Feminism, Feelings and Philosophy

  • Morwenna Griffiths


Women are more emotional than men, or such is the commonly held belief in present day Western society. But is the belief true? And does it matter? The answers are not easy ones to find because the meaning of the statement is so unclear. It might mean, for instance, that women are less in control of their emotions, or it might mean that they feel things more deeply, or that they are more irrational than men. None of these statements necessarily implies any of the rest — though they often come as a package. Indeed, the statement that women are more emotional than men has no clear meaning. However, it has a considerable political force because it is used to justify or explain the position of women. The usual justification/explanation runs: since women are more emotional they are less suited to public life. But this is not the only possible political use of the statement. It has been taken up recently by some feminists and used in celebration of women’s values and as a criticism of men and their personal, moral or social arrangements. In other words, feminists have stood the argument on its head. It now goes: since men are so unemotional, they are unfit to run public life.


Public Life Feminist Theory Feminist Politics Hierarchical Control Human Understanding 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. AMOS, Valerie and PARMAR, Pratibha (1984), ‘Challenging Imperial Feminism’, Feminist Review, vol. 17, pp. 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. BANTOCK, Geoffrey (1967), Education, Culture and the Emotions (London: Faber).Google Scholar
  3. BEDFORD, Errol (1957), ‘Emotions’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, vol. 60, pp. 281–304.Google Scholar
  4. BENNETT, Jonathan (1976), Linguistic Behaviour (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  5. BODEN, Margaret (1977), Artificial Intelligence and Natural Man (Hassocks: Harvester).Google Scholar
  6. CALDECOTT, Leonie and LELAND, Stephanie (eds) (1983), Reclaim the Earth (London: The Women’s Press).Google Scholar
  7. DALY, Mary (1984), Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy (London: The Women’s Press).Google Scholar
  8. DAVIDSON, Donald (1980), Essays on Actions and Events (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  9. DESCARTES, René (1972), The Passions of the Soul in The Philosophical Works of Descartes, vol. 1, trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G. R. T. Ross (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  10. EISENSTEIN, Hester (1984), Contemporary Feminist Thought (London: Allen & Unwin).Google Scholar
  11. GLOVER, Jonathan (ed.), (1976), The Philosophy of Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  12. GRIFFIN, Susan (1982), Made from this Earth (London: The Women’s Press).Google Scholar
  13. GROSS, Michael and AVERILL, Mary Beth (1983), ‘Evolution and Patriarchal Myths of Scarcity and Competition’, in S. HARDING and M. HINTIKKA (eds).Google Scholar
  14. HARDING, Sandra and HINTIKKA Merrill B. (eds) (1983), Discovering Reality: Feminist Perspectives in Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science (Dordrecht: Reidel).Google Scholar
  15. HOFSTADTER, Douglas R. and DENNETT, Daniel C. (eds) (1981), The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul (Brighton: Harvester).Google Scholar
  16. JAGGAR, Alison M. (1983), Feminist Politics and Human Nature (Brighton: Harvester).Google Scholar
  17. KELLER, Evelyn Fox (1985), Reflections on Gender and Science (New Haven: Yale University Press).Google Scholar
  18. KENNY, Anthony (1963), Action, Emotion and Will (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul).Google Scholar
  19. LLOYD, Genevieve (1984), The Man of Reason: ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ in Western Philosophy (London: Methuen).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. LORDE, Audre (1984), ‘An Open Letter to Mary Daly’, in Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider (Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press), pp. 66–71.Google Scholar
  21. MELZACK, Robert (1973), The Puzzle of Pain (Harmondsworth: Penguin).Google Scholar
  22. MIDWINTER, Eric C. (1980), Schools in Society (London: Batsford).Google Scholar
  23. PUTNAM, Hilary (1975), Mind, Language and Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. QUINE, Willard Van Orman (1960), Word and Object (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press).Google Scholar
  25. RORTY, Amélie O. (ed.) (1980), Explaining Emotions (Berkeley: University of California Press).Google Scholar
  26. ROWBOTHAM, Sheila (1983), Dreams and Dilemmas (London: Virago).Google Scholar
  27. SARTRE, Jean-Paul (1957), Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, trans. Hazel E. Barnes (London: Methuen).Google Scholar
  28. SARTRE, Jean-Paul (1962), Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions, trans. Philip Mairet (London: Methuen).Google Scholar
  29. SCHOPENHAUER, Arthur (1961), The World as Will and Idea, trans. R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp (New York: Doubleday).Google Scholar
  30. SCRUTON, Roger (1980), ‘Emotion, Practical Knowledge and Common Culture’, in A. RORTY (ed.), pp. 519–36.Google Scholar
  31. SELLER, Anne (1985), ‘Greenham: A Concrete Reality’, Journal of Applied Philosophy, vol. 2, pp. 133–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. SOLOMON, Robert C. (1977), The Passions (Garden City, NY: Doubleday).Google Scholar
  33. STEEDMAN, Caroline (1986), Landscape for a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives (London: Virago).Google Scholar
  34. STRASSER, Stephan (1977), Phenomenology of Feeling: An Essay on the Phenomena of the Heart, trans. Robert E. Wood (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press).Google Scholar
  35. WALKER, Alice (1983), In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens (London: The Women’s Press).Google Scholar
  36. WILSON, J. R. S. (1972), Emotion and Object (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Morwenna Griffiths and Margaret Whitford 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morwenna Griffiths

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations