The Ockham Society (Wednesday - Week 3, MT20)

Ockham Society

It is no secret that the history of philosophy has largely excluded women. Irigaray 2012 has argued that the traditional narrative of the development of philosophy is one which has internalised a longing for a world without woman. This narrative tells us that master teaches disciple like father teaches son, and so the truth itself is passed on from man to man in a genealogical way. But, crucially, this genealogy does not involve sexual reproduction, and so has no need for woman. Thus philosophy itself is propagated without the need for woman, it is the ideal child of man. This is exemplified in the Theaetetus, where Socrates is described as a midwife of the ideas (i.e. the children) of men (149a – 151d). This traditional narrative begins with the pre-Socratics, but few feminists have studied them in this light. Here, I turn to Parmenides, whose rejection of change was not only hugely influential in the early history of philosophy, but also, I will argue, rooted in this longing for a womanless world.

I will argue that Parmenides’ rejection of change is, essentially, a rejection of woman. In my arguments, I draw on the works of Songe-Moller 2002, Irigaray 2012, and Fischer 2014. I will also address the objections put forward by Cherubin 2019, who defends Parmenides from charges of misogyny. Finally, I also consider the purpose and value of feminist analyses of canonical texts.
Additional Information: Ockham will be held on MS Teams during MT20. Please email if you wish to attend. 

Ockham Society Convenor: Steven Diggin | Ockham Society Webpage