How to Think Like a Woman
As a young woman growing up in a small, religious community, Regan Penaluna daydreamed about the big questions: Who are we and what is this strange world we find ourselves in? In college she discovered philosophy and fell in love with its rationality, its abstractions, its beauty.
What Penaluna didn’t realize was that philosophy – at least the canon that’s taught in Western universities, as well as the culture that surrounds it – would slowly grind her down through its devaluation of women and their minds. Women were nowhere in her curriculum, and feminist philosophy was dismissed as marginal, unserious.
Until Penaluna came across the work of a seventeenth-century woman named Damaris Cudworth Masham. Reading Masham’s work was like reaching through time: writing three hundred years ago, Masham was speaking directly to her about knowledge and God, but also the condition of women. Her work eventually led Penaluna to other remarkable women philosophers of the era: Mary Astell, Catharine Cockburn and Mary Wollstonecraft.
Together these women rekindled Penaluna’s love of philosophy and taught her how to live a truly philosophical life. She combines memoir with biography to tell the stories of these four women, weaving throughout an alternative history of philosophy as well as her own search for beauty and truth. Formally inventive and keenly intelligent, How to Think Like a Woman is a moving meditation on what philosophy could look like if women were treated equally.
A sharp-eyed reappraisal of four brilliant women in history - and a provocative challenge to the philosophy bros -- Helen Lewis, author of DIFFICULT WOMEN In a world in which philosophy is not only sexist in underestimating women's actual and potential contributions, but actively misogynistic in pushing women out of the field, we need this book. How to Think Like a Woman is at once a deeply personal and philosophically riveting meditation on four brilliant and inspiring female philosophers that I learned so much from. A must-read for anyone who cares about what happens to women, young and old, in this needlessly and harmfully male-dominated profession. -- Kate Manne, author of ENTITLED: How Male Privilege Hurts Women A fascinating and illuminating work of non-fiction by a writer of real style and critical intelligence. Regan Penaluna has created an elegant synthesis of intellectual history, memoir and feminist polemic that deserves to be widely read as a corrective to centuries of misogyny and erasure in philosophy. -- Mark O'Connell, author of TO BE A MACHINE A feminist rallying cry informed by centuries of thought on the 'woman question', this elegantly written and intellectually rigorous memoir is a gift to women in male-dominated fields - and to everyone living a life of the mind while also trying to be a decent human being. -- Ada Calhoun, author of ALSO A POET
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