Global cultures take-home exam one
Political economies: John Stuart Mill, p. 325
(a) “Women employed in factories are the only women in the labouring rank of life whose position is not that of slaves and drudges; precisely because they cannot easily be compelled to work and earn wages in factories against their will. For improving the condition of women, it should, in the contrary, be an object to give them the readiest access to independent industrial employment, instead of closing, either entirely or partially, that which is already open to them.”
This statement suggests ready access to independent industrial employment is a necessary condition for improving the condition of women.
(b) Mill argued that the only women who are better off than slaves and drudges are those who have access to employment. He even states that the women are better off precisely because they have the power to choose where and if they will work.
(c) If some women who don’t have access to independent industrial employment are nevertheless in a much better position than that of a slave or drudge, then the relationship is false.
Clash of civilizations: Samuel Huntington, p. 304
(a) “The future health of the West and its influence on other societies depends in considerable measure on its success in coping with those trends [of moral decline], which, of course, give rise to the assertions of moral superiority by Muslims and Asians.”
This statement suggests the West’s success in coping with the trends of moral decline is a necessary condition for the future health of the West and its influence on other societies.
(b) This causal relationship is one of necessity and not sufficiency because Huntington did not say the West will become healthier if the trends of moral decline cease. He stated pretty directly that the West must successfully cope with the trends of moral decline in order for it to be healthy.
(c) To prove this assertion incorrect, (1) the moral decline of the West would have to continue into the future, and (2) the West would have to still be healthy and have a healthy influence on other societies. This falsification is rather difficult because it would require looking at two trends over time – the moral decline trend as well as the healthiness trend. If moral decline does not improve over a relatively long period, and yet healthiness increases over that same period, then it can be said that the West’s success in coping with the trends of moral decline is, in fact, not a necessary condition for the future health of the West.
Achieving national independence: Ho Chih Minh, p. 43
(a) “If the cadres (peasant cadres and cadres in state organs as well) strictly adhere to these principles and strictly carry them out -Emulation in production to stave off famine, -Emulation in learning the Vietnamese language to liquidate illiteracy, -Emulation in assisting the army, and fostering the militia and guerilla force to annihilate the foreign aggressors, will be successfully achieved.”
This statement suggests the peasants’ adherence to principles of self-government is a sufficient condition for successfully achieving competitiveness in production, literacy, and military.
(b) Ho Chih Minh explicitly stated that if the peasant groups united and followed a given set of principles, then they would enjoy more prosperity. The latter follows from the former, hence the former is a sufficient condition for the latter.
(c) If an instance could be identified where peasants united in adherence to principles of self-government and yet remained poor, illiterate, and hungry, then this relationship will have been falsified.
Protection by intervention: Srebrenica massacre, p. 20
(a) “Whatever failed in Srebrenica, it was not the UN but its member governments, which might have intervened to save the menfolk of the town, but did not.”
This statement suggests the UN’s member governments’ intervention in Srebrenica would have been a necessary condition for the prevention of a massacre.
(b) The author explains several reasons for the massacre that unfolded, including, but not limited to fault of western governments. The Bosnian government certainly shares the responsibility of protecting Srebrenica. Ultimately, most of the blame should be put on the Serbs, since they were the aggressors. For all of these reasons, a massacre might have been inevitable, even with foreign intervention. Therefore foreign intervention was not a sufficient condition for the prevention of a massacre, but rather it was a necessary condition. The people of Srebrenica had many forces against them – and short of fleeing, in which case there would be nothing for foreign governments to intervene in, the people of Srebrenica were basically sentenced to death at the hands of the Serbs.
(c) In order for the above relationship to be false, a massacre would have to be prevented without foreign intervention. Certainly massacres have been prevented in the past without foreign intervention.
(a) Joe Elder, (Language, identity, and cultural superiority) p. 1 – “The virtually universal, fundamental conceptual distinction between “we” and “they” provides a necessary (although not sufficient) condition for ethnocentrism.
(b) Distinction between “we” and “they” is a necessary condition for ethnocentrism. Without a distinction between the group of people with whom one belongs, and the group of all others, ethnocentrism could not exist. Ethnocentrism requires a person to feel his or her own culture (group of people with whom he or she belongs) is better, more correct, or more natural than any other groups. This distinction between one’s own group and others is exactly what Elder meant in his description of the “we”/”they” phenomenon. The relationship between the two concepts is not a sufficient condition relationship, however, because one could theoretically distinguish between “us” and “them” and yet not feel that “we” are better than “them,” however unlikely.
(c) In order to disprove the assertion that distinction between “we” and “they” is a necessary condition for ethnocentrism, we would need to find an example of a society that is ethnocentric, and yet does not have the concept of a distinction between “we” and “they.” Since this distinction is essentially language-based, we would need to find a language that does not have that distinction. The first line of Elder’s piece states that “virtually all known languages” have a concept of “we.” This suggests that we do not know of any languages that deviate from that standard, meaning we cannot disprove the above assertion.
(a) Hudson, (The great issues) p. 141 – “Thus if we take the general question to be ‘Could we think as we do now if we had no language?’, then the answer is probably ‘no’ because at least some of the thoughts we have now involve concepts which we wouldn’t have had if we didn’t have language.”
(b) Having language is a necessary condition for thinking as we do now. Many concepts we have, including, as Hudson discussed, the idea of germs, are concepts that we are not likely to acquire without language. Most people have nev
er seen a germ with their naked eyes, but those same people probably know about germs. It follows that one can acquire an idea without sensing it directly – and a common way to do this is through language. Books, magazines, newspapers, online sources, and lecture are typical media through which we can acquire ideas using language.
It is true that some concepts we have may not require language, especially when one considers a child that does not yet know about language. That child, without the assistance of language, has a sense of fear, hunger, etc. Therefore, it may be possible to think without language, but thinking as we do now requires language.
(c) To disprove the above statement, we would need to find somebody who thinks as we do but does not have language. Obviously some challenges exist in trying to disprove the statement. Determining if someone thinks as we do would probably require asking her certain questions and talking with her, or communicating with her in some way at least, which would require language. Also, determining that a person does not have language would also be difficult, for he could be thinking “in a language” but no speaking it. We would have no way to observe this until we perfect mind reading.
(a) Charles Kimball, (When religion becomes evil) p. 23 – “The comparative study of religion helps us see such interconnections between religions, including similarities in how religions are used by adherents and even similarities in doctrines. … At one level, it is necessary to identify and describe basic facts about a religion in a way that is both recognizable to people within that tradition and intelligible to others.”
(b) Having described basic facts about a religion is a necessary condition for seeing interconnections between religions. We cannot completely understand how two religions compare without understanding the basic facts about each religion. This is not to say that just by describing basic facts about religions, we can see all interconnections. It is also necessary to try to understand what those facts about a religion mean, especially to those who practice the given religion.
(c) To disprove, one would need to see interconnections between religions without knowing basic facts about each religion. This is somewhat tricky, but it is probably safe to say that any observable interconnection between two religions is based on some fact about those religions.
(a) Karl Marx, (Quotations regarding religion) p. 1 – “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
(b) Oppression, heartlessness in the world, and soulless conditions are all necessary conditions for religion. Marx defined religion as the sigh of the oppressed creature, etc. This means that, according to Marx, all religion is a result of oppression, etcetera, by definition.
(c) Disproving the above statement is extremely difficult, because doing so involves much subjectivity. One would need to find an example of a religion which is not a result of oppression, heartlessness in the world, or soulless conditions. The main problem with trying to do this is that those conditions are not defined. Therefore, proving or disproving Marx’s assertion is nearly impossible without further explanation of what he meant.
(a) The most obvious practice in The Three-Inch Golden Lotus where men are the “oppressors” and women are the “resisters” is the entire foot binding custom. Throughout the book, the men speak of foot binding almost in the same way that many American men would speak of breast size. The bigger the breasts, the sexier the woman; the smaller the feet, the sexier the woman. Since men run the society for the most part, the women need to appease the men.
Many of the conversations between various men in the book make apparent the extent to which small feet are valued more than any other physical trait of a woman. For example, on page 61, Lu Xian-qing says, “Ah, Mr. Qiao, there you are wrong. If the feet are good, who cares for looks? Focus on the feet, and ignore the face. One cannot mind both at the same time.” As further evidence, toward the end of Chapter 5, Fragrant Lotus loses a foot contest. Granted, she probably would have won, had it not been for the special arched shoes that Golden Treasure wore. Because Fragrant Lotus did not triumph over the other women, her husband, Shao-rong, tried to kill her! This exemplifies how men are oppressing women through their seemingly insatiable drive to obtain a woman or women with perfect, small feet. Women must always succumb to this desire of the men in their culture. If a woman’s feet are not perfect enough, she might be killed, or she at least stands to lose her place in the social hierarchy. Fragrant Lotus’s grandmother was very aware of this fact, which likely caused her sudden death upon hearing of her granddaughter’s loss of the foot contest.
The foot binding tradition was embedded in many aspects of Chinese culture for centuries. For this reason, girls born into poorer families stood a chance of moving upward socially, as Fragrant Lotus did. Furthermore, a girl need not be “attractive,” as long as her feet were properly bound and cared for. On page 31, Feng Jicai explains, “The face was merely an inherited quality; feet were bound later in life and so were an indication of care and toil, skill and ability.”
(b) Where the foot binding custom is propagated by men and their “needs,” the actual implementation of foot binding is definitely a case of women oppressing women, usually women oppressing their children. Though Granny Ge bound her granddaughter’s feet so that she could potentially experience some success in a world controlled by men, Fragrant Lotus will always remember her grandmother as the woman who tortured her as a child. In fact, basically all girls who undergo foot binding have to endure a close family member, usually the mother, basically torturing them. Initially, Fragrant Lotus was extremely confused and absolutely hateful of her grandmother for binding her feet. After a time, though, Fragrant Lotus realized how important having bound feet was, and she completely changed her mentality. She once was a resister to foot binding, but then became an oppressor – of herself!
The extent to which the women depicted in The Three-Inch Golden Lotus are obsessed with making their feet perfect is amazing. Before, during, and after each foot contest in the Tong household, the wives, mistresses, and maids are very competitive. This is especially true between Golden Treasure and Fragrant Lotus. Golden Treasure often tries to disadvantage Fragrant Lotus, such as when she constantly calls for Peaches, preventing Fragrant Lotus from benefiting from Peaches’ advice. This competitive nature is understandable, since the women are engaging in a foot contest. The entire premise behind the contest, however, is to allow men to indulge in a show of fabulously orgasmic feet. Nevertheless, the women play in to this cultural system of selecting the most qualified wife. If all women, or most women, refused to bind their feet, then the men would simply have to deal with it, or kill the women, which might cause problems for future generations. Since the women are willing to bind their feet, stating that the women are both the oppressors and the resisters is unavoidable.
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