Thinking goddess/nature : feminist metaphysics and the thealogical imagination
This thesis contributes to a small but growing body of academic research that is concerned with the late twentieth and early twenty-first century religion of Goddess feminism and the religio-political discourse of thealogy. Current academic approaches to Goddess feminism have been primarily historical, -- I- phenomenological, psychological and sociological studies that have presented descriptive and/or functional accounts of this religion. Relatively little academic work has emerged from within Goddess feminism. Still less has attempted to delineate the meaning of a female/feminist deity and religious worldview in a philosophical manner. This thesis attends to these areas of academic neglect by combining philosophical concems and methods with a position of thealogical advocacy. By developing a thealogical reading of the principal reality-claims embedded within a number of influential Goddess feminist texts it is, I propose, possible to address philosophical questions that have not, as yet, been confronted by Goddess feminists, and also theorize the contours and coherence of what may be termed a feminist metaphysic. Most Goddess feminists, I contend, presently emphasize the affective, experiential and performative dimensions of their religion, to the detriment or exclusion of the conceptual, philosophical and metaphysical. I argue in this thesis that there are no compelling reasons why Goddess feminists should reject philosophy and metaphysics. There are, rather, good political, practical and religious reasons for feminist thealogians, to produce an alternative metaphysic of deity and the world to those deployed by patriarchy. Throughout this constructive work of thealogy recurrent Goddess feminist models, myths and reality-claims, such as those of the cosmogonic womb, the cycling processes of Birth-Death-Rebirth, and the web of life, are conceptually unpacked, developed and elucidated so as to provide a comprehensive thealogical, and thereby metaphysical, account of the fundamental organization of reality and the human condition. The originality and significance of this thesis lies in its elaboration of a feminist metaphysical account of the Goddess as nature, Goddess/Naturet,h, at has largely been assumedr ather than articulated by most Goddess feminists. I conclude that although it is not, as yet, possible to articulate a complete Goddess feminist metaphysical theory, it is possible to develop a philosophical and systematic thealogy that delineates the primary metaphysical commitments and reality-claims implicit within Goddess feminist discourse in a coherent manner. This thesis is a prolegomena to future works of philosophical thealogy and feminist metaphysical theorizing.