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Crary, Alice. The Methodological is Political: What’s the Matter with ‘Analytic Feminism’?
2018, Radical Philosophy, 47–60
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Abstract: A core insight of some important second wave feminist writings is that, in order to qualify as truly ‘feminist’, a movement has to be politically radical. For example, there is a powerful articulation of this theme, to mention one noteworthy site, in the work of bell hooks. A guiding preoccupation of hooks’ thought, as far back as the early eighties, is to underline the pernicious and intellectually flawed character of the supposedly ‘feminist’ postures of ‘bourgeois white women’ in the U.S. whose efforts are directed toward the politically superficial goal of claiming the social privileges of bourgeois white men. hooks shows that there is no way to ‘overcome barriers that separate women from one another’ without ‘confronting the reality of racism’. She describes how the forms of gender-based subordination experienced by privileged white women are inextricable from racist and classist social mechanisms that elevate these women above women who are non-white and poor, and how the sexist obstacles that poor and non-white women encounter are in turn permeated by racism and classism. hooks concludes that if ‘feminism’ is to be dedicated to identifying and resisting sexist oppression, it needs to – in her words – ‘direct our attention to systems of domination and the interrelatedness of sex, race and class oppression.

Comment (from this Blueprint): In this 2018 article Alice Crary launches a critique against analytic feminists for employing what she terms a "neutral conception of reason," which pretends that the best form of reason is one free from feelings, biases, and value, as if one may employ reason from a "view from nowhere." To the contrary, Crary thinks there is no view from nowhere, and that feminist philosophy's insistence on the important of lived experience is synonymous with it's recognition that reasoning is done from a particular social location and is always-already "ethically" valenced: one's lived experiences and affects saturate one's ethically-loaded point of view, and this is recruited for feminist ends! To illustrate this point, Crary considers Miranda Fricker's 2007 book Epistemic Injustice, which we see elsewhere on this reading list. According to Fricker's neutral conception of reason, testimonial epistemic injustice is remedied by neutralizing stereotypical prejudice in one's judgments of credibility. On Crary's reading, however, there is no neutral space of reason. Crary argues for a methodological radicalism (as opposed to what she terms Fricker's methodological conservativism) which begins with ethically-loaded perspectives on the world. Indeed, she thinks this is how we can make sense of the consciousness-raising Fricker is interested in: Crary points out that "in order to get the patterns of [problematic] behaviour constitutive of [...] abuse adequately into focus, we need to look upon the social world from a particular ethically-loaded perspective" (57).

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