The ideology of the normal: Desire, ethics, and Kierkegaardian critique

In Lisa Tessman (ed.), Feminist Ethics and Social and Political Philosophy: Theorizing the Non-Ideal. Springer. pp. 85--104 (2009)
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According to recent scholarship within queer theory, heterosexuality maintains itself as a class by employing its epistemological authority for identifying and defining homosexuals. Heterosexuality is thus an ideological abstraction that privileges those with social and material advantages, rather than an accurate description of the actual, and thus heteronormative descriptions of sexuality correspond to Charles W. Mills’ description of ideal-as-idealized theory. Since ideological arguments cannot be overturned simply by appeals to rational debate, to what can we turn to subvert the sense of entitlement and rightness that heteronormativity provides? Recent feminist philosophers have stressed the distinction between guilt as emotional self-assessment and existential guilt. Taking up Kierkegaard’s existential account of guilt, I claim that in order to advance a non-ideal theory of desire, which grounds critique in actual conditions, it is important to consider the nature of subjective attachments to exclusive, idealized conceptions of the ‘normal.’



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Ada S. Jaarsma
Mount Royal University

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Rethinking the Secular in Feminist Marriage Debates.Ada S. Jaarsma - 2010 - Studies in Social Justice 4 (1):47-66.

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