Analytic philosophy since Plato has been notoriously hostile to literature, and yet in
recent years, increasing numbers of philosophers within the tradition have sought to
take seriously the question of how it is that literature can be philosophical. Analytic
philosophy has also been noted for its hostility to women and resistance to feminism.
In this thesis I seek to make connections between firstly the prejudice against, and then
the potential for, the contribution of the perspectives of literature and feminism in
philosophy, attempting to answer simultaneously the two questions;
How can literature be philosophical?
How can feminists write philosophy?
In the sense that I attempt to take these questions seriously, and answer them
precisely, this thesis fits into the analytic philosophical tradition. However, my
response to these questions, and thus the majority of this thesis, takes the form of a
non-traditional demonstration of the philosophical potential of literature presented
through three feminist literary genres; autographical fiction, Utopian fiction, and
Using generic divisions seems to be an appropriate strategy for reclaiming literature as
philosophical, since it suggests an identification with the Aristotelian defence of literary
arts against Plato's assault. However, I will argue that these literary genres have
traditionally been defined in terms which prohibit a philosophical reading. I will
expose and then recover this anti-philosophical bias, particularly when it coincides with
feminist genre revisions. This recovery will take the form of a philosophical
reconceptualizing of each genre, and a specific comparative analysis of two texts
adopted as representative of each genre as I conceive it. In this way I hope to show
that it is not only possible, but highly advantageous, to learn from the novel.