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Throughout history, philosophers have retained a special place in our collective imagination even where interest in them has faded. Take Descartes or Nietzsche, for instance. Neither philosopher’s books would be considered standard material for the modern reader, yet through a few well placed witticisms the identities of these men have made lasting impressions on the Western mind. We see these impressions everywhere, from when we describe our relationships as ‘platonic’ to when we recite anecdotes about ancient Greeks dying in fits of laughter or Catholic priests turning out to be atheists all along. Our culture is, in other words, laced with titbits of philosophical history despite relatively few of us knowing much about it. We become acquainted with philosophers almost by osmosis.
In light of this, the leading question of Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting’s upcoming project is all the more striking—can you name any women philosophers? Regrettably few of us can, and for this we’re not to blame: our history books simply fail to mention them, and thus any culturally conceived idea we have of ‘a philosopher’ tends to be a male one. In the recently funded Philosopher Queens, however, two young researchers aim to dismantle this idea in their invaluable collection on women philosophers of history. Taking time out of their preparations to catch up with The Oxford Philosopher, we learned a bit about what was to come. (more…)