Wollstonecraft, Mary (1759–1797)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L116-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 17, 2024, from

Article Summary

Wollstonecraft used the rationalist and egalitarian ideas of late eighteenth-century radical liberalism to attack the subjugation of women and to display its roots in the social construction of gender. Her political philosophy draws on Rousseau’s philosophical anthropology, rational religion, and an original moral psychology which integrates reason and feeling in the production of virtue. Relations between men and women are corrupted by artificial gender distinctions, just as political relations are corrupted by artificial distinctions of rank, wealth and power. Conventional, artificial morality distinguishes between male and female virtue; true virtue is gender-neutral, consists in the imitation of God, and depends on the unimpeded development of natural faculties common to both sexes, including both reason and passion. Political justice and private virtue are interdependent: neither can advance without an advance in the other.

    Citing this article:
    Zaw, Susan Khin. Wollstonecraft, Mary (1759–1797), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L116-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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