Locke on women's rationality
Keywords:Locke, women, rationality, passions, physics
Feminist scholars deny that Locke attributed women a level of rationality identical to that of men; Nancy Hirschmann agrees with this claim, yet she insists that Locke did not conceive of this difference as natural but rather as artificially constructed through the sexual division of labour. This paper contends that sound evidence in Locke’s works suggests that the opposite was true: in Some Thoughts concerning Education he criticized mothers’ irrationality, and elsewhere he described women as easy prey for vehement passions, which could hardly be reconciled with rational behaviour. As a physician, Locke fully agreed with the medical literature of his time, which viewed women’s rational ability as naturally inferior to men’s because of their weak physical constitution.
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication, with the work five (5) years after publication licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- After five years from first publication, Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.