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Lecture 13

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Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2111
Linda Hunter

SOAN 2111 LECTURE #13 ASTELL – LIFE AND IDEAS (1668 – 1731) Background and Publications - first English feminist and first Christian feminist - contribution to methodology - because she was a woman she wasn’t looked at in regards to her work - shared conservative politics within the church - Divine rights – kind of like Hobbes - Shared conservative politics of the established church – the divine right of the sovereign to rule o ‘Serious Proposal for the Ladies’: Part 1 1694, Part 2 1697 o ‘Some Reflections upon Marriage’(1700), based on an actual case demonstrating the legal disabilities of women  Can bring her into Locke’s work in regards to empiricism (experiences of women) - fierce opposition to Locke’s liberal politics o as much as she was interested in empiricism, she was against Locke’s liberal governments and how he went against governments o a bit of a contradiction o Methodology - Cartesian terminology o Theology: defining knowledge in terms of “clear and distinct” ideas o considerable scope for “opinion” o weighing and comparing evidence o can’t take bare words on trust - Astell allowed ideas of limited place for innate ideas o she warned of the possibilities of error in sense perception  Too easy to regard the opinion of others o “Ignorance then can’t be avoided but Error may…”  Errors come from our senses – biased by others who are strong willed  New ways of thinking, deducing societal issues - Knowledge is argued by reason and deduction - 3 modes of thinking: faith, science and opinion – each with its own limits o skeptical of the reliability of the senses; and of reason o common ground between faith & science – she did allow innate opinions and experience = great difference between science & opinion, but not so great as usual o Don’t always need a scientific process – every area has its own sphere that don’t always need to be comprehended by science - Contrary to idealists, she held that there are many truths our minds cannot comprehend o used the plural for understanding(s) and mind(s)  unlike Plato: ‘mind over matter’  Astell, like Locke, used a plural for understandings for individuals - “Good sense was not the birthright of all – tho more are born to, than make use of it.” 1 SOAN 2111 LECTURE #13 o we need to “distinguish between evidence and probability, reality and appearances” (Women Founders, p.45) - In order to cool our judgements and assumptions: make our “animal spirits” more calm and manageable o “our unruly passions” keep us from observing – we are not manageable  keeps us from observing intelligently  Calm down our drives and understand what is going on around us - Exercise Cartesian doubt – not to take bare words on trust, “but to see with his ‘own’eyes and to judge according to his ‘own’understanding” - women should have a life of mind against the conventional wisdom o does not accept that women are inferior to men, but we did have to approach life different then men Truth was external – our ideas are false, she claims, when they have no conformity to the real nature of the thing Set out 6 rules to help women use their minds properly: 1. Acquaint ourselves with the question thoroughly 2. Cut off all needless ideas 3. Conduct our thoughts by order 4. Not to leave any part of our subject unexamined 5. Always keep our subject directly in our eye 6. To judge no further than we perceive – don’t take anything for the truth - In some cases, we are forced to be content with probability. Stick with probability only when: o we have no proofs of a const
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