Reviews - What do customers think about A History of Women Philosophers: Volume I: Ancient Women Philosophers, 600 B.C.-500 A.D.?
AN ASTONISHINGLY HELPFUL SERIES OF WORKS Oct 13, 2009
Mary Ellen Waithe is a Professor of Philosophy and Interim Director of Women's Studies at Cleveland State University. She is also the editor (and chief author) of the magnificent four-volume series, "A History of Women Philosophers."
Ms. Waithe describes the origin of this project in the "Introduction to the Series" found in Volume 1: When as a graduate student at the City University of New York, "I came upon a reference to a work by Aegidius Menagius, Historia Mullierum Philosopharum, published in 1690 and 1692. I had never heard of any women philosophers prior to the 20th century with the exceptions of Queen Christina of Sweden, known as Descartes' student, and Hildegard von Bingen, who lived in the 12th century." After she obtained a copy of this book (see Gilles Menage, "History of Women Philosophers"; there's no listing on this site), she discovered that "many of the women he listed as philosophers were astronomers, astrologers, gynecologists, or simply relatives of male philosophers. Nevertheless, the list of women alleged to have been philosophers was impressive." She was also strongly influenced by Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" art exhibit, and the many women described therein as "philosophers." She says, "At my husband's suggestion, I took steps to ... create a team of experts to collaborate with me in this endeavor. I placed a notice in the SWIP (Society for Women in Philosophy) Newsletter and received a half-dozen responses from philosophers..." and the project began.
Volume 1, "Ancient Women Philosophers" (published in 1987) covers 600 BC-500 AD, and the early and late Pythagoreans, Aspasia of Miletus, Diotima of Mantinea (Waithe makes a strong argument for her historicity, contrary to the usual perception of Diotima as a fictitious character in Plato's dialogue "Symposium"), Julia Domna, Makrina, and Hypatia of Alexandria.
Volume II, "Medieval, Renaissance and Enlightenment Women Philosophers" (published in 1989) covers the period 500-1600, and thus includes Hildegard of Bingen, Heloise (Abelard's famous lover/wife), Mechtild of Magdeburg, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, and others.
Volume III, "Modern Women Philosophers" (published in 1991) covers the period 1600-1900, and thus Margaret Cavendish, Kristina (Queen of Sweden), Anne Finch (Viscountess Conway), Sor Juana (who is often considered simply as a "literary" figure or poet, rather than as a thinker in her own right), Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Hardy Taylor Mill, and literally several dozen others.
Volume IV, "Contemporary Women Philosophers" (published in 1995) covers from 1900 to the present, and thus figures such as Lady Welby Victoria, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Lou Salome, L. Susan Stebbing, Edith Stein, Ayn rand, Hannah Arendt, Edith Stein, Simone Weil, and many, many more.
Words are inadequate to describe the significance of these volumes for anyone with even the slightest interest in women philosophers, or the history of philosophy. While they are rather "pricey" (being priced to be purchased by LIBRARIES, not individuals), they are an invaluable investment. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!!