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Chapter Seven - Cavendish’s Philosophical Genres in Philosophical and Physical Opinions and the Question of Hierarchy

from Part II - Philosophy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2022

Lisa Walters
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
Brandie R. Siegfried
Affiliation:
Brigham Young University, Utah
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Summary

The Physical and Philosophical Opinionsilluminates our understanding of Cavendish's position on the intellectual equality or otherwise of women and men. Cavendish's basic ontology permits two interpretations – that women and men are intellectual equals, or that they are not (usually with the claim that men are intellectually superior). However, the book, which includes significant autobiographical musings, helps explain why Cavendish finds the questions so difficult. For, because women's knowledge claims are routinely rejected as carrying value, evidence that women can bring to the question is frequently lost. Moreover, that women sometimes internalize these dismissive treatments of them as epistemic authorities means that women discount their own capacity as knowers. With so much loss of epistemic points of view and the knowledge that comes with them, it is unclear that the question at hand is yet one that Cavendish and others at her time have sufficient evidence to answer. Turning to the wide range of genres in Cavendish's oeuvre, rather than works that we currently deem 'philosophical', is crucial for a full understanding of her approach to philosophical questions.

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Margaret Cavendish
An Interdisciplinary Perspective
, pp. 112 - 126
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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