| 
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions! Dokkio, a new product from the PBworks team, integrates and organizes your Drive, Dropbox, Box, Slack and Gmail files. Sign up for free.

View
 

Week One, Lloyd

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 7 months ago

 

Week One, Genevieve Lloyd, Feminism & History of Philosophy

 

 

Kate, Shapiro

 

1. What, if anything, does Elisabeth (and Shapiro) seem to suggest about the lived experience of being a woman that influences Elisabeth’s appreciation of the relationship between the body and the mind?

 

2. Why is it important, either from a feminist or philosophical (or feminist philosophical) approach that Shapiro excavate Elisabeth’s own philosophy?

 

3. Is Elisabeth a philosopher?  Is she a feminist?  Does it matter?  Why or why not?

 

4. What is Shapiro’s method?  Is it particularly feminist, or only in so far as it excavates a woman’s philosophy?  Or not at all?

 

5. The last paragraph proposes friendship as philosophical method.  What do you think Shapiro means by that?  What do you make of it?

 

Questions on Nussbaum:

 

1. How, if at all, might Nussbaum’s analysis serve as an example of the methodology Lloyd lays out in the introduction?

 

2. What exactly does Nussbaum want to retain from Hellenistic philosophers, and why?

 

3. What historical moment do you think Nussbaum herself is responding to or operating in the might explain her argument or approach?

 

4. Nussbaum writes (page 124), “...[T]he ancient arguments, with their emphasis on on therapy and their interest in radical personal social change, offer us paradigms for ways in which we ourselves might ask society and ourselves to change, if we should discover, through argument, that our own ways of constructing the discourse of desire are at odds with other things we wish and hope for ourselves, with our ideas of what it takes for human beings to flourish.”  What do you make of her optimistic view of the possibilities of the Hellenistic concept of therapy?  Do you think a recourse to therapy can be problematic?

 

5. Why is Nussbaum’s piece considered “feminist”?

 

Questions on Baier:

 

1. How does Baier use Hume’s work?

 

2. How, if at all, might we use Hume, or replicate this type of feminist analysis without such an essentialist view of “women’s morality?”

 

3. Baier, it seems, uses one arguably sexist theory or philosophy to debunk another.  What do you think of that as feminist method?  Is this an example of using the “master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house?”

 

4. Based on the entire volume, the capacity for universality and abstract thinking has historically been associated with men, whereas the capacity for particularity and contextual thinking has been associated with women.  Many of the authors of this volume seem to use philosophy to argue that particularity and context are an equally worthwhile quality, rather than undermine the essentialist dualism at work there.  What do you think of that strategy?  Why do you think these feminist philosophers have taken that approach? 

 

My articles were Sarah Kofman’s “Socrates and his Twins (The Socrates(es) of Plato’s Symposium)” and Amélie Oksenberg Rorty’s “Spinoza on the Pathos of Idolatrous Love and the Hilarity of True Love”.

 

Both Rorty and Nussbaum (in “Therapeutic Arguments and Structures of Desire”) offer methods of analyzing and changing emotions in which thinkers come to better understand their emotions and proclivities by seeing them in the context of history and culture. Neither directly addresses forms of oppression that may hinder such emotional and intellectual growth. Is it possible to incorporate such considerations into their theories of social construction and necessity? If not, what can be salvaged from their theories once we take oppression into account?

 

For Rorty, the move from a mistaken account of the self allows us to align our self-expression with the way we really are. Along with that alignment comes an expanded idea of ourself, one that seems to eventually encompass what we thought of as other people. Could Rorty’s attention to the “welfare of an extended self” be a hindrance when an appreciation of difference may be necessary? (223) Can the drive to include everything in/reduce all difference to some conception of an extended self be seen as an unhealthy form of control? In what ways can we take (perhaps incommensurable) difference into account in a Spinozistic conception of self?

 

As Kofman shows, Plato’s use of Socrates and the other characters in his dialogue serves to exhibit his skill and “makes the debt [of knowledge] unpayable” (63). However, there may be more at play, as Plato draws our attention to his technique in the context of a dialogue about the connections with and desires for other people that spring from knowledge. What does that decision tell us about the social nature of authorship? With that in mind, how might that help us to better understand the place of the authors of texts in our study of the history of philosophy?

 

Both Kofman and Rorty discuss hierarchies of love. Kofman follows the sort of hierarchy laid out in Diotima’s “Ladder of Love”, and Rorty makes use of Spinozistic conceptions of more or less adequate ideas. Are there negative consequences to establishing such hierarchies, especially within a feminist schema? If so, how can we avoid that while still addressing the negative aspects of the idolatrous situations described in the articles?

 

“Hume, the Woman’s moral Theorist”, Annette C. Baier 

 

1.    The implications of Baier’s use of the term “woman moral wisdom”: 

Is there a difference between “woman moral wisdom” and the term “woman’s moral wisdom”? Does the idea of ‘woman morality’ have more justification than “black morality” or “gay morality”? Is it different than “children morality”, “old age morality”, or “sickness morality”? 

 

2.    Morality that is built on empathy and responsibility to other’s interests:

What would be the moral reaction to an empathy with a ‘malicious spiteful’(p246)? 

If there can be no moral empathy with unempathetic interests: does this moral theory allow a class of people that are not deserving of a moral treatment? Are the conduct of prisonment and judging crimes not part of morality? 

If there is such a thing as a moral empathy with unempathetic interests: Is it modeled after an empathy with the sick? What are the implications of beliefs about human nature to such a moral theory? Can it work without a patronizing attitude regarding persons’ wants? 

 

3.    Choice and freedom:

The idea that choice is not a sign of morality, and freedom is not a realistic or desirable moral aspiration is based on the view that the serving, nurturing and origin of self interests and self passions are conditioned by a mutual relationship of sympathy between self passions and other’s passions. 

In this picture, are freedom and choice morally-indifferent? How is this related to the question of choice in feminism: is feminism about individual choice or about actions that empower woman as a group?  Is a theory that undermines the role of freedom and choice useful for a feminist interest?

 

4.    The individual and the paradigmatic status of family relationship:

Is the moral fundament of this theory the family or the individual? (Which one serves best the assumption of an empathy built morality?) 

How does the idea of empathy as the basis for moral behavior seen in the context of the individual and in the context of the family? 

 

5.    Is this a “theory of the weak”?

Does it ‘work’ only in a reality of being subjected to other people’s will, or for an unchosen and unequal relationship? In a reality/technology that allows increasing amount of choice regarding timing and nature of personal family relationship, should the view that family relationships are unchosen and unequal be restricted, or is it an essential characteristic of personal relationships?

 

 

 

“We Are Not Sublime: Love and Sacrifice, Abraham and Ourselves”, Sylviane Agacinski 

 

1.    If the Aceda is taken as a story of failure of both God and Abraham, how would that change the account of the story? 

 

2.    If the story is told from Isaac’s point of view, is the sacrifice made by Isaac a sublime sacrifice?

 

3.    Relation to Humean morality:

The idea that Ethic is being silenced by the sublime dilemma is based on the assumption that the ethical is a rational voice. Is an ethic that is taken as emotional voice of empathy and responsibility, also silenced by the sublime dilemma? If so, by what argument? What is the basis in morality of responsibility which is being defied by the sublime?

 

4.    Love and the aesthetic-ethic-religious:

Agacinski claims that love and faith cannot be learned, and asks: can there be love that is not dependent on the aesthetic ethic or religious? 

If the answer is no, does a territory that is modeled on the aesthetic, ethic and religious give an exhaustive field of where the emotional happens and develops?

 

5.    Relationship between reason/faith  and  language/imagery:

What are the possible relationship between the band on visual representations of god and the Hegelian idea that language is ‘on the side of faith’ (god speaks, expression of the sublime can be only through poetry)?    

What could be the reaction to an answer that says: since words are a product of faith, they are negated to reason and then images, as negating faith, are a product of finitude and reason?

 

6.    Negative linguistic representation:

The idea that the sublime can only be represented by language and not by images, is based on the argument that the sublime can only be represented negatively, and that there is no negative image. (Visual brings to vision existing and finite shapes. Hegel).

Is there a negative sentence in this respect? Words and linguistic items (including the word no) can be taken as positing a content. 

 

Herman: 

 

1.  It seems suspect that Herman’s discussion focuses on impartiality almost solely with respect to the individual moral agent.  That is, there is very little attention to the role of impartiality in a just democratic state, even as it is the liberal state that has often been critiqued for its inattention to difference and the institutionalization of racism, sexism, and classism.  Is it possible to expand Herman’s argument in order to incorporate difference and identity into a liberal Kantian democracy, or are critiques that point to intransigent universalism more palpable here? 

 

2.  Herman argues that “consequences matter” and that “[matters] of institutionalized subordination, dependency, questions of gender, class, and race” must be “taken into account” in Kantian ethics (Herman 272).  Even so, she provides little guidance as to how that should be done.  Here, the situated nature of agency suggests that difference must be taken into account, but says little about what this means.  Should difference merely be incorporated into one’s individual morality—and into the ways in which one relates to other autonomous moral agents?  As a moral agent, how can one protect the moral agency of a weaker moral agent without resorting to oppressive paternalism?  Furthermore, should such protection be incorporated into a liberal state?  How could it be universalized, and would it require—as Wendy Brown has warned—the instantiation of vulnerability in law? 

 

Deutscher: 

 

1.  Although Deutscher mentions the place in which “Zarathustra tells women that their greatest hope should be to bear the overman” (Deutscher 339), she suggests that Nietzsche’s depiction in Daybreak of the strong, complete woman counters this other, more instrumental view of women.  Is this point convincing, or might Nietzsche really see the highest purpose of this strong, ideal woman as the production of the overman?  Would not the noble, ideal woman be more capable of producing and then nurturing the overman than the weak woman of ressentiment?  Moreover, is the strength of the ideal woman valuable in itself—or simply because of its instrumental role in sharpening that of the man and thus increasing his force?   

 

2.  Given Deutscher’s conception of Nietzsche, in which both men and women can increase their force in an ideal love relationship, is there room in this analysis for an ideal same-sex relationship in which both partners increase their force and affirm their strength?  Or is the role of biological reproduction more central for Nietzsche than Deutscher admits?  Does Nietzsche’s emphasis on that which is life-affirming versus that which is life-denying in On the Genealogy of Morals have any bearing on this question? 

 

Section One: Introduction and Part I (Lloyd on Le Doeuff)

 

1. What are “points of tension” (4, 17, 36) within your assigned chapter?  In what ways does the author engage with “literary aspects of philosophical writing” (4)? 

 

2. Do you think it is more useful to reclaim and reappropriate texts by rethinking them in new contexts or to repudiate the past?  Is one more politically progressive than the other?  Is there a place for both in rethinking the history of philosophy?

 

3. What do you make of the writing style, texts, and use of feminist and philosophic theory in the book? (e.g. the narrative style in Rorty or the epistolary texts in Shapiro)

 

4. How did you read this text (the book as a whole)?

 

5. What are some examples of fictions used to “get at the truth” (32)?  Are they the same as the “dominant organizing images” critiqued (31)?

 

Section Two: Chapter 4 (Homiak on Aristotle)

 

1. On page 84, Homiak presents Aristotle’s explanation about how menial laborers are not fully rational due to being “constrained by the desires of others” because of monetary dependence.  Later, on page 90, Homiak contends that for Aristotle the “non-rational side of the person can be seen to constrain and limit the operations of the rational side.”  Is it ever possible to escape constraints to achieve rationality by having “complete control over [one’s] own decisions and actions” if we accept and value, as Homiak advocates, the non-rational?

 

2. Homiak writes in a straightforward, logical, premise-premise-conclusion style.  Because her article is about rationality, this style seems appropriate.  Would her article be any less compelling if she had used the narrative style she employs at the beginning of the piece throughout?

 

3. Could animals demonstrate any Aristotelian rationality, as Homiak presents it?

 

4. Homiak asks, “How could we reconcile our commitment to feminism with a scholarly life devoted to the study of philosophers who explicitly describe women as inferior to men, as unfit for the best life available to human beings, as incapable of being full moral agents?”  Do you have answers to this question by the time you finish reading the book?

 

Sorcerer Love:  A reading of Plato, Symposium, “Diotima’s Speech’

Luce Irigaray

 

Diotima’s teaching is different from what is usually called dialectical (Hegel’s dialectics).  Diotima’s dialectic is in at least four terms: the here, the two poles of the encounter, and the beyond—but a beyond that never abolishes the here.  And so on, indefinitely (69).

…In response to Socrates’ protestation that love is a great God, that everyone says so or thinks so, she laughs.  How does Diotima’s dialectic challenge the assumed universal constituency of love with laughter?  How does such an expression reveal the humorous elements of such thought?  How does such an expression reveal the issue of voicing and of sexual difference?

 

Selections from The Flight to Objectivity

Susan Bordo

 

Susan Bordo attempts to reconstruct a modernized version of the Cartesian dualism.  Quoting her, “for Descartes, indeed, discontinuity is the central fact of human experience (162).â€

  …Our relationship to the world, our thought about the world, and our sensing of the world is timely punctuated by breaking points—by distinct events.  In other words, first person human experience is based on objectifying components.  Thus the Cartesian dualism is reverberated on the cultural level.  Susan Bordo’s analysis is already based on a particular set of body imagery.  The body for Susan Bordo is already an object.  She tries to reconstruct the body through the Cartesian dualism precisely because she images that the body has a locus point and it can therefore become discontinuous.  So whose body is this?

 

Evan Seehausen

 

My articles were Sarah Kofman’s “Socrates and his Twins (The Socrates(es) of Plato’s Symposium)” and Amélie Oksenberg Rorty’s “Spinoza on the Pathos of Idolatrous Love and the Hilarity of True Love”.

 

Both Rorty and Nussbaum (in “Therapeutic Arguments and Structures of Desire”) offer methods of analyzing and changing emotions in which thinkers come to better understand their emotions and proclivities by seeing them in the context of history and culture. Neither directly addresses forms of oppression that may hinder such emotional and intellectual growth. Is it possible to incorporate such considerations into their theories of social construction and necessity? If not, what can be salvaged from their theories once we take oppression into account?

 

For Rorty, the move from a mistaken account of the self allows us to align our self-expression with the way we really are. Along with that alignment comes an expanded idea of ourself, one that seems to eventually encompass what we thought of as other people. Could Rorty’s attention to the “welfare of an extended self” be a hindrance when an appreciation of difference may be necessary? (223) Can the drive to include everything in/reduce all difference to some conception of an extended self be seen as an unhealthy form of control? In what ways can we take (perhaps incommensurable) difference into account in a Spinozistic conception of self?

 

As Kofman shows, Plato’s use of Socrates and the other characters in his dialogue serves to exhibit his skill and “makes the debt [of knowledge] unpayable” (63). However, there may be more at play, as Plato draws our attention to his technique in the context of a dialogue about the connections with and desires for other people that spring from knowledge. What does that decision tell us about the social nature of authorship? With that in mind, how might that help us to better understand the place of the authors of texts in our study of the history of philosophy?

 

Both Kofman and Rorty discuss hierarchies of love. Kofman follows the sort of hierarchy laid out in Diotima’s “Ladder of Love”, and Rorty makes use of Spinozistic conceptions of more or less adequate ideas. Are there negative consequences to establishing such hierarchies, especially within a feminist schema? If so, how can we avoid that while still addressing the negative aspects of the idolatrous situations described in the articles?

 

Lisa Beane

PHIL 538, Fall 2007

Discussion questions for Genevieve Lloyd, Feminism and the Philosophy of History

 

Susan James, “The Passions and Philosophy”

 

1.  What, if anything, does James want to say about the value of emotions in contemporary feminist philosophy (or politics, for that matter)?  Is this primarily a comment on the necessity of rediscovering lost parts of the Western tradition, or is there something about the passions in particular that makes it important for us to unearth this intellectual heritage?

 

2.  Near the top of page 135, James says, “To opt for a classification is, to some extent, to opt for a broader theory of the passions, and any theory will be measured against existing typologies to see how well it deals with particular cases and configurations.”  To what sorts of ‘particular cases’ is James referring here, and how will we know if a theory of the passions deals with them ‘well’?

 

Seyla Benhabib, “On Hegel, Women, and Irony”

 

1.  On page 290, Benhabib says, “Hegel’s views on love and sexuality … reveal him to be a counter-Enlightenment thinker.  Hegel surreptitiously criticizes and denigrates attempts at early women’s emancipation and seeks to imprison women once more within the confines of the monogamous, nuclear family which they threatened to leave.”  Does this really put Hegel out of step with Enlightenment thinking, or does his unwillingness to take Enlightenment ideas about individual freedoms to their logical conclusions make him quite typical?

 

2.  What would it mean to rescue women (and perhaps others) from the dialectic of history?  What else might need to be recovered?  Can this be a positive rather than a ‘merely’ critical project?

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.