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Type: Thesis
Title: Beyond Dualism: The Challenge for Feminist Theory
Author: Randell, Rebecca Aroha
Issue Date: 2020
School/Discipline: School of Humanities : Philosophy
Abstract: Since the 1970s, most feminist philosophical work, in some form or another, has sought to expose, define and/or combat the “maleness” of philosophy. This thesis is written from the position that the “maleness” of philosophy is not inevitable, but a feature of our dualised discourse. From this perspective, dualism and male bias are deeply implicated in current structures of thought. And yet, from this perspective, philosophy and theory construction should not be rejected as antagonistic to feminist aims, but reinvented through unthinking dualism. This thesis explores the state of dualism within Western discourse in order to describe how feminists must approach the task of reinventing discourse. One aim of this thesis, then, is to examine to what extent feminist theory shares in the wider criticism of dualistic thinking: the critique of thinking in terms of domination. Thus this thesis sets up the problem of how to unthink dualism as being more complicated than many have thought, and as entailing the reinvention of both philosophy and feminist theory. Chapter One begins by distinguishing the position toward dualism taken in this thesis from other prominent feminist approaches based on politics of equality and difference. From there Chapter Two provides an initial description of my account of dualism, based predominantly on Plumwood’s (1993) critique of dualism, as well as of the problem of how to unthink dualism. Chapters Three, Four and Five then describe the problem of how to unthink dualism in greater depth through an examination of Plumwood’s three principles of dualism: hyper-separation, denied dependency and relational definition. These middle chapters explore how resistant this problem is to a solution by addressing feminist theories’ own reliance on dualistic thinking. Central to this is the problem of difference which has been a major concern of contemporary feminist theory. Finally, Chapter Six draws on this discussion to describe the shape of a satisfactory solution to the problem of how to unthink dualism, and of the road ahead for feminist theory.
Advisor: Cullity, Garrett
Eagle, Antony
Dissertation Note: Thesis (MPhil) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2020
Keywords: Feminist philosophy
feminist theory
relational definition
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