March 24, 2007

What is feminist philosophy?

From a recent review in the NDPR:

I have been puzzled by a tension between feminist critiques and extensions of Western philosophical traditions and the understandings of feminism that appear in counter-critiques by those, like Landau, who identify themselves as feminist-friendly. Landau finishes with a characterization that has helped me see the issue more clearly. He states that "[f]eminist philosophy can be considered as a truth-seeking enterprise, or as a political endeavor." (p. 165) To treat these as mutually exclusive alternatives, as he does, is to reject the premises on which feminist philosophy is based. The investigation of power relations, the role of the political, social, and cultural in the search for truth and understanding, is one of feminist philosophy's key features, one that it shares with a number of other philosophical traditions, including pragmatism. That it is worth investigating how the political can hinder or aid our understanding of the world and our place in it is a presupposition of feminist philosophy. If we believe that truth-seeking and political goals are mutually exclusive, then it is difficult to grasp the nature of core feminist arguments.

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