In Kathleen Galvin (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Well-Being. London, UK: Routledge (2018)

Charlotte Knowles
University of Groningen
In this paper I argue that from a feminist perspective well-being is most productively defined in relation to freedom, and it is with regard to questions of freedom that well-being should be pursued. Pursuing well-being from a starting point of oppression and working towards an ideal of freedom, involves two things: a reconception of the self as fundamentally relational and an emphasis on the importance of self-understanding for well-being. The former is something that has been widely acknowledged in the feminist literature, where relational conceptions of the self figure centrally, and the notion of a socially situated self has been identified as one of the key contributions to living well from a feminist perspective. Self-understanding, however, has been largely ignored in feminist accounts of well-being, where the social aspects of well-being are often emphasised to the detriment of individual considerations. I argue that this can cause problems for well-being as the pursuit of freedom, but that such problems can be overcome by supplementing the relational account of the self with an emphasis on self-understanding and highlighting the interrelation between them in the pursuit of well-being qua freedom from oppression.
Keywords well-being  feminist philosophy  oppression  self-respect
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