Dr. Nicole des Bouvrie, Visiting Scholar, The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace, University of Maryland, College Park.
November 30th 2016, Maryland Room, Marie Mount Hall, University of Maryland, College Park.
Can Women Think? An Attempt to Go Beyond Philosophy as Difference
Why are there so few women philosophers? In most fields of the humanities there are about the same number of women as men, yet the number of women in philosophy looks more like those in mathematics and physics. Why is that? Is it because women cannot think? Is it simply because, as Hegel puts it: “Women can, of course, be educated, but their minds are not adapted to the higher sciences, philosophy, or certain of the arts …. The difference between man and woman is the same as between animal and plant.” (Hegel, Philosophy of Right, 1820, par. 166, note)
Other explanations for this trend tend to locate themselves in psychological reasons: implicit bias, stereotypes, threats and unusual high levels of sexual harassment in the field of philosophy. What I will argue is that there is something underlying all of these manifestations in our social reality, a philosophical notion that goes beyond the historical perspective that philosophy was created by men and therefore focuses on male ideas.
Philosophy has developed as a paradigm that in its foundation is male oriented, putting women outside of what is considered rational, normal, and sane. We need to acknowledge the limits of this male foundation, that is not only influencing philosophy but also for instance science, social science and psychoanalysis. Otherwise women have no choice but to either adapt and conform to the basic principles outlined by this paradigmatic male truth, or to leave philosophy and science altogether.
In this talk I want to show how philosophy has developed as a male-oriented discipline and open up the possibility for an alternative that does not base itself in fighting the other in order to establish itself. An alternative which has no interest in taking away the truths contained in present-day male-oriented philosophy, but wants to give a new perspective that is inclusive rather than exclusive. This alternative does not base itself in the concept of difference, and needs to be acknowledged as being worthy to pursue even when it does not adhere to what is considered rational in the present male-oriented paradigms.
About the author
Nicole des Bouvrie is a continental philosopher and a visiting scholar during autumn 2016 at the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace. She works as a freelance philosopher all around the world, applying structures of thought to practical problems. She is interested in radical change and feminine thinking.
For more information about Nicole: personal website, Twitter.