In the English-speaking world, the history of modern philosophy—roughly, the period from 1600 to 1800—has traditionally been focused on a few great canonical figures, especially the “rationalists” Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz, and the “empiricists” Locke, Berkeley and Hume. For generations, students have learned about these figures, but have very rarely heard about any philosophical achievements of early modern women. This website helps us to transcend traditional narratives shaping the canon.
The website will be the virtual hub for an international network of scholars to work together in expanding our research and teaching beyond the traditional philosophical “canon” and beyond traditional narratives of modern philosophy’s history. . . .
Our website concerns the next major scholarly development: the acknowledgement that a number of early modern women have been unjustly ignored in our narratives. From Lady Masham, Margaret Cavendish and Anne Conway in England to Émilie Du Châtelet in France, many women played significant roles in the development of modern philosophy, but their contributions have often gone unnoticed. The website has three primary goals. First, it seeks to provide students at all levels with the materials they need to begin exploring the rich philosophical ideas of Cavendish, Conway, Du Châtelet and Masham. Second, it aims to provide teachers with the material they need to incorporate these four figures into their courses. Third and finally, it aims to help transform our current conception of the canon.