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Berges, Sandrine, , . On the Outskirts of the Canon: The Myth of the Lone Female Philosopher, and What to Do about It
2015, Metaphilosophy, 46(3), pp.380-397.
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Added by: Benny Goldberg, Contributed by:

Abstract: Women philosophers of the past, because they tended not to engage with each other much, are often perceived as isolated from ongoing philosophical dialogues. This has led – directly and indirectly – to their exclusion from courses in the history of philosophy. This article explores three ways in which we could solve this problem. The first is to create a course in early modern philosophy that focuses solely or mostly on female philosophers, using conceptual and thematic ties such as a concern for education and a focus on ethics and politics. The second is to introduce women authors as dialoguing with the usual canonical suspects: Cavendish with Hobbes, Elisabeth of Bohemia with Descartes, Masham and Astell with Locke, Conway with Leibniz, and so on. The article argues that both methods have significant shortcomings, and it suggests a third, consisting in widening the traditional approach to structuring courses in early modern philosophy.

Comment: A good paper for any classes on how to teach philosophy, on early modern philosophy, the philosophy of history, or feminism.

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Boyle, Deborah, , . Expanding the Canon of Scottish Philosophy: The Case for Adding Lady Mary Shepherd
2017, Journal of Scottish Philosophy, 15(3), pp.275-293.
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Added by: Benny Goldberg, Contributed by:

Abstract: Lady Mary Shepherd (1777-1847) argued for distinctive accounts of causation, perception, and knowledge of an external world and God. However, her work, engaging with Berkeley and Hume but written after Kant, does not fit the standard periodisation of early modern philosophy presupposed by many philosophy courses, textbooks, and conferences. This paper argues that Shepherd should be added to the canon as a Scottish philosopher. The practical reason for doing so is that it would give Shepherd a disciplinary home, opening up additional possibilities for research and teaching. The philosophical reason is that her views share certain features characteristic of canonical Scottish philosophers.

Comment: A good paper for any classes on how to teach philosophy, on early modern philosophy, the philosophy of history, or feminism

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Gatens, Moira, , . The Art and Philosophy of George Eliot
2009, Philosophy and Literature 33(1): 73-90.
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by:

Abstract: Much remains to be said about Eliot as a philosopher. I argue that her novels should be understood as attempts to practice philosophy in an alternative key. Her decision to write novels rather than conventional philosophy reflects her desire to actively engage the imaginative and affective, as well as the cognitive, powers of her readers. On her view the imagination grounds our disposition to feel sympathy for our fellow human beings. It is this disposition and its potential for refinement as moral knowledge that she sought to realize in her novels. An appreciation of her philosophical commitments is necessary in order to understand her efforts to construct an immanent ground for moral life. The parts played by the imagination, reason and emotion in the attainment of moral knowledge were of prime concern to both Spinoza and Feuerbach. Each philosopher offered an account of the relations between these capacities and argued for their reformation. This reformative task is one that Eliot attempted in her novels. The radical holism of Spinoza and Feuerbach resonates throughout her work. She had a deep suspicion of dualistic philosophies that separate reason and imagination. Like Spinoza and Feuerbach, she understood these ruptures within our capacities, indeed within our very being, to derive in large part from religion, especially Christianity. The reform of our habitual ways of understanding the world must therefore begin with critical reflection on religion.

Comment: An article that explains the philosophical standpoint underlying George Eliot’s fiction and argues that her fiction and her philosophical thinking need to be regarded as a whole. Could be used in a course covering nineteenth-century philosophy, either as supplementary reading or as a primary reading perhaps paired with a piece of writing by Eliot.

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