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Hegel and Feminist Philosophy

Hegel and Feminist Philosophy

Kimberly Hutchings

ISBN: 978-0-745-61951-4

Jan 2003

208 pages

In Stock



Hegel and Feminist Philosophy traces the legacy of Hegel in the work of thinkers such as de Beauvoir, Irigaray and Butler, and also in contemporary debates in feminist ethics and political philosophy. As Hutchings demonstrates, this is an ambivalent legacy. Hegel figures both as an antagonistic ‘other’ and as a significant resource for feminist thinking from de Beauvoir onwards. Hegel's philosophy is antagonistic to feminism in so far as it denigrates the female or feminist subject, excluding women from both reason and history. His work provides a resource for feminist philosophy because his account of reason and history is fundamentally non-binary and can be drawn on in feminist philosophy’s attempts to escape the binary thinking of the philosophical tradition. Hutchings claims that feminist philosophy is characterized by patterns of thought which oscillate between accepting and overturning conceptual dualisms central to the philosophical tradition. She suggests that Hegelian elements within feminist thought provide the basis for a rethinking of feminist philosophy which escapes this either/or choice and opens up new possibilities for feminism. This is demonstrated by showing how Hegelian modes of thinking help to resolve entrenched debates within feminist philosophy over sexual difference, ethical judgement and equality of right.

Hegel and Feminist Philosophy will be of great interest to students and scholars of philosophy, women's studies and political theory.


Chapter One: Feminist Philosophy and the Way of Despair.


Thinking as a Feminist.

Feminist Re-thinkings of Reason and Truth.

Feminist Re-thinkings of Moral Agency and Judgement.

Feminist Re-Thinkings of Politics.


Chapter Two: Philosophy as the Task of Comprehension.


Phenomenology and Science.

On Nature, History and Right.

Feminist Readings of Hegel.


Chapter Three: Thinking the Second Sex.



How Has 'Woman' Come to Be?.

Thinking Being as Life; Existence as Spirit.


Chapter Four: Re-thinking the Second Sex.


Antigone's Story.

Hegel's Antigone.

Towards a Hegelian Feminist Philosophy.


Chapter Five: Hegel and Feminist Ethics.


Moral Identity and an Ethics of Difference.

Hegel, the 'Moral Point of View' and 'Ethical Life'.


Chapter Six: Hegel and the Sexual Contract.


Modern Patriarchy.

Beyond the Sexual Contract.

Towards a Hegelian Feminist Ethical Theory.





  • Traces the legacy of Hegel in the work of feminist thinkers such as Beauvoir, Irigaray and Butler.

  • Provides an overview of contemporary debates in feminist philosophy on sexual difference, ethics, poltiics and epistemology.

  • Argues that feminist philosophy has much to learn from Hegel and should be rethought along Hegelian lines.

  • Explains why Hegel figures both as an arch-enemy of feminists, and as a key resource.