Sleights of Reason

Norm, Bisexuality, Development

By Mary Beth Mader

Subjects: Gender Studies, Feminist Philosophy, Queer Studies, Philosophy, Phenomenology
Series: SUNY series in Gender Theory
Paperback : 9781438434322, 158 pages, January 2012
Hardcover : 9781438434315, 158 pages, February 2011

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Table of contents

1. The Sleight of Reason
2. Sleights of the Norm
3. Sleights of Bisexuality
4. Sleights of Development
5. Conclusion

Demonstrates the dramatic interplay of elements that comprise the concepts of norm, bisexuality, and development.


A brilliant and original reimagining of sexuality, this book examines how concepts lend themselves to power/knowledge formations, and offers a robust synthesis of insights from Foucault and Deleuze to extend those into a proposal for a conceptual next step for imagining the structures of sexuality as eros. Many contemporary French philosophers make incidental use of the notion of a ruse. Its names are legion: 'duplicity,' 'concealment,' 'forgetting,' and 'subterfuge,' among others. This book employs Gilles Deleuze's philosophy of the concept to describe three specifically conceptual ruses, or sleights, that make up part of the conceptual support for the concept of sex. These are the sleights associated with the concepts of norm, bisexuality and development. Mary Beth Mader argues that concepts can trick us, and shows how they can effect conceptual sleights, or what she calls sleights of reason.

Mary Beth Mader is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Memphis. She is the translator of The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger by Luce Irigaray.


"Mary Beth Mader's Sleights of Reason is an original and important perspective on the significance of Deleuze's work for feminist theory, utilizing aspects of his thought hitherto unexploited for those purposes. " — philoSOPHIA

"In addition to creating her own philosophical concept, Mary Beth Mader pulls off something no one else has even attempted, to my knowledge—namely, to bring Gilles Deleuze's rigorous analyses of the nature of the concepts in What Is Philosophy? to bear on the concept of sexuality. The result is an injection of conceptual rigor into debates that hitherto have been more focused on historical considerations. This is a superb book. " — Daniel W. Smith, coeditor of Gilles Deleuze: Image and Text

"Somewhere between mere errors and dialectical illusions, Mader's 'sleights of reason' are biases that derive from the ability of concepts to refer to themselves. Tendentious concepts such as 'norm,' 'bisexuality,' and 'development' purport to refer to actual objects, but actually refer only to their own ability to structure experience. Like Jacquemarts, they hammer home a way of thinking, repeatedly striking us as self-evident features of the world. By showing in detail how the three sleights of her subtitle came to govern modern conceptions of sexuality, Mader frees us from their conceptual bell tower. " — Andrew Cutrofello, author of The Owl at Dawn: A Sequel to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit