On Being at Home in Ourselves and the World

Love, Sex, Gender, and Justice


  • Jordan PASCOE




Love, Sex, Gender, Justice


 Helga Varden’s Sex, Love, & Gender: A Kantian Theory (2020) is a rigorous, beautiful, and transformative book, which does vital work not only in fully developing how Kant’s complex understandings of desire, reflection, and relationality should inform our understanding of his arguments about sex and love but also in positioning these Kantian arguments as absolutely critical resources to contemporary debates about gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual (in)justice. Rarely is a book so comprehensive, so coherent, and so grounded in a vulnerability we rarely find in philosophy; rarely does it so radically expand the resources we have for dealing with what seems like a familiar problem in such a well-read figure. The literature on Kant and sex is extensive, and yet this book absolutely revolutionizes the kinds of questions we can ask
about Kant on sex, love, and gender. Beyond its attendance to essential questions about love, sex, gender, and the phenomenology of human embodiment, Varden’s book makes several key methodological moves. First, she offers a rigorous defense of a “bottom up” approach to Kant, which allows theorists (largely, and not coincidentally, women theorists) to square the sorts of non-ideal experiences with which she is concerned in this book with the systemic features of Kant’s practical philosophy. This is not, as she argues, to decenter freedom in his philosophical project, but to read in a direction that allows these questions to “surface” in our lived, embodied, human experience of freedom. Varden’s Kant, then, is an ideal Kant who is concerned with non-ideal dilemmas, desires, and experiences; he is a reconstructed Kant, whose ample resources for theorizing human experience, morality, teleology, and justice are no longer hampered by his own sexist, homophobic, and cisist preoccupations. There are critical resources here for those drawing on Kant to address a range of non-ideal questions that are beyond the scope of this project


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Biografia do Autor


Jordan Pascoe is Professor of Philosophy, Women and Gender Studies, and Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies at Manhattan College in New York City. She is the author of Kant’s Theory of Labour (Cambridge University Press) and the co-curator of the Society for the Philosophy of Love and Sex.
 See Kant 2016, 27:1336, 27:1379, J19:557 Refl 7927; for further discussion of Kant’s connection between sex and slavery, see Pascoe 2022.
 His reflections resonate with many of the cases made famous through the MeToo era; consider Monica Lewinsky’s 2018 reconsideration of her affair with Bill Clinton, in which she reflected that her consent to sexual relations with Clinton did little to redress either the power imbalance that shaped their relationship, nor the scope of the harm that it did to her life project going forwards. Lewinsky’s insight – that consent was insufficient to make this sexual dynamic consistent with her innate freedom – is consistent with what I take to be the critical Kantian intervention for contemporary sexual politics: attention to both the permissibility of our sexual ends and to the mechanisms through which we pursue those ends with one another. See Lewinsky, Monica (2018). “Monica Lewinksy: Emerging from the “House of Gaslight” in the Age of #MeToo. Vanity Fair, March 2018.




Como Citar

PASCOE, J. (2023). On Being at Home in Ourselves and the World: Love, Sex, Gender, and Justice. Estudos Kantianos [EK], 11(1), 151. https://doi.org/10.36311/2318-0501.2023.v11n1.p151



Autor encontra críticos / Author meets critics