Woman and the History of Philosophy

Woman and the History of Philosophy

Woman and the History of Philosophy

Woman and the History of Philosophy

Synopsis

"(P)rovides lucid, incisive, fully accessible feminist discussions of key figures in the history of Western philosophy. Indispensable for introducing undergraduates to gender issues in the history of philosophy". -- Susan Bordo

Excerpt

Having taught and written, not to mention living and breathing, feminist theory for the last fifteen years, I am pleased at the changes I have witnessed in the university curricula. Feminist critiques and theories, which were originally looked at with suspicion and marginalized in the humanities, are now receiving attention, if not respect. The fact that the editors of this series,John Roth andFrederick Sontag, had the insight to acknowledge the importance of feminist philosophy and include it in the Paragon Issues in Philosophy Series is a sign of this recognition.

But I fear that at the same time that feminist theory is being welcomed into the academy, it is being marginalized in another way. My anxiety arises out of an experience that I find all too common. I am frequently contacted by colleagues in philosophy who are interested in including feminist perspectives in their classes but who have little background in the area. After describing the topic of their course, they ask if there is a book or collection of articles that might be appropriate to include within their class that would represent the feminist viewpoint. Explaining that there is no one feminist viewpoint, but rather a variety of feminist theories, I offer a list of readings that represent the spectrum of current feminist scholarship. The response to my suggestions is surprisingly uniform. In designing the class, the instructor will select one week, usually toward the end of the term, labeling it "Feminism and Epistemology" or "Feminism and Moral Theory" or "Feminism and the Philosophy of Science," as is appropriate for the specific class, and assign a book or series of articles to be read for that week.

Despite the good intentions of my colleagues, such a practice perpetuates the marginalization of feminist theory. First, it seldom gives recognition to the fact that feminist theory does not consist of a singular theoretical framework, but includes a variety of different and often competing methodologies. Many feminists have attempted to dispel this misunderstanding by offering clear overviews of the multifaceted nature of feminist theory. See, for ex-

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