Arbeitsgruppe Philosophische Frauenforschung des Instituts für Philosophie der Universität Wien mit Unterstützung des Wiener Philosophinnen Clubs



Linda Fisher, Ph.D.

Dept. of Gender Studies, Central European Univ., Budapest

Donnerstag, 6. DEZEMBER 2001, 18.00 UHR

Institut für Philosophie, Universität Wien,

NIG, Universitätsstraße 7 / 3. Stock, 1010 Wien, Hörsaal 3F

Philosophical Hermeneutics, Feminism, and the Question of Otherness

Although to date there has been little attention given to a possible relation of hermeneutics and feminism, and indeed there have been strong feminist critiques of hermeneutics, there are nevertheless important respects in which feminism and hermeneutics might interact. In my paper I explore such an interaction between feminist thought and Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics, with particular attention not only to how a comparative exchange might occur, but in keeping with a central notion of philosophical hermeneutics, the sense in which a conversation might take place where some measure of contact and understanding can result, and correspondingly some new insights unfold.

I take as my focal point the question of the Other and otherness. For feminism, the question of the difference and otherness of women in our cultures, as well as our differences with respect to each other, have always constituted vexing issues. From the perspective of hermeneutics, the issue of a hermeneutic distance and distinctness–be it of a text, person, or otherwise–and the need to negotiate these for understanding to take place, is a principal challenge. In hermeneutic terms, it is both such shared issues, as well as other, apparently divergent approaches, that constitute the dialectic characteristic of interactive exchange and understanding. As such, an interaction between feminism and hermeneutics takes place not despite, but because of their seemingly distinct projects, creating the opportunity for such projects, conventionally seen as "other" to each other, to inform the question of otherness so central to both.

Linda Fisher: received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Pennsylvania State University. She has taught at McGill University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Windsor, and presently teaches in the Department of Gender Studies at Central European University in Budapest. Her principal research areas are phenomenology, hermeneutics, feminism, Husserl, Gadamer, and 19th and 20th century European philosophy. Her current research focuses on the relationship between phenomenology and hermeneutics and feminist theory; she is working on a book about gender and phenomenology. Publications: Feminist Phenomenology (ed.; with L. Embree, 2000); Good Reasoning Matters! 2nd Edition (with L. Groarke and C. Tindale, 1997); "Der fundamentale Charakter der sexuellen Differenz," in Verhandlungen des Geschlechts. Zur Konstruktivismusdebatte in der Gender-Theorie, ed. E. Waniek / S. Stoller, 2001; "Phenomenology and Feminism: Perspectives on their Relation," in Feminist Phenomenology; "Sexual Difference, Phenomenology, and Alterity," Philosophy Today 43 (Supplement 1999); "The Shadow of the Other," in Self-awareness, Temporality, and Alterity: Central Topics in Phenomenology, ed. D. Zahavi, 1998; "Phänomenologie und Feminismus," in Phänomenologie und Geschlechterdifferenz, ed. S. Stoller / H. Vetter, 1997; "Mediation, Muthos, and the Hermeneutic Circle in Ricoeur’s Narrative Theory," in Paul Ricoeur and Narrative: Context and Contestation, ed. M. Joy, 1997; "Hermeneutics of Suspicion and Postmodern Paranoia: Psychologies of Interpretation," Philosophy and Literature, 16 (1992).