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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, Contributed by:

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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De Pizan, Christine, , . The Book of the City of Ladies
1999, Penguin Classics; New Ed edition
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Kathleen Gill (kagill@stcloudstate.edu)

Publisher’s Note: Christine de Pizan (c.1364-1430) was France’s first professional woman of letters. Her pioneering Book of the City of Ladies begins when, feeling frustrated and miserable after reading a male writer’s tirade against women, Christine has a dreamlike vision where three virtues – Reason, Rectitude and Justice – appear to correct this view. They instruct her to build an allegorical city in which womankind can be defended against slander, its walls and towers constructed from examples of female achievement both from her own day and the past: ranging from warriors, inventors and scholars to prophetesses, artists and saints. Christine de Pizan’s spirited defence of her sex was unique for its direct confrontation of the misogyny of her day, and offers a telling insight into the position of women in medieval culture.THE CITY OF LADIES provides positive images of women, ranging from warriors and inventors, scholars to prophetesses, and artists to saints. The book also offers a fascinating insight into the debates and controversies about the position of women in medieval culture.

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Humphreys, Rebekah , Watson, Kate, . The Killing Floor and Crime Narratives: Marking Women and Nonhuman Animals
2019, Kate Watson, Katharine Cox (eds.), Tattoos in crime and detective narratives, Manchester University Press, 170-196
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

This interdisciplinary chapter provides a literary reading and philosophical analyses of issues surrounding the depiction of women and of nonhuman animals in a subgenre of contemporary crime narratives – what this chapter terms ‘killing floor’ crime fiction. This is achieved through a focus on the function of the tattoo, ‘markings’ in a broad sense (both metaphorically and physically) and the gendered elements of animal representations in crime fiction. Through an analysis of the significance of marking skin, the chapter links the exploitation and objectification of the bodies of women and of nonhuman animals. In doing so, it compares the use of animals in modern-day killing floor practices and the position of women in contemporary crime fiction. Through forcible marking and scarification, this chapter raises pertinent interrelated ethical issues concerning the perceptions of women, their societal status and the commercial use of nonhuman animals.

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Okin, Susan Moller, , . Is multiculturalism bad for women?
1999, Princeton University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, and political participation, unequal vulnerability to violence. These practices and conditions are standard in some parts of the world. Do demands for multiculturalism — and certain minority group rights in particular — make them more likely to continue and to spread to liberal democracies? Are there fundamental conflicts between our commitment to gender equity and our increasing desire to respect the customs of minority cultures or religions? In this book, the eminent feminist Susan Moller Okin and fifteen of the world’s leading thinkers about feminism and multiculturalism explore these unsettling questions in a provocative, passionate, and illuminating debate.

Okin opens by arguing that some group rights can, in fact, endanger women. She points, for example, to the French government’s giving thousands of male immigrants special permission to bring multiple wives into the country, despite French laws against polygamy and the wives’ own bitter opposition to the practice. Okin argues that if we agree that women should not be disadvantaged because of their sex, we should not accept group rights that permit oppressive practices on the grounds that they are fundamental to minority cultures whose existence may otherwise be threatened.

In reply, some respondents reject Okin’s position outright, contending that her views are rooted in a moral universalism that is blind to cultural difference. Others quarrel with Okin’s focus on gender, or argue that we should be careful about which group rights we permit, but not reject the category of group rights altogether. Okin concludes with a rebuttal, clarifying, adjusting, and extending her original position. These incisive and accessible essays — expanded from their original publication in Boston Review and including four new contributions — are indispensable reading for anyone interested in one of the most contentious social and political issues today.

The diverse contributors, in addition to Okin, are Azizah al-Hibri, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Homi Bhabha, Sander Gilman, Janet Halley, Bonnie Honig, Will Kymlicka, Martha Nussbaum, Bhikhu Parekh, Katha Pollitt, Robert Post, Joseph Raz, Saskia Sassen, Cass Sunstein, and Yael Tamir.

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Pomeroy, Sarah B., , . The Pythagorean Women: Their History and Writings
2013, The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Bart Schultz

Publisher’s Note: In Pythagorean Women, classical scholar Sarah B. Pomeroy discusses the groundbreaking principles that Pythagoras established for family life in Archaic Greece, such as constituting a single standard of sexual conduct for women and men. Among the Pythagoreans, women played an important role and participated actively in the philosophical life. While Pythagoras encouraged women to be submissive to men, his reasoning was based on the desire to preserve harmony in the home. Pythagorean Women provides English translations of all the earliest extant examples of literary Greek prose by Neopythagorean women, shedding light on their attitudes about marriage, the home, music, and the cosmos. Pomeroy sets the Pythagorean and Neopythagorean women vividly in their historical, ecological, and intellectual contexts, illustrated with original photographs of sites and artifacts known to these women.

Comment: Great work demonstrating how ancient Pythagorean philosophy welcomedwomen philosophers.

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Suchon, Gabrielle, , . A Woman Who Defends All the Persons of Her Sex: Selected Philosophical and Moral Writings
2010, University of Chicago Press.
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Added by: Francesca Bruno, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: During the oppressive reign of Louis XIV, Gabrielle Suchon (1632-1703) was the most forceful female voice in France, advocating women’s freedom and self-determination, access to knowledge, and assertion of authority. This volume collects Suchon’s writing from two works – Treatise on Ethics and Politics (1693) and On the Celibate Life Freely Chosen; or, Life without Commitments (1700) – and demonstrates her to be an original philosophical and moral thinker and writer. Suchon argues that both women and men have inherently similar intellectual, corporeal, and spiritual capacities, which entitle them equally to essentially human prerogatives, and she displays her breadth of knowledge as she harnesses evidence from biblical, classical, patristic, and contemporary secular sources to bolster her claim. Forgotten over the centuries, these writings have been gaining increasing attention from feminist historians, students of philosophy, and scholars of seventeenth-century French literature and culture. This translation, from Domna C. Stanton and Rebecca M. Wilkin, marks the first time these works will appear in English.

Comment: This volume could be assigned in an early modern (survey) course together with other texts by women philosophers of this time, such as Mary Astell. Suchon's prose is long-winded but clear. There are a number of tensions in the text between (some of) Suchon's ideas, which offer a good opportunity for discussion with students.

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Tshivhase, Mpho, , . Personhood
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 347-360
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Certain descriptions of personhood imbue an individual with a particular kind of moral status. There are different person-making capacities that are generally laid out as central to the idea of personhood. Some of the person-making capacities are what people generally refer to as the grounding of certain normative requirements that enable us to respond to individuals as entities with a moral status. Herein personhood is a matter of certain capacities that create one’s moral status. These descriptions of personhood bring about a specific structure of identification that has implications for moral accountability. In this paper I aim to interpret the person-making capacities and argue that they can, in some sense, be limiting, and this may be the case in relation to women as a gender group whose personhood has not always been fairly recognized. I will argue that a view of personhood whose person-making capacities exclude a gender group can have negative implications, and I will explore two implications that I think have this negative attitude. On the one hand, a conception of personhood, especially in the descriptive sense that prioritizes rationality and free will above all else, could imply that women, by virtue of lacking such capacities, are not to be considered as individuals with a moral status, wherein society cannot hold them accountable for their actions, nor would they be able to hold others morally accountable. On the other hand, and this second implication relates to difference in the sense of uniqueness, which is grounded on personhood – if women are denied the status of a person, then they would also be excluded from exploring their uniqueness qua radical difference.

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Van Dyke, Christina, , . Mysticism
2010, In R. Pasnau and Christina Van Dyke (eds.) The Cambridge History of Medieval Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 720-734.
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Added by: Francesca Bruno, Contributed by:

Summary: This article offers an accessible overview of Medieval mysticism (12th-15th c, within the Christian tradition). It examines how two traditions of mysticism, e.g. the apophatic and affective traditions, intersect with a number of topics of medieval philosophical interest, including the relative importance of intellect and will, and the role of contemplation and activity in the good life.

Comment: This article offers an accessible overview of Medieval mysticism (12th-15th c, within the Christian tradition). It is a good background reference for those interested in teaching Medieval women philosophers, many of whom were mystics.

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