Normalcy and equality

Some of the most controversial terms in modern day society. Hence I would like to see how you view them :slight_smile: a little bit of semi-philosophical ideas to break the day!

What is normalcy to you?

And what is equality?

Can the two be seen separate in society?

Mayarra, you ask tough questions. :smiley:

To me, the closer you examine these concepts, the fuzzier they get.

Let’s start with normalcy. It seems very difficult to pin down what it really means. To me, it is a concept for which there is an idealized notion but no actual exemplars in the real world. That is, assuming we are specifically talking about human beings and not widgets.

Actually, I need to digress for a moment, to tell you about a word I invented a long time ago. It hasn’t really caught on, but it’s a great word and it is useful in this case.

The word is “obvuto”. It’s a kind of truth-value. But not a boolean, exclusively either true or false value. Instead, it describes a statement or concept that we can consider true, but only on the condition that we understand how it is also false, or a flawed concept.

Normalcy is an obvuto concept, in my opinion. We can agree to say that it is true that some person is normal, for example, but if we examine them very closely, we will almost certainly discover that they are abnormal in some way.

Very often, we might end up doing something funny with our definition of normal: we might agree that it is normal to be abnormal, and say things like, “if you aren’t a bit abnormal, then you really aren’t normal.” I think we might even find it slightly amusing to say that. But anyway, that is often what happens with obvuto concepts.

What about equality? I assume you mean social equality. That’s also an interesting word. One interesting observation is that we tend to talk about it as though it is one thing. But, IMO, in any discussion about any person’s life, when we say equality, we act like we are talking about equality in one dimension, but we are almost always speaking of a multidimensional concept. The result is that we often end up getting very confused.

An example I remember with my first wife was an argument that we got into that I could not understand at the time. The short story is that a couple friends of mine had suggested we go on a hunting weekend–just us guys. (To be honest, I have no interest in hunting, but I guess it would have been a dude bonding thing.) When I mentioned it to my wife, she seemed a bit hurt and upset that she couldn’t come. She said it wasn’t fair.

To resolve the unfairness aspect, I explained that it was fair because I would go with my guy friends and she could go have a similar weekend with her girl friends. In my mind at the time (I know, I know…I was being a moron), I thought that solved the problem, because if I was free to go away with my buddies and she could go away with her girl friends, then that was the very definition of equality.

Anyway, we got divorced.


I don’t think it was over that particular fight, but that argument puzzled me for a long time. I couldn’t understand why she was so mad at me. (BTW, I didn’t actually go on the trip.) As far as I could tell with my logical guy brain, I was behaving very well. I was treating her as an equal: I certainly did not try to give myself any privileges unless she had the same privilege.

Anyway, fast forward a few years and I think I finally understood. She was upset more because equality for her had to do with sharing and demonstrating closeness in a more fair or equal way. I think my actions were a problem for her because I seemed to be the one who always exercised the power to decide when we would be close and when we would be apart.

Not sure if my story was clear, but I am trying to say that closeness-distancing was a dimension of equality that I did not even perceive. I only thought of equality on one dimension. Maybe if I understood that it happens on more than one dimension, I might have understood why she was so angry with me that time.

Regarding your last question, “Can the two (normalcy and equality) be seen separate in society?”, I don’t really understand the question. Is it something you can explain further?



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The tougher the question, the greater the opportunity to see minds at work :slight_smile:

I actually deliberately decided to not pin it down to a single type of equality. Some might go with social equality, others with gender equality, perhaps people will toss in all sorts of elements. I like to see what people come up with :slight_smile:

Lets explain by a simple example.

If I get addicted to drugs, societies tend to respond in dispproving ways. They might lock me up for it, or cure me from it. Either way, they want to seperate me from the drug.

Drugs like cocaine and heroin get me punished instantly if I carry them. However, I can fill a van with alcoholic beverages, and I will be fine.

When I get to work, people are drinking coffee. If I dare shut the coffee machine off, the resulting conflict will make the hunger games look like childsplay.

So, some addictions are considered evil, some are considered accepted, and some are even considered normal. That is where normalcy and equality meet in this scenario. Why disapprove of some addictions, while accepting others, which in some cases are even more damaging than the ones we disapprove.

Another example, this time going another route: mental illness.

Meet Andre, a fictional guy in his mid-twenties. Andre doesn’t feel like being Andre, he feels more like Andrea. He is about to change his body to become the gender he feels the world should see him as.

Now meet Jane. A girl in her late teens. Jane is an average girl, apart from the fact that she only weighs half of what she should. Jane is Anorexic, and she gets a therapist to show her how to live healthy and stop wanting to keep being skinnier.

Bernard is a big guy. Towering over his peers, and muscular enough to be mistaken for a gorilla. Every day, he injects himself with steroids to gain the biggest muscles of everyone he knows. Doctors eventually start warning him, because his heart might end up failing soon.

Looking at it from a normalcy point op view, people might agree that all mentioned people deviate physically from their perception of normal, and they try to fix it. So why can’t we treat them equally? We grant a sex-change acceptance, while we also deny a skinny or muscular body.

Then you might say that all are treated equally, because all are taken down the path of the best quality of life, the healthiest path. But dont we then also say that only the anorexic and bodybuilding images are not normal, while wanting to change your gender is normal?

Besides, who decides on quality of life? Maybe by treating all equally, even by making each case “normal”, we elevate ourselves to a position that creates inequality. We choose to decide what is best, forcing our perception of right and wrong on them.

There are many more ways normalcy and equality can interact, or not interact, because you could argue they are two non-connected things too. These are just two examples, but you can make it as big or small as it is to you :slight_smile:

As I was reading your examples, a thought occurred to me about a quality that is common to both concepts.

When we use these words in our day to day discussions about life and events, we are usually talking about what is or isn’t right in some situation or circumstance–and we use each of these words as if they were associated with a some diagnostic tool…like some kind of measuring stick. When we say things are more or less “normal”, or more or less “equal”, our way of speaking presupposes that it is possible to quantify normality or equality. In my opinion, that is purely a dialectical fiction.

These dialectical fictions happen all the time in conversation. I mention this because I often find it strange when I realize we have bought into the fiction. This happens very often. We often model our discussions and our arguments after science, math and logic. That is, we cast an argument or statement into the same form a scientific, or mathematical, or logical argument might take, then we go down crazy rabbit-holes trying to draw meaningful conclusions. In this case, the folly is that there really is no real measuring stick for either quality: at best they can be quantified based on somebody’s intuition, but not in any rigorous way.

What is even more interesting to me about these concepts is that we really only try to measure them at all when we start worrying that a situation is at at its most un-normal, or un-equal. That is, we almost never try to measure when things are (putatively) equal in order to try to make them more equal: we pay attention to greater un-equalness, not to greater equalness. Ditto for normalcy.

I don’t know if I have really said anything of interest.

In answer to your questions about who decides on quality of life and whether our efforts to reset conditions to normal or equal only exacerbate inequalities: yes, I expect that will happen. I think it will happen because, despite the fact that it is possible to formulate statements about normalcy and equality that sound like logical statements, they really are just a dialectical device.

When doctors apply remedies, we like to hope that they have tools that truly measure the phenomena they are using to produce their diagnoses, and likewise that they have the means to measure an appropriate amount of medication. But with normalcy and equality, there is no such utility, no form of measurement that is meaningful. So, when we try to fix these things, we are often like doctors who, convinced (rightly or wrongly) that something is wrong, and so end up giving our patients questionable substances in even more questionable dosages–which we call it a cure.

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It could be because anorexia and steroids are definitely unhealthy and a sexchange not necessarily? There are a lot of technicalities when it comes to questions like this.

For this question specifically there is a possible solution. The reason autism is a disorder and not a mental illness is because a person with autism is the same as everybody else except in one thing, their brain. They don’t lack braincells, have a disease or have smaller brains or anything like that. Their brains just operates differently. I think we should view people who want to have a sexchange or are gay etc as people with disorders. They aren’t sick, their bodies are healthy but just like autism, their brains operate differently than the typical. If we do this then we can understand why a sexchange is easier to accept than steroid use or anorexia.

Btw, instead of ‘Disorder’ I think the academic world and everyone else should use a word that means ‘other-order’. ‘Disorder’ sounds like the order is wrong or without order but just because a brain is different doesn’t mean it is wrong or without order.

There are two meanings I associate to this word. One meaning refers to my normalcy and another to societies normalcy. My normalcy is much more dependent on my beliefs of what constitutes to normal, such that even if society collectively were not to agree there would be no difference or update to my normalcy.

The way I view societies normalcy is in the form of societies ‘average’ and particularly ‘core’ view of what it means to be normal. This means not particularly in any defined standard as they strike me as too vague and not in the form of the actuality of what the properties, most commonly actually are.

Here it is important to state that, what is most widely believed to be normal is not guaranteed to actually be put into execution most widely. I am therefore referring to the belief over the execution for normalcy.

This one doesn’t ask what it is to me but I will state so regardless as it is subjective.
The one core view I share of equality is that everything and everyone is treated equally. In this case everything being equal is not exactly better. For society, some prior categorization may be needed, such as treating objects the same as humans or not. Provided adequate categorizations have been made and these categorizations undergo the appropriate treatment of being equal within themselves, societal equality has been constructed.

Without precisely defining the categories, it is very difficult to state. I will almost certainly not define the categories fairly myself, and thus prioritize human life over animal life (as an example).

Assuming human exclusive equality, every human should be treated the same.
This implies, regardless of: race, past, genetics, gender, age, contribution to society, wealth, status, health, plans&intentions. Everyone should be subjected to the same laws, as such order is given in the form of rewards in the case of ‘contributions to society’. On the opposite hand, Individuals who have committed crimes get the same punishments others would have, regardless of the status of the individual committing the same crimes.

In this case to deal with the subtle differences, the specification should be in the laws rather than the equality. While there is not a real difference in having aspects of equality dealt with in the laws as oppose to the categorization, it promotes a healthier social view of equality.
The point statement however, is that societal equality is but a lie relying on a small subset of equality within a non-equal system as long as everything is not equal. The reality is also that this is indeed better, so I believe societal equality should be adjusted for the bettering of humanity. Society currently, definitely has a lot more bad than it needs.

In an ideal society no. Current society however is not ideal, so the answer for today is yes.