Scott Adams’ Narrow Pen, ctd.
Scott Adams was generous enough to reply to my critique. He believes I misrepresented his position. That’s certainly not how I’d like to conduct an argument so I’ve decided to highlight his criticism.
I notice you have to change my opinions from what I wrote to something a little bit crazy before you can debate them.
You cleverly change my prediction about chemical castration into a “should” that wasn’t in my writing.
You turn my common sense observation that nature has a role in our actions into a crazy absolute: “if every fleeting impulse can’t be acted upon…”
And so on. I just picked two.
You should try arguing with stuff I actually said. You’ll find it more challenging.
I hope to honestly engage in what he’s actually arguing. It’s is never my intention to misinform my readers.
On forced castration, Adams wrote,
That might sound to you like a horrible world. But the oxytocin would make us a society of huggers, and no one would be treated as a sex object. You’d have no rape, fewer divorces, stronger friendships, and a lot of other advantages. I think that’s where we’re headed in a few generations.
Additionally, Adams argues that men wouldn’t even “miss” their “urge for sex.” With all those advantages, Mr Adams, it seemed like you implied that it’d be good – considering you didn’t mention a single disadvantage, it appeared on balance that you favored it. I apologize for being incorrect; although, when writers don’t say exactly what they mean understanding becomes “more challenging” than it would be otherwise.
On the second point, I don’t disagree that “nature has a role in our actions.” I believe genetics play an enormous role in shaping our behavior – more so than most people willingly acknowledge. But, the point seems to be more than just “nature has a role.” If it was, I’m not sure why you bothered to write anything. Does any thinking person actually disagree with that? Once again, your writing acts “like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details” (to quote Orwell). Scott, if I’m not perfect in conveying your meaning, I’m sorry; the snowblower I needed to clear a path through your dense pack isn’t a precision instrument.
Feel free to also elaborate on the difference between our characterizations of what you wrote. I distilled one of your major points as “Adams believes that society is a “virtual prison” if every fleeting impulse can’t be acted upon.” You wrote, “society has evolved to keep males in a state of continuous unfulfilled urges, more commonly known as unhappiness.” And, “in general, society is organized as a virtual prison for men’s natural desires.” [my emphasis]
Furthermore, it seems like you’re arguing that if some of men’s natural urges can’t be acted upon (e.g. sexual, violent) without being judged as shameful or criminal that means that society is a “virtual prison” that only locks up males. Yet, society doesn’t actually punish all of men’s desires. Predominately, it only punishes acting on those desires that society perceives as harmful to others. Interestingly, “others” can be male.
A buddhist might observe that the attempt to ceaselessly satisfy desires is itself the source of unhappiness. But I’ll stick to just wondering why anyone should feel caged in unhappiness if they can’t be “tweeting, raping, cheating, and being offensive.” Moreover, men decide for themselves to act on competing internal impulses – would you also describe that inner judgement as jail? By balancing the shaming of some males’ urge to rape with depriving men so fully of their personal freedoms that they’re trapped in perpetual misery, you’ve improperly calibrated the scales.
Society isn’t like a zookeeper that put “lions with the zebras in the same habitat,” as if men “tweeting, raping, cheating, and being offensive” is just as natural and necessary as a carnivore fulling its nutritional needs to survive. Society forms rules and customs to facilitate voluntary and beneficial interactions between a cooperative and social species. Not all moral guidelines are perfect (far from it), but they’re not set up “zero-sum” against men.