The Women of Philosophy


“[I]f we revert to history, we shall find that the women who have distinguished themselves have neither been the most beautiful nor the most gentle of their sex.” 

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman


Progress on the “Philosophy Narratives” has been remarkable, covering the span of two ages.  Our opening act was the “Pre-Socratic Four” of Thales, Pythagoras, Xenophanes and Heraclitus which culminated in the grand finale featuring the dynamic duo of “The Eleatics,” Parmenides and Zeno.  Six remarkable men engaged in the search for knowledge and understanding, whose observations would influence generations that followed.

The more I read about the lives of ancient philosophers, the more I value humanity’s need to understand its place within the framework of existence. Philosophical inquiry demands our full participation.  We are engaging in the monumental task of fashioning the society in which we want to live.  Moreover, we are determining what our obligations are to each other, our descendants, and the environment.

Which brings me to the subject of enquiry for the coming week –  women.  The story of philosophy has many brilliant, dynamic, even formidable women with remarkable narratives that have added depth and nuance to the history of intellectual growth and expansion.  It is time to add a few names to the roster of ancient thinkers.

 “If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.”

Plato, The Republic