Glossary

The Glossary contains an alphabetically ordered list of terms useful to the understanding of ethics in a gendered perspective.

If you have a definition of the same term, just add your definition in, and we'll edit as we go.

 

Care:

Placing moral emphasis on the maintenance of community, relationality, and intimacy, this ethical principle shifts between responsibility and self-sacrifice, care of the self and care for others.  The precedence of care in women’s ethical principles is not necessarily a choice or a positive adaptation to the social world; care dominates in part due to the traditional expectations placed on women.

 

Difference: 

Associated with the rise of emphasis on “difference” as a guiding principle in feminist theory, Carol Gilligan descries the “readiness with which difference becomes deviance and deviance becomes sin in a society preoccupied with normality.”  Feminist politics before the 1970s generally demanded the equal rights of women within institutions and practices controlled by men.  Gilligan and her peers argued for the import of gender difference in revolutionizing such institutions and leveling competition.  Their argument was not intended to be essentialist as it attended to the social conventions that constructed such differences as much as it recognized physical diversity.

 

Kohlberg Scale

This measure of moral development moves from conventional adherence to social and legal codes toward post-conventional, autonomous ethical reasoning based on “universal principles” such as a human rights and the precedence of persons over property. The scale measures maturity by stages in moral thought.

 

Standpoint Epistemology

Noting the frequency with which empirical and objective research methods in the social sciences repeated the biases and patterns of domination in their social worlds, feminist researchers proposed alternative methods to produce more balanced results, or “socially-situated knowledge” that recognizes its cultural context without reproducing its social biases.  With slogans such as "start thought from marginalized lives" and "take everyday life as problematic," this methodology has become a defining principle within feminist research (and particularly in the social sciences) that argues for the precedence of perspectives omitted in traditional research.  The methodological claim began with the insistence on women's views as a point of departure for research, and has become increasingly intersectional in its practice. 

 

Voice

The title concept of voice only emerges explicitly in the second edition of Carol Gilligan’s book though it is implicitly a major methodological principle throughout the volume.  In her letter to readers in 1993, Gilligan emphasizes voice as a concept that spans the futile nature/culture debate in gender theory and gives particularity to gender difference.  Voice is her term for perspective or point of view, for interiority and self-knowledge, and for ways of speaking (both rhetorically and audibly): “It is composed of breath and sound, words, rhythm, and language.”  She associates voice with the physicality of sound, the psychology of emotion, and the cultural inheritance of language and rhetoric.

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cait_rose

Ruddick - Glossary

It isn't letting me add into the existing terms, so I'm adding my own comment. I can come back later and adjust if we figure out a way to add in!

 

Practicalist Conception of Truth

Proposing the idea that truths arise from practices, this conception comes from the thinkings of Wittgenstein, Winch, Habermas, and Rorty. In this theory, there exist multiple truths that emerge out of different cultural contexts. Distinct ways of knowing and criteria of truth come only out of practices, and there does not exist any Truth by which all truths can be judged. Ruddick presents mothering as such a social practice rather than as a biological necessity.

 

Practices

Practices are collective human activities distinguished by the aims that identify them and by the consequent demands made on practitioners committed to those aims. The aims and goals that define a practice are so central or essential that in the absence of a goal you would not have that practice. To engage in a practice means to be committed to meeting its demands.

 

Maternal Practice

This is the responsibility of child care taken on by a person. This practice is not to be confused with the biological birthing of a child, but instead concerns the response to a child’s need for preservation, nurturance, and training. A mother does not have to be the child’s birth mother, nor does she need to be a woman, and Ruddick makes clear that biology should not distract from who a mother is or what she does.

 

Maternal Thinking

This kind of thinking concerns a mother’s reflections, judgments, and assumed metaphysical attitudes towards her practice. Also, it involves the development of strategies of protection, nurturance, and training and a grappling with the frequent conflicts that arise between each demand. Maternal thinking involves the ways in which a mother relates her practice to the physical world around her.

 

Standpoint Theory

A standpoint is an engaged vision of the world opposed and superior to dominant ways of thinking. A feminist standpoint would be a standpoint that is produced by the political conditions of women and their distinctive work (labor of care). Even though these standpoints are disregarded by the dominant discourses, subordination can be overcome through struggle and a rejection of the dominant standpoint, in Ruddick’s case masculine abstraction.

 

jeewonlit

Brison. Aftermath

Susan Brison. Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self

Glossary.        

 

 

Memory

Memory is what one remembers from the past, but it cannot be reduced to past experiences. Memory is articulated past, so there can be a discrepancy between what one experienced in the past and what one remembers now. As Andreas Huyssen marks, “the past is not simply there in memory, but it must be articulated to become memory.” Besides a gap between one’s experience and memory, there is also a gap between the event itself and one’s experience of the event. By showing the incongruity between the event, experience (or perception) of the event, and memory, Brison rejects a simple idea of traumatic memory as experience itself. Traumatic memory is “articulated, selective, even malleable” (31).

 

PTSD

Trauma is emotional shock after a distressing event, and it accompanies fear, depression, guilt, anger, or neurosis. Not all experiences of trauma lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Depending on the intensity of trauma, one may develop PTSD. People with PTSD suffer from a constant threat even long after a terrifying event. During PTSD, they may feel vulnerable and think that they lost control over their life. PTSD, as Brison notes, is treatable but is also a stigmatized condition. The National Center for PTSD states that one is more likely to develop PTSD if the trauma victim is a female or a minority, has little education, or has experienced an earlier trauma.

 

Relational self

The self is a controversial concept among scholars. Brison focuses on the self in relation to trauma theory. In trauma theory, the self is not free from external influence and is dependent on and constructed by others. The traumatized self, in particular, needs others in order to recover and to enhance one’s autonomy. This relational nature of autonomy is essential for trauma survivors because they suffer due to their loss of connection to humanity. To reestablish the connection, they need to be acknowledged by others. 

jgsmith

Foucault

GLOSSARY

 

Oneirocriticism: This is in the beginning of the book and it refers to the interpreting of dreams. Foucault notes that the analysis and interpretation of dreams was "one of the techniques of existence," and that the practice was greatly valued (p. 4). If one consulted a professional for interpretation, it was good to also be able to interpret for oneself. Dreams may give advice or commands from the gods, or may foreshadow an event (p.4).

 

The care of the self : is "a whole set of occupations," and "implies a labor" (p. 50). As such, the care of the self requires time be devoted to these labors, though there were many different ways to approach these attentions to the self, including setting aside certain times of the day for reflection and learning, or by interrupting regular activities in order to go into retreat (p. 50).

 

Aphrodisia: this is an extreme state of sexual desire. Aphrodisia is the ethical substance for Roman sexual ethics or the aspect of self that is morally problematic, taken as the object of one’s ethical reflection, and transformed in one’s ethical work.

 

Self-Mastery: self control. Foucault maintains that the ethical work to be performed in ancient sexual ethics is that of self-mastery. The work of self-mastery for Roman ethics was forcing the desires for pleasures into proper alignment with the designs of nature.

 

Parrhesia: "(literally saying everything) invoked in the Socratic dialogues to describe individuals who confronted people in power with difficult truths.  Socrates himself focused the concept on conversations between individuals in which the truth-teller has less power or is of lower rank."

jgsmith

Foucault

GLOSSARY

 

Oneirocriticism: This is in the beginning of the book and it refers to the interpreting of dreams. Foucault notes that the analysis and interpretation of dreams was "one of the techniques of existence," and that the practice was greatly valued (p. 4). If one consulted a professional for interpretation, it was good to also be able to interpret for oneself. Dreams may give advice or commands from the gods, or may foreshadow an event (p.4).

 

The care of the self : is "a whole set of occupations," and "implies a labor" (p. 50). As such, the care of the self requires time be devoted to these labors, though there were many different ways to approach these attentions to the self, including setting aside certain times of the day for reflection and learning, or by interrupting regular activities in order to go into retreat (p. 50).

 

Aphrodisia: this is an extreme state of sexual desire. Aphrodisia is the ethical substance for Roman sexual ethics or the aspect of self that is morally problematic, taken as the object of one’s ethical reflection, and transformed in one’s ethical work.

 

Self-Mastery: self control. Foucault maintains that the ethical work to be performed in ancient sexual ethics is that of self-mastery. The work of self-mastery for Roman ethics was forcing the desires for pleasures into proper alignment with the designs of nature.

 

Parrhesia: "(literally saying everything) invoked in the Socratic dialogues to describe individuals who confronted people in power with difficult truths.  Socrates himself focused the concept on conversations between individuals in which the truth-teller has less power or is of lower rank."

youmi

Glossary-Benhabib

Enlarged mentality: Benhabib adopts this methodology from Arendt's "enlarged mentality," a reflective taking in of other voices needed in the political realm, and extends it to the moral realm of interactive universalism. Enlarged mentality is an ability to take the standpoint of the other into account by keeping the difference between “self” and “other.” It is thought as a substitute for feelings such as sympathy and compassion that, in Benhabib’s point of view, eliminates the difference between “self” and “other.” Enlarged thinking results from a situated self's reflective process involving concrete others, through actual encounters with other concrete individuals.

Substitutionalist universalism vs. Interactive universalism : Substitutionalist universalism is an identification of a specific group of subjects as the paradigmatic case of the human as such. Benhabib points out that these subjects are invariably white, male adults who are wealthy or at least professional. Thus the substitutionalist universalism eliminates racial differences and incarcerates women in the private domain or the care sphere. According to Benhabib, this type of universalism is unable to deal with the indeterminacy and multiplicity of contexts of real life. Benhabib then proposes an interactive universalism that seeks to develop a moral philosophy which sustains the universal value of equality/freedom, but which does so from the premise of recognizing difference and insisting on the need to contextualize the universal. Interactive universalism reformulates the moral self as interactive form of rationality, different from traditional universalist conception of the moral subject with legislative rationality. It is a universalist ethics where conversation and the reversibility of thinking is a crucial part. It is contextually sensitive and suggests that all human beings participate in the public and justice spheres. 

Generalized other vs. Concrete other: These two types of other are coined by Benhabib to criticize the blindness of universalist ethics to the concrete others. The standpoint of the generalized other requires us to view each and every individual as a rational being entitled to the same rights and duties we would want to ascribe to ourselves. In assuming the standpoint, we abstract from the individuality and concrete identity of the other. We assume that the other, like ourselves, is a being who has concrete needs, desires and affects, but that what constitutes his or her moral dignity is not what differentiates us from each other, but rather what we, as speaking and acting rational agents, have in common. The standpoint of the concrete other requires us to view each and every rational being as an individual with a concrete history, identity and affective-emotional constitution. In assuming this standpoint, we abstract from what constitutes our commonality, and focus on individuality. 

 

Reverse perspectives: It is the willingness to reason from the others’ point of view, and the paramount sensitivity to hear their voice. The reverse perspective enables us to see the world of “concrete others.” It is through the process of putting ourselves in the place of others that the stance of moral respect arises. 

 

Discourse Ethics: The Habermasian model of discourse ethics construe the moral standpoint through an actual dialogue situation in which moral agents communicate with more knowledge about each individual history. No subject matter of moral reasoning is privileged over other subject matter. Although Benhabib primarily finds the Habermasian model of discourse ethics agreeable, she proposes to differ from Habermasian model in that the goal of her discourse ethics is to reach the collective decisions through procedures open and fair to all individuals.

marylizross

Glossary - Brison

Relational Self: The idea that the self exists fundamentally in relation to others. Brison argues that when one experiences a traumatic event, one’s belief that one can be oneself in relation to others is destroyed, resulting in one’s inability to continue to be oneself.

 

Surd: A nonsensical entry. Brison describes her current view of trauma as an incident that inserts a surd into an individual’s life, which disrupts the usual series of events in his or her life. As a result, he or she may feel that it is impossible to carry on due to this interruption in the normal pattern of life events.

lasandlin

Irigaray Glossary Terms

NOTE: My definition for "place" is the same as a section of my Irigaray headnote. I didn't know if this would be acceptable or not. Please let me know if I need to re-write.

Place: Aristotle asserts that there is a difference between the common place that contains all bodies, and each body’s own unique place. In responding to Aristotle, Irigaray says that “each of us (male or female) has a place—this place that envelops only his or her body…that which delineates us from other bodies” (36). Woman is denied her place when she is perceived by men (and socialized to perceive herself) merely as a vessel, or “place” for someone else. Women cannot form ethical attachments with men or with their children, or solidarity with other women, when they are denied their own place.

Other/other: Irigaray distinguishes between the concepts of the Other and the other. In the Western discursive tradition, masculinity is taken as the standard and femininity is defined against the masculine as its Other, creating a gender binary in which the feminine Other is subordinate to the masculine. In contrast, the other is merely the opposite sex. Ethical relations between men and women can only happen when men and women respond to sexual difference with wonder and acceptance, and neither sex is compared against its other.

The beloved woman/the lover: As a response to Levinas, Irigaray makes a distinction between the beloved woman and the woman as lover. The beloved woman is a passive agent who is loved (or, more accurately, desired) by the man. In this relationship, the man objectifies the beloved woman. The female lover, however, is an active and equal participant in a love relationship.

The dichotomy of the beloved woman versus the woman as lover is similar to that between the Other and the other. The beloved woman would be the passive Other while the lover would be the other that recognizes sexual difference while not creating or being complicit in a hierarchy of gender.

Difference: Irigaray is not calling for a lack of acknowledgment of the biological differences between men and women. She does, however, assert that the sexes should not be relegated to separate—and unequal—spheres based upon their difference. Men and women should both have access to the language necessary to define themselves as human beings, and should react to their differences with wonder instead of derision.

_________: Since Irigaray’s conception of an ethics of sexual difference resists traditional definitions of masculinity and femininity, and since her writing style resists the usage of jargon, an attempt to define Irigaray’s ethics in terms is antithetical to her project.