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Prompt 1: C

I found the history of baby gender colours to be quite an interesting tidbit that I didn’t know. How the colour blue used to be associated with girls and pink with boys. The colour pink was thought to be a strong colour while blue was delicate and dainty, which to me suggests feelings. Lieberman suggests a visceral response is easily made by attitudes and opinions being changed en masse. “Having beliefs and values injected into us from the outside” (Chapter 8, page 191, Lieberman). If ones belief is to follow religion then one goes to a designated place of worship. If one believes in a polygamous lifestyle then one might seek out orgy parties to attend. Lieberman assumption is that the self is collection of beliefs and unique ideas that is produced by our private inner voices. This is regardless to what the group believes, we need ti adopt our own beliefs. Lieberman uses a quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu to make his point: “At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” (chapter 8, page 188, Lieberman).

In Eakin’s Autobiographical Consciousness he suggests that Damasio’s and others struggle with the problem of “…how different stimulus inputs to different parts of the brain are bound together so as to produce a single, unified experience, for example of seeing a cat.” Like seeing a baby boy in blue rather than pink? Or a baby girl in pink rather than blue? I don’t think that the philosophies are more similar than not.

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2 Responses to Prompt 1: C

  1. Amber Chiac says:

    Answering Questions

    David, I agree it is amusing that blue was once associated with femininity and pink with masculinity. A potential explanation for this is that the color red was traditionally associated with war, violence and fierceness (the color of blood). This might still be true, think Red Car. Pink was associated with red so it was considered masculine. Also note that the Virgin Mary is traditionally dressed in blue.

    Yael, I totally think physical attraction is largely socially constructed. It seems purely natural and instinctive but so does taste preference, which we know is largely culturally mediated. We can have a negative physical response to a certain food because it is unfamiliar and a positive response to a certain food because it is a cultural culinary norm. If our visceral responses to food can be socially constructed, why can’t our visceral responses to colors, bodies, etc. ? Some random examples that make me think attraction is not innate:

    The global phenomenon of skin whitening cream in post-colonial nations in the global South.

    The contemporary “less is more” mentality reflected in architectural, technological and corporeal norms. It’s probably not a coincidence that tall glass buildings, thin sleek iPhones and tall skinny models are simultaneously in style. (This idea is from Stuart Ewen’s book: All Consuming Images: The Politics Of Style In Contemporary Culture).

    Adrienne Rich’s work on “compulsory heterosexuality.” Her questioning of innate sexual orientation and her insistence that sexuality should be studied as a “political institution” and a necessity of capitalism.

    Even though it has been banned for a long time, foot binding was popular in China from the 10th century to the early 20th century (long time!) Women used to strive to make their feet only 3 inches in length & 3 inches in diameter to make their feet look like extensions of their legs. I saw an exhibit at a museum once and everyone was grimacing at the photos and shoe samples. In a particular time and context, this was seen as very beautiful.

  2. I may have misread but my understanding was that Lieberman was saying that we are very much influenced by our surroundings and while we believe that we have unique, personal beliefs, we are misguided.

    I was thinking about this today with fashion and body image. I was thinking that humans’ perceptions of what they find attractive in a partner shouldn’t really change as fads of clothing and body shape do but, following Lieberman’s argument that we get used to things that we are introduced to, it sounds like it is possible.

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