Grounded in medical, juridical, and philosophical texts of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century France, this innovative study tells the story of how the idea of woman contributed to the emergence of modern science.Rebecca Wilkin focuses on the contradictory representations of women from roughly the middle of the sixteenth century to the middle of the seventeenth, and depicts this period as one filled with epistemological anxiety and experimentation. She shows how skeptics, including Montaigne, Marie de Gournay, and Agrippa von Nettesheim, subverted gender hierarchies and/or blurred gender difference as a means of questioning the human capacity to find truth; while 'positivists' who strove to establish new standards of truth, for example Johann Weyer, Jean Bodin, and Guillaume du Vair, excluded women from the search for truth. The book constitutes a reevaluation of the legacy of Cartesianism for women, as Wilkin argues that Descartes' opening of the search for truth 'even to women' was part of his appropriation of skeptical arguments.This book challenges scholars to revise deeply held notions regarding the place of women in the early modern search for truth, their role in the development of rational thought, and the way in which intellectuals of the period dealt with the emergence of an influential female public.
Ashgate Publishing Limited
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