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Transition to feminist philosophy and ethicsDescartes, Wollstonecraft, and Gilligan1
What is “feminist” philosophy?•Hard to say what makes a work distinctively feminist. Some possible criteria:–Focus on women writers, thinkers, historical figures–Focus on the historical inequality of men and women, and the oppression of women–Focus on women: their distinctive qualities and goods–Focus on gender: the way different aspects of life become identified as masculine or feminine–Focus on particular philosophical methods, assumptions•Our main aim will be to try to understand how feminism gives rise to interesting critiques of common philosophical methods and assumptions. We will take feminist writers as examples of people dissatisfied with some central aspects of modern philosophy, and the results to which it has contributed.2
René Descartes(1596-1650)•Giant in philosophy (and math), at the start of the Modern era. •Meditations:–Aimed to set science onto a firm, indubitable foundation.–What is the “Cartesian method”?3
Meditation I•What prompts the investigation?–Aim is to strip away everything that is possibly doubtful, in order to identify what is undoubtful.Note the progress of doubt:All becomes doubtable (it seems)Kind of beliefWhat does it in?The obscure, far awayfaulty perceptionThe close by, medium-sized objects, the body itselfdreamsThe elements of perception (parts, colors, shapes), Mathdeceiving god, or evil demon4
Meditation II•What yields certainty?“I myself, am I not at least something? … [W]as I not then likewise persuaded that I did not exist? Not at all; of a surety I myself did exist since I persuaded myself of something. But there is some deceiver or other … who ever employs his ingenuity in deceiving me. Then without doubt I exist also if he deceives me, and let him deceive me as much as he will, he can never cause me to be nothing so long as I think that I am something. So that after having reflected well and carefully examined all things, we must come to the definite conclusion that this proposition: