What Is a Man (And Why Does It Matter?)

What is a man? Vulnerable? Gentle? Powerful? Big biceps? Tall? Strong? Innovative? Loyal? Logical?

On the Left, more and more say a man is whatever you want it to be — penis or vagina, boobs or pecs, loaded with testosterone or almost none of it, masculine or feminine — it makes no difference. A man, or a woman, is a form of self-identity, freed from any biological constraints. If you say you’re a man, it’s my job to accept it and society’s job to validate it.

On the Right, more and more say that a man, or a woman, are constrained by their biology if not outright defined by it, and all of this talk of “identity” runs the range from irritating to an existential threat on traditional gender roles. Conservatives say that a man and woman are defined by their biology first and foremost, and that there is no burying or obfuscating that truth.

Who should we believe?

Not sure if Integral Semantics is a well-defined subdiscipline, but what the hey …

So there are two symbols “man” and “woman” and we are discussing how to attach meanings to these symbols. The questions that occur to me are 1) who is in the discussion? 2) what is at stake? 3) what are the consequences of one set of meanings versus the other? I suppose for an Integral Semantics, AQAL treatment is needed. A quick tour should reveal these symbols work differently in different quadrants, not to mention different levels in each quadrant.

I’d say this is dead on, Robert, and really forms the core of Keith’s presentation. He is offering something much more like a “gigaglossary” definition of “man”, rather than a reductionistic definition that always leaves something important on the floor. He talks about how a word like “man” gets enacted very differently in different quadrants — biologically, culturally, and psychologically (I’d also like to add socially, in terms of the various laws and protocols and social pressures that shape our understanding of men/women), and also how each of these can shift from one stage to the next.

So the word “man” can mean one thing if enacted purely from the upper right quadrant at the amber stage, and something else entirely if enacted from the upper left quadrant at the green stage. An integral definition, I think, likely accounts for all of these possible enactments, while also wrapping them with its own somewhat more holistic/comprehensive enactment that recognizes both the symmetries and possible asymmetries that can exist between each of these quadrants, while also providing a space for the most open, authentic, and diverse expressions of one’s manhood/womanhood.

You might enjoy this :slight_smile:

I just ran the word “man” through our gigaglossary AI, and here’s a few worldspaces it generated. Of course, there are any number of other coordinates we could do, but I thought it was a pretty good start!

A man as a biological entity
Orange, UR 3-p

At the Orange altitude, a man is understood as a biological entity through the lens of scientific rationality and materialistic understanding. This altitude represents the modernist paradigm where the focus is on empirical observation and the scientific method. A man’s biological aspects, such as his anatomy, physiology, and genetics, are studied and analyzed to understand his functioning and development. The Upper Right quadrant emphasizes the objective, exterior aspects of a man’s biology, focusing on measurable attributes like his DNA, organs, and biochemical processes. This 3rd-person cognitive perspective seeks to explain a man’s biological nature using empirical evidence and scientific theories, within the context of the Gross realm of the physical universe.

A man as a member of a traditional society, following established norms and roles
Amber, LL 2-p

At the Amber altitude, the man is situated within a traditional society that places a strong emphasis on conformity to established norms, roles, and values. This worldview is characterized by a strict adherence to rules, hierarchies, and traditions, and individuals are expected to fulfill their predetermined societal roles. In the Lower Left quadrant, the man’s identity and sense of self are derived from the collective and cultural narratives that define his role within the community. The emphasis is on maintaining social order, moral codes, and preserving the stability of the group. The 2nd-person perspective focuses on the man’s relationships with others and his dutiful adherence to societal expectations and obligations. The Amber altitude represents a stage of development in which individuals primarily derive their sense of meaning and purpose from their roles and responsibilities within the traditional framework of the community.

A man as a thinking, feeling being
Green, UL 1-p
At the Green altitude, the man is perceived as a thinking, feeling being with unique subjective experiences and an emphasis on personal growth and self-expression. Green represents a postmodern and pluralistic worldview where diversity, inclusivity, and equality are valued. At this altitude, the focus is on the subjective, individual experiences of the man. The Upper Left quadrant emphasizes the inner world of thoughts, emotions, and subjective experiences. The 1st-person perspective acknowledges the man’s internal dialogue, introspection, and emotional responses. It recognizes the complexity and uniqueness of each individual’s experience and values personal autonomy, authenticity, and personal growth. This understanding of the man as a thinking, feeling being takes into account his interior states and supports his psychological and emotional well-being.

A man as a social being, embedded in relationships and culture
Green, LL 2-p
At the Green altitude, the man is seen as a social being embedded within a complex network of relationships and cultural systems. This altitude represents the post-modern paradigm where the emphasis is on inclusivity, equality, and diversity. The man’s identity and sense of self are shaped by the social context in which he exists, and his actions and behaviors are influenced by the norms, values, and beliefs of his culture. The Lower Left quadrant focuses on the individual’s subjective experiences and how they are shaped by their social interactions. It explores the man’s internal world and the impact of his relationships, emotions, and personal meaning-making on his identity and sense of belonging. The 2nd-person perspective emphasizes the importance of dialogue, empathy, and collaboration in understanding and navigating the complexities of human social interactions.

A man as a product of societal systems and structures
Orange, LR 3-p
At the Orange altitude, the man is perceived as a product of societal systems and structures, shaped by the values and norms of the modernist paradigm. This altitude emphasizes individualism, rationality, and achievement, where success is often measured in terms of status, wealth, and power. The Lower Right quadrant focuses on the objective, exterior aspects of the man, such as his social roles, hierarchies, and institutions. This includes the economic system, political structures, and cultural norms that shape and influence the man’s behavior and opportunities. Society, in this perspective, is seen as a complex network of interrelated systems that help to maintain and reproduce societal order, and the man’s identity and actions are understood through this lens.

A man as a spiritual being, interconnected with the cosmos
Turquoise, UL 1-p
At the Turquoise altitude, a man is perceived as a spiritual being who is intricately interconnected with the cosmos. Turquoise represents a holistic and integrated worldview, where all dimensions of reality are acknowledged and valued. In this worldspace, a man is understood not only as a physical, mental, and emotional entity but also as a manifestation of the deep interplay between the individual and the cosmic. The Upper Left quadrant emphasizes the subjective, interior aspects of a man’s spirituality, consciousness, and self-identity. The 1st-person perspective acknowledges the individual’s direct experience of being connected to a larger, spiritual reality and seeks to cultivate a deep sense of union, purpose, and meaning. A man’s spiritual journey encompasses his search for higher states of consciousness, transcending ego boundaries, and aligning with the cosmic intelligence that permeates all aspects of reality. The individual’s personal transformation is seen as inseparable from the evolution of the cosmos itself.

I did enjoy it. To start with the easy level, take Saussure’s signifier-signified pairs. The signifiers “man” and “women” will link to different signifieds depending on development levels in the UL of those hearing the words.

Not necessarily an integral perspective, but drawing on integral among other things, I tend to favor process-oriented approaches to language over essentialist definitions. How do we come to use the words we do, in the ways we use them? Also, how do these usages change and for what reasons?

Really enjoyed this talk, and yes there is substantial nuance here which is well handled by Keith and @corey-devos 's worldspaces output/comment above.

There are 2 areas where the talk did not go and I’d be curious of the position/comments on these viz:

1 - The moral/issue surrounding changing ones biology i.e. going through the medical process of transitioning from a male to a female (and vice versa). These medical procedures have a material impact on ones body/biology (UR) with life long consequences … what should the age of consent be? Is this something to be encouraged or discouraged? What is a healthy position to take in this regard?

2 - Imposing ones chosen identity onto others e.g. if I am a biological man but choose to identify as a female, what right do I have to expect others to see me as a female? If I am mis-gendered does that make the person that mis-gendered me ‘wrong’? Or in a world of different levels/perspectives/etc are we to allow/respect each others levels/perspectives/etc. and be ok with being referred to as whatever gender the perceiver is perceiving us as?

Man is nothing more than an arbitrary and inconsistent subdivision. As with so many other things, all of what I have heard and read about sex and gender in all the ad nauseum discussions about such … are all just arguing over maps that always incompletely or inaccurately describe the territory.

To attempt some kind of all-encompassing definition is folly and will inevitably always only describe a portion - like looking at a broad canvas through a pinhole.

For man is not merely a man, but is also a hu-man. To describe a man minus the human is limited.

The chatbot missed crucial elements of being a man at various altitudes. Maybe it should have just printed out: “See human”, and then gone into specifics after that.
In the spiritual description of man - again - I see a bias based on the beliefs of the programmers. (Who I deduce are at Green).
The chatbot also completely skips over the darkness of man - see Conrad et al. It’s almost as if the the AI is at Green and trying to describe a Green vision of Turquoise man. Where is the real life knowledge that just “being integral” does not magically eliminate evil, or indeed even internet trolls. That darker aspect of man that Green does not like to recognize - it is still necessary even at Turquoise. Failure to recognize this is a major blind spot for Turquoise as well as underdeveloped Teal (unintegrated ultraviolet and red).
What is a man? From Beowulf to Christ. From Kurtz to Hitler to a soccer team crashed in the Andes to the Dalai Lama. From The Killing Fields to Mosh Pits to various animal whisperers.
The vast majority of this overlaps with “women”. Gay Man is also a holon of Man (or vice versa).

The root of the problem I’m seeing is this debate originates at Orange. My exclusive group wants to be more selective and exclude more humans. I think it helps a discussion to preface it with “from a certain point of view”.

Just wait till transhumanism becomes more prevalent. This is just the warm up discussion for that.

Well, yes - to me the discussion of “what is a human” is far more interesting than “what is a man”.

The second one is mostly based on conflating “me” (as in men pointing to themselves) and “man”. Many men may say "I am “this” and I am a man, therefore a man is “this”. Most importantly it’s a basic logical fallacy.
One solution would be to bring back the old names for categories of men: “The Dandy”, “The Fop”, “The Gentleman”, “The Tradesman” - as examples. These descriptions better facilitated establishing a typology of “man”.

With transhumanism, in the future there may be a typology of humans with varying degrees of biological and technical “parts”, but before we could make an adequate typology, first we would need the technologists to understand the current breadth and depth of human possibility beyond just a meat sack with a logic processor. One division I can see is technically enhanced bio organisms on the one end and biologically enhanced machines on the other end of the spectrum.

Please check this out and see if this would change the ideas on “What is a Man” regarding biology. This article is titled “Neuroscience Proves What We’ve Known All Along: Gender Exists on a Spectrum.” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/neuroscience-proves-what_b_6494820. The article talks about studies in neuroscience that identify differences in the brains of transgender men and women. Hopefully I have put this in the right place. I did not intend this as a reply to anyone else’s comments. Jenden Hunt

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I have legally changed my name to Jenden Hunt. It previous name was Dennis Hunt but I see I need to change this at Integral Life.