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

Athens

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

21 thoughts on “The Women of Philosophy

    • I can see why she was one of your favorites. Her story will take more than one post. I am curious – there is a subtle difference in how stories are remembered. I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks.

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    • So glad that you joined the dialogue! I am looking forward to getting to know some amazing women over the next couple of weeks. They may have lived in the past, but their thoughts transcend time constraints.

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  1. Love your summary of your posts so far. In relation to your statement that we are fashioning the society in which we want to live ,how does it look if we put Plato this way “If men are expected to do the same work as women, we must teach them the same things.” ? Looking forward to your posts on women thinkers.

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    • You belong to the special group of women philosophers!!! I have just started the research and have found some interesting ideas….

      Have you ever heard the saying, “behind every famous man, stands a surprised woman.”

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      • Oh Clanmother! that is the first time I have heard that one. I am vastly amused. On a more serious note, I was watching the investiture of the new Dutch King, and I loved the way his mother and wife and daughters, all in beautiful blue,were smiling and encouraging him. I wouldn’t say they were surprised but they were clearly delighted with their creation of a new King. An historic moment which was wonderful to witness.

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      • I admire anyone who lives their lives for all to see and talk about. Queen Elizabeth is the epitome of graciousness. The new Dutch King and his family are an excellent example of grace and joy. Indeed a historic moment. We are fortunate to witness the peaceful transition, so alike the difficult transitions of the past. I am just reading Michael Farquhar’s “Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice” It was not easy for King, Queens or subjects. We are making progress it seems!!!

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      • I am just on the chapters that involve the King George I, II, III. Oh my goodness!!!

        The thought that came immediately to my mind was from Albert Einstein. “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

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  2. I just finished reading a wonderful book that might interest you: “Doubt: A History” by Jennifer Michael Hecht. It’s about what the title says it’s about. But in addition to the numerous men, Hecht tells the stories of women like Hypatia, Simone de Beauvoir, Dora Black Russell, Annie Besant, and several others.

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  3. I have not made an exhaustive study of colors, of course, but I do believe colors bring a special kind of happiness to us. I do counted cress stitch and sometimes the figures in the pattern are outlined with one single black thread. I brings all the other colors to more brilliance.

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    • Even Pablo Picasso did not understand how colours are more brilliant when they “sing” together.

      “Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? no. Just as one can never learn how to paint.”
      Pablo Picasso

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