Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

History

Additional Departmental Affiliation

Philosophy and Religion

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

In this project, I examine the philosophical theories of truth, gender, and power, and the parallels between each theory. I argue that both Friedrich Nietzsche and William James advanced theories that deconstructed the idea that human beings, or “man” and “woman,” were bound by an essential nature or innate characteristics that determined their social role. Though this critique was robust, I argue that it enforces gender disempowerment on a number of platforms since the theories did not analyze gender, but rather truth and value. Simone de Beauvoir, I argue, expanded Nietzsche’s and James’ thought, but included a critical analysis of gender and disempowerment. De Beauvoir’s idea that gender identities are imposed and created by power defines gender as a social-construct, and something that individuals, though only privileged “man,” have autonomy over. Though this analysis is extensive and emancipatory, I argue that de Beauvoir, by defining “woman” as something that it, e.g. the “other” gender related to “man,” de Beauvoir establishes as unified category of gender which entails exclusion of individuals who do not fall under these rigid categories. I argue that Judith Butler’s conception of gender as an imposed mechanism by power to define, classify, and separate individuals is the most exhaustive and inclusive conception of gender among the authors that I examine, and actively subverts the oppressive practices of sociopolitical power.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Alexander Olson, Dr. Grace Hunt

Disciplines

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | History | Philosophy

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