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A careful and well-written historical study of the thinking about women in the Western world. It provides a systematic justification for some feminist intuitions that, at this point, are not well grounded philosophically. It will be well received by those who respect the difficulties feminism points to but see the exaggeration and false directions it is going in.
This pioneering study by Sister Prudence Allen traces the concept of woman in relation to man in more than seventy philosophers from ancient and medieval traditions.
The fruit of ten years' work, this study uncovers four general categories of questions asked by philosophers for two thousand years. These are the categories of opposites, of generation, of wisdom, and of virtue. Sister Prudence Allen traces several recurring strands of sexual and gender identity within this period. Ultimately, she shows the paradoxical influence of Aristotle on the question of woman and on a philosophical understanding of sexual coomplemenarity. Supplemented throughout with helpful charts, diagrams, and illustrations, this volume will be an important resource for scholars and students in the fields of women's studies, philosophy, history, theology, literary studies, and political science.
Professor of philosophy at St. John Vianney TheologicalSeminary, Denver Colorado. She has spent more thantwenty-five years engaged in research on the concept ofwoman in relation to the concept of man in philosophy.
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
"Fascinating, clearly written, carefully argued and massively erudite. . . The book remains a necessary, and highly useful, source for research in a field which has become so important in academic life generally as well as in our wider culture. . . [Sister Prudence] has done a major service in the necessary spade-work for further research in this area. She has retrieved and organized an immense mass of data, and offered a clear focus for those who would mine it for further work in the field. The book has about it that beauty which, being seen, pleasesthat beauty which presupposes goodness, and unity, and truth."
Religious Studies Review
"Provides a much needed historical foundation for contemporary philosophical debates. . . Allen's work is comprehensive and detailed, and makes extensive use of primary source citations. . . This important work remains a useful reference for anyone from the beginning undergraduate to the seasoned scholar."
The Journal of Indo-European Studies
"An encyclopedic coverage of the topic as far as the philosophical concept of woman is concerned: it is well written and instructive and deserves commendation."
Jean Bethke Elshtain
"This is a massively important work that deserves wide circulation and debate. Free from any narrow ideological agenda, Sister Allen's book offers analytic categories and conceptual frameworks that help to situate discussions of women philosophically. She gives us tools to use, deepening our understanding rather than feeding our resentment."
"A fascinating and extremely thorough work. . . This book provides a much-needed resource for attempting to bring woman back into philosophical consciousness."
Hervormde Teologiese Studies
"The extent of this work is awe-inspiring. . . . This volume has numerous strengths, including its detailed scholarship, clear writing, and user-friendly tables, which make this a valuable reference book."