Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century

Cambridge University Press
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In this rich and detailed study of early modern women's thought, Jacqueline Broad explores the complexity of women's responses to Cartesian philosophy and its intellectual legacy in England and Europe. She examines the work of thinkers such as Mary Astell, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway and Damaris Masham, who were active participants in the intellectual life of their time and were also the respected colleagues of philosophers such as Descartes, Leibniz and Locke. She also illuminates the continuities between early modern women's thought and the anti-dualism of more recent feminist thinkers. The result is a more gender-balanced account of early modern thought than has hitherto been available. Broad's clear and accessible exploration of this still-unfamiliar area will have a strong appeal to both students and scholars in the history of philosophy, women's studies and the history of ideas.
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About the author

Jacqueline Broad is a Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Philosophy and Bioethics at Monash University, Melbourne. She has published on women's philosophy in the Dictionary of Literary Biography volume on British Philosophers, and the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
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Published on
Feb 27, 2003
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Pages
203
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ISBN
9781139434430
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Social History
Literary Criticism / General
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Modern
Social Science / Gender Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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We encounter autonomy in virtually every area of philosophy: in its relation with rationality, personality, self-identity, authenticity, freedom, moral values and motivations, and forms of government, legal, and social institutions. At the same time, the notion of autonomy has been the subject of significant criticism. Some argue that autonomy outweighs or even endangers interpersonal or collective values, while others believe it alienates subjects who don’t possess a strong form of autonomy. These marginalized subjects and communities include persons with physical or psychological disabilities, those in dire economic conditions, LGBTI persons, ethnic and religious minorities, and women in traditional communities or households.

This volume illuminates possible patterns in these criticisms of autonomy by bringing to light and critically assessing the contribution of women throughout the history of philosophy on this important subject. The essays in this collection cover a wide range of historical periods and influential female philosophers and thinkers, from medieval philosophy through to contemporary debates. Important authors whose work is considered, among many others, include Hildegard of Bingen, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan Moller Okin, Hélène Cixous, Iris Marion Young, and Judith Jarvis Thomson. Women Philosophers on Autonomy will enlighten and inform contemporary debates on autonomy by bringing into the conversation previously neglected female perspectives from throughout history.

Born in 1926 in France, Foucault is one of those rare philosophers who has become a cult figure. Over the course of his life he dabbled in drugs, politics, and the Paris SM scene, all whilst striving to understand the deep concepts of identity, knowledge, and power. From aesthetics to the penal system; from madness and civilisation to avant-garde literature, Foucault was happy to reject old models of thinking and replace them with versions that are still widely debated today. A major influence on Queer Theory and gender studies (he was openly gay and died of an AIDS-related illness in 1984), he also wrote on architecture, history, law, medicine, literature, politics, and of course philosophy. In this Very Short Introduction Gary Gutting presents a wide-ranging but non-systematic exploration of some highlights of Foucault's life and thought. Beginning with a brief biography to set the social and political stage, he then tackles Foucault's thoughts on literature, in particular the avant-garde scene; his philosophical and historical work; his treatment of knowledge and power in modern society; and his thoughts on sexuality. This new edition includes feminist criticisms of Foucault's apparently sexist treatment of the Jouy case, as well as a new chapter offering a unified overview of the Collège de France lectures, now a major focus of interest in Foucault. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Mary Astell (1666-1731) is best known today as one of the earliest English feminists. She is also known as a Tory political pamphleteer, an Anglican apologist, an eloquent rhetorician, and an educational theorist. In this book, Jacqueline Broad interprets Astell first and foremost as a moral philosopher, or as someone committed to providing guidance on how best to live and how to attain happiness. The central claim of this work is that all the different strands of Astell's thought—her theory of knowledge, her metaphysics, her philosophy of the passions, her feminist vision, and her conservative political views—are best understood in light of her ethical objectives. To demonstrate this, Broad examines Astell's major writings and traces her programme to bring about a moral transformation of character in her fellow women. This programme draws on several key aspects of seventeenth-century philosophy, including Cartesian and Neoplatonist epistemologies, proofs for the existence of God, arguments for the immaterial soul, and theories about how to regulate the passions in accordance with reason. At the heart of Astell's philosophy, it is argued, lies a theory of virtue and guidelines on how to cultivate generosity of character, a benevolent disposition toward other people, and the virtue of moderation. This book will help readers to see Astell's feminist, political, and religious views in the context of her wider philosophical vision. It provides a rich and illuminating account of a unique female-centred contribution to the philosophy of the early modern period. It will appeal to students and scholars in philosophy, history of ideas, and gender studies.
There have been many different historical-intellectual accounts of the shaping and development of concepts of liberty in pre-Enlightenment Europe. This volume is unique for addressing the subject of liberty principally as it is discussed in the writings of women philosophers, and as it is theorized with respect to women and their lives, during this period. The volume covers ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious notions of liberty, with some chapters discussing women's ideas about the metaphysics of free will, and others examining the topic of women's freedom (or lack thereof) in their moral and personal lives as well as in the public socio-political domain. In some cases, these topics are situated in relation to the emergence of the concept of autonomy in the late eighteenth century, and in others, with respect to recent feminist theorizing about relational autonomy and internalized oppression. Many of the chapters draw upon a wide range of genres, including polemical texts, poetry, plays, and other forms of fiction, as well as standard philosophical treatises. Taken as a whole, this volume shows how crucial it is to recover the too-long forgotten views of female and women-friendly male philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the process of recovering these voices, our understanding of philosophy in the early modern period is not only expanded, but also significantly enhanced, toward a more accurate and gender-inclusive history of our discipline.
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