Saturday, December 04, 2004

ad feminem

Some of those dropping by this blog have emailed me asking questions about my personal history: questions such as 'who are you', 'what do you do', 'what did you study', 'where have you lived', etc…

I must say that I am uncomfortable answering such questions for a couple of reasons:

(1) If I answer, I would prefer to answer truthfully, freely, but as it is a perfect stranger who is doing the asking, I would probably be inclined to limit my response and edit myself out of character, which is out of character.

(2) A limited awareness of certain snippets of information about an individual's personal history can lead to an unjust generalization.

Let’s say person A learns that B has made a particular decision at one point in his life. A, however, is not fully aware of the context of that decision or of its aftermath. He simply learns of the decision as a singular solitary all-meaningful event. For whatever reasons, cultural, religious, experiential, it become excessively significant. The result is that A then forms a categorical opinion about the behavior, intelligence, and morality of B. Indeed, A damns B to hell.

Another illustrative example is of a man (let’s also call him A) who is mugged in the street by another man who happens to be of Arab origin (let’s call him B). Now A finds himself beaten to the ground and robbed of his valuables through the actions of B. As a result of this encounter, A develops a world-view that says: all Arabs are thieves.

A is then not only a victim of the nefarious actions of B, but also falls prey to the bitter confusion of the inductive fallacy: an error in reasoning in which the premises do not provide sufficient support for the conclusion.

premise: Yesterday, I was robbed by an Arab.
conclusion: All Arabs are thieves.

Can it be that my unwillingness to answer questions about my personal history is really a deliberate effort to minimize the possibility of such generalizations?

Well, I don’t know… I do know that I deeply want this blog to be about my words, and not about the person who writes them.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

well done alia.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey you've got the same name as me!! Cool! (but im from Canada)

10:18 AM  
Blogger raf* said...


this is ... interesting. i keep sending the same arguments to people who keep insisting on finding out who i "really" am.

your words are powerful. i, for one, can't get enough.


2:52 AM  
Anonymous Nandini said...

Came to this blog via feministe...
and reading through archives.
seems that you have stopped blogging now!
but anyway, i am falling in love with this blog and the writer-, woman, mouse, cow whatever and whoever writes.

1:06 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home