About this topic

Feminist history of philosophy is a reclamation and reformation project focused on the history of western philosophy.  It has several facets.  One facet is a critical analysis of the misogyny and sexism in individual canonical philosophers.  Some feminist historians of philosophy extend their critique to the western philosophical tradition as a whole.  A second facet focuses on restoring women philosophers and their works to the historical record.  Included in this project is the elevation of important women philosophers to the canon and to the philosophical conversation of their period.  A third aspect of feminist history of philosophy includes reflections on what one is doing in doing the history of philosophy as a feminist; how to go about making the philosophical tradition more inclusive of women and other excluded voices; and whether or not—and in what way-- the history of philosophy can be a resource for feminist theory, or for emancipatory theoretical projects more broadly.

Key works

Two pioneering books in feminist history of philosophy, which contain overviews of the western philosophical tradition, are Lloyd 1993 and Okin 1980.   The landmark Re-Reading the Canon series has over thirty volumes of feminist interpretations of historical and canonical philosophers, beginning with feminist interpretations of Plato. Tuana 1994 Works that discuss problems of method in the history of philosophy include Lloyd 2002 and Alanen & Witt 2004.  The continental feminist perspective(s) on the history of philosophy is represented by Irigaray & Kuykendall 1989Le Dœuff 1991 and Deutscher 1997.  


The encyclopedia article Witt 2008 provides an introduction and a bibliography for feminist history of philosophy.    

Related categories

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  1. Book Review: Jo Ellen Jacobs Assistant Edited by Paula Harms Payne. The Complete Works of Harriet Taylor Mill. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998. [REVIEW]Ruth Abbey - 2001 - Hypatia 16 (1):94-98.
  2. Feminist Philosophy and the Women's Movement.Kathryn Pyne Addelson - 1994 - Hypatia 9 (3):216 - 224.
    Feminist philosophy is now an established subdiscipline, but it began as an effort to transform the profession. Academics and activists worked together to make the new courses, and feminist theory was tested in the streets. As time passed, the "second wave" receded, but core elements of feminist theory were preserved in the academy. How can feminist philosophers today continue the early efforts of changing profession and the society, hand in hand with women outside the academy.
  3. Remembering Hypatia's Birth: It Took a Village.Azizah Al-Hibri - 2013 - Hypatia 28 (2):399-403.
  4. Feminist Reflections on the History of Philosophy.Lilli Alanen & Charlotte Witt (eds.) - 2004 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    Feminist work in the history of philosophy has come of age as an innovative field in the history of philosophy. This volume marks that accomplishment with original essays by leading feminist scholars who ask basic questions: What is distinctive of feminist work in the history of philosophy? Is there a method that is distinctive of feminist historical work? How can women philosophers be meaningfully included in the history of the discipline? Who counts as a philosopher? This collection is a unique (...)
  5. The Blackwell Guide to Feminist Philosophy.Linda Alcoff & Eva Feder Kittay (eds.) - 2007 - Blackwell.
  6. Mary Ellen Waithe, Ed., A History of Women Philosophers, Volume II: Medieval, Renaissance and Enlightenment Women Philosophers/AD 500-1600 Reviewed By. [REVIEW]R. S. M. Allen Sr - 1991 - Philosophy in Review 11 (2):142-144.
  7. Mary Ellen Waithe, Ed., A History of Women Philosophers (Volume 1/600BC-500AD) Reviewed By.R. S. M. Allen Sr - 1988 - Philosophy in Review 8 (11):464-466.
  8. A History of Women Philosophers, Volume II: Medieval, Renaissance and Enlightenment Women Philosophers/A.D. 500-1600. [REVIEW]Prudence Allen - 1991 - Review of Metaphysics 44 (3):660-662.
  9. After Cursing the Library: Iris Murdoch and the (In)Visibility of Women in Philosophy.Marije Altorf - 2011 - Hypatia 26 (2):384-402.
    This article offers a critical reading of three major biographies of the British novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch. It considers in particular how a limited concern for gender issues has hampered their portrayals of Murdoch as a creator of images and ideas. The biographies are then contrasted to a biographical sketch constructed from Murdoch's philosophical writing. The assessment of the biographies is set against the larger background of the relation between women and philosophy. In doing so, the paper offers a (...)
  10. David Hume.Rani Lill Anjum & Kjersti Fjørtoft - 1999 - In Linda Rustad & Hilde Bondevik (eds.), Kjønnsperspektiver i filosofihistorien. Pax Forlag.
  11. Women in Western Political Thought By Susan Moller Okin Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980, 371 Pp., £13.60, £2.50 Paper. [REVIEW]Julia Annas - 1980 - Philosophy 55 (214):564-.
  12. A Mind of One's Own: Feminist Essays on Reason and Objectivity.Louise M. Antony & Charlotte Witt (eds.) - 2002 - Westview Press.
    A book of tremendous influence when it first appeared, A Mind of One's Own reminded readers that the tradition of Western philosophy-- in particular, the ideals of reason and objectivity-- has come down to us from white males, nearly all of whom are demonstrably sexist, even misogynist. In this second edition, the original authors continue to ask, What are the implications of this fact for contemporary feminists working within this tradition? The second edition pursues this question about the value of (...)
  13. Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period.Margaret Atherton (ed.) - 1994 - Hackett Publishing Company.
    An important selection from the largely unknown writings of women philosophers of the early modern period. Each selection is prefaced by a headnote giving a biographical account of its author and setting the piece in historical context. Atherton’s Introduction provides a solid framework for assessing these works and their place in modern philosophy.
  14. Representative Women: Slavery, Citizenship, and Feminist Theory in Du Bois's “Damnation of Women”.Lawrie Balfour - 2005 - Hypatia 20 (3):127-148.
  15. Engendering Origins: Critical Feminist Readings in Plato and Aristotle.Bat-Ami Bar On (ed.) - 1993 - State University of New York Press.
    This book introduces feminist voices into the study of Platonic and Aristotelian texts that modern Western philosophy has treated as foundational. The book concerns the extent to which Platonic and Aristotelian texts are redeemably sexist, masculinist, or phallocentric.
  16. Modern Engendering: Critical Feminist Readings in Modern Western Philosophy.Bat-Ami Bar On (ed.) - 1993 - State University of New York Press.
    This book contains readings of canonical Western philosophical texts from the viewpoint of current feminist thinking. The contributors focus specifically on the ways in which modern Western philosophy constructs genders and analyzes gender relations. They provide a detailed analysis of modern philosophers’ conceptions of masculinity and femininity and call attention to the intertwining of gender with conceptual schema and networks.
  17. Definition and the Question of “Woman”.Victoria Barker - 1997 - Hypatia 12 (2):185-215.
    Within recent feminist philosophy, controversy has developed over the desirability, and indeed, the possibility of defining the central terms of its analysis-"woman," "femininity," etc. The controversy results largely from the undertheorization of the notion of definition; feminists have uncritically adopted an Aristotelian treatment of definition as entailing metaphysical, rather than merely linguistic, commitments. A "discursive" approach to definition, by contrast, allows us to define our terms, while avoiding the dangers of essentialism and universalism.
  18. The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Gendered Phenomenologies, Erotic Generosities, And: Sex and Existence: Simone de Beauvoir's 'The Second Sex', And: Beauvoir and The Second Sex : Feminism, Race, and the Origins of Existentialism, And: Philosophy as Passion: The Thinking of Simone de Beauvoir (Review).Nancy Bauer - 1999 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 37 (4):688-691.
  19. The Social, Political and Philosophical Works of Catharine Beecher.Catharine Esther Beecher, Dorothy G. Rogers & Therese Boos Dykeman - 2002
  20. On Hegel, Women, and Irony.Seyla Benhabib - 2002 - In Genevieve Lloyd (ed.), Feminism and History of Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
  21. A Republican Housewife: Marie‐Jeanne Phlipon Roland on Women's Political Role.Sandrine Bergès - 2016 - Hypatia 31 (1):107-122.
    In this paper I look at the philosophical struggles of one eighteenth-century woman writer to reconcile a desire and obvious capacity to participate in the creation of republican ideals and their applications on the one hand, and on the other a deeply held belief that women's role in a republic is confined to the domestic realm. I argue that Marie-Jeanne Phlipon Roland's philosophical writings—three unpublished essays, published and unpublished letters, as well as parts of her memoirs—suggest that even though she (...)
  22. Sophie de Grouchy on the Cost of Domination in the Letters on Sympathy and Two Anonymous Articles in Le Republicain.Sandrine Berges - 2015 - The Monist 98 (1):102-112.
    Political writings of eighteenth-century France have been so far mostly overlooked as a source of republican thought. Philosophers such as Condorcet actively promoted the ideal of republicanism in ways that can shed light on current debates. In this paper, I look at one particular source: Le Republicain, published in the summer 1791, focusing on previously unattributed articles by Condorcet’s wife and collaborator, Sophie de Grouchy. Grouchy, a philosopher in her own right, is beginning to be known for her Letters on (...)
  23. A Feminist Perspective on Virtue Ethics.Sandrine Berges - 2015 - palgrave macmillan.
    The writings of women philosophers have often been neglected in the discipline of virtue ethics. In this historical survey of feminist virtue ethics, Sandrine Berges redresses the balance by focusing on key writings of important women philosophers, including Perictione, Heloise, Christine de Pizan, Mary Wollstonecraft and Sophie de Grouchy. A Feminist Perspective on Virtue Ethics first applies the findings of its historical survey to questions on the ethics of care, gender and the public life, and global justice. In what follows, (...)
  24. Rethinking Twelfth Century Ethics: The Contribution of Heloise.Sandrine Berges - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (4):667-687.
    Twelfth-century ethics is commonly thought of as following a stoic in fl uence rather than an Aristotelian o ne. It is also assumed that these two schools are widely different, in particular with regards to the social aspect of the virtuous life. In this paper I argue that this picture is misleading and that Heloise of Argenteuil recognized that stoic ethics did not entail isolation but could be played out in a social context. I argue that her philosophical contribution does (...)
  25. Teaching Christine de Pizan in Turkey.Sandrine Berges - 2013 - Gender and Education 25 (5):595-605.
    An important part of making philosophy as a discipline gender equal is to ensure that female authors are not simply wiped out of the history of philosophy. This has implications for teaching as well as research. In this context, I reflect on my experience of teaching a text by medieval philosopher Christine de Pizan as part of an introductory history of philosophy course taught to Turkish students in law, political science, and international relations. I describe the challenges I encountered, the (...)
  26. The Routledge Guidebook to Wollstonecraft's a Vindication of the Rights of Woman.Sandrine Berges - 2013 - Routledge.
    Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the greatest philosophers and writers of the Eighteenth century. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Her most celebrated and widely-read work is _A Vindication of the Rights of Woman_. This Guidebook introduces: Wollstonecraft’s life and the background to _A Vindication of the Rights of Woman_ The ideas and text of _A Vindication of the Rights of Woman_ Wollstonecraft’s (...)
  27. Why Women Hug Their Chains: Wollstonecraft and Adaptive Preferences.Sandrine Berges - 2011 - Utilitas (1):72-87.
    In a recent article, Amartya Sen writes that one important influence on his theory of adaptive preferences is Wollstonecraft's account of how some women, though clearly oppressed, are apparently satisfied with their lot. Wollstonecraft's arguments have received little attention so far from contemporary political philosophers, and one might be tempted to dismiss Sen's acknowledgment as a form of gallantry. That would be wrong. Wollstonecraft does have a lot of interest to say on the topic of why her contemporaries appeared to (...)
  28. February 22, 2001: Toward a Politics of the Vulnerable Body.Debra Bergoffen - 2003 - Hypatia 18 (1):116-134.
  29. The Logic of the Development of Feminism; or, Is MacKinnon to Feminism as Parmenides Is to Greek Philosophy?Susan E. Bernick - 1992 - Hypatia 7 (1):1-15.
    Catharine MacKinnon's investigation of the role of sexuality in the subordination of women is a logical culmination of radical feminist thought. If this is correct, the position of her work relative to radical feminism is analogous to the place Parmenides's work occupied in ancient Greek philosophy. Critics of MacKinnon's work have missed their target completely and must engage her work in a different way if feminist theory is to progress past its current stalemated malaise.
  30. At the Crossroads: Latina Identity and Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex.Stephanie Rivera Berruz - 2016 - Hypatia 31 (2):319-333.
    Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex has been heralded as a canonical text of feminist theory. The book focuses on providing an account of the lived experience of woman that generates a condition of otherness. However, I contend that it falls short of being able to account for the multidimensionality of identity insofar as Beauvoir's argument rests upon the comparison between racial and gendered oppression that is understood through the black–white binary. The result of this framework is the imperceptibility of (...)
  31. The Interruptive Feminine: Aleatory Time and Feminist Politics.Emanuela Bianchi - 2012 - In Henriette Gunkel, Chrysanthi Nigianni & Fanny Söderbäck (eds.), Undutiful Daughters: New Directions in Feminist Thought and Practice. Palgrave-Macmillan.
  32. Material Vicissitudes and Technical Wonders: The Ambiguous Figure of Automaton in Aristotle's Metaphysics of Sexual Difference.Emanuela Bianchi - 2006 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 11 (1):109-139.
    In Aristotle’s physics and biology, matter’s capacity for spontaneous, opaque, chance deviation is named by automaton and marked with a feminine sign, while at the same time these mysterious motions are articulated, rendered knowable and predictable via the figure of ta automata, the automatic puppets. This paper traces how automaton functions in the Aristotelian text as a symptomatic crossing-point, an uncanny and chiasmatic figure in which materiality and logos, phusis, and technē, death and life, masculine and feminine, are intertwined and (...)
  33. Receptacle/Chōra: Figuring the Errant Feminine in Plato's Timaeus.Emanuela Bianchi - 2006 - Hypatia 21 (4):124-146.
    This essay undertakes a reexamination of the notion of the receptacle/chōra in Plato's Timaeus, asking what its value may be to feminists seeking to understand the topology of the feminine in Western philosophy. As the source of cosmic motion as well as a restless figurality, labile and polyvocal, the receptacle/chōra offers a fecund zone of destabilization that allows for an immanent critique of ancient metaphysics. Engaging with Derridean, Irigarayan, and Kristevan analyses, Bianchi explores whether receptacle/chōra can exceed its reduction to (...)
  34. Renaturalizing the Body.Carol Bigwood - 1991 - Hypatia 6 (3):54-73.
    Some poststructuralist feminist theorists hold that the body is merely the product of cultural determinants and that gender is a free-floating artifice. I discuss how this "denaturalization" of gender and the body entrenches us yet deeper in the nature/culture dichotomy. The body, I maintain, needs to be "renaturalized" so that its earthy significance is recognized. Through a feminist reappropriation of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of the body, I develop a noncausal linkage between gender and the body. I present the body as an (...)
  35. Kant's and Hegel's Moral Rationalism: A Feminist Perspective.Lawrence A. Blum - 1982 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 12 (2):287 - 302.
  36. Nietzsche's "Woman" Rhetoric How Nietzsche's Misogyny Curtails the Implicit Feminism of His Critique of Metaphysics.David Booth - 1991 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 8 (3):311 - 325.
  37. Feminist Interpretations of Descartes.Susan Bordo - 2004 - Hypatia 19 (2):190-194.
  38. Selections From 'The Flight to Objectivity'.Susan Bordo - 2002 - In Genevieve Lloyd (ed.), Feminism and History of Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
  39. “Maleness” Revisited.Susan Bordo - 1992 - Hypatia 7 (3):197-207.
  40. Du sexisme de la philosophie à la philosophie du sexisme. À propos de La raison en procès, Louise Marcil-Lacoste, Montréal, Hurtubise, (1987).Guy Bouchard - 1989 - Philosophiques 16 (1):163-193.
    Cet ouvrage ambitieux rassemble des articles publiés entre 1974 et 1984. Cette collation est précédée d'une première partie sur les conditions de possibilité d'une théorie des rapports entre sexisme et philosophie, et suivie d'un exposé visant à éclaircir ce qu'il en est du sexisme et "à quels signes philosophiques (on) peut le reconnaître". La présente étude critique en dévoile certaines lacunes: élaboration insuffisante du champ sémantique du sexisme; typologie confuse des critères du sexisme; méthode déficiente; image évanescente tant du lecteur (...)
  41. Jeffrey A. Gauthier, Hegel and Feminist Social Criticism. [REVIEW]Elizabeth Brake - 1998 - Philosophy in Review 18:421-422.
  42. Donne in Filosofia.A. Brancaforte & Giuseppe Agostino Roggerone - 1990 - Lacaita.
  43. [REVIEW] The Equality of the Sexes: Three Feminist Texts of the Seventeenth Century.Jacqueline Broad - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (3):617-19.
    The seventeenth century witnessed the first publications that argued for the equality of men and women. Desmond M. Clarke presents new translations of the three most important ones, with excerpts from the authors' related writings, together with an extensive introduction to the religious and philosophical context within which they argued.
  44. Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century.Jacqueline Broad - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
    In this rich and detailed study of early modern women's thought, Jacqueline Broad explores the complexity of women's responses to Cartesian philosophy and its intellectual legacy in England and Europe. She examines the work of thinkers such as Mary Astell, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway and Damaris Masham, who were active participants in the intellectual life of their time and were also the respected colleagues of philosophers such as Descartes, Leibniz and Locke. She also illuminates the continuities between (...)
  45. Impressionism a Feminist Reading : The Gendering of Art, Science, and Nature in the Nineteenth Century.Norma Broude - 1997
  46. Possible and Questionable: Opening Nietzsche's Genealogy to Feminine Body.Kristen Brown - 1999 - Hypatia 14 (3):39-58.
    According to Kelly Oliver and Elizabeth Grosz, while Friedrich Nietzsche begins to open Western philosophy to the other, the body, he cuts off feminine body. Here I create a framework through which the possibility and questionability of a symbolically feminine body begins to emerge. I do this by using the metaphor of Indian curry. The metaphor works on two levels: 1) as a symbolically feminine body; 2) as Nietzsche's conception of subject-formation as a dynamic monism.
  47. Mary Astell: Defender of the “Disembodied Mind”.Cynthia B. Bryson - 1998 - Hypatia 13 (4):40-62.
    This paper demonstrates how Mary Astell's version of Cartesian dualism supports her disavowal of female subordination and traditional gender roles, her rejection of Locke's notion of "thinking matter" as a major premise for rejecting his political philosophy of "social contracts" between men and women, and, finally, her claim that there is no intrinsic difference between genders in terms of ratiocination, the primary assertion that grants her the title of the first female English feminist.
  48. Nietzsche and the Feminine.Peter J. Burgard (ed.) - 1994 - University Press of Virginia.
    Now, in an innovative and wide-ranging volume, Peter Burgard has brought together new studies by outstanding scholars in philosophy, feminism, comparative ...
  49. Hegel's Concept of Mutual Recognition: The Limits of Self-Determination.Victoria Burke - 2005 - Philosophical Forum 36 (2):213-220.
    For Hegel, the ideal relation that two self-conscious beings might have to each other is one of reciprocal mutual recognition. According to Hegel, “a self-consciousness exists for [another] consciousness.” That is, self-consciousness is defined by its being recognized as self-conscious by another self-consciousness. In one formulation, Robert Pippin says that this means that “being a free agent consists in being recognized as one.” However, at the same time, Hegel values self-determination, which suggests a fundamental independence from others. The formative activity (...)
  50. From Ethical Substance to Reflection: Hegel’s Antigone.Victoria I. Burke - 2008 - Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 41 (3).
    Hegel’s treatment of Sophocles’s Antigone exposes a tension in our own landscape between religious and civil autonomy. This tension reflects a deeper tension between unreflective, implicit norms and reflective, explicit norms that can be autonomously endorsed. The tension is, as Hegel recognizes, of particular importance to women. Hegel’s characterization of this tension in light of Antigone is, as H.S. Harris argues, both a more developed and a more fundamental moment in the Phenomenology of Spirit than the moment of Enlightenment autonomy (...)
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