Sex, Metaphysics, and Mental 'Dis-ease'
Cook, J. A. (2012). Sex, Metaphysics, and Mental ‘Dis-ease’ (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/6196
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/6196
The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus believed that our metaphysics determines our state of mind: a correct view of the nature of human and worldly existence brings inner peace and tranquillity; an incorrect view, inner turmoil. More recently, Australian philosopher John Bigelow lamented that, despite over 2000 years of theorizing, philosophers have yet to reach consensus on a correct metaphysics. This thesis posits the source of this metaphysical discontent to be the Platonic/Aristotelian conception of essence (or form) as a purely immaterial, male preserve, thereby reducing woman to the material source, (Logical) properties and (sexual) demise of man’s essential being; this phallocentric misconception impelling a history of further misconceptions of essence, and of the metaphysical theories and binary logic based upon it. Through the construction of a genealogy and critique of various historical (re)conceptions and permutations of essence, I theorize the existence of an originary spirogenetic essence that causes, determines and motivates the (whole) individual, species, and sexuate form, function, growth, and development of every human being, the metaphysical and symbolic denial of this essence resulting in, not just inner turmoil, but some forms of mental disorder. Empirical research into female self-development and eating disorders yielded support for the hypothesis of a spirogenetic essence and essentially whole, subjective (sexual) female self, the metaphysically based, familialy/socially imposed denial, (de)construction and demonization of which is causing its fragmentation and loss, and the existential need to reconstruct this real, ‘de-formed’ sexual female self/body into the ideal feminine ‘form’ - the perfect pretend self - that will earn Paternal recognition, love, approval, and thus, ongoing subjective existence. While in modern, pre-feminist times, this perfect self was conceived and constructed as the sexual object of male desire, appropriation and control, in these post-feminist, post-modern times in which boys/men are reclaiming the feminine, girls/women have no option but to do what Plato advised, and ‘become a man’. That is, they must hide/erase their real sexual female self/body and attain the boyishly perfect form/function that promises (limited) imitative access to phallic subjectivities and identities. Failure to attain or maintain this perfect, pretend (prophylactic) self, and a consequent state of existential distress, is resulting in eating and associated disorders, as an inner, self-adjudicated battle to control, punish, purify, desexualize, defeminize, and thus perfectly ‘re-form’, the real ('Eve-il') sexual female self, as a means of subjective survival. This understanding resituates current discursive approaches to anorexia/bulimia as part of its pathogenic origin; resolution of these and associated existential (dis)orders requiring the metaphysical/social/discursive recognition of what Plato/Aristotle denied: a sexed, spirogenetic essence that is the source of persisting sameness and difference, fixity and fluidity, unity and plurality, and thus, of an essentially whole, subjective fe/male self that can only fully exist, develop, and be constructed within enduring bonds of unconditional, intersubjective recognition and love. It is within this spirogenetic model of human and worldly existence - as it frees patriarchal man from his forbidden, feared, feminizing, ho(m)mosexual desires - that I glimpse that long-sought Epicurean state of peace, contentment, and ‘ease’.
University of Waikato
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