Feminism and Modern Philosophy: An Introduction

Feminism and Modern Philosophy: An Introduction

Feminism and Modern Philosophy: An Introduction

Feminism and Modern Philosophy: An Introduction

Synopsis

A feminist approach to the history of modern philosophy reveals new insights into the lives and works of major figures such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume, and is crucial to an appreciation of the advent of feminist philosophy. Feminism and Modern Philosophy introduces students to the main thinkers and themes of modern philosophy from different feminist perspectives, and highlights the role of gender in studying classic philosophical texts.This book shows how the important figures in the history of modern philosophy have been reinterpreted by feminist theory, including:* feminist critiques of Descartes' rationalism* Locke's 'state of nature' as it relates to the family* the charges of misogyny levelled against KantIn addition, the book introduces lesser-studied texts and interpretations, such as:* the metaphysics of Leibniz's contemporary, Anne Conway* Annette Baier's recent presentation and defence of Hume Feminism and Modern Philosophy: An Introduction is written in an accessible and lively style, and each chapter ends with a helpful annotated guide to further reading. It will be appropriate for philosophy as well as gender studies courses looking at the development of modern western thought.

Excerpt

History has its own history. Narratives that review the way history was written in the past are often prelude to new interpretations of history and new hopes for the future. Semi-mythic legends of the founding of ancient empires, ethnographic surveys for imperial administrators, sacred histories that highlight extraordinary moments of revelation and apocalypse, political chronicles of modern nation states, all have helped successive generations to understand better who they are and what they can hope for. This is true when the historical subject is politics or society, and even more so when the history is of ideas. In the spirit of an objective cataloging of demographic trends or economic data it might be possible to produce descriptions of a society's material life as the continental Annales school of historians attempted after World War II. It might be possible to emulate the natural sciences and apply some version of a covering law to political trends, as C. F. Hempel and Karl Popper proposed in the same era. When the subject is philosophy, it is impossible to avoid interpretation and evaluation. What is to count as philosophy? Which works are included as important? Those considered to be important in their own day? Hardly. Those whose writers had academic status? If so Locke, Hume, and Descartes are off the list. And once the important texts are established, by what principles are they to be interpreted and judged?

As important as the selection of texts and leading ideas is the arranging of those texts and ideas in temporal sequence. A story without a beginning and an end is no story at all. Events have significance in relation to crises and climaxes, initiations and conclusions. Histories of modern philosophy have been noteworthy for a high sense of drama. After a period of darkness-the proverbial "dark ages"-glimmers of "light" show as a first generation of philosopher-scientists in sixteenth-century Europe begin to question, often at

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