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The Suspicion of Virtue: Women Philosophers in Neoclassical France

The Suspicion of Virtue: Women Philosophers in Neoclassical France

by John J. Conley


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The salon was of particular importance in mid- to late-seventeenth-century France, enabling aristocratic women to develop a philosophical culture that simultaneously reflected and opposed the dominant male philosophy. In The Suspicion of Virtue, John J. Conley, S. J., explores the moral philosophies developed by five women authors of that milieu: Madame de Sablé, Madame Deshoulières, Madame de la Sabliére, Mlle de la Vallière, and Madame de Maintenon. Through biography, extensive translation, commentary, and critical analysis, The Suspicion of Virtue presents the work of women who participated in the philosophical debates of the early modern period but who have been largely erased from the standard history of philosophy. Conley examines the various literary genres (maxim, ode, dialogue) in which these authors presented their moral theory. He also unveils the philosophical complexity of the arguments presented by these women and of the salon culture that nurtured their preoccupations. Their pointed critiques of virtue as a mask of vice, Conley asserts, are relevant to current controversy over the revival of virtue theory by contemporary ethicians.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801440205
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 09/18/2002
Edition description: Bilingual
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Conley, S.J., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. He is coeditor of Prophecy and Diplomacy: The Moral Doctrine of John Paul II.

What People are Saying About This

Eileen O'Neill

"In the Renaissance, Castiglione painted the social and moral concerns of the men of the Italian court—a world outside of academic and ecclesiastical institutions; through meticulous translations and unsurpassed archival research, John Conley reveals the scrutiny of the virtues by seventeenth-century aristocratic women writers of a comparable world for women: the Parisian salons. He exposes, for the first time, the original ideas behind the maxims, devotional reflections and pastoral idylls,which go beyond Jansenist, Quietist, sceptical fideist, and Epicurean influences."

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