Dare the feminist philosophy

Do you really know what intersectionality is?? And the epistmology of positioning? A new introductory collection of feminist philosophy questions the relative ignorance of feminist thought in French philosophy and brings to light the promise of emancipation that animates it.

Feminist philosophy is still not recognized, in France, as a field of philosophy in its own right. Ms. Simone de Beauvoir, whose work is internationally recognized as one of the most important in the philosophy of XXe century, barely being considered as a philosopher by the French University, observes Manon Garcia (p. 8). However, feminist philosophy exists, with its objects of analysis, its questions, its methodologies. Mr. Garcia's new book aims to make this field known and recognized among the French readership, by bringing together key but still little-known texts, due to the fact that they have not been translated or benefited from wide distribution until now.

In his essay We are not born submissive, we become submissiveM.Garcia showed how to reflect on the coexistence of a desire for emancipation and a desire for submission among subjects female constituted one of the major issues of contemporary feminism. It reversed the perspective usually adopted by political philosophy, by considering submission from the point of view of the submissive and not of the one who submits (p. 25) and was thus part of the continuity of the authors whose texts we can now discover in Feminist philosophy. In this anthology, Mr. Garcia carries out work of translation, editing and explanation. A company which responds in a practical way to the problem of the non-recognition of feminist philosophy by the philosophical discipline in France. But it is also a theoretical discussion on the causes and issues of this misunderstanding which it proposes, by bringing together the voices of ten different authors.

The collection is organized into four thematic parts, each preceded by an enlightening presentation by Mr. Garcia. In the first part, the texts of Michle Le Duff and Nancy Bauer reassess the relationship of women to philosophy. Anything but accidental, the exclusion of women participated in the very definition of this discipline, which was built against a female principle irrational. through the texts of Sandra Harding, Sally Haslanger and Genevive Fraisse, the work then questions the relationship of feminist philosophy to the concept of reason, which was often used to exclude women, allegedly irrational, from the domain of knowledge. In a third part, the texts of Mary Wollstonecraft, Marylin Frye and Christine Delphy remind us that we owe the progressive introduction of the personal into political philosophy to feminist philosophers. Mr. Garcia is finally interested in the future of feminist philosophy. Bringing together the texts of Susan Moller Okin and Uma Narayan, which are part of the particularly current controversy between universalist and intersectional approaches, she shows us the vitality of feminist philosophy (p. 27).

What is a feminist philosophy?

Feminism is not reduced to these historical struggles: it is also a research program which consists at a minimum make manifest the oppression that women suffer as women and fight against this oppression, explains M.Garcia (p. 10). We can also distinguish the beginnings of feminism as a political movement, which date back to the end of the XVIIIe century, of those of feminist philosophy strictly speaking. If philosophers have long addressed the question of equality between men and women, as evidenced by the text by M. Wollstonecraft, we must wait until 1949, when the book was published. Second Sex so that feminist philosophy is invested and identified as a specific field of philosophy. Since then, feminist philosophy has continued to develop, and if today it presents a wide variety of objects and approaches (), these works have in common a reflection on genderobserves Mr. Garcia.

Indeed, whether it is the Beauvoirian analysis of a social construction of gender identity, the questioning of the sex category by J. Butler in the 1980s, or the reflections on non-binarity and trans identity, that is the question of the definition of the subject women that feminist philosophy seeks to answer. Feminist philosophy articulates descriptive statements explaining the functioning of the oppression of women and normative statements revealing the unjust nature of this oppression and proposing non-sexist conceptions of the world.

But if the existence of a feminist philosophy is in this sense undeniable, the problem is that it is still not recognized, by philosophy and its institutions, as a field of philosophy in its own right. Is this lack of recognition (only) the manifestation of a non-recognition of women as subjects of knowledge in general??

Identifying the internal enemies of philosophy

For Mr. Le Duff, the refusal to recognize the existence of feminist philosophy is also part of a process of legitimization of philosophy in relation to other disciplines.; the philosophical field is created by its exclusions. In this process of identification through negation, philosophy has also constructed its opposite. It presents itself as a discourse of reason attached to masculinity, radically opposing the feminine discourse of without reason. It is in the modern context of redefining the place of philosophy among the human sciences that philosophers such as J.-J. Rousseau, GWF Hegel or A. Comte develop sexist theses radicalizing this duality and constructing femininity as a hostile principle. Mobilizing a symbolic vocabulary from psychoanalysis, Mr. Le Duff explains that the shadow is then in the very field of the light, and the woman is the internal enemy (p. 57).

Discover feminist epistemologies

Historically, feminist philosophy is a philosophy made by women, but it is above all a research program that brings gender inequalities to the forefront. through this collection, we understand in particular how feminist pistemologies have highlighted the impact of socially constructed conceptions of gender, gender norms, gender interests and gender experiences on the production of knowledge. In his article What is “strong objectivity”?S. Harding takes sides with an epistemology of positioning, according to which the social situation of subjects is determining for their production of knowledge.

Against the received idea according to which feminist philosophy, because it brings to the fore the subjectivity of philosophers, would lead to relativism and ethnocentrism, S. Harding affirms that we are always better placed to analyze an experience when we live it. It is by taking one's own life as a woman as the starting point for one's philosophical analysis, and by comparing one's position with that of other people, that one achieves learn from each of them and change our belief patterns (p. 157). The author thus criticizes the shift experienced by so many philosophers who occupy a dominant position in society, and who make their situated point of view a view from nowhere (p. 152) to universal claims. But she does not want to give up scientific objectivity.; she takes a strong objectivity which considers the sum of subjective experiences as a systematically accessible resource in order to maximize objectivity (p. 118).

Exploring spaces of oppression and domination

Political philosophy has also been influenced by the desire of feminist philosophers to recognize the personal as political. A desire expressed by the slogan The personal is political chanted by American feminist activists of the second wave, for whom gender inequalities are not only experienced in the public sphere, but also in the private sphere. Rather than trying to objectively describe the female condition, feminist political philosophy analyzes the experiences of women in public and private spheres from a critical and normative perspective. As Marylin Frye explains, it is from inside the cage of privacy, to which women have been relegated, that the experience of oppression can best be understood, such as being taken into a situation where the possibilities are reduced to very few and where all expose one to sanction, criticism or deprivation (p. 325).

But do all women suffer the same oppressions?? If feminist philosophy consists of a invitation to speak (p. 119) like Nancy Bauer, its representatives cannot answer this question in the affirmative, and adopt a universalist approach, without taking the risk of ignoring the voices of others women. In his article Judgments well theyUma Narayan thus warns us against a imperialism of the imagination (p. 413) which would consist of imagining experiences of oppression, rather than making the voices of those who experience them resonate. Seeking to avoid the double whammy of the imperialism of universalist feminism and the relativism of multiculturalist feminism, U. Narayan recalls that he is only possible for a woman who does not feel deeply vulnerable about other parts of her identity (race, class, religion, etc.) to conceive of her voice simply and essentially as a woman's voice (p. 381). Hence the need, for the feminist philosophy of tomorrow, to bring to the forefront the moral agency of oppressed people.

Mr. Garcia admits from the first pages, the selection of the texts of this collection, which does not claim to be exhaustive and which assumes its introductory vocation, represented a choice difficult and sometimes painful (p. 26). This choice also represents an important political gesture. If we regret that the text of U. Narayan is the only one to carry the voice of a woman from the countries of the South, and that the dominant voices of the collection are those of white feminists from the countries of the North, by highlighting texts that are not easily accessible, Manon Garcia reminds us that many female authors judge minor are actually authors minorises. She thus invites us to dive, alone, into the immense literature of feminist philosophies.