Posted by: HAT | March 15, 2012

Definition of “Spirit”

image of Fishing Girl statue

Images of spiritual beings

Hi, Gang!

Sorry about not sending postcards from the Women’s Center and adjuncting since July. Turns out “a lot of work” doesn’t begin to describe it, and then there’s the fact that I began teaching the day the Sherman Minton Bridge went down to one lane for inspection and then closed completely for months and threw the whole region into “Shermageddon” and commuting hell – which wasn’t actually any worse than driving past O’Hare or taking the Edens to anywhere, but then again, we moved away from there.

So, not teaching this session, getting ready to teach “Women and Religion” again, but with many changes since U of L, so this has me thinking about fundamentals and how to introduce the idea of “religion” in the context of the larger topic. I want to say something about what it means for something to be “spiritual” in the context of religion, and am working with what I learned from Adorno (in AT) in thinking of this as basically being about subjectivity – spiritual things, like works of art, being things that come from subjects, and need to be apprehended by other subjects.

I cling to this, because it marks the first time I ever read anything I understood about spirituality.

In the service of this idea, I looked up the definition of “spirit” in the trusty Funk and Wagnalls, which is a LONG entry, and includes as one of the top options that part of the human that is “incorporeal, invisible, and characterized by intelligence, personality, self-consciousness and will, the mind.”

Because it is going to be a class on Women and Religion, and because I was making notes, I jotted down “Women: spiritual beings”

This caused me to notice: that the problem feminists persistently bring up – feminists, you know, the people who have the radical idea that women are people – about needing to recognize the full humanity of women, and to recognize the femaleness of humanity, hinges on the recognition of women’s spiritual being. That is, on the recognition of women’s subjectivity. Which is actually a core insight into all the forms of oppression, if we want to press on, since they all – class, race, etc. – involve the denial or deprecation of the spirit: that in the oppressed which is the province of the subject, incorporeal, invisible, characterized by intelligence, personality, self-consciousness and will.

This train of thought has been bound for glory for a long time now, it occurs to me, so I’m late getting on board, but then again, no one had ever actually said this to me this way before, so I think I’m sort of glad I managed to jump on.


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