Women and the Enlightenment Research Proposal

Pages: 5 (1350 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

Women and the Enlightenment

The objective of this work is to read the text of Mary Wollstoncraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" and to consult other works in the consideration of whether Wollstonecraft's text represents a revolutionary break in thinking about women. This work will explain the answer provided in regards to how Wollstonecraft's ideas were radical and new or alternatively similar to others of her time.

Ferguson: The Radical Ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft

The work of Susan Ferguson entitled: "The Radical Ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft" states that "according to the standard narrative of feminist intellectual history, modern feminism in the English-speaking world begins with Mary Wollstonecraft's bold appeals for women's inclusion in a public life overwhelmingly dominated by men." (1999) Ferguson states additionally that specific attention "is drawn to her theories of character-formation and the importance of public education for women in nurturing the female faculty for reason." (1999) However, it is more recently suggested that "...this portrait of Wollstonecraft is unduly narrow, since it inspires a somewhat fail categorization of the first modern feminist as a liberal reformer and thus fails to elucidate the breadth of her social vision and the extent to which her ideas threatened to destabilize the ruling elite in late-eighteenth-century Britain." (Ferguson, 1999)Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Research Proposal on Women and the Enlightenment Assignment

It is related in the work of Ferguson that Wollstonecraft's radical spirit is generally held to be the reason for her "recognition and condemnation of the pervading social inequities of her day." (2009) However, it is suggested that Wollstonecraft "...politicizes two institutions central to liberal theory: class and family." (Ferguson, 1999) It is in this process that Wollstonecraft is stated to "not only distinguish herself from others within the classic liberal tradition" but also to "challenge the very separation of public and private spheres around which that tradition is constructed." (Ferguson, 1999) Ferguson holds that Wollstonecraft's critique "rests squarely on what is, essentially, a liberal socio-economic model: the free market activities of independent commodity producers...or in Marxist terminology, a model of petty-bourgeois economic competition." (Ferguson, 1999)

Ferguson states that there are two characteristics of "classic liberal thought" which can be emphasized: (1) liberalism is premised on the distinction between public and private realms of activities; (2) because the family and the economy are private and self-regulating, the social relations that comprise these institutions are either ignored or are presumed to be manifestations of individual preference or ability. As such they may be subject to a moral critique, but any challenge to inequality in the private sphere that fails to respect and preserve the private, self-regulating nature of these relations is essentially illiberal. (1999) Nineteenth century classical socialism effectively rejects "both the privatization and naturalization of the family and the economy." (1999) Ferguson states that from this view "family and economy are conditioned by, and representative of, changing social relations which develop, in turn according to the ongoing conflicts and compromises of class forces." (Ferguson, 1999)

Ferguson relates that it is suggested by several studies of Wollstonecraft that "her critique of the family...is...a challenge to the very structures which define it as a private, self-regulating institution." (1999) However, Ferguson states it is difficult to accept the claim that "Wollstonecraft challenges the structure distinction between public and private realms" although she does clearly politicize "the family insofar as she mounts a moral critique of the unequal gender relations therein." (1999) Ferguson also states that Wollstonecraft secondly "...sees no reason to blur the distinction between the household and civil society. In fact, she argues for its consolidation by confirming a natural sexual division of labor." (1999) Wollstonecraft's criticism of the domestic arrangements is stated to be "limited to the effect marriage and the household have on women's character formation." (Ferguson, 1999) It is the desire of Wollstonecraft that women move with greater ease between the household and civil society and that women do so "without jeopardizing the sanctity" of the household. (Ferguson, 1999)

II. Janes (1978)

The work of Janes (1978) entitled: "On the Reception of Mary Wollstonecraft's: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" published in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Women and the Enlightenment.  (2009, November 26).  Retrieved July 31, 2021, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/women-enlightenment/1104

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"Women and the Enlightenment."  Essaytown.com.  November 26, 2009.  Accessed July 31, 2021.