iSoul Time has three dimensions

Manliness

Harvey C. Mansfield wrote the book Manliness (Yale University Press, 2007) which is about manliness in the gender-neutral society. The author is a professor of government at Harvard University so the book is concerned with manliness in its social setting. The book is an intellectual tour de force that seeks a place for manliness in contemporary society. And the conclusion strikes just the right note.

What follows are some excerpts from this book:

Manliness seeks and welcomes drama and prefers times of war, conflict, and risk. Manliness brings change or restores order at moments when routine is not enough, when the plan fails, when the whole idea of rational control by modern science develops leaks. p.ix

Manliness is below the gentleman, since many manly men are coarse and rude, but I believe it is also above him in the unfamiliar uncelebrated manliness of the philosopher. p.xii

The gentleman, however, is an embarrassment to the gender-neutral society. p.5

How is it possible that men will let women do men’s work but no reciprocate and do women’s work when women are perfectly willing to let them do it — when women even invite them to do it? The answer is that men look down on women’s work. They look down on it not because they think it is dirty or boring or insignificant, which is often true of men’s work; they look down on it because it is women’s. p.7-8

Women’s manliness may take the form of appreciating manliness in men and — a further point — of censuring its absence when required. p.12

We have come to appreciation of the gentleman, the manly gentleman. What is he doing in the gender-neutral society? His chivalry is not only obsolete but also dangerous. The protection he offers women comes at the price of recognizing his claim, usually unspoken, that certain things must be left to men. p.14

To begin the search for a definition that will continue through this book, let’s consider what we like about manliness. Two things, I would say, for a start: the confidence of manly men and their ability to command. p.16

Manliness is biased in favor of action over reflection. p.20

“The problem is that men need to feel important” Exactly! p.21

Stereotypes give women an excuse for not being manly; after all, they’re women. At the same time, of course, they take away any excuse for a man who is unmanly. Manliness is an exclusion of women but a reproach to men, to unmanly men. p.23

The gender-neutral society we have been discussing rests on the belief that manliness, the quality of one sex, does not really exist; it’s only a stereotype taught to us by our patriarchal tradition, and serving the interest of that tradition, in which women are held to be unequal to men. p.24-25

In the case of manliness, however, the sciences on the whole confirm common sense; they generally repeat the common-sense view that the sexes differ: men are more aggressive, women more caring. This is no surprise, one could say — but no surprise is precisely the surprise. p.25-26

Men and women live for contrasting ways of life: men want independence, women want intimacy. When men speak, they report what they know or believe, as if lecturing in public to an audience. When women speak, they seek rapport with their listeners so as to connect with them. p.29

[The sexes] do not really listen to the other sex; even women, who are supposed to be listeners, mistake disagreement in conversation for hostility. The two sexes misunderstand, misinterpret, each other. The same action, say a polite request, that looks like subservience to a man looks like sensitivity to a woman. p.30

The fact that science cannot speak of manliness by its name tells us something about science as well as manliness; science wants to be exact and manliness wants to boast. Because science desires never to overstate a point, it has trouble understanding the human desire to overstate. p.32

Democracy, too, has its pretensions, and the main one these days is that sex differences do not exist. p.36

The scientific studies looking at the average overlook the best, and therefore also the ambivalence of the best. They want concepts that cover all instances of what appears to be “man,” but they forget that the defining qualities of man are those of the best man as well as, or more than, the average. In no case is this truer than in that of the manly man, who is inspired by perfect examples of his own type. p. 38-39

I think that manliness is part stereotype or prejudice and part common sense. One difficulty is to sort out one from the other; another is to go beyond both. p.41

Men have manliness to compete with other men; women use the manliness of men to protect themselves and their children. And if women consciously manipulate men for their purposes, men dominate women for theirs. p.45

“Evolution” is not a consequence of Darwin’s theory but presupposed by it. p.46

Darwin does not account for the species when he claims to explain “the origin of species.” He takes them for granted. p.47

[Darwin] does not really begin with the lower form; he knows beforehand that it is going to result in, and be capable of, science or intelligence. He begins from the awareness that the lower form is lower than what is going to evolve, a higher form. He is not, as he things, free of presuppositions but, in fact, takes for granted the intelligible hierarchy of nature somewhat as Aristotle laid it out. This is why he can speak of the grandeur and perfection of nature, and especially of man. p.47

Survival is self-preservation, which is self-defense, which pre-supposes that the self is worth defending — as it is. One defends a fixed, not an evolving, self.  p.48

Manliness is not mere aggression; it is aggression that develops an assertion, a cause it espouses. p.49

Pay attention, says the manly man, which means pay attention to me. Manliness is not mere generalized pushiness but rather a claim on your attention. That is why the male animal displays and the manly man struts and boasts. He has a point to make and the point is important! His aggression takes the specific form of an assertion of importance applying both to himself and to the matter he raises. p.50

[Teddy] Roosevelt’s stress on willpower retains the ambivalence we have seen in defining the manly man as either a loner or a take-charge guy. p.98

What interested these [feminists] in Nietzsche was the nihilism he proclaimed as fact — God is dead — and the possibility of creating a new order in its place. Nihilism, or the disappearance of nature, represented opportunity, and is should of course be applied to the sexes, as Nietzsche had failed to do. p.122

Since these feminists take no account of men’s greater strength, they also disregard the strength of women together with their contribution to civilization. In truth, strength comes in two kinds: men have greater force, women greater endurance. This great truth of common sense gets in the way of the nihilistic denial of sexual definition, so it must be ignored. p.149

Original Marxism argued, to be sure, that consciousness was determined by economic forces, but when events showed the economic argument to be implausible, neo-Marxism arose to say that consciousness might revolt by itself. p.150

If you have an identity, you cannot do everything; if you can do everything, you have no identity. p.160

[Locke] wants government to be sustained not by the virtues it promotes (as did Plato and Aristotle), nor by  principles of subjection (as Hobbes), but by hostility to government. p.177

Manliness is still around, but it has been rationalized into socially useful industriousness that helps everyone while satisfying the desire to win. Locke’s “gentleman” is on the way to becoming a businessman. p.180

Burke goes further than Locke to embrace manliness as the chief political virtue …. p.182

Society needs reform in the direction of greater individuality, and individuality for Mill is a kind of gender-neutral manliness. p.185

The lower passions and appetites are, to be sure, spontaneous to some extent, but they can be controlled, and to control them is more natural then to set them free. A human being is most natural when at his best, in a hierarchy in which the higher rules the lower. p.193

The fundamental social harmony is thus domestic rather than political, and it is achieved by showing that men and women fit together as counterparts rather than through their common humanity. p.194

Manliness exists only in its instances; the instances define it better than any definition. p.202

Our judgment on manliness has to take its bearings from the dangers it poses on both extremes, too little and too much. If you keep your eye only on one extreme, you back unawares into the other. p.236

Still, our experience only confirms the conclusions of Plato and Aristotle on manliness that the true way is in the middle between too much and too little. p.237

The personal, the real individual, should not be the political, the formal individual. p.241

Each virtue sets limits on the other and in that way defines the other. If there were no moderation, courage would be unrelenting hardness; and if there were no courage, the moderate person would not resist any temptation and moderation would be softness. p.242

Women should be free to enter on careers but not compelled–yet they should also be expected to be women. And men should be expected, not merely free, to be manly. A free society cannot survive if we are so free that nothing is expected of us. p.244

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