Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Descartes and CartesianismEssays in Honour of Desmond Clarke$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Stephen Gaukroger and Catherine Wilson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198779643

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198779643.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021

Cartesianism and Its Feminist Promise and Limits

Cartesianism and Its Feminist Promise and Limits

The Case of Mary Astell

(p.191) 12 Cartesianism and Its Feminist Promise and Limits
Descartes and Cartesianism

Karen Detlefsen

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the moral and educational philosophy of Mary Astell (1666–1731), who took the Cartesian project—especially the dualism and championing of rational thought at its core—as offering immense promise to women. To borrow Poulain de la Barre’s phrase, the immaterial mind as the seat of distinctively human rational thought ‘has no sex’, and so Cartesian dualism—one of the very features of Descartes’ thought that twentieth-century feminists find most troublesome—provided her with an ontological basis for the radical egalitarianism of women’s and men’s natures as well as their modes of reasoning. Although she envisioned a community of benevolent women rather than a set of isolated enquirers, Cartesianism forms the foundation of many of her most important and women-friendly philosophical innovations.

Keywords:   René Descartes, Mary Astell, dualism, Johannes de Raey, feminism

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .