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How to Think Like a Woman : Four Women Philosophers Who Taught Me How to Love the Life of the Mind

Regan Penaluna
Format: Paperback
Publisher: ATLANTIC BOOKS (Grove Press)
Published: March 7, 2024
ISBN: 9781804710029
320 pages
Country of publication: United Kingdom

£10.99

As a young woman growing up in a small, religious community, Regan Penaluna daydreamed about the big questions: Who are we and what is this strange world we find ourselves in? In college she discovered philosophy and fell in love with its rationality, its abstractions, its beauty.

What Penaluna didn’t realize was that philosophy – at least the canon that’s taught in Western universities, as well as the culture that surrounds it – would slowly grind her down through its devaluation of women and their minds. Women were nowhere in her curriculum, and feminist philosophy was dismissed as marginal, unserious.

Until Penaluna came across the work of a seventeenth-century woman named Damaris Cudworth Masham. Reading Masham’s work was like reaching through time: writing three hundred years ago, Masham was speaking directly to her about knowledge and God, but also the condition of women. Her work eventually led Penaluna to other remarkable women philosophers of the era: Mary Astell, Catharine Cockburn and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Together these women rekindled Penaluna’s love of philosophy and taught her how to live a truly philosophical life. She combines memoir with biography to tell the stories of these four women, weaving throughout an alternative history of philosophy as well as her own search for beauty and truth. Formally inventive and keenly intelligent, How to Think Like a Woman is a moving meditation on what philosophy could look like if women were treated equally.

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