Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    On an OT note: Dread, the Harvard/Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Society is doing their spring production starting this weekend. I think it is Utopia. 

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to diamondgirl's comment:

    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.



    I think DG is on the right track here.  At it's core, marriage is simply a way for us (humans) to organize.  

    We cluster in Nations, States, Cities, by ethinic, religious, tribal, etc... sects.  This is how we've adapted so that our brains can organize what is and what isnt. (not much different than organizing things as "Animal", "Vegatable" or "Mineral".).

    As you break down the organizational structre, you drop from the Universe, The world, The continent, the country, the state, the city, the neighborhood, the family, friends,  the marriage, the individual.  (Obviously, the smaller group is/can be a part of the larger group but that doesn't necessarily work in reverse)

    We (humans) developed this sort of social structure fairly early on in our development - long before the nation/state concept or any legal systems existed.

    From that we derive several forms of marriage but, IMO, I think there are a handful of things that make "marriage" different from other relationships.  There is the idealized situation of "Romantic Love" in the marriage as well as a desire for mutual protection and care.  In current society, that also incorporates the "legal" protections/benefits that larger society has injected into it.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to wizen's comment:

    It's the legal form that defines it.  Religions have to be recognized in order to perform marriages that are recognized by the state.  There are also default marriages in some states, aka common-law, where if you shack up long enough, the state considers you married, whether you like it or not.  While the definition of what is a family is self-applied, only the state can declare you married (and make it stick).

     




    There is a paradox here.  

    Common law marriage requires more than just living together. The couple must present themsevles to society as *being* married. It requires multiple public declarations. (Otherwise, sibilings growing up in the same household would be "married" by default. The same would happen to college roommates and military members sharing a room in the barracks.).  As such, one can't be in a common-law marriage "whether they like it or not". If you don't like it, you simply don't declare yourself to be married.

    The State doesn't recognize common law marriage without the couple declaing themselves to be married first.  So if only the State can declare a people as married, common-law marriage couldn't exist - yet it does.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    Sorry I've been away but back to it!  I also don't have to be the only one answering.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to JeepersCripes9's comment:

    Intersting dicsussion Dread. I think, in some amount of seriousness and some amount of humor, marriage was created so a child knew who their mom and dad were. Saying it was for the intention to establish rights, perhaps that is true in more recent times, but 20,000 years ago what rights were there to debate? I believe over time, it came to be more about rights and property, but back in early history, that couldn't really be true.




    I do think that marriage has changed but there still has to be something fundamental to it that has remained the same.  I do not know what it is.  But that is a great point about the property argument.  The fundamental element, the form, of marriage couldn't have been about property at its origins because its was likely that a lot of people didn't have anything.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to Jim-in-Littleton's comment:

    In response to diamondgirl's comment:

     

    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.

     



    I think DG is on the right track here.  At it's core, marriage is simply a way for us (humans) to organize.  

     

    We cluster in Nations, States, Cities, by ethinic, religious, tribal, etc... sects.  This is how we've adapted so that our brains can organize what is and what isnt. (not much different than organizing things as "Animal", "Vegatable" or "Mineral".).

    As you break down the organizational structre, you drop from the Universe, The world, The continent, the country, the state, the city, the neighborhood, the family, friends,  the marriage, the individual.  (Obviously, the smaller group is/can be a part of the larger group but that doesn't necessarily work in reverse)

    We (humans) developed this sort of social structure fairly early on in our development - long before the nation/state concept or any legal systems existed.

    From that we derive several forms of marriage but, IMO, I think there are a handful of things that make "marriage" different from other relationships.  There is the idealized situation of "Romantic Love" in the marriage as well as a desire for mutual protection and care.  In current society, that also incorporates the "legal" protections/benefits that larger society has injected into it.




    This is at the foundations of Aristotle's categories although the translation is quite cumbersome.  I feel like this organization idea has some merrit, however, I don't think that it falls under the same system as the animal kingdom.  You can have someone that isn't married and then they would be skipping a step in the organizational parameters.  You can't do that in the described system.

     

    Two-Sheds where are you?

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to Jim-in-Littleton's comment:

    In response to wizen's comment:

     

    It's the legal form that defines it.  Religions have to be recognized in order to perform marriages that are recognized by the state.  There are also default marriages in some states, aka common-law, where if you shack up long enough, the state considers you married, whether you like it or not.  While the definition of what is a family is self-applied, only the state can declare you married (and make it stick).

     

     




     

    There is a paradox here.  

    Common law marriage requires more than just living together. The couple must present themsevles to society as *being* married. It requires multiple public declarations. (Otherwise, sibilings growing up in the same household would be "married" by default. The same would happen to college roommates and military members sharing a room in the barracks.).  As such, one can't be in a common-law marriage "whether they like it or not". If you don't like it, you simply don't declare yourself to be married.

    The State doesn't recognize common law marriage without the couple declaing themselves to be married first.  So if only the State can declare a people as married, common-law marriage couldn't exist - yet it does.




    Thanks for picking up my slack.

     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from cb156. Show cb156's posts

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    First, for the sake of argument, you have to admit that "A marriage today in the US should still have at least something in common with a marriage in 300 BC in Turkey shouldn't it?" may be a faulty assumption.
    What Marriage means now could be so different from what it meant a couple millenia ago that they really don't have anything in common.  Some terms, like Marriage, carry such heavy cultural influences that attempting to find an absolute definition may not be possible.  Let's not confuse the name with the thing itself.


    However, I will endeavor to wade into these waters:
    Marriage is a societally recognized construct bonding (some number of persons) together.

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

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to cb156's comment:

    First, for the sake of argument, you have to admit that "A marriage today in the US should still have at least something in common with a marriage in 300 BC in Turkey shouldn't it?" may be a faulty assumption.
    What Marriage means now could be so different from what it meant a couple millenia ago that they really don't have anything in common.  Some terms, like Marriage, carry such heavy cultural influences that attempting to find an absolute definition may not be possible.  Let's not confuse the name with the thing itself.


    However, I will endeavor to wade into these waters:
    Marriage is a societally recognized construct bonding (some number of persons) together.




    While on the whole I would agree that things change and evolve constantly.  However, a marriage is still a marriage no matter the time frame in my estimation.  You could point at your family tree and you would say "so and so was married to so and so".  You don't have to specify what type of marriage and where it occurred.  The word convey's an inherent meaning.  That is the form that I'm looking for.


    I actually love your definition.  This definition boils what I would consider a marriage down to its roots.  But the issue is that this definition seems to be able to describe several "societally recognized constructs" that aren't marriages.  Unions, for example, would probably fall under this same definition.  Unions are recognized by society and they bond everyone within that union together.  I certainly don't think that all of the construction workers are married to each other.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to JeepersCripes9's comment:

    In response to cb156's comment:

     

    First, for the sake of argument, you have to admit that "A marriage today in the US should still have at least something in common with a marriage in 300 BC in Turkey shouldn't it?" may be a faulty assumption.
    What Marriage means now could be so different from what it meant a couple millenia ago that they really don't have anything in common.  Some terms, like Marriage, carry such heavy cultural influences that attempting to find an absolute definition may not be possible.  Let's not confuse the name with the thing itself.


    However, I will endeavor to wade into these waters:
    Marriage is a societally recognized construct bonding (some number of persons) together.

     




     

     

    Very true CB. I do think it most definitely started as a religious 'rite'. Where they came up with that in each cultural religion, who knows. The Mayan marriage must have had a different significance, then say the ancient Greek marriage, but interesting that each culture recognized it, in some form or another. No doubt some cultures did recognize it as a way to protect 'property', that property being a woman. Some cultures recognized as a way to connect tribes or even bring about peace; one king giving his daughter to another kings son. (Perhaps Obama should give one of his daughters to N. Korea?)




    Actually when I took mythology we spoke about this.  Women were originally thought to be tied to the land that they were born in and as such never left the area or the land could have become infertile.  The women were the important members in many societies probably until the Greek and Roman religions came into being.  Even so, this was documented by Homer in one of his books I believe.  If I'm remembering correctly, Minos save a girl from something and they fell in love but he had to leave and she insisted on staying.  I'll have to review my notes.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    I follow @philo_quotes on the twitter machine and a good one pertaining to this discussion came up.

    "Not cohabitation but consensus constitutes marriage."  - Cicero

    One of the amazing things about philosophy is that you get to reply to these historic people via a paper and the discussion always continues.  I'm pretty sure that this is what CB said as well.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to JeepersCripes9's comment:

    Very true CB. I do think it most definitely started as a religious 'rite'. Where they came up with that in each cultural religion, who knows. The Mayan marriage must have had a different significance, then say the ancient Greek marriage, but interesting that each culture recognized it, in some form or another. No doubt some cultures did recognize it as a way to protect 'property', that property being a woman. Some cultures recognized as a way to connect tribes or even bring about peace; one king giving his daughter to another kings son. (Perhaps Obama should give one of his daughters to N. Korea?)



    Hi Jeeps--
    You may very well be correct about the origins.  In this case, however, attempting to find a "universal absolute" definition of Marriage, I think it necessary to divorce (pardon the pun) the meaning of Marriage from the definition of Marriage.  I think Marriage carries a heavy cultural, religious and personal bias in its meaning (love, a blessing from a deity, etc) which is extraneous to its definition.
    Dread has raised a very interesting question because we seem to almost inherently understand what is meant when we are told that people are married, yet if we knew the actual particulars of any given situation, especially from some long dead culture, we might not recognize it.  That is, it could meet some vague baseline definition of marriage, but be devoid of any of the meaning we give to marriage in our own time and culture.
    So, what is that baseline definition we seem to recognize?

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to Dread27's comment:



    While on the whole I would agree that things change and evolve constantly.  However, a marriage is still a marriage no matter the time frame in my estimation.  You could point at your family tree and you would say "so and so was married to so and so".  You don't have to specify what type of marriage and where it occurred.  The word convey's an inherent meaning.  That is the form that I'm looking for.

     


    I actually love your definition.  This definition boils what I would consider a marriage down to its roots.  But the issue is that this definition seems to be able to describe several "societally recognized constructs" that aren't marriages.  Unions, for example, would probably fall under this same definition.  Unions are recognized by society and they bond everyone within that union together.  I certainly don't think that all of the construction workers are married to each other.



    Dread--
    Excellent discussion thread.
    I agree that the definition I proposed could encompass other things.  Another example would be a Family.
    I would argue that anything that could be accepted as a universal absolute definition, at least for a concept such as Marriage, would be necessarily vague, but perhaps this is too vague.  I agree that there should (must?) be something in the definition that sets it apart from other constructs.
    Allow me to propose the following amended definition and see if this gets closer to what you are looking for:

    Marriage is a societally recognized construct bonding (some number of persons) together in (or as) a new family

    Although I have to admit that even this seems too vague--an adoption could meet this criteria, dependent on how "family" or "new family" is defined.  I'm thinking that it might need something to describe the participants not only being bonded to one another, but to one another's family as well.  I have a feeling, however, that might not hold cross-culturally.

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

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to cb156's comment:

    In response to Dread27's comment:



    While on the whole I would agree that things change and evolve constantly.  However, a marriage is still a marriage no matter the time frame in my estimation.  You could point at your family tree and you would say "so and so was married to so and so".  You don't have to specify what type of marriage and where it occurred.  The word convey's an inherent meaning.  That is the form that I'm looking for.

     

     


    I actually love your definition.  This definition boils what I would consider a marriage down to its roots.  But the issue is that this definition seems to be able to describe several "societally recognized constructs" that aren't marriages.  Unions, for example, would probably fall under this same definition.  Unions are recognized by society and they bond everyone within that union together.  I certainly don't think that all of the construction workers are married to each other.

     



    Dread--
    Excellent discussion thread.
    I agree that the definition I proposed could encompass other things.  Another example would be a Family.
    I would argue that anything that could be accepted as a universal absolute definition, at least for a concept such as Marriage, would be necessarily vague, but perhaps this is too vague.  I agree that there should (must?) be something in the definition that sets it apart from other constructs.
    Allow me to propose the following amended definition and see if this gets closer to what you are looking for:

     

    Marriage is a societally recognized construct bonding (some number of persons) together in (or as) a new family

    Although I have to admit that even this seems too vague--an adoption could meet this criteria, dependent on how "family" or "new family" is defined.  I'm thinking that it might need something to describe the participants not only being bonded to one another, but to one another's family as well.  I have a feeling, however, that might not hold cross-culturally.




    I agree that this is also a bit vague.  Some ambiguity is needed for this to apply to all marriages though.  You've already created your own counter example but I understand what you're going for.  I don't think the families have too much to do with marriage at its roots and that its probably more concentrated on the people involved in it.

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to JeepersCripes9's comment:

    Oh, I dont think you can put an absolute definitition on marriage. Every cultural has its own understanding of it and own recognition of it. Here, you have a piece of paper and an overpriced diamond ring. In other countries, a woman may have a cow or her family recieves sheep from the 'grooms' family. Trying to figure out where the absolute definition derived from is like asking where the definition of religion came from. I dont think there really is any way to know. The baseline, today, seems to mean a contract between a man and women whereby they pool together their wealth and knowledge,  procreate and raise children to the benefit of society (well most anyway).




    How cultures might recogonize a marriage is indeed different but it seems logical that they have something in common.  Maybe with how the relationship between the spouses is.

    Your definition of marriage at the end there is what I'm looking for.  So you believe that procreation is required for a marriage?

     
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    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to JeepersCripes9's comment:

    I guess what I am saying is there really is no answer. Each person is going to believe what they believe regardless of what society tells us. I do think, that if people think marriage is about love and romance and spending the rest of their lives together, they live in a fantasy world or are BS'in themselves. I don’t think it really was ever about that. So why people want to try and create these 'weddings', spending thousands and tens of thousands and some even hundreds of thousands of dollars is baffling to me. You want to try and twist the meaning of the word into something other than it is by romanticizing it with flowers and cakes, when really, it is simply a business contract. Nothing more, nothing less. What you hope to accomplish within the confines of that contract, is each couples prerogative, be it children or world domination.

     

    Granted, the wedding is supposed to be the celebration of the contract, but really, how many business contracts are entered into then celebrated in such a way? Usually, in my industry, its a steak dinner and a cigar, ( which, by the way, sounds heavenly to me).

     

     



    I feel like I'm driving you nuts Jeeps.


    As I said in my original post, all of these Socratic dialogues have no answer.  The point is to pick a topic and get as close to a definition as we can.  If we get to one great but if not it shows us that nobody really has any idea what the topic is.  At the least it’s something to give consideration to when taking one side or another in the marriage equality argument.

    What a wedding is is of no concern to us with this topic.  I can see merit in the idea that it is a business contract with different agendas and such.  As I am not even close to being a business person how would you state such a contract?

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

    Re: Socratic Dialogue about Marriage

    In response to JeepersCripes9's comment:

    Oh, your not driving me nuts at all. I think its an interesting topic and I keep going back and forth in my head whether its something society should get rid of all together or not. I think I may even be a bit hypcritical in my thoughts. 

    Agreed, wedding was irrelevant to the topic, I just threw that in there for the sake of readers.

     

    I think it would have implements of an engagement letter, perhaps a little NDA thrown in for good measure?

     so and so, (collectively, "so and so" or the "groom") has requested to enter into matrimony (the "Marriage")  with you (collectively, "you" or the "bride"). As a condition of the marriage, you agree to treat any information concerning the Marriage (referred to as the "evaluation material") which has been furnished to you by or on behalf of the groom, in accordance with the provisions of this agreement and to take or abstain from taking certain other actions herein set forth.

    You hereby agree to the terms listed below and agree to fullfill your obligations to the best of your ability. 

     

    I mean it could be very specific. Like a pre-nup, with more meat. You could put in nonsolicit terms, you could put in terms about expenses incurred, you could put in specific duties and obligations.  I mean people complain about signing pre-nups because they say it takes the romance out of it, but a marriage isn't about romance anyway. That's what you have the wedding for. 

     

    But I do think it really just comes down to marriage being a contract between two people to share knowledge and wealth for the betterment of society.




    Well that would be tedious.  Could you imagine if the wedding was just reading that?  Nobody would come.

    As for your definition, I understand the wealth part, as that's pretty straight forward, but what do you mean by "knowledge" and the "betterment of society"?

     
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