Sisters of the Brotherhood : Alienation and Inclusion in Learning Philosophy


This open access book explores the gendered reality of learning philosophy at the university level, investigating the ways in which women and minority students become alienated from the social practices of a male-dominated field, and examining pedagogical solutions to this problem. It covers the roles and the interactions of the professor and student in the following ways: (1) the historical situation, (2) the affective, social and bodily situation, and (3) the moral situation. This text analyzes women’s passion for philosophy as a quest for truth, as well as their partial alienation from the social practices of philosophy. It demonstrates that recognition, generosity, and care are central ingredients of good learning and teaching experiences. Providing case studies of experimental courses in philosophy, the book discusses a variety of pedagogical approaches that might increase the inclusiveness of a philosophical education: novel and more gender-balanced ways of interpreting the history of philosophy, problem-based learning as a means of emancipating the student from the traditional master–disciple relationship, body awareness practices as a way of challenging the “disembodying” tendencies of philosophy, and a pluralism of methods to address the needs of different kinds of learners. Thanks to these features, the book is particularly useful for philosophy professors at the university level, but it also provides insights for all readers who feel puzzled about the persistent underrepresentation of women in philosophy.



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The Moral Situation: Self and Other

Questions of power and ethics were implicitly present in the previous chapters. In this chapter, I deal with them in more detail, examining the power strugglesPower struggles in the classroom in terms of the relationship between the student and the lecturer as well as that between students. I also d... see more

Introduction: Equality, Inclusion and Alienation in Learning Philosophy

When we are talk about the underrepresentationUnderrepresentation of women in philosophy, what do we mean, and what kind of data do we have on it? Why is the low percentage of women and other minorities in philosophy a problem? Are there specific mechanisms of discrimination that contribute to women... see more

The Affective, Social and Bodily Situation

This chapter deals with the affective, social and bodily situationsituation of learning and teaching philosophy, starting with a discussion of the views articulated by both students and professional philosophers in the interviews and answers to the questionnaire on attitudes to studying philosophy. ... see more

Conclusions and Further Questions

This concluding chapter consists of three parts: the general conclusions of the whole book, “questions to ask oneself” and a discussion of the possibilities for renewing philosophy in the current state of university politics. Furthermore, the first part includes suggestions for empirical research on... see more

The Historical Situation

How does the history of philosophy affect the situationSituation of women students in the field today and how has that situation changed over the years? From the very early days of philosophy, there have been women with either indirect or direct access to philosophical education. The fact that women... see more

Undoing Power Hierarchies

What alternatives have been created within feminist pedagogyFeminist pedagogy to question power hierarchies and to make teaching more inclusive? What approaches were adopted in the Gender and Philosophy summer schoolsSummer school in order to achieve these goals? After discussing these questions, I ... see more

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Erika Ruonakoski
University of Helsinki

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