Feminism and Analytic Philosophy of Religion

Sarah Coakley

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195138092
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835348 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Feminism and Analytic Philosophy of Religion

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This chapter offers a sustained analysis of the two major feminist critiques of analytic philosophy of religion: Grace Jantzen’s Becoming Divine and Pamela Sue Anderson’s A Feminist Philosophy of Religion. Jantzen’s project draws on Lacan’s and Irigaray’s account of psycholinguistics to insist that analytic philosophy of religion is thoroughgoingly “phallocentric” and “necrophiliac;” a new “feminine imaginary” is needed to replace its “masculinist” obsession with empirical demonstration and epistemic realism. Anderson’s book mounts a similar critique of the analytic school but is more concerned to expand the understanding of “rationality” found there by means of a revised, feminist Kantianism than it is to reject the discourse altogether. I criticize Jantzen for a “sectarian” epistemology that ironically reinstates the gender binary she seeks to up end; and Anderson for a less than coherent account of “standpoint epistemology” which appears to undo her own original appeal to “gender.” I argue, instead, that recent trends in analytic philosophy of religion (interests in the affective, in “religious experience,” and in “proper basicality”) have already suggested an implicit “turn to gender” which, if made more explicit, can enable a fruitful interaction with feminist thought.

Keywords: analytic philosophy of religion; Anderson, Pamela Sue; feminine imaginary; gender; Irigaray; Jantzen; Grace; Kantianism (feminist); Lacan; necrophilia; phallocentrism; proper basicality; rationality; religious experience; standpoint epistemology

Chapter.  15465 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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