Thursday, January 23, 2003

(From) Principles of Psychology -- by William James

  - We observe an identical difference between men as a whole and women as a whole.  A young woman of twenty reacts with intuitive promptitude and security in all the usual circumstances in which she may be placed.  Her likes and dislikes are formed; her opinions, to a great extent, the same that they will be through life.  Her character is, in fact, finished in its essentials.  How inferior to her is a boy of twenty in all these respects!  His character is still gelatinous, uncertain what shape to assume, "trying it on" in every direction.  Feeling his power, yet ignorant of the manner in which he shall express it, he is, when compared with his sister, a being of no definite contour.  But this absence of prompt tendency in his brain to set into particular modes is the very condition which insures that it shall ultimately become so much more efficient than the woman's.  The very lack of preappointed trains of thought is the ground on which general principles and heads of classification grow up; and the masculine brain deals with new and complex matter indirectly by means of these, in a manner which the feminine method of direct intuition, admirably and rapidly as it performs within its limits, can vainly hope to cope with.

  - Women take offense and get angry, if anything, more easily than men, but their anger is inhibited by fear and other principles of their nature from expressing itself in blows.

  - The consciousness of how one stands with other people occupies a relatively larger and larger part of the mind, the lower one goes on the scale of culture.  Woman's intuition, so fine in the sphere of personal relations, is seldom first-rate in the way of mechanics.  Hence Dr.  Whately's jest, "Woman is the unreasoning animal, and pokes the fire from the top."