"To be a philosopher and to be a feminist are one and the same thing. A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place."-from Hipparchia's Choice A work of rare insight and irreverence, Hipparchia's Choice boldly recasts the history of philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the post-Derrideans as one of masculine texts and male problems. The position of women, therefore, is less the result of a hypothetical "femininity" and more the fault of exclusion by (...) men. Nevertheless, women have been and continue to be drawn to "the exercise of thought." So how does a female philosopher become a conceptually adventurous woman? Focusing on the work of Sartre and Beauvoir, Michèle Le Doeuff shows how women philosophers can reclaim a place for feminist concerns. Is The Second Sex a work of philosophy, and, if so, what can it teach us about the relation of philosophy to experience? Now with a new epilogue, Hipparchia's Choice points the way toward a discipline that is accountable to history, feminism, and society. (shrink)
"The Philosophical Imaginary teaches us how to read philosophy afresh. Focusing on central, but often undiscussed, images, Le Doeuff's patient, perspicacious, and always brilliant readings show us how to uncover the political unconscious at work in great philosophy. Le Doeuff's contribution to philosophy and feminism is unequalled. This book is a classic.".
This article argues that although Simone de Beauvoir goes as far as any philosopher in her analysis of oppressive myths, she too creates ‘others’ for herself, such as children who believe in dreams or fairy tales. Beauvoir's The Second Sex appears to make a clear distinction between myths and facts with respect to women's situation. The first volume of her autobiography, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, also critiques some of the myths which dominate women's lives; at the same time, the (...) adoption of Simone's mythologies by her younger sister Hélène is presented less as a myth structure than as an eclectic collection of good and bad objects that strives for coherence only in fantasy. Like the Greeks, the young Simone sets herself against ‘the Barbarians’ — to the embarrassment of the author. Myths and mythologies are the enemies of philosophy for Hegel amongst others. Yet while Beauvoir is clear about the importance of emancipation from religion, she does not find it easy to situate herself as a philosopher. Philosophy too has acted as an instrument of male domination. Perhaps Barthes's ‘mythologies’ provided a more comfortable framework for the analysis of bourgeois life in her autobiography — which includes a crucial element of self-critique. Equally, looking back on her later life, it is striking to what extent she continued to act out bourgeois mythologies of the role of the accepting woman in the face of male infidelity, just as her mother did. Perhaps her ascetic refusal to offer a positive image of a female heroine relates to this problematic relationship to the imaginary, saturated from childhood with mythologies that she wished to reject, and critiqued by the rational philosophical tradition which cannot acknowledge its own use of fiction. (shrink)
As a young philosopher, a third-generation atheist and already a feminist, Michèle Le Doeuff read the Bible on her own, without anybody’s guidance and on the basis of an assumed intellectual equality between the texts and herself. Later on, her friendship with Pamela Sue Anderson also developed thanks to their firm belief that a member of a given faith and an atheist can tolerate and indeed respect each other to the full through a common involvement in feminist philosophy. All this (...) defines a standpoint from which a host of questions can be raised and many topics transformed. (shrink)