From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here?
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The Monist, 2015, 98, 21–33 doi: 10.1093/monist/onu004 Article From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? Mary Ellen Waithe* ABSTRACT The phenomenon of recently rediscovered philosophical works by women who wrote from antiquity until the late 20th century is outlined in this paper. It questions what the English-language canon of philosophy is, what it ought to be, and what criteria ought to be employed or avoided in determining which authors and works merit inclu- sion in that canon. It examines biases to avoid when attempting to construct the canon of philosophy and to right the wrongful omission of women. Further, it suggests that employing particular criteria and avoiding particular biases will result in the expansion of the present canon to include the philosophical perspectives of minority and indige- nous peoples. Quite some time ago, I wrote a review article for Hypatia titled “Canon Fodder.”1 It appeared fresh off the heels of an amazing conference on seventeenth-century women philosophers that was the brainchild of Eileen O’Neill at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. At that conference, some presenters argued that the contribution of most women to seventeenth-century philosophy was too minimalistic to warrant inclusion in—oh, they didn’t say it, but—the all-male canon of philoso- phy. A handful of philosophers had undertaken the task of locating, studying, trans- lating, and writing about women philosophers. Information about many of those women philosophers had appeared in the four-volume series A History of Women Philosophers, but that anthology was hardly a complete compendium of philosophical writings by women.2 Works by additional women philosophers continued to be brought to light. It has been a full quarter century since the publication of the first volume of A History of Women Philosophers, and Ethel Kersey’s Women Philosophers, A Bio-Critical Sourcebook.3 There is a lot that is new and important in this field. Still, despite progress and successes, much remains to be accomplished. In this essay I examine what has been accomplished in terms of canon-formation and speculate as to where that process should go from here. * Cleveland State University, Ohio. C The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Hegeler Institute. V All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com 21
22 From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? 1. WHAT IS CANO NIZAT IO N? Dr. Arnie Sanders of Goucher College, Maryland, noted that dictionaries give the following definition of canonization: Canon: n., from the Latin canon or “rule.” Originally, an ecclesiastical code of law or standard of judgment, later any standard of judgment, usually based upon a determinate set of authorized texts, like the canonical books of the Bible, Torah, Qu’ran, or Sutras.4 Sanders notes that this definition is hardly suitable to the enterprise of determining which literary works form part of the canon of English literature, because it limits inclusion in the canon to those who are judged by the ‘authorizers’ or ‘authorities’ to be worthy of admission. Likewise, it would be unsuitable for determining the canon of philosophy. Sanders reminds us that the criterion that a canon contains a “determinate set” of texts and their authors suggests that canons—I would call them la crème de la crème—exclude an indeterminate number of the best of a group of works and their authors. Nor does this definition suggest the criteria for deciding the contents of the larger set of works or authors from which la crème de la crème has risen. For the purposes of the present discussion about the canon of philosophy, I refer to the larger set of works and authors as the compendium and la crème de la crème of that compendium as the canon. How does a work or an author make it into the compendium, and from compendium to canon? As feminist scholar Charlotte Witt has asked: “What could serve as a principle underlying that decision?”5 She identified three potential criteria for feminists and recommended employing a combination of all three. If a woman’s work met any one of these three, the author would be considered to be part of the canon. Unfortunately, each of these criteria has drawbacks that may limit their usefulness or relevance. Witt’s first criterion is a bit vague, a ‘just because’ criterion that appears to mean that the woman herself, or her teachings or writings, students or readers claim that she is a philosopher or claim that her work is a work of philosophy. A difficulty with this criterion is that there are colloquial and academic uses of the term ‘philoso- pher’ and both types of usage vary according to time and place. Gilles Menage, for example, in his seventeenth-century Historia Mulierum Philosopharum6 includes women who were astrologers and gynecologists—learned women, surely, but ques- tionably philosophers. The fact that an author self-identifies as a philosopher does not indicate that she is in fact a philosopher. The fact that her translators, students, etc. claim that she is a philosopher seems to me to be an ad hominem argument that she is a philosopher and her work is philosophical. And that of course is precisely the issue when we are discussing compendium-building and canon-formation. Witt’s second criterion for who makes it into the canon she calls the ‘handmaiden’ criterion: a woman has made a significant contribution to supporting (interpreting, critiquing) the work of a philosopher and that writing or that philosopher has been admitted to the canon. Witt rightly reminds us that such an approach typically means that a woman has improved upon what some man has written. I would speculate that all philosophers begin their professional careers by building upon, explaining,
From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? 23 critiquing, etc. that which has come before. When the handmaiden is a woman, such as Elisabeth of Bohemia in her correspondence with Descartes, she is forever relegated to that servile second-class status, no matter how original, no matter how nonderivative other items from her corpus of work may be. Male handmaidens— think John Rawls (or John Stuart Mill) and their commentaries on Kant—somehow make it into the canon as original thinkers. This criterion is similar to the first, although it would contain a few more details, viz. a canonical figure is one who con- tributes to an understanding of anything previously considered to be philosophical whether that be organized topically (like virtue ethics) or whether that be organized according to the authors on such topics (such as Aristotle or Hildegard). A third criterion for a principle of canonicity identified by Witt, citing Lisa Shapiro,7 is what I label the ‘burning-issues’ criterion—a woman has systematically analyzed an issue or topic that is recognizably a canonical one for philosophy: the na- ture of reason, or of goodness, or of mathematics, or of science, or of religion, or of human nature, etc. Although this sounds unproblematic, it risks identifying as philo- sophical only issues that male philosophers historically have accepted in the past as issues that philosophy ought to consider. However, what is attractive, in part, about the ‘burning-issues’ criterion is that it explicitly removes gender (of author) and genre (of writing) from consideration and requires us to consider for inclusion in the canon works (and their authors) in which a ‘burning issue’ is analyzed. However, if male philosophers traditionally have determined which issues are burning and which are not, then, employing the ‘burning-issues’ criterion may usher in to the compendium only those women philosophers who analyzed the same issues men philosophers have traditionally analyzed. Employing the ‘burning-issues’ criterion may result in the exclusion of some women from both the compendium and the canon. Yet, it is instructive to note that employing the ‘burning-issues’ criterion results in the inclusion of more than one hundred women in the compendium of philosophy. This is no reason to accept the criterion, but it ought to give pause to historians of women’s contributions to the discipline. (And because ‘more than one hundred’ is hardly a paltry number, it ought also to bring us a smug sense of satisfaction.) The ‘burning-issues’ criterion must be applied without recourse to gender, but also without recourse to the genre of philosophical writing. At some time during the past few millennia, a silent assumption arose that ‘burning issues’ were properly addressed (and their author properly considered to be a philosopher) only when those issues were examined in an essay or dialogue form that had an explicitly argu- mentative style. This assumption seems to have persisted even as philosophers began also to consider closely related genres, such as the epistolary, poetic, and aphoristic, as acceptable for philosophical discourse. Thus, for example, the correspondence of Descartes, Locke, and Mill are recognized as sources of significant insights into those philosophers’ views. But the extension of philosophical genre to include the epistolary or poetic appears to occur only when the author also wrote in argumenta- tive essay or dialogic form. I do not recall any canonical male philosopher whose views were known exclusively through an examination of their correspondence. This reliance upon genres of essay and dialogue as primary sources of information
24 From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? about a thinker’s views apparently became excuses for historians of philosophy to ignore large bodies of philosophical writing and large numbers of philosophers. Due to genre most nonwestern philosophical writings, and with them, their authors, were relegated to a ‘nonburning’ trash bin. Exceptions were made by modern west- ern historians of philosophy for the crème de la crème of eastern thought when token works, such as Kung Fu-Tzu’s Analects and Lao Tzu’s Dao te Ching were admitted to the canon. With them came not only the teachings and writings of students like Meng-Tzu and Chuang Tzu, but also certain parts of Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad Gita. The genre of these texts range from aphorisms to hymns, and are almost devoid of explicit argument. The explicitly argumentative nature of western philosophical writings slowly leads the reader through premises to conclusions. In stark contrast, the excoriating rants of Zen authors stubbornly avoid argument form and instead demand that the reader slowly cultivate insights into the concealed argument and issues addressed. Omission of works not written in essay or dialogic genres perversely resulted in reduction to a footnote of philosophical works by many of the Romans whose works are marginalized in contemporary philosophic circles. We might stretch the boundaries of genre even further to consider how abstract ideas about ‘burning issues’ may be communicated without literary media. The nonwritten traditions of indigenous peoples of Africa, Australia, Oceania, and the Americas through media such as cave paintings, sagacious aphorisms, carved glyphs, and dance are not recognized by most western philosophers as valuable genres for transmitting philosophical views and theories. Such close-minded, decidedly unphilosophical approaches to compendium-formation also took their toll on inclusion of women philosophers in the compendium. To the extent that philosophic views portrayed in nonliterary media can be recorded, transmitted, and preserved for posterity, they also ought to be included in the compendium. Too many are not, and therefore our present compendium is incomplete. Are those omitted or marginalized works philo- sophical? To claim they are not is tantamount to confessing that because of their genres, we lack insight into their views. This claim has the effect of suggesting that other civilizations—the other half of the world—cannot think philosophically.8 2. ID EN TI FYI NG THE CO MP EN DIU M How do we get there from here? There appear to be two basic steps: the identifica- tion of the compendium, and, the creation of the canon from the compendium. I return for a moment to the description of a canon as consisting of the crème de la crème of authors and works considered ‘authoritative’ without concern for genre, and derived from the compendium. Part of what historians of women’s contributions to philosophy have criticized is that until very recently women philosophers of past centuries were accorded little or no authority because the record of their contribu- tions was omitted from the compendium by those who exercised the power to de- scribe and define the canon. These ‘authorities’ seemingly skipped over works authored by women, apparently without taking the time and effort to read them. Had they read those works with the goal of identifying the ‘burning issues’ addressed in those writings, said ‘authorities’ would have judged the works on their philosophi- cal merits rather than on sexist assumptions about the authors’ intellectual prowess.
From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? 25 The ‘authorities’ I have in mind here are those like Frederick Copleston who wrote the comprehensive English-language histories of philosophy and those like Paul Edwards who edited the comprehensive English-language Encyclopedia of Philosophy published in the last century. To the extent that such works determine the compen- dium, the compendium itself is incomplete. The first step toward canon reformation must be compendium-building. The compendium has expanded almost exponentially in the last quarter century or so, mostly due to the recovery and restoration of works by women and by non- white thinkers. There are at least three distinct types of sources of information as to who and what constitutes the compendium. First are the histories of the discipline— the general histories as well as the recovery projects. Second are the articles in the professional philosophy press. Third are the major encyclopedias of philosophy. Although in this article I limit myself to works available in English, if we were to ex- amine the contents of all of these types of publications, we would arrive at the known compendium of philosophy. (Of course, the compendium will expand as additional works are discovered; I do not mean to suggest that it is fixed.) The histories Since antiquity historians have created compendia of members of and works by ma- jor and minor schools of philosophy. Diogenes Laertius9 mentions half a dozen women as contributors to ancient Greek philosophical schools. Plutarch’s Lives of the Eminent Philosophers10 mentions several women philosophers as does the Suda Lexicon.11 Stobeaus’s Anthology12 preserves extant works by ancients including Aesara of Lucania. Contemporary editions of those ancient and medieval histories are also the primary sources of information about male thinkers who are the subjects of dedicated encyclopedia articles and histories of philosophy. How then is it the case that the women philosophers those texts mention and whose works they preserve, escaped notice by most twentieth-century historians of the field writing in English who relied on those sources? The explanation is either incompetence or sexism. Who are the great twentieth-century historians of philosophy whose writings (in English) were intended to be taken as authoritative comprehensive compendia? Certainly we would include Father Copleston in the early half of the twentieth cen- tury. Later in the century we have Richard Popkin, Jerome Schneewind,13 and per- haps a few others. Their histories are not explicitly focused only on men’s contributions to our discipline, even though that may be a fair description of the con- tents of those histories. Amongst this group, Copleston twice names Hypatia in the context of the Alexandrinian School and mentions her student, later, the Bishop Synesius.14 Copleston also mentions Christina of Sweden as someone who wished to be instructed by Descartes,15 but makes no mention of the fact that after her abdi- cation she founded Rome’s Arcadian Academy of Philosophy—an institution that survives to this day. Clearly, Copleston’s important series of histories is gender biased. Popkin and Schneewind fare considerably better on my scorecard because their writings do mention women philosophers, but mostly when those women cross
26 From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? paths with the males who are the primary focus of their histories. Richard Popkin, for example, in his History of Skepticism,16 mentions in connection with famous male philosophers Christina of Sweden, Anne Conway, Margaret Fell, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Marie de Gournay, Marguerite de Navarre, and Anna Maria van Schurmann, but not all are mentioned as philosophers in their own right. Jerome Schneewind, in his Moral Philosophy from Montaigne to Kant,17 mentions Damaris Masham only in the context of her father Ralph Cudworth and her friend, John Locke, never noting that she published on philosophy of religion and moral philoso- phy.18 Schneewind does present the full correspondence between Descartes and Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, and Queen Christina of Sweden’s correspondence with Descartes—all on the subject of moral philosophy.19 He devotes a chapter to Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees without mentioning Émilie du Châtelet’s translation/ adaptation of it.20 The bottom line is that even the best recent and contemporary comprehensive histories of our discipline—these compendia—give scant respect to the women who have contributed to our discipline’s history. From 1987 through 1995 lesser-known histories such as the four volumes of A History of Women Philosophers reintroduced to the compendium one hundred twenty-six women philosophers from antiquity through the mid-twentieth century.21 In 1993 Therese Boos Dykeman introduced us to Anne Bradstreet, Mercy Otis Warren, Judith Sargent Murray, Frances Wright, and Ednah Dow Cheney.22 In 1990 Therese Boos Dykeman reintroduced to the compendium Confucian philosopher Pan Chao.23 In 2002 John Conley helped to rebuild the compendium by restoring to it works by salon philosophers, Mme de Maintenon, Mme de Sablé, Mme de la Sabliére, Mme Deshoulières, and Mlle de Vallière.24 The following year his transla- tion of the work of Jacqueline Pascal25 added that work to the compendium. In 2005 Dorothy G. Rogers restored to the compendium seven American philosophers: Susan Blow, Anna Brackett, Grace Bibb, Ellen Mitchell, Eliza Read Sunderland, Lucia Ames Mead and Marietta Kies.26 Rogers’s editorial selections for the 2005 Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers brought us Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Julia Ward Howe, Eliza Ritchie, Anna Garlin Spencer, Ellen Bliss Talbot, Lucy Sprague Mitchell, and Jessie Taft.27 In 2009 Conley reintroduced the works of three amazing Arnauld women, showing how Angélique Arnauld, Agnés Arnauld, and Angélique de St.-Jean Arnauld d’Andilly contributed to the philosophic literature and teaching of their times.28 In 2010, the works of Gabrielle Suchon29 were translated into English. These additions bring our compendium of women philosophers to one hundred fifty-seven. The encyclopedias If we use our crème de la crème analogy, it seems clear that an author or work listed in an encyclopedia of philosophy is, at a minimum, crème, having made it into the compendium. Who are some of the other philosophers in the compendium? You are all familiar with Richard the Sophister and Simon of Faversham.30 These forgotten philosophers are included in the compendium. If inclusion in a major comprehensive encyclopedia such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy amounts to inclusion in the compendium, then, of its twenty entries on women, only Margaret Fell is new.
From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? 27 According to the editor of the SEP, articles are planned on five additional women, of whom only Lucrezia Marinella is new.31 These one hundred fifty-nine women philosophers have already made it into the compendium. But which of them, if any, have made it into the canon? Hypatia, whom one would expect is a canonical figure, is dismissed as a ‘mathema- tician’ and ‘astronomer’ even though she headed a school of philosophy when mathe- matics and astronomy were considered applied metaphysics: their advanced study required expertise in philosophy. Hypatia is mentioned in three Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy articles but is subject of none.32 Her philosophical writings are buried, surviving only through the correspondence, marginalia, scholia, and com- mentaries of her students and successors. But the same is true of Pythagoras, and we would not on that account deny that Pythagoras was a philosopher, and a canonical one at that. What, other than her gender, justifies the omission of Hypatia from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is not the only philosophical encyclopedia to omit an article dedicated to an important woman philosopher. Heloise is mentioned in nine articles of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but is the subject of none. Peer-reviewed journal articles, books, and book chapters Lagemann’s 1996 article on Dewey’s educational philosophy brought our attention to Ella Flagg Young.33 Karin Brown introduced us to Sophie de Grouchy, Mme de Condorcet’s work on sympathy, and in the same collection from 2000 Mary Helen Washington’s essay on Anna Julia Cooper introduced the first African American woman philosopher.34 In 2009 Penny Weiss brought to our attention the contribu- tions of Sei Shonagon to medieval Japanese philosophy and in 2010 Maria Rentetzi introduced Rose Rand of the Vienna Circle.35 Journal articles published before 2012 introduced us to the works of five additional women in the field: Julia Gulliver,36 Constance de Salm,37 Mary Hays, and Elizabeth Hamilton.38 Beatriz de Galindo,39 Mira, 40 Maria Zambrano,41 Zeb-un Nisa,42 Rabia al Adawiyya,43 and Gargi Vacaknavi are also the subjects of books and articles.44 This brings us to one hundred seventy-four women who wrote on what were in their time and location burning issues of philosophy. 3 . E X TR A CT IN G T HE C A N ON F ROM T HE C OM P E ND I UM Scholarly study creates canons by making accurate texts available and by defining the terms by which they are studied.45 Clearly we’re well on the way to making accurate texts available. What is less clear is whether the historians of women’s contributions to philosophy get to define the terms by which those works are studied. But perhaps we can learn how to construct a canon by first eliminating approaches that tend to mitigate against inclusion of women philosophers in the canon. What not to do Don’t Create a Ghetto Canon. I would argue that marketing works by women philosophers as ‘women’s literature’ or as ‘feminism’ can sometimes thwart the
28 From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? practice of philosophy canon-formation. Most works of philosophy authored by women of the past are not works of feminism. But if we market those works as works of ‘feminism’ or ‘feminist philosophy’ we impose upon millennia-old thinkers contemporary labels that define and limit their audience to those few long-dead women philosophers who actually did write about feminism. If we instead market works by women philosophers as works of philosophy simpliciter then those authors and their works have a chance of making it into the canon of philosophy. But if we only market those works as works by women, those compendium authors only make it into the more limited and easy to ignore ghetto: the canon of women philoso- phers. Claiming a separate canon for women philosophers begs the question in light of the fact that I have just argued that the other canon, the canon of philosophers who are not women, ought not explicitly consider gender as a criterion for admission to it. Avoid ‘credential’ bias At first it appears that a lack of credentials has been responsible for excluding women from both compendium and canon. Some of the credentials: i. That an author who lived after the popularization of universities in the thir- teenth century earned a Ph.D. ii. That the Ph.D. was in Philosophy, not some other discipline. iii. That an author who had not earned a Ph.D. in philosophy nevertheless taught philosophy at an established institution of higher education. iv. That an author who lived prior to the institutionalization of universities acted as philosophy tutor or teacher to important people, some of whom were later recognized to be professional philosophers. v. That an author who lived after the popularization of the printing press was published by a reputable, academic press, not (merely) by a vanity or self-publishing press. Descartes, with his doctorate in Law would have failed criteria i and ii. Hume would not have met criterion iii. Augustine would fail criterion iv. Descartes, Locke and Hume would all have failed criterion v. So, although i–v may be cri- teria, they weren’t used to exclude men from the canon. Therefore we shouldn’t expect that they be employed to exclude women from the canon. But it appears that in many cases—depending upon the history or encyclopedia in question— such biased criteria were in fact employed, but only with respect to women. The English language contemporary compendia and the canon of philosophy fossilized our discipline by reducing the study of its history to a dry litany of men and men’s works. The unspoken rules by which allegedly canonical texts appear to have been selected tended to favor the powerful and to exclude or marginalize the powerless, regardless of the merits of their work. Works of phil- osophical merit—those belonging to the compendium whether or not actually included in it—tend to be those written by those who ‘naturally’ belong to the
From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? 29 empowered group. These would then ‘naturally’ exclude works by members of the powerless group, women. Avoid ‘burning-issue’ bias Historians of women’s contributions to philosophy can be biased also as to what constitutes a burning issue. That bias tends to derive from accepting as a burning issue that which contemporary philosophers value most. This has the tendency to exclude those burning issues that were in past centuries valued by philosophers. An example of an entrenched burning-issue bias is the unspoken contemporary assumption that mysticism is not properly part of epistemology. Contemporary his- tories, encyclopedias, and the academic press rarely, if ever, discuss mysticism in the context of epistemology. Perhaps this is a reaction to nonrigorous, contemporary ‘new-wave’ pseudophilosophy that blurs mystical experiences obtained through chemical or other means with philosophical mysticism. This entrenched value, or rather, this entrenched bias, ‘naturally’ excludes works by women philosophers like Teresa de Avila and Birgitta of Sweden, while retaining as a cute example of what once was philosophy—but is ‘upon contemporary analysis’ no longer considered so—the canonical and very mystical Meister Eckhart. Part of the challenge for historians of philosophy is to figure out how we are going to avoid introducing other biases to which we might be susceptible as we continue to add women to the compendium and push to have specific women philosophers and their works included and accepted into the canon. We histo- rians of women’s contributions to philosophy might be susceptible to biases of our own. Due to the exclusion of women from the discipline, women philoso- phers had a harder time than men obtaining advanced education in philosophy and therefore had reduced opportunities to publish and teach philosophy. Ought we to give in to our sympathetic bias and cut them some slack and include them in the canon even if they produced very little, or produced little that we think to be significantly philosophical? They made some contribution, this argu- ment goes, and they did so against great odds. Ought we to reward those who have had limited philosophical success by enshrining them and their works in the canon? Examples that I have in mind here might be some of the early American women philosophers. They might have two strikes against them, so to speak. Sometimes their writings were not in mainstream philosophical venues— they published in “ladies magazines,” or wrote in genres not recently considered appropriate for philosophy such as philosophical novels or poetry with philo- sophical significance. The entrenched tastes and habitual biases of the powerful turned the process of canon-formation and its product into a female prison camp where works and their authors are imprisoned, kept outside mainstream/malestream canonical traditions. If historians of women’s contributions to philosophy (and their professional organi- zations, such as the Society for the Study of Women Philosophers) are careless, the histories of those women philosophers will simply be left to wither away, die, and get reburied.
30 From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? John Searle gives us a cue that toddler-like stamping of one’s feet until we get a canon devoid of gender bias is in fact the methodology for canon-formation and reformation. Searle states: In my experience there never was, in fact, a fixed ‘canon’; there was rather a certain set of tentative judgments about what had importance and quality. Such judgments are always subject to revision, and in fact they were constantly being revised.46 What to do In part, we ought to behave like toddlers: stamping our feet until we get our way and the canon is revised. Although this is not a philosophically sound approach, nor a valid methodology, upon reflection this appears to be the methodology required to correct sexist bias now enshrined in the canon. One repeats a judgment as a question for examination, reflection, introspection, and argument while also asserting or as- suming it to be a fact, to be a truth. This is exactly the way in which women were written out of the canon: by publishing numerous encyclopedias, numerous histories that simply made no mention of them. But we ought to do more than our biased forefather historians of philosophy have done. We need to state the case in general, and for specific philosophers and their works. We ought to be prepared to back up our claims with historical evidence that philosophers of the past—yes, including those males who have already made it into the canon—found our female candidates for canonicity to be competent exponents of burning issues, and to be valued con- tributors to the conversation that was known to be philosophy in their day and at their geographic site. Despite the misogynist exclusion of women from the canon, it appears that we are well on our way towards rectifying the situation. We have re-examined and con- tinue to re-examine and correct the histories. We have contributed articles about our foremothers to encyclopedias and to the scholarly press. We are beginning to teach our students the truth. Most women presently included in the compendium were active participants in contemporary philosophical circles. All were viewed by their contemporary male canonical philosophers to be competent exponents of burning issues. The philosophical views of all of those women philosophers were known to and respected—even if criticized—by their male contemporaries. All of those women philosophers were knowledgeable, to varying degrees, of the philosophi- cal works of canonical male predecessors and contemporaries. The evidence for this is found in correspondence and published works of philosophers of both genders. To my knowledge, there are only two women philosophers who were not clearly engaged in contemporary philosophical circles: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Oliva Sabuco de Nantes Barrera. Both were learned women who clearly understood and commented upon the works of classical philosophers including Plato and Aristotle, both addressed burning philosophical issues of their day, and both were considered by their contemporaries to be authors of philosophical works. But neither was part of
From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? 31 the philosophical circles of their place and time. To warrant including them in the canon we must dig deeper. It is true that Oliva Sabuco knew her neighbor, the then most famous philosopher of Spain—Pedro Simón Abril. It is likely that he influenced her. There is no evidence to my knowledge that she influenced him. Sabuco immediately became widely fa- mous as a philosopher throughout Spain, France, England, and elsewhere in Europe for her New Philosophy of Human Nature.47 She meets the “influence on other philos- ophers” criterion, most particularly with her early advocacy of empirical science, and her view of mind as the activities of the physical brain and central nervous system. In the case of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the evidence that her contemporaries knew of her as a philosopher comes from those who were threatened by her influ- ence and persecuted her for encouraging women to study philosophy at the cost of their domestic duties. Her fitting response: “One can perfectly well philosophize while cooking supper . . . Had Aristotle cooked, he would have written a great deal more.”48 I would argue that philosophers who are the named subject of mid-sized philoso- phy encyclopedia articles have already made it into the canon. Those who are merely mentioned in such articles, or who have earned only brief entries, may not yet have been canonized. Philosophers whose works are published by peer-reviewed philoso- phy presses in contemporary translations or editions appear also to have been canon- ized, or to be prime candidates for canonization. Those who are the subjects in comprehensive histories of philosophy—the histories of a philosophical movement, or of philosophy in a particular nation or continent, or of a particular time period— also seem to me to have been admitted to the canon. Those who regularly are stud- ied in philosophy doctoral programs also appear to be part of the canon. More than one hundred women philosophers satisfy one or more of these criteria. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy contains articles on the following philoso- phers (the italicized names appeared earlier in Mary Ellen Waithe, A History of Women Philosophers): Jane Addams, G.E.M. Anscombe, Hannah Arendt, Agnés Arnauld, Angélique Arnauld, Simone de Beauvoir, Angélique de Saint Jean Arnauld d’Andilly, Anne le Fèvre Dacier, Jeanne-Françoise Fréymiot Baronne de Chantal, Marie de Sevigné, Antoinette Deshoulières, Marie de Gournay, Sarah and Angelina Grimké, Hipparchia, Luce Irigaray, Marguerite de la Sablière, Louise Françoise de la Vallière, Anne-Thérèse Lambert, Françoise d’Aubigné (Madame de Maintenon) Jacqueline Pascal, Ayn Rand, Mardeleine de Souvré (Marquise de Sablé), Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Kristina Wasa. It mentions the following: Arete (in article on Cyrenaics), Macrina (Gregory of Nyssa), Harriet Taylor Mill (John Stuart Mill), Aspasia (Gorgias), Perictione (Plato), Diotima (Epicurus, Sophists, Aristotle), Hypatia (Marie de Gournay). Articles on Michele le Doeuff, Philippa Foot, Iris Marion Young, Simone Veil (sic) Mary Astell, Marie Olympe de Gouge (sic), Hypatia, Susan Moller Okin, Harriette (sic) Taylor, and Mary Wollstonecraft are either in progress, or being sought by the editor. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy49 includes articles on Jane Addams, G.E.M. Anscombe, Hannah Arendt, Mary Astell, Simone de Beauvoir, Margaret Lucas Cavendish, Émilie du Châtelet, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, Anne Conway, Elisabeth of
32 From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? Bohemia, Margaret Fell, Emily Elizabeth Constance Jones, Lucrezia Marinella, Damaris Masham, Catharine Macaulay, Harriet Taylor Mill, Ayn Rand, Madeleine de Scudéry, Mary Wollstonecraft. The philosopher Hypatia is mentioned in two articles (Syrianus, Ammonius) and Heloise appears in three articles (Abelard, William of Champeaux, and Marriage and Domestic Partnership). Historians tend to measure time in centuries or millennia. We focus on the past with a view toward having that past remembered by future generations. It shouldn’t take more than another century or so for us to complete the task of reintroducing to the canon the nearly two hundred women whose contributions to our field effec- tively vanished during the past two centuries. In the blink of another millennium the exclusion of women from the philosophical canon will be little more than a footnote to the history of philosophy. This is true unless, of course, we abandon the task of canon-formation to the misogynists. 50 N O T ES 1. Mary Ellen Waithe, “Canon Fodder: New Works by and about Women Philosophers,” Hypatia 19 (2004), 134–49. 2. Mary Ellen Waithe, ed., A History of Women Philosophers, 4 vols. (Dordrecht, London and Boston: Martinus Nijoff/Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1987–1995). 3. Ethel M. Kersey, Women Philosophers: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Indianapolis: Greenwood Press, 1989). 4. Arnie Sanders, “The ‘Canon’ of English Literature,” www.faculty.goucher.edu/eng21/canon_of_eng- lish_literature.htm. 5. Charlotte Witt, “Feminist Interpretations of the Philosophical Canon,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 31 (2006), 537–52. 6. Aegidius Menagius, Historia Mulierum Philosopharum (Lugduni, Anissonios, Joan. Posuel, and Claudium Rigaud, 1690); Gilles Ménage, The History of Women Philosophers, trans., Beatrice Zedler (Lanham, NY: University Press of America,1984). 7. Lisa Shapiro, “The Place of Women in Early Modern Philosophy,” in Feminist Reflections on the History of Philosophy, ed. Lilli Alanen and Charlotte Witt (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004), 199–227. 8. I owe this insight to Kerianne Mulcahy Marston. 9. Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, trans., C.D. Yonge (London: Bell, 1901). 10. Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans Englished by Sir Thomas North, 1597 (New York: AMS Press, 1967). 11. Suidae Lexicon, ed. Immanuel Becker (Berolini: Georgis Reimeri,1854). 12. Stobaeus, Anthologium, ed. Curtius Wachsmuth and Otto Hense (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1884–1912). 13. Jerome Schneewind, The Invention of Autonomy: A History of Modern Moral Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Moral Philosophy from Montaigne to Kant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). 14. Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy: Greece and Rome (New York: Paulist Press, 1947), 482, 483. 15. Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy: Descartes to Leibniz (New York: Paulist Press, 1958), 65. 16. Richard Popkin, History of Skepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979). 17. Jerome Schneewind, Moral Philosophy. 18. Ibid., 275. 19. Ibid., 224–34. 20. Mary Ellen Waithe, “Émilie du Châtelet,” in Waithe, A History, vol. 3, 127–51. 21. Therese Boos Dykeman, The Neglected Canon: Nine Women Philosophers, First to the Twentieth Century (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999).
From Canon Fodder to Canon-Formation: How Do We Get There from Here? 33 22. Therese Boos Dykeman, American Women Philosophers, 1650–1930—Six Exemplary Thinkers (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993). 23. Dykeman, The Neglected Canon. 24. John Conley, The Suspicion of Virtue: Women Philosophers in Neo-Classical France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002). 25. John Conley, Jacqueline Pascal: A Rule for Children and Other Writings (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). 26. Dorothy G. Rogers, America’s First Women Philosophers: Transplanting Hegel 1860–1925 (New York: Continuum Studies in Philosophy, 2005). 27. Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 2005). 28. John Conley, Adoration and Annihilation: The Convent Philosophy of Port-Royal (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009). 29. Gabrielle Suchon, A Woman Who Defends All the Persons of her Sex: Selected Philosophical and Moral Writings, trans., Domna Stanton and Rebecca Wilkin, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010). 30. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, entries on Simon of Faversham and Richard the Sophister. 31. http://plato.stanford.edu/projected-contents.html. 32. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, entries on Ammonius, Syrianus, Wisdom, and Petrus Ramus. 33. Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, “Experimenting with Education: John Dewey and Ella Flagg Young at the University of Chicago,” American Journal of Education 104 (1996), 171–85. 34. Karin Brown, “Mme de Condorcet’s Letters on Sympathy,” and Mary Helen Washington, “Introduction to A Voice From the South” in Presenting Women Philosophers, ed., Cecile Tougas and Sara Ebenrech (Temple University Press, 2000), 225–27 and 15–24. 35. Penny Weiss, Canon Fodder: Historical Women Political Thinkers (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009), 56–78; Maria Rentetzi, “I Want to Look Like a Lady, Not Like a Factory Worker: Rose Rand, a Woman Philosopher of the Vienna Circle,” in EPSA Epistemology and Methodology of Science, ed., Mauricio Suárez, Mauro Dorato, and Miklós Rédel (Dordrecht: Springer, 2010), 233–34. 36. Donald Walhout, “Julia Gulliver as Philosopher,” Hypatia 16 (2001), 72–89. 37. Elizabeth Colwill, “Epistolary Passions: Friendship and the Literary Public of Constance de Salm,” Journal of Women’s History 12 (2000), 39–68. 38. Sarah Hutton, “The Persona of the Woman Philosopher in Eighteenth-Century England: Catharine Macaulay, Mary Hays, and Elizabeth Hamilton,” Intellectual History Review 18 (2008), 403–12. 39. Cristina de la Cruz de Artega y Falguera, Beatriz Galindo, “La Latina,” (Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1975). 40. V.K. Subramanian, Mystic Songs of Meera (New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 2006). 41. Teresa Rocha Barco, Maria Zambrano la razón poética o la filosofı́a (Madrid: Tecnos, 1998). 42. Zeb-un-Nissa, Divan-i Makhf (Lahore: Amrit Press, 1920). 43. Margaret Smith, Rabi’a the Mystic and Her Fellow-Saints in Islam. Being the life and teachings of Rabi’a al- ’Adawiyya al-Qaysiyya of Basra, Sufi saint, ca A.H. 99–185, A.D.717–801. Together with an account of the place of the women in Islam and with a survey of sources, references, a concise bibliography and indexes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1928). 44. David Buchtna, “Gargi Vacaknavi as an Honorary Male: An Eighteenth Century Reception of an Upanisadic Female Sage,” Journal of Hindu Studies, 3 (2010), 354–70. 45. Sanders, loc. cit. 46. John Searle, “The Storm Over the University,” The New York Review of Books, December 6, 1990. 47. Oliva Sabuco, Nveva Filosofia de la Naturaleza del Hombre. Madrid: Pedro Madrigal (1587). Oliva Sabuco, New Philosophy of Human Nature (1587), Waithe, Vintro and Zorita, trans. (Urbana- Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2007). 48. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Repuesta a Sor Filotea, trans. Electa Arunal and Amanda Powell, The Answer/ La Repuesta, 2nd ed. (New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2009), stanza 28, 75. 49. www.plato.stanford.edu. 50. An earlier version of this essay was presented at the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Meeting of the Society for the Study of Women Philosophers, December 2012.
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