The Feminine Symptom takes as its starting point the problem of female offspring for Aristotle: If form is transmitted by the male and the female provides only matter, how is a female child produced? Aristotle answers that there must be some fault or misstep in the process.
This inexplicable but necessary coincidence–sumptoma in Greek–defines the feminine symptom. Departing from the standard associations of male-activity-form and female-passivity-matter, Bianchi traces the operation of chance and spontaneity throughout Aristotle’s biology, physics, cosmology, and metaphysics and argues that it is not passive but aleatory matter–unpredictable, ungovernable, and acting against nature and teleology–that he continually allies with the feminine.
Aristotle’s pervasive disparagement of the female as a mild form of monstrosity thus works to shore up his polemic against the aleatory and to consolidate patriarchal teleology in the face of atomism and Empedocleanism.
Bianchi concludes by connecting her analysis to recent biological and materialist political thinking, and makes the case for a new, antiessentialist politics of aleatory feminism.
Holly Moore has suggested that members of the Ancient Philosophy Society might be interested in this new book out from SUNY Press entitled, Feminist Readings of Antigone. Here is what the Press says about the book:
Feminist Readings of Antigone collects the most interesting and provocative feminist work on the figure of Antigone, in particular looking at how she can figure into contemporary debates on the role of women in society. Contributors focus on female subjectivity and sexuality, feminist ethics and politics, questions of race and gender, psychoanalytic theory, kinship, embodiment, and tensions between the private and the public. This collection seeks to explore and spark debate about why Antigone has become such an important figure for feminist thinkers of our time, what we can learn from her, whether a feminist politics turning to this ancient heroine can be progressive or is bound to idealize the past, and why Antigone keeps entering the stage in times of political crisis and struggle in all corners of the world. Fanny Söderbäck has gathered classic work in this field alongside newly written pieces by some of the most important voices in contemporary feminist philosophy. The volume includes essays by Judith Butler, Adriana Cavarero, Tina Chanter, Luce Irigaray, and Julia Kristeva.