Autonomy, community, and solidarity: Some implications of Heidegger's thought for the feminist alliance with poststructuralism

Patricia J Huntington, Fordham University


My dissertation traces key aspects of the conceptual influence of Heidegger's work on feminist poststructuralist theories. This archeology enables me to indicate that poststructualism cannot provide the foundation necessary to forming three normative ideals requisite to a viable feminist theory: personal autonomy, heterogeneous community, and solidarity. I argue that certain versions of poststructuralism repeat Heidegger's abstraction from an hermeneutics of suspicion and his totalizing rejection of modernity. Without a theory of willed ignorance, post-Lacanian feminism undercuts women's agency. And, without tying a vision of Sittlichkeit to ideology critique, feminist ethics falls prey to abstraction and antinormativism. In Part I, I recover a dialectical theory of autonomy that can account for the deliberate ways that subjects mediate their environment. In Part II, I flesh out Heidegger's and Irigaray's respective visions of heterogeneous community. In Part III, however, I show how neither Heidegger nor US appropriations of Irigaray yield either a sufficiently complex moral theory or a theory of solidarity. After delineating Heidegger's antinormative tendencies, I reveal similar deficiencies in the works of Irigaray and Drucilla Cornell. I demonstrate that the nominalist underpinnings of post-Lacanian feminism threaten to normalize a fragmented view of pluralism rather than tackle the hard problem of developing interactive models of universalism (moral theory) and of solidarity. I conclude by developing features of a feminist methodology that can support solidarity and avoid antinormativism. These features include: (i) a hermeneutic of the symbolic order complex enough to address the overlap between race, class and gender; (ii) grounding theory in ideology critique; (iii) a model of critical social consciousness rooted in the ability to disdain the immiseration of others and to acknowledge one's own interests; and (iv) an interactionist basis for moral theory.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Huntington, Patricia J, "Autonomy, community, and solidarity: Some implications of Heidegger's thought for the feminist alliance with poststructuralism" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9416670.