Moira Gatens investigates the ways in which differently sexed bodies can occupy the same social or political space. Representations of sexual difference have unacknowledged philosophical roots which cannot be dismissed as a superficial bias on the part of the philosopher, nor removed without destroying the coherence of the philosophical system concerned. The deep structural bias against women extends beyond metaphysics and its effects are felt in epistemology, moral, social and political theory. The idea of sexual difference is contextualised in _Imaginary (...) Bodies_ and traced through the history of philosophy. Using her work on Spinoza, Gatens develops alternative conceptions of power, new ways of conceiving women's embodiment and their legal, political and ethical status. (shrink)
Why would the work of the 17th century philosopher Benedict de Spinoza concern us today? How can Spinoza shed any light on contemporary thought? In this intriguing book, Moira Gatens and Genevieve Lloyd show us that in spite of or rather because of Spinoza's apparent strangeness, his philosophy can be a rich resource for cultural self-understanding in the present. _Collective Imaginings_ draws on recent re-assessments of the philosophy of Spinoza to develop new ways of conceptualising issues of freedom and difference. (...) This ground-breaking study will be invaluable reading to anyone wishing to gain a fresh perspective on Spinoza's thought. (shrink)
This extremely accessible textbook provides a wide-ranging analysis of the relations between philosophy and feminist thought. Examining not only feminist critiques of philosophical ideas, Gatens also looks at the ways in which feminist theory can be informed by philosophical analysis and debates. Gatens adopts an historical approach, beginning with an analysis of Mary Wollstonecraft's critique of Rousseau. She then examines attempts by Harriet Taylor and J. S. Mill to extend liberal principles to women's situation. Other chapters discuss the work of (...) more recent philosophers, including Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Mary Daly and Dale Spender. Gatens concludes with a discussion of current debates in the politics of sexual difference. (shrink)
Spinoza took it to be an important psychological fact that belief cannot be compelled. At the same time, he was well aware of the compelling power that religious and political fictions can have on the formation of our beliefs. I argue that Spinoza allows that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fictions. His complex account of the imagination and fiction, and their disabling or enabling roles in gaining knowledge of Nature, is a site of disagreement among commentators. The novels of George (...) Eliot (who translated Spinoza's works) represent a significant development for those who aim to resolve such disagreement in favour of the epistemic value of the imagination and fiction. Although Eliot agreed with Spinoza that belief cannot be compelled, she nevertheless affirmed the potential of certain kinds of fiction to be not only compelling but also edifying. The parallel reading of Eliot and Spinoza offered here raises the question of whether his philosophy can accommodate a theory of art in which the artist is seen to be capable of attaining and imparting dependable knowledge. (shrink)
Summarizes author’s contextual empiricism and uses it to analyze the difference between neuro-endocrinological accounts of presumed behavioral sex differences and neuro-selectionist accounts. Contextual empiricism is a philosophical approach that both shows how feminist critique works in the sciences and makes a contribution to general philosophy of science.
Some critics have claimed that Spinoza's philosophy has nothing to offer aesthetics. I argue that within his conception of an ars vivendi one can discern a nascent theory of art. I bring the figure of the prophet in relation to that of the artist and, alongside a consideration of Spinoza's views on goodness and beauty, show that the special talent of the artist should be understood in terms of the entirely natural expression of the conatus.
ABSTRACT Are there limits to the ability of Spinoza’s philosophy to speak to our present? Perhaps his notion of ‘the mind of God’ is too foreign for contemporary sensibilities to contemplate? After offering a brief refutation of Spinoza as atheist or pantheist, I venture the idea that contemporary understandings of nature may benefit from a consideration of Spinoza’s account of ‘God or Nature’. I suggest that the expression of the virtue of fortitudo (strength of character) can be (re)conceived as the (...) love of God, or Nature. (shrink)
As a constructive alternative to the exclusionary binaries of Cartesian philosophy, Genevieve Lloyd and Moira Gatens turn to Spinoza. Spinoza's understanding of the body as "in relation" takes the focus of philosophical thought from the homogeneous subject to the heterogeneity of the social, and the focus of politics from individual rights to collective responsibility. The implications for feminism are radical; Spinoza enables a reconceptualization of the imaginary and the possibility of a sociability of inclusion.
The paper is in four parts. The first part offers a brief reminder of the historical context for human rights as women's rights. The second part notes the relative lack of attention in human rights theory to the roles of social meaning and what has been called the ‘social imaginary’. The third part suggests that the social imaginary — understood in terms of the always present backdrop to meaningful social action — may be seen as a fruitful ‘middle ground’ upon (...) which negotiations may take place between human rights and cultural norms. The fourth part examines a case where women's entitlements to basic human rights are compromised by men's claims to cultural or group rights. I conclude by arguing that if human rights are to accommodate women's rights then women must be recognized as legitimate stakeholders in, and valuable contributors to, the necessarily ongoing re-invention and recreation of social meaning and cultural identity. (shrink)
This paper treats a recalcitrant problem in Spinoza scholarship, namely, how to reconcile the conception of 'power' in his political writings with that found in his Ethics. Some have doubted the capacity of Spinoza's political philosophy to yield an adequate normative theory. If he is unable to provide a normative ground for political philosophy then perhaps this exposes a problem in Spinoza's philosophy taken as a whole. I argue that the considerable normative resources of his ethical and political philosophy, as (...) well their continuing relevance today, are best appreciated through attending to his notion of the exemplar. (shrink)
This volume of specially-commissioned essays provides accessible introductions to all aspects of George Eliot's writing by some of the most distinguished new and established scholars and critics of Victorian literature. The essays are comprehensive, scholarly and lucidly written, and at the same time offer original insights into the work of one of the most important Victorian novelists, and into her complex and often scandalous career. Discussions of her life, the social, political, and intellectual grounding of her work, and her relation (...) to Victorian feminism provide valuable criticism of everything from her early journalism to her poetry. Each essay contributes to a new understanding of the great fiction, from Adam Bede and The mill on the floss to Daniel Deronda. With its supplementary material, including a chronology and a guide to further reading, this Companion is an invaluable tool for scholars and students alike. (shrink)
The distinctive features of Australian feminism, including diversity, engagement with the state, openness to new ideas, and connections with ideas and developments overseas are fully explored in this major new encyclopedic reference book.
This paper explores the relationship between honour and recognition in the context of normative heterosexuality, and the implications of this relationship for sustaining and transforming problematic sexual norms. Building on recent attempts to move beyond a narrow and restrictive focus on consent as a means of thinking through the ethics of heterosexual sex, we reflect critically on the concept of honour in this domain. Honour, in our approach, is a cluster concept that houses a number of related normative values and (...) affective attitudes, including respect, self-respect, pride, dignity, esteem, integrity, trust, and honesty. We examine how honour is distributed by heterosexual imaginaries in ways that privilege men in the sexual encounter, and argue that part of cultivating ethical heterosexual relations is to imagine a sexual honour code where both men and women see themselves, and are seen by their counterpart, as entitled to sexual respect. To conclude, the paper examines and defends the cultivation of ethical, just, and honourable heterosexual relations as a necessarily embodied, intersubjective, and imaginative endeavour that involves challenges to, and shifts within, multiple imaginaries and sensibilities that cluster to support damaging norms of sexual conduct. (shrink)
Through a critical reading of Maxine Hong Kingston’s novel, Woman Warrior, this paper addresses Amy Allen’s criticism that Seyla Benhabib’s conception of narrative agency involves the idea of a gender-neutral core self. Allen’s criticism of Benhabib is found wanting and the notion of an ungendered self is judged incoherent. Rather, gender is one of a number of markers at work in the open-ended narrative construction of identity.
As a constructive alternative to the exclusionary binaries of Cartesian philosophy, Genevieve Lloyd and Moira Gatens turn to Spinoza. Spinoza's understanding of the body as “in relation” takes the focus of philosophical thought from the homogeneous subject to the heterogeneity of the social, and the focus of politics from individual rights to collective responsibility. The implications for feminism are radical; Spinoza enables a reconceptualization of the imaginary and the possibility of a sociability of inclusion.
This paper reads Deleuze through a Spinozist lens to conceive of the human being as a dynamic and complex whole in constant interchange with its environment. The author thus moves beyond philosophical dualisms, and challenges the assumption that a hierarchical normative organization is the only possible world. Using the example of rape, she argues that micropolitical strategies might disrupt and “pass” the juridical order and open up alternative, more equitable, forms of sociability.
: This paper reads Deleuze through a Spinozist lens to conceive of the human being as a dynamic and complex whole in constant interchange with its environment. The author thus moves beyond philosophical dualisms, and challenges the assumption that a hierarchical normative organization is the only possible world. Using the example of rape, she argues that micropolitical strategies might disrupt and "pass" the juridical order and open up alternative, more equitable, forms of sociability.
Our everyday notion of freedom is an innate prejudice. It is based on our inadequate knowledge of the causes of things and on our tendency to accord too much credence to the way things appear, that is, to the way that things outside ourselves affect us. Imagination, the lowest kind of knowledge, is the source of falsity and error, and it lies at the origin of human bondage to affect. The imagination can be deployed in the service of attaining a (...) relatively freer existence through imagining ourselves as acting like the free man held up by Spinoza in E4Pref as a model of human nature. The free man embodies the sure maxims of life to a perfect degree. Spinoza explicitly says that the free man is noble and tenacious, that is, he possesses the active affects described under the virtue of strength of character. (shrink)
In the Preface to Part Four of the Ethics, Spinoza offers the reader an exemplar of human nature. However, Spinoza does not conceive of human nature as a universal in which each human being participates, simply by virtue of being human. Rather, each human being is conceived as singular. Thriving individual lives assume thriving communities composed of (somewhat) like-minded and (somewhat) like-embodied individuals. The model, or exemplar, then, may be considered to play the role of an enabling fiction in his (...) educational and moral philosophy. The approach taken here is to explore Spinoza’s notions of singularity, similarity, and exemplarity in relation to the distinctive human capacity to educate the senses and the passions and to cultivate reason, and thereby to flourish. The final section of the paper reads the education of Victor Frankenstein’s ‘monster’ through the lens of Spinoza’s philosophy of affect. (shrink)
This paper reads Deleuze through a Spinozist lens to conceive of the human being as a dynamic and complex whole in constant interchange with its environment. The author thus moves beyond philosophical dualisms, and challenges the assumption that a hierarchical normative organization is the only possible world. Using the example of rape, she argues that micropolitical strategies might disrupt and "pass" the juridical order and open up alternative, more equitable, forms of sociability.