My university library has tentatively agreed to exhibit books by women philosophers in honour of world philosophy day, and I offered to advise them about names and titles. The exhibition will be small – one glass covered table full, so perhaps between 10 and 20 books, and, if they can find them, a couple of pictures. I was thinking of suggesting books that cover the widest possible timeline up to the present. What names would you suggest?
23 thoughts on “Reader query: which books by women for World Philosophy Day?”
The Iliad by Simone Weil
Margaret D. Wilson’s “Descartes”
Elizabeth Anscombe’s “Intention”
Maybe also Anne Conway’s “The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy”
de Beauvoir’s “Second Sex”
To my embarrassment I’ve only glanced at it, but Nancy Lee Swan’s Pan Chao: Foremost Woman Scholar of China has some translations of her work and might be a worth-while addition. (Ban Zhao in pinyin)
Though she’s properly categorized as a Jungian analyst, a bounty of philosophy is contained in: The Way of All Women, by M. Esther Harding, Longmans Green & Co., 1933.
I think it’s a wonderful essay, so let me timidly append to Jerry Detry’s comment that the full title is “The Iliad or the poem of Force.” Although at 24 pages it’s hardly a book….
(The NYRB edition with Rachel Bespaloff’s wonderful essay is one of my more treasured finds.)
Hannah Arendt, yes! I was going to suggest The Life of the Mind.
Judith Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself, or Undoing Gender
Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good
If you also want to cover a wide range of areas, I would suggest, in addition to many of the things named here (I really only have contemporary-ish ideas):
Kathrin Koslicki, ‘The Structure of Objects’
Penelope Mackie, ‘How Things Might Have Been’.
Margaret Atherton’s ‘Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period’.
Either of Rae Langton’s books–‘Sexual Solipsism’ and ‘Kantian Humility’ would be good choices.
Sally Haslanger’s ‘Resisting Reality’
Tamar Gendler’s ‘Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology’
I don’t know her work well, but it would be good to include something by Christine Korsgaard, because she’s clearly a powerhouse.
Likewise with Martha Nussbaum (I know her work better, there’s just a lot to choose from!)
Gillian Russell’s ‘Truth in Virtue of Meaning’
And don’t forget to include yourself!!!
Oh, and Charlotte Witt’s ‘Feminist Metaphysics’ would also be a great choice!
oops, I mean her ‘The Metaphysics of Gender’. (The Feminist Metaphysics book is great but I was assuming you were leaning more towards monographs than edited volumes.)
Angela Y. Davis, Women, Race & Class (1983) or Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003)
Susanne Langer, Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art (1953)
Patricia Hill Collins is not a philosopher by training, but her Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (1990) is certainly worthy of inclusion by virtue of its philosophical value. (Given the exclusionary tendencies of philosophy, I think it is well worth including philosophical work by women of color that has been done in other disciplines.)
Mary Wllstonecroft, Hannah Ardent, Susanne K. Langer, Simone De Beauvoir, Iris Murdoch, Mary Midgley.
Seyla Benhabib’s Situating the Self.
You know, the more I think about this, the more concerned I get. One table? 10-20 books? There are many women Philosophers. Our work has been and continues to be a significant part of current work in Philosophy: Cora Diamond; Naomi Scheman; Martha Nussbaum; logicians like Ruth Barkan Marcus; philosophers of science like Evelyn Fox Keller and Sandra Harding and their students. Look at the list that you all have generated so far: it spans several generations and reflects important work in several sub-fields as well as work that questions the boundaries of discipline. These names are just the beginning of a very long list. Will a table of 10-20 books, a table we take as a small cut into a very large group of significant works, be seen instead as a curious display of that odd phenomenon, ‘a woman philosopher’?
Although clearly original work is more valuable/important, if you want to show that women are also writing textbooks…there are several Critical Thinking texts by women (Anne Thomson, Wanda Teays, myself). Also, “What If…Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy” – again not original work…PITY you have room for so few. I’m hoping that all these suggestions gives you evidence to request MORE.
Anything by M. Nussbaum!
i agree, 10-20 books is not much.referring to the specialty this item is treated by in science world, sounds like the majority regards the category ‘feminist philosophers’ as a part of a freak show.
i suggest john stuart mill, emma goldmann, simone de beauvoir, carole pateman, nancy fraser, wendy brown, katia saporiti
german speaking but also in english : eva kreisky, birgit sauer, marion löffler, gundula ludwig.
I second Nussbaum, as well as Wilson’s “Descartes.” What about something by Amy Gutmann? Also, Young’s “Justice and the Politics of Difference.”
I hope that all philosophers (particularly women philosophers) will consider the horrific breaches of women’s human rights throughout the world on World Philosophy Day. Here are 3 books that I would recommend:
Are Women Human?: And Other International Dialogues by Catharine A Mackinnon
Women’s Rights, Human Rights: International Feminist Perspectives edited by J. S. Peters and Andrea Wolper
Womens Human Rights by Niamh Reilly
I’m surprised Patricia Churchland hasn’t been mentioned yet. I’m not very well read (yet!) in philosophy, but she is one of the few women philosophers whose name I regularly encounter in texts and discussions.
I’d say Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Bitch. It’s not philosophy in the academic sense, but it raises many issues of especial significance to women, it’s thought-provoking, eloquent, dynamic, and fascinating which, I’d say, is a fair definition of philosophy.
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