The Equality of the Sexes: Three Feminist Texts of the Seventeenth Century

Paperback | October 18, 2013

byDesmond M. Clarke

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Desmond M. Clarke presents new translations of three of the first feminist tracts to support explicitly the equality of the sexes. The alleged inferiority of women's nature and the corresponding roles that women were (in)capable of exercising in society was debated in Western culture from thecivilization of ancient Greece to the establishment of early Christian churches. There had also been some proponents of women's superiority (in comparison with men) prior to the early modern period. In contrast with both of these claims, the seventeenth century witnessed the first publications thatargued for the equality of men and women. Among the most articulate and original defenders of that view were Marie le Jars de Gournay, Anna Maria van Schurman, and Francois Poulain de la Barre. Gournay published The Equality of Men and Women in Paris in 1622, while one of her Dutch correspondents, Van Schurman, published in Latin her Dissertation in support of women's education in 1641. Poulain wrote a radical Physical and Moral Discourse concerning the Equality of Both Sexes in 1673,which he also published in Paris. These three feminist tracts transformed the language and conceptual framework in which questions about women's equality or otherwise were subsequently discussed. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, anonymous plagiarized editions and pirated translationsof their works appeared in English, as "vindications" of the rights of women. This edition includes new translations, from French and Latin, of these three key texts, and excerpts from the authors' related writings, together with an extensive introduction to the religious and philosophical contextwithin which they argued against the traditional view of women's natural inferiority to men.

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Desmond M. Clarke presents new translations of three of the first feminist tracts to support explicitly the equality of the sexes. The alleged inferiority of women's nature and the corresponding roles that women were (in)capable of exercising in society was debated in Western culture from thecivilization of ancient Greece to the establ...

Desmond M. Clarke is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Ireland, Cork. He was awarded a D.Litt from the National University of Ireland, was a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute and a Fulbright Scholar, and is a member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is the author of a number of books on s...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.68 inPublished:October 18, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199673519

ISBN - 13:9780199673513

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsNote on the Texts and TranslationsIntroductionMarie le Jars de GournayThe Equality of Men and WomenThe Ladies' ComplaintAnna Maria van SchurmanA Dissertation on the Natural Capacity of Women for Study and LearningExcerpts from other writingsCorrespondenceEukleriaFrancois Poulain de la BarreA Physical and Moral Discourse concerning the Equality of Both SexesExcerpts from The Education of LadiesFurther ReadingIndex