UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Feminism in purgatory: the ontological subject caught between modernity and postmodernity Dalgliesh, Bregham


By assuming there to be a philosophical relationship between one’s ontology and the politico-moral framework one advocates, this thesis places modern political philosophy in the context of meaninglessness to argue that liberal ontologies and communitarian frameworks have historically excluded women from being ontologically self-determining, morally free, and from equal respect. Taking both these philosophies as characteristic of modern patriarchalism, it is claimed they responded to the decline of premodern metaphysical meaning through an elaboration of institutional frameworks dominated by reason and order, and in juxtaposition to women and nature. However, in order to transcend this modern patriarchal framework and its associated masculine ontology, feminism experiences a sense of intellectual purgatory. Desperate to establish, at the least, a gender neutral post-patriarchal framework, feminism cannot risk positing a universally applicable ontology on which to base it for fear of committing the same error of exclusion of modern ontologies. Nonetheless, feminism remains at the same time committed to a postmodern politico-moral framework that disparages metanarratives and universal ontologies. Feminism, therefore, is caught at the ontological level between modernity’s framework which it rejects, and postmodern ontologies which are not sufficient on their own to transform this framework.

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