François Poulain de la Barre
Reuter, M. (2019). François Poulain de la Barre. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Winter 2019. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/francois-barre/
Published inStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
© The Author, 2019
François Poulain de la Barre (1648–1723) is known for his treatises De l’égalité des deux sexes [On the Equality of the Two Sexes] (1673), De l’éducation des dames [On the Education of Ladies] (1674) and De l’excellence des hommes [On the Excellence of Men] (1675). Despite its name the third treatise continues his defense of equality between the sexes by overturning rhetorically presented arguments on the behalf of the excellence of men. Together the three books constitute one of the most detailed analyses of the subjugation of women written in the seventeenth century. Poulain’s thought was deeply influenced by René Descartes’ philosophy. He used Descartes’ methods of doubt and right reasoning in order to reject prejudices about the inferiority of women and his arguments in defense of the equality of the sexes use many insights drawn from Descartes’ account of the nature of the human being. After an introductory biographical sketch, this entry will first examine the Cartesian foundations of Poulain’s thought and then proceed to a discussion of his analysis of the subjugation of women. Next, his four main arguments for the equality of the sexes are presented and evaluated. The entry closes with a brief discussion of Poulain’s direct and indirect relations to later developments in the history of feminist thought. Throughout, the aim is to present Poulain’s core ideas as well as examine their philosophical validity. ...
PublisherMetaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University
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