Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (Opening Out: Feminism for Today)
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Two of the most important political movements of the late twentieth century are those of environmentalism and feminism. In this book, Val Plumwood argues that feminist theory has an important opportunity to make a major contribution to the debates in political ecology and environmental philosophy.
Feminism and the Mastery of Nature explains the relation between ecofeminism, or ecological feminism, and other feminist theories including radical green theories such as deep ecology. Val Plumwood provides a philosophically informed account of the relation of women and nature, and shows how relating male domination to the domination of nature is important and yet remains a dilemma for women.
radical exclusion: emotions need not be treated as so unreasonable, nor reason as so divorced from emotion, as they are in dualistic construction; nor need they be construed as necessarily oppositional, but as capable of a creative integration and interaction (Blum 1980). The anti-dualist programme implies a politics which can create a different, nonhierarchical and integrative role for rationality in developing and articulating perceptions, feelings and values (Midgley 1981:3), in grounding and
distant in situational space. The extreme penalty classical logic provides for conjoining p and its other not-p, establishes a maximally strong relation of exclusion between p and this other, in comparison to other logical systems which define much weaker exclusion relationships. A further feature of classical logic which corresponds to the logic of 58 Feminism and the Mastery of Nature dualism is its role as a truth-suppression implication, which permits the suppression of true premises.
coloniser (Freire 1972:22), lacking the confidence to affirm a distinct identity. Similarly, the feminism of uncritical equality sees the answer to hyperseparation as the fitting of women to a masculine model. As Paulo Freire writes of the oppressed at this stage: ‘Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be a man is to be an oppressor. This is their model of humanity…at this level, one pole aspires not to liberation, but to identification with its opposite pole’ (1972:22). The master also
involves much more than a distinction: it involves a reduction, for he does not merely mark a difference (in the fashion of Aristotle) between qualities which involve a relation to an observer and those which do not, but insists that one area only is real, the other epistemologically reducible and inferior: ‘the particular bulk, number, figure and motion of the parts of fire or 118 Feminism and the Mastery of Nature snow are really in them,—whether anyone’s senses perceive them or no: and
(1981:19). But in fact the requirement that we be sure that no motives of a self-interested kind are present is far too strong, and sets up a false choice between egoism and pure otherinterestedness. What is required is that one be concerned with others for their own sake and that one’s ends make ineliminable reference to the ends of others, not that they be somehow totally free of self.7 And this is just as possible to achieve in the case of non-human others as it is in the case of human others.