Philosophy Compass 13 (12):e12553 (2018)

Authors
Amy Schmitter
University of Alberta
Abstract
The 17th century author François Poulain de la Barre was an important contributor to a pivotal moment in the history of feminist thought. Poulain borrows from many of Descartes’s doctrines, including his dualism, distrust of epistemic authority, accounts of imagination, and passion, and at least some aspects of his doxastic voluntarism; here I examine how he uses a Cartesian notion of prejudice for an anti-essentializing philosophy of women’s education and the formation of the tastes, talents and interests of individuals. ‘Prejudice’ remains Descartes’s notion of an entrenched, yet self-imposed doxastic commitment, but also takes on the sense of social-political group bias, founded on custom, transmitted through education, serving interests, and forming social expectations. Poulain also expands on the Cartesian notion and themes by emphasizing widespread, yet unjustified social opinions in favor of the status quo in both epistemic practices and epistemic authorities, while considering how biased beliefs about sexual difference and gender identity can be internalized even by those who suffer most from them. At the same time, he shows how powerful Cartesian concepts can be for feminist methodology, even though they might also be put to problematic uses (as Malebranche did).
Keywords Poulain de la Barre  Descartes  gender  prejudice  history of feminism  social epistemology  epistemic authority  dualism  education  egalitarianism
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DOI 10.1111/phc3.12553
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References found in this work BETA

The Man of Reason.Genevieve Lloyd - 1979 - Metaphilosophy 10 (1):18–37.
The Search After Truth.Nicholas Malebranche, Thomas M. Lennon & Paul J. Olscamp - 1982 - Philosophy of Science 49 (1):146-147.
Descartes and Spinoza on Epistemological Egalitarianism.Amélie Oksenberg Rorty - 1996 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 13 (1):35 - 53.
La science parfaite. Savants et savantes chez Poulain de la Barre.Marie-Frédérique Pellegrin - 2013 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 138 (3):377-392.

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Citations of this work BETA

Subjugation, Freedom, and Recognition in Poulain de la Barre and Simone de Beauvoir.Martina Reuter - forthcoming - British Journal for the History of Philosophy:1-18.
XIV—Assuming Epistemic Authority, or Becoming a Thinking Thing.Lisa Shapiro - forthcoming - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.
François Poulain de la Barre.Desmond Clarke - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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