Friday, November 2, 2018

Chronology of the Life of Pauli Murray (1910-1985)

Nov. 20, 1910 – Anna Pauline Murray (she called herself “Pauli” from about the age of 20 onward1) was born in Baltimore, the fourth of six children. Her mother, Agnes Fitzgerald Murray, who had been trained as a nurse at the Hampton Training School for Nurses, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in March 1914, in the fourth month of her seventh pregnancy, when Pauli was 3 years old. Her father, William Henry Murray, a graduate of Howard University, was a schoolteacher. However, in 1905, he became ill with typhoid fever complicated by encephalitis, and he was never mentally the same afterward.2 In 1917, he had to be committed to the local mental hospital, and a year later was transferred to Crownsville State Hospital, where in 1923 he was murdered by a white guard, who beat him to death with a baseball bat.The guard was convicted of manslaughter, and was sent to prison for ten years.4

1914 – Pauli went to live with her aunt, Pauline Fitzgerald Dame, in Durham, North Carolina.

1926 – When Pauli was 16, she graduated from Hillside High School in Durham, and then moved to New York City to stay with her cousin Maude. In order to meet the entrance and residency requirements for Hunter College, which at that time was a women’s college that offered free tuition to city residents, she spent a year at Richmond Hills High School, graduating in 1927.

1930 – She married William Roy Wynn, but soon realized the marriage was a mistake, and they permanently separated. The marriage was finally annulled in 1949.

1933 – She graduated from Hunter College, one of four black women in a class of 247 women.

1937 – After the decline of a close relationship between her and Margaret (Peggie) Holmes, whom she had met in 1934, she suffered an emotional breakdown. She struggled with her transgender identity—she identified as a man in a woman’s body who was attracted to women.5 She was never able to publicly disclose or discuss her gender identity.

1938 – After she recovered, she applied to graduate school in sociology at the University of North Carolina, where her white great-great-grandfather had been a trustee,6 but she received a rejection letter that said explicitly, “members of your race are not admitted to the University.”7

1940 – Pauli and her friend Adelene McBean were arrested and jailed in Petersburg, Virginia for refusing to move to the back of a bus, thus violating state segregation laws.

1941 – Pauli enrolled at Howard University Law School, graduating in 1944 as the only woman and the top-ranked student in her class.

1943-1944 – She participated with other Howard Law School students in a series of cafeteria sit-ins, protesting racial segregation in local cafeterias and restaurants.

1944 – She applied for a post-graduate fellowship at Harvard University Law School, but received a rejection letter that said explicitly “you are not of the sex entitled to be admitted to Harvard Law School.”8 (Harvard Law School did not admit women as students until 1950.)

1945 – She earned a master’s degree in law from the University of California, Berkeley. After passing the state bar exam in 1945, she became California's first black deputy attorney general in January 1946.

1950 – She published States’ Laws on Race and Color, an extensive compilation of the laws of every state regarding racial segregation and discrimination. The book provided a valuable resource for the NAACP in its struggle against racial discrimination, and Thurgood Marshall, who was at that time NAACP Chief Counsel, described the book as the “bible” of the civil rights movement.9

1956 – Her biography of her family, Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, was published.

1956-1960 – She worked as an associate attorney for the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where she met Irene (Renee) Barlow, office manager, who became her close friend and companion.

1960-1961 – She taught at the University of Ghana School of Law, in Accra. She later coauthored with Leslie Rubin a work entitled The Constitution and Government of Ghana (1964).

1961 – She was appointed by President Kennedy to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, serving from 1961-1963.

1963 – On Nov. 14th, she delivered an address entitled “The Negro Woman in the Quest for Equality” to the National Council of Negro Women, in Washington, D.C., in which she criticized civil rights leaders for having failed to invite any women to deliver speeches at the March on Washington or to be a part of the delegation of leaders that met with President Kennedy at the White House afterward. She used the term “Jane Crow” for the twofold kind of discrimination that women of color are confronted with—discrimination not only on the basis of race (Jim Crow), but also on the basis of gender (Jane Crow).

1965 – She coauthored with Mary O. Eastwood an article in the George Washington Law Review entitled “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII.”10

1965 - She became the first African American to earn a doctoral degree from Yale University Law School. Her doctoral thesis was entitled “Roots of the Racial Crisis: Prologue to Policy.”

1966 – She was a cofounder of the National Organization for Women.

1967-1968 – She served as Vice-President of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina.

1970 – She published a collection of her poetry, entitled Dark Testament and Other Poems.

1971 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the plaintiff’s brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Reed v. Reed, named Pauli Murray and Dorothy Kenyon as coauthors, in recognition of their influential work on gender discrimination. Reed V. Reed was the first case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits gender discrimination.

1968-1973 – Pauli taught at Brandeis University, where she eventually received tenure as full professor in American Studies.

1973 – Irene Barlow, her longtime friend and companion, died of a brain tumor. Pauli decided to resign her professorship at Brandeis in order to enter General Theological Seminary in New York and study for the ministry.

1976 – She completed the third year of her seminary training at Virginia Theological Seminary, in Alexandria, Virginia, and received a Master of Divinity degree. Her master’s thesis was later published as “Black Theology and Feminist Theology: A Comparative Review” (in the Anglican Theological Review, January 1978, pp. 3-24). She described the strengths and weaknesses of black theology and feminist theology, and suggested that neither had yet fully explored the interlocking relation between racism, sexism, and classism.

1977 – She was among the first group of women to be ordained as Episcopal priests (on January 8th, at the Washington National Cathedral), and was the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest. She had been raised in the Episcopal Church in Durham, North Carolina, and her aunts Pauline and Sallie had been longtime members of St. Titus’ Episcopal Church in Durham.

1977 – On June 12th, in a sermon at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Washington, D.C., she said,

      “Jesus of Nazareth…treated women as persons of equal dignity and worth with men…When he visited the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany, he approved of Mary’s rejection of the kitchen role and permitted her to sit at his feet and listen to his teaching as if she were a male rabbinical student. And when he was teaching in the temple, he refused to condemn the woman charged with being caught in the act of adultery, saying to the man who had brought her in, “Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone.”…
      And women responded as disciples of Jesus, following him as he went about preaching the good news of the kingdom of God and using their own means to provide for him and his company. They followed him to the cross and stood by him during those agonizing hours of crucifixion when the other disciples had run away in fear. Women discovered the resurrection on Easter morning and went to tell the eleven; and according to John’s Gospel, Mary of Magdala was the first person to whom the Risen Lord appeared…
      The message of Jesus of Nazareth was that wholeness of being lies, not in superior status or exclusiveness…but in the ministry of love and service that recognizes human worth. And many women today, responding to that message, are seeking a theology which in symbol and language will help people to understand the wholeness of God and the oneness of humankind.”11

1977 – On Oct. 12th, in a lecture at Vassar College, she said,

“My own quest for freedom of self-expression and wholeness of personality in the face of severe societal restrictions imposed upon me by poverty in my youth, by racism, and sexism have had much to do with my interest in law and theology. In my earliest youth I sought to work out intolerable frustrations through poetry. As I became more deeply involved in the civil rights movement in the 1940s, I turned to law as a means of working within the system for social change. In time, as the world crisis has deepened, I began to realize that the law by itself is inadequate to cope with fundamental moral and ethical issues of our time, and this led me to theology. I cannot pretend that I have found a synthesis, for my feminist outlook sharpens the tensions experienced in trying to come to terms with a continuous struggle for authentic selfhood...The synthesis that I strive for is one that harnesses the creative urge to a vision of a more humane society and in which I can direct whatever talents I possess toward making that vision a reality.”12

1978 – She served as priest in several parishes in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, but had to retire at age 72, due to church rules regarding retirement.

1979 – On March 28th, in a lecture at the Church of the Atonement, in Washington, D.C., she said,

“True community is based upon equality, mutuality, and reciprocity. It affirms the richness of individual diversity as well as the common human ties that bind us together. The marks of a community of faith are communion, participation, mutual trust, sharing, and fellowship. A community of faith is both social and sacramental. As Professor Letty M. Russell of Yale Divinity School defines it, “Communion is participation with Christ in his work as the representative of God’s love to others, and sharing with his community in common actions of celebration, reflection and service to the world.” This is what we do in our Lenten season in a special sense, for following our celebration of the Holy Eucharist and sharing of a common meal, we reflect together on how we can respond to world hunger for human dignity as well as physical sustenance.”13

1985 – She was featured in a segment of Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” program on CBS.

1985 – On July 1, at the age of 76, she died of pancreatic cancer in Pittsburgh. She was buried under the same headstone as Irene Barlow, in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.

1987 – Her autobiography, Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage was published.


1Rosalind Rosenberg, Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), p. 39.
2Pauli Murray, Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1987), p. 13.
3Ibid., p. 72.
4Ibid., p. 73.
5Rosalind Rosenberg, Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray, pp. 55-60.
6Ibid., p. 4.
7Song in a Weary Throat, p. 148.
8Ibid., p. 310.
9Ibid., p. 373.
10In this groundbreaking article, Murray and Eastwood explained that the typical excuses or arguments given by employers for gender discrimination—namely, (1) the argument that, supposedly, women are only temporary workers, because they will leave work to marry and raise children, (2) the argument that certain customers or clients may prefer to utilize the services of men rather than women, (3) the argument that men may be physically stronger or have more physical endurance than women, and (4) the argument that employers may have to provide separate facilities, such as dressing rooms or restrooms, for women, thus requiring additional expenses on the part of the employer—do not, according to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, justify gender discrimination. (Pauli Murray and Mary Eastwood, “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII,” 34 George Washington Law Review, 1965, abridged version in Radical Feminism, edited by Anne Koedt, Ellen Levine, and Anita Rapone, Times Books, 1973, pp. 165-176.)
11Pauli Murray, “Sermon, June 12, 1977,” in Pauli Murray: Selected Sermons and Writings, edited by Anthony B. Pinn (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2006), pp. 67-69.
12Pauli Murray, “Synthesis: Theology, Feminism, and the Law—The Impact upon a Creative Writer,” in Pauli Murray: Selected Sermons and Writings, pp. 206-207.
13Pauli Murray, “Challenge of Nurturing the Christian Community in Its Diversity,” in Pauli Murray: Selected Sermons and Writings, pp. 210-211.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

What is Technophilosophy?

Technophilosophy (or technological philosophy) may be defined in a variety of ways. It may include the philosophy of technology (“tech philosophy”), the philosophy of engineering, the philosophy of computer science, and cyberphilosophy, as well as technofeminism, technocultural futurism (including Afrofuturism, Latin@futurism, and other futurisms), and other cultural or aesthetic movements embracing the philosophy of technology, the philosophy of science, and social philosophy.
      It may also be a philosophy based on, or supported by, technology. Thus, it may be a philosophy founded on, or supported by, computers.
      It may also be a philosophy aimed at promoting the use of technology (in various settings and in society as a whole).
      It may also be the philosophy of a technological society or era.
      It may also be a philosophy inspired by technology. Thus, it may be a philosophy of the technological self (e.g. the online identity, anonymity, or reality of the self) and technological others. It may also be a philosophy of the machine (e.g. regarding the ability of machines to think or to act intelligently) and machine-like beings.
      Technophilosophy may also be any philosophy disseminated by technological means (e.g. by online philosophy encyclopedias, journals, blogs, podcasts, or videos). Thus, it may be an electronic or e-philosophy, an integral component of the world of e-books, e-learning, and other online technology.
      Technophilosophy may also be a discipline analogous to technoart, technodance, technomusic, technoscience (including technobiology, technochemistry, and technophysics), and technopolitics.
      It may be conventional or unorthodox, aboveground or underground.
      Technophilosophy (and the philosophy of technology) may include the study of the ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, epistemology, and politics of technology. Thus, technophilosophy may include technoethics, technoaesthetics, technometaphysics, technoepistemology, and technopolitics.
      Peter A. Angeles (1992) explains that in ancient Greek philosophy, techne (art, skill, or craft) referred to (1) anything deliberately created by humans, in contrast to anything not humanly created, (2) any skill in making or doing things, (3) knowledge of how to do or make things, as opposed to knowledge of why things are as they are, and (4) professional knowledge of the procedures involved in making or doing things. Such terms as “technique," “technical,” and “technology” are derived from the Greek concept of techne.1
      Technology is pervasive in modern culture and society. Thus, the philosophy of technology may include the study of agricultural, educational, energy, and environmental technology, as well as film and video, financial, communications, medical, military, and space technology.
      Philosophers of technology include Plato (Laws), Aristotle (Physics), Francis Bacon (New Atlantis, 1627), Ernst Kapp (Grundlinien einer Philosophie der Technik, 1877), José Ortega y Gasset (Meditación de la técnica, 1939, translated as “Thoughts on Technology,” 1972), Martin Heidegger (Die Frage nach der Technik, translated as “The Question Concerning Technology,” 1977), and Lewis Mumford (Technics and Civilization, 1934). They also include Marshall McLuhan (Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964), Michel Foucault (Technologies of the Self, 1988), Donna Haraway (Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, 1991), Avital Ronell (The Telephone Book: Technology—Schizophrenia—Electric Speech, 1989), Don Ihde (Technics and Praxis, 1979; Bodies in Technology, 2001), Jacques Ellul (The Technological Society, 1964), Carl Mitcham (Thinking through Technology: The Path between Engineering and Philosophy, 1994), Fernando Broncano (Nuevas Meditaciones sobre la Técnica, 1995; Mundos Artificiales: Filosofía del Cambio Technológico, 2000), and Shannon Vallor (Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting, 2016).
      José Ortega y Gasset (1939) defines technology as the improvement brought about by us on nature for the satisfaction of our necessities.2 It is also a reform of those aspects of nature that place us in need. Thus, the concept of human necessity is fundamental to our understanding of technology.3 The mission of technology consists in releasing us for the task of being ourselves.4
      Michel Foucault (1988) says there are four major types of techniques or technologies that we can use to understand ourselves: (1) technologies of production, which permit us to produce, transform, or manipulate things, (2) technologies of sign systems, which permit us to use signs and symbols to communicate meanings, (3) technologies of power, which determine our conduct and submit us to certain ends, and (4) technologies of the self, which permit us “to effect by [our] own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on [our] own bodies and souls, conduct, and way[s] of being, so as to transform [ourselves] in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality.”5
      Foucault says these four types of technologies hardly ever function separately, although each of them may imply a certain mode of training or modification, not only in the sense of our acquiring certain skills, but also in the sense of our acquiring certain attitudes.6
      Carl Mitcham (1994) distinguishes between the engineering philosophy of technology and the humanities philosophy of technology. The former begins with an analysis of the nature of technology itself, while the latter begins with an analysis of the relation of technology to art, literature, ethics, politics, and religion.7
      Thomas A.C. Reydon (2018) describes three approaches to (or ways of conceiving) the philosophy of technology: (1) as systematic clarification of the nature of technology, (2) as systematic reflection on the consequences of technology for human life, and (3) as systematic investigation of the practices of engineering, invention, designing, and making of things.8
      Frederick Ferré (1995) describes a number of possible questions regarding the use of current technologies, such as (1) What should be the role of technology such as robotics and automation in the workplace? (These technologies may in some cases cause workers to lose their jobs, their sense of personal autonomy, or their input regarding their job duties.) (2) What are the risks of relying completely on computers? (In addition to security and privacy concerns, there may be concerns regarding responsibility for error when computers are required to make important decisions.) (3) What limits should be set on the development of nuclear technology? (4) What kinds of technologies need to be transferred to developing countries? (5) What limits should be imposed on genetic engineering and the development of reproductive technology?9
      David E. Nye (2006) asks, “Do we control technology or does technology control us?” Do we shape the machines and systems that surround us or are we shaped by them? (According to social constructivists, technology is shaped by us, but according to technological determinists or constructivists, we are determined or shaped by technology.) Are we using technology to destroy the natural world or to protect it? Are we trying through technology to undermine democracy or to enhance it? Are we trying to make the world more secure or to make it more dangerous?10
      Concerns that may arise regarding the use of new or existing technologies include their ability to fulfill particular needs, their impact on quality of life, their impact on human health, their impact on social equity (who will benefit from them, and who won’t?), their expense, their cost effectiveness, their ability to support economic growth, their environmental sustainability, their use of renewable or nonrenewable natural resources, and their energy efficiency.
      The risks of technology may include the rise of a technocracy (a non-elected ruling class of technicians or a technoelite) whose decisions can, or could, in innumerable ways, impact our daily lives. In politics, a technocracy (as opposed to a democracy, but perhaps in some ways similar to an aristocracy or plutocracy) might take the form of a government ruled or dominated by a class of technological executives or corporate directors. A technocracy might also be a government based on or guided by technological principles, or a form of control of (public, social, and cultural) resources and institutions by technological executives, companies, or industries.
      Technophilosophy should therefore not be left to fall into the hands of a wealthy and powerful technoelite. Technophilosophy may be avant-garde or futuristic in its embrace of technology and its interest in finding new ways of doing philosophy, but it should not avoid the responsibility to recognize and attempt to remediate social and cultural factors that contribute to inequitable access to technology. Another responsibility of technophilosophy may be that of recognizing, questioning, and challenging the methods by which technology becomes a means of social control.
      Other risks or possible pitfalls for technophilosophy (and for philosophy of technology) include technicism and technocentrism. Technicism, as defined by Egbert Schuurman (1997), is the attitude that all problems can be solved by scientific-technological methods.11 (Technicism may be analogous to scientism, the attitude that all questions can be answered, and all problems can be solved, by scientific methods.) Schuurman explains that among the risks of technicism in the field of genetic engineering are that it may result in the technicization of living organisms, resulting in the loss of genetic and bio-diversity. This may in turn lead to a possible increase in susceptibility of genetically engineered organisms to unknown diseases. If we accept the technological model for plants, animals, and human beings, says Schuurman, then we may see them merely as technological artifacts that we can manipulate, and we may neglect their dignity and integrity.12
      Technocentrism, as defined by to Seymour Papert (1988), is the attitude that all questions center on the uses of technology.13 Technocentrism may focus on technological solutions to educational, economic, social, and cultural problems, to the extent that it disregards or neglects non-technological kinds of solutions.
      Cyberphilosophy has been described as the intersection of philosophy and computing.14 Cyberphilosophy may include cyberethics (including the ethics of hacking, identity theft, violations of privacy, and so on), cyberaesthetics (including the aesthetics of computer hardware, architecture, programming, and website design), cybermetaphysics (concerning the nature of cyberspace, computer-generated worlds, and virtual reality), cyberepistemology (concerning the relation between computing and the theory of knowledge, and also concerning the kind of collective building and sharing of knowledge that’s represented by openly editable websites like Wikipedia), cyberpolitics (including cyberactivism, journalism, and blogging regarding such issues as internet censorship, access, and net neutrality), and cyberphilosophy of mind (including examination of the relation between computation and thinking or consciousness). Cyberphilosophy may also be concerned with human-computer interaction, and with cyberculture studies.
      Technofeminism, according to Judy Wajcman (2004), may examine the role that gender plays in technology and the ways in which technology is gendered. It may also investigate and interrogate the sexual politics of technology, and it may examine the relationship between woman and machine.15
      The technosphere (the technological context in which we live16) consists of all the structures we’ve built in order to help us survive on the planet.17 It includes such structures as highways, buildings, machines, tools, equipment, and computer systems. The other spheres of the Earth are the lithosphere (the solid surface layer of the Earth), the atmosphere (the layer of air that stretches above the lithosphere), the hydrosphere (the Earth’s water—on the surface, in the ground, and in the air), and the biosphere (the part of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere that supports life). The physical technosphere includes the urban, rural, subterranean, marine, and aerial technospheres. Components of the technosphere include artifacts that may eventually become technofossils (preserved material remains of technological artifacts, which we may find nearly everywhere).18


1Peter A. Angeles, The HarperCollins Dictionary of Philosophy (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992), p. 308.
2José Ortega y Gasset, “Thoughts on Technology” [1939], in Philosophy and Technology: Readings in the Philosophical Problems of Technology, edited by Carl Mitcham and Robert Mackey (London:  Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1972), p. 292.
3Ibid., p. 294.
4Ibid., p. 300.
5Michel Foucault, “Technologies of the Self,” in Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault, edited by Luther H. martin, Huck Gutman, and Patrick H. Hutton (London: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988, p. 18.
6Ibid., p. 18.
7Carl Mitcham, Thinking through Technology: The Path between Engineering and Philosophy (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 62.
8Thomas A.C. Reydon, “Philosophy of Technology,” in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN 2161-0002,, 2018.
9Frederick Ferré, Philosophy of Technology (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1995).
10David E. Nye, Technology Matters: Questions to Live With (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006), p. x.
11Egbert Schuurman, “Philosophical and Ethical Problems of Technicism and Genetic Engineering,” in Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, Fall 1997, Vol. 3, No. 1, online at
13Seymour Papert, “A Critique of Technocentrism in Thinking About the School of the Future,” in Children in the Information Age, 1988, pp. 2-18, online at
14James H. Moor and Terrell Ward Bynum, “Introduction to Cyberphilosophy,” in Metaphilosophy, Vol. 33, Nos. 1/2, January 2002, p. 26.
15Judy Wajcman, Technofeminsim (Malden: Polity Press, 2004).
16Ferré, Philosophy of Technology (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1995), p. 1.
17University of Leicester, “Earth’s ‘technosphere’ now weighs 30 trillion tons, research finds,” Nov. 30, 1016, Phys.Org, online at
18Jan Zalasiewicz, et al., “Scale and Diversity of the Physical Technosphere: A Geological Perspective, “ in The Anthropocene Review, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Nov. 28, 2016, pp. 9-22.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Frames as Ways of Seeing the World

Some possible definitions of the word “frame” include (1) “a rigid structure surrounding a picture, door, or windowpane,” (2) ”a metal or plastic structure holding the lenses of a pair of glasses,” and (3) “a rigid supporting structure of a vehicle, aircraft, or other object.” Other possible definitions include (4) “a person’s body, with reference to its size or build,” (5) "a basic underlying structure of a system, concept, or text,” and (6) “a single complete picture in a series forming a cinema, television, or video film.”1  
       Erving Goffman, a noted Canadian-American sociologist who, in his book Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience (1974), explores the extent to which social frameworks enable us to organize and interpret experience, describes frames as principles of organization that govern our subjective involvement in events. Frame analysis is thus the examination of those principles of organization.2 Some frames are neatly ordered and arranged as systems of rules, while others are more loosely arranged and articulated. Frames may be primary or secondary, implicit or explicit, and they may function as guides to our understanding of social events or situations. Every social group may utilize its own frames (viewpoints, attitudes, or belief systems) for the purpose of dealing with and understanding social reality.
      Goffman says that framing may be subject to vagueness, ambiguity, or error, which may lead to uncertainty or dispute regarding whether a given event or situation has been correctly framed. There may also be uncertainty or dispute regarding the nature and range of subjects that can be included within a given frame, and the nature and range of viewpoints that can be accommodated by a given frame. Thus, some interpreters may describe some examples of framing (of intuitions, perceptions, concepts, etc.) as examples of misreading or misframing.
       Goffman also says that a frame “organizes more than meaning; it also organizes involvement…All frames involve expectations of a normative kind as to how deeply and fully the individual is to be carried into the activity organized by the frames. [And] Of course, frames differ quite widely in the involvement prescribed for participants sustaining them.”3
      Charles J. Fillmore (1976), an American linguist who founded frame semantics, describes framing as “the appeal, in perceiving, thinking, and communicating, to structured ways of interpreting experiences.”4 He says that “in characterizing a language system we must add to the description of grammar and lexicon a description of the cognitive and interactional "frames" in terms of which the language-user interprets his environment, formulates his own messages, understands the messages of others, and accumulates or creates an internal model of his world.”5
      Robert M. Entman (1993), an American political scientist, public policy analyst, and communication theorist, describes framing as an activity in which some aspects of a perceived reality are "made more salient in a communicating text in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item[s] described.”6
      George Lakoff (2004), an American cognitive scientist and linguist, explains that

      “Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions. In politics, our frames shape our social policies and the institutions we form to carry out policies. To change our frames is to change all of this. Reframing is social change.”7

      So, what kinds of frames are there? What kinds of things can be framed? What is or can be inside or outside a frame? How does a frame demarcate the inside from the outside, the delimited from the undelimited, the defined from the undefined?
      Frames may be cognitive or psychological, linguistic or conceptual, semantic or pragmatic, theoretical or practical. They may also be elemental or structural, literal or metaphorical, contemporary or historical, vertical or horizontal, cross-sectional or longitudinal.
      Frames may also be visual, textual, conversational, literary, theatrical, cinematic, social, or cultural.
      When we frame something we may be presenting a particular way of looking at it or delineating a particular perspective from which it may be viewed. We may also be defining the terms in which it may be examined, or describing a particular context in which it may take on certain implications or meanings.
      A frame of mind may be a particular attitude or viewpoint, a particular mood, or a particular way of looking at the world that influences a person’s behavior.
      A frame of reference may be “a set of criteria in relation to which judgments can be made” or “a system of geometric axes in relation to which measurements of size, position, or motion can be made.”8
      A frame of reference may also be ”any set of lines, directions, planes, etc., such as the coordinate axes, relative to which the position of a point in space can be described.”9       
      A picture frame (e.g. for a drawing, painting, photo, or diploma) may be square, rectangular, circular, or oval. It may be equiangular or non-equiangular, equilateral or non-equilateral, wooden or metal, flat or raised, sculpted or unsculpted, chiseled or unchiseled, carved or uncarved, painted or unpainted, plain or ornamented (decorated).
      W.H. Bailey (2002) describes the many functions of painting frames, and says that

“Of all the functions of a frame, the most significant is that of mediator between the viewer and the painting, both physically and aesthetically. On the practical side, an effective frame reconciles the world of the viewer to the world of the painting in both form and scale…As mediator, the frame must succeed in a challenging twofold role: it must invite us into the painting and prevent us from escaping its bounds once inside. The design must effect a transition from the existing physical location, usually a wall in a room or gallery, into the illusionistic realm of the painting. This should occur graciously and imperceptibly. The frame should also prepare the eye and mind of the viewer to accept and embrace the domain of the painting on its own terms.”10

      Choosing the right frame for something (e.g. for a drawing, painting, concept, argument, or set of arguments) may be a matter of the frame’s design, configuration, dimensions, ease of application, and ability to complement, enhance, and provide an appropriate setting for its contents.
      Frames (of meaning, reference, or representation) may be like windows to the world. To select a particular frame may be to select a particular way of looking at the world. To select a different frame may be to select a different way of looking at the world.
      When we frame a problem we may also be defining its limits or dimensions. An inadequate, unsuitable, or ill-fitting frame may not enable us to properly assess a problem’s complexities or fully appreciate and understand them.
      Cognitive framing provides us with a way of analyzing and evaluating things. When we frame something, we may provide ourselves with a way of approaching, interacting with, and responding to it.
      Stating premises or assumptions may be a way of framing statements, arguments, and conclusions.
      Conceptual framing may also enable us to frame (define, investigate, and elaborate) concepts in terms of other concepts.
      We may also flip through, rearrange, reorder, change, and reprioritize frames.
      A “time frame” may be a given period or duration of time, especially with respect to some action or project.11 Thus, to ask “What time frame do you have in mind?” may be to ask “When or how long do you have in mind?” or “From what time to what time?” A possible answer could be “From 3 to 6 p.m.” or “Between this Tuesday and next Thursday,” or “Sometime before next month,” or “From August 1st until September 30th.”
       Many things (such as political agendas, economic policies, social obligations, financial investment risks, and medical treatment options) may be framed positively or negatively, depending on whether the objective is to get people to accept or reject them.
      To frame a debate may be to determine what the debate will be about, what its direction will be, what issues will be discussed, what it will attempt to resolve, and what the ground rules for engagement will be.
      Relations between frames may include: sameness, similarity, difference, congruity, incongruity, commensurability, incommensurability, interchangeability, succession, superimposition, overlap, agreement, conflict, competition, and opposition.
      When someone is “framed” for some offense, they may be falsely accused, falsely implicated, or unfairly “set up” by false witnesses, false testimony, false evidence, or corrupt police, prosecutorial, or judicial procedures.
      Frames may enclose fields of meaning and representation. They may also enclose fields of interest, concern, attention, perception, memory, and experience. They may also shut out or exclude extraneous domains or fields. They may also intersect with or be included (as subframes) within other frames.
      Gail T. Fairhurst, professor of communication at the University of Cincinnati, and Robert A. Sarr, business executive, consultant, and investment manager, explain (1996) that

      “Just like a photographer, when we select a frame for a subject, we choose which aspect or portion of the subject we will focus on and which we will exclude. When we choose to highlight some aspect of our subject over others, we make it more noticeable, more meaningful, and more memorable to others. Our framing adds color or accentuates the subject in unique ways. For this reason, frames determine whether people notice problems, how they understand and remember problems, and how they evaluate and act upon them (Entman, 1993).
      Frames exert their power not only through what they highlight, but also through what they leave out. In framing, when we create a bias towards one interpretation of our subject, we exclude other aspects, including those that may produce opposite or alternative interpretations.”12

      Michael X. Delli Carpini (2005), professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania, examines the question of what role the news media should play in the framing process. He asks, “From whose perspective should the news be framed?”13 He concludes that the news media may have the responsibility to (1) give the public a greater role in setting the (political, social, and cultural) agenda, (2) cover issues and events in a way that is meaningful and useful to the general public, (3) give the public a greater voice in the ongoing conversation about public affairs, and (4) see the media “as a member of the community in which it operates, responsible not only for identifying problems, but also for helping find solutions to these problems.”14
      Marie Maclean (1991), a research fellow in the Department of French at Monash University who was an English-language translator of the work of French philosopher Gérard Genette, explains that the verbal frame of any spoken or written text is its “paratext,” a concept developed by Genette to describe the threshold or “undecided zone” between the inside and outside of a text, the transactional zone between speaker and listener, between author and reader. Paratexts may include the cover of a book, its title page, its table of contents, its preface, chapter titles, appendix, and index. They may also include recommendations on the cover of a book that introduce the text to the reader. Thus, they act as frames for, or thresholds of, interpretation that may guide the reader’s approach to the text. They may also define, highlight, and contrast with the text.


1Concise Oxford English Dictionary, edited by Angus Stevenson and Maurice Waite (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 563.
2Erving Goffman, Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974), pp. 10-11.
3Ibid., p. 345.
4Charles J. Fillmore, “Frame Semantics and the Nature of Language,” in Annals o the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 280, Issue 1, October 1976, p. 20.
5Ibid., p. 23.
6Robert M. Entman, “Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured paradigm,” in Journal of Communication (Volume 43, Issue 4, December 1, 1993), p. 52.
7George Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives (White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004), p. xv.
8Concise Oxford English Dictionary, edited by Angus Stevenson and Maurice Waite (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 563.
9Collins Web-linked Dictionary of Mathematics, by E.J. Borowski and J.M. Borwein (Glasgow: HarperCollins, 2002), p. 221.
10W.H. Bailey, Defining Edges: A New Look at Picture Frames (New York: Harry N. Adams, Inc. 2002), pp. 16-17.
11Merriam-Webster Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, Inc. 2018), online at
12Gail T. Fairhurst and Robert A. Sarr, The Art of Framing: Managing the Language of Leadership (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996), p. 4.
13Michael X. Delli Carpini, “News From Somewhere: Journalism Frames and the Debate over “Public Journalism,” in Framing American Politics, edited by Karen Callaghan and Frauke Schnell (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), p. 11.
14Ibid., p. 14.


Marie Maclean, “Pretexts and Paratexts: The Art of the Peripheral,” in New Literary History, Vol. 22, No 2, 1991, pp. 273-279.

Gérard Genette, “Introduction to the Paratext,” translated by Marie Maclean, in New Literary History, Vol. 22, No. 2, 1991, pp. 261-272.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Annapolis Ten Mile Run, 2018

The Annapolis Ten Mile Run was held Sunday, August 19, 2018. The weather was warm and cloudy, with a temperature of about 75 degrees at start time (7:00 a.m.). The course was very hilly, with the start and finish in the parking lot at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. One of the longest uphill and downhill sections was along Naval Academy Bridge (over the Severn River), which we crossed eastward at mile 4 and westward at mile 8. The continuous hills along the course made it a very difficult run.
      The overall first place finisher in the men's division was Jeffrey Stein, from Washington, D.C., with a time of 54:29:01 (he also won in 2016, and was third in 2017), and the overall first place finisher in the women's division was Julia Roman-Duval, from Columbia, MD, with a time of 59:10:29 (she also won in 2017). In the youngest age group (14 and under), the winner in the boy's division was 12-year-old Billy Foulk, with a time of 1:17:17, and the winner in the girl's division was 14-year-old Haley Walker, with a time of 1:25:03. In the oldest age group (75 and older), the winner in the men's division was Harold Rosen, with a time of 1:37:50, and the winner in the women's division was Molly Sherwood, with a time of 1:58:31.
      Julia Roman-Duval, the overall women's first place finisher, is an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. She runs with the Howard County Striders, and competed at the women's Olympic Marathon trials in 2016, finishing 50th out of 206 runners.
      I finished in 439th place out of 2529 finishers at the Annapolis Ten Mile Run, in 4th place out of 59 in my age group, with a time of 1:25:15 (for a pace of 8:31.15 per mile). I was pleased with the results, since this was a better time than I did in June over a course that wasn't nearly as difficult as this one.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Two of Nagarjuna's Most Radical Suggestions

Nagarjuna (c. 150–c. 250 CE) was an Indian philosopher who founded the Madhyamika school of Mahayana Buddhism. His best-known work is the Mulamadhyamakakarika (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way). His other writings included the Yuktisastiki (Sixty Verses on Reasoning), and the Shunyatasaptati (Seventy Verses on Emptiness).
      His disciple Arydeva (c. 200-c. 250 CE) became a leader of the Madhyamika school. Arydeva’s best-known work was the Catuhshataka (Four Hundred Verses).
      In the Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, Nagarjuna says that “whatever is dependently arisen is unceasing, unborn, unannihilated, impermanent, not coming, not going, without distinction, without identity, and free from conceptual construction.”1 Nothing arises without causes or conditions (of its existence). Everything depends on causes and conditions of arising (or existence), and therefore the ultimate reality of things is that no real distinctions can be made between them. Our attempt to make distinctions between things is based on our perception of their conventional, but not their ultimate reality. When we make distinctions between things, we act as if they had self-nature or self-existence. But the ultimate reality of things is that they are dependently arisen. Their arising depends on causes and conditions beyond themselves. Everything shares unbornness (a lack of self-nature), impermanence, a lack of self-identity, and a lack of inherent existence. Nothing is self-caused or self-existent. Everything is empty of self-nature, self-causation, and self-existence.
      Nagarjuna also says that if everything is empty, then there is no (self-)arising and no (self-)ceasing or passing away (Chapter XXV). Thus, he makes the radical suggestion that if everything is empty, then nirvana is just as empty as samsara, and there is no real difference between them. Nirvana is not something that can be “attained,” and not something that “arises.” It is also not something that is permanent or compounded, and it is not something that can be possessed or relinquished. It is not self-caused or inherently existent, and neither is samsara. Nirvana is neither (self-)existent nor (self-)non-existent, so those who abide in nirvana are likewise neither said to be (self- or inherently) existent nor (self- or inherently) nonexistent.
      Nagajuna also makes the radical suggestion that if everything is empty, then the Four Noble Truths are empty. The Four Noble Truths do not inherently exist, and neither does the Dharma (the teaching of the Buddha). Suffering does not inherently exist (it is not self-arisen or self-existent; its arising or existence depends on causes and condition beyond itself), and neither do arising or ceasing. To be able to truly recognize suffering, as well as its “arising,” its “cessation,” and “the path to its cessation,” we must be able to recognize dependent arising (Chapter XXIV).


1Nagarjuna, The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika, translated by Jay L. Garfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 2.