Zerilli Feminism And The Abyss Of Freedom Pdf Introduction

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Beauman considered it a miraculous achievement: it "is the first novel or hymn, for this book is close to epic poetry of Women's Liberation ". The novel is, some say, based on a concept of women's superiority.

In contemporary feminist theory, the problem of feminine subjectivity persistently appears and reappears as the site that grounds all discussion of feminism. Zerilli argues that the persistence ofMoreIn contemporary feminist theory, the problem of feminine subjectivity persistently appears and reappears as the site that grounds all discussion of feminism. Zerilli argues that the persistence of this subject-centered frame severely limits feminists capacity to think imaginatively about the central problem of feminist theory and practice: a politics concerned with freedom. Offering both a discussion of feminism in its postmodern context and a critique of contemporary theory, Zerilli here challenges feminists to move away from a theory-based approach, which focuses on securing or contesting women as an analytic category of feminism, to one rooted in political action and judgment.

Feminist Political Philosophy

By Linda M. Includes bibliographical references and index. Z DDC We want to understand something that is already in plain view. For this is what we seem in some sense not to understand.

Fond of quoting McCarthy, commentators have turned the missing volume on judging into an enigma of spectral proportions. What would Arendt have written had she lived long enough to finish her tripartite work? How would the volume on judging have fit with the rest of her oeuvre?

What kinds of problems would that volume have addressed and perhaps solved? Although we cannot know what Arendt would have written, we might reflect on the role that judging plays in her extant political theory and, more important for this book, what role it might play in contemporary democratic and feminist political theory.

In her strikingly original view, the capacity to judge should be expected from each and every citizen. Although Arendt turned to Homeric impartiality, to Aristotelian phronesis , and to Kantian enlarged thinking, it is not Homer or Aristotle or for that matter Immanuel Kant to whom we can attribute her novel account of judgment. Rather, it is Hannah Arendt herself who first discovers judgment as a political capacity of ordinary democratic citizens, not elites with special knowledge or abilities.

This discovery is at least equal to her conception of action, which is normally taken to be the central feature of her political thought. My aim is to explore how Arendt might help us reframe the problem of judgment in contemporary democratic societies characterized by deep value pluralism.

Wanting to affirm such pluralism as an achievement of such societies, yet understandably unwilling to declare all values to be of equal worth, an array of political thinkers has sought various means of adjudication based on a conception of validity e.

Over the course of time, I have come to see this otherwise reasonable concern with adjudication—indeed, the whole question of validity itself—as a kind of theoretical obsession that might well lead us to misunderstand what is at stake in judging politically.

The more I thought about this question, the more convinced I became that the answer was most likely right there in front of me, almost too ordinary to count as serious. For many critics, Arendt has no credible way of addressing the value relativism to which her own account of a kind of unfettered human plurality seems to lead.

Was she blind? And yet we know that whatever Arendt was, surely she was not blind to the corrosive character of the radical subjectivism and world-alienation that has come to define modern mass society.

This destruction of what she called the common world and not the deadly conflict of plural worldviews, I began to see, was the real problem that concerned her. It was what led Arendt to seek an account of judging that was less adjudicative and more creative and reflective, the kind of judging without the mediation of a concept that she found in the aesthetic theory of Kant.

That defense made it sound as if Arendt were right to dismiss the question of truth and objectivity as irrelevant to politics. Political judgments are evaluative judgments, the kind of judgments we make when calling something good or bad, just or unjust, beautiful or ugly. If we affirm with Arendt that they register more than merely subjective preferences, what kind of rationality and objectivity can evaluative judgments possibly have?

And what would it mean to speak of better or worse evaluative judgments and ways of judging in democratic societies characterized by widespread value pluralism? These questions express concerns about the potential for interminable disagreement in such judgments that seem to present a genuine problem of value conflict and a democratic puzzle of fair adjudication. David Hume, whose aesthetic theory I examine in chapter 2 of the present work, found scandalous those who would assert an equality of genius and elegance between Ogilby and Milton, or Bunyan and Addison.

We are justly compelled to rank such value judgments—but how? How can we possibly justify the universality of a subjective preference, make a legitimate claim to the agreement of all? As Kant would later see, Of the Standard of Taste could not solve the problem it so astutely diagnosed; the projectivist metaphysic to which Hume subscribed foreclosed all talk about the validity of a judgment based on feeling.

Though it has served as the basis for my own previous defense of Arendt, Kantian judgments of taste too leave us wondering how the affective response of a judging subject can claim to speak to how things actually stand in the world.

Notwithstanding these shortcomings, this in-between space neither objective nor subjective , as philosophy has traditionally defined those terms is where I shall continue to place the democratic world-building practice of judging politically as Arendt inspires me to describe it.

How, then, might we defend the idea that to judge politically is to say how things stand not only with judging subjects their affective response but also with judged objects: how things actually stand in the world?

To say, This war is wrong, is not to claim it is wrong to me but that others too ought to find it wrong—because it is wrong. On what basis can we defend that further claim to how something is if we neither subscribe to a philosophical idea of objectivity, devoid of anything subjective, nor restrict ourselves to the limited Kantian idea of subjective universality?

Reflecting on these questions, I have become increasingly concerned about the reluctance of many democratic theorists to advance or to encourage citizens to advance publicly substantive value-laden views of the good without the significant constraints of adjudicative mechanisms such as public reason. And though I share the concern that such views have in the past been used—and indeed still are used—to enlist the power of the state to enforce normative ideals that do real damage to the many marginalized individuals and groups in modern democratic societies, I am not convinced that the alternative perspectives of the marginalized are better served by gestures of neutrality when it comes to matters of common concern.

There is no singular idea of the good which all citizens ought to affirm, nor should there be. But there should be more public debate about what our competing visions are and what our shared visions might be. The tendency to seek ever more neutral grounds for public justification and judgment evades even as it claims to respect and safeguard plurality.

It is as if plurality were not the source of judging politically, as it clearly was for Arendt, but rather that which judging must manage, contain, or transcend. A democratic theory of judgment must be more than a theory of normative justification or the adjudication of different perspectives. It must be a world-building practice of freedom rooted in the plurality of perspectives that alone facilitates our capacity to count as real, as part of the common world, what is real. In this spirit I present the following reflections.

I have benefited from the support and advice of many people in the long process of writing this book. I am grateful for the patience and care with which they have engaged me over the years, challenging me to refine and deepen my arguments. Thanks to my political science colleagues Cathy Cohen and Michael Dawson, who have been immensely supportive of my work and helped me see more politically. I owe special thanks to my very dear friends and former Northwestern colleagues Mary Dietz and Ann Orloff, who have provided essential intellectual and personal sustenance over the years and who have shared their joy for life and commitment to feminism in ways that inspire me daily.

Thanks to James Farr for his sharp wit, keen intellect, and generosity. Likewise George Shulman, who has read many drafts of this book and whose trenchant and unique critical voice I cherish. Thanks to Chantal Mouffe for her vigorous writing on democratic and feminist politics and support of my work. Thanks to Ernesto Laclau, whose dear friendship and intellectual clarity have sustained me in ways that will survive his untimely death.

I am grateful to the many superb graduate students I have had over the years, at both Northwestern and Chicago, who have patiently worked through the central concepts of this book in various seminars.

My interests in Wittgenstein and ordinary-language philosophy have found engaging colleagues in John G. Gunnell and Tracy Strong, both of whom gave excellent comments on the entire manuscript and from whose own work I have benefited tremendously. Thanks to my Feminism and Ordinary Language Philosophy group, Nancy Bauer, Sarah Beckwith, Alice Crary, Sandra Laugier, and especially Toril Moi, whose deep knowledge of Wittgenstein, feminist commitment, and ongoing engagement with my work have been essential to my intellectual development.

I have been very fortunate to have superb research assistants, whose precision and exacting scholarly standards have contributed to the quality of this book. Special thanks both to Sarah Johnson for her invaluable assistance over the years and to Ann Heffernan for the extraordinary care with which she edited the final manuscript. Thanks again to my parents, Marie Antoinette Zerilli and Armand Frank Zerilli, for their example of lives well lived, inspiration, and love.

This project was supported by generous research leaves and grants from the University of Chicago and a — Martha Sutton Weeks faculty fellowship at the Stanford Humanities Center. Earlier versions of chapters 4, 5, 6, and 9 were published, respectively, as follows: Truth and Politics, Theory and Event 9, no.

The loss of standards, which does indeed define the modern world in its facticity and cannot be reversed by any sort of return to the good old days or by some arbitrary promulgation of new standards and values, is.

What would it mean to foreground the capacity to judge critically and reflectively as a central feature of modern democratic citizenship? This question, raised poignantly albeit not systematically in the work of Hannah Arendt, is of crucial importance for political theory today. In light of the widespread value pluralism of multicultural democracies, we, democratic citizens, find ourselves increasingly called upon to make judgments about practices not always our own, judgments that require what Arendt called the capacity for representative thinking —that is, an ability and willingness to imagine how the world looks to people whose standpoints one does not necessarily share.

To engage in such thinking, she argued, is to resist the temptation, on the one hand, to employ our own concepts as rules with which to subsume the particulars calling for judgment and, on the other hand, to assume that in the absence of rules, we cannot judge at all. The break in tradition and the unprecedented experience of totalitarianism led to the modern problem of judgment, Arendt held, but the irrevocable loss of standards also opened up a space for the democratic world-building potential of judging anew.

A modern democratic society is characterized not simply by a pluralism of comprehensive religious, philosophical, and moral doctrines but by a pluralism of incompatible yet reasonable comprehensive doctrines, writes John Rawls.

That would appear to be the real problem of judgment in a democracy. More precisely, it is a problem of finding the proper criteria according to which such conflicts could be fairly and rationally adjudicated given widespread value pluralism.

It is not that these theorists mourn the loss of a common standard according to which such conflicts could be rationally settled, nor do they lament the empirical fact of value pluralism itself; on the contrary, they celebrate both as the achievement of liberal democratic societies.

Nevertheless, this celebratory spirit is also deeply cautious and tempered by a persistent worry about widespread value differences run amok, as it were, with parochial perspectives and affects unchecked by reason and no way of deciding in favor of liberal democratic values, save by means of a groundless will. The ability of conceptual, discursive rationality to settle stark differences of opinion on public issues tends to presuppose the very shared sensibility that neo-Kantians minimize as having any real relevance to political life.

As I argue in chapter 5, it is not difficult to see how I might reach agreement with someone who already shares my sense of what Rawls calls reasonableness, itself rooted in basic values, cultural background, or worldview. In that case, the proper application of concepts to the particulars of political life may well strike me as having the unforced force of the better argument, to speak with Habermas.

In the view of critics, the idea of public reason expresses the residual rationalism of the deliberative model. To purge such rationalism and the quest for public reason as the new standard of judgment, political theorists such as William Connolly, Leslie Paul Thiele, and John Protevi would have us focus not on political judgment but on political affect. As Connolly puts it, Affect is a wild card in the layered game of thinking [acting and judging]. Whereas deliberative approaches to intercultural value conflicts and the problem of judgment assume that disputes can be resolved by discursive argumentation once the ground rules for engaging in public debate are clear, many political affect thinkers regard public reason as a rationalist exercise in wishful thinking.

The problem of judgment cannot be the presumably neutral adjudication of equally reasonable yet incommensurable worldviews, for these are little more than post hoc rationalizations of affective response. Rather, the problem of judgment is how to redirect affects through tactical work on dispositions installed below consciousness with the aim of promoting new modes of affective responsiveness.

For now, they argue, it is best to be deeply wary of any claims about our capacity for rational judgment if not to suspend judgment altogether. What interests me in these two broadly construed contemporary ways of posing the democratic problem of judgment is less their easily discerned differences than how much they less obviously share. Theorists of political affect share with deliberative democrats a deep suspicion of our ordinary modes of judging and the pervasive sense that these are based on affective and parochial attachments that impair our ability to get the world in view.

Whether figured in terms of the lifeworld Habermas , a comprehensive doctrine Rawls , or the subrational workings of affect, both approaches tend to see our ordinary modes of judging as intrinsically partial and distorting, especially when it comes to public matters of common concern.

And though each puts forward a mechanism that would supposedly mitigate if not correct for that distortion, what remains is the basic sense that our ordinary criteria of judgment are not good enough and are in need of some sort of correcting supplement.

Insofar as this supplement in multicultural democracies cannot take any substantive form of the good, it tends to be construed in increasingly neutral or minimal terms, be it public reason based on an empty rule of argumentation Habermas or an overlapping consensus about justice as fairness Rawls , or the replacement of such reason with a vague conception of democratic ethos political affect theory.

The distrust of ordinary modes of judging is rooted in a more general distrust of the intrinsic partiality and affective character of the perspectives with which each of us views the world. There is no doubt that our individual perspectives can and often do distort our view of any particular object or that our attachments, worldviews, and values can play a large role in such distortion, giving rise to false beliefs and ideological blind spots that deeply restrict our capacity to judge critically and reflectively—that is, without reliance on fixed rules that neglect the particulars of any given case.

The issue, however, is not whether our perspectives sometimes or even many times distort our judgment but whether qua human perspectives they always distort, rooted as they are in our subjective and affective modes of apprehending the world.

The view of perspective as irremediably distorting, as James Conant argues, radically departs from the original historical understanding of perspective in Renaissance painting , which lives on—albeit it in an often unacknowledged way—in our everyday understanding.

Whatever distortions arise from viewing the object from one perspective can be corrected by viewing the same object from other perspectives. Judging rightly would involve correcting for distortions in this way.

The concept of perspective, observes Conant, from its very beginning, involves an internal relation between objective and subjective moments in a perceptual encounter between a perceiving subject and the object s of his [or her] perception. What could the addition of more perspectives be other than more opportunities to distort? Suspicion toward our ordinary idea of perspective can lead us to think of its corrigibility in terms of something extraperspectival rather than the plurality of citizen perspectives themselves.

Both the search to find ever more neutral rational grounds for democratic justification and the denial that any rational justification of a judgment can be achieved are symptomatic of a view of perspective and affective interpretations as intrinsically distorting and not corrigible by other perspectives.

Feminism and the Subject of Politics

By Linda M. Includes bibliographical references and index. Z DDC We want to understand something that is already in plain view. For this is what we seem in some sense not to understand.

Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom

New Waves in Political Philosophy pp Cite as. However one answers this question, regardless of whether one envisions the subject as rational and autonomous or as constituted by heterogeneous power relations or perhaps, as is most difficult but ultimately most productive, as simultaneously both , for the past twenty-five years feminist theorists have assumed that this is an important topic of debate. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

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Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom Linda M.G. Zerilli

There are lots of good introductory books to feminism in general, and feminist political theory in particular. I would particularly recommend the following two books as they cover much of the material covered on this module:.

Feminism and equality

Feminism is one theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, [1] even though many feminist movements and ideologies differ on exactly which claims and strategies are vital and justifiable to achieve equality. However, equality, while supported by most feminists, is not universally seen as the required result of the feminist movement, even by feminists. Some consider it feminist to increase the rights of women from an origin that is less than man's without obtaining full equality. At the other end of the continuum, a minority of feminists have argued that women should set up at least one women-led society and some institutions. Freedom is sought by those among feminists who believe that equality is undesirable or irrelevant, although some equate gaining an amount of freedom equal to that of men to the pursuit of equality, thus joining those who claim equality as central to feminism.

Don't have an account? Scott, Sex and Secularism. Puar, Terrorist Assemblages. Feminist movements have developed variegated relationships to nationalism depending on the historical context, so in a sense the alliance between feminism and nationalism is not totally new; however, its reliance upon a racist, anti-Islamic, and anti-immigrant discourse is specific to the contemporary period. Farris uses the term p.

Introductory: Radical democracy and representation

Feminist political philosophy is an area of philosophy that is in part focused on understanding and critiquing the way political philosophy is usually construed—often without any attention to feminist concerns—and on articulating how political theory might be reconstructed in a way that advances feminist concerns. Feminist political philosophy is a branch of both feminist philosophy and political philosophy. That is, it serves as a way of opening up or looking at the political world as it is usually understood and uncovering ways in which women and their current and historical concerns are poorly depicted, represented, and addressed. As a branch of political philosophy, feminist political philosophy serves as a field for developing new ideals, practices, and justifications for how political institutions and practices should be organized and reconstructed. While feminist philosophy has been instrumental in critiquing and reconstructing many branches of philosophy, from aesthetics to philosophy of science, feminist political philosophy may be the paradigmatic branch of feminist philosophy because it best exemplifies the point of feminist theory, which is, to borrow a phrase from Marx, not only to understand the world but to change it Marx and Engels And, though other fields have effects that may change the world, feminist political philosophy focuses most directly on understanding ways in which collective life can be improved.

History: History of Ideas. Philosophy: Philosophy of Society. Political Science: Political and Social Theory. You may purchase this title at these fine bookstores. Outside the USA, see our international sales information.

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The book Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom, Linda M. G. Zerilli is published by University of Chicago Press.