Selfhood and Self-government in Women’s Religious Writings of the Early Modern Period

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (5):713-730 (2019)
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Some scholars have identified a puzzle in the writings of Mary Astell (1666–1731), a deeply religious feminist thinker of the early modern period. On the one hand, Astell strongly urges her fellow women to preserve their independence of judgement from men; yet, on the other, she insists upon those same women maintaining a submissive deference to the Anglican church. These two positions appear to be incompatible. In this paper, I propose a historical-contextualist solution to the puzzle: I argue that the seeming inconsistency can be dispelled through a close examination of (i) the concepts of selfhood and self-government in Anglican women’s devotional texts of the period, and of (ii) the role that these concepts play in Astell’s feminist arguments.

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Jacqueline Broad
Monash University

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Mary Astell on Marriage and Lockean Slavery.Jacqueline Broad - 2014 - History of Political Thought 35 (4):717–38.
Custom Freedom and Equality: Mary Astell on marriage and women's education.Karen Detlefsen - 2016 - In Penny Weiss & Alice Sowaal (eds.), Feminist Interpretations of Mary Astell. Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 74-92.
Explaining Addiction: How Far Does the Reward Account of Motivation Take Us?Jeanette Kennett & Doug McConnell - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (5):470 - 489.

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