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Journal of Continental Philosophy

Volume 2, Issue 1, 2021

The Meanings of History

Adriana Cavarero, Daniele Fulvi
Pages 159-201

Feminist Thought. A Theoretical Approach

In this essay, Cavarero thematically highlights the main issues of feminist thought, by criticizing the patriarchal system and its theoretical products—such as the concepts of complementarity of the sexes and of equality—through the lens of sexual difference. In doing so, she radically criticizes the so-called binary economy, namely the interpretative model on which the patriarchal system is based, in which the sole male sex is self-represented, establishing at the same time a representation of the female sex that is functional to men. Accordingly, by criticizing both the traditional and the postmodern approach, she aims to rethink from a feminist point of view the question of the subject, of the identity, and of the self. In this respect, she advances an account of the self as relational, namely a self that is given only through its relationship with others, hence rejecting the abstract universality of the male subject of traditional metaphysics. Subsequently, Cavarero presents a notion of identity as an interplay of relations that makes it fluid and dynamic, and not as fixed and permanent, as per the metaphysical tradition that understands it as universal substance. In conclusion, she argues that the unicity of the self—and of each human being—can be grasped only through a narrative discourse that counterposes the philosophical investigations on the essence of an absolute and universal principle of reality, and emphasizes the singular and unrepeatable nature of the self.