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Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

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XavierAlex

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Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#1  PostJanuary 10th, 2014, 9:10 am

Sartre's partner Simone de Beauvoir was a feminist and philosopher. But when I go through my memory banks, it seems that very few women are in the canon of philosophers. As Jack Nicholson said in one movie, when asked how he wrote about women so well (He wrote Romance novels): "I imagine men and take away reason and accountability". Is Jack Nicholson right? And women cannot be philosophers? I understand this may be very misogynist sounding, but in the inherent differences between men and women, what are some famous women who tackle the big philosophical questions, and do so with as much rigor as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, and so on?

And I understand there are women on this forum. And if you are, do you consider yourself a philosopher?

And lastly, I'm not speaking of women authors and poets. I mean bullet-point proofs, such as those by Wittgenstein.

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Theophane

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#2  PostJanuary 10th, 2014, 3:42 pm

Sartre's partner Simone de Beauvoir was a feminist and philosopher. But when I go through my memory banks, it seems that very few women are in the canon of philosophers.


Maybe that's because philosophy is androcentric (old boys' club). There aren't many women in the canon of science, either.
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Granth

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#3  PostJanuary 10th, 2014, 7:07 pm

Perhaps philosophy is predominately male neuroses.
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Theophane

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#4  PostJanuary 10th, 2014, 7:29 pm

What about Ayn Rand?
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Spectrum

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#5  PostJanuary 10th, 2014, 10:12 pm

Theophane wrote:What about Ayn Rand?

'What' is that?
Rand was bulls....
---------------------------------------------------------------

In the past, males has been dominating most of noticeable human activities while women had remained in the background. Naturally we do not expect to hear of many women philosophers then.

Currently more and more women are coming into the forefront of human endeavors including philosophy.
Check out w:ki's
h t t p://en.wik:pedia.org/w:ki/Category:Women_philosophers

The female sex has evolved with different mental focus (more holistic) from the males and they will contribute to widen the perspectives of existing philosophical views.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.
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Theophane

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#6  PostJanuary 11th, 2014, 9:32 am

Ayn Rand was the creator of Objectivist philosophy. She qualifies as a female philosopher.

(I agree with your assessment of Ayn Rand, btw.)
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Pastabake

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#7  PostJanuary 11th, 2014, 1:36 pm

When you consider the whole canon there aren't many philosophers full stop and while there seems to be many at the present day chalk face it'll be luck if even one of them is remembered in 100 years time let alone 3000.
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Theophane

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#8  PostJanuary 11th, 2014, 3:51 pm

Chalk face?
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Pastabake

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#9  PostJanuary 11th, 2014, 4:08 pm

Whiteboard, podium etc just don't sound as good.
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Larry

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#10  PostJanuary 11th, 2014, 4:32 pm

That the small number of women philosophers of the past recognized as being of the first rank has nothing to do with philosophical acumen or temperament is suggested by the accomplishments of women in contemporary philosophy. One example from history of a woman who may well have been the equal of a Hume or Kant is Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia (unfortunately a deposed princess). She did receive some recognition. Descartes dedicated his Principles of Philosophy to her. In correspondence, Elisabeth pushed Descartes on the question how an immaterial substance, the soul, could causally interact with a material substance, the body. This question went to the heart of Cartesian dualism, and, try as he might, Descartes was never able to give a satisfactory answer. It appears from her correspondence with Descartes that Elizabeth’s own position was physicalist. Perhaps it was part of a systematically worked out philosophy. We will never know for sure because no one thought it worthwhile to preserve her writings – except those letters to Descartes. For a striking example of the contribution of contemporary women philosophers, consider the trolley problem, one of the most celebrated philosophical puzzles of all time. The trolley problem is practically owned by women philosophers. First posed by Philippa Foot, it rose to prominence as result of the article by Judith Jarvis Thomson, and has received its most detailed analysis by Frances Kamm.
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Misty

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#11  PostJanuary 11th, 2014, 4:48 pm

XavierAlex wrote:Sartre's partner Simone de Beauvoir was a feminist and philosopher. But when I go through my memory banks, it seems that very few women are in the canon of philosophers. As Jack Nicholson said in one movie, when asked how he wrote about women so well (He wrote Romance novels): "I imagine men and take away reason and accountability". Is Jack Nicholson right? And women cannot be philosophers? I understand this may be very misogynist sounding, but in the inherent differences between men and women, what are some famous women who tackle the big philosophical questions, and do so with as much rigor as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, and so on?

And I understand there are women on this forum. And if you are, do you consider yourself a philosopher?

And lastly, I'm not speaking of women authors and poets. I mean bullet-point proofs, such as those by Wittgenstein.


One of my favorite women philosophers is Karen Armstrong. And all mothers IMHO are philosophers.
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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#12  PostJanuary 11th, 2014, 6:23 pm

I'm not a philosopher but I'm not even sure what that is. It seems like an uneven mix of science, intuition, experience and woo woo. Like many, I'm just interested in overviews of life and the universe, but lack the intelligence, aptitude and inclination to go into too much detail.

I've read that philosophy is increasingly being rendered irrelevant by science as the latter continues to definitely answer questions once debated by philosophers. Increasingly theoretical physicists, biologists, mathematicians and chemists are seeing their work expand into traditionally philosophical realms that were once the domain of poets, artists, clergy and philosophers and other unreliable traders of verities (I've had involvement with art and music, myself).

I suspect most women are too busy faffing around with kids (including the high maintenance big kid) to think too deeply about life, the universe and everything. Hence the continued existence of astrology and the popularity of new age bowerbirding of existential concepts - it's how far a seeking person can go when they don't have time to think.

When women realise their mental potential, you're more likely to find us in healthcare, law and economics. Given that some of the most powerful and well connected people on the planet believe strange ancient myths, and they are obviously doing just fine, it seems that what we believe when it comes to "the big things" largely only matters to ourselves.
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Msl0012au

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#13  PostJanuary 11th, 2014, 7:15 pm

Greta, my undergrad degree is in philosophy, so I don't know if that qualifies me to call myself a philosopher but I have spent considerable time on some of the questions in your opening paragraphs. I will say that your description of what a philosopher is rings utterly inaccurate. Intuition is generally dismissed as a useful tool by any professional philosopher (at least when it comes to philosophical arguments), and woo woo, whatever you mean specifically, reads like a kind of insult to those who take the profession seriously. As for philosophy's irrelevance in the face of science, I'm not sure who you've read but many of the scientists I know consider philosophy an invaluable interpretive tool when it comes to evaluating their data. To be sure, there are those who, as you mention, wish to reject its relevancy. My opinion is that philosophy can and does provide a meaningful check on science, both as setting the limits on scientific claims (if scientific data suggests something that is demonstrably philosophically false, then scientists must consider a reinterpretation of that data) and as a balance for ethical dilemmas in science. In addition, rarely did my study of philosophy include asking "big questions" about life and the universe (really, that's what scientists do, yes?); those kinds of questions were generally considered to lead to a lot of metaphysical baloney that amateur philosophers engage in but which professionals believe leads to the kind of woo woo I think you were referring to.

So what is philosophy? As a starting point, the discipline of philosophy can be said to be an investigation into the nature of human life (why do we believe, act, speak, and respond as we do to the world around us). Of course these questions can be influenced by disciplines outside of philosophy, just as every discipline is influenced by disciplines beyond the narrow scope of its purview. But scientists and mathematicians who find there work expanding into the philosophical realm must yield to the professional philosopher (unless they are egomaniacal jerks, in which case they are likely to find themselves being wrong) just as philosophers must yield to the professionals in other disciplines when using their work in a philosophical inquiry.

As to the question of women in the philosophical canon, I do not think we can exclude Elizabeth Anscombe. Then there is the question of just where you place people like Mary Wollstonecraft, Helene Cixous, and Julia Kristeva, who some consider philosophers (and that is the nature of the latter two's collegiate training) but which some associate more strongly with feminist or critical theory thought, fairly or unfairly. I will say that I had three female professors in my time in college who were all substantially published and more than qualified, and met several others from across the country both as visiting scholars and at conferences, so I claim unequivocally that there is nothing inherent in women that prevents them from being philosophers.
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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#14  PostJanuary 11th, 2014, 9:20 pm

Greta wrote:I'm not a philosopher but I'm not even sure what that is. It seems like an uneven mix of science, intuition, experience and woo woo. Like many, I'm just interested in overviews of life and the universe, but lack the intelligence, aptitude and inclination to go into too much detail.

I've read that philosophy is increasingly being rendered irrelevant by science as the latter continues to definitely answer questions once debated by philosophers. Increasingly theoretical physicists, biologists, mathematicians and chemists are seeing their work expand into traditionally philosophical realms that were once the domain of poets, artists, clergy and philosophers and other unreliable traders of verities (I've had involvement with art and music, myself).

As you had admitted you are not sure what that is and raise a few doubts -that admission and further doubting/questioning it is philosophizing itself, albeit in your case, crude philosophy rather than refine. You will be doing more philosophizing if you investigate further (if you have such inclinations) on these questions and doubts.

As Russell had stated, the value of philosophy is in the ongoing questioning process (implying doubting) not the relative answers.

IMO, philosophy is that fundamental impulse in humans that is almost (not exactly) as near as the breathing impulse. Its basic element is a trend of net-positive continuous improvement for the well-being of the individual, the specie and others.

Philosophy at the very basic level as an impulse is more fundamental than Science which is merely another faculty of Knowledge, albeit a very useful one.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.
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Greta

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Re: Women Philosophers: Do they exist?

Post Number:#15  PostJanuary 12th, 2014, 6:05 pm

Sorry, I'm actually not interested in who is or isn't a philosopher (there are many more interesting things) - what anyone thinks the word means. I shouldn't have replied to the question beyond saying "no" because I could defend my claims against yours but it would be long and I don't want to be drawn into it when there's other things I wish to explore.

Just one I won't let by because it sucks when people use the word "utterly" in a negative way against you :P The reason I said "woo woo", ie. unfounded beliefs was a glib (so sue me) reference to the fact that the history of philosophy is sprinkled with unfounded assertions that are either now looking shaky (Plato's dualism) or has since been fully disproved (too many to mention). Philosophical argument about the existence of God, other than the obvious absurdity of an anthropomorphised deity, is necessarily speculative rather than factual since none of us can actually know.

I would also argue that intuition is not just a useful tool but an absolutely essential one in discovery. Just because some people are unable to parse their intuitions from objective reality (as far as we know) does not invalidate intuition as an investigatory tool.
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