Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Humanity and Internalized Oppression

One of the crucial contributions of Thomas's model [i.e., of habitus] is the distinction that can be made within second nature. His model allows the oppressed to distinguish between those aspects of second nature developed in accord with nature from those aspects of second nature bent out of shape by mistreatment. In the normative sense of "human," virtue reflects what is most human about us. In contrast, internalized oppression is nonhuman and alien to us. Thus it becomes possible to contrast the human with her internalized oppression. The "human" here refers to those humanly developed aspects of her second nature. Humans are flexible, internalized oppression is rigid; humans are dynamic, internalized oppression is static; humans create new solutions to old problems, internalized oppression perpetuates ineffective approaches; humans remember, internalized oppression causes us to forget; humans hope, internalized oppression breeds despair; humans discern, internalized oppression is reactive; humans think, internalized oppression confuses.
[Judith W. Kay, "Getting Egypt out of the People: Aquinas's Contributions to Liberation," in Aquinas and Empowerment: Classical Ethics for Ordinary Lives, G. Simon Harak, ed. Georgetown UP (Washington, DC: 1996).]

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