VOICES IN THE DARK Spencer, Merton and Homosexuality

A final paper I wrote for my Sociological Theories class, Master of Arts in Sociology (2009-2010)

  1. Introduction

“We shall rewrite history, history filled and debased with your heterosexual lies and distortions. We shall portray the homosexuality of the great leaders and thinkers who have shaped the world.  We will demonstrate that homosexuality and intelligence and imagination are inextricably linked, and that homosexuality is a requirement for true mobility, true beauty in a man.”

This is an excerpt of an editorial by Michael Swift, entitled “Gay Revolutionary” for an important gay community magazine, Gay Community News last February 15-21, 1987, which after a decade, it was reprinted for The Congressional Record, and since then, was repeatedly cited, apparently verbatim, by the religious right.  The editorial stood as “revolutionary” because it carried an angry stand against the widespread discrimination of homosexuals.  It remained that way, as when one has read the editorial, because the religious right cites the text omitting, as does the Congressional Record, the vital first line, which sets the context of the piece, that is:

“This essay is an outré, madness, tragic, cruel fantasies, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.”

It is from this perspective that, no matter how widespread homosexuality is, it still carries along with it a structural stigma of deviance, and with it, an institutional discrimination, that, regardless of the context which a gay man stands, is yet to be suspended.  Michael Swift’s inner rage speaks of every homosexual’s dream – of liberation.

From that global standpoint, Exene Tejano, in his article for AssociatedContent.com (2009), entitled, “Male Homosexual Culture of the Philippines” said that “Homosexual culture is a little different in the Philippines than its western counterpart.  Homosexuals, cross-dressers, and bisexuals are all labeled under the term “gay.”  “Suprisingly,” he continues, “in a Catholic dominated country homosexuality is accepted in the Philippines compared to other cultures, even to dominant American culture (to which Michael Swift’s inner rage proves so),” but he ends with, “but there is still much discrimination towards these people.”

Come to think of it, as to the acceptance level, say, tolerance, of the Filipinos with homosexuals, comes with a little indifference, when we can say, “Bay-i da sila,”  an indifference or complacency that also comes down to a subtle discrimination.  What brings this subtle discrimination?  Exene Tejano continues with his article by categorizing homosexuals in the Philippines.

First, the “Pa-girls,” the ones associated with the beauty parlor, into cosmetics; as to choice of a lover, they would want to be with “straight” (duh?) men because being with other homosexual men will be like being with another girl which would make them lesbian.  They’d rather call the fellow gay, “Sis!” (with a pitch!)  Included to this are effeminates, one who moves or acts, though not much into sexual acts, like girls.  The later is more stereotyped by gender rather than sex, or the preference of it.

The second category is the “Pa-Mhin,” the ones who don’t dress like women or act feminine, hiding the fact that their gay for fear of being unaccepted by society.  They usually live a double life, some even married to a woman, but goes out especially at night with his fellow “Pa-Mhin” or “Pa-Girl” boyfriend. (Such a mix up of terms, right?)

And third, for me, at part with “metrosexuals,” are the Urban Gays.  They aren’t ashamed being gay and are usually more educated than the first two categories.  Their outward appearance resembles that of the “Pa-Mhin” because he doesn’t like to cross-dress or look like a girl.  They usually have a successful career and have a normal open relationship with a partner.

  1. Spencer Speaks

From  Spencer’s Evolutionary Theory, here, we can see that there has become a “differentiation and increasing complexification of an organic or super-organic “body,” his term for social system.  True indeed that the social pressures has eventually led them to evolve, to survive (from external selection).  Following through his theory, the perennial presence of homosexuals in society and its perennial discrimination, even to the point of putting them to death for being such, has caused the “fluctuation of equilibrium,” (Gay Rights Movement in the 1970’s for instance) and of course, has cause “disequilibrium.”  Since then, the cycle of evolution, especially on how homosexuals react to the external social pressures laid on them, in general; they “adjusted and adapted” in more than one way, and has now come to an internal selection, of which now, in the Philippines, we have such “Pa-Girl,” “Pa-Mhin,” and the “Urban Gays”.

According to Spencer, in this cycle, “however, every solution to a problem caused a new set of selection pressures that threatened the society’s viability.”  This is how they followed through, since time in memorial, with the race for survival, and following the dynamics of tribal societies, to him, they have indeed, increased in population as they have evolved through all the external and internal pressures laid on them – to survive.

Question is why have they, homosexual regardless of the categories, have survived?  To Spencer, they have survived because as they “differentiate,” the society also “complixifies,” and as such, “differentiated structures” also survive and so, out of that, they assume “specialized functions.”  As Michael Swift puts it:

“We will unmask the powerful homosexuals who masquerade as heterosexuals. You will be shocked and frightened when you find that your presidents and their sons, your industrialists, your senators, your majors, your generals, your athletes, your film stars, your television personalities, your civic leaders, your priests are not the safe, familiar, bourgeois, heterosexual figures you assumed them to be.  We are everywhere; we have infiltrated your ranks.  Be careful when you speak of homosexuals because we are always among you; we may be sitting across the desk from you; we may be sleeping in the same bed with you.”

But again, the first line says the context, “of how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor;” they are never liberated just yet.  Michael Swift and Exene Tejano have said it so in many ways it can be said – they are still “stigmatized,” “discriminated,” etc.

III. Merton Saves

Deviance, for Merton, “is central in explaining how internal changes can occur in systems.”  For him, deviance is necessary for society to develop, to improve; not so much of its function as “dysfunctional” when it simply mirrors to those who are “functional” their good standing, that they are working for the whole system; much so, an affirmation to those who are “functional.”  For him, along with social integration and regulation, he grounded this theory of deviance to Durkheim’s “anomie,” which for him “is a discontinuity between cultural goals (“cultural ends”) and accepted methods (“institutional means”) available for reaching them.”  Here, the response of the individual to societal expectations and the means by which the individual pursued the goals can help us understand deviance, even with homosexuality.

With the element of how individuals respond to the pressures, he gave five (5) situations facing each actor: conformity, when an individual works for cultural goals using accepted institutional means; innovation, when an individual works for cultural goals but rejects institutional means; ritualism, when an individual rejects cultural goals but accepts institutional means, as such, the simply complies devoid of meaning; retreatism, when one reject both cultural goals and institutional means; and, last is rebellion, when one simply forges new cultural goals and means, a complete social change.

And out of the categories given by Exene Tejano, we can see how homosexuals, in order not to be in the state of anomie, have responded differently, that by which they can operate functionally in the structures of their society.

Using the diagram used by Merton to show the responses of individuals to cultural goals and institutional means, as to whether they accept or reject it, taking the context of the three categories of homosexuals here in the Philippines:

 

    Institutional Means
    Accept Reject
Cultural Ends (Expectations) Accept  

 

 

 

 

 
Reject
“PA-MHIN”

 

 

 

 

“PA-GIRL”

 

  New Means
New Ends
“URBAN GAYS”

 

 

 

 

The “Pa-Mhin” in this structure ritualizes his homosexuality, in such a way that he rejects cultural ends, that he is “male,” but accepts what is acceptable to the society, thus, he acts out he is masculine.  In common terms, this is called, “Silahis” or “Bisexuals.”  The “Pa-Girl” falls to retreatism, rejecting both cultural ends as well as the means; the individual simply is indifferent to his gender expectations, such that it is socio-culturally constructed; and since “he” is indifferent to the former, “he” assumes something contrary to institutional means.  But, it is not rebellion as yet because they do not forge so much, at least, in the Philippine context, change in the way society looks at them.  They just prefer to be externally recognized among the many stereotypes, such as “efem’,” “parlorista” in such indifference.  The “Urban Gays,” on the other hand, works with a rebellion, working their way, internally.  They assume a new end, an expectation from themselves, from where or what?  From the functions they can perform in the structures of society, thus, as defined by Tejano, they are educated and are successful career-oriented professionals.  Their means, then, follows, “taking control.”

Ritzer, in explaining Merton’s stand on rebellion says, “It is true that society will attempt to control these individuals and negate changes, but as the innovation or rebellion builds momentum, society will eventually adapt or face dissolution.”  This sounds radical, indeed, if applied to how Michael Swift puts it in his editorial, but true enough as how Tejano presents the “Urban Gays” – they are educated, they are professionals, they are rich!  If society “negates the changes,” “refuse to adapt or adjust” and continues to stigmatize and discriminate the “educated,” the “professional,” the “rich” “Urban Gays,” Merton will just come smiling and sigh, “I told you, people,” when society will eventually adapt or face dissolution.

Capture

  1. Conclusion and Recommendation

As I have stated in one of my essays entitled, “Operation: HANDS ON: Operating System Infestation Alert, 3000 AD (2004),” I said there:

“The Pro-Gay social movements should resolve a more “hands on” struggle. And this struggle has no need of a “loud” way of revolting against the system.  I’d say, instead of “irritating” it, why not “infesting” it.  Just like how a virus in the computer would work into its operating system.  I would put my point into a scene in a darkness of a cave (like the KKK) and then, all the pro-gay will convene a “secret” meeting, commissioning them to all the sectors of the society, deploying them to “make good” in whatever they do, if they can, make it to the top.  Then, after a long silent revolution, the majority of the people will just realize how naïve they have been all the time “operation: hands on” was taking place.  Take this “operation: hands on” to every little unit in our society.  They will realize that it just takes time and great control of their libidos, but they have made a difference on what they were sulking for in the first place.”

“In this struggle, they don’t have to put themselves in the bitter struggle to put the great question in life to torture by the society. They just have to do it – silently but “mercilessly” – better than the majority.  After all, reality is indeed working its way into this kind of “operation: hands on.”  We see them everywhere.  Only that they should “make good” to make this work.”

I have come full circle with my article five years ago, with Spencer and Merton, this time helping me out. Reading through the words of these two sociologists, society has structures and out of these structures, functions are necessary to make the society survive.  Deviance, be it criminality or homosexuals, or whatever, has functions, too.  Even in its dysfunction, it still has function.  Without function, anything and everything, anybody and everybody, will cease to exist!  That is why, as I read through my article, I mention prevalently, “make good.”  By all means, “make good” in what? Of course, in all our functions in society, be it, as Michael Swift has enumerated it in his editorial.  True, indeed, he said, “We are everywhere; we have infiltrated your ranks.”

To end, let me quote further the words of Michael Swift:

“If you dare to cry faggot, fairy, queer, at us, we will stab you in your cowardly hearts and defile your dead, puny bodies.”

“There will be no compromises. We are not middle-class weaklings.  Highly intelligent, we are natural aristocrats of the human race, and steely-minded aristocrats never settle for less.  Those who oppose us will be exiled.  We shall raise vast armies, as Mishima did, to defeat you.  We shall conquer the world because warriors inspired by and banded together by  homosexual love and honor are invincible as were the ancient Greek soldiers.”

“We shall be victorious because we are fueled with the ferocious bitterness of the oppressed who have been forced to play seemingly bit parts in your dumb, heterosexual shows throughout the ages. We too are capable of firing guns and manning the barricades of the ultimate revolution.”

“Tremble, hetero swine, when we appear before you without our masks.”

And just as yet, we forget the first line that opens this inner rage…

“This essay is an outré, madness, tragic, cruel fantasies, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.”

References:

Swift, Michael. 1987. “Gay Revolutionary,” Gay Community News, February 15-21, 1987. (http://www1.profile.org.ph/page/homosexuality/.

Tejano, Exene. 2009. Male Homosexual Culture of the Philippines, Associated Press. (http://www.associatedcontent.com/pop_print.shtml?content_type=article&content_type_id=281878).

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deviance_(sociology)).

Ritzer, George. 2004. Sociological Theory, 6th ed. USA: McGraw Hill.

Pampliega, Joseph Sylvester. 2004. “Operation: Hands On: Operating System Infiltration Alert, 3000AD,” (Unpublished, CPU Graduate School).

“ACTUALIZED” AND “PRESENCED” SEMINARY COMMUNITY Mixed Nuts of H. Peter Steeve’s “Phenomenological Communitarianism” and “my” Social Sciences from the Edge of the Cliff

Delivered during the Academic Convocation last November 3, 2010 to open the 2nd Semester of the Academic Year 2010-2011

The intention of this paper is to apply what I have learned from one of the philosophical papers of H. Peter Steeve entitled “Phenomenological Communitarianism” to the subjects I teach.  For quite a while, in fact, days already, I have been groping how to put things in order.  I was boxed into thinking I’d be more “philosophical” because, in my idea, that is how academic convocations are delivered.  For days I was left with nothing.  Nothing.  I wanted to take refuge at “nothingness” but I know I’d be more endangered if I grope at “nothing” according to the understanding of nihilinsic philosophy, when I know it is the “possibility of everything.”   At the last hours, I gave up.  I just want to have fun this morning.  I want to have fun sharing to you what I know from my side of the cliff.  If I fall, I guess, we will all fall.  After all, I am tasked – not to explicate the text of H. Peter Steeve – but to simply make use of it in the subjects I teach specifically – the social sciences.

In “Phenomenological Communitarianism,” H. Peter Steeve tries to solve three fundamental problems that arise, generally, from the theories of Communitarianism; in particular, by Michael Sandel and Alasdair MacIntyre.  For Michael Sandel, he said:

We cannot conceive ourselves independent…as bearers of selves wholly detached from our aims and attachments…Our roles are partly constitutive of the persons we are – as citizens of a country, or members of a movement, or partisan of a cause…Open-ended though it be, the story of my life is always embedded in the story of those communities from which I derive my identity – whether family or city, tribe or nation, party or cause.  In the communitarian view, these stories make a moral difference, not only a psychological one.  They situate us in the world and give our lives their moral particularity.” (p. 81-82)

Can you imagine yourself apart from a “community”? According to Sandel, the stories of our lives are embedded in the stories of those communities from which I derive my identity.  Here, it should be noted that what comes first are the “stories of communities” out of which our individual stories – “the story of my life” or the “stories of our lives” – are embedded and to which we derive our identity.  In my history classes, be it Philippine and World History, I highlight myths.  Myths, after all, are stories.  Question is: Are myths true?  Before we answer that, here are some examples of myths.

The Quarrel between Sky and Sea

“Once upon a time there was no land. There were only the sky, the sea, and the flying bird.  For a long time, the bird flew and flew, without resting, because it had no place to rest on.  One day the tired bird incited a quarrel between the sea and the sky.  The sea hurled big waves against the sky.  The sky rose higher and higher to escape the foaming waves.  The sea continued to hurl the waves to greater heights.  The angry sky then threw down boulders of rocks upon the raging sea.  Out of these rocks came the Philippines.”

The Giant’s Tale

“A long, long time ago, the world was a vast ball of solid rock borne by a mighty giant on his shoulders. For untold ages, he carried his burden patiently.  But one day he became tired and let his burden slide down his shoulders.  As the rock fell, it crashed into pieces.  Out of the fragments rose the continents and islands, including the Philippines.”

Are myths true? Are these stories “The quarrel between the sky and sea” and “The Giant’s Tale” true?  Myths are true! – Only seen in the eyes of our ancestors.  Myths are typically accepted factual depictions of something by some group of people at some point in time.  Ancient people developed creation myth using the knowledge that they possessed at that time.  Both time and place in which they lived constrained their knowledge.  Knowing these facts about myths or “stories of communities,” what do these myths tell us about who we are as persons?

Given that we are “situated” already such as we are in the lowlands or uplands, coastal or forested areas, how do we live as communities? Many of the elements of these myths tell us how our ancestors have lived their day to day lives.  The most emphasized is their economy, their way of looking for food of which division of labor is also determined.  Status as such can also be established from these stories.  There is so much information that as we venture to learn who we are as a community, we have to go back to stories – oral or written – by people who have lived their lives way ahead of us.  After all, wisdom comes with age.  At some point in my discussion, I asked one of my students in world history how he would understand this quotation: “Only simple-minded people would develop a myth about creation.”  Ask yourselves, would you bother making one now?  When science tries to solve everything for us?  I would be overwhelmed of the great intelligence of these “simple-minded people” who wasted their time trying to explain who we are as a people and never got confused about it.  We, nowadays, who have all the aid of science and technology, face more problems trying to look for an answer to who we are and still leave discontented of hard truths.

Here are some more important points to consider:

  1. Ancient people believed that they could not have created the world.
  2. Therefore, they decided that a power, superior to themselves, must have created it.
  3. At the same time, people saw themselves as the center of creation, perhaps because they knew the world from their own perspective.
  4. They formed a theory based upon their knowledge and reasoning skills.
  5. They have recognized that they could not know how the universe came to exist. However, they desperately wanted to explain it. Therefore, they developed myths.

Following through Sandel’s theory on communitarianism, Alasdair MacIntyre said that:

“I am never able to seek for the good or exercise the virtues only qua individual. This is partly because what it is to live the good life concretely varies from circumstances to circumstances even when it is one and the same conception of the good life and one and the same set of virtues which are being embodied in a human life…It is not just different individuals live in different social circumstances; it is also that we all approach our own circumstances as bearers of a particular identity.  I am someone’s son or daughter, someone else’s cousin or uncle; I am a citizen of this or that city, a member of this or that guild or profession…Hence what is good for me has to be good for one who inhabits these roles. As such, I inherit from the past of family, my city, my tribe, my nation, a variety of debts, inheritances, rightful expectations and obligations.  These contribute to the given of my life, my moral starting point.” (p. 82)

Myths, as it tell the “story of communities” – of the communities of our ancestors – as we try to learn it and put it to heart, completing our own stories; we become also “bearers of a particular identity.” That is how meaningful myths are.  It allows us to see, to share, to experience what was in the past.  History, including pre-history when there was no written records yet, are collectively shared to us now in the present.  As MacIntyre worded it, these are “the given of my life.”  These are truths about who we are that we did not choose and so, we cannot deny.  After all, our identities in our communal life as a people are intensified.

Having the two communitarian theories discussed from my side of the cliff, the three problems that H. Peter Steeve identified are:

  1. The “Disappearing-Self” Problem
  2. The “Intersubjective Good” Problem
  3. The “Constitution of a Community” Problem

What is the “Disappearing-Self” Problem? If we insist that our identities are determined by the consciousness, by the knowledge grounded on the “stories of communities” where we belong, how is the Self constituted?  Generally, communitarian theories put the Self as a “product of culture, of his or her communal roles, his or her traditions, etc.”  In view of Sandel’s theory, the Self is simply a product, more so, a character in the “stories of communities;” and for MacIntyre’s theory, the Self is simply “given” like that of a mathematical problem – it is given already.  No need to look for it, to think about it.  It’s just there.  Sociology affirms this possibility that man – human being – is just social constructs.  Given that they are “constructs,” they are conventional and arbitrary.  There are chances that, once arbitrated “null,” for instance, man will “no longer be man.”  And once such new arbitration is promulgated and accepted (without thinking), it will be conventional that what we constituted as “man” before it was arbitrated anew is no longer “man” in the previous sense.  People can play around losing sight of persons that make up society, the very people that makes society a possibility.  Worst is, as H. Peter Steeve highlights it, that “there is no self that is attached to others.  There are only conglomerations of attachments intersecting at a point which we label “the Self.”

Our community life here in the seminary might well be a conglomeration of attachments. You are simply a “phantasm,” a kinetic entity made potential by external forces beyond your control i.e. the seminary community or the seminary formation or the seminary as an institution.  Thus, community life has penetrated deep into the recesses of our spirit that it has become like water to a fish – essential to existence yet, if not the last to be noticed, simply unnoticed.  We need a nudge at times to get to notice it and value it once again.  We know we live with a community but at some point we get confused how to live as a community.  We get into trouble working out personal needs with communal needs.  We get messed up with what is good for one’s self and for others in the community.  Most of the issues we confront about our seminary formation have to do with community life.  Problems with our academic, spiritual, apostolic life, even our human formation, all boils down to how we live our community life.  Come to think of it, many of the solutions to these issues are, in fact, found in the community, too.  Everything is about the community, nothing, though how much we clamor, is about us – individually.  All is usurped by the community.  Your “Self” is disappearing in this case.  How should we deal with this as we fully claim our community?

Peter Steeve proposes the “Phenomenological Communitarianism” way, stating that, It is impossible to experience the Self in any way other than communally enmeshed. From the very beginning I am constituted as a member of a community – the Ego and the Other rises in sense simultaneously and my experience is always in the context of the community of Others.” Here, as he continues, “through reflection on experience augmented by phenomenological reconstruction, we discovered that the Self is experienced as fundamentally in community and that it is impossible to conceptualized our own ego otherwise.”

How is this “experienced” by ancient peoples? And how was the possibility of the “self” disappearing in the course of human history?  There must be something in history, in the “stories of communities” so to speak, in the interactions and relationships developed in the course of time and space.

In the language of sociology, the “disappearing self” can mean Marx’s “alienation” or Durkheim’s “anomie;” the latter is the primary reason why people kill themselves. Alienation and anomie were prevalent during the rise of industrialization most particularly when factory systems were favored substituting man’s labor to cold machines that are efficient and do not tire at all.  As all factors are doomed to contribute to the demise of persons in a system already cruel to the “fallible,”  there is much more reason to learn from experience – the very experience of the Self in a society – in a community – that does not care of its component parts: persons!  Where does the seminary community (society) fall at this point? Are we still in a preindustrial society or the industrial or postindustrial?  Or just about a mixture of the three?

“The self is constituted as a social entity, indeed, but the experience of such a self is universal, true, and self-evident. Consequently, we can appeal to the experience of a fundamentally communitarian self – a self that is always taken as a member of a community and that arises in sense with the other…The human self, then, is always experienced as a self-in-community.” (p. 88)  For those who feel the pain of a cruel society, this is where you find yourself doomed.  No matter how much you alienate yourself; no matter how society push you to anomie, you exist as a Self, constituted by other Selves; and constituting each other makes possible the “re-appearing,” the “constancy” of the Self no matter how communitarian theories plunge them as “products” or “constructs,” much worst, as a “conglomeration of attachments.”

What then is the “Intersubjective Good” problem? The questions posted by Steeve is: “Even if I am fundamentally in community and my Ego is fundamentally constituted in conjunction with the Other, why should I care about the goods of the Other and of the community?” and “Perhaps it is the care that we cannot conceive of ourselves as detached from our relationships, roles and culture, but why does this mean that we should care about the goods of those to whom we are attached? (pp. 88-89)

It is pointed that “there is individual first for which there is an individual good.” The constitution of the individual gives the possibility for the constitution of the good.  Here, goods are experienced to be fundamentally intersubjective.  Why?  Because “my good…necessarily arises in sense with the Other’s goods and the goods of the community of Others.  As the Ego and the other simultaneously arise in sense, so my conception of goods arise with my understanding of the other’s conception of goods.  We should act in such a way that takes into consideration the goods of others since whenever we act on any good, it necessarily is an intersubjective good which has repercussions for other people. Acting with consideration for other people’s goods is a way of acknowledging this intersubjectivity – a way of being true.”  To further ask: what is the difference between yours and my good?  Steeve puts it that “Your good and my good can be fundamentally related and interdefined while at the same time be neither identical nor unrelated. My goods are goods which appear to me as such.  This is not to say that they exclude the other.  For my goods appear as communally situated and enmeshed with the other’s goods.  But they are goods from my particular perspective and goods that are appropriate (possible) for someone like me.  Thus, when I identify your good and promote it as such as my own, this is possible because goods are intersubjective – they are perspectives of the good, where the other possible perspectives (other goods) are apperceived.” (p. 90)  This sheds light to the goodness of man in history, allowing the possibility of good to permeate all aspects of the community.  Better yet, when these possibilities of goodness are pooled together can generate progress and development.  But at some point in history, the “good” of the Other can be bad for us.  Such is the case when we were colonized by Spain, by United States and the Japan.  Their “good” subjugated us, put us into decades of suffering.  But just that, when we see the “good” of the subjugated – the Filipinos – we sought for a common good, a good which is independence.  We constituted the good of Others by working out our good, which eventually, becomes the community’s good.

The consciousness of this “good” may have been just recent but to our ancestors, this may have been, still, “face-value,” a “good” which draws life-or-death to them. Thus, their regard for the good of nature which has so much power than them, a force that can yield them life through the food it provides, as well as, a force that can yield death through the calamities that come from time to time.  Along this recognition of the “good” of nature, their own interaction and relationships reflect this desire for the “good.”  Thus, traditional values, mostly religious in nature, abound their way of life.  Every step of the way, their way of life is highlighted by rites or rituals celebrating the intersubjective good of and by the community.

The third problem is the constitution of the community. As it is put in the paper, “Given all this…if it is the case that the Self is experienced as fundamentally enmeshed with the Other (and the community of Others), and goods are initially and subsequently experienced as being intersubjective, how do I know the limits of my community and thus who counts for me?”  Continuing on, “while taking up and promoting the other’s good as such as my own constitutes the realm of moral action, how do I know which others are in my community and thus have moral possibility for me?

To answer these questions, there are three perennial problems: What counts as a community? How is a community founded?  What are the boundaries?

According to Frazer and Lacez, “Communities as entities can be identified in a variety of ways: as geographical entities, as groups instituted by ties of kinship; or as collectives bound by common values and/or a shared history…Additionally, or alternatively, we might identify communities in terms of some specific shared purpose or practice. Particular discourses and practices, ranging from complex, open-minded activities through to the institutionalized production and distribution of particular benefits, can be thought of as making distinctive “communities.”  Hence, we might speak, for example, of “linguistic communities,” of “interpretive communities,” of “communities” based around clubs or associations.  All of these cutting across other limits of communal membership and identification.”  Here, Sandel’s and MacIntyre’s theories on communitarianism tie with Frazer and Lacez’s view, out of which community is nourished by “stories of communities.”  But definitely, according to James Rachel, “Community” is a way of saying “all human beings.”

Given that, “how might we conduct a census of the “local community” or do a roll call to see who “we” are, and what are we to do with new community members – with on-going additions (and subtractions) from the community?” And, “Even if someone is added to the community, why should we care about him or her?”

Part of the problem is in thinking of the “new” community member as an “addition.” How should we consider the new members then, since saying, they are “addition” to the community is problematic?  Looking at it from the perspective that “such members are actualizations rather than additions and that their goods are not goods which are somehow added to my good, rather their goods are newly experienced perspectives in the communal Good.  What was before emptily intended is now filled; what was absent is present; what was apperceived is straightforwardly perceived.”

What phenomenological communitarianism tells us is that everybody is a member of the community even before we recognize him, even before the “new” member even thought of joining or coming to be recognized in a community. He or she is potentially a “recognized” member.  The coming out of or the “actualization” leaves us to hope for more “presenced” persons in the varied communities we have.  This also stretches forth – the “actualization” even of the “actualized” long ago and those who “will be actualized” is carried in the present moment of “actualization.”  This should give us – human beings of today – much to regard our ancestors and, in time, our descendants.

Now that we have discussed how H. Peter Steeve propose Phenomenological Communitarianism as it tries to solve the three basic problems of the “Disappearing Self,” the “Intersubjectivity of Good” and the “Constitution of Community,” let us examine how communities have developed or founded in history. And from that, reflect on how we are as a community here in the seminary.

How societies are classified?

In order to avoid value judgment, most archaeologists and ancient historians classify societies in terms of the scale of social structures and processes and the complexity of social organization. With these variables, social scientists are able to classify and characterize societies into:

Bands

  1. Typical form of society among HUNTERS-GATHERERS
  2. Small-scale societies, numbering, usually, fewer than 100 people
  3. Most members are related to one another by birth or marriage
  4. Do not have formal leadership
  5. There are few disparities of wealth or status between members
  6. Because most hunters-gatherers are seasonally migratory, they do not build to last and use only simple and easily portable technologies (nomad/nomadic)

Segmentary Societies

  1. Larger than bands
  2. Numbering up to a few thousand people
  3. Usually associated with settled farming people
  4. People are divided into several communities, which are all integrated into the greater society by kinship ties
  5. People build permanent structures for both practical and ceremonial use and they may live in either dispersed farmsteads or nucleated villages
  6. Have more formal leadership (than bands), but leaders usually lack real coercive power
  7. Sometimes described as TRIBES

Chiefdoms

  1. Are ranked societies in which these are marked differences of status between individuals
  2. Different lineages or clans are graded on a scale of prestige
  3. The whole society is governed by a chief who is a senior member of the senior lineage
  4. Control food surpluses and other commodities to support retainers
  5. Can command the labor of the whole society
  6. Chiefdoms have power centers with residences for the chief, his retainers and craftsmen
  7. Can vary considerably in size but are generally reckoned to have populations between five to twenty thousand

State

  1. Most complex form of social organization with considerable specialization of roles and settlement in cities
  2. Larger societies than chiefdoms
  3. Status is no longer defined by lineage as society has become stratified into different classes (agricultural, craftsmen, merchant, upper class including relatives of the ruler)
  4. Rulers have coercive power through the use of standing army
  5. Usually justified by political or religious ideology
  6. And by a law-making body to regulate society
  7. Subjects have duty to pay taxes
  8. Synonymous to CIVILIZATION

What classification of society is the seminary community? From that, we know what to do and how to get to where we’re going.

Talking about community here in the seminary seems cliché already. I cannot count the times I have discussed “living in a community” or “how to live as a community” in almost any of my subjects, even in English.  I would not even deny that I am obsessed with “living in a community” even until now.  (See?  I am still here!)  Much of my seminary formation was devoted to community life (Ask Fr. Andy about it).  Being here in the seminary until now is greatly because here “I have a community.”

Community life is culture. Be it seminarians, priest administrators, lay faculty, staff and the personnel, we were not only “thrown-into” – as in, passively without our wanting it – to the seminary community.  We, in fact, chose to be here, to stay here – at some point.  We may have been forced by our parents or by other factors beyond our control but eventually we chose to stay, in good times and in bad times, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, so on and so forth.  That is why we are all still here.  Those who are not here anymore, out of their individual conditions and decisions, have been part of our community.  That is something we cannot deny.  That is something they, too, cannot deny.  Each of us was, is, and will be present in the seminary, in this community.

I believe that community, be it the seminary or the society at large, is indeed, more than just a place. It is where human persons, constituted I’s, “WE,” make every possible effort to constitute the good in Others, in everyone.  In fact, it is a constant struggle for all of us.  Our day to day lives here in the seminary, regardless of our “stories” from the “stories of communities” we were before we entered the seminary, regardless of the myths we bring along with us, is bound to fulfill another “moment and movement” in history.

This community where we are “actualized,” where we are “presenced” demands so much from us – to continue living out its history and heritage for the past 140 years and still counting and to live out what makes us “a” seminary community.

Welcome to Classroom 1869!

This blogsite is my virtual classroom.  The blogs that I will be posting here are anything and everything that I have written before when I was still teaching, ranging from learning packages, modules, lectures to academic papers, and the likes, for publications or convocations, which, I believe, when put into context, are still applicable and relevant; and also, anything and everything that I will be writing about anything and everything on, or related to, the subjects or topics, I taught. – english and the social sciences.

It is my intent in the future that this blogsite will be collaborative.  I believe that knowledge is free as it is a power, and so, it must be shared.

As a teacher, I believe that teaching should empower the person’s mind, heart and soul in order to share the best of himself or herself for the good, to make things better, for a better world.  Always about and for others.  Always for the good.  Always for the beautiful.  Always for something better, if not the best!

As my great teacher in philosophy, Rev. Fr. Domingo Rafael Alimajen, Jr.  has taught us, “Liberation begins in the liberation of the mind.”