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Feminist philosophy refers to philosophy approached from a feminist perspective. Feminist philosophy involves both reinterpreting philosophical texts and methods in order to supplement the feminist movement and attempts to criticise or re-evaluate the ideas of traditional philosophy from within a feminist framework.
There is no one school of feminist philosophy: feminist philosophers, as philosophers, are found in both the analytic and Continental traditions, and a myriad of different viewpoints taken on philosophical issues within those traditions; and feminist philosophers, as feminists, are belong to the many different varieties of feminism. For example:
(1) 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.
(2) Feminist phenomenologists investigate how both cognitive senses (e.g., thinking, interpreting, remembering, knowing) and the construction of normativity within social orders combine to shape an individual's reality. As phenomenology is the study of phenomena, feminists use these theories to understand one's awareness of the self, of others, of one's own experience, and how one embodies their intentions and actions.
Feminist philosophy existed prior to the twentieth century but became labled as such in relation to the discourse of second wave feminists of the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S., Australasia, and Europe in particular. This is important to note because attributing this name to earlier works implies a modern-day context to those texts, resulting in an inaccurate reading of their arguments and removing it from the context of its time and place specificity. Feminist philosophy can be understood to have three main functions:
(1) Investigating how biases against women and assumptions about gender are embodied within philosophical writing which comprise the philosophical canon through critiquing texts that are classified as canonical and by rediscovering the work of many female philosophers whose contributions had been forgotten within contemporary areas of philosophical inquiry. Additionally, feminist philosophers reconstruct 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 a philosophical analysis of concepts regarding identity (such as race, socio-economic status, gender, sexuality, ability, and religion) and concepts that are very widely used and theorised within feminist theory more broadly as well.
Influential feminist philosophers include:
- Olympe de Gouges
- 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
- John Stuart Mill
- Sandra Lee Bartky
- Veronica Vasterling
Critics of feminist philosophy are not generally critics of feminism as a political or cultural movement but of the philosophical positions put forth under the title "feminist philosophy".
Writers and thinkers who have criticised aspects of feminist philosophy include:
A phenomenological approach to the question of gender, which treats masculinity and femininity as not 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)
- 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