It has been said that not everything worth reading is a philosophical argument., and I agree. A glance through the shelves of bookstores, news stands, and libraries will incline one away from the idea that all valuable reading is philosophy. Thoughts back upon experiences that have touched one’s life undoubtedly will include an important novel or story and confirm the original statement. It is also fair to say that people approach literature and philosophy with different expectations. It seems fair to expect one’s philosophical reading to impart knowledge, while not necessarily demanding this of poetry or a short story. Likewise, there are different settings, goals, and different relations that exist between reader and writer, and reader and recommender. Some reading may be for enjoyment, escapism, or metaphor while other is for personal knowledge acquisition and/or a class assignment. While this is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed much of the reading required of me in the pursuit of my degree, I approached it all with an expectation that it should fit nicely within my preconceived notion of ‘Philosophy’. In this class I was presented with reading that broke out of that mold. I want to step back a little and work my way back into the literature from some distance. This is, I hope, a fair way of coming to an understanding of the field of feminist thinking.
Assigning reading for a class, and reading the assignment that the instructor has assigned involves two parties and relations of power, overt or hidden. An assigned reading for a class by an instructor carries a stamp of approval- a legitimization. Presumably, the professor has read this piece and thinks it is cogent, readable, fits with the development of ideas in the class, representative of some voice in the field, and often the proper take on the issue. This last point is not to be overlooked. As any professor knows (they were once students, too), the act of deciphering whether the piece is favorable towards the professor’s own view can be the difference between in-class embarrassment or favor. To disagree with the author of the piece is often to disagree with the professor. To dispute the relevance or importance of the piece puts the student in an even more precarious situation, since it can be seen as an implicit questioning of the professor’s decision to include the piece. To disregard the piece as guilty of improper development or careless thought is sometimes tantamount to labeling the professor (or at least this course by that professor) with traits not welcome in academia. Taking of an adversarial position is, after all, behavior that should not be undertaken without considerable thought.
Although it is true that not everything worth reading is a philosophical argument, I take my philosophy very seriously. If I have found answers to important questions in my life through philosophy, I will make decisions about how to live my life based on these answers....