Damaris Cudworth Masham: A Seventeenth Century Feminist Philosopher

Hypatia 4 (1):80 - 90 (1989)
Abstract
The daughter of Ralph Cudworth, and friend of John Locke, Damaris Masham was also a philosopher in her own right. She published two, philosophical books, A Discourse Concerning the Love of God and Occasional Thoughts In Reference to a Virtuous and Christian Life. Her primary purpose was to refute John Norris' Malebranchian doctrine that we ought to love only God because only God can give us pleasure, and his criticism of Locke. In addition, she argues for greater educational opportunities for women, and an end to the double standard in sexual morality. Recent feminist literature has suggested that women and men may take different ethical and epistemological stands based on differences between the 'female experience', and the 'male experience'. While leaving aside questions pertaining to the accuracy of these suggestions, this paper discusses some aspects of Masham's thought which might be considered representative of the 'female experience.'.
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