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Broad, Jacqueline, Karen Detlefsen. (eds.) Women and Liberty, 1600-1800: Philosophical Essays
2017, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Francesca Bruno
Publisher's Note: This book addresses the theme of liberty as it is found in the writing of women philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, or as it is theorized with respect to women and their lives. It covers both theoretical and practical philosophy, with chapters grappling with problems in the metaphysics of free will (both human and God's), the liberty (or lack thereof) of women in their moral, personal lives as well as their social-political, public lives, and the interactions between the metaphysical and normative issues. The chapters draw upon writing of both women and men, and notably, upon a wide range of genres, including more standard philosophical treatises as well as polemical texts, poetry, plays, and other forms of fiction. As such, this book alerts the reader to the wide range of conceptions of what counts as a philosophical text in the early modern period. Several chapters also grapple with the relation between early modern and contemporary ways of thinking about the theme of women and liberty, thus urging the reader to appreciate the continuing importance of these earlier philosophers in the history of philosophy and of feminism. Ultimately, the chapters in this text show how crucial it is to recover the too-long forgotten views of female and women-friendly male philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for in the process of recovering these voices, our understanding of philosophy in the early modern period is not only expanded, but also significantly altered toward a more accurate history of our discipline.

Comment: This volume covers ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious notions of liberty, including chapters on women's ideas about the metaphysics of free will and chapters examining the topic of women's freedom (or lack thereof) in their moral and personal lives. Some of the papers in this collection could be assigned individually in an undergraduate early modern survey course; or it could be one of the main texts for a more advanced (undergraduate or graduate) course on the topic of liberty/freedom, from a variety of philosophical perspectives (ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious).

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Wiredu, Kwasi. Philosophy and an African Culture
1980, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Suddha Guharoy and Andreas Sorger
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What can philosophy contribute to African culture? What can it draw from it? Could there be a truly African philosophy that goes beyond traditional folk thought? Kwasi Wiredu tries in these essays to define and demonstrate a role for contemporary African philosophers which is distinctive but by no means parochial. He shows how they can assimilate the advances of analytical philosophy and apply them to the general social and intellectual changes associated with 'modernisation' and the transition to new national identities. But we see too how they can exploit traditional resources and test the assumptions of Western philosophy against the intimations of their own language and culture. The volume as a whole presents some of the best non-technical work of a distinguished African philosopher, of importance equally to professional philosophers and to those with a more general interest in contemporary African thought and culture.

Comment: Kwasi Wiredu’s Philosophy and an African Culture grapples with the relationship between African philosophy and African traditional folk thought in order to carve out a distinctive role for African philosophers in the present day. In the chapters for this week, Wiredu is contributing to a debate in African philosophy that seeks to answer the question: “What is African Philosophy?”. Wiredu takes issue with Europeans elevating the traditional folk beliefs of Africans to the status of philosophy, which historically has been used to justify and legitimise the racist belief in the inferiority of black Africans. Instead, Wiredu suggests that the absence of a written tradition of philosophy means that African philosophy can only exist in the present. Thus, it is up to contemporary African philosophersto create a ‘new’ tradition with distinctive insights for the problems faced by African societies.

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