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

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The historical exclusion of women's voices has diminished academic disciplines, including philosophy. In this groundbreaking new account of Western philosophy throughout the past 2,600 years, Karen J. Warren has paired sixteen women philosophers along-side their historical male contemporaries in conversations on philosophy. An overview essay, together with chapter introductions, primary readings, and expert commentaries, offer a rich description and evaluation of each philosopher's vital contributions to Western philosophy.
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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
  • 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

Foreword: Including Women in "Ancient and Medieval Philosophies" Henry R. West xi

Preface Karen J. Warren xiii

Lead Essay: 2,600 Years of the History of Western Philosophy Without Women: This Book as a Unique, Gender-Inclusive Alternative Karen J. Warren 1

1 Plato and Diotima 27

Introduction Karen J. Warren 27

Excerpts of Writings by Plato and Speech Attributed to Diotima 36

Diotima and Plato: On Love, Desire, and Wisdom Commentary by Eve A. Browning 53

2 Aristotle and the Late Pythagorean Women Periktione and Theano 63

Introduction Karen J. Warren 63

Excerpts of Writings by Aristotle and the Late Pythagorean Women 67

The Late Pythagorean Women and Aristotle: Contextual Ethics Commentary by Vicki Lynn Harper 78

3 Augustine and Hildegard 93

Introduction Karen J. Warren 93

Excerpts of Writings by Augustine and Hildegard 97

Hildegard of Bingen and Augustine of Hippo: A Conversation Across Centuries Commentary by Judith Chelius Stark 115

4 Abelard and Heloise 127

Introduction Karen J. Warren 127

Excerpts of Writings by Abelard and Heloise 131

Heloise and Abelard: Love, Sex, and Morality Commentary by Mary Ellen Waithe 147

5 Descartes and Elisabeth 157

Introduction Karen J. Warren 157

Excerpts of Writings from the Correspondence of Descartes and Elisabeth 161

Princess Elisabeth and Descartes: A Philosophical Correspondence Commentary by Andrea Nye 177

6 Hobbes and Macaulay 189

Introduction Karen J. Warren 189

Excerpts of Writings by Hobbes and Macaulay 193

Macaulay and Hobbes: Citizens and Subjects Commentary by Catherine Villanueva Gardner 211

7 Locke and Masham 223

Introduction Karen J. Warren223

Excerpts of Writings by Locke and Masham 228

Masham and Locke: Reason, Religion, and Education Commentary by Lois Frankel 245

8 Leibniz and Conway 259

Introduction Karen J. Warren 259

Excerpts of Writings by Leibniz and Conway 263

Conway and Leibniz: The Ideal and the Real Commentary by Jane Duran 277

9 Rousseau and Wollstonecraft 289

Introduction Karen J. Warren 289

Excerpts of Writings by Rousseau and Wollstonecraft 293

Wollstonecraft and Rousseau: Philosophers of Controversy Commentary by Kate Lindemann 305

10 Kant and van Schurman 317

Introduction Karen J. Warren 317

Excerpts of Writings by Kant and van Schurman 323

van Schurman and Kant: Logic in The Learned Maid; Thinking in Critique of Pure Reason Commentary by Therese Boos Dykeman 342

11 Mill and Taylor 355

Introduction Karen J. Warren 355

Excerpts of Writings by Mill and Taylor 359

Taylor and Mill: Joining Forces to Contest the Subordination of Women Commentary by Jo Ellen Jacobs 380

12 Heidegger and Arendt 389

Introduction Karen J. Warren 389

Excerpts of Writings by Heidegger and Arendt 392

Arendt and Heidegger: The Life of the Mind, the Life of Action Commentary by Elizabeth Minnich 404

13 Dewey and Addams 419

Introduction Karen J. Warren 419

Excerpts of Writings by Dewey and Addams 423

Addams and Dewey: Pragmatism, Expression, and Community Commentary by Marilyn Fischer 441

14 Wittgenstein and Anscombe 455

Introduction Karen J. Warren 455

Excerpts of Writings by Wittgenstein and Anscombe 460

Anscombe and Wiggenstein: A Public Voice for Philosophy Commentary by Joy Laine 476

15 Sartre and Beauvoir 489

Introduction Karen J. Warren 489

Excerpts of Writings by Sartre and Beauvoir 493

Beauvoir and Sartre: The Problem of the Other Commentary by Edward Fullbrook and Margaret A. Simons 509

Appendix A Some Women Philosophers 525

Appendix B 2,600 Years of Gender-Exclusive Philosophy: Enough is Enough! A Student Perspective by the Book's Research Assistant Audun Solli 531

Glossary 535

About the Contributors 551

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