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When Philosophers claim not to be sure if the floor beneath their feet is real, if they have a body, or if other people have minds, what are they really worrying about? In Engenderings , Naomi Scheman argues that the concerns of philosophy emerge not from the universal human condition but from the conditions of privilege. Her book attempts to decipher the encoded privilege in philosophers' pictures of "our" relations to the world while exploring pictures accountable to a different "us". Scheman draws on richly textured explorations of subjectivity in novels, films, Shakepearean drama, pedagogy, and visual arts. She examines the ways in which epistemological concerns interest with aspects of the self: values, the emotions, the body. The interconnection of cognition with emotion, the body and the social context emerges as a dominant theme of the book. Resisting simple conclusions, Scheman explores the gray areas in established positions to produce unexpected insights.
She criticises not only the difference-denying rhetoric of Western Philosophy but also privileged perspective of academic feminists such as herself, who have been shaped as much by race and class advantages as by gender oppression. Acknowledging the challenge posed by women of colour and others who feel marginalized by the academy, Scheman's book examines the difficulties of theorizing responsibly from a privileged perspective. Engenderings represents a powerful challenge to the notion that gender makes no difference in the construction of philosophical reasoning. At the same time, it points out the narrow focus of most feminist theorizing and calls for more expansive and inclusive inquiry. With fminist and multicultural teaching under attack throughout the academy and the popular press, the book represents an important contribution to feminist philosophy. It will provoke debate among feminist and nonfeminist philosophers as well as among theorists in literature, film, photography, and psychoanalysis.