- Editors’ Introduction
Three years ago, a small group of women, mostly philosophers but all interested in the convergence of continental and feminist philosophy, gathered in a small resort town in the mountains of Tennessee. We were there at the invitation of Kelly Oliver (professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt University) and Stacy Keltner (assistant professor of philosophy at Kennesaw State University) to discuss both our research projects and the formation of a new society, initially called the French Feminism Circle. Noting the absence of a circle devoted to the intersections of all the various forms of continental philosophy and feminist theory, the members planned, instantiated, and named ourselves (over drinks in a cabin and with much back-and-forth about compelling titles and diacritical marks) philoSOPHIA: the Society for Continental Feminism. The society has had three annual conferences, in Monteagle, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; and New York City. While the idea for this journal was born of the same initial meeting, it has taken longer to come to fruition. We are thrilled to present here the inaugural issue of the journal philoSOPHIA and to take this opportunity to illuminate our vision for this undertaking and to encourage contributions to future issues. We are committed to providing an institutional venue for publishing feminist scholarship that draws upon and is inspired by the continental tradition in philosophy, including essays, translations, and book reviews, as well as reflections on the field and on the profession.
philoSOPHIA is, first and foremost, a philosophical journal that carries forward the rich tradition and conceptual resources of both continental philosophy and feminist theory. It is the first such journal that has this specific intersection as its mission. While the field of feminist philosophy generally [End Page 1] has committed itself to resuscitating and transforming the traditional imagery and representation of women (and of maternity, sexuality, and femininity), the field of “continental feminism” more specifically has provided the resources for reconceptualizing the historical legacy of European philosophy and the figure of the feminine and sexual difference that have been cultivated therein. The journal aims to explore and excavate this feminine figure throughout the history of philosophy, and to include articles that consider the relation of the feminine to nature, the body, language, and subjectivity. In addition, it will publish essays that consider the ways in which the figure of the feminine maintains but also quite possibly undermines the schisms between and among these central elements of human reality. We are hopeful that the critical endeavors of this journal will contribute to a feminist renewal and a renewal of philosophical culture, a potential rebirth of feminist theory in a philosophical ethos that will enhance rather than exclude it.
As the journal’s founding co-editors, we took inspiration from the figure of Sophia, arguably one of the oldest feminine figures associated with the pursuit and love of wisdom. As we wrote in our first call for papers, Sophia, considered to be the feminine aspect of God, fell from divine grace because of her desire for knowledge, and in doing so, she was mythologized as the origin of the material world. In the Kabbalah, Sophia appears as the feminine aspect of God and plays a pivotal role in Renaissance cosmology (Leon-Jones 1997). Associated with human wisdom and knowledge, but also with materiality and the body (since she is clearly distinguished from divine wisdom), Sophia personifies both the exclusion and the celebration of the feminine. In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel claims that in Gnostic philosophy, Sophia (or logos) is the first-born descendant of the divine; in this reading of Gnostic thought, it is the human soul’s objective to actualize itself through a return out of matter to Sophia and harmony (Hegel 1974, 397). Here, Sophia represents a dynamic principle of wisdom (Hegel also refers to Sophia as dynamis), while also providing a metaphorical principle of feminine creativity.
Feminist philosophers working in the continental tradition have refused the option of rejecting engagement with eminent and influential philosophers and texts of the past. They have instead developed careful readings that aim to reactivate those texts against themselves or resuscitate...