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These texts typically provided arguments based on religious and philosophical authority, as well as examples of either illustrious or notorious women to support claims that women were either superior or inferior to men.
However, in the early modern period, we see the emergence of texts supporting the equality of men and women. Clarke has provided new translations from the original French and Latin texts and supplemented each primary text with additional shorter texts, excerpts, and letters that give insight into the main text.
2. Cartesian Foundations
In addition, she argues that, since the essential attribute of human beings is the rational soul, which God has provided to both men and women, there is no reason to believe that one sex is superior to the other. She argues, "Now, in those whose nature is one and the same, one must conclude that their actions are also the same, and that their esteem and praise are therefore equal when their works are equal" She claims that given numerous passages in scripture that show "the unity of the sexes," we can know that declarations that seem to indicate women's inferiority to men are made "only because of the explicit need to foster peace within marriages" She argues that it is likely that if women were given the same sort of education as men, we would perceive no gap in their intellectual powers As Clarke notes in his introduction, arguments claiming Christian women should not be educated focused on 1 women's natural incapacity for study or their social status, which prevented the means for study, 2 the unfitting nature of study for a Christian woman, and 3 the needlessness of education for those who are barred from any profession that might require it In it, she provides fourteen arguments in favor of the thesis that a Christian woman should be educated.
In addition, she provides five objections to the thesis that a Christian woman should not be educated. Van Schurman argues that women, in general, are as capable as men of intellectual pursuits.
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However, she is very clear to state that some women, due to lack of capacity or interest or to lack of time or resources, are incapable of study. But, she notes, this is true of men as well, and it does nothing to show that women and men are not equal in terms of their capacity for reason. Thus, every human being is meant to use his or her natural reasoning capacities insofar as they are able. In addition, we have a duty to follow God's commands and to be morally virtuous.
In order to properly understand scripture and to avoid heresy and vice, it is necessary to study a great variety of subjects, including grammar, logic, rhetoric, physics, metaphysics, history, and languages especially Hebrew and Greek One of the beliefs held by Labadie was that God's grace is available to all, regardless of class, sex, or intellectual ability 8.
He claims that it is only custom and men's self-interest in maintaining power for themselves that keep women from being educated and allowed into civic and religious positions.
Since the agreement of many people about the same thing shows merely that it was approved rather than that it was true, we should likewise conclude from their opposition to some opinion that it was merely challenged rather than that it was erroneous, and that it had the misfortune of being the weakest opinion rather than the worst.
In addition, he holds that women have a greater awareness of sensory input, more vivid imaginations, and keener memories than men.
1. Life and Works
He argues that women are capable of every kind of learning and should be permitted to enter the professions to which such training would naturally lead. He points out the circularity of arguments made by opponents of equality claiming that women need not be educated because they are barred from holding civic and religious positions, while also arguing that women should be barred from holding such positions because they want education.
The main question specialists will have about this volume is why is it needed? The answer is mainly that this edition provides translations, an introduction, and extensive notes by a philosopher for those interested in the philosophy.
François Poullain de la Barre
Although the Other Voice series is a valuable tool for those of us who work on early modern women and feminist philosophers I own and admire numerous volumes , there is no doubt that the translations, introductions, and notes are often not geared towards the concerns and interests of those who work in the history of philosophy. Clarke's volume, by contrast, is fit to serve as the authoritative English translation of these works for our field.
First, in comparison with other available texts, Clark's translation structures the English sentences so that the argumentation is transparent. Clarke's introduction is quite substantial at 53 pages, it is nearly a quarter of the book.
It is also invaluable.
He does an excellent job of setting the context of these debates, providing brief biographical sketches of the philosophers and very detailed analyses of the arguments found in the texts. His introduction provides enough background and guidance to make the volume suitable for use in the classroom as well as for research. Finally, the footnotes are quite extensive.
Clarke has done an extraordinary job of tracking down references to rather obscure texts and figures, a task for which he acknowledges the help of numerous experts in related disciplines. In addition, when an author quotes or misquotes, he supplies the original and notes the discrepancies. He also has provided an index and citations for further reading.
Clarke's collection is also valuable merely for having gathered these texts into a single volume. When read in succession, thematic similarities and similarities in argumentative structure are more readily apparent, which facilitates fruitful comparative analysis.
François Poulain de la Barre
The effects of various theological concerns, differences among Stoic, Scholastic, and Cartesian methodologies, and the influence of custom and prejudice all become much more salient when we see these texts as related, rather than reading each philosopher on his or her own. Edited by Desmond Clarke and Catherine Wilson.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, O'Neill discusses the extent to which those in the earlier periods of the debate can be said to argue for equality. Of course, this is likely due to the fact that both Shapiro and Broad are philosophers.