This pioneering study by Sister Prudence Allen traces the concept of woman in relation to man in more than 70 philosophers from ancient and medieval traditions. The fruit of 10 years’ work, this study uncovers four general categories of questions asked by philosophers for 2,000 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 complementarity. 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.
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“When the universities were established in cities in the mid-thirteenth century, women were excluded from them, and sex complementarity in scholarly research ceased. In addition, the fragmentation of the faculties and disciplines also occurred during this important period. The importance of establishing faculties and disciplines each with a proper set of methodologies and premises should not be underestimated. However, they also began to focus the contributions of individuals toward a single field or discipline. Furthermore, these developments had devastating effects on the concept of woman because women were excluded from professional training in these single fields or disciplines.” (Page xxiii)
“However, the Aristotelian Revolution is not an overthrow in this sense; it is more properly understood as the first takeover of the western mind by a single theory of the concept of woman. It is, therefore, a revolution in the sense that it created a definitive context within which the subsequent development of thought about woman and man took place. Articulating the truth about the identity and relations of the sexes today requires reference to this revolution in western thought.” (Pages 1–2)
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.
—Religious Studies Review
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.
—The Journal of Indo-European Studies
Prudence Allen is professor of philosophy at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. She has spent more than 25 years engaged in research on the concept of woman in relation to the concept of man in philosophy.