Insights: Are we asking the right questions?

Can Women Think?

When Dr. des Bouvrie prefaced her lecture with the question, “Can women think?” the entire audience looked around with faces of confusion and some with disdain. It seemed rather preposterous that a woman would be questioning if she or any other woman has the ability to think.

However, her question opened the door to an important conversation about philosophy as difference and how to work with the archaic philosophies of many historical men.

Living in Exclusion

In philosophy, difference denotes the process by which one thing is distinguished from another within a known system. Additionally, as a result of human nature, we consistently frame our lives with this concept of difference through race, sexuality, and religion.

An example based on the initial question is that it has already been determined that men and women are fundamentally different and that men can think, making it appear that women cannot. Dr. des Bouvrie emphasized that we must not frame everything in exclusion and that we must “rearrange the deck chairs” and stop defining ourselves as what we are not.

The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are not thinking

– Heidegger

Are We Asking the Right Questions?

At the end of the lecture, a pediatrician posed a question about the body and its physiological responses to stress and how individuals can work through stress in different ways. Dr. des Bouvrie responded to the doctor’s question by explaining that medicine is already defined by the theory of difference and that we may need to start thinking about science in a different light.

I am not sure that I particularly agree that we should think about science in a completely different manner because I don’t know how much philosophy plays into an objective field, such as medicine.  That being said, the physiological differences between women and men are deeply rooted in science and maybe there is more to think about what we think we objectively know.

About the Author: 

14329975_10208871334533400_8417505479456758646_nSamantha Ernst is an undergraduate student studying Public Health Science at the University of Maryland with a minor in Sustainability. She is interested in understanding more about how different environmental factors affect health and plans to attend medical school upon graduation.

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