When a French dictionary included the gender-nonspecific “iel” for the first time, a virulent reaction erupted over “wokisme” exported from American universities.
Charles Bimbenet, its director-general, posted a statement rejecting the minister’s charge of militancy. “The mission of the Robert is to observe the evolution of a French language that is in motion and diverse, and take account of that,” he wrote. “To define the words that describe the world is to aid better comprehension of it.”
France, a country where it is illegal for the state to compile racial statistics, is particularly on edge over the rise of American gender and race politics. President Emmanuel Macron has warned that “certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States” may be a threat. Mr. Blanquer has identified “an intellectual matrix” in American universities bent on undermining a supposedly colorblind French society of equal men and women through the promotion of identity-based victimhood.
“Psychologists are uncovering the surprising influence of geography on our reasoning, behaviour, and sense of self.”
“Some of the most notable differences revolved around the concepts of “individualism” and “collectivism”; whether you consider yourself to be independent and self-contained, or entwined and interconnected with the other people around you, valuing the group over the individual. Generally speaking – there are many exceptions – people in the West tend to be more individualist, and people from Asian countries like India, Japan or China tend to be more collectivist.”
“There is no scientific evidence that we are hardwired with emotions, says Lisa Feldman Barrett. They develop as we grow.”
“Emotions are thought to be a kind of brute reflex, very often at odds with our rationality. This internal battle between emotion and reason is one of the great narratives of western civilisation. It helps define you as human. Without rationality, you are merely an emotional beast. This view of emotions has been around for millennia. Plato believed a version of it. So did Hippocrates, Aristotle, the Buddha, René Descartes, Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin. Today, prominent thinkers such as Steven Pinker, Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama also offer up descriptions of emotions rooted in the classical view.
“And yet there is abundant scientific evidence that this view cannot possibly be true. Research has not revealed a consistent, physical fingerprint for even a single emotion. When scientists attach electrodes to a person’s face and measure muscle movement during an emotion, they find tremendous variety, not uniformity. They find the same variety with the body and brain. You can experience anger with or without a spike in blood pressure. You can experience fear with or without a change in the amygdala, the brain region tagged as the home of fear.”
“What we really confront here, then, is a kind of difference which is not a disagreement. We come to see that we are each right to live by our respective moral beliefs, due to the way in which they speak to our respective circumstances, and the specific moral issues that arise within them.”
“Managers in different parts of the world are conditioned to give feedback in drastically different ways. The Chinese manager learns never to criticize a colleague openly or in front of others, while the Dutch manager learns always to be honest and to give the message straight. Americans are trained to wrap positive messages around negative ones, while the French are trained to criticize passionately and provide positive feedback sparingly.”
“It’s a truth only selectively acknowledged that all cultures are mongrel. One of the first Indian words to be brought into English was the Hindi ‘’loot’ — ‘plunder.’ Some of the Ku Klux Klan’s 19th-century costumes were, of all things, inspired in part by the festival wear of West African slaves; the traditional wax-print designs we associate with West Africa are apparently Indonesian — by way of the Netherlands. Gandhi cribbed nonviolence from the Sermon on the Mount.”
The idiom: Tomaten auf den Augen haben. Literal translation: “You have tomatoes on your eyes.” What it means: “You are not seeing what everyone else can see. It refers to real objects, though — not abstract meanings.”
“The geography shaped the way people interacted with one another. In ancient Greece, one could decide to move his goat heard with little consideration of what other people thought — unless his livestock invaded somebody else’s property. But, if in ancient China, one were to make the most of his rice harvest, he’d need cooperation from neighbors.”