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Webb, Simone. Mary Astell’s ‘A Serious Proposal to the Ladies’ (1694)
2018, 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology
Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simone Webb

Introduction: Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) is established in the popular imagination as the “first feminist,” but another philosopher provided a systematic analysis of women’s subjugated condition and a call for female education nearly a century before Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Mary Astell’s (1666-1731) A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest by a Lover of Her Sex, Parts I and II (1694, 1697) is a philosophical text that argues that women are in an inferior moral condition compared to men, analyses the causes of this problem, and presents a two-part remedy.

Comment: This is a 1000-word introductory article to Mary Astell's feminist thought as expressed in her philosophical treatise A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. It would work well as pre-class reading, or a very basic introduction to the study of the history of feminist thought or women in early modern philosophy.

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