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Atherton, Margaret, , . Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period
1994, Hackett Publishing Company.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Bart Schultz

Publisher’s Note: An important selection from the largely unknown writings of women philosophers of the early modern period. Each selection is prefaced by a headnote giving a biographical account of its author and setting the piece in historical context. Atherton’s Introduction provides a solid framework for assessing these works and their place in modern philosophy.

Comment: Wonderful collection of selections by early modern women philosophers.
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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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Broad, Jacqueline, , . Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century
2002, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by: Karen Green

Publisher’s Note: 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.

Comment: The book is organised around six authors: Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Mary Astell, Damaris Masham and Catherine Trotter Cockburn. The book focuses on their relations to Cartesianism and this means the book can be readily used on a history of modern philosophy course. It can be treated as introducing the ideas of all the women philosophers just mentioned and, e.g., a chapter could be further reading each week accompanying primary texts by the women philosophers in question.

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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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MacCumhaill, Clare, , Rachael Wiseman. A Female School of Analytic Philosophy? Anscombe, Foot, Midgley and Murdoch
2018, Women in Parenthesis website
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion, Contributed by:

Introduction: The history of Analytic Philosophy we are familiar with is a story about men. It begins with Frege, Russell, Moore. Wittgenstein appears twice, once as the author of the Tractatus and then again later as the author of the Philosophical Investigations. Between Wittgenstein’s first and second appearance are Carnap and Ayer and the all-male Vienna Circle. Then come the post-second-world war Ordinary Language Philosophers – Ryle, and Austin. After that Strawson and Grice, Quine and Davidson.

The male dominance is not just in the names of the ‘star’ players. Michael Beaney’s 2013 Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy begins by listing the 150 most important analytic philosophers. 146 of them are men. For women who wish to join in this conversation, the odds
seem formidably against one.

Today we will be speaking about two of the four women who warrant an entry in Beaney’s list – Elizabeth Anscombe and Philippa Foot. We will be talking about them alongside two other women Iris Murdoch and Mary Midgley. We think they should also be in the top 150, but our broader aims are more ambitious than increasing the proportion of important women from 2.7% to 4%.

Comment: This text offers a very accessible introduction to the work of the Wartime Quartet as well as a biographical and historical overview of their philosophical school status. It would be suitable for history of philosophy courses – especially those which emphasise or centre upon 20th century analytic philosophy. This text will also be essential for students who wish to set-up an In Parenthesis reading group, please see here for more information: http://www.womeninparenthesis.co.uk/curated-resources/for-students/new-undergraduate-reading-list/#intro

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