Women Philosophers: The Website

Kate Lindeman has created a really wonderful website on women philosophers. Just a few seconds of reading got me all these great facts, previously unknown to me:

  • A few thousand years before Pythagoras (the Father of Philosophy), a woman known as En Hedu’Anna was doing philosophy. She lived in the Middle East, in the area now designated as Syria and/or Iraq.
  • A woman who became Empress of the Roman Empire restored philosophy to Rome after all the active philosophers had been killed or exiled by Nero.
  • A woman philosopher is one of Japan’s great epic authors.
  • The work of a female British philosopher established the distinction between philosophy and the empirical sciences that is generally accepted in Western universities.
  • The site is a part of a large-scale project that Lindeman hopes to expand to include more and more women philosophers. This is really important stuff, even if you’re not a historian. Sally Haslanger has argued, drawing on the work of Virginia Valian, that women in philosophy may be hampered by the fact that many of us have unconscious schemas for woman and philosopher that are incompatible. One thing that can help to undermine this is awareness of all the philosophers who have been women. So sites like this can potentially make a real difference.  (By the way, there’s some more discussion of Haslanger’s excellent paper starting here and here.  Head on over and join in!) Lindeman is looking for people to help in the Women Philosophers project. If you have something to offer, go here

    Update: yet more discussion of Haslanger’s paper here

    4 thoughts on “Women Philosophers: The Website

    1. Something that Haslanger’s argument makes me wonder is whether ‘continental’ philosophy might be more hospitable to women because the schema for a continental philosopher is closer to that for a woman. That is, if the schema is that a continental philosopher is someone for whom reading and interpreting texts is a central activity, thinking historically is important, and who might see questions of writing, style, and aesthetics as central too – this seems closer to the schema for a woman if the latter involves sensitivity, relating to others, interest in the ‘humanities’ rather than the ‘sciences’. I’m not defending these associations. I also don’t think male continental philosophers are necessarily any less sexist as individuals than male analytic philosophers. But I do wonder if this closer fit between the schemas might have something to do with what seems to me anecdoctally to be the case, i.e. that women are proportionally better represented in continental philosophy? (and nb all the journals Haslanger discusses are entirely or predominantly analytic) On the other hand, I don’t have any evidence for the latter – if anyone has any statistics on this I’d be very interested to see them!

    2. I just discovered your blog this AM and want to say “Thanks” for providing this voice in the world. We will never restore what I call our “wild resiliency”, our love of life, without restoring the feminine to its rightful place of honor and respect, with equal voice and rights. Thanks.

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