Clack, B. 1999. Misogyny in the Western Philosophical Tradition: a Reader. London:Basingstoke (‘The Devil’s gateway’ (Tertullian); ‘Big children their whole life long’ (Schopenhauer); ‘The misbegotten male’ (Aquinas).)
Such understandings of women are shocking, not least because they come from the great minds responsible for the formation of the western intellectual tradition. In this collection, the roots of philosophical misogyny are explored and exposed. At times disturbing, at times funny, this anthology comprises a variety of texts. Lesser-known authors such as Otto Weininger and Oswald Spengler are placed alongside well-known pieces from Plato, The Malleus Maleficarum, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. As such, this is an important addition to the collection of those interested in exploring the relationship between women and society, women and the academy.
Le Doeuff, M. 2007. Hipparchia’s Choice: An Essay Concerning Women, Philosophy, etc. Columbia University Press.
“To be a philosopher and to be a feminist are one and the same thing. A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place.” A work of rare insight and irreverence, Hipparchia’s Choice boldly recasts the history of philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the post-Derrideans as one of masculine texts and male problems. The position of women, therefore, is less the result of a hypothetical “femininity” and more the fault of exclusion by men. Nevertheless, women have been and continue to be drawn to “the exercise of thought.” So how does a female philosopher become a conceptually adventurous woman? Focusing on the work of Sartre and Beauvoir (specifically, his sexism and her relation to it), Michele Le Doeuff shows how women philosophers can reclaim a place for feminist concerns. Is The Second Sex a work of philosophy, and, if so, what can it teach us about the relation of philosophy to experience? Now with a new epilogue, Hipparchia’s Choice points the way toward a discipline that is accountable to history, feminism, and society.
Longino, H. 1990. Science as Social Knowledge: Values and Objectivity in Scientific Enquiry. Princeton University Press.
Conventional wisdom has it that the sciences, properly pursued, constitute a pure, value-free method of obtaining knowledge about the natural world. In light of the social and normative dimensions of many scientific debates, Helen Longino finds that general accounts of scientific methodology cannot support this common belief. Focusing on the notion of evidence, the author argues that a methodology powerful enough to account for theories of any scope and depth is incapable of ruling out the influence of social and cultural values in the very structuring of knowledge. The objectivity of scientific inquiry can nevertheless be maintained, she proposes, by understanding scientific inquiry as a social rather than an individual process. Seeking to open a dialogue between methodologists and social critics of the sciences, Longino develops this concept of “contextual empiricism” in an analysis of research programs that have drawn criticism from feminists. Examining theories of human evolution and of prenatal hormonal determination of “gender-role” behavior, of sex differences in cognition, and of sexual orientation, the author shows how assumptions laden with social values affect the description, presentation, and interpretation of data. In particular, Longino argues that research on the hormonal basis of “sex-differentiated behavior” involves assumptions not only about gender relations but also about human action and agency. She concludes with a discussion of the relation between science, values, and ideology, based on the work of Habermas, Foucault, Keller, and Haraway.
Lloyd, G. 1984. The Man of Reason: ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ in Western Philosophy.
Assiter, A. 1993. Enlightened Women: Modernist Feminism in a Postmodern Age. London: Routledge.
This is a bold and controversial feminist, philosophical critique of postmodernism. Whilst providing a brief and accessible introduction to postmodernist feminist thought, Enlightened Women is also a unique defence of realism and enlightenment philosophy. The first half of the book covers an analysis of some of the most influential postmodernist theorists, such as Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler. In the second half Alison Assiter advocates a return to modernism in feminism. She argues, against the current orthodoxy, that there can be a distinction between “sex” and “gender”. For students trying to pick their way through the maze of literature in the area of postmodernist feminism, Enlightened Women is a concise guide to contemporary thought – as well as a radical contribution to the debate.
Mendus, S. 2000. Feminism and Emotion: Readings in Moral and Political Philosophy. Basingstoke: MacMillan.
This book combines the insights of enlightenment thinking and feminist theory to explore the significance of love in modern philosophy. The author argues for the importance of emotion in general, and love in particular, to moral and political philosophy, pointing out that some of the central philosophers of the enlightment were committed to a moralized conception of love. However, she believes that feminism’s insights arise not from its attribution of special and distinctive qualities to women, but from its recognition of human vulnerability.
Žižek, S. 2008. Violence: Six Sideways Reflections. London: Profile.
The premise of Zizek’s theory is that the subjective violence we see – violence with a clear identifiable agent – is only the tip of an iceberg made up of ‘systemic’ violence, which is essentially the catastrophic consequence of the smooth functioning of our economic and political systems. With the help of Marx, Engels, Sartre, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Lacan, Brecht and many more, Zizek examines the hidden causes of violence, delving into the supposed ‘divine violence’ which propels suicide bombers and the unseen ‘systemic’ violence which lies behind outbursts, from Parisian suburbia to New Orleans. For Zizek, the controversial truth is that sometimes doing nothing is the most violent thing you can do. He calls for a forceful confrontation with the vacuity of today’s democracies – using an unconventional plethora of references: Hitchcock, Orwell, Fukuyama, Freud and more.