The Daily Mail and Me

(Title inspried by Michael Moore.)

When I was finishing up the Mom Job (below), I went to the Daily Mail to look for a similar discussion.  I discovered the following sickening article:

Anne Robinson and the bingo wings that won’t fly away

The smooth lines on her face are a tribute to the cosmetic surgeon’s art.

But certain parts of Anne Robinson are still in need of a little sculpting, as this black vest top reveals.

The 63-year-old presenter of The Weakest Link displayed a pair of decidedly crinkly arms as she went flat-hunting in West London.

(My stress)

So I decided to write a comment, which went (roughly):

Women are said to be much too much worried about how their bodies look.  Can’t think why.  Do you suppose articles like this one are part of the problem?

You can imagine my surprise and distress when it wasn’t published. When I wrote it, there were no comments. When I checked later, there were 22. None of them mine!

Still, I thought perhaps I punched the wrong thing or some such, so I tried several hours ago with a very similar message. Same result! What am I doing wrong!?!

Emotion and Cognition

Jender remarked recently that feminists’ work has been influential in the development of the view that emotion is not the enemy of reason.  Recently, Trends in Cognitive Science announced that it will do a series on emotion and cognition. 

I do not want to suggest that the series will answer all the issues feminist philosophers have discussed. For example, though I may be pleasantly surprised, I would not expect the series to recognize how contested so many of the terms are. A previous post here mentioned a number of ways in which terms like “rational” and “knowledge” are less willingly applied to women’s productions in the academic sphere (and others) than to men’s.  A similar observation can be located in discussions of reviewing journal submissions.  And, from a different perspective, epistemic contextualism strongly suggests that attributions of knowledge can vary for reasons that fall far outside the domain of neuroscience.

Nonetheless, if you follow through to the last paragraph, it is clear that cognitive science may lead to a dismantling of get another binary opposition. There will be important research presented and discussed, as the following except can suggest:

The French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote, ‘The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of.’ This message – that emotion and cognition are separate systems that seldom interact – has a long history in Western philosophy and science. However, the past two decades have seen a remarkable shift in this view as behavioral and neuroscience data have demonstrated that emotion and cognition not only interact, but that their integrative operation is necessary for adaptive functioning…

[We are starting] new series of articles reviewing recent developments in the study of cognition–emotion. In selecting topics for this series, an emphasis was placed upon representing work demonstrating fundamental aspects of emotion–cognition interactions that either have not yet received much attention or whose recent progress has not been reviewed recently. With this in mind, we focused this series along four broad themes or questions.

First, how is that processes generally considered ‘cognitive’ are altered by ‘affect’ and vice versa? …

Second, how do the neural mechanisms of emotion and cognition interact to allow adaptive learning and choices? …

Third, how might our emerging understanding of the interaction of emotion and cognition be extended to topics that are important outside the laboratory? … an open question is how are emotion–cognition interactions altered in psychopathology? Equally important is the question of how the links between emotion and cognition might be tuned through training and mental practice. In this regard, the power of meditation to combat stress and promote healing has been increasingly documented, and emerging work provides insights into the ways that these effects might involve changes in the neural systems underlying cognition–emotion interactions.

And finally, how should we conceptualize the relationship between emotion and cognition moving forward? Although psychological investigations of emotion and social cognition traditionally have proceeded in parallel, human functional imaging work has increasingly suggested that they depend upon overlapping neural systems. Why should that be the case? What do emotion and social cognition have in common? Part of the answer might be that social cognitive processes play an integral role in emotional appraisal, learning and regulation. That being said, and given our current understanding of the extensive interactions of emotion and cognition more generally, we might ask whether it even makes sense to attempt to distinguish the separate contributions of each in guiding behavior – or whether it is time to move beyond a dual process approach to more detailed models of their interactions.

… we are reminded that Pascal also wrote, ‘We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart’. With any luck, the articles in this series will illustrate emerging truths about how reason and the heart – or cognition and emotion – offer not just different means for knowing, but form an interactive partnership for adaptively guiding behavior.

Emerging perspectives on emotion–cognition interactions. Kevin N. Ochsner, and Elizabeth Phelps. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 11, Issue 8, August 2007, Pages 317-318

It is unfortunate that the journal is probably not available anywhere outside of an institutional library or a private subscription, because the questions raised and issues explored are ones that have impact way outside of academia.  Feminist theorists would be well advised to track it down, IMHO.  However, given my not wonderfully endowned library makes years of it available on the web to university members, I would expect it won’t be too difficult to find for academic feminists.