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Feminist perspectives philosophical essays on method and morals

The essays in this volume follow upon a well-developed phase of about fifteen years of critical feminist studies of Aristotle. Although Plato denigrates the feminine in his characterization of the cosmic hystera of the Timaeus, he also exhibits laudable feminist leanings in the Republic, where he acknowledges the possibility of female excellence and proposes educating women into philosophy-queenhood.

By contrast, with the possible exception of some aspects of Aristotle's ethics its emphasis on the particular, friendship and connection, and the value of emotionsthe horizons of the Peripatetic's thought have seemed to loom dark indeed, and feminists have roundly attacked Aristotle's logic, epistemology, science, and most of all, biology and politics.

It is hard, after all, to forget such notorious assertions as the claim that a man's virtue is to command, a woman's to obey; that women have fewer teeth than men; or that we contribute nothing but matter to our offspring.

Perhaps understandably provoked by all this misogyny, feminist essays on Aristotle have tended to take on a polemical, often angry, tone.

Donna Haraway, for example, faults Aristotle's attitude toward knowledge: Thus he explains all, but challenges feminist perspectives philosophical essays on method and morals, and all heaven and earth is marshalled in interlocking hierarchies patterned after the structure of Greek society.

Although certainly this book was not undertaken with the aim of rehabilitating Aristotle as a feminist forefather, nor will anyone regard the essays in it as doing so, I think that it nevertheless shows feminist scholarship progressing into more subtle dimensions of inquiry about this canonical Greek father, "The Philosopher," as Aquinas denominated him.

Feminists now are looking more deeply into Aristotle's influence and questioning the possibility of an actual escape. If we ourselves philosophize within the tradition he and Plato helped found, then we too may owe him a debt: Feminism is historically a product of liberal modernism, with its emphasis on individual autonomy, rationality, equality, and rights. As modernism comes under scrutiny, feminism may well seek to find significant alternatives in an earlier, classical era which did not share the modernist framework or its grounding view of the individual.

In the essays in this volume, then, written from a late twentieth century vantage point on feminism, we can learn not only about Aristotle but about feminist methodology in general. The essays here have been selected and organized so as to extend across and follow the structure of works and topics in the Aristotelian corpus, as traditionally given.

Moving on to consider Aristotelian natural sciences in this case, his physics and biology are the essays by Luce Irigaray, Cynthia Freeland, and Marguerite Deslauriers. The abstract science of metaphysics is the main focus of Charlotte Witt's article.

From these theoretical sciences the book moves on in Part Two into the practical fields of ethics and politics, in essays by Ruth Groenhout, Linda Hirshman, and Martha Nussbaum. Finally, Angela Curran and Carol Poster examine the "productive" sciences of poetics and rhetoric. These essays share no single perspective about Aristotle, and they also share no single perspective about feminism. They are marxist, liberal, anti- liberal; analytic or "Continental"; theoretical or practical; revisionist or ameliorative.

Not only do we find a more complex, intriguingly important, figure for feminism in these essays, but I think we find a more intriguing feminism itself.

As the editor watching and coaxing articles along their way, I began to discern four primary types of approach in this volume.

Of course, more than one of these often will be used in any one individual essay; but to highlight the variations in approach I will somewhat artificially introduce these essays by placing each into just one category.

Aristotle on Women and the Feminine One kind of feminist exploration in this book involves the examination of what Aristotle has to say on women and the feminine. In these studies, an author looks mainly at particular specific texts and examines their doctrines so as to assess their significance and internal consistency, and their ultimate implications from a feminist perspective on similar issues.

This is perhaps the most traditional approach to critical feminist history of philosophy, and it is also typical of many of the other feminist perspectives philosophical essays on method and morals on Aristotle that feminists have written.

Those essays here most exemplary of this method are those by Luce Irigaray, Marguerite Deslauriers, and Deborah Modrak, focusing, respectively, on Aristotle's physics, biology, and theory of knowledge. Luce Irigaray's essay "Place, Interval: Irigaray seeks to consider whether Aristotle's physics, or at least his definition of place in Physics IV, is "male" and what it might mean to assert this. Irigaray's style of writing and of historical exegesis is far from traditional.

As such it exemplifyies certain biases or is bound by certain preconceptions, even im a quite abstract sphere such as theorizing about the definition of place. Irigaray, following Heidegger, regards place as a mode of human subjectivity, not simply something external that can be "objectively" studied and described.

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  • Philosophical Essays On Method And Morals ibook download This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy certain standards for completeness;
  • First, Hirshman argues that his ethical theory has elements in common with feminist moral epistemologies.

Heidegger saw that we move through space or locate ourselves emotionally and psychologically in spaces, but Irigaray uses her meditations on Aristotle to move beyond this so as to reflect on the spaces of our own bodies. She suggests that Aristotelian place is that of hard, objective bodies viewed from the outside, rather than of soft, open bodies experienced from within, as having gaps, fissures, and as issuing the flows of sexual secretions.

Here instead we find Irigaray exploring the broader sphere of communion and interactions between differently sexed bodies. Marguerite Deslauriers, in "Sex and Essence in Aristotle's Metaphysics and Biology," is also interested in how a scientific conception can be related to, or can ground, broader social and political viewpoints and systems.

She asks at the start of her essay, "Are women perceived to be different from men because women are economically, socially and politically subordinate to men, or are women subordinate to men in these ways because they exhibit certain anatomical and physiological or psychological differences from men? Feminists aremain very concerned about how to answer questions about the relations between sexual difference, human nature, and essence.

That is, in metaphysics, men and women or males and females generally cannot be said to differ in essence. And yet Aristotle assumes in his biology and politics that emales are inferior. Deslauriers points out that this is just an assumption, not a claim he argues for. The only way out of this problem is for Aristotle to invoke matter to account for this difference between the sexes; males and females differ in matter but not essence.

Deborah Modrak, in "Aristotle's Theory of Knowledge and Feminist Epistemology," applies insights from feminist epistemology to feminist perspectives philosophical essays on method and morals analysis of Aristotle's general scientific method, as set out in his Posterior Analytics, and as exemplified in various theoretical sciences.

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Modrak looks at general themes in Aristotle's theory of knowledge, focusing on the paradigm of scientific knowledge. She aims to consider how well his epistemological framework stands up to some of the key criticisms made in recent feminist epistemology.

Such criticisms, as raised for example by Lorraine Code, are typically aimed at a post-Cartesian conception of scientific knowledge, and so it is interesting to see whether they are equally applicable to an ancient empiricist method like Aristotle's.

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  • They are marxist, liberal, anti- liberal; analytic or "Continental"; theoretical or practical; revisionist or ameliorative;
  • Feminist Ethics is an attempt to revise, reformulate, or rethink traditional ethics to the extent it depreciates or devalues women's moral experience;
  • Feminism, Canons, and the history of philosophy The fourth and final approach I will describe to feminist analysis in the essays in this volume takes feminist reflections upon Aristotle as the occasion for broader reflections about what feminism amounts to in doing the history of philosophy;
  • Modrak is professor of philosophy at the University of Rochester.

And third, she considers the claim made, variously, by Mary Daly, Luce Irigaray, and Simone de Beauvoir, that male-authored texts in the traditional canon deprive women of knowledge by erasing the feminine.

Certainly, as Deslauriers' article shows, Aristotle did seem guilty of a kind of erasure in his account of how the feminine somehow falls short of its supposed human essence. Modrak considers possible defenses of Aristotle against these three lines of feminist criticism, but ultimately she concludes that they are left standing. Aristotle in the Tradition The second approach taken by some of the essays in this volume moves away from the study of specific texts and their implications for our understanding of women and the feminine to assume a broader perspective that situates Aristotle in his foundational role for subsequent developments in the western tradition.

So the focus moves away from single texts in the Aristotelian corpus onto the ways in which his works influenced much of the rest of western European philosophy. Although in principle this sort of work could be done for almost any one part of the Aristotelian overall theory, here the essays on his logic and aesthetic theory by Marjorie Hass and Angela Curran are most illustrative of this kind of approach.

Marjorie Hass situates her article, "On Logic and Abstraction: Feminist Readings of Aristotelian Logic," within current controversies over the value of feminist attacks on the alleged "maleness" of logic.

More specifically, Hass examines chapters devoted to Aristotle in a recent, prominent and controversial feminist critique of logic, Andrea Nye's book Words of power: A Feminist Reading of the History of Logic. What is targeted in Nye's attack are alleged problems caused by over-zealous "abstraction. It is relevant to consider these issues in relation to Aristotle because he was the inventor of logic as a formal system of evaluating arguments in the abstract by studying their form.

Interestingly, these thinkers call for alternatives that are echoed in other contemporary criticisms of what has come to be standard deductive logic, from other standpoints like intuitionist or entailment logics. These feminist perspectives philosophical essays on method and morals something like what Irigaray and Plumwood call for, more situated and fluid ways of using formal systems to describe and analyze reality and diverse experiences.

In Aristotle's case this is in part due to the fact that his conception of negation is richer and more complex than that allowed by most contemporary standard formal systems. Also looking more broadly at Aristotle's role in relation to feminist criticism of canonical standards and values, Angela Curran in "Feminism and the Narrative Structures of the Poetics" argues that there are deep and radical problems with the traditional aesthetic theory grounded in Aristotle's Poetics.

Not only is there an initial difficulty in understanding how Aristotle's own account of tragedy might apply to many of the most famous Greek tragic heroines -- Iphigenia, Hecuba, Antigone -- but there is a much deeper problem which concerns his fundamental analysis of tragic response and katharsis.

Using Brecht and more recent, Brechtian, feminist theater critics, Curran argues that Aristotle's theory of feminist perspectives philosophical essays on method and morals itself is something feminists ought to regard with suspicion -- that his very justification of tragic art rests upon a problematic approach to art's social role.

On Aristotle's moralistic view of tragedy, an audience cannot be prompted to respond to tragedy with an intellectual political critique--even if the prevailing order is hierarchical, racist, sexist, and generally oppressive.

Explorations of Feminism So far I have described feminist approaches that focus on "the Philosopher's" views of women and the feminine or his importance for a subsequent traditon. But a third sort of feminist approach in this volume involves using an essay on Aristotle as the occasion to bring into focus some aspects on feminism itself.

Here, the authors' aim may be less to see how feminists can challenge Aristotle, than to see how Aristotle can challenge feminism.

This represents a newer approach within feminist critical studies of the history of philosophy. She notes that many feminist critical analyses of scientific method criticize the alleged, but dubious, objectivity of an inquirer who is in fact culturally situated and enmeshed in cultural assumptions of value.

But these feminist criticisms often share a standard assumption of modernist science about the value-neutrality of nature. Witt writes, "Perhaps the value-neutrality of the objective scientist and his disinterested relationship to inert quantitative nature are all of a piece, and part of the task for feminists is to re-conceive a richer image of the objects of theory to go along with the richer descrition of the theorizer and their relationship.

  1. Not only is there an initial difficulty in understanding how Aristotle's own account of tragedy might apply to many of the most famous Greek tragic heroines -- Iphigenia, Hecuba, Antigone -- but there is a much deeper problem which concerns his fundamental analysis of tragic response and katharsis. Feminism is historically a product of liberal modernism, with its emphasis on individual autonomy, rationality, equality, and rights.
  2. In Aristotle's case this is in part due to the fact that his conception of negation is richer and more complex than that allowed by most contemporary standard formal systems.
  3. Kyanqs du essay prgs dissertations abstracts the idiots von trier analysis essay, gandhi jayanti essay in english pdf miss havisham poem essay forward defence policy vietnam war essays. Irigaray's style of writing and of historical exegesis is far from traditional.
  4. Kyanqs du essay prgs dissertations abstracts the idiots von trier analysis essay, gandhi jayanti essay in english pdf miss havisham poem essay forward defence policy vietnam war essays.
  5. Carol Poster broadens the perspective to consider how a text like Aristotle's Rhetoric becomes canonical within a discipline.

Such an approach might begin from new views about the relationship of the observer or practicing scientist to an organic, holistic nature. Or rather, this "new" view might be an "old" view reconsidered.

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Witt also looks at the relevant gender associations between form and maleness and matter and femaleness. She finds that Aristotle attached the norms of his culture to his hylomorphism, but she does not think it is clear that his assumption of cultural norms preceded or somehow caused his views about metaphysical norms.

Witt is considering Aristotle's challenges to some standard contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of science. Ruth Groenhout in "The Virtue of Care: Aristotelian Ethics and Contemporary Ethics of Care" reflects on how Aristotelian ethics could be used to improve upon some increasingly standard approaches within feminist ethics --those known collectively as the "ethics of care" approach.

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This assemblage of views would seem to leave little room for feminists to find a foothold. However, she argues that a synthesis of Aristotelian-based virtue ethics with the feminist ethics of care can preferable to either account on its own.

Groenhout faults Aristotle's ethics for its concentration on the production of an intellectual life, and she faults the ethics of care for lacking a thorough political basis. In the symposium reprinted here from the Texas Law Review, Linda Hirshman and Martha Nussbaum debate the value of Aristotle's politics for reformulation of feminism on a new, or rather perhaps old, classical base of political theory.

They consider whether Aristotle's framework for ethics and politics offers a viable alternative to much contemporary feminist politics and legal theory, which emerges from a liberal framework emphasizing liberation and tolerance.

Hirshman's "The Book of 'A'" argues that Aristotle's ethics and politcs offer a significant resource for contemporary feminist jurisprudence, and for addressing such vexed issues as surrogacy and selective service.

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  • Aristotle on Women and the Feminine One kind of feminist exploration in this book involves the examination of what Aristotle has to say on women and the feminine;
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  • Heidegger saw that we move through space or locate ourselves emotionally and psychologically in spaces, but Irigaray uses her meditations on Aristotle to move beyond this so as to reflect on the spaces of our own bodies;
  • From these theoretical sciences the book moves on in Part Two into the practical fields of ethics and politics, in essays by Ruth Groenhout, Linda Hirshman, and Martha Nussbaum;
  • Nussbaum also argues that Aristotle's moral methodology is not as conservative as some claim, "for the allegedly conservative method actually prompts a sweeping and highly critical scrutiny of all existing regimes and their schemes of distribution, as well as of the preferences that result from and support these distributions.

She highlights three areas in which feminists can draw upon Aristotle. First, Hirshman argues that his ethical theory has elements in common with feminist moral epistemologies.

For example, feminists who emphasize consciousness raising "are using two very traditional Aristotelian methods: He offers substantive ansswers about the olitical community in a way that visions of liberal equality do not. Nussbaum in "Aristotle on Feminism, Flourishing, and Needs for Functioning" agrees in principle with Hirsman's conviction that Aristotle offers resources for feminist political practice, though she disagrees about the details.

As Nussbaum sees it, Aristotle's chief strength lies in his insistence on scrutinizing distributions of basic needs for functioning. She argues that to place the emphasis here would correct some deficiencies of modern bourgeois feminism, which fails to recognize that many of the most pressing problems facing the world's women are matters of basic needs--for food, shelter, medical care, and protection from violence.

Nussbaum also argues that Aristotle's moral methodology is not as conservative as some claim, "for the allegedly conservative method actually prompts a sweeping and highly critical scrutiny of all existing regimes and their schemes of distribution, as well as of the preferences that result from and support these distributions.

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Feminism, Canons, and the history of philosophy The fourth and final approach I will describe to feminist analysis in the essays in this volume takes feminist reflections upon Aristotle as the occasion for broader reflections about what feminism amounts to in doing the history of philosophy.

This methodological question becomes the focus in my own essay, which is prompted by Irigaray's unusual style of revisiting the historical figures in the canon, and it is also central in Carol Poster's reflections about the construction of canons in rhetoric.

But to evaluate Irigaray, it became necessary also to provide a study of the provocative method in her essay on Aristotle on place, and so I contrast her idiosyncratic feminist re- reading of canonical figures to those in more traditional history of philosophy. Traditional history of philosophy follows certain broad principles of interpretation, such as charity and contextualization.

It seeks to recapture or reconstruct an author's intentions, construed in the most favorable way for maximum coherence, before evaluating their force, consistency, and impact on subsequent theorists. Irigaray contextualizes philosophical works in an entirely different way, considering for example not how well Aristotle's theory of place anticipates Einsteinian space, but how it illustrates a pervasive male philosophical attitude toward the "emptiness" of the female body.