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Feminist philosophy refers to philosophy approached from a feminist perspective. Feminist philosophy involves both attempts to use the methods of philosophy to further the cause of the feminist movements, and attempts to criticise or re-evaluate the ideas of traditional philosophy from within a feminist framework.
Main features of feminist philosophy
There is no one school of feminist philosophy: feminist philosophers, as philosophers, are found in both the analytic and Continental traditions, and the myriad different viewpoints taken on philosophical issues within those traditions; and feminist philosophers, as feminists, are found belonging to the many different varieties of feminism.
Feminist epistemologists have challenged traditional ideas of how we know things and of rationality, by arguing that these traditional philosophical ideas are based on male assumptions and perspectives and ignore women's voices.
Feminist philosophy arose in the 1970s in the U.S. Australasia, and Europe in particular, and can be understood to have three main aspects:
(1) investigating how biases against women and assumptions about gender are embodied within philosophy, both the writings that comprise the philosophical 'canon' (although feminists have also questioned which texts are classified as canonical and have rediscovered the work of many female philosophers whose contributions had been forgotten) and within contemporary areas of philosophical inquiry; and then reconstructing these philosophical fields in light of these critical inquiries.
(2) drawing on philosophical concepts and theories to articulate feminist political claims and perspectives;
(3) providing philosophical analysis of concepts of sex and gender, essentialism, identity, and sexuality, concepts that are very widely used and theorised within feminist theory more broadly as well.
Influential feminist philosophers include:
- Mary Wollstonecraft
- Simone de Beauvoir
- Luce Irigaray
- Alison Jaggar
- Julia Kristeva
- Martha Nussbaum
- Iris Marion Young
- Linda Martín Alcoff
- Claudia Card
- Miranda Fricker
- Lorraine Code
- Sally Haslanger
- Judith Butler
- Uma Narayan
Critics of feminist philosophy are not generally critics of feminism as a political or cultural movement; only some of the philosophical positions put forth under the title "feminist philosophy" are usually critiqued.
Writers and thinkers who have criticised aspects of feminist philosophy include:
A phenomenological approach to the question of gender, that treats masculinity and femininity not as pertaining ascriptively to males and females, but as alternative ways, open to both women and men, of human beings presenting themselves as who they are, is taken by the Australian philosopher, Michael Eldred. 'Feminine' being is then thought as an 'interstitial' mode of encounter between you-and-me rather than showing off who one is in self-presentation. This approach is indebted to both the German tradition of dialogical philosophy and to Heidegger's questioning return to Greek ontology in search of as yet latent, alternative historical modes of (human) being apart from the established Western modes of 'substantial' standing presence..
- List of feminist philosophers
- Feminist epistemology
- Feminist ethics
- Analytical feminism
- Women in philosophy
- Gatens, M., Feminism and Philosophy: Perspectives on Difference and Equality (Indiana University Press, 1991)
- Stone, Alison (2007). An Introduction to Feminist Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Polity. pp. 2–3. ISBN 074563883X.
- Eldred, Michael, 2005, 'Barely encountering you'
- Eldred, Michael, 2008, 'Metaphysics of Feminism: A Critical Note on Judith Butler's Gender Trouble'
- Eldred, Michael, 1999, Phänomenologie der Männlichkeit Roell, Dettelbach, 266 pp. ISBN 3-89754-137-8