Philosophical and Psychological
Foundations of Education
QUOTATIONS BY PHILOSOPHER
 

CAROL GILLIGAN

 

My Educational Philosophy
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Aristotle
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Excerpts from The Birth of Pleasure

The human world is far more transparent to us than is commonly assumed. ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


How do we come not to know our experience, our feelings, and the feelings of others? How do we become divided from others and from ourselves? ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


The nakedness of standing without a frame, in a new paradigm, carries the pleasures of freedom but it also can evoke fears of looking foolish and exposed, feelings of shame that can readily erupt into rage and attack. This is the moment when we are most tempted to return to the familiar, to restore an old framework at all costs—this moment of paradigm shift, of epiphany or sudden radical insight, the creative moment in the lives of artists and scientists, the moment when our ordinary vision is removed and we come to see that the old ways of seeing were mistaken, were blinding us to what we now can see. ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


The mystery of love will never be unraveled. ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


Trauma is the shock to the psyche that leads to dissociation: our ability to separate ourselves, to create a split within ourselves so that we can know and also not know what we know, feel and yet not feel our feelings. ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


Dissociation was an adaptation to a shocking break in a relationship, a way of holding a loss that was often said not to be a loss, a way of holding a love that quickly came to seem incomprehensible . . . ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


Dissociation is a brilliant although costly way of ensuring psychic survival. ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


. . . the sound of a voice that was free from second thoughts and instant revision . . . ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


Facing love had come to mean exposing oneself to what seemed its fated tragic ending. I came to see love as a courageous act and pleasure as its harbinger. ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


Love is silent, like water finding its way through the ground. ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


The real question is about love: if I love you, will you leave me? ~ Carol Gilligan, The Birth of Pleasure


 

Excerpts from In a Different Voice

Chapter 1: Women's Place in Man's Life Cycle

. . . we begin to notice how accustomed we have become to seeing life through men's eyes.

Implicitly adopting the male life as the norm, [psychological theorists] have tried to fashion women out of a masculine cloth.

Since masculinity is defined through separation while femininity is defined through attachment, male gender identity is threatened by intimacy while female gender identity is threatened by separation.

Lever (1976) implies that, given the realities of adult life, if a girl does not want to be left dependent on men, she will have to learn to play like a boy.

Intimacy goes along with identity, as the female comes to know herself as she is known, through her relationships with others.

Women not only define themselves in a context of human relationship but also judge themselves in terms of their ability to care.

When the focus on individuation and individual achievement extends into adulthood and maturity is equated with personal autonomy, concern with relationships appears as a weakness of women rather than as a human strength.

The discovery now being celebrated by men in mid-life of the importance of intimacy, relationships, and care is something that women have known from the beginning.

This conception of morality as concerned with the activity of care centers moral development around the understanding of responsibility of relationships, just as the conception of morality as fairness ties moral development to the understanding of rights and rules.


Chapter 2: Images of Relationship

Theory can blind observation.

The primacy of separation or connection leads to different images of self and of relationships.

If aggression is tied, as women perceive, to the fracture of human connection, then the activities of care, as their fantasies suggest, are the activities that make the social world safe, by avoiding isolation and preventing aggression rather than by seeking rules to limit its extent.

Women portray autonomy rather than attachment as the illusory and dangerous quest.

If the secrets of male adolescence revolve around the harboring of continuing attachments that cannot be represented in the logic of fairness, the secrets of the female adolescent pertain to the silencing of her own voice, a silencing enforced by the wish not to hurt others but also by the fear that, in speaking, her voice will not be heard.

The difficulty experienced by psychologists in listening to women is compounded by women's difficulty in listening to themselves.

The ideal of care is thus an activity of relationship, of seeing and responding to need, taking care of the world by sustaining the web of connection so that no one is left alone.

The images of hierarchy and web, drawn from the texts of men's and women's fantasies and thoughts, convey different ways of structuring relationships and are associated with different views of morality and self. But these images create a problem in understanding because each distorts the other's representation. As the top of the hierarchy becomes the edge of the web and as the center of a network of connection becomes the middle of a hierarchical progression, each image marks as dangerous the place which the other defines as safe.


Chapter 3: Concepts of Self and Morality

The common thread that runs through these statements is the wish not to hurt others and the hope that in morality lies a way of solving conflicts so that no one will be hurt.

If you don't grow up feeling that you ever have any choices, you don't have the sense that you have emotional responsibility.

The developmental ordering of these two points of view has been to consider the masculine as more adequate than the feminine and thus as replacing the feminine when the individual moves toward maturity.

As long as the categories by which development is assessed are derived from research on men, divergence from the masculine standard can be seen only as a failure of development.

Women's construction of the moral problem as a problem of care and responsibility in relationships rather than as one of rights and rules ties the development of their moral thinking to changes in their understanding of responsibility and relationships, just as the conception of morality as justice ties development to the logic of equality and reciprocity.

This ethic, which reflects a cumulative knowledge of human relationships, evolves around a central insight, that self and other are interdependent.

Women in some instances deliberately choose isolation to protect themselves against hurt.

To admit the truth of the women's perspective to the conception of moral development is to recognize for both sexes the importance throughout life of the connection between self and other, the universality of the need for compassion and care.

The moral imperative that emerges repeatedly in interviews with women is an injunction to care, a responsibility to discern and alleviate the "real and recognizable trouble" of this world. For men, the moral imperative appears rather as an injunction to respect the rights of others and thus to protect from interference the rights to life and self-fulfillment.

The proclivity of women to reconstruct hypothetical dilemmas in terms of the real, to request or to supply missing information about the nature of the people and the places where they live, shifts their judgment away from the hierarchical ordering of principles and the formal procedures of decision making.

The blind willingness to sacrifice people to truth, however, has always been the danger of an ethics abstracted from life.


Chapter 4: Crisis and Transition

"Crisis reveals character," says one of the women as she searches for the problem within herself. That crisis also creates character is the essence of a developmental approach.


Chapter 5: Women's Rights and Women's Judgment

[There is] fear that freedom for women will lead to an abandonment for responsibility in relationships.

Morality, though seen as arising from the interplay between self and others, is reduced to an opposition between self and other, tied in the end to dependence on others and equated with responsibility to care for them.

Describing a life lived in response, guided by the perception of others' needs, [women caught in the opposition between selfishness and responsibility] can see no way of exercising control without risking an assertion that seems selfish and hence morally dangerous.

Although inclusion is the goal of moral consciousness, exclusion may be a necessity of life.

A consciousness of the dynamics of human relationships then becomes central to moral understanding, joining the heart and the eye in an ethic that ties the activity of thought to the activity of care.


Chapter 6: Visions of Maturity

Relationships often are cast in the language of achievement, characterized by their success or failure, and impoverished in their affective range.

From the different dynamics of separation and attachment in their gender identity formation through the divergence of identity and intimacy that marks their experience in the adolescent years, male and female voices typically speak of the importance of different truths, the former of the role of separation as it defines and empowers the self, the latter of the ongoing process of attachment that creates and sustains the human community.

Instead of attachment, individual achievement rivets the male imagination, and great ideas or distinctive activity defines the standard of self-assessment and success.

Because women's sense of integrity appears to be entwined with an ethic of care, so that to see themselves as women is to see themselves in a relationship of connection, the major transitions in women's lives would seem to involve changes in the understanding and activities of care.

For a life-cycle understanding to address the development in adulthood of relationships characterized by cooperation, generosity, and care, that understanding must include the lives of women as well as of men.

As we have listened for centuries to the voices of men and the theories of development that their experience informs, so we have come more recently to notice not only the silence of women but the difficulty in hearing what they say when they speak. Yet in the different voice of women lies the truth of an ethic of care, the tie between relationship and responsibility, and the origins of aggression in the failure of connection.

The failure to see the different reality of women's lives and to hear the differences in their voices stems in part from the assumption that there is a single mode of social experience and interpretation.

By positing instead two different modes, we arrive at a more complex rendition of human experience which sees the truth of separation and attachment in the lives of women and men and recognizes how these truths are carried by different modes of language and thought.


 

 

 
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