CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Edited by Lorraine Code, et al. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1988. 204pp, paper, ISBN 0-8020-2627-3 (cloth) $27.50, 0-8020-6668-2 (paper) $13.95. CIP

Reviewed by Joanna Warden

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

In their introduction to Feminist Perspectives, the editors write of a hypothetical feminist-oriented conference where the traditional male values of competition and the adversarial system are set aside. This spirit of intellectual altruism is refreshing, and taken in this spirit the collection is a resounding success. Just as it shares in the conference's qualities of freshness and intellectual charity, however. It also has many of the weaknesses of an unstructured conference or of a work in progress.

These ten scholars, all of them distinguished in the field of philosophy, have applied the tools of their intellectual trade to the project of creating a concept of the cosmos which is, if not female-oriented, at least not exclusively male-oriented. They have attempted to turn the weapons of philosophy on the discipline itself, to show where it is unbalanced and incomplete. The hazards of this exercise are immediately obvious: the authors are attempting to cut down the tree of philosophical tradition as they sit on the branch of philosophical methodology.

All of them are masters of their philosophical craft, nimble enough in their reasoning and erudite enough in their use of authorities to demolish any philosophical theory. They do indeed convince the reader that traditional philosophy suffers from the absence of a significant female element. The second task, however, is more difficult and is less proficiently performed.

When they advance suggestions, the authors either attempt too little, merely using these powerful philosophical tools to trudge again over much trodden feminist ground, or too much, making dizzying leaps from the abstract to the specific, leaps which cover much uncharted territory in the process. The reader's cumulative response to these attempts is one of frustration, but it is also difficult to restrain one's excitement. Code, Mullett, Overall and the other writers have set out on a new journey, and though they may now be lost in the wilderness, their force of intellect has cleared an enticing path for those who come after them.

Joanna Warden, West Hill, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works