Gender Arianism again

Gender Arianism again April 9, 2015

My little post on Gender Arianism created some buzz. Some of the responses missed my argument. But that was partly my fault for making the argument so briefly and (perhaps) opaquely. Here’s what I hope is a somewhat clearer statement of the argument.

In Deep Comedy, I argued that there was a deep link between ancient conceptions of time as cyclical or declining and metaphysical commitments about (to use Derrida’s pregnant terminology) supplementarity. In metaphysics, ancient philosophies assumed that anything derived was ontologically secondary. In their conception of time, later was worse. Tragic metaphysics correlated with tragic views of history.

Trinitarian theology challenged the metaphysics, Christian (and Jewish) eschatology the philosophy of time. For the Bible, the latter days are better than the first. And for Christians this “later is better” is rooted in the ontological reality of the Trinity: That the Second Person is equal to the first in divinity and is the “radiance of glory” of the Father. There is no leakage of glory or divinity; derived divinity is as fully divine as original divinity. There is indeed “supplement at the origin,” but in the Trinity the supplement is no less than the origin. Indeed, without the supplement, there is no origin; the supplement makes the origin as much as vice versa.

Arianism remained in the realm of tragic metaphysics. The “Unoriginate” had to be superior to everything else. There could be no supplement at the origin, and certainly not a supplement equal to the origin, no supplement that made the origin an origin, no origin-defining supplement. If the origin is defined by the supplement, the origin cannot be absolute.

Now, my argument was that this Arian pattern of thought (which is just the common sense of paganism) is evident in feminism, and specifically in feminist readings of Genesis 2. Adam comes first; then Eve. That is an order, just as much as the order of First and Second Persons, of Father and Son, is an order. But there’s no reason to object that this is an insult to women unless you assume that later is lesser, unless you assume that the supplement is necessarily ontologically less than the origin. 

But that assumption is pagan (and Arian) rather than Trinitarian. On Trinitarian grounds, we might rather say (as I did in the initial post): The second is the glory of the first, without whom the first would not be glorious; the second (Eve) is the supplement that makes the first (Adam) an origin; the woman is the second without which the man is “not good.” That patriarchalists and others are also Gender Arians, making the same un-Trinitarian metaphysical assumptions, doesn’t change the argument.

Perhaps that clarifies the argument. I doubt it ends the debate. 


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