Feminism as Radical Humanism

Feminism as Radical Humanism

Feminism as Radical Humanism

Feminism as Radical Humanism

Synopsis

"Feminism is currently at an impasse. Both the liberation feminism of the 1970's and the more recent feminism of difference are increasingly faced with the limitations of their own perspectives. While feminists today generally acknowledge the need to recognise diversity, they lack a coherent framework through which this need can be articulated. In Feminism as Radical Humanism, Pauline Johnson calls for a reassessment of feminism's relationship to modern humanism. She argues that despite its very thorough and necessary critique of mainstream formulations of humanist ideals, feminism itself remains strongly committed to humanist values. Drawing on a broad range of political and intellectual traditions, Johnson demonstrates that, only by proudly affirming its own humanist commitments can feminist theory find a way to negotiate the impasse in which it currently finds itself. Feminism as Radical Humanism is an important and controversial contribution to feminist theory, and to the ongoing debate about the meaning of contemporary humanism." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

If significant trends in contemporary feminism have turned their backs on the 'homocentrism' of the 'humanist and rationalist eighteenth century', they have not been long in discovering important new sympathies with the nineteenth century's own self-appointed rival to the main formulations of the historical Enlightenment. the increased interest shown by feminism today in the themes and precepts of nineteenth century Romanticism is hardly surprising. This first cultural revolution of modernity expressed the crisis of an old world and the emergence of the new. Its own rich ambiguities and polyvalences betray the first signs of cultural schizophrenia. a unique constellation of utopian expectations, shock and horror before the dynamic new were soon mixed with critique of the universal cultural illusions of Enlightenment and nostalgia for the eclipsed old. Amid a crisis of questioning their own former universalising normative ideas of humanity and equality, contemporary feminists are now eagerly exploring the rich veins of modernity's first attempt to question its own reigning values, to celebrate its own dynamic diversity and to recognise its own inchoate individualist subjectivity.

What do they really hope to find? Always Janus-faced (if not a hydra's head) nineteenth century Romanticism seems to promise two very different, and I think finally incompatible things. On the one hand, contemporary feminism has conceived an interest in the image of the concrete difference of the feminine evoked in the Romantic literature. Ursula Vogel, for example, discovers . . .

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