Further Thoughts on Hegel and Feminism: A Response to Philip J. Kain and Nadine Changfoot

The Owl of Minerva 33 (2):223-231 (2002)

In “Hegel, Antigone, and Women,” Philip Kain argues for a socially constructive type of individualism that he also attributes to Hegel’s Antigone. He regards this non-destructive version of individualism as a model for non-liberal or post-liberal feminism. I would like to raise two problems with the argument here. First, does Kain’s conception adequately capture what we mean, at a bare minimum, by individualism, that is, some sort of development and expression of unique particularity? Second, is this concept of individualism, one that is compatible with familial corporatism, in fact attributable to Hegel’s Antigone? Kain proposes that “Hegel’s goal is to get beyond [the] destructive form of individualism [that involves conflict] to an individualism formed by, in harmony with, and reinforcing the institutions of our sociocultural world”. Kain further proposes that we find this in Antigone. For Hegel’s conception of Antigone’s “individualism is... manifested in and through acting in perfect solidarity with the family, religion, and tradition”. “Her individualism,” Kain goes on, “is the sort that allows a self embedded in a context of cultural relations, institutions, and common customs, traditions, and practices to develop an individual identity”. And what is this sense of identity given that she is in “perfect solidarity” with her group and her times? It is this, according to Kain
Keywords Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0030-7580
DOI 10.5840/owl20023326
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