Reducing “he or she” rhetoric to absurdity

A reader sent me the following quotation from Peter Kreeft’s Socratic Logic, 3rd ed., p. 36, n. 1:

“The use of the traditional inclusive generic pronoun “he” is a decision of language, not of gender justice.

Changing “he” to “he or she” refutes itself in such comically clumsy and ugly revisions as the following:

“What does it profit a man or woman if he or she gains the whole world but loses his or her own soul? Or what shall a man or woman give in exchange for his or her soul?”

The answer is: he or she will give up his or her linguistic sanity.”

Quote source

Kreeft, P. cited in Vallicella, B. (2015). Peter Kreeft on the Gender-Neutral Use of ‘He’. Maverick Philosopher. Available Last accessed 20th Jun 2015.


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