Feminist Theory and Ordinary Language Philosophy
We will convene an international and interdisciplinary seminar of 12–14 scholars, including several from Harvard, to explore the idea that a mode of philosophizing, currently out of favor in the discipline of philosophy and hitherto not widely taken up within feminist scholarship, can fundamentally reinvigorate feminist theory. This mode—which is associated with the Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, and Stanley Cavell and is sometimes called “ordinary language philosophy”—uses ordinary experience and ways of talking as a touchstone for theory and praxis. It differs sharply from both the post-structuralist and analytic approaches that currently dominate feminist thinking.
We will gather together feminist scholars from a variety of disciplines, as well as sympathetic experts in philosophy of language and literary studies, to deepen our understanding, particularly of Wittgenstein’s thought, and to brainstorm on what problems and questions in feminist theory would be most radically illuminated by an ordinary-language philosophical approach. We hope that the outcome of the exploratory session would be a clear agenda for further work, perhaps in the shape of a concrete plan for a special issue of a journal, a book of essays, a major conference, or all three.