ERROR 404 WOMAN NOT FOUND 

watercolour and pencil on paper, animation essay, 2018

 

This title references the standard HTTP response code in computer network communications, which appears when the target of the reference no longer exists. (The result is a ‘broken’ or ‘dead’ link). I use the phrase ‘Error 404’ to refer to another “errare humanum est” story, which touches on the themes of political correctness, sexism, feminist ‘branding problems’ and the shortcomings of the western canon of philosophy.
My introspection started with a direct question: Why do women have their own chapter in canonical philosophical texts?
Most of the philosophers who have reflected on human nature have used words such as ‘human’ or ‘man’ to describe humanity, or ‘mankind’, as a whole. In practice, these overarching terms often exclude women, necessitating an extra chapter to cover the ‘unfair sex’. 
Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Georg W. F. Hegel, Aristotle amongst others have included additional and separate chapters in their philosophical texts which pertain to women, (e.g. The Unfair Sex, Sexus Sequior, Frauenzimmer, About Women). This implies that the core of their philosophical methods of questioning, critical discussion and rational argument, exclude women from the all-encompassing term “man”, and by extension, from the notion of human nature and the human race.

For me, this is the ‘Error 404’ in the western canon of philosophy: The target of the search-term ‘human’ in philosophy, is a broken or dead link. Philosophy is supposed to be the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, the mind of “humans”, “man” and not just “the man”.

Embedded in the political and critical messaging of this work is a more personal story, prompted by a recent conversation with my father (an intellectual person and poet). Throughout my youth, I was always daddy’s girl and generalised comments along the lines of “a woman this” and “as a woman or girl that” were normal in our relationship. As my father watched my schooling and academic achievements over the past few years, his congratulations shifted from: “Congratulations my girl”, to “Congratulations my child” and from “I am so proud of my daughter”, to “Have I ever told you, how proud I am of the human you have become”.The last one really hunted me…aside from my father’s sweet intentions, just telling me that he is proud of me… I noticed he has begun to use the word ‘human’, because, in his eyes, I have been ‘promoted’ through my life struggles and accomplishments from ‘woman’ to ‘human’. 

This realisation reminded me of the feelings which came to me as I was reading Kant, Nietzsche, Hegel and Aristotle –I realised that my father, like so many men before him, was using the term “human” to exclude unworthy women. Through my research, I have concluded that many philosophers think like my father. Since being promoted to ‘human’, I have I decided to tell my side of the story with pictures: a frame by frame watercolour Animation Essay.

looped film excerpt, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Error 404 woman not found, looped film excerpts, 2018

         

Error 404 woman not found, looped film excerpts, 2018

         
     

Error 404 woman not found, looped film excerpts, 2018

           

Error 404 woman not found, looped film excerpts, 2018

             

Error 404 woman not found, looped film excerpts, 2018

 

Error 404 woman not found, looped film excerpts, 2018

             

Error 404 woman not found, looped film excerpts, 2018