1st Edition

The Genealogy of Modern Feminist Thinking Feminist Thought as Historical Present

By Ingeborg W. Owesen Copyright 2021
    108 Pages
    by Routledge

    108 Pages
    by Routledge

    Within much contemporary feminist theory there is a tendency to forget or ignore its own historicity and consider itself as primarily oriented towards the present. This book explores the historical roots of some of feminism’s central concepts and debates, examining the philosophical conditions for feminist thought and taking as its point of departure the dynamic relationship between feminist thought and the history of philosophy. With close attention to the genealogy of key concepts such as equality, sex/gender and difference, alongside discussions of contemporary gender equality policy and contextual understandings of central figures including Wollstonecraft, Beauvoir and Irigaray, The Genealogy of Modern Feminist Thinking provides an analysis of feminism from its origins in the Early Modern period to its contemporary, post-modern forms. Shedding light on feminism as a product of Modernity and establishing it as part of the canon of European intellectual development, this book thus corrects the picture of feminism as a phenomenon that lacks historical continuity, revealing a history characterized by breaks, setbacks and forgetting, in which the forgetting itself forms part of a rich genealogy. As such, it will be of interest to philosophers, sociologists, political theorists and intellectual historians alike.


    1. Feminism as a Modern Phenomenon

    2. Philosophies of Equality

    3. Cartesian Feminism

    4. Citizenship, Education and the Vote

    5. The Difference That Makes a Difference


    Ingeborg W. Owesen is Senior Adviser and Coordinator for the Research Council of Norway and co-author of The History of Gender Equality in Norway 18142013. She holds a PhD in philosophy.

    The Genealogy of Modern Feminist Thinking engages insightfully with the international dialogue and shows how our understanding of gender equality is linked to the history of philosophy. A genealogy is not necessarily progressive or linear, even though it is chronological, which is also pointed out in the book … Owesen presents her findings in a credible way. I recommend the book for philosophers of all kinds, not just for feminists, and not just for beginners.’ - Elin Svenneby, Norwegian Journal of Philosophy

    ‘For the past decades, several leading feminist thinkers have been more occupied with the shortcomings of modern enlightenment philosophy than with the unquestionable intellectual and political resources this philosophy can offer feminism, and with the historical significance of this philosophy for the development of feminist ideas. In light of this, Ingeborg W. Owesen's The Genealogy of Modern Feminist Thinking. Feminist Thought as Historical Present is an important and timely intervention. I only wish this short book could be twice as long, though this is something one rarely asks for in academic contexts. Owesen’s prose is clear and well formulated, and the questions she raises are so important and comprehensive, and the thinkers she addresses so interesting and complex, that they deserved a longer book.’ - Cathrine Holst, AGORA – Journal for metafysisk spekulasjon (Journal of Metaphysical Speculation)

    ‘It is no less than a pure refreshment to read Ingeborg W. Owesen's The Genealogy of Modern Feminist Thinking. The main reason for this is that the questions the book addresses, or invites us to address, are more complex than the answers it is possible to give in roughly 90 pages. The most interesting of these questions need not even have anything to do with feminism, but seems at first glance to be about who or what should be included in the philosophical canon.’ - Thor Inge Rørvik, AGORA – Journal for metafysisk spekulasjon (Journal of Metaphysical Speculation)