Transcendence, Materialism, and the Reenchantment of Nature

Toward a Theological Materialism
  • Patrice Haynes


Contemporary feminist theorists typically regard the notion of transcendence with suspicion. By “transcendence” is meant “going beyond” or “surpassing” a limit or context. The problem for a number of feminists is that, certainly in Western thought, it is the body, and the material world more generally, that is usually identified as the limit to overcome and so transcend. Given that Western culture traditionally associates bodiliness and materiality with the female sex, “woman” has come to represent the constraints of material immanence, and women are thus devalued in the process. In The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir famously laments the way in which women, defined as the “other” by men, are “doomed” to immanence (29, 726). She urges women to claim transcendence for themselves and, in doing so, to realize their freedom and subjectivity. However, de Beauvoir is often criticized by later feminists for perpetuating patriarchal conceptions of transcendence and immanence.


Material Object Material World Instrumental Reason Material Immanence Intrinsic Meaningfulness 


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© Gillian Howie and J’annine Jobling 2009

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  • Patrice Haynes

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