This important book enters the controversial territory of metaphysics. The author reworks the account of the self in modernity and postmodernity as she asks, "what would happen if we rethought identity in ways that take the female as norm?" Using analyses of Kant, Adorno, Irigary, Butler, Kierkegaard and Deleuze, the author argues against those who see feminist metaphysics as unacceptably "essentialist" or as a contradiction in terms. The influence of Lacan and Derrida on current feminist theory is registered. However, instead of deconstructing metaphysics or psychoanalysing the philosophers, the author moves on to reconstruct such notions as "essence" and "self". This opens up new possibilities for feminism as an "identity politics" that can also acknowledge racial, cultural and power differences amongst women. The Phenomenal Woman explores a metaphysics in which identity is birthed from patterns of relationship, movement and power.
New ways of thinking about embodiment, sameness and difference, self and "other", patriarchy and power emerge in ways that will interest a broad range of readers who engage with feminist theory, cultural studies and social theory. Stylistically accessible, this book definitively marks out a place for a metaphysics of fluidity in the current debates concerning philosophy, postmodernism and feminism.
Christine Battersby is Reader Emerita in Philosophy and Associate Fellow of the Centre for Philosophy, Literature and the Arts at the University of Warwick. She is the author of Gender and Genius: Towards a Feminist Aesthetics.