chapter
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Conclusion

I have been trying to show that there was something very special about the Women’s Liberation movement, something which made it different in kind from most social and political movements. This specialness consisted in the fact that it was a social movement, engaged in the search for a personal and individual ethic of a Socratic nature, that is for an ethic which recognises that the search for the good is the primary focus of human life, which is essentially tied to a behavioural disposition to seek that good and which is sought more against than with any prevailing social norms since, typically, an element of the latter is that easy assumption of certainty which is incompatible with any search for the good. I made it clear in the preface that I am not specifically advocating that feminism return to this Women’s Liberation ethic, summed up in the thesis ‘the personal is political’. For the circumstances which brought about this strange synthesis of the intense moral searching of individuals with a social movement are, I suspect, long passed. Were this general moral position, discovered (or rather rediscovered) by Women’s Liberation, to be once again taken seriously by large numbers of people in the context of some kind of movement-and this is unlikely-I think that it would, perhaps, find its point of application less in opposition to the assumed superiority of men over women than in the rejection of the increasing emphasis placed on ‘appearances’, both on physical appearance and on the appearance of achievement and efficiency. The evil activity of measuring the worth of human beings as such now flourishes rather more in the latter terms than in the former. Moreover, the appropriate focus of a women’s movement is now, I should think, of a more practical political nature. In recovering the forgotten moral position of Women’s Liberation, part of my aim has been simply to preserve this valuable legacy by insisting that along with the many social and political achievements of second wave feminism there is also this other contribution to human life, one made on a more universal and enduring plane.