This essay is a critical review of two recent collections, Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance, edited by Irene Diamond and Lee Quinby and Feminism as Critique: On the Politics of Gender, edited by Seyla Benhabib and Drucilla Cornell. While the collections differ in their manner of addressing the critical sources that have inspired them-the former relying upon a single theorist, the latter attempting to move through some of the philosophical history that constitutes our present theoretical terrain-both attempt to think (...) through and thus revisualize some of the categories of difference which we have inherited. Though the best essays from these collections are celebrated for demonstrating how "feminism as critique" can work to move us toward a clearer and more inclusive feminist theory, questions are raised about what the inattention to race in these volumes suggests about our own role in the construction of power and knowledge, and the erasures that help to secure them both. (shrink)
Deconstruction both by its friends and enemies has come to be associated with a set of cliches that completely misunderstands its ethical aspiration. It is particularly within the field of law that we can see the ethical force of deconstruction, and also illuminate its concrete and practical importance. In The Philosophy of the Limit Drucilla Cornell examines the relationship of deconstruction to questions of ethics, justice and legal interpretation. She argues that renaming deconstruction "the philosophy of the limit" will allow (...) us to be more precise about what deconstruction actually is philosophically and hence to articulate more clearly its significance for law. Cornell explores the ethical and juridical significance of the so-called postmodern rebellion against metaphysics. A shared ethical rebellion links philosophers as different as Theodor Adorno, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Emmanuel Levinas. Together they present a new ethical configuration, new in its difference from both the critical social theory of J$u$urgen Habermas and the analytic jurisprudence of Nagel and Rawls. A key aspect of this newness is the centrality given to the relationship between questions of ethics and sexual difference. Cornell argues that the appeal of Lacan's analysis to feminists is that it helps to explain the profound hold the gender hierarchy has over Western culture, including its theories of political transformation. Under a Lacanian analysis the law of gender identity will be replicated in the laws of an existing legal system. This means that we cannot hope to sustain legal reforms unless the gender hierarchy is challenged. Cornell examines Derrida's position on the significance of the gender hierarchy in philosophy and explores its ethical and political importance. Derrida's intervention against legal positivism has important implications for the legal reforms necessary to protect marginalized groups. His emphasis on the limit, she argues, is crucial to thosewhose well-being and very lives may depend on legal transformation, women and homosexuals, for example. In an important contribution to legal philosophy, Cornell explores the affinities of Derrida's writings with recent liberal analytic jurisprudence. She also explores the differences. Comparing Rawls's and Derrida's accounts of justice, she argues that Derrida gives greater attention to the necessary utopian moment in his insistence on maintaining the divide between law, established norms, and justice. Cornell's focus on the importance of the limit and the centrality of the gender hierarchy allows her to offer a view of jurisprudence different from both critical social theory and analytic jurisprudence. As we watch the long-fought-for civil rights of women systematically overturned, we have reason to think about how the connections she makes shed light on an underlying truth of our social, political, and legal reality. (shrink)
The essays in this volume present versions of feminism that are explicitly liberal, or versions of liberalism that are explicitly feminist. By bringing together some of the most respected and well-known scholars in mainstream political philosophy today, Amy R. Baehr challenges the reader to reconsider the dominant view that liberalism and feminism are 'incompatible.'.
Strangers to Nature brings together many of the leading scholars who are working to redefine and expand the discourse on animal ethics. This volume will engage both scholars and lay-people by revealing the breadth of theorizing about the human/non-human animal relationship that is currently taking place.
: This article argues that U.S. aggression against Afghanistan must be challenged through our support of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and their political program. It does so not only by considering competing judgments about what constitutes women's rights, but also through an appeal to the Kantian ideal of humanity and its relation to how we can re-think both terrorism and the treatment of those accused of terrorist activity.
In a unique rethinking of political transformation, Drucilla Cornell argues for the crucial role of psychoanalysis in social theory in voicing connection between our constitution as gendered subjects and social and political change.
One of the distinguishing features of Drucilla Cornell's work is its emphasis on the significance of ideals. The essays collected here examine how the ideals of freedom and equality associated with the democratic revolutions of the West have survived the challenges of twentieth century critiques. Cornell argues that, far from threatening these ideals, feminism, race theory, and other new theories have deepened their meaning and so allowed them to survive.
New York University, USA In theoritical and political writings, multiculturalism is most frequently understood in the language of recognition. Multiculturalist initiatives responds to the demands of minority cultures for political and cultural recognition so long denied them with devastating effects. In this article, we argue that the politics of recognition may have implicit dangers. In so far as it is articulated as a demand placed upon a dominant group and integrally tied to the substantiation of pre-given or fixed identity, it (...) can easily mask or even reiterate cultural hierarchization associated with Eurocentrism. We argue that it is necessary to understand recognition in terms of equal dignity; at the core of our argument is the insistence that all of us must have our potential to shape our identifications recognized by the state, such that we - and not the state - are the source of the meaning that they have to us, as individuals and as members of groups. Key Words: multiculturalism racism recognition U.S. politics and culture. (shrink)
The purpose of this volume is to rethink the questions posed by Derrida's writings and his unique philosophical positioning, without reference to the catch phrases that have supposedly summed up deconstruction.
In theoritical and political writings, multiculturalism is most frequently understood in the language of recognition. Multiculturalist initiatives responds to the demands of minority cultures for political and cultural recognition so long denied them with devastating effects. In this article, we argue that the politics of recognition may have implicit dangers. In so far as it is articulated as a demand placed upon a dominant group and integrally tied to the substantiation of pre-given or fixed identity, it can easily mask or (...) even reiterate cultural hierarchization associated with Eurocentrism. We argue that it is necessary to understand recognition in terms of equal dignity; at the core of our argument is the insistence that all of us must have our potential to shape our identifications recognized by the state, such that we – and not the state – are the source of the meaning that they have to us, as individuals and as members of groups. (shrink)
The sixteen essays in Gender Struggles address a wide range of issues in gender struggles, from the more familiar ones that, for the last thirty years, have been the mainstay of feminist scholarship, such as motherhood, beauty, and sexual violence, to new topics inspired by post-industrialization and multiculturalism, such as the welfare state, cyberspace, hate speech, and queer politics, and finally to topics that traditionally have not been seen as appropriate subjects for philosophizing, such as adoption, care work, and the (...) home. (shrink)
: In this essay, Cornell first invokes the concept of 'imaginary domain' to challenge the legal legitimacy of heterosexism in any form. She then claims that the imposition of heterosexism on the imaginary is a trauma whose severity can be grasped only with the help of psychoanalysis. Second, she argues that we cannot understand or undermine the power of heterosexist ideas without an alternative ethic of love. In beginning to think about a love that would necessarily pit itself against heterosexism, (...) Cornell draws on Jacques Derrida's metaphor of the lovance. (shrink)
The first collection of essays directed towards jurisprudence with a Hegelian theme. The editors are committed to the idea that Hegel is the future source of great energy and insight within the legal academy.
What is liberalism in the post-9/11 world? What do the ideals of civilization and civility mean during the Bush administration's campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq? Is liberalism still important? Cornell examines the most important scholars of today and their approach to these questions. She contrasts Amartya Sen's capabilities approach with that of Martha Nussbaum, and examines Adorno's salvaging the idea of progress. She critiques Richard Falk's justification of the bombing of Afghanistan, which has now led to the slippery slope that (...) Falk feared and could not defend against. Cornell also examines the ideal of civility as defined by Etienne Balibar and Thomas Nagel, with important implications for the world community. (shrink)
In this essay, Cornell first invokes the concept of 'imaginary domain' to challenge the legal legitimacy of heterosexism in any form. She then claims that the imposition of heterosexism on the imaginary is a trauma whose severity can be grasped only with the help of psychoanalysis. Second, she argues that we cannot understand or undermine the power of heterosexist ideas without an alternative ethic of love. In beginning to think about a love that would necessarily pit itself against heterosexism, Cornell (...) draws on Jacques Derrida's metaphor of the lovance. (shrink)
Socialism has been dismissed as a dream in the reality of the world of 9/11. But a mythical narrative that erases the possibility of moral agency doesnot honor the dead. In Walter Benjamin’s language, photographs of the actual dead can supply the “dialectical jolt” that illuminates a possible beyond. Myth isdangerous when it teaches that things will always be as they are now, but myth can also point to a different form of knowledge of the world, beyond the despairthat says (...) only violence can save the world. Socialism, through mutual respect and responsibility, calls us to be people in whose actions the present promises thefuture, shaping the world and becoming ourselves something different. Benjamin and Derrida agree that any attempt to describe experience fails because it points beyond itself to its own limit and how that limit opens space beyond it. Derrida’s “impossible” should not be read as knowledge of what cannot be done, but as a recognition that every experience points to its limit, and we are left with our own responsibility for justice in any given context. Beyond despairing meta-narratives, freedom comes in forming character through effort. (shrink)
: This essay is about women being crucial to the constitution of the state and the construction of the ideal of the nation. It argues that the role of actual women as reproducers of the nation and as iconic representations of mythological figures at the helm of nation building is bound up with a certain psychical fantasy of woman. It argues further that Women in Black and other political activist groups have developed embodied feminist politics that not only bring the (...) feminine body into public view during wartime but also undermine the place of the good woman as the reproducer of the nation who mourns only for the lost soldiers of her people. (shrink)
In this article I review Amaryta Sen’s powerful critique of transcendental institutionalism and his own ‘realization-focused comparison’ as an alternative way to think about justice. While deeply sympathetic with his critique of John Rawls I also argue that the role of the Kantian imagination is extremely important in figuring ideals of justice, which must guide ‘realization-focused comparison’. To do so I turn to Kant’s Critique of Judgment and his development of what he calls ‘aesthetic ideas’ as ways of representing the (...) great ideals such as freedom and equality, which can be aesthetically represented but never fully known. (shrink)
At the heart of Arendt's work is her conviction that the European tradition of moral thought has crumbled, not because of the failure of human beings to live up to their standards, or even because of philosophical inadequacy. Rather, the tradition of human dignity has succumbed to the brutal reality of the 20th century, a reality that has undone the tradition by confronting us with acts and behavior that simply fall outside or beyond the reach of these measures or ideals. (...) This chapter explores Arendt's judgment of modern European ideals. To do so it offers two examples of the role of moral and ethical ideals from the new South Africa. The first is the connection between the moral ideal of dignity, as it has been established as the Grundnorm of the entire South African Constitution. The second example is the South African Constitution's commitment of the current South African Constitutional Court to the ideal of humanity as this both demands and promotes a notion of cosmopolitan right. (shrink)