Listen now (71 mins) | This week, while our audio team is on summer break, we’re featuring an episode from one of our favorite podcasts: Conversations with Tyler, hosted by the wonderful Tyler Cowen. It’s a conversation with philosopher Amia Srinivasan about her book, The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century
This interview pretty much lines up with my aggregate experience with feminists in the real world.
This individual comes off more psychopath than philosopher. And by psychopath, I mean:
“Psychopathy is a mental health condition characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, and egotistical traits.”
Her quarter-million dollar education has developed her into a Marxist-feminist utopian seeking anti humanist. The issue I run into when listening to her, is being able to understand where that worldview is both:
b.) Desirable for all, or rather more desirable than our current model of society
Look I’ve only got a public school and university education so I know I’m missing something here, but it just seems to me like she came off as the epitome of an intellectual snob in this interview. Am I being too judgmental?
Tyler Cowan, bless his heart, does an exceptional job in staying on his line of questioning, defending his ideas, and making insightful inquiries. His guest, on the other hand, seems to wear her ideals on her sleeve and take umbrage with almost every thing he asks. Feels like she’s not acting in good faith because she doesn’t believe he is either (though I would venture that his tone, diction, and general demeanor would suggest that he is not a threat).
But then again, what do I know?
So now I ask you, TFP Comments Section:
In answering Bari’s call to listen to someone I disagree with, and coming out more opposed to her ideals than when I began, have I misunderstood the assignment? Do I lack the empathy I criticized this philosopher of lacking and in fact hold the same narcissism she does? Am I just the mirror of her?
Bari. Send help. I’ve gone existential.
Honestly is one of my favorite podcasts. I've also heard and very much enjoyed Tyler Cowen's precision of thought before. Amia is not a proper subject for debate because of her bad faith attitude to the discussion, her inability to answer simple questions without a disdainful tone, and an almost painful hyper-academic way of speaking that uses 10,000 words to describe one simple, and usually bad, idea. To be clear, it's not just because I don't like her ideas (when they made sense at all at least) but because she seems fundamentally incapable of a productive, interesting, grounded, and enriching conversation. Debates can be "difficult" in different ways and I like it when it's the result of new ideas that are challenging me to grow in new ways, but this kind of difficult was like having to bear an annoying sitcom character. In short, I think Honestly can do better, and I'd love to hear Tyler paired up with someone else to talk about these issues. Thank you.
Amia Srinivasan is perhaps unaware of what a caricature she is. She is so self-absorbed in the belief that she channels the absolute truth and secrets of the universe. She is the product of material privilege herself in having lived in so many places before entering Yale. Lots of book knowledge and proficiency in epistemological calisthenics create blind spots in her intellect. She refutes human nature. She wants to believe that sexual dimorphism does not extend to behavioral propensities. What is 24 hour child care? I may not be an Oxford professor, nor as well read in philosophy, but some very important learning occurs in the real world and not in rarified bubbles like Yale and Oxford.
This is painful to listen to. I commend Tyler on his work here with this woman. I definitely couldn’t have held it together and articulated the way he did. Her views are really out there on so many things and she struck me as very self centered. Idk maybe her opinions just really annoyed me and that’s causing me to view her negatively. She seems to think no one can really know themselves but seems pretty darn certain of herself! I almost just turned it off but I figure it’s really good to listen to others that I completely disagree with because maybe I could learn something and I try to keep an open mind. This was a tough one. Thank you Bari and Tyler!!
This woman is deeply insufferable.
I’d like to see a discussion between Jordan Peterson and Amin Srinivasan.
I don’t think Dr Srinivasan would enjoy it. I suspect it would be another Cathy Newman scenario.
I see this has generated uniformly negative comments. They may be correct. I myself object to many of Srinivasan's assertions, but I have to wonder whether I simply don't understand their underpinnings.
This is a perennial issue with me, because I have both an assessment that I'm not an idiot and incontrovertible knowledge that there are many people much smarter than I am. When Srinivasan makes an assertion that I would incline to contradict, and which Cowan does not contradict, is it because the two of them share esoteric knowledge and understanding of why it's correct? Is it rather as wrong as it sounds to me? Or is it a proposition that I could argue or agree with were it explained to me slowly in words that I can understand?
I wish I knew.
One thing she said that I appreciated is that she's interested in the extent that we can know our own inner workings. Besides indicating an epistemic humility that many of her assertions lacked, it's a question that I have always found fascinating. I'm fortunate to remember a great many song lyrics, and I've come to the conclusion that my favorite is from the otherwise-unexceptional 𝘓𝘺𝘪𝘯' 𝘌𝘺𝘦𝘴 by the 𝘌𝘢𝘨𝘭𝘦𝘴, where the protagonist asks of herself "Did she get tired, or did she just get lazy." It's the sort of question I think we all need to ask of ourselves, and often.
And of course it's worth mentioning that Tyler Cowan's erudition and ability to think on this feet always amaze me.
This makes me worried about your upcoming debate. If it’s anything like this… 😬
Very difficult conversation to follow, very niche, still not sure who believes what on the right to sex…
It's always helpful to hear other opinions - and occasionally acceptable to listen to someone who so screwed up that it feels like Srinivasan has been dropped onto the planet by aliens. She couldn't be more screwed up if she tried.
By identifying as a utopian (google spell-check doesn't seem to like "utopiast", she forces herself to assume that if people have exactly the same "perfect" lives, they will live in perfect harmony. She seems unable to understand that every single human society is managed by those that have power (through money, force, or other coercive means) over those who do not. That applies most obviously to the North Koreas and Chinas of the world, but applies in a different way to democratic societies like the USA in a frankly more insidious manner.
Therefore, her entire premise is impossible. If sex workers have the right to work as they wish, someone will be around to manage them and maximize their output to maximize their income and power. Elimination of gender will simply be replaced by a patriarchy equivalent...everyone must be queer in order for us to evolve beyond our historical tendencies.
I'd add her to my list of people that should be invited to go on one of Elon's one-way trips to Mars. That way, we'd be sending her home.
She is completely intolerable.
Bari must be involved in some very advanced intellectual efforting to have got any conciliating normative “resolution tunneling” from a feminist Marxian of her ilk. I thought her anti-normative normative norming of the feminist dialectic was, to say the least, illuminating on several key points, especially in the important area of clarity bias of the modern feminist “anti-feminist” feministing synthesis. That’s about all I got out of the talk. Verrrry deep. Woof. Also she talks like Elizabeth Holmes (low register growl) when on stage, which is really threatening to men. Score!