October 29, 2007

Woman: Born or Bred? An Excursion into Haecceitical vs. Existential Feminine Essence

The following was part of a discussion regarding Feminist Existentialism that I had recently with one of my “my space friends.” I have added and tweaked it here from its original form.

…so here it goes…

I firmly agree with you, in the truth that there is an existential-essence to a woman; which I would define as being that which she is “in the world” and that which she has become “through the world;” but as I said before – I also believe firmly that there is also a haecceitical essence to a woman that gives her a hypostatic existential base that is grounded in something different then schooling, business success, or cultural expectations. A definition given for haeceitical or haecceity is “the essence that makes something the kind of thing it is and makes it different from any other,” and one for hypostasis is “essential nature or underlying reality”

When I say that it is true that you were not born a woman but became one; I affirm that it is crucial to who you are through the fact that you are imparted a “cultural-DNA” and that forms who you are in an existential-essence; but I would also argue that you are in fact born with not just a physical-DNA; but that in being both human and a woman, I argue for a spiritual-DNA as well; and that it is this spiritual-DNA or haecceitical essence to a woman that in part guides/informs her existential being (being in the world/becoming in the world) also. I would go as far as say that that spiritual-DNA is not gender neutral; but inescapably feminine-oriented in aspects when it belongs to a woman; inescapeably masculine when to a man; though there is for sure – a great degree of blending. In reference to a recent blog post – I would affirm that this is a difference not in quality as in superiority vs. inferiority; but one of essence or nature; a part of our spiritual nature relates to our physical nature as well. This may seem controversial, but the scripture tells us- male and female He created them; and I think that to say that that gender differentiation only applies to the physical realm is a potentially faulty interpretation. There may be no male or female in Christ; but I believe that that speaks in terms of an affirmation of absolute equality. To say that my spiritual essence is gender neutral indirectly affirms that as I become more conformed to the image of Christ I somehow become more androgynous; which I believe is a preposterous and grotesquely heretical proposition. If anything – my gender identity is affirmed and made complete not just in its nature but the purpose of its nature. I strongly believe this is why the enemy so openly is attacking the idea of sexual identity in our modern culture – to separate the spiritual and the physical dimensions of a person either through mind breaking/spirit crushing abuse or crafty theological machinations invariably creates further brokenness and existential dissonance; and – while I am increasingly in the minority to say so -it is a disservice for clergy to affirm such brokenness as wholeness when their very role is to be a healer and not a pawn of socio-sexual political correctness.

I believe our society suffers from a Gnostic Dualist apprehension of compositional abruption; we either see ourselves as purely spiritual (haecceitical essence) or purely physical (existential-essence) and not our true quintessential essence; which is the haecceitical + the existential living and contending/interacting with one another within the framework of who are as entities. This contention between the spiritual and the physical is what I call “life”

Recent comments by the celebrated co-discoverer of DNA itself, the 79 year old Nobel Prize winner James Watson (http://news.independent.co.uk/sci_tech/article3067222.ece) have evoked unrelenting pure fury from both his counterparts and those from all segments of society; who have unequivocally denied the validity of his statements: when he said that Africans are less intelligent than Westerners in his words “All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”. But this should really not come as any shock; because it is a foundation of Evolutionary Theory (contra those who espouse an often derided and openly mocked I.D. or Intelligent Design approach) that only the strong survive – and the rest differentiate in terms of bad/good/better in ways that will secure either their continued conditional survival or impending causal extinction but always a further differentiation from something else by virtue of this ever ongoing process. The elephant in the room – which Watson is talking about – is that when you think in purely non-spiritual terms in terms of how the world/society/us came into being – if you are purely evolutionary/physical in your thought; then you cannot escape the fact that one race may, if not will certainly, be “duller” or less this or that then another. And yet – everyone is so enraged at what he said: they should not be; because absent of the accounting of a spiritual dimension in the articulated understanding of our society – this is the logical outcome; indeed racism and abuse of women; come in part from not just from the misapplication of bad religion – but also the wholesale divestment of it also.

And so – I see a need for us to understand not just ourselves – but our society also from not just an existential/physical-essence, but also a haecceitical/spiritual-essence as well. It brings not just a depth; but also a resounding strength in ways that I believe; we have not even started to fully explore and discover – both as individuals and as a society.