Including women philosophers in textbooks

I recently came across a great textbook: An Unconventional History of Philosophy, edited by Karen Warren.

The book is an introduction to the history of philosophy presented as a dialogue between men and women writers. Most of the usual suspects are there, from Plato to Wittgenstein, but for each extract from a male philosopher, Warren gives us an extract from a woman philosopher writing in the same period, about the same problems. So alongside Plato and Aristotle, we have Diotima, Perictione and Theano, Hildegard and Heloise accompany Augustine and Abelard. Then there’s Descartes and Elizabeth, Hobbes and Macaulay, Locke and Masham, Leibniz and Conway, Rousseau and Wollstonecraft, Kant and Van Schurman, Mill and Taylor, Heidegger and Arendt, Dewey and Addams, Wittgenstein and Anscombe, Sartre and Beauvoir. The exerpts are short, so quite suitable as an introduction for first year undergraduates, and also apt to be supplemented by other texts. The book is also admirable varied, in that the texts deal with different areas of philosophy, and also present analytic and continental texts.

At the moment, this text seems like the best – perhaps the only – choice if we are interested in teaching history of philosophy as something which is not exclusively male. The alternative, using a text book which features male writers and add a few photocopies of texts by female writers may encourage students to regard women philosophers as merely add-ons, not worthy of inclusion in the mainstream.

If you ‘re teaching an introductory course, I recommend you look at this book. And if for one reason or another you don’t think it quite suits your purposes, then why not write another one like that? One isn’t enough.

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3 Responses to Including women philosophers in textbooks

  1. Sandrine Berges says:

    Reblogged this on Hesperus is Bosphorus.

  2. Pingback: Why don’t women philosophers count as philosophers? | Feminist History of Philosophy

  3. Pingback: Campaigning for gender balance in textbooks | Feminist Philosophers

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