Issues surrounding pregnancy loss are rarely addressed in Christian philosophy. Yet a modest estimate based on the empirical and medical literature places the rate of pregnancy loss between fertilization and term at somewhere between 40–60%. If miscarriage really is as common as the research gives us to believe, then it would seem a pressing topic for a Christian philosophy of the future to address. This paper attempts to begin this work by showing how thinking more closely about pregnancy loss understood (...) as a grievable event can have a profound impact on the way we think about particular theoretical debates in Christian philosophy and provide opportunities for the discipline to put its skills to use in the development of helpful conceptual and hermeneutical resources for those grieving such losses. However, this will require seeking out and taking seriously the testimony of those who have undergone pregnancy loss, as well as getting clearer on how best to conceptualize pregnancy and its loss in the first place. (shrink)
If belief in the redemptive nature of the life and death of Christ is to be intellectually defensible, Christian philosophers must have an account of it that is not only philosophically coherent, but also morally unobjectionable. Drawing on feminist theology, this paper explores the epistemological and gendered implications of traditional approaches to the atonement; namely, the normalization of submission to violence and the idealization of suffering. Conceiving of redemption as arising out of sacrificial submission to violence has corrupted the shared (...) hermeneutical resources through which Christian communities conceptualize ethical conduct, love, and virtue. Borrowing in part from those who have suggested a moral influence view, like Abelard, this paper argues Christian philosophers pursue a new kind of exemplarist model. That is, perhaps death has no central role in what redeems us, nor sacrificial love, but rather resisting injustice, even when the risks of doing so may be fatal. (shrink)
Horizons of Difference offers twelve original essays inspired by Luce Irigaray's complex, nuanced critique of Western philosophy, culture, and metaphysics, and her call to rethink our relationship to ourselves and the world through sexuate difference. Contributors engage urgent topics in a range of fields, including trans feminist theory, feminist legal theory, film studies, critical race theory, social-political theory, philosophy of religion, environmental ethics, philosophical aesthetics, and critical pedagogy. In so doing, they aim to push the scope of Irigaray's work beyond (...) its horizon. Horizons of Difference seeks conversations that Irigaray herself has yet to fully consider and explores areas that stretch the limits of the notion of sexuate difference itself. Sexuate difference is a unifying mode of thought, bringing disparate disciplines and groups together. Yet it also resists unification in demanding that we continually rethink the basic coordinates of space, place, and identity. Ultimately, Horizons of Difference insists that the fragmented, wounded subjectivities within the dominant regime of masculine sameness can inform how we negotiate space, find place, and transform identity. (shrink)
Pamela Sue Anderson's A Feminist Philosophy of Religion and Grace Jantzen's Becoming Divine: Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Religion set the tone for subsequent feminist philosophies of religion. This Element builds upon the legacy of their investigations, revisiting and extending aspects of their work for a contemporary context struggling with the impact of 'post-truth' forms of politics. Reclaiming the power of collective action felt in religious community and the importance of the struggle for truth enables a changed perspective on the (...) world, itself necessary to realise the feminist desire for more flourishing forms of life and relationship crucial to feminist philosophy of religion. (shrink)
This paper employs tools and critiques from analytic feminist scholarship in order to show how particular values commonly on display in analytic theology have served both to marginalize certain voices from the realm of analytic theological debate and to reinforce a particular conception of the divine—one which, despite its historical roots, is not inevitable. I claim that a particular conception of what constitutes a “rational, objective, analytic thinker” often displays certain affinities with those infinite or maximal properties that analytic theologians (...) have taken to be most relevant or essential to their theological conceptions of the divine, and I explore what thinking differently about the former might mean for how we think about the latter and vice versa. (shrink)
The Christian and Islamic doctrine of the VIRGIN BIRTH claim God asexually impregnated the Virgin Mary with Jesus, Mary’s impregnation was fully consensual (VIRGIN CONSENT), and God never acts immorally (DIVINE GOODNESS). First, I show that God’s actions and Mary’s background beliefs undermine her consent by virtue of coercive incentives, Mary’s comparative powerlessness, and the generation of moral conflicts. Second, I show that God’s nondisclosure of certain reasonably relevant facts undermines Mary’s informed consent. Third, I show that a recent attempt (...) by Jack Mulder to rescue VIRGIN CONSENT fails. As DIVINE GOODNESS and VIRGIN CONSENT are more central to orthodoxy, Christians and Muslims have powerful reason to reject VIRGIN BIRTH. (shrink)
The primary goal of this article is point out certain close parallels between some ideas of the radical feminist theorist Mary Daly and those of the French philosopher Henri Bergson. These similarities are particularly striking regarding distinctions made by both authors between two fundamentally contrasting types of cognitive faculty, of time and temporal experience, and of self and emotion. Daly departs from Bergson inasmuch as she employs these distinctions in her own way. She does not—like Bergson—employ them to depict the (...) result of a natural process of consciousness or life, and the dangers for human freedom and thought of not properly respecting these differences. Rather, she locates these differences within a more liberatory, ethical perspective to ground a sharp, inimical contrast between feminist creative movement on the one hand, and static, fixing, and “fixating” patriarchy, with its “technocratic” pretensions, on the other. My hope is that highlighting the similarities between Daly and Bergson will open new paths of appreciation and critique of Daly’s work. (shrink)
Appeal to women’s experience for moral delineation in theological ethics has been perplexed by the issue of cultural diversity and colonialism as raised by postcolonial critique. This paper aims to examine the debates from Third-World feminism and Christian feminism in dealing with difference and solidarity, leading to the call for contextual analysis and related power mappings. Margaret A. Farley’s proposal for sexual ethics in Just Love will then serve as an example to discuss how the search for common morality among (...) cultural diversity may prevent or reinforce colonial agendas and other privileges. (shrink)
Nowadays, Arab and Muslim societies live a new phase, in which a modern vision is being developed about many teachings brought about by religions, especially Islam, including the teachings concerning women, their rights and position in society. It has come in a new induction of religious texts and Islamic heritage. This movement in the Arab world has been called feminism. Islamic feminism tries to present the idea of equality as part of the Qur’anic concept of equality between human beings. It (...) calls for the application of the concept of justice that was brought about by the teachings of Islam. In this article, we have tried to put forth the continuing debate on the situation of Islamic feminism in the Islamic discourse, discuss its most important epistemological foundations and present a critical analytical view of this new discourse. We have concluded that this new induction of women's rights comes within the general Islamic framework, and that it is acceptable on condition that it would not blindly imitate the Western culture, but to adopt its own foundations and epistemological perspectives derived from the Qur’anic teachings. Many of opinions proposed by interpretative feminism’s leading women may be wrong and not but personal attempts. Some of them need more thoughtful contemplation, in order to get to definitive conclusion about it. (shrink)
The politics of shame makes part of the politics of affects. It is becoming a prominent form of politics in the age of social media. Social media, insofar as it presents a plurality of perspectives, can be a milieu for public deliberation. Acknowledging that politics of shame can be of different types, this essay considers two different experiences of politics of shame in social media. It compares public shaming as an activist strategy of moral reform in contemporary feminist politics with (...) politics of shame under authoritarianism by concentrating on two cases from Turkey. At first the structure of shame will be articulated by recourse to the phenomenological and psychological theories of shame. In public shaming for feminist moral reform, the publically shamed agent, who is a feminist, is accused by a group for performing an injurious speech act or a deed with mediate pernicious, harmful consequences. It is my contention that a theory of gender or sexual difference can be false, but is not morally equivalent to an attack on somebody’s existence, racism, and acts of genocide denial. Practices of public shaming in feminism are not self-defense; they are repressive and unfair attacks that destroy public deliberation. It is also problematic to attack feminists, on the grounds of arguments that are based on analogies, which do not apply to non-Western geo-political contexts. All politics of shame is not wrong. For example, the practices of politics of shame that concern non-elaborate mourning have moral and political value insofar as they can play a role in challenging an authoritarian political rule. In this case, the public shame results from attesting to injustice done to the other in the public sphere, a public sphere, which is already closed, and highly manipulated by the authoritarian state. (shrink)
It is simply no longer acceptable to speak of the goddess Athena from the fifth generation of Olympian/Orphic Greece without reference to her mother Metis. Hesiod, among others, tells us Metis appears as a reincarnation of her first-generation self in the Olympian dynasty as wife of Zeus. She was originally the cosmic egg of all creation in the Orphic Theogony, as recounted by Apollodorus, and Taylor, from whose mucosity, the entire genealogy of the Olympian/Orphic heaven, is spawned. However, from the (...) moment Zeus murdered Metis as she was about to give birth to Athena their daughter, she has lapsed into the fissures of forgetfulness in philosophy, theology, mythology and early psychoanalysis. Indeed, in each field of inquiry, Athena is overwhelmingly deemed ‘unmothered’ and produced as Harrison tells us as a desperate ploy ‘from the brain of Zeus’ through his cunning intellect, for Athena to serve as his ‘mouthpiece’. This paper seeks to do more than simply restore Metis as mother to Athena. It explores the tragedy inherited by her violent removal, for mother/daughter relations, grievability and sustained disavowal of maternal divinity in dominant discourse. (shrink)
Trans persons endure terrible injustices in this life: They are bullied, murdered, forced to conceal their identities, and denied opportunities that would be available to them if they were cis. This chapter offers grounds for theological hope—in particular, hope that the afterlife would be better for trans persons. I argue that we should view trans identities as worthy of respect and that, as a matter of justice, their gender identities should be preserved in the afterlife. I focus specifically on trans (...) persons with interests in transitioning and argue that they are owed an opportunity to transition in the afterlife. Moreover, the parties responsible for their earthly abuse are principally responsible for any transitioning costs and must participate directly in the process. Finally, trans persons should be provided opportunities to procreate and enter romantic unions they were denied during their earthly lives because of their trans identities. (shrink)
This paper is a survey of a number of women scholars who, during the last 20 years, have made extremely valuable contributions to the meanings and interpretations of the terms ‘violence,’ ‘vulnerability,’ and ‘precariousness.’ Each scholar has proposed in-depth insights that demonstrate that the terms they have examined can be reconfigured in more constructive and less definitive ways. In their respective pertinent observations, they have challenged the existing negative theories that associate violence with weakness and vulnerability with anger. Even though (...) there are critics who have found fault with these authors’ proposals, the impact of their studies has had revolutionary repercussions. (shrink)
Elizabeth Jennings was one of the most popular, prolific, and widely anthologized lyric poets in the second half of the twentieth century. This first biography, based on extensive archival research and interviews with Jennings's contemporaries, integrates her life and work and explores the 'inward war' the poet experienced as a result of her gender, religion, and mental fragility. Originally associated with the Movement, Jennings was sui generis, believing poetry was 'communication' and 'communion.' She wrote of nature, friendship, childhood, religion, love, (...) and art, endearing her to a wide audience. Yet lifelong depression, unbearable loneliness, unrelenting fears, poverty, and physical illness plagued her. These were exacerbated by her gender in a male-dominated literary world and an inherited Catholic worldview which initially inculcated guilt and shame. However, a tenacious drive to be a poet made her, 'the most unconditionally loved writer of her generation.' Although her claim was that the poem is not the poet, her life is tracked in her voluminous published and unpublished poetry and prose. The themes of mental illness, the importance of place, the problems associated with being an unmarried woman artist, her relationship with literary mentors and younger poets, her non-feminist feminism, and her marginality and sympathy for the outcast are all explored. It was poetry which saved her; it helped her push back darkness and discover order in the midst of chaos. Poetry was her raison d'etre. It was her life. (shrink)
The pathologization of women’s depression covers over the social and institutional causes of that symptomology. Insofar as patriarchal values continue to devalue and debase women and mothers in ways that colonize psychic space, and depression becomes a cover for what I call ‘social melancholy.’ This is not the melancholy of traditional psychoanalysis, but a form of melancholy that results from oppression, domination, and the colonization of psychic space. Social melancholy differs from both Freud’s notion of melancholy in that it is (...) the result of social factors that constitute the depressed subject as ashamed and lacking agency. Crucial to my analysis is a distinction between shame and guilt missing from traditional psychoanalytic accounts of melancholy and depression. (shrink)
Over the past several decades, scholars working in biblical, theological, and religious studies have increasingly attended to the substantive ways that our experiences and understanding of God and God's relation to the world are structured by our experiences and concepts of race, gender, disability, and sexuality. These personal and social identities and their intersections serve as a hermeneutical lens for our interpretations of God, self, the other, and our religious texts and traditions. However, they have not received nearly the same (...) level of attention from analytic theologians and philosophers of religion, and so a wide range of important issues remain ripe for analytic treatment. The papers in this volume address the various ways in which the aforementioned social identities intersect with, shape, and might be shaped by the questions with which analytic theology and philosophy of religion have typically been concerned, as well as what new questions they suggest to the discipline. We focus on three central areas of analytic theology: methodological principles, the intersection of social identities with religious epistemology, and the connections among eschatology, ante-mortem suffering, and ante-mortem social perceptions of bodies. (shrink)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms the existence of a divine woman, a Heavenly Mother as a companion to a Heavenly Father. Feminist philosophers of religion have argued for the importance of a divine feminine as a challenge to patriarchal religion, yet the Heavenly Mother tradition has not created an egalitarian religion in Mormonism. Mormon feminists have charged that relative silence about this teaching is a primary cause of this discrepancy. This paper explores the performative dynamics of (...) speech and silence and their relationship to presence and absence in a feminist analysis of power. (shrink)
This book addresses the various ways in which key social identities--for example, race, gender, and disability--intersect with, shape, and are shaped by traditional questions in analytic theology and philosophy of religion. The book both breaks new ground and encourages further analytic-theological work in these important areas of research.
This paper deals with the possibility of an incarnation in the feminine in our age. In the first part, we discuss sexual genealogies in ancient Israel and address the problem of the extreme vulnerability of feminine life in the midst of an ancient sacrificial crisis. The second part opens with an analysis of Feuerbach’s interpretation of the Trinity. The triadic logic, as found within various religious contexts, is also affirmed. Based on our analyses from the first and the second part, (...) in the third part, we address the problems of feminine vulnerability and fragility on one hand, and triadic thinking on the other hand, and relate them to an original proposal for the future matrixial theology of incarnation. (shrink)
This paper deals with the concept of three eras, as brought to us firstly in the Babylonian Talmud, and later reshaped and reformulated by Christian theologians Joachim of Fiore, Amalric of Bène, and finally by Luce Irigaray. In the first part, we start with the idea of the three eras. This is followed by a critical approach to Sloterdijk’s You must change your life in which religion is substituted by the anthropotechnics. We argue that even in these secular times, the (...) salvation history still remains unfulfilled and that our world is in need of a new, post-Christian materially spiritual narrative. The second part is entirely dedicated to Amalricians and their teachings. Also by tackling strong Islamic influences, we try to find a new opening towards the post-Christian era beyond the mentioned anthropotechnics/atheism divide. In the third part, the Age of the Spirit is approached and defined as a future messianic-utopian era in which a hidden and forgotten inner spiritual core will be revealed to us and in which humanity will give itself a gift of becoming spiritually transformed and divinized. (shrink)
Célèbre fourmi-homme E.O. Wilson a toujours été l’un de mes héros - non seulement un biologiste exceptionnel, mais l’une des minorités minuscules et en voie de disparition des intellectuels qui ose au moins faire allusion à la vérité sur notre nature que d’autres ne parviennent pas à saisir, ou dans la mesure osant o saisir, soigneusement éviter pour l’opportunisme politique. Malheureusement, il met fin à sa longue carrière d’une manière très sordide en tant que parti à une attaque ignorante et (...) arrogante sur la science motivée au moins en partie par la ferveur religieuse de ses collègues de Harvard. Il montre les conséquences ignobles lorsque les universités acceptent l’argent de groupes religieux, les revues scientifiques sont tellement impressionnés par les grands noms qu’ils évitent l’examen par les pairs appropriés, et quand les egos sont autorisés à devenir hors de contrôle. Il nous entraîne dans la nature de l’évolution, les bases de la méthodologie scientifique, comment les mathématiques se rapportent à la science, ce qui constitue une théorie, et même quelles attitudes à la religion et la générosité sont appropriées que nous approchons inexorablement l’effondrement de la civilisation industrielle. Ceux qui souhaitent un cadre complet à jour pour le comportement humain de la vue moderne de deux systemes peuvent consulter mon livre 'The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle' 2nd ed (2019). Ceux qui s’intéressent à plus de mes écrits peuvent voir «Talking Monkeys --Philosophie, Psychologie, Science, Religion et Politique sur une planète condamnée --Articles et revues 2006-2019 3e ed (2019) et Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2020) et autres. (shrink)
This paper analyzes two philosophers’ views on chastity as a virtue, comparing Song Siyeol, a Korean neo-Confucian philosopher of the east, and David Hume, a Scottish philosopher. Despite the importance in and impact on women’s lives, chastity has been understated in religio-philosophical fields. The two philosophers’ understandings and arguments differ in significant ways and yet share important common aspects. Analyzing the views of Song and Hume helps us better understand and approach the issue of women’s chastity, not only as a (...) historical phenomenon but also in the contemporary world, more fully and deeply. The analysis will provide an alternative way to re-appropriate the concept of chastity as a virtue. (shrink)
Philosophical Posthumanism is a recent area of scholarship which Francesca Ferrando has introduced in her eponymous book. The author situates the subject as one closely related to Critical Posthumanism and Cultural Posthumanism. She also discusses its close relatives such as Transhumanism and its forebears such as Antihumanism and Poststructuralism. The present article is a discussion of Ferrando’s text, tracing its lineages and relating it to the ideas of thinkers such as Frederich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze and Sri Aurobindo.
The dialogue between Pūjanī and Brahmadatta is a lesser known episode in the Mahābhārata. This paper explores how Pūjanī’s voice is relevant when rethinking autonomy for feminist relational selves. I first unravel the different ‘stories’ that can be told through this single but multi-layered narrative. Then, by re-arranging their insights and using the idea of ‘normative authority’ proposed by Catriona Mackenzie, I piece together a picture of autonomy foregrounding dependence on others and volatile emotionality––both of which are generally thought to (...) be opposed to ‘being in control’ or being autonomous. This emerging picture of self-governance indicates how even selves constituted by relationships to others can exit relational situations that are or become harmful. I also show that the episode leaves behind ‘internalist’ conceptions of autonomy for more capacious notions of self-determination that incorporate the importance of structural changes for agentive freedom. This goes beyond the insights of the Mahābhārata in a self-reflexive move built into the story itself. (shrink)
This paper attempts to answer, as well as give metaphysical specificity to, a question within the philosophy and theology of gender which strikes the heart of the Christian confession of the gospel. Against critics who say that the masculinity of Christ’s human nature renders him unable to save women as well as men, it draws on the recent literature on feminist metaphysics and analytic Christology to develop a model of the Incarnation able to avoid such criticisms.
Belonging to Hebrew Wisdom literature, the Song of Songs offers a fresh look at love and relationships through its main female character, the Shulamite, which profoundly differs from traditional, religious approaches to love and sexuality. Drawing from exegetical as well as philosophical resources, Abi Doukhan follows the Shulamite's journey away from patriarchy to her own self-individuation as she discovers a wisdom that is deeply personal and feminine.
Karl Rahner is not usually thought of as a feminist. Though feminist theology has often made recurs to his theological anthropology, Rahner is assumed to offer feminist theology little in terms of an analysis of sex, gender, and human nature. While Rahner’s explicit writings on women appear fragmentary and ambivalent, an investigation of the philosophical and theological underpinnings of Rahner’s theological anthropology shows that Karl Rahner’s understanding of human nature is imbued with a conception of sex and gender that constitutes (...) an important contribution to an understanding of sex, gender, and human nature in theological anthropology in general and feminist theology in particular. (shrink)
Eleonore Stump’s Atonement marks a significant advance in atonement theory, especially in its nuanced approach to ethical and relational complexities, but tends to treat sin as social only insofar as one individual’s sin can harm or shame another. I argue that that social sin requires social redemption and that exemplarism would provide a solution. Christ’s pursuit of love and justice, in the midst of oppression, temptation and struggle, offers a distinctive model of virtue, toward collective restoration of the world. While (...) we cannot redeem ourselves, in calling us to effect justice and union with one another, God may also call us closer to Godself. (shrink)
Religious communities often discourage disagreement with religious authorities, on the grounds that allowing it would be epistemically detrimental. I argue that this attitude is mistaken, because any social position in a community—including religious authority—comes with epistemic advantages as well as epistemic limitations. I argue that religious communities stand to benefit epistemically by engaging in disagreement with people occupying other social positions. I focus on those at the community’s margins and argue that religious marginalization is apt to yield religiously important insights; (...) so their disagreement with religious authorities should be encouraged. (shrink)
I examine challenges to images of a personal god definitive for normatively policed theism (often called “traditional theism”), questioning whether a subject can be conscious of a transcendent being. I examine the challenges to show that disappointment with such images calls for rethinking terms like “transcendence” in horizontal rather than vertical registers. Through this, I indicate an irony in yearning for transcendence, one in which there is movement toward—rather than beyond—the utterly ordinary. We will see that such un-extra-ordinary transcendence makes (...) a difference once difference is no longer determined under the hegemony of what Levinas calls “the atheistic I.” I bring together resources from feminist philosophies and Asian religions both to elaborate on the nature of the atheistic I and to rehabilitate a redeeming appreciation of the ordinary. My hope is to ameliorate disempowered estrangement by indicating ways the ordinary generates, not inhibits, becoming. However, my broader intent is to contribute to shifting sands in contemporary philosophy of religion due to recent calls for diversifying the field by including multiple religions, questioning the centrality of belief, and engaging multiple methods relevant in religious studies. (shrink)
This chapter charts various ways that religious persons and groups can be perpetrators and victims of epistemic injustice. The practices of testifying and interpreting experiences take a range of distinctive forms in religious life, for instance, if the testimonial practices require a special sort of religious accomplishment, such as enlightenment, or if proper understanding of religious experiences is only available to those with authentic faith. But it is also clear that religious communities and traditions have been sources of epistemic injustice, (...) for instance, by conjoining epistemic and spiritual credibility in ways disadvantageous to ‘deviant’ groups. I focus mainly on the major monotheistic religions, culturally dominant in the modern West. (shrink)
Overall, this book is indispensable for anyone wanting to have a richer understanding of how the Qur’an is read and interpreted within a feminist context. It is a wonderful synthesis of the work that has been done in the field thus far and provides tools necessary to seek out new avenues in understanding the Qur’an while still retaining a feminist spirit. Yet, in the end, this book does not disturb Muslim world order. It remains an overwhelming possibility for Hidayatullah that (...) interpretations which hierarchally differentiate between men and women may not be wrong. There is a comforting sense of resignation, or at least an affirmation of the ambivalence that Muslim mothers have transmitted to their daughters for centuries. We, feminist Muslims, are left with the same ambiguity with which we started the book. However, we now have a much deeper understanding of the nature of that ambiguity, and that perhaps is worth embracing in itself. (shrink)
This paper on feminism was given at a public lecture in Spain. The author speaks from the perspective of contemporary Catholicism, represented in the magisterial teachings of St John Paul II, foreshadowed in the works of St. Edith Stein, and amplified and developed by contemporary Catholic scholars such as Prudence Allen, Michelle Schumacher, Leonie Caldecott and Cardinals Angelo Scola, Walter Kasper and Karl Lehmann.
This article probes the relative absence of religion within discussions of intersectionality, and begins to address this absence by bringing intersectionality studies into conversation with another significant field within feminist theory: the study of religious women's agency. Although feminist literatures on intersectionality and religious women's agency have garnered a great deal of scholarly attention, these two bodies of work have rarely been engaged together. After surveying both fields, I argue that research on religious women's agency not only exposes an ambiguity (...) at the heart of intersectionality between identity and oppression, but also challenges several aspects of intersectionality studies, especially as recent theorists increasingly turn away from identity politics in favor of a structural critique of power. These aspects of intersectionality include its often unsituated critique of power, as well as its reliance on a negatively defined consensus on anti-oppression. (shrink)
Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity.
Metaethical questions concern the nature of morality: are there moral properties, and, if so, what kind of thing are they? How do they motivate us? How should we understand moral discourse, and how can we gain moral knowledge?
Many commentators have contrasted the way that sociability is theorized in the writings of Mary Astell and Damaris Masham, emphasizing the extent to which Masham is more interested in embodied, worldly existence. I argue, by contrast, that Astell's own interest in imagining a constitutively relational individual emerges once we pay attention to her use of religious texts and tropes. To explore the relevance of Astell's Christianity, I emphasize both how Astell's Christianity shapes her view of the individual's relation to society (...) and how Masham's contrasting views can be analyzed through the lens of her charge that Astell is an “enthusiast.” In late seventeenth-century England, “enthusiasm” was a term of abuse that, commentators have recently argued, could function polemically to dismiss those deemed either excessively social or antisocial. By accusing Astell of enthusiasm, I claim, Masham seeks to marginalize the relational self that Astell imagines and to promote a more instrumental view of social ties. I suggest some aspects of Astell's thought that may have struck contemporaries as “enthusiastic” and contrast her vision of the self with Masham's more hedonistic subject. I conclude that, although each woman differently configures the relation between self and society, they share a desire to imagine autonomy within a relational framework. (shrink)