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Wollstonecraft, Mary (1759–1797)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L116-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2016
Retrieved March 18, 2018, from

Article Summary

Wollstonecraft was a republican thinker who produced influential texts on education, women’s rights, and the French revolution. Her writings were informed by Rousseau’s political and educational writings, and the thought of the radical dissenters. Her philosophy is perfectionist – she believed that human nature is first and foremost rational and can acquire virtue through education. Her political views are republican: independence from domination is of first importance, whether the dominating entity is a king, a master, or a husband; and citizens should depend on laws for their protection, not arbitrary or hereditary power. Wollstonecraft wrote two novels, several books on education, a history of the French Revolution, travel correspondence and two philosophical vindications, the second of which, the Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), is now regarded as her most important work.

Citing this article:
Berges, Sandrine. Wollstonecraft, Mary (1759–1797), 2016, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L116-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

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