this is the first instalment from a series of posts treating about, yes, feminism at which i intend to look from three different angles. the first two posts will consider feminism as philosophical theory and political ideology, respectively and then, finally, i would consider feminism as particularly lucrative business model bringing significant financial gains to certain feminist groups and organisations which turns women liberation movement into strictly commercial enterprises; in short, nothing new and nothing serious.

it must be noted at the beginning that i am fully aware of simplicity of the following analysis, but i believe that despite the high level of abstraction, my approach could provide feasible framework for more detailed examinations. what’s more, it seems to me that furnishing such a framework with necessary details could be done with reasonable ease and in fact such work has already been done to certain extent. so, let’s begin.

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looking at feminism from strictly theoretical point of view it is quite impossible not to realise that the philosophy behind the feminist movement presents something of an intellectual backwater. this lamentable state of feminist theory is largely result of its heavy reliance on psychoanalysis and ideas which for short i would describe as postmodern relativism, as tools of its philosophical analysis. i am not going to elaborate on circumstances surrounding this curious “choice” of tools but i will mention that it might have something to do with intellectual fashions but also it is not inconceivable that it stems from patently obvious nature of some of the feminist claims. for example, feminist insistence on lack of agency on the part of women in creating rules of social interactions could be seen as one of such claims and at best it is … well … unjustified if not rather naive.

in a very similar manner, i intend to brush off any detailed examination of the exciting relationship between feminist theory and psychoanalysis or relativism. and in respect of psychoanalysis i would merely point out that even though psychoanalysis might seem as useful tool in the field of literary criticism it cannot be reasonably regarded as reliable means of serious enquiry (“most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the twentieth century”). this particular feature of psychoanalysis becomes almost self-evident once we consider that it tends to produce number of contradictory explanations of the same phenomena, which justifies the claim that this explanations give more reliable information about those who conduct the study rather than about the phenomena being studied.
moving on to curious world of relativism i must admit that i have no inclination whatsoever to drown myself in futile epistemological deliberations which comprise the only serious relativist argument. so in relation to feminist arguments invoking any notion of relativism i would simply note that these arguments by definition would validate multiple conclusions being drawn from the same premises. which would mean that feminist narratives and its reliance on women experiences of “otherness” are merely one of many equally valid narratives and being “other” is normal human condition applicable to all individuals regardless of their sex (or gender, ha!). i cannot imagine how this could be incorporated into feminist theories.

furthermore, even though feminism fails miserably to present independent and consistent philosophical argument it could incorporate theoretical framework developed by other schools of philosophical thought. however, this would make the very notion of feminism quite unnecessary and the very term “feminism” would only make artificial distinctions where they clearly don’t exist. as a good illustration of this principle one might look at egalitarianism and particular strains of modern feminism which are “feminist” only due to their insistence on using that term.

given that ideas forming the basis of feminist theory could not sustain serious (as opposed to confused) philosophical inquiry i am rather sceptical whether feminist narratives could endure serious scientific scrutiny. for this reason i am more than happy to avoid areas where serious empirical arguments are being presented to less than serious disputants and would happily move on to consider feminism as strictly political ideology.

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  1. […] feminism as philosophical theory (part 1) […]

  2. […] feminism as philosophical theory (part 1) […]

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