This book is a comprehensive, analytical study of the way the mind/body dichotomy has perpetuated social hierarchy on the basis of gender. It challenges the tradition of dualism and argues that the term “rational woman” is not a contradiction in terms. Having investigated the two major dualisms contained in the term “rational woman”, the author develops an argument for a new relational conception of all the terms involved in “rational woman”, emphasizing the relationship of interdependence of reason and emotion, man (...) and woman, rather than placing these terms in hierarchical and polarized opposition. (shrink)
In this book, Spinoza's political theory is examined through an analysis of his engagement with the practical politics of his day in the United Provinces. 17th-century Dutch history, political life and political thought, and in particular Dutch republicanism, represent an important context in which to discuss Spinoza's political philosophy. The significance of Spinoza's republicanism is highlighted in a comparison with English political thought and its presuppositions in the 17th century.
Conceptions of citizenship which rest on an abstract and universal notion of the individual founder on their inability to recognize the political relevance of gender. Such conceptions, because their ‘gender-neutrality’ has the effect of excluding women, are not helpful to the project of promoting the full citizenship of women. The question of citizenship is often reduced to either political citizenship, in terms of an instrumental notion of political participation, or social citizenship, in terms of an instrumental notion of economic (in)dependence. (...) The paper argues for the recognition of citizenship as gendered, and as an ethical, that is non-instrumental, social status which is distinct from both political participation and economic (in)dependence. What unites us as citizens, in our equal membership of the political community, need not rely on a conception of us as ‘neutral’ (abstract, universalized, genderless) individuals undertaking one specific activity located in the public realm, but can take account of the diverse ways in which we engage in ethically-grounded activities on the basis of our different genders, ethnic and cultural backgrounds and other differences, in both the public and private realms. A convincing feminist conception of citizenship necessarily involves a radical redefinition of the public/private distinction to accommodate the recognition of citizenship practices in the private realm. The paper builds on the observation that the concept of ‘citizenship’ is broader than the concept of ‘the political’ (or ‘the social/economic’), and contends that feminism provides us with the emancipatory potential of gendered subjectivity, which applies to both men and women. The recognition of gendered subjectivity opens the way to the recognition of the diversity of citizenship practices. It is not that women need to be liberated from the private realm, in order to take part in the public realm as equal citizens, but that women – and men – already undertake responsibilities of citizenship in both the public and the private realms. (shrink)
We explore contested meanings around care and relationality through the under-explored case of caring after death, throwing the relational significance of ‘bodies’ into sharp relief. While the dominant social imaginary and forms of knowledge production in many affluent western societies take death to signify an absolute loss of the other in the demise of their physical body, important implications follow from recognising that embodied relational experience can continue after death. Drawing on a model of embodied relational care encompassing a ‘me’, (...) a ‘you’ and an ‘us’, we argue that after death ‘me’ and ‘us’ remain (though changed) while crucial dimensions of ‘you’ persist too. In unravelling the binary divide between living and dead bodies, other related dichotomies of mind/body, self/other, internal/external, and nature/social are also called into question, extending debates concerning relationality and openness between living bodies. Through an exploration of autobiographical accounts and empirical research, we argue that embodied relationality expresses how connectedness is lived out after death in material practices and felt experiences. (shrink)
The paper argues that Leviathan can be interpreted as employing a constructionist approach in several important respects. It takes issue with commentators who think that, if for Hobbes man is not naturally social, then man must be naturally unsocial or naturally purely individual. First, Hobbes's key conceptions of the role of artifice and nature-artifice relations are identified, and uncontroversially constructionist elements outlined, most notably Hobbes's conceptualisation of the covenant. The significance of crucial distinctions in Leviathan, between the civil and the (...) social, between science and philosophy, between mankind's nature and the human condition, is developed. A constructionist reading of the argument of Leviathan is then advanced. The interpretation focuses on the contribution of nature-artifice relations, and of Hobbes's notion of civil philosophy, in understanding the critical issues of the state of nature and individual subjectivity. This reconstruction of the meaning of the text highlights the necessarily social character of human life in Leviathan, expressed in the way that the social' gives meaning to the 'natural', as well as because for Hobbes we live in a mind-affected world of perception and ideas. Leviathan can be interpreted as, in particular, a political social construction, because both social and individual identity logically require the social order and arrangements that only a strong government can supply. The social world, in Leviathan, cannot exist prior to the generation of a political framework, in civil society, the commonwealth, and law. (shrink)
This article investigates the forms of respect and responsiveness that must be present in the process of practical reason. Drawing upon Jürgen Habermas’ discourse theory and his incidental remarks about aesthetics, I identify two modes of respect. The first is the mutual respect and equality that emerges in the process of coming to agreement on proposed norms; the second is the call to infinite responsibility that emerges in opening to the transcendent character of others. However, Habermas makes an error in (...) treating these two types of response as appropriate for different classes of beings when he suggests that mutual respect is appropriate for humans, but asymmetry is appropriate when humans deal with animals or others who are incapable of communicative action. Rather, drawing upon the work of Emmanuel Levinas, I argue that both responses are always present in all encounters with the world. There is therefore an aporia at the heart of the process of practical reason: the responsiveness required in the exercise of practical reason demands that participants be open not just to another's opinions and claims, but also to precisely that which is not understood, which entails the idea of infinite responsibility. It is the movement between these orientations that enacts the main features of ethical life. (shrink)
The article argues that Spinoza's principle of political order represents a conception of sovereignty which is both historically intelligible and analytically coherent.The appropriateness of four meanings of sovereignty to Spinoza's political theory is considered. Then, after examining Spinoza's use of Hobbes's still influential touchstone for the modern theory of sovereignty, Spinoza's conception is discussed in the light of the role that customary practice and republicanism play in his political theory. The analysis of sovereignty also prompts engagement with a range of (...) meanings of the notions of constitutionalism and absolute rule.The argument demonstrates that while Spinoza employs some different criteria, he establishes a conception of sovereignty which needs to be recognised as no less internally consistent than Hobbes's. Moreover, both conceptions contain problems. Although Hobbes demonstrates the abstract logic of authority, the theoretical consequence he draws concerning sovereignty entailing a unitary state has been successfully challenged. Spinoza's conception of sovereignty is based on the logic of customary practice, but the manner in which customary practice is ultimately unsusceptible of analytical justification renders his notion also vulnerable to challenge. (shrink)