Subnorms and Subepistimes

In sociology and anthropology, there are many contradicting normatives. In one of my presentations for SPED majors at the College of Charleston I highlighted one of these. Our culture screams to “be yourself” and to “disregard what others think”, especially on matters of minor social rules. Of course, the desperation in the field of special needs is to get the neurodivergents to not be themselves and to conform to society’s expectations. Because of how System One works in social psychology, the same person can believe that everyone should be themselves and disregard minor social rules and that neurodivergents should conform to social norms as long as the two opposing ideas are never mentioned in the same setting. Given these contradictory normatives, which one would I assign as the standard and which the hypocritical?

Ultimately, that is beside the point here. The point is how normative ethics work in psychology. Because of how System One and System Two work, there are contradicting systems of normative ethics. Now, we’re going to use another example. Within Christian, Western, culture the absolute normative ethic was chastity which means celibacy outside of marriage. Obviously, even before the sexual revolution this was seldom adhered to even in deeply religious communities. That said, there was a system of ethics that ruled sexual relations about what was proper and improper even when the absolute normative said all of it was improper. That system, a system of normative ethics seperate from the absolute normative, is what I term the subnorm.

In the recent blog of mine “Apple Juice & Liquor”, I mention puritanical hedonists who believe in a normative hedonistic orthodoxy. The idea that the proper way to have a good time is being a shit-faced weekend warrior and all things more sober and less naughty are square, lame, and people who would prefer something like a game of mini-golf with chai tea or a Victorian dress-up party to a frat-ish party and trying to have sex as quickly as possible are wisely told by the shit-facers to “live some”. Especially, when their advice to “live some” is given out of concern or charity.

They truly feel, in the normative, that the person not getting drunk and being promiscious is leading an unfulfilled life. I also wrote, a while back, a blog about whether fashion rules are normative ethics and argued, socially, fashion rules are effectively regarded as normative ethics. However, since our society seems to regard as a more fundamental value freedom of expression. Fashion rules, even if they effect moral perception and interpersonal judgment with serious material effects to the level of an absolute normative, is a subnorm.

In addition to a subnorm, there is also a subepistime which is roughly described as the understood reality according to a subnorm. Someone who believes in that hedonistic orthodoxy may have a belief that all men are hypersexual and want eroiticism and such from women. Each belief is, itself, an epistomology, and a system of those beliefs creates an epistime. A few times, when I have spoken about being a heteroromantic asexual I have been afforded the wisdom that men are not those things and I am really afraid of my own sexuality and should therefore pursue sexual conquests.

So, the subnormative is a teleology for the individual that says the fully realized person is a bottomless hedonist who drinks and fucks a lot based on a subepistime that men are base and lizard-brained animals. The epistime and the geist combine to create a Hegelian paradigm and therefore this is a subhegpar. A sub-Hegelian Paradigm. Becoming more aware of these can help us become cognizant of our own worldview and intellectual hypocrisies and hopefully clear out our more superficial and unscientific judgmenrs and beliefs fir a more loving and humane culture.

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