A highly original work in history and theory, this survey considers major themes including identity, class and sexual difference, weaves them into debates on the nature and point of history, and arrives at new ways of doing history that – very unusually – consider non-Western history and feminist approaches. Using wide range of historical and cultural contexts, the study draws extensively on feminist scholarship, both feminist history and postcolonial feminism.
This new collection of essays by leading feminist critics highlights the fresh perspectives that feminism can offer to the discussion of past philosophers. Rather than defining itself through opposition to a "male" philosophical tradition, feminist philosophy emerges not only as an exciting new contribution to the history of philosophy, but also as a source of cultural self-understanding in the present.
Feminist work in the history of philosophy has come of age as an innovative field in the history of philosophy. This volume marks that accomplishment with original essays by leading feminist scholars who ask basic questions: What is distinctive of feminist work in the history of philosophy? Is there a method that is distinctive of feminist historical work? How can women philosophers be meaningfully included in the history of the discipline? Who counts as a philosopher? This (...) collection is a unique collaboration among philosophers from North America and the Nordic Countries, including papers written from both analytic and continental philosophical perspectives and discussing both ancient and modern philosophers. Feminist Reflections on the History of Philosophy will be of interest to historians of philosophy, feminist theorists, women's studies faculty and students, and humanists interested in canon formation and transformation. (shrink)
: This essay offers a short overview of feminist history of science and introduces a new project into that history, namely feminist history of colonial science. My case study focuses on eighteenth-century voyages of scientific discovery and reveals how gender relations in Europe and the colonies honed selective collecting practices. Cultural, economic, and political trends discouraged the transfer from the New World to the Old of abortifacients (widely used by Amerindian and African women in the West Indies).1.
The past twenty five years have seen an explosion of feminist writing on the philosophical canon, a development that has clear parallels in other disciplines like literature and art history. Since most of the writing is, in one way or another, critical of the tradition, a natural question to ask is: Why does the history of philosophy have importance for feminist philosophers? This question assumes that the history of philosophy is of importance for feminists, an assumption that (...) is warranted by the sheer volume of recent feminist writing on the canon. This entry explores the different ways that feminist philosophers are interacting with the Western philosophical tradition. (shrink)
Is logic masculine? Is women's lack of interest in the "hard core" philosophical disciplines of formal logic and semantics symptomatic of an inadequacy linked to sex? Is the failure of women to excel in pure mathematics and mathematical science a function of their inability to think rationally? Andrea Nye undermines the assumptions that inform these questions, assumptions such as: logic is unitary, logic is independenet of concrete human relations, and logic transcends historical circumstances as well as gender. In a series (...) of studies of the logics of historical figures--Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, Abelard, Ockham, and Frege--she traces the changing interrelationships between logical innovation and oppressive speech strategies, showing that logic is not transcendent truth but abstract forms of language spoken by men, whether Greek ruling citizens, or scientists. (shrink)
Yielding Gender explores and reconsiders the tensions that deconstruction poses for feminist philosophy. Emphasizing the important role of deconstruction in revealing the ambiguity and unstable nature of gender, Penelope Deutscher asks the crucial question: does the very instability of gender mean that we can no longer talk of a man or a woman of reason in the history of philosophy? Using the work of Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigaray, Deutscher explores this question by examining the issue of (...) gender as "trouble", deconstruction and feminist criticism of the history of philosophy. She then considers and challenges feminist interpretations of some key figures in the history of philosophy. Deutscher sketches how Rousseau, St. Augustine and Simone de Beauvoir have described gender and argues that their readings of gender are in fact empowered by gender's own contradiction and instability rather than limited by it. (shrink)
Although feminist philosophers have been critical of the gendered norms contained within the history of philosophy, they have not extended this critical analysis to norms concerning disability. In the history of Western philosophy, disability has often functioned as a metaphor for something that has gone awry. This trope, according to which disability is something that has gone wrong, is amply criticized within Disability Studies, though not within the tradition of philosophy itself or even within feminist philosophy. In this (...) paper, I use one instance of this disability metaphor, contained within a passage from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, in order to show that paying attention to disability and disability theory can enable identification of ableist assumptions within the tradition of philosophy and can also open up new interpretations of canonical texts. On my reading, whereas Hegel’s expressed views of disability are dismissive, his logic and its treatment of contingency offer up useful ways to situate and re-evaluate disability as part of the concept of humanity. Disability can in fact be useful to Hegel, especially in the context of his valorization of experiences of disruption and disorientation. Broadening our understanding of the possible ways that the philosophical tradition has conceived human beings allows us to better draw on its theoretical resources. (shrink)
This paper explores the thought of Paul Ricœur from a feminist point of view. My goal is to show that it is necessary to narrate differently the history of our culture – in particular, the history of philosophy – in order for wommen to attain a self-representation that is equal to that of men. I seek to show that Ricoeur’s philosophy – especially his approach to the topics of memory and history, on the one hand, and the (...) human capacity for initiative, on the other hand– can support the idea that it is possible and legitimate to tell our history otherwise by envisioning a more accurate truth about ourselves. (shrink)
This essay traces the notion of abstraction through the works of Gillian Howie as a means of thinking through the nature of critique within philosophy of religion. In particular, it argues that Howie’s recovery of a more productive conception of abstraction in her late Between Feminism and Materialism is closely linked to the resurgence of real abstraction in recent Marxist theory. From these shifts, one can derive both an enriched conception of religion as real abstraction and a method of (...) critical history that offers a genuine alternative within the contemporary study of philosophy of religion. (shrink)
This paper analyzes the claim that the Left Vienna Circle (LVC) offers a theoretical and historical precedent for a politically engaged philosophy of science today. I describe the model for a political philosophy of science advanced by LVC historians. They offer this model as a moderate, properly philosophical approach to political philosophy of science that is rooted in the analytic tradition. This disciplinary-historical framing leads to weaknesses in LVC scholars' conception of the history of the LVC and its contemporary (...) relevance. In this light, I examine the claim that there are productive enrichments to be gained from the engagement of feminist philosophy of science with the LVC, finding this claim ill-formulated. The case of LVC historiography and feminist philosophy of science presents a revealing study in the uses and ethics of disciplinary history, showing how feminist and other perspectives are misconceived and marginalized by forms of disciplinary self-narrativizing. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Traditional accounts of the feminist history of philosophy have viewed reason as associated with masculinity and subsequent debates have been framed by this assumption. Yet recent debates in deconstruction have shown that gender has never been a stable matter. In the history of philosophy 'female' and 'woman' are full of ambiguity. What does deconstruction have to offer feminist criticism of the history of philosophy? _Yielding Gender_ explores this question by examining three crucial areas; the issue of gender (...) as 'troubled'; deconstruction; and feminist criticism of the history of philosophy. The first part of the book discusses the work of Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, and contemporary French feminist philosophy including key figures such as Luce Irigiray. Particular attention is given to the possibilities offered by deconstruction for understanding the history of philosophy. The second part considers and then challenges feminist interpretations of some key figures in the history of philosophy. Penelope Deutscher sketches how Rousseau, St. Augustine and Simone de Beauvoir have described gender and argues that their readings of gender are in fact empowered by gender's own contradiction and instability rather than limited by it. (shrink)
This paper analyzes the claim that the Left Vienna Circle offers a theoretical and historical precedent for a politically engaged philosophy of science today. I describe the model for a political philosophy of science advanced by LVC historians. They offer this model as a moderate, properly philosophical approach to political philosophy of science that is rooted in the analytic tradition. This disciplinary-historical framing leads to weaknesses in LVC scholars’ conception of the history of the LVC and its contemporary relevance. (...) In this light, I examine the claim that there are productive enrichments to be gained from the engagement of feminist philosophy of science with the LVC, finding this claim ill-formulated. The case of LVC historiography and feminist philosophy of science presents a revealing study in the uses and ethics of disciplinary history, showing how feminist and other perspectives are misconceived and marginalized by forms of disciplinary self-narrativizing.Keywords: Vienna Circle; Logical empiricism; Political philosophy of science; Disciplinary history; Feminist philosophy of science. (shrink)
: Some feminist epistemologists make the radical claim that there are varieties of epistemically valid warrant that agents access only through having lived particular types of contingent history, varieties of epistemic warrant to which, moreover, the confirmation-theoretic accounts of warrant favored by some traditional epistemologists are inapplicable. I offer Aristotelian virtue as a model for warrant of this sort, and use loosely Aristotelian vocabulary to express, and begin to evaluate, a range of feminist epistemological positions.
This paper examines five groups of women that were instrumental in the emergence of the category of "feeblemindedness" in the United States. It analyzes the dynamics of oppression and power relations in the following five groups of women: "feeble-minded" women, institutional caregivers, mothers, researchers, and reformists. Ultimately, I argue that a feminist analysis of the history of mental retardation is necessary to serve as a guide for future feminist work on cognitive disability.
Feminist philosophy of science has led to improvements in the practices and products of scientific knowledge-making, and in this way it exemplifies socially relevant philosophy of science. It has also yielded important insights and original research questions for philosophy. Feminist scholarship on science thus presents a worthy thought-model for considering how we might build a more socially relevant philosophy of science—the question posed by the editors of this special issue. In this analysis of the history, contributions, and challenges faced (...) by feminist philosophy of science, I argue that engaged case study work and interdisciplinarity have been central to the success of feminist philosophy of science in producing socially relevant scholarship, and that its future lies in the continued development of robust and dynamic philosophical frameworks for modeling social values in science. Feminist philosophers of science, however, have often encountered marginalization and persistent misunderstandings, challenges that must be addressed within the institutional and intellectual culture of American philosophy. (shrink)
In this essay, I utilize the concept of the echo, as formulated in the historical and methodological work of Michel Foucault and Joan W. Scott, to help theorize the historical relationship between health feminism and AIDS activism. I trace the echoes between health feminism and AIDS activism in order to present a more complex history of both movements, and to try to think through the ways that the coming together of these two struggles in a particular place (...) and time—New York City in the 1980s—created particular practices that might be effective in other times and places. The practice that I focus on here is one that I call 'doing queer love '. As I hope to show, 'doing queer love ' both describes a particular history of health activism and opens up the possibility of bringing into being a different future than the one a conventional history of AIDS seems to predict. It is an historical echo that I believe we must try to hear now, not just in order to challenge a particular history of AIDS activism in the United States, but also in order to provide a model that can be useful for addressing the continuing problem of AIDS across the globe. (shrink)
Drawing parallels between gender essentialism and cultural essentialism, I point to some common features of essentialist pictures of culture. I argue that cultural essentialism is detrimental to feminist agendas and suggest strategies for its avoidance. Contending that some forms of cultural relativism buy into essentialist notions of culture, I argue that postcolonial feminists need to be cautious about essentialist contrasts between "Western" and "Third World" cultures.
Irigaray demonstrates that metaphysics depends upon the specific negation and exclusion of the female body. Readings of Irigaray's Speculum of the Other Woman tend to highlight the status of this excluded materiality: is there an essential female body which precedes negation or is the feminine only an effect of exclusion? I approach Irigaray's work by way of another question: is it possible to move beyond a feminist critique of metaphysics and towards a feminist philosophy?
A History of Women Philosophers, Volume I: Ancient Women Philoophers, 600 B.C. - 500 A.D., edited by Mary Ellen Waithe, is an important but somewhat frustrating book. It is filled with tantalizing glimpses into the lives and thoughts of some of our earliest philosophical foremothers. Yet it lacks a clear unifying theme, and the abrupt transitions from one philosopher and period to the next are sometimes disconcerting. The overall effect is not unlike that of viewing an expansive landscape, illuminated (...) only by a few tiny spotlights. (shrink)
This paper situates Lynne Huffer’s recent queer-feminist Foucaultian critique of reason within the context of earlier feminist debates about reason and critically assesses Huffer’s work from the point of view of its faithfulness to Foucault’s work and its implications for feminism. I argue that Huffer’s characterization of Enlightenment reason as despotic not only departs from Foucault’s account of the relationship between power and reason, it also leaves her stuck in the same double binds that plagued earlier feminist critiques of (...) reason. An appreciation of the profoundly ambivalent nature of Foucault’s critique of reason offers feminists some insights into how to navigate those double binds. What feminists should learn from the early Foucault is precisely his commitment to engage in a rational critique of reason that highlights reason’s dangerous entanglements with power while resisting the temptation to reject or refuse reason altogether. (shrink)
In order to recuperate these two representatives of medieval frauenlieder, The Wife’s Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer, a feminist poetics must acknowledge the medieval attitudes toward authority and authorship that allow the medievalist to privilege the voice of the text over the historical author or implied author. The modern concept of authorship, derived from a modern concept of the text as private property, valorizes the signature of the author and the author’s presumed control over and legal responsibility for his or (...) her text. With reference to modern literature, contemporary theory has interrogated this “author-function” quite aggressively in an attempt to pry the text away from the author and to valorize the functions of the reader, as Roland Barthes’s “Death of the Author” illustrates,13 or to reconsider the privileges of the subject, in order to “seize its functions, its interventions in discourse, and its system of dependencies,” as Michel Foucault’s essay “What Is an Author?” propoes.14 Foucault’s proposals concerning the place of the subject and the author-function directly challenge modern assumptions about the text as the property of an author: “We can easily imagine a culture where discourse would circulate without any need for an author. Discourses, whatever their status, form, or value, regardless of our manner of handling them, would unfold in a pervasive anonymity.”15 13. See Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author,” Image, Music, Text, trans. Stephen Heath , pp. 142-48.14. Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author?” Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon, ed. Bouchard , p. 137.15. Ibid., p. 138. Indeed, Foucault does press his argument to the limits of its implications for the subject, and he ends his essay with a question that challenges the voice of a text as well as its author: “‘What Matter who’s speaking?’” . Nancy K. Miller engages directly in the implications of this position for feminist theory. She states: “What matter who’s speaking? I would answer it matters, for example, to women who have lost and still routinely lose their proper name in marriage, and whose signature—not merely their voice—has not been worth the paper it was written on” . Marilynn Desmond is an assistant professor of English, general literature, and rhetoric at the State University of New York—Binghamton. She is the author of Reading Dido: Textuality and Sexuality in the Late Medieval Reception of Aeneid 4 ; her current work is a study of ekphrasis in late medieval literature. (shrink)
This article analyzes the innovations produced by the concept of experience, introduced from the feminist theory during the eighties. The experience was an epistemic invention to give account of what used to result exceeding, subsidiary, or invisible to the science legitimated as such. This theoretical-methodological tool led to redefinitions around the sense of objectivity and pointed out the political condition of a perspective that was declared as neutral. This work tries to throw some light over the critical strength that this (...) epistemic tool had during those years, for which it chooses the historical perspective. At the same time, this article advances towards a critical analysis around certain modelling of the tool. In this sense, the article aims to sharpen the epistemic surveillance and to review the commitments that this has been acquiring with the institutionalization of the feminist perspective during the last decades. El presente artículo analiza las innovaciones que produjo en el campo del conocimiento la herramienta de la experiencia, introducida desde la teoría feminista en los años ochenta. La experiencia fue una invención epistémica que tuvo como objetivo dar cuenta de aquello que resultaba excedente, subsidiario o invisible a la ciencia legitimada como tal. Este instrumental teórico-metodológico conllevó redefiniciones en torno al sentido de la objetividad y señaló la condición política de una perspectiva declarada neutral. El presente trabajo apunta a alumbrar la potencia crítica que dicha herramienta epistémica tuvo en aquellos años, para lo cual elige la perspectiva histórica. Asimismo, el artículo avanza en un análisis crítico en torno a ciertas modelizaciones contemporáneas de dicha herramienta. En este sentido, el artículo aspira a agudizar la vigilancia epistémica y a revisar los compromisos que ha ido adquiriendo con la institucionalización de la perspectiva feminista de las últimas décadas. (shrink)