In early modern England, anonymous voices joined the philosophical debate, proposing new interesting ideas of political authority, moral responsibility, and individual autonomy. Particularly, two women philosophers, i.e., Damaris Cudworth Masham (1659-1708), and Catharine Trotter Cockburn (1679-1749), outlined a very interesting moral epistemology. Although their thoughts were independently developed, they shared the common idea that all human beings are naturally rational and social beings. By following the trajectory of this hypothesis, this paper aims to sketch both Lady Masham’s educational proposal and Trotter’s moral rationalism. According to the former, mothers, being the early educators of men, play a central role in human society, and consequently, far from being excluded from formal education, they should be educated for the sake of order in society. The latter, by challenging ancient authority and religious dogmatism, claims that a rational being should naturally act suitably to reason, and promote the good of others. Both Masham and Trotter were clearly inspired by John Locke; nevertheless, they presented original contributions, especially as regards the natural equality between woman and man. As a matter of fact, they argued that reason and sociality are natural characteristics common to all Mankind, and, accordingly, the disproportion between the social role of men and women has no natural and moral justification, and that women inferiority is morally impermissible. In this regard, these women philosophers were not merely handmaiden of their more famous correspondents, but were active contributors to the early modern philosophical discourse.

Damaris Masham And Catharine Trotter On The Naturally Rational And Social Identity Of Human Beings

emilio de tommaso
2016

Abstract

In early modern England, anonymous voices joined the philosophical debate, proposing new interesting ideas of political authority, moral responsibility, and individual autonomy. Particularly, two women philosophers, i.e., Damaris Cudworth Masham (1659-1708), and Catharine Trotter Cockburn (1679-1749), outlined a very interesting moral epistemology. Although their thoughts were independently developed, they shared the common idea that all human beings are naturally rational and social beings. By following the trajectory of this hypothesis, this paper aims to sketch both Lady Masham’s educational proposal and Trotter’s moral rationalism. According to the former, mothers, being the early educators of men, play a central role in human society, and consequently, far from being excluded from formal education, they should be educated for the sake of order in society. The latter, by challenging ancient authority and religious dogmatism, claims that a rational being should naturally act suitably to reason, and promote the good of others. Both Masham and Trotter were clearly inspired by John Locke; nevertheless, they presented original contributions, especially as regards the natural equality between woman and man. As a matter of fact, they argued that reason and sociality are natural characteristics common to all Mankind, and, accordingly, the disproportion between the social role of men and women has no natural and moral justification, and that women inferiority is morally impermissible. In this regard, these women philosophers were not merely handmaiden of their more famous correspondents, but were active contributors to the early modern philosophical discourse.
978-605-9207-22-5
Masham, Cockburn, Locke, Platonism, Moral Philosophy
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/306100
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