This article explores the debate on the equality of men and women in early modern Europe. It suggests that both scepticism and Cartesianism provided new arguments to establish the equal capabilities and entitlements of women and men. In this debate, traditional metaphysics was seen once again to support prejudices rather than evidence-based arguments. This article describes some of the most prominent feminist works during this period, including those of Anne Thérèse de Lambert, Gabrielle Suchon, François Poullain De La Barre, and Marie De Gournay.
In order to capture some of what is interesting and influential in contemporary North American feminist philosophy, this article pursues two strategies. The first half of the article offers a very brief historical sketch and characterization of a few fields of feminist philosophy. The second half focuses in more detail on a cluster of feminist issues in metaphysics concerning ‘essentialism’ and ‘intersectionality’.
The relation between analytic philosophy of religion and feminist thought has to date been a strained one. To the extent that most analytic philosophers of religion have attended to feminist theory or feminist theology at all, their acknowledgment has generally gone no further than a belated concession to the use of gender-inclusive language. More substantial issues raised by feminist philosophy or theology have in large part been ignored in the standard literature. Although there have been certain notable exceptions to this “rule,” it is undeniable that analytic philosophy of religion remains predominantly “gender blind” in its thinking, and thus, no doubt unsurprisingly, when feminist thinkers have troubled to comment on the discipline, their criticisms have tended to be severe. This article primarily aims to probe the reasons for the mutual incomprehension between the disciplines of analytic philosophy of religion and feminist thought, and to chart—and assess—the feminist criticisms leveled against analytic philosophy of religion for what is claimed to be its covert “masculinist” bias.
This article explores how feminism might illuminate philosophy, and indeed vice versa. The aim is not so much to survey the immense continent of feminist philosophical research, as to display, and occasionally instantiate, some small parts of it. In thinking about how feminism has contributed to philosophy, the article considers it worth looking at two rather general ideas: the idea of dualism, and the idea of androcentrism. In thinking about how philosophy has contributed to feminism, it is also worth looking at one rather specific idea: the idea of treating someone as an object.
This article provides a critical survey of English-language feminist work in aesthetics since the early 1970s. The aim is to focus on those areas of feminist inquiry that have most significantly affected philosophical aesthetics in the analytic tradition. Feminist aesthetics starts from the assumption that the historical domain of art and the aesthetic is itself patriarchal. At one level, it simply extends the analysis of patriarchy to the practices of art institutions, in particular to the treatment of women in and by these institutions (e.g. demotions in the status of female-authored artworks previously believed to be the work of male artists).
Amy G. Mazur
This article explores how feminist comparative policy (FCP) takes an empirical and integrative approach to feminist analysis. Gender work in American politics is perhaps the most empirical and the least integrative with other areas of feminist analysis. The Research Network on Gender Politics and the State (RNGS) case illustrates that the persistence of the glass wall is a result of a complex combination of factors: shared scholarly agendas, androcentrism, publication strategies, and timing. As the case of FCP, and more specifically the RNGS project, demonstrate, breaking down the persistent barriers between feminist and nonfeminist research is a slow process, one that takes considerable resources on the part of feminist scholars, the presence of male allies on the nonfeminist side who see the importance of gender research, and also the persistence and power of female feminist scholars to pursue the integrative agenda in nonfeminist publication and scholarly outlets.
This article examines feminist approaches to the philosophy of education. It suggests that the philosophy of education should be an ideal domain for the analysis and application of feminist philosophy. It discusses John Dewey's opinion that there is a sense in which philosophy is the philosophy of education and that our schools should be mini-societies that reflect our best conception of what our larger society should be. It highlights the efforts of feminists to upgrade first generation ideas on liberal feminism.
This article deals with certain areas of biological sciences related to social issues. It demonstrates the feminist and non-feminist philosophy of biology to get the science regarding sex, women, and gender right. The gender norms range from specific claims about men being suited to business and women to domestic labor. There are arguments to limit women's access to the public sphere. Sociobiologist investigated assumptions to show isomorphism between a particular theory and the world. It focuses on the assumptions that need to be tested in order to apply biological theories of sexual selection. A view known as “reductionism” is also discussed according to which things in the universe are arranged hierarchically and that causal interactions are limited to the lowest levels of this hierarchy. Feminist philosophy of biology functions to maximize the accuracy of biological knowledge claims and the clarity of biological concepts.
Freedom or liberty—the terms will be used interchangeably in this account—is obviously of fundamental importance to politics. The ideal of a free society is one that animates a range of political positions, and its pursuit has been a galvanizing force in both national and international politics. Ideas about freedom have varied through Western history. One of the major variations is to be found in the contrast between positive and negative liberty. A positive conception of liberty is that freedom is not just or even freedom from coercion and interference but, rather, is realized in living a particular way of life in accordance with a conception of virtue. Positive liberty in this sense is goal directed and implies that to be free involves living in accordance with certain moral values. It is frequently argued that there are two ways of grounding ideas of basic moral rights: liberty and interests. The distinction between negative and positive liberty is important here. On the negative view of rights, a right is a protection against forbidden forms of coercion.
This article explores feminist stances toward gender and rationality. These divide into three broad camps: the “classical feminist” stance, according to which what needs to be challenged are not available norms and ideals of rationality, but rather the supposition that women are unable to meet them; the “different voice” stance, which challenges available norms of rationality as either incomplete or accorded an inflated importance; and the “strong critical” stance, which finds fault with the norms and ideals themselves. This contribution focuses on assessing the various projects—some rival, some complementary—being pursued within the third, critical camp. This article offers a reconstruction of Catherine MacKinnon's critique of norms of rationality according to which they function to maintain relations of dominance by deauthorizing feminist claims to knowledge.
This chapter analyzes Levinas’s references to the feminine and the maternal through their connection to his treatment of time. Totality and Infinity provides a progressive narrative in which subjects are confronted with their responsibility to the other, and the feminine plays an instrumental role within that narrative. By contrast, Otherwise than Being discusses maternity in an anti-teleological, non-linear register. The maternal body is not the precursor to the ethical relation but an experience of ethical exposure, and one that confounds chronological representation. The concept of the maternal in Levinas’s later work thus more radically challenges the ideal of the “virile” subject, in ways that are congruent with feminist critiques, despite the fact that Levinas himself does not develop those possibilities.
This article focuses on Nietzsche’s views about women. It describes the emergence of Nietzsche’s antifeminism and misogyny in 1883 with Thus Spoke Zarathustra; before this Nietzsche was a ‘cautious feminist’. His attitudes changed following his disastrous experience with Lou Salomé; it was this biographical event, and not his philosophical thinking, that explains his ‘turn’ against women. The article also considers why Nietzsche’s women friends and other feminists often found his writings congenial despite his misogynistic remarks.
This chapter is concerned with exploring the relevance of gender as a critical category for clinical psychoanalysis. It recognizes two developments in the late twentieth century that may appear to present gender as either not a pressing issue in self-development or as sufficiently troubled and undone to have lost its regulatory grip. The first concerns the domination of the psychoanalytic imagination with preoccupations other than sexuality, sexual difference, and gender; and the second is linked to the deconstruction and reconstruction of hetero-normative gendered frameworks initiated by cultural gender theorists. It is argued that the gendered binary of Western thought with its socially normative values and assumptions shapes the unconscious minds of every person. Notwithstanding critical appreciation of the gendered discourses of psychoanalysis as well as expanded thinking about the possible repertoire of individual gender variations, gender continues to carry evaluative burdens.
This article presents a feminist analysis of the concept of self. It discusses the issues of the subjectivity of the self and the instituted social imaginary and suggests that the ideas of positioning of being positioned within power structures have implications for epistemological, moral, and political philosophies. It explains that in order to view real selves, one needs to understand their particular positions and how they are thrown together into the complex, rich, and challenging world.
This chapter develops an alternative to the dominant articulation of human existence on the basis of classical phenomenology, arguing that Edmund Husserl's phenomenological inquiries into the structures of embodiment provide a very different and more fruitful starting point for the investigation of sexual difference than the ideas of social gender and biological sex. The ways of classifying sex and gender characteristics mark them out on several different conceptual bases, and thus their categories may not correspond or coincide. Moreover historical and biological inquiries indicate that the dimorphic notion of sex is prescriptive and constructive. Finally the sex/gender paradigm is dominated by the explanatory framework of causes and effects. The phenomenological analysis shows that the causal-functional framework is inadequate for the investigation of the plurality of the bodily existence and sexual difference as a dimension of this existence. In the light of the explication of the concepts of sex and gender, and the phenomenological analysis of embodiment, the sex/gender paradigm cannot offer a basis for a comprehensive philosophy of sexual existence.
Identifying herself as a philosopher, author, and feminist, Simone de Beauvoir took the phenomenological ideas of the lived body, situated freedom, intentionality, intersubjective vulnerability, and the existential ethical-political concepts of critique, responsibility, and justice, in new directions. She distinguished two moments in an ongoing dialogue of intentionality: the joys of disclosure and the desires of mastery. She disrupted the phenomenological account of perception, revealing its hidden ideological dimensions. Attending to the embodied experience of sex, gender, and age, she challenged the privilege accorded to the working body and introduced us to the unique humanity of the erotic body. Her categories of the Other and the Second Sex exposed the patriarchal norms that are naturalized in the taken-for-granted givens of the life-world. In translating the phenomenological-existential concepts of transcendence and freedom into an activist ethics of critique, hope, and liberation, her work continues to influence phenomenology, existentialism, and feminist theory and practice.
Skye C. Cleary
The best kind of love is authentic love. To love authentically involves respecting one another’s freedom, being tender and caring, and supporting each other’s independent projects. This is what Simone de Beauvoir argued, and to some degree practiced. The problem, as she saw it, was that throughout history, few have loved authentically, primarily because of women’s oppressive situation. Her existential philosophy—which foregrounds freedom from oppression and freedom to choose how to live—underpins everything she says about the challenges of loving well. Beauvoir argues that lesbian relationships and friendships point to ways in which we can transcend the bounds of traditional loving roles and expectations and realize something closer to her ideal of mature reciprocal nonsadistic, nonmasochistic mutual respect. Nevertheless, her nonsystematic approach creates tensions between freedom and commitment, marriage and authentic loving, and pragmatic means and existential ends.