Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from Dread27. Show Dread27's posts

    Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    I've been having a discussion with one of my favorite people on the planet, my philosophy professor, about marriage since all of these court cases started up.  I actually wrote a paper on it last semester.  But I wanted to see if we could have a Socratic dialogue of our own to see if we could come up with an answer.


    For those that are unfamiliar with Socratic dialogues, Socrates was interested in finding out what certain universal actually mean; such as piety or courage.  He would pose the question to people that considered themselves experts.  If there was a flaw in their argument he would point it out in the hopes that they would modify their definition and come to an actual answer.  None of the dialogues actually came to a conclusion.  The interlocutor would always get frustrated and walk away after a bit.  But let's see what we can do if you're interested.

    What is marriage?

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from GMV2. Show GMV2's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Western marriage, which is derived from church requirements and property and inheritance policies and laws, like we have, or a more universal definition?

     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from Dread27. Show Dread27's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Any definition that you think is a correct representation of the word.

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from diamondgirl. Show diamondgirl's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    It's a way of stabilizing society by enforcing decentralized rule systems (family units) to give the illusion that compliance with the societal norm is an altruistic decision based on family love.  It's a convenient way of getting people to stick together in lumps.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    But aren't there other ways for people to "stick together in lumps"?  Cults, tribes, clubs, and other miscellaneous social units for example.

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from GoldGambit. Show GoldGambit's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Marriage is just a man-made concept.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Different societies, cultures, groups, etc. structure it to fit their mores of the time.  Often it's linked with religion, but not always.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    But what is it between each of these societies, cultures, and groups that makes each marriage a marriage?  Surely they must have something in common.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Pointing at each society or culture and saying, "That's a marriage for them," are examples of marriages.  I would like to know the form of what makes a marriage a marriage.

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from two-sheds. Show two-sheds's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Marriage is a formalized promise (i.e. contract) between two people that they intend to spend the rest of their lives together and share all the fruits, thereof.

     

    Oh, and good to hear from you, again, Dread.  I hope you've been doing well.

     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from GMV2. Show GMV2's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    I'm possibly the world's worst student of history, so you can take this with a grain of salt, but I think that marriage as we have it here in the states is a social convention that has evolved over time and in response to cultural changes. It probably started as a way to establish property ownership and rights to clarify lineage in the royal and feudal families, clans and other land and property holding classes. Under the old English system wives and children were chattel and marriage was not universal for couples. I also think that the expectation that all unions would be codified in civil marriage was really enforced until the Victorian era. The idea that children should never be born to unwed parents is an even more recent idea. The idea that marriage protects children's rights is much more recent and I think it might be part of the strongest argument for gay marriage. Obviously the Christian emphasis on marriage figures in as well and in the countries with a "state religion", such as England, and the colonial US, then the church law was the law. When we split off church from state we ended up with both civil marriage and marriage in the church. 

     

    So, in short, an evolving social convention used to normalize (normalize in the social science sense) liasons and thus have more predictable and stable societies.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Excellent two-sheds!  So two people have to have the intention of spending the rest of their lives together for it to be a marriage?  What about someone in America that marries a friend for immigration purposes until they can get their situation figured out?  Would they be considered married?

    And I'm doing just fine thank you!  And yourself?

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Yes, there are lots of other ways to group people together.  However, in the United States, grouping by 'tribe' or religion is strongly discouraged, given the pluralistic and diverse society.  Grouping by less sensitive relationships, like sports affiliation, is not as cohesive.  Sports do serve as our primary way of safely releasing aggression, though.  Grouping through nationalism/patriotism is a possibility,  but given the diverse political nature of 300 million people from different cultural backgrounds, it can be just as divisive as it is uniting.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    To try to answer your philosophical question about what qualities or benefits does marriage have across all societies, I don't think it does necessarily have the same meaning across all societies, beyond that it is a social convention found to be useful in that society. If you think of marriage as a covenant, I would say it is not the same from, say, Western Christian marriage to Orthodox Jewish Marriage, to marriage according to Sharia Law, to a tribal marriage where you rub noses and move to a different campfire. The only thing they'd seem to have in common is setting a predictable unit smaller than the tribal unit, what we'd think of as a nuclear family. The problem in analyzing marriage from a modern western pov is that we start with the assumption that these nuclear units were always one man and one women and anthropologists tell us that that has not always been the case, that these sub-tribal "nuclear family units" can have been polygamous, or two men, or a bunch of women living in compounds with men only visiting seasonally. So, if we try to define marriage universally, by how it originated, that becomes very tricky.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to diamondgirl's comment:

    Yes, there are lots of other ways to group people together.  However, in the United States, grouping by 'tribe' or religion is strongly discouraged, given the pluralistic and diverse society.  Grouping by less sensitive relationships, like sports affiliation, is not as cohesive.  Sports do serve as our primary way of safely releasing aggression, though.  Grouping through nationalism/patriotism is a possibility,  but given the diverse political nature of 300 million people from different cultural backgrounds, it can be just as divisive as it is uniting.




    Hasn't marriage existed for centuries before the US could have even been thought of?

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to GMV2's comment:

    So, if we try to define marriage universally, by how it originated, that becomes very tricky.



    That's the point though.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to GMV2's comment:

    I'm possibly the world's worst student of history, so you can take this with a grain of salt, but I think that marriage as we have it here in the states is a social convention that has evolved over time and in response to cultural changes. It probably started as a way to establish property ownership and rights to clarify lineage in the royal and feudal families, clans and other land and property holding classes. Under the old English system wives and children were chattel and marriage was not universal for couples. I also think that the expectation that all unions would be codified in civil marriage was really enforced until the Victorian era. The idea that children should never be born to unwed parents is an even more recent idea. The idea that marriage protects children's rights is much more recent and I think it might be part of the strongest argument for gay marriage. Obviously the Christian emphasis on marriage figures in as well and in the countries with a "state religion", such as England, and the colonial US, then the church law was the law. When we split off church from state we ended up with both civil marriage and marriage in the church. 

     

    So, in short, an evolving social convention used to normalize (normalize in the social science sense) liasons and thus have more predictable and stable societies.




    Pointing at each situation is another way to give examples.  There has to be a form, a common thread, that unites all of these situations in being a marriage.  When someone says, "I'm married" nobody asks, "like Christian married or commonlaw married?"

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Please feel free to adjust any defitions if you'd like.

     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from GMV2. Show GMV2's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Dreadie wrote:

     

    "Pointing at each situation is another way to give examples.  There has to be a form, a common thread, that unites all of these situations in being a marriage.  When someone says, "I'm married" nobody asks, "like Christian married or commonlaw married?""

    _________

    But that is my point. Inside the US, where we have marriage codified in civil law, the statement "I'm married" has a very defined meaning. I don't think the term "I'm married" can be expected to have a meaning other than specific to that country, religion or tribe. In other words, I don't think the English word marriage can be used to capture a universal trait among all of what I called, for lack of a better term, nuclear family units. 

     

    If we were to use a different set of terms, like "is there a universal covenant that is at the heart of all nuclear family groupings" then I'd have to go to the biology of things and say that they would be groupings based on mating and survival of the species, but within the constraints of a tribe or other society. But then we're a long long way from discussing marriage, which is not pre-historic concept.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    And, living overseas, people did want to know what type of marriage one had, Christian or Islamic, for instance. Jews are acutely aware of the differences between the concept of marriage in different sects. I'm not an expert, but in some Orthodox communities, Jewish law trumps civil law. 

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Uck, I'm such a bad editor...I meant that the idea of all couples needing to be married was not enforced in Europe until the Victorian era. I read a statistic that more than a third of all children born in the western states and territories (west of the Mississipi) up until the late 1800s were illegitimate. 

     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from Dread27. Show Dread27's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to GMV2's comment:

    But that is my point. Inside the US, where we have marriage codified in civil law, the statement "I'm married" has a very defined meaning. I don't think the term "I'm married" can be expected to have a meaning other than specific to that country, religion or tribe. In other words, I don't think the English word marriage can be used to capture a universal trait among all of what I called, for lack of a better term, nuclear family units. 

     

    If we were to use a different set of terms, like "is there a universal covenant that is at the heart of all nuclear family groupings" then I'd have to go to the biology of things and say that they would be groupings based on mating and survival of the species, but within the constraints of a tribe or other society. But then we're a long long way from discussing marriage, which is not pre-historic concept.



    Ok, let's look at each of your statements and you can answer as you see fit.  If I'm stretching what you said too far just let me know.

    In the US you said that you are married if it is recognized by the law.  But aren't Mormons married in ways that isn't recognized by law and they still consider themselves married?

    With the "nuclear family unit", isn't it conceivable that two people are considered to be married without ever having the intention of being a family unit at all?

    And finally the "groupings based on mating and survival of the species", many people have mated and procreated without ever being married.  This also ties in to one of the arguments from the court hearings.  Is it an essential part of marriage that it has to be intended towards producing offspring?

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    I think one of the examples that my professor actually came up with was from a girl in my class whose parents immigrated from Africa.  Her parents had a tribal wedding in Africa before moving to the US and yet are still considered married.  I'd be interested to hear if they had documentation or something to prove that or if they had to prove it at all.

     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from two-sheds. Show two-sheds's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to Dread27's comment:

    Excellent two-sheds!  So two people have to have the intention of spending the rest of their lives together for it to be a marriage?  What about someone in America that marries a friend for immigration purposes until they can get their situation figured out?  Would they be considered married?

    And I'm doing just fine thank you!  And yourself?

    I would consider such a marriage a farce and not a real marriage.  These sorts of things only come up because marriage has legal implications beyond the simple definition I listed above.  These legal implications have unintended consequences, as almost all legal constructs do.

    Once you start trying to define something in a legal manner, it becomes vastly more complicated.  You end up having to specify exceptions and specifics for every person who is going to try to game the system.

    I'm doing well, too.  Thanks!

     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from Dread27. Show Dread27's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to two-sheds' comment:

    I would consider such a marriage a farce and not a real marriage.  These sorts of things only come up because marriage has legal implications beyond the simple definition I listed above.  These legal implications have unintended consequences, as almost all legal constructs do.

    Once you start trying to define something in a legal manner, it becomes vastly more complicated.  You end up having to specify exceptions and specifics for every person who is going to try to game the system.

    I'm doing well, too.  Thanks!



    So the legal definition of marriage is irrelevant to the actual definition?

     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from Dread27. Show Dread27's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    I'm going to go back to your original definition then:


    Marriage is a formalized promise (i.e. contract) between two people that they intend to spend the rest of their lives together and share all the fruits, thereof.



    What do you mean by formalize?

     
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