Spinoza, Feminism, and Domestic Violence

Iyyun 52 (1):54-74 (2003)
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In this paper I discuss two related ideas and cross-reference them, as it were, on the common ground of the Spinozistic text. First, I want to construct a Spinozistic account of domestic violence and a Spinozistic response to such violence. This will involve attempting to explicate the phenomenon (or at least one aspect of it, to be defined) through the terms and conceptual structure of Spinoza's Ethics. Second, I want to discuss a feminist reading (interpretation) of Spinoza, that of Luce Irigaray. The projects work together, as a better Spinozistic account requires a charitable reading of Spinoza to which Irigaray points the way. Irigaray will turn out to be more Spinozistic that Spinoza himself. In addition, the construction of a Spinozistic response to domestic violence will highlight the textual basis of Irigaray’s reading. It is hoped that this will contribute to making Irigaray’s reading accessible to philosophers trained in the analytic tradition. The undercurrent of both discussions will be an attempt to explicate and further what I take to be a shared moral insight in the late twentieth century, namely, that domestic violence, and particularly violence against women as wives and partners, is morally wrong.
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