Nye, Andrea

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NYE, Andrea

Born 1939

Children: three

A scholar, writer, and teacher, Andrea Nye's work attempts to reconcile the largely male-dominated realm of philosophy and thought with the many strains of feminist theory. While aware of the lack of women in the field of philosophy, and their absence in the philosophical cannon, when the Harvard undergraduate was asked in the early 1960s why she chose philosophy for her major, she replied that philosophy "was a puzzle of a kind that I seemed to have a talent for unraveling." Returning to graduate school in 1972 after having three children, and struggling to make ends meet on a teaching assistant's paycheck, Nye found herself increasingly drawn to the intensifying feminist movement. Her experiences in an almost entirely male discipline led her to live what she considered an academic duality by demonstrating expertise in recognized male-centered, male-created philosophies while trying to hold on to her feminist and feminine voice. This duality grew into a rich understanding of the forces behind traditional thought and the movement of feminist theory both within and around these forces. Her graduate work led to a professional academic career, and Nye is currently a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Deeply involved in the philosophy of language and mind, feminist theory, and the history of philosophy, Nye has contributed a number of important works on these issues.

Nye's 1988 (reprinted 1990) Feminist Theory and the Philosophies of Man for which she received a 1982-83 U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, extensively explores the important feminist and philosophical works and their complex relationships to one another. In her introduction she explains that the study has very personal roots and it seeks to explore women's understanding of themselves now that feminist theory has taken firm hold of academic disciplines and common consciousness. Nye then presents a comprehensive survey of philosophical movements, beginning with 19th-century Western liberalism and working forward through socialism, Marxism, and contemporary theory. Each doctrine is juxtaposed against this feminist consciousness but conclusions about one's own place in these discussions are left largely to the reader.

Along similar lines is Nye's Philosophy and Feminism: At the Border (1995), which again discusses the natural/historical male centered language of philosophy and describes women philosophers' attempts at figuring themselves into this language which in many ways ignores their voices and experiences. Through rhetorical deconstruction, Nye breaks these traditional doctrines down and inserts feminist theory. She explains how "in each feminist reworking of theory, the conflictual nature of men's practices was exposed." This work demonstrates the maturation of Nye's initially frustrated duality by offering clear rhetoric and important conclusions.

Nye's work serves as an important comprehensive survey of feminist theory for any student coming to the discipline of philosophy, or any individual seeking understanding of the historical progression of feminism. Extremely learned and refreshingly personal, Nye's writing seeks to both validate her readers' individual experiences and challenge their intellectual boundaries.

Other Works:

Private Language (1977). Words of Power: a Feminist Reading in the History of Logic (1990). Philosophia: the Thought of Rosa Luxemburg, Simone Weil, and Hannah Arendt (1994). Philosophy: Discipline Analysis (1997). Philosophy of Language: The Big Questions (edited by Nye, 1998). The Princess and the Philosopher: Letters of Elisabeth of the Palatine to Rene Descartes (1999).

Journal articles in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (1987). Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy (1992, 1996).


Fraser, N. and S. L. Bartky, eds., Revaluing French Feminism: Critical Essays on Difference, Agency, and Culture (1992). Kourany, J. A., ed., Philosophy in a Feminist Voice: Critiques and Reconstructions (1998). Lamphere, L., ed., Women in the Curriculum: Discipline Analysis (1997). Tuana, N., ed., Feminist Interpretations of Plato (1994).

Other references:

European Journal of Philosophy (Dec. 1994). Gender & Society: Official Publication of Sociologists for Women in Society (June 1991). Hypatia (Spring 1990). Journal of Gender Studies (July 1995).