Feminism and Heterodoxy

Philosophy Today 63 (3):795-803 (2019)
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How could a philosopher who insists on the exclusion of women from citizenship and state office by virtue of their insuperable weakness be an inspiration for feminism? The puzzles over Spinoza’s egalitarian credentials pose a problem particularly if one understands feminism primarily or exclusively as a demand for equality with men. When feminism is seen as a subcategory of Enlightenment commitments, one may choose to see Spinoza’s misogyny as superficial and as a betrayal of the radical potential of the egalitarianism yielded by his metaphysics. But if feminism is not understood exclusively as one strand of late modern orthodoxy, we might better understand the surprising companionship of Spinoza and feminism. Indeed, Moira Gatens finds the heterodoxy of Spinoza’s thinking with respect to the ruling ideas today to be what is most valuable for feminism. Feminist Spinozism does not add to the chorus of praise for egalitarianism, secular politics, or the authority of reason in contrast to power. The Spinozist feminism pioneered by Moira Gatens and Genevieve Lloyd finds resources precisely in Spinoza’s challenges to late modern common sense, including perhaps especially an ethics and politics grounded in the givenness of human equality.

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Hasana Sharp
McGill University

Citations of this work

Joyful Proximities.Moira Gatens - 2019 - Philosophy Today 63 (3):805-813.

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Cartesian Generosity.Lisa Shapiro - 1999 - Acta Philosophica Fennica 64:249-276.

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