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Vol. 1 No. 1 (2018): General Issue 2018

The Difference of Feminist Philosophy: The Case of Shame

  • Bonnie Mann
February 6, 2023


This essay is written in two parts. The first is a commentary on the affective politics of philosophy as a discipline. The theme here is philosophy’s reverence problem, an affective bond to the teacher and the text, which is threatened or even injured by feminist philosophy. Feminist philosophy emerges as disruptive irreverence in the midst of the discipline, and injured reverence becomes a powerful prereflective motivation for resistance to feminist thought. The second part of the essay is an exploration of the field of inquiry called feminist phenomenology. Is feminist phenomenology simply phenomenology from another point of view, that of the embodied female subject? Is it conducted, in other words, in a space beyond politics and power where the difference of this subject discloses values and meanings that have not yet been thematized in phenomenological inquiry, but which phenomenology is already competent to pursue? Or does feminist phenomenology disrupt or transform phenomenological practice as we traditionally understand it? In this paper, I claim that phenomenology must be critical in order to be feminist, that it must disrupt phenomenological practice rather than simply “applying” it to a new object, “woman.” In the work of Simone de Beauvoir we find a different phenomenological practice that feminists can count as a positive inheritance. The real difference of feminist phenomenology, however, only emerges in the practice itself. In order to capture something about this difference I take the phenomenon of shame as a case study, and compare three recent phenomenological accounts of shame.