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Title: Ethics and embodiment : an examination of 'the feminine' and the body in recent French philosophy
Author: Ainley, Alison Claire
ISNI:       0000 0001 3403 2121
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1992
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Recent French feminist thinkers have begun to expand upon a feminist perspective in philosophy which attempts to negotiate on the one hand, the implicit valuing of autonomy, universality and abstraction when these are coded as masculine, and yet on the other hand, can resist the dissemination of meaning into the free play of circuits of desire or signification. In the context of ethics, this perspective constitutes a challenge to more traditional ethical conceptions of the agent, of ethical action, and to the very parameters of the philosophical enterprise itself. It is such a perspective which forms the starting point of this study. This study begins by articulating the paradoxes of a feminist perspective in philosophy, in the context of the work of Simone de Beauvoir, paradoxes which entail a re-examination of the parameters of philosophy as a discipline. The codification of Woman as Other simultaneously positions women as a necessary complement in dualistic divisions but also as a symbolic “otherness”. The ambiguity of such codifications may be taken up strategically for its critical and developmental potentials in relation to philosophy. In the following chapters, the development of sexual identity as it is theorised in psychoanalysis is used to furnish a notion of 'the feminine/matemal' as symbolically negative and critical, but also located in the materiality of the body. Recent radical perspectives in phenomenology are also drawn upon to indicate a re-thinking of the epistemological ordering of subject/object, of sexual identity and of ethics, which still retain the importance of embodiment and sexual difference. The apparent requirement of some ethical 'foundation' for the development of new perspectives in ethics is examined, particularly when this is consciously or unconsciously built upon 'the feminine/matemal', either as nature or as 'divine'. Feminist perspectives in philosophy make deliberate use of such symbolic codifications, 'miming' more traditional theories of ethics, in order to draw attention to the debt owed to the forgotten 'otherness' of philosophy. It is concluded that such strategies, while complex, metaphoric and evasive, present a challenge to the discipline of philosophy and begin the project of developing theories of ethicality for feminist theory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General) ; HQ The family. Marriage. Woman