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Reviews 115 REVIEWS The Man ofReason: "Male" and "Female" in Western Philosophy by Genevieve Lloyd. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1984. pp. 138 + ?. $27.50 (cloth), $10.95 (paper). Phyllis, Alexander the Great's favorite concubine, dressed only in a plumed hat sits upon and rides a bridled old fool. That old man is Aristotle, the venerable philosopher and teacher of Alexander. This image was part of late medieval and Renaissance iconography portraying the power women have over men. The authority of Reason and Philosophy, the allegory would have us believe, is destroyed if woman's power penetrates into the life of Reason. The image, realized on a sixteenth-century engraving depicting the allegory of Aristotle and Phyllis, decks the cover of Genevieve Lloyd's The Man ofReason: "Male" and "Female" in Western Philosophy. The book explores the exclusion of women from the life—and the concept—of reason. Increasingly, feminists are trying to show that certain putatively gender-neutral concepts are in fact gender-specific. Psychologist Carol Gilligan provides grounds for questioning the gender neutrality of the moral traditions which stress justice as the highest moral ideal. Evelyn Fox Keller and Carol Merchant explore ways in which the development and the activity of science are bound up with an identification of the scientist as male, nature as female. Susan Moller Okin questions the extent to which Western political tradition has been based on a concept of the individual as male head of household rather than as individual human being. The work of Genevieve Lloyd is an important contribution to this growing feminist literature. The project of Lloyd's book is to show, through an examination of historical texts in philosophy, how the ideal of reason has been formulated as a gender-specific concept, sometimes despite the explicit intentions of the philosopher in question. The claim here is that what is rational, when used as an assessment of character (rather than of beliefs), has throughout the Western philosophical tradition been conceptualized as excluding or transcending that which is feminine, and that femininity has itself been constituted in part through such a process of exclusion. Throughout different historical periods and in different writers, we find a contrast between what is rational and what is irrational. Yet however that contrast is construed, it can be mapped onto the dichotomy between male and female, such that what is rational is also attributable to what is male and what is not rational to what is female. Some feminists have claimed that science is a distinctively male enterprise and that our worldview might be different were our science less en-gendered. Others have suggested that there may be a distinctive woman's way of knowing parallel to the difference Gilligan has found in her research on women's moral decision-making. Interesting as these claims are, they are more difficult to make plausible than the claim that moral concepts and perhaps political ideals are gendered. The worlds men and women have occupied have been sufficiently distinct to lend credence to the notion that the dominant traditions in ethical and political life are male-oriented. But with regard to reason, the skeptic would say that it is finally the same for all: logic knows no gender. And a critique of reason by the feminist inquirer would itself either be (or aim to be) reasonable, thus undermining the force of the claim, or be unreasonable, thus demonstrating a failure to use reason rather than proving that reason is gendered. But by focussing on rationality as a criterion for what it is to be human and moral rather than as an assessment of beliefs and arguments, Lloyd avoids the skeptical charge that claims about the maleness of reason are self-refuting. The history Lloyd traces begins with the early Greeks, effectively concludes with Hegel, but includes an addendum on Simone de Beauvoir. What is most interesting and penetrating in her discussion is her finely tuned sensibility to the alterations in the conception of reason 116 the minnesota review and its opposite(s) throughout its history, as well as her clear understanding that what remains unchanged is the association, in one form or another, of reason with maleness...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 115-118
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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