An Unconventional History of Western Philosophy: Conversations Between Men and Women Philosophers

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Gender scholarship during the last four decades has shown that the exclusion of women's voices and perspectives has diminished academic disciplines in important ways. Traditional scholarship in philosophy is no different. The 'recovery project' in philosophy is engaged in re-discovering the names, lives, texts, and perspectives of women philosophers from the 6th Century BCE to the present. Karen Warren brings together 16 colleagues for a unique, groundbreaking study of Western philosophy which combines pairs of leading men and women philosophers over the past 2600 years, acknowledging and evaluating their contributions to foundational themes in philosophy, including epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Introductory essays, primary source readings, and commentaries comprise each chapter to offer a rich and accessible introduction to and evaluation of these vital philosophical contributions. A helpful appendix canvasses an extraordinary number of women philosophers for further discovery and study.

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Editorial Reviews

Jacqueline Broad
This ground-breaking work has the potential to have a profoundly positive impact on philosophy as a discipline. Contemporary philosophers are nearly always engaged in dialogues with the past, and this book will help them to engage with female as well as male historical figures. It will enhance our appreciation of women’s capacity for rigorous philosophical thought, enlarge our understanding of the parameters of philosophy itself, and promote a new perspective on the discipline as a co-operative, gender-inclusive enterprise. For the first time, teachers and students of philosophy are being offered a truly accurate and balanced introduction to the history of their subject.
Margaret Atherton
Karen Warren's anthology provides a unique opportunity to integrate women philosophers into the history of philosophy by setting individual women philosophers into conversation with the men who have previously constituted philosophy's history. The numerous supporting materials will make this collection especially useful, most notably the first rate commentaries that have been commissioned for this volume.
Janet Kourany
Finally all the makings of a student-friendly, fully gender-inclusive history of philosophy course—primary and secondary literature by men and women philosophers from the Greeks to the twentieth century—and all rolled into one attractive book. It's a pity we had to wait centuries for this book. Still, it was worth the wait.
Deane Curtin
For those of us who were trained to teach the philosophical canon, this extraordinary anthology is both unsettling and liberating. It is unsettling because it provides the clearest possible challenge to the view that we can offer our students the best account of our discipline simply by adding a female voice to the traditional list of important male philosophers. It is liberating because, having decided that we need to teach our courses differently, this anthology makes truly inclusive teaching practical. In addition to pairing selections from female and male philosophers, the volume includes compelling introductory comments by Professor Warren, and a dream team of some of the most distinguished feminist commentators. A revolutionary book.
Michael E. Zimmerman
An Unconventional History of Western Philosophy is an extraordinary resource. This landmark study of the development of Western thought is an exceptionally thoughtful, well-organized, informative, and above all important book, which accomplishes what needed to be done decades ago, namely, to document the significant role played by women thinkers throughout the history of Western philosophy. Highly recommended for everyone interested in a deeper understanding of why we think the way we do.
Gareth B. Matthews
What a liberating way to think about the history of Western philosophy! The hitherto barely audible voices of women are here brought into robust dialogue with their great male contemporaries. This book will be enlightening and provocative for teachers as well as for students.
Nancy Tuana
A finely crafted and long awaited addition to courses in philosophy that successfully resolves the 'woman question' in the history of philosophy. Warren has skillfully fashioned a series of dialogues—between women and men philosophers as well as contemporary and past philosophers—that provides an excellent foundation for students to better understand the nature of philosophy and give them the skills they need to fully engage philosophical texts, while at the same time coming to appreciate the significance of the contributions of women to philosophy.
Duane L. Cady
Perhaps the most important development in Western philosophy during the past fifty years has been the reconception of philosophy arising from the feminist critique. Critical reconsiderations of the field have extended well beyond gender to include race, class, sexual orientation, violence, environmentalism, and more, focused on interconnections among longstanding presumptions. Unfortunately, academic philosophy has been slow to mainstream lost, ignored, and marginalized philosophic sources. Karen Warren's Unconventional History makes an important corrective step, providing students and scholars with revisionary dialogues to replace the more typical historical monologue. Professor Warren has carefully paired men and women philosophers to reveal the subtleties and complexities of multiple perspectives on traditional philosophic issues. Warren's work fills a void long overdue for filling.
December 2009 CHOICE
An Unconventional History is so thorough and substantial in style and content that it could be the backbone for major programs in philosophy and women's studies. Highly recommended.
Ellen K. Feder
This collection is an important corrective to conventional presentations of Western philosophy that write women out of its history. Juxtaposing prominent thinkers, male and female, throughout major periods of the development of the discipline, students will be provided a more complete picture of the history of philosophy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742559240
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 1/16/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 572
  • Sales rank: 1,421,782
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.01 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen J. Warren is professor of philosophy at Macalester College. She is a pioneer in ecofeminist philosophy and is the author of Ecofeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What It is and Why It Matters.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Foreword: Including Women in "Ancient and Medieval Philosophies" Chapter 3 Lead Essay: "2600 Years of the History of Western Philosophy Without Women: This Book as a Unique, Gender Inclusive Alternative" Part 4 Chapter One: Plato and Diotima Chapter 5 Introduction Chapter 6 Selections from Plato (Excerpts from the Symposium and the Phaedrus) Chapter 7 Selection from Diotima (Excerpts from the Symposium) Chapter 8 Commentary Part 9 Chapter Two: Aristotle and Late Pythagorean Women Chapter 10 Introduction Chapter 11 Selections from Aristotle (Excerpts from Nicomachean Ethics, Metaphysics) Chapter 12 Selection from Late Pythagorean Women (Excerpts from Letters from "Theano to Euboule," "Theano to Kallisto," "Theano to Nikostrate;" and Periktione's, "On the Harmony of Women;" Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras) Chapter 13 Commentary Part 14 Chapter Three: Augustine and Hildegard Chapter 15 Introduction Chapter 16 Selections from St. Augustine (Excerpts from Confessions, Literal Commentary on Genesis, and Trinity) Chapter 17 Selections from Hildegard (Excerpts from Scivias, Book of Divine Works, Hildegard ofBingen: Mystical Writings) Chapter 18 Commentary Part 19 Chapter Four: Abelard and Heloise Chapter 20 Introduction Chapter 21 Selections from Abelard (Excerpts from The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard, Historia Calamitatum, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise) Chapter 22 Selections from Heloise (Excerpts from The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise) Chapter 23 Commentary Part 24 Chapter Five: Descartes and Elisabeth Chapter 25 Introduction Chapter 26 Selection from Descartes (Excerpts from A Philosophical Correspondence: ElisabethPrincess Palatine and Rene Descartes) Chapter 27 Selection from Elisabeth (Excerpts from A Philosophical Correspondence: Elisabeth Princess Palatine and Rene Descartes) Chapter 28 Commentary Part 29 Chapter Six: Hobbes and Macaulay Chapter 30 Introduction Chapter 31 Selection from Hobbes (Excerpts from Leviathan) Chapter 32 Selections from Macaulay (Excerpts from Letters on Education) Chapter 33 Commentary Part 34 Chapter Seven: Locke and Masham Chapter 35 Introduction Chapter 36 Selection from Masham (Excerpts from Occasional Thoughts In Reference to a Virtuous or Christian Life) Chapter 37 Selection from Locke (Excerpts from An Essay Concerning Human Understanding) Chapter 38 Commentary Part 39 Chapter Eight: Leibniz and Conway Chapter 40 Introduction Chapter 41 Selection from Leibniz (Excerpts from Monadology) Chapter 42 Selections from Conway (Excerpts from Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy) Chapter 43 Commentary Part 44 Chapter Nine: Rousseau and Wollstonecraft Chapter 45 Introduction Chapter 46 Selections from Rousseau (Excerpts from Èmile and The Social Contract) Chapter 47 Selection from Wollstonecraft (Excerpts from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman) Chapter 48 Commentary Part 50 Chapter Ten: Kant and Van Schurman Chapter 51 Introduction Chapter 52 Selection from Kant ("Introduction" to the Critique of Pure Reason) Chapter 53 Selection from van Schurman (Excerpts from The Learned Maid) Chapter 54 Commentary Part 55 Chapter Eleven: Mill and Taylor Chapter 56 Introduction Chapter 57 Selection from Mill (Excerpts from The Subjection of Women) Chapter 58 Selection from Taylor (Excerpts from The Enfranchisement of Women) Chapter 59 Commentary Part 60 Chapter Twelve: Heidegger and Arendt Chapter 61 Introduction Chapter 62 Selections from Heidegger (Excerpts from "Letter on Humanism") Chapter 63 Selections from Arendt (Excerpts from "Thinking and Moral Considerations: ALecture") Chapter 64 Commentary Part 65 Chapter Thirteen: Dewey and Addams Chapter 66 Introduction Chapter 67 Selections from Dewey (Excerpts from Theories of Knowledge and Creative Democracy -The Task Before Us) Chapter 68 Selections from Addams (Excerpts from "A Modern Lear" and "Introduction" to Democracy and Social Ethics) Chapter 69 Commentary Part 70 Chapter Fourteen: Wittgenstein and Anscombe Chapter 71 Selection from Wittgenstein (Excerpts from Philosophical Investigations) Chapter 72 Selection from Anscombe (Excerpts from Intention and "The Justice of the Present War Examined') Chapter 73 Commentary Part 74 Chapter Fifteen: Sartre and Beauvoir Chapter 75 Introduction Chapter 76 Selection from Sartre (Excerpt from Being and Nothingness) Chapter 77 Selection from Beauvoir (Excerpts from The Second Sex and She Came to Stay) Chapter 78 Commentary Part 79 Glossary of Key Terms Part 80 Appendix A: Some Women Philosophers in the History of Western Philosophy Part 81 Appendix B: "2600 Years of Gender Exclusive Philosophy: Enough is Enough!A Student Perspective by the Book's Research Assistant"

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