Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt

Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt

Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt

Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt


Consisting almost entirely of new essays specially prepared for this volume, Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt illuminates the diversity of contemporary feminisms while also generating new and suggestive readings of Hannah Arendt's political thought. The contributing authors' shared interest in Arendt provides a ground upon which to work out their disagreements regarding feminist theory and practice. At the same time, their shared commitment to some brand of feminism leads them to engage Arendt on an unusually wide array of issues, such as gender, sexuality, the body, politics, friendship, solidarity, identity, nationalism, and revolution.Recent developments in feminist theory and practice have prompted a reconsideration of Arendt that includes a critical reevaluation of earlier feminist judgments of her work. From feminist perspectives that interrogate, politicize, and historicize--rather than simply redeploy--categories like "woman," "identity," or "experience," Arendt's well-known hostility to feminism and her critical stance toward identitarian and essentialist definitions of "woman" begin to look more like an advantage than a liability. Arendt's famous reluctance to identify herself as a woman and to address women's issues looks less like a personal problem of male-identification and more like a political stand that resists the reach of a symbolic order that seeks to define, categorize, and stabilize her in terms of one essential, unriven, and always known identity.Thus, the volume's authors move beyond feminism's traditional concern with the "woman question" to ask, further, what contemporary feminisms might learn from Arendt's conceptions of politics, action, and identity.


Take into your hands any history of philosophy text. You will find compiled therein the "classics" of modern philosophy. Since these texts are often designed for use in undergraduate classes, the editor is likely to offer an introduction in which the reader is informed that these selections represent the perennial questions of philosophy. The student is to assume that she or he is about to explore the timeless wisdom of the greatest minds of Western philosophy. No one calls attention to the fact that the philosophers are all men.

Though women are omitted from the canons of philosophy, these texts inscribe the nature of woman. Sometimes the philosopher speaks directly about woman, delineating her proper role, her abilities and inabilities, her desires. Other times the message is indirect--a passing remark hinting at woman's emotionality, irrationality, unreliability.

This process of definition occurs in far more subtle ways when the central concepts of philosophy--reason and justice, those characteristics that are taken to define us as human--are associated with traits historically identified with masculinity. If the "man" of reason must learn to control or overcome traits identified as feminine--the body, the emotions, the passions--then the realm of rationality will be one reserved primarily for men, with grudging entrance to those few women who are capable of transcending their femininity.

Feminist philosophers have begun to look critically at the canonized texts of philosophy and have concluded that the discourses of philosophy are not gender-neutral. Philosophical narratives do not offer a universal perspective, but rather privilege some experiences and beliefs over others. These experiences and beliefs permeate all philosophical theories whether they be aesthetic or epistemological, moral or metaphysical. Yet . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.