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Learning to See in the Dark: The Roots of Ethical Resistance

04/24/2009 6:00 PM Simmons Hall
Carol Gilligan, University Professor, New York University School of Law

Description: In this complex narrative documenting paradigm shifts in developmental thinking, Carol Gilligan defines the very capacity of our human nature-to have a voice and to communicate-as the grounds of both love and democratic citizenship. Dissecting the roots of healthy ethical resistance, Gilligan weaves together developmental psychology, neurobiology, ethics, and politics in ethical and moral decisions.

Gilligan provides an overview of the evolution of her research and thinking about gender as they relate to ethics. She recounts in her early research that she was initially blind to gender issues. These issues became strikingly clear to her after completing one study with men about their moral dilemmas relating to the Vietnam War and the draft, versus a group of women faced with the moral choice to continue to terminate a pregnancy. Though this experience she realized that all previous studies of moral and psychological development had been based on men only. This insight set off a body of research and publication that focuses on the traditional gender splits of thought verses emotion, self verses relationships and mind verses body, and the harm to both genders to operate soley within these separate and restrictive arenas.

From gender, Gilligan goes onto to study patriarchy, and looks into the societal issues on how the masculine qualities of thought, self and body have been elevated while emotion, relationships and body have been devalued, causing the psychological community to conclude that patriarchy is the natural state. Reflecting with great relief that "we now have a map," she looks at current political landscape offers insights into the election of Barack Obama and what it says about how our political landscape is changing.

"We are born with a voice and into relationship, and if those capacities are encouraged, not traumatized, then we are able to register within ourselves the feeling of what happens, and that's the grounds, the growing consensus, for ethical action, to be in touch in that sense".

About the Speaker(s): Carol Gilligan is an ethicist and psychologist currently appointed as a University Professor at the New York University. She received an A.B. in English literature from Swarthmore College, a masters degree in clinical psychology from Radcliffe College and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University.

Her landmark book, In A Different Voice (1982) is described by Harvard University Press as "the little book that started a revolution." Following In A Different Voice, she initiated the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology and Girls' Development and co"authored or edited 5 books with her students: Mapping the Moral Domain (1988), Making Connections (1990), Women, Girls, and Psychotherapy: Reframing Resistance (1991), Meeting at the Crossroads: Women's Psychology and Girls' Development, (1992) and Between Voice and Silence: Women and Girls, Race and Relationships (1995). She received a Senior Research Scholar award from the Spencer Foundation, a Grawemeyer Award for her contributions to education, a Heinz Award for her contributions to understanding the human condition and was named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 most influential Americans. Her more recent publications include The Birth of Pleasure: a New Map of Love (2002), Kyra: A Novel (2008), and, with David A. J. Richards, The Deepening Darkness: Patriarchy, Resistance, and Democracy's Future (2009).

Host(s): Dean for Student Life, The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated over 2 years ago

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