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Record Type: Review   ID: 348

Feminism and the Mastery of Nature

Plumwood, Val

 Plumwood is a philosopher at the University of Tasmania. She argues that Western culture’s privileging of rationality over feeling has devalued human dependency on nature. This has resulted in blind spots that now threaten humans and the planet. It has now become virtually a necessity to move beyond dualism to a synergistic ecological culture in which the sense of interdependence is key. Plumwood also reveals the dominance of the Western paradigm even in ecological philosophy and radical green theory. Until we learn new ways of thinking and develop a new relationship to our subject matter, including ourselves and the environment, we will continue to exacerbate the environmental crisis and remain blind to saving solutions. In seven chapters Plumwood describes the development of dualism and a mechanistic worldview and alternate views of feminism, as well as ecofeminism. In her Conclusion she prophesies a possible future in which the Rational Economy "appropriates all the remaining space on the earth, and living things, beings who move to their own rhythms, who follow the urgency of their own messages rather than those of the Rational Economy, are denied space and place" (p. 193). In the final stage, the world will be remade and remanufactured, with an artificial surface devoid of life. As she sees it, "after much destruction, mastery will fail, because the master denies dependency on the sustaining other; he misunderstands the conditions of his own existence and lacks sensitivity to limits and to the ultimate points of earthian resistance. ... Since he is set on a course of devouring the other who sustains him" (p. 195), either the sustaining other will die and the master with it, or he must abandon mastery, admit failure, and let himself become transformed, i.e., the Western worldview must be transformed, starting with the majority of the individuals who have heretofore privileged mastery, not sustenance. She closes with the following: "If we are to survive into a liveable future, we must take into our own hands the power to create, restore and explore different stories, with new main characters, better plots, and at least the possibility of some happy endings" (p. 196). She suggests that we can find these new stories from the heretofore subordinated or ignored parts of western or entire third world and indigenous cultures, "and women’s stories of care" (p. 196). In these stories, EHEs already play an important role, and they need to be developed and used as the seeds for new stories.
Publisher Information:New York: Routledge, 1993. 239p. Bibl: 218-230; Chap. notes: 197-217; 1 fig; Name Ind: 231-233; Subject Ind: 234-239
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