better at picking up grammar and syntax than the average man. So basically there is no difference between how talented a writer a woman is over a man, they seem to be both as adroit.
Melchior
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Melchior »

Blaggard wrote:No quite clearly learning to talk early as a child and learning how to create entertaining stories are not the same thing. If you think they are, you are probably not thinking very hard about the skill sets involved in a great author and being a 1 year old baby. Clearly they are not the same thing. You can write utterly badly and still sell millions of books, look at Dan Brown nobody would claim he was any good at writing. But what he is good at is telling an enteratining story, clearly in writing it's more important to entertain than it is to write magnificent and clever prose that transcends all generes. Ok book snobs may not agree but then they are pretentious twits, good authors entertain first if they can write like some sort of linguistic genius all the better but it wont mean jack unless they can grip the audience and create a page turner. I've read some books that had such brilliantly clever prose that I could not fault their skills, at the same time some of those same books left me cold because clearly although the author could write, what he wrote was just dull and often I never finished them. :)

Written language and spoke language as it pertains to picking it up are not the same thing, written and spoken language as in as you speak it as an adult and as your write it are not even the same thing. Some people sound like gibbering fools when they speak stuttering over sentences and talking such meaningless ideas that no one can understand them, some of the same people you sit down could write like a poet. You must of noticed that you have a different spectrum of talent in the spoken word from the written word?

Women learning to speak at a young age, in no way means they will hence be better writers, it just means they are better at picking up grammar and syntax than the average man. So basically there is no difference between how talented a writer a woman is over a man, they seem to be both as adroit.
But I disagree. Almost everything written by women stinks. I can tell almost instantly when I am reading something written by a woman, because it stinks, even when, as you say, the prose has some polish to it.

For example:
http://www.amazon.com/Blame-A-Novel-Mic ... r-mr-title

http://www.amazon.com/Sloppy-Firsts-Jes ... r-mr-title

"if you want to waste your time, or if you're in a masochistic mood, buy this book. if you must give it as a gift to someone, make sure it's someone you really hate. if they can think at all, they'll hate you for giving it to them after five pages of this vapid, vacuous read."

http://www.amazon.com/Cleopatra-A-Life- ... r-mr-title

http://www.amazon.com/Dreamers-Day-Mary ... r-mr-title

"There are five members in our book club. We have been a book club for over 15 years. This was the very first time that not one of us could recommend a given book, Despite dealing with one of the most fascinating periods in world history as it affected an American, the author of "Dreamers of the Day" managed to be trite and boring. This was a case of an excellent historian who should never have tried to put her knowledge into novel form. She just is not good enough in character depiction or dialogue."
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Kayla
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Kayla »

Melchior wrote:But I disagree. Almost everything written by women stinks.
many guys' misogyny goes away once they get a girlfriend

with others, the misogyny gets worse

in this case, the poster is too young to tell which it will be
Melchior
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Re: Sexual Dimorphism

Post by Melchior »

Kayla wrote:
Melchior wrote:But I disagree. Almost everything written by women stinks.
many guys' misogyny goes away once they get a girlfriend

with others, the misogyny gets worse

in this case, the poster is too young to tell which it will be
Not quite...

http://youtu.be/eCss0kZXeyE
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