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date: 17 May 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Framed in terms of the problems associated with traditional thinking on gender within humanism, this chapter sets about the task of carving out an approach to humanism that would enable flexible, fluid, and malleable understandings of social difference, such as gender, by calling for a re-orientation of humanism that can account for human variability over time, space, and place. Essentially, the chapter argues that humanism’s reliance on fixed categories of reason and human nature has reinforced a White, male logic of domination. First, it suggests a rethinking of humanism as a constructed concept, rather than an idea that somehow metaphysically emanates from some universal core of “human nature.” The chapter suggests a charting of humanism that moves beyond essences insomuch that free-floating “essences” (e.g., gender) collapse the construction (of humanism) back onto, and within, the domain of metaphysics. Next, it looks at origins, attempting to disrupt the science-based situativity in Enlightenment notions of (white, male, objective) “rationality” that were constructed over and against “irrational” categories of difference, such as gender.

Keywords: gender, essence, humanist epistemologies of difference, reason, knowledge, feminism

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