The Human in Feminist Theory: Or Woman Is a Social Animal, I’m Not So Sure About Man

In: Journal of the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists
Karen Green Department of Historical and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3010, Australia

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A feminist humanism, unlike those developed by men, would recognize that the authoritative, human subject comes in two sexes. While not being essentialist, it would accept the existence of biological, sexual difference, while taking seriously historical and cultural diversity. It would find female subjects, not in their bodies, but in their contributions to intellectual history. To defend this feminist humanism, this paper counters the post-structuralist critique of humanism, criticizing the structuralist account of language on which post-structuralism built, which it retained even in going beyond it. At the same time, it repurposes the Foucauldian idea of an archeology of knowledge to propose a feminist humanism, anchored in an archeology of women’s texts. It claims that the findings of the archeological investigations so far undertaken suggest that while man characteristically deems himself an isolated individual, made social by culture and artifice, woman, in general, experiences herself as social by nature.

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