Hot Best Seller

The Philosopher Queens: The lives and legacies of philosophy's unsung women

Availability: Ready to download

'This is brilliant. A book about women in philosophy by women in philosophy – love it!' Elif Shafak Where are the women philosophers? The answer is right here. The history of philosophy has not done women justice: you’ve probably heard the names Plato, Kant, Nietzsche and Locke – but what about Hypatia, Arendt, Oluwole and Young? The Philosopher Queens is a long-awaited book 'This is brilliant. A book about women in philosophy by women in philosophy – love it!' Elif Shafak Where are the women philosophers? The answer is right here. The history of philosophy has not done women justice: you’ve probably heard the names Plato, Kant, Nietzsche and Locke – but what about Hypatia, Arendt, Oluwole and Young? The Philosopher Queens is a long-awaited book about the lives and works of women in philosophy by women in philosophy. This collection brings to centre stage twenty prominent women whose ideas have had a profound – but for the most part uncredited – impact on the world. You’ll learn about Ban Zhao, the first woman historian in ancient Chinese history; Angela Davis, perhaps the most iconic symbol of the American Black Power Movement; Azizah Y. al-Hibri, known for examining the intersection of Islamic law and gender equality; and many more. For anyone who has wondered where the women philosophers are, or anyone curious about the history of ideas – it's time to meet the philosopher queens.


Compare

'This is brilliant. A book about women in philosophy by women in philosophy – love it!' Elif Shafak Where are the women philosophers? The answer is right here. The history of philosophy has not done women justice: you’ve probably heard the names Plato, Kant, Nietzsche and Locke – but what about Hypatia, Arendt, Oluwole and Young? The Philosopher Queens is a long-awaited book 'This is brilliant. A book about women in philosophy by women in philosophy – love it!' Elif Shafak Where are the women philosophers? The answer is right here. The history of philosophy has not done women justice: you’ve probably heard the names Plato, Kant, Nietzsche and Locke – but what about Hypatia, Arendt, Oluwole and Young? The Philosopher Queens is a long-awaited book about the lives and works of women in philosophy by women in philosophy. This collection brings to centre stage twenty prominent women whose ideas have had a profound – but for the most part uncredited – impact on the world. You’ll learn about Ban Zhao, the first woman historian in ancient Chinese history; Angela Davis, perhaps the most iconic symbol of the American Black Power Movement; Azizah Y. al-Hibri, known for examining the intersection of Islamic law and gender equality; and many more. For anyone who has wondered where the women philosophers are, or anyone curious about the history of ideas – it's time to meet the philosopher queens.

30 review for The Philosopher Queens: The lives and legacies of philosophy's unsung women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Iina

    An excellent introduction into the contributions women have made in philosophy and political thought. [I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but all views here are my own.] This book showcases a selection of female philosophers from Ancient Greece to modern day, with a few pages for each. I knew about some of these women, but most were quite unknown to me. The text is accessible to non-experts but enjoyable to those who know more about the topic; I was transported back to my stud An excellent introduction into the contributions women have made in philosophy and political thought. [I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but all views here are my own.] This book showcases a selection of female philosophers from Ancient Greece to modern day, with a few pages for each. I knew about some of these women, but most were quite unknown to me. The text is accessible to non-experts but enjoyable to those who know more about the topic; I was transported back to my student days (in the best way, I loved reading and studying these sorts of things). There is a good variety and diversity in the philosophers selected, and at the back of the book there are resources for further reading, and a longer list of other female philosophers one can research.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    I read this book slowly, savouring it - an entry each day (first thing in the morning, accompanying my breakfast). Before I started reading, I had only heard of 7 of the philosophers covered in this book. Of them, I could probably give a semi-detailed account of only 2. This is a great introduction to a diverse bunch of women across time and the globe, and their various notable contributions to various areas of philosophy (including feminism, political theory, metaphysics, phenomenology, morality I read this book slowly, savouring it - an entry each day (first thing in the morning, accompanying my breakfast). Before I started reading, I had only heard of 7 of the philosophers covered in this book. Of them, I could probably give a semi-detailed account of only 2. This is a great introduction to a diverse bunch of women across time and the globe, and their various notable contributions to various areas of philosophy (including feminism, political theory, metaphysics, phenomenology, morality and more). I like the care taken to choose and describe how each woman contributed to philosophy – what they wrote (if they did) and what they taught to others – their ideals and values and theories, their commentaries and developments on previous thoughts and their messages to others and influences on those following them. This book isn't just a collection of woman philosophers, it also carries undertones throughout speaking of the lack of recognition and injustice against women and their work, and is arguing for us to look out for and take female academics and philosophers more seriously, because unfortunately that bias is still prevalent today. The entries are written quite passionately. They read not incredibly formally and aloof, but lighter and more accessible, and, importantly, genuine and sincere. The authors are not coming from a neutral factual stance but a position of admiration - they express how good each woman philosopher was, how important their thoughts and work was (and is). Sometimes, with its use of metaphors and at times almost flowery language, the book reads as more descriptive and literature-like than most straight non-fiction. It's a different tone from most other books I've read, but I think I like it that way. The authors aren't trying to be something they're not, but writing in a way true to them. It's as if they are telling you in person about these philosophers (and I admire that). And despite every entry being written by a different author, they don’t read jarringly different at all – there's actually a really nice flow to the book as a whole. The only thing is, I want more. These are lovely little introductions, and after each entry I wanted to read more! But that's the point of the book of course - to introduce the reader to a number of women philosophers and their work. This is a starting point opening up all sorts of roads to explore further. (Though, it would be awesome if they made a 2nd version - 20 more Philosopher Queens, exploring some of the additional names listed in the back!) Oh, and have I not mentioned the artwork yet? It is beautiful, and really adds to the book. Love it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emma Shaw

    The Philosopher Queens is a beautifully illustrated non-fiction book that introduces the reader to the forgotten female voices of philosophy. A subject long dominated by the works of men, the author's of this book decided it was time to bring those forgotten voices into the light for all to hear and finally give them the credit for their contributions they deserve. The book is written as a series of essays that each focus on a different woman. The essay outlines the key points of her ideas and i The Philosopher Queens is a beautifully illustrated non-fiction book that introduces the reader to the forgotten female voices of philosophy. A subject long dominated by the works of men, the author's of this book decided it was time to bring those forgotten voices into the light for all to hear and finally give them the credit for their contributions they deserve. The book is written as a series of essays that each focus on a different woman. The essay outlines the key points of her ideas and influence on philosophy, as well as personal details such as her upbringing, education, personal life and character. At the end of the book there is information about where you can read more about them should you wish to further explore their ideas. For me, it was the personal details combined with the stunning portrait of each woman that accompanies each essay, that brought each woman to life and made them leap from the pages in vivid technicolour. I am not a philosopher. I've never studied it, and know very little about the subject. But I found this to be a fascinating read that educated me without feeling too heavy or academic. It surprised me to see some familiar names in this book, like George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans, to give her non-pen name), Iris Murdoch and Angela Davis, and I will certainly look at them, and their impact on our society, differently after reading this book. If you're looking for something different that you can pick up and read a little of when you have some time here or there, something educational or a book about amazing women and their ideas, then this is a book for you. It is in an important book that I hope will come to be studied in schools and universities for many years to come so that the future generations never forget the Philosopher Queens.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jen Burrows

    Philosopher Queens is a great introduction to the contributions women have made to the study of philosophy, from Ancient Greece to the modern day. I can't say I have much experience of reading philosophy, but I found this collection to be both accessible and engaging. There is a good range of philosophers covered (although the majority focus on the Western tradition), and I particularly enjoyed how each section offered both a biography and a concise insight into the philosophers' key theories. I Philosopher Queens is a great introduction to the contributions women have made to the study of philosophy, from Ancient Greece to the modern day. I can't say I have much experience of reading philosophy, but I found this collection to be both accessible and engaging. There is a good range of philosophers covered (although the majority focus on the Western tradition), and I particularly enjoyed how each section offered both a biography and a concise insight into the philosophers' key theories. It highlights how life experience can shape your philosophical focus, and the importance of diversity. I would recommend this to other readers who are new to philosophy, as well as those who want to broaden their existing knowledge. Philosopher Queens is an enjoyable and illuminating read. *Thank you to ThePigeonhole.com for sharing this book!*

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris Meinke

    This is a compelling collection of short biographies and overviews of 20 female philosophers from antiquity to present, written by 20 contemporary female philosophers. A great read, and a book destined to be one of those references that refuses to be shelved, as it presents a sort of amuse bouche of each thinker, giving you enough to whet your appetite and then providing a resource section listing primary and secondary sources for each for further exploration. The collection also includes a chro This is a compelling collection of short biographies and overviews of 20 female philosophers from antiquity to present, written by 20 contemporary female philosophers. A great read, and a book destined to be one of those references that refuses to be shelved, as it presents a sort of amuse bouche of each thinker, giving you enough to whet your appetite and then providing a resource section listing primary and secondary sources for each for further exploration. The collection also includes a chronological list of dozens of other women philosophers not included in the text (volume II?) not to mention the contributors themselves who are well worth looking in to. I should mention I was also a crowdsource contributor to this project, so perhaps have a little bias. Honestly though, I received my BA in philosophy in 1984 without studying a single female philosopher - that is a tragic gap I’m still trying to fill. Can’t wait to dig deeper into some of the women featured in this collection.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jane Hunt

    The Philosopher Queens is a beautifully illustrated collection of biographies of female philosophers from ancient time to the present time. This is just a few of the women who most books on great philosophers overlook, more are listed at the end. There is also a list of further reading sources and details about the contributors. A colourful illustration prefaces each concise biography. It is of interest to those who like to learn but also a textbook for those studying philosophy more widely. This The Philosopher Queens is a beautifully illustrated collection of biographies of female philosophers from ancient time to the present time. This is just a few of the women who most books on great philosophers overlook, more are listed at the end. There is also a list of further reading sources and details about the contributors. A colourful illustration prefaces each concise biography. It is of interest to those who like to learn but also a textbook for those studying philosophy more widely. This is a well-presented book. It informs and intrigues the reader to find out more about these remarkable women and their work. I received a copy of this book from Unbound publishing in return for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jacqui

    Twenty contemporary scholars each write a concise and inviting introduction to the work of an underrepresented woman in philosophy. An inspiring read for anyone curious to learn more about these diverse, influential philosophers. Don’t let yourself be one of the people incapable of naming a non-male philosopher! An added bonus is that the book (I have the hardcover) and its illustrations are beautiful. Quality all around.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fernanda Ortega

    This book is amazing! Get it now! Now! Don’t be shy read it now!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella Hoff

    JULY 2020 My third book for the Reading Rush 2020 Essential for getting into philosophy with a feminine touch, the pictures were GORGEOUS and it was overall very eye opening and now I got a lot of people to look into

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Brown

    This is a beautifully illustrated book and just to have and hold it is an experience in itself. Inside are larger versions of the cover illustrations. I certainly never knew of the existence of the majority of these women philosophers or their work. It was a real eye opener to discover that some of them hail from many centuries ago. If you think this book is a complete guide, think again as there is a list of many more inside. But for now this is a very decent start. I had intended to read a "Que This is a beautifully illustrated book and just to have and hold it is an experience in itself. Inside are larger versions of the cover illustrations. I certainly never knew of the existence of the majority of these women philosophers or their work. It was a real eye opener to discover that some of them hail from many centuries ago. If you think this book is a complete guide, think again as there is a list of many more inside. But for now this is a very decent start. I had intended to read a "Queen" a day but once I got started I found that I wanted to read more and so I did far many more than that in one sitting. I've never studied philosophy although I have read a few books on the subject over the years. What I liked about this (apart from spotlighting unsung women) is that each philosopher has their life span shown and some background about their life is given as well as the basic concept of their take on philosophy. If you want to read more you can easily research using the information given. Also at the back of the book is a handy section about the individual authors who contributed to this book. Two of the philosophers stood out for me. One was Mary Midgley who had a late start in life but wrote over 200 hundred books, articles and chapters between the ages of 59 and 99. She passed away in 2018. The other was Elizabeth Anscombe who wrote a ground breaking work entitled "Intention". This was mainly in response to the decision President Truman made to drop the atomic bomb in 1945. I found myself thinking of a parallel in the decisions made by world leaders during the pandemic times of 2020. There's certainly plenty of food for thought in this collection.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    Many, many years ago, I faced the choice of what subject to study at university. I was taking Religious Studies for A Level, which was split between ethics and philosophy, and I much preferred the ethics component for its real-world applicability - I preferred working through issues that affect people in the world immediately to pondering the existence of god or the separation (or otherwise) between body and mind. I thought philosophy at university would be all of the former and none of the latt Many, many years ago, I faced the choice of what subject to study at university. I was taking Religious Studies for A Level, which was split between ethics and philosophy, and I much preferred the ethics component for its real-world applicability - I preferred working through issues that affect people in the world immediately to pondering the existence of god or the separation (or otherwise) between body and mind. I thought philosophy at university would be all of the former and none of the latter - so I applied to do history instead. I now realise, from The Philosopher Queens, that that wouldn’t have been the case! Some of the women who feature between its covers do fit my erroneous image of philosophers being all about god and dualism, but their ideas are original and refreshing, and would liven up any traditional, overly-male A Level or university module. Others, such as Simone de Beauvoir and Angela Davis (both of whom I had heard of before, but didn’t know much about), and Mary Midgley and Iris Marion Young (both of whom I hadn’t, and would now like to learn more about!) especially appealed to me because they actively engage with everyday issues, including experiences from their own lives. The Philosopher Queens is a really accessible book. The authors’ short chapters and understandable language give you a digestible taster of each philosopher’s life and key ideas, and there’s a selective bibliography to help you find out more about those who interest you the most. Non-white and non-Western women are represented, and the authors openly acknowledge their subjects’ outdated or offensive views, as well as the privilege that helped a number of them pursue careers in philosophy. I also loved the colourful, bold illustrations throughout the book. A big theme that runs through the chapters is men preventing these intelligent, innovative women from achieving their potential. It was so infuriating to see men downplay or take the credit for women’s work, or block them from positions they clearly deserved. It says it all that during WWII, without so many men in their classes at Oxford, an unusual number of women were able to make philosophy their career! The Philosopher Queens is an accessible introduction to the work and lives of several interesting women who should be better-known.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I’ve just read this via Pigeonhole and it’s proved to be another fantastic opportunity to pick up a book I might never otherwise have read. This book is a series of essays each about a different woman who has contributed to the field of philosophy. Some like Simone de Beauvoir and Mary Wollstonecraft I had heard of before and was not surprised to see them here, others like George Eliot and Iris Murdoch I’d heard of but would have never considered them philosophers. Whether the names are familiar o I’ve just read this via Pigeonhole and it’s proved to be another fantastic opportunity to pick up a book I might never otherwise have read. This book is a series of essays each about a different woman who has contributed to the field of philosophy. Some like Simone de Beauvoir and Mary Wollstonecraft I had heard of before and was not surprised to see them here, others like George Eliot and Iris Murdoch I’d heard of but would have never considered them philosophers. Whether the names are familiar or not the stories are fascinating. Each essay gives us an introduction to the philosophies and writings of one woman who has influenced the field. They give the human side as well as the academic giving a sense of upbringing and context to why each of these women have had a voice in a very male dominated field. An excellent read, not too academic and not too light touch. A great entry to then go on and explore the original writings of these ‘philosopher queens’ if you wish.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Icy Sedgwick

    This is a fascinating collection of essays that serve as a good introduction to these often unknown female philosophers. It's certainly served to boost my reading list somewhat! As the essays are all written by different contributors, the quality is slightly uneven, with some essays more dense or focused on the biography than others. In others, the chapters assume a background in philosophy, and if the concepts aren't explained, I'm none the wiser as to what their work was about. For me, the cha This is a fascinating collection of essays that serve as a good introduction to these often unknown female philosophers. It's certainly served to boost my reading list somewhat! As the essays are all written by different contributors, the quality is slightly uneven, with some essays more dense or focused on the biography than others. In others, the chapters assume a background in philosophy, and if the concepts aren't explained, I'm none the wiser as to what their work was about. For me, the chapters in which the philosopher's work is unpacked and explained were the most successful. Either way, it's a good collection and it goes at least a small way towards redressing the balance.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    This is a really informative and thoroughly interesting introduction to female philosophers. The Philosopher Queens is a series of chapters about 20 influential female philosophers. I say “influential”, but it’s not until you read about them that you realise just how influential they were and continue to be. Anyone would think that there are NO female philosophers for all the exposure that they’ve had in the mainstream. As with so many subjects in academia and society, women were studying and ma This is a really informative and thoroughly interesting introduction to female philosophers. The Philosopher Queens is a series of chapters about 20 influential female philosophers. I say “influential”, but it’s not until you read about them that you realise just how influential they were and continue to be. Anyone would think that there are NO female philosophers for all the exposure that they’ve had in the mainstream. As with so many subjects in academia and society, women were studying and making contributions to philosophy, but it was nearly always the men who were in the limelight. When I read this book though, I could see just how much these women have formed my thoughts and opinions: feminism' politics, morality - as well as things that I haven’t ever really thought or heard of, including phenomenology. This is a really accessible route into learning about philosophy, whilst at the same time it’s not overly simple either. They’re great overviews, and they explain some quite difficult concepts in a way that I could understand. I’m glad that I read it! Many thanks to The Pigeonhole for serialising this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    The ‘Philosopher Queens’ by Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting is an enlightening book about twenty women philosophers armed with intelligent and the ability to bring new opinions and ideas to fruition. I was very lucky to read this book on thepigeonhole.com along with other readers, daily reading and discussions of ideas that have helped to shape society as a whole in various countries. A remarkable insight from these women into the nature of theories of morals, ethics and bio-ethics which, are re The ‘Philosopher Queens’ by Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting is an enlightening book about twenty women philosophers armed with intelligent and the ability to bring new opinions and ideas to fruition. I was very lucky to read this book on thepigeonhole.com along with other readers, daily reading and discussions of ideas that have helped to shape society as a whole in various countries. A remarkable insight from these women into the nature of theories of morals, ethics and bio-ethics which, are relevant in the past centuries and also resonate in today’s society. So great to read about women philosophers and learn about and from them. A very different voice speaks in each chapter. A remarkable book about remarkable women philosophers.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Smith

    These little vignettes of women philosophers are excellent and so interesting. They are short enough to be readable by anyone and informative enough to give a brief overview of their lives and philosophies. The book starts way back in the time of Plato and comes bang up to date. Some I had heard of - Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Warnock and George Elliot - and didn’t realise they all were philosophers! I particularly enjoyed reading about those from other cultures and the contem These little vignettes of women philosophers are excellent and so interesting. They are short enough to be readable by anyone and informative enough to give a brief overview of their lives and philosophies. The book starts way back in the time of Plato and comes bang up to date. Some I had heard of - Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Warnock and George Elliot - and didn’t realise they all were philosophers! I particularly enjoyed reading about those from other cultures and the contemporary subjects who believe philosophy should address real issues and lead by example! I read this book on The Pigeonhole online book club and it’s not a book I would have necessarily found otherwise but I am so glad I did!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hamilton

    Read via The Pigeonhole. This a fascinating & informative book about female philosophers from ancient history to modern times who's contributions have often been overlooked. Learned about several ladies who have contributed to both the fields of philosophy & feminism, which have impacted our lives today. This has encouraged me to read more about these ladies, as the book is a very good starting point as it gives an overview of their lives & work. Read via The Pigeonhole. This a fascinating & informative book about female philosophers from ancient history to modern times who's contributions have often been overlooked. Learned about several ladies who have contributed to both the fields of philosophy & feminism, which have impacted our lives today. This has encouraged me to read more about these ladies, as the book is a very good starting point as it gives an overview of their lives & work.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I was fortunate to read this book with the Pigeonhole otherwise I probably wouldn't have chosen it. I have to confess that I'd only heard of a few of the remarkable women whose stories are told in this fascinating book. However I feel that maybe it's time I looked into their lives more closely. Most informative and enjoyable. I was fortunate to read this book with the Pigeonhole otherwise I probably wouldn't have chosen it. I have to confess that I'd only heard of a few of the remarkable women whose stories are told in this fascinating book. However I feel that maybe it's time I looked into their lives more closely. Most informative and enjoyable.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Mackenzie-Smaller

    I read this with The Pigeonhole and found it fascinating. It’s a collection of brief essays about women philosophers, who are sorely underrepresented in the teaching of philosophy. There were very few with whom I was familiar and some who I knew, but was interested to see how often their work and achievements were held back or undermined by men. I found the chapters on modern philosophers especially interesting, particularly the work of people like Angela Davis and Mary Warwick - showing us how f I read this with The Pigeonhole and found it fascinating. It’s a collection of brief essays about women philosophers, who are sorely underrepresented in the teaching of philosophy. There were very few with whom I was familiar and some who I knew, but was interested to see how often their work and achievements were held back or undermined by men. I found the chapters on modern philosophers especially interesting, particularly the work of people like Angela Davis and Mary Warwick - showing us how far there is still to go in a quest for equality, not just of gender, but of race. Well-written, accessible but thought-provoking. I would definitely recommend this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Damian Masterson

    Great introduction, and hopefully the start of a series It’s to this books great credit that immediately on finishing it, you wish there were another book containing the philosophers there was not room for. Many of the figures discussed were wholly new to me, and there was something new to discover in those I already knew well.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    As someone who has studied philosophy in the past, it such a shame that these remarkable women were not included!!! I might then have carried on my studies on the subject! The authors write just enough to peak interest to find out more about the philosophers, and gives a nice overview. Easy to read and follow and would definitely recommend as a nice overview to some complex ideas from some amazing women! Read through pigeonhole app.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jodie

    I loved this but it’s too short : (

  23. 5 out of 5

    Max

    4.5 A brilliant and much needed collection. Quite accessible and would recommend to anyone with any interest in Philosophy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Helen Moore

    A very interesting and informative book about the remarkable women who are often left out of philosophy history, I would recommend it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rosemarie

    Review on blog 19th September 2020 Comprehensive, insightful and engaging collection of biographies of philosophers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marta

    So many fascinating women to know and admire! This is a great starting point for more philosophy in my life! :)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Juli Rahel

    I have always been interested in philosophy, in the why behind what we do and how we do it. While digging straight into philosophy books is one way of approaching it, I have always liked knowing something more of the philosopher themselves, of where they came from and what they did, not just what they thought. The Philosopher Queens is therefore the perfect introduction for someone like me. Thanks to Unbound and to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest re I have always been interested in philosophy, in the why behind what we do and how we do it. While digging straight into philosophy books is one way of approaching it, I have always liked knowing something more of the philosopher themselves, of where they came from and what they did, not just what they thought. The Philosopher Queens is therefore the perfect introduction for someone like me. Thanks to Unbound and to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'm not sure when I was first exposed to philosophy, but it's probably a safe bet that it was the Greek philosophers I first became familiar with. It was only during high school that I delved into some of the philosophies central to modern life a bit more deeply. It was also during high school that I first felt discomfort at the typical idea, or image, of what a "philosopher" is. I couldn't recognize myself in it, or anyone I knew, and I often wondered how these distant characters could in any way have an idea of what my motivations or thoughts are. Perhaps this is why one of the few philosophers I've always admired is Diogenes. I mean, dude lived in a barrel and couldn't care less about authority. Hygienic? No. Interesting? Very much so. Just like Diogenes kind of shifted my ideas of what a philosopher was, so The Philosopher Queens resets the whole image. Taking its name from Plato's Republic, where the "philosopher kings" are in charge of governing, The Philosopher Queens introduces the reader to various women who, in their own ways, have contributed to history and philosophy, through teaching, writing, poetry or advocacy. The Philosopher Queens is made up of a variety of essays, each written by a female philosopher about another. Buxton and Whiting have managed to include a relatively wide variety, both temporal and geographical, of philosophers in this book. We have Ban Zhao from first century China, who walks a fine line between expressing a woman's difficult position in a patriarchal society and reaffirming the rules of that exact same patriarchal society. We are also introduced to Lalla, a fourteenth century Kashmiri poet and yogini, whose poetry brought the complex, non-dualist ideas of Shaivism into her poetry and therefore closer to the people. I was fascinated to learn about Sophie Bosede Oluwole, a Nigerian philosopher who sadly passed away two years ago. Her work on bringing attention to African, and especially Oruba, philosophy and giving it a place next to the Western tradition is very interesting and I am planning on doing a lot more reading about her. There are also a few more familiar faces, like Mary Wollstonecraft, Hannah Arendt, Angela Davis, and Simone de Beauvoir, and it's great to see them within the context of these other philosophy queens. What The Philosopher Queens does very well is recreating the image of the "philosopher". Many of the women in this book find themselves trying to overcome societal hurdles, which informs and influences their future work, in ways male philosophers will not have. Angela Davis' work was marked deeply by the racial violence she experienced and witnessed in America. Similarly, Hannah Arendt's status as country-less influenced how she saw human rights. We also see the consequences of this pushing of boundaries, whether it is Hypatia's brutal murder or the setting aside of Harriet Taylor Mill despite John Stuart Mill's best efforts. The authors of the biographies also don't shy away from showing that these queens are not perfect. Some, like Arendt for example (or Marx!), were rather racist. Others, like Mary Astell, found themselves both for and against women's liberation and enfranchisement. The Philosopher Queens shows us that philosophy doesn't require perfection, but that it does require a constant engaging with the world around you. Almost all the women discussed in this book make the choice to bring their philosophical knowledge to contemporary political and social issues. Philosophy, in their eyes, is not something separate, only to be practiced in an ivory tower. Rather it is something that should be used every day for the betterment of humanity and the clarification of issues. Buxton and Whiting do a great job at bringing together these various biographies, writing some themselves. What these contributions do well is show the passion of the writers for these women philosophers. They were each trailblazers in their own way and their contributions were not just vital to their field but also vital to inspiring new generations of philosophers. It means The Philosopher Queens isn't overly academic, but makes for a great introduction that will light a spark in the reader. I requested various library books by these queens after finishing the book, which surely is what Buxton and Whiting were aiming for. My only gripe is that I would have liked to see the inclusion of some women from the Middle Ages. I think Hildegard von Bingen could have been a great addition, as well as Christine de Pizan or even Margery Kempe. However, there is quite an extensive index of further philosopher queens at the end of the book, so I'll keep my fingers crossed for a Part II. It's also important to note that the illustrations in The Philosopher Queens are stunning. A portrait precedes each biography and I found myself returning to them each time after having read the biography and considering them in detail. What I only realized after finishing The Philosopher Queens is that we only have it due to a crowdfunding campaign, spearheaded by Buxton and Whiting. Firstly, a major thank you to everyone who contributed. This is a great book and I'm glad it exists. Secondly, it really struck me that there is such a demand for books such as these, and yet it takes crowdfunding to get it to the reader. It is a real shame that the publishing industry itself has not quite opened up yet to projects like these, but hopefully with books such as The Philosopher Queens, and its hoped for success, this can and will change. I greatly enjoyed The Philosopher Queens. Although I had initially considered taking it slowly, I found myself unable to put the book down, fascinated and drawn in by each of the biographies. Whether you're a philosophy buff or someone looking to get interested, this is a great book to start with. The extensive bibliography will give you plenty of reading material afterwards!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    In the history of philosophy there are the big names - Plato, Locke and dozens of others that it is possible to name. The glaring omissions are a bit more tricky to name; Hypatia, Eliot, De Beauvoir and Warnock are women who were philosophers and writers, but who even specific histories of philosophy ignore. Not because their writings were unimportant or not influential, but simply because they were women. This brilliant book tries to address this by presenting twenty portraits of women who thro In the history of philosophy there are the big names - Plato, Locke and dozens of others that it is possible to name. The glaring omissions are a bit more tricky to name; Hypatia, Eliot, De Beauvoir and Warnock are women who were philosophers and writers, but who even specific histories of philosophy ignore. Not because their writings were unimportant or not influential, but simply because they were women. This brilliant book tries to address this by presenting twenty portraits of women who through the ages and across the world have been effectively philosophers, attempting to transform the world with their views, and often their protests. The reader does not need to have heard of these twenty brave women before to enjoy this book, as each writer who has written a portrait gives the basic biographical details in a colourful and lively way. As each of the twenty writers have a background themselves in philosophy and academic studies, their portraits give a fair idea of who each woman was, their importance in their own context and their lasting effect on the history of ideas. Some have excelled in linked fields to philosophy such as literature or mathematics, while their demands and protests for fair treatment on the basis of their identity as women, race or other differences. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read, enjoy and review this book. The twenty portraits are designed collectively to assist in the process of changing “the popular perceptions of philosophy” by adopting “a broad definition of ‘philosopher’”. So this book begins with a woman, Diotima, who featured in Plato’s “Symposium” but who has never achieved the fame of the other star of Plato’s writing, Socrates. Hypatia was a mathematician first, but used her fame to question the current political status quo. Women from China, Ban Zhao, and Kashmir, Lalla also feature as early thinkers and influencers of thought. Mary Wollstonecraft is well known in Britain as author of the powerful “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” in 1792, but less well known is her predecessor in many ways, Mary Astell, writer of a feminist philosophical treatise “A Serious Proposal to the Ladies” in 1694. George Eliot - real name Mary Anne Evans - is primarily known as a fiction writer, but Clare Carlisle shows how her female characters were portraits of women under pressure from society in various ways. Mary Warnock, who died in 2019, introduced many to the study of ethics in her book “An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Ethics” (1998), as well as doing ground breaking work in the field of reproductive policies. American “structural injustice” and difficult racial situations have been criticised by several women here, while Islamic jurisprudence has been a contentious subject tackled by Azizah Y. al - Hibri who is the final subject of this book. This is a book which also includes a list of further reading about and by the subjects of the portraits, which will be of great interest to those who wish to discover more about specific women. The list of other philosopher queens also means that those who did not make the list of twenty are recognised briefly and named to allow further investigation. The individual authors are identified and given due credit for the contributions. This is a very impressive book which is very readable for the non specialist or academic as a book of women who have made a difference. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history of philosophical thought and action, and everyone who is fascinated by important feminist thinkers and beyond.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Viola

    Missing voices: guide to female philosophers counters absence in textbooks The Philosopher Queens highlights thinkers from Hypatia to Hannah Arendt who the authors say are missing in most accounts of the subject Alison Flood Fri 18 Sep 2020 Photograph: Rachel Weisz as the philosopher Hypatia in the 2009 film Agora. Two philosophy graduates are bringing out a book celebrating history’s unsung female philosophers, after realising that most textbooks and guides they found on the subject didn’t includ Missing voices: guide to female philosophers counters absence in textbooks The Philosopher Queens highlights thinkers from Hypatia to Hannah Arendt who the authors say are missing in most accounts of the subject Alison Flood Fri 18 Sep 2020 Photograph: Rachel Weisz as the philosopher Hypatia in the 2009 film Agora. Two philosophy graduates are bringing out a book celebrating history’s unsung female philosophers, after realising that most textbooks and guides they found on the subject didn’t include a single woman. Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting came up with the idea for The Philosopher Queens while searching for a book about history’s greatest female thinkers. “There were none,” said Buxton. “We did however find a book called The Great Philosophers, where every chapter was about a man, and every chapter was written by a man. This is common, with most public philosophers being men and most classrooms only teaching the ‘greats’ – who all happen to be men. Even very recently, the philosopher AC Grayling published a book on The History of Philosophy, which includes no chapters on any female philosophers and a three-and-a-half-page review of ‘feminist philosophy’ which only mentions one woman by name.” This is not, stresses Buxton, because there are no female philosophers. She pointed to Hypatia of Alexandria, a mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who “was hugely famous in her day – politicians used to go to her for advice and she was known as simply ‘The Philosopher’”, and to Mary Astell, the 17th-century early feminist thinker. “It wasn’t that these women were never taken seriously as rigorous and intelligent individuals by their contemporaries, so why have they been forgotten?” she asked. “The response usually given by people who have not included women in their accounts of the history of philosophy is that none were influential enough or produced high enough quality work to be included. However, once you know a little about the women in the book you can see that some of them were actually very well known in their day.” There are a few studies of female philosophers, Buxton added, but these are aimed at an academic audience. So after finding “countless women who were worthy of the ‘great philosopher’ title”, Buxton and Whiting decided to bring out a riposte to The Great Philosophers, with every chapter both about a woman philosopher, and written by a female philosopher. Crowdfunding publisher Unbound picked it up, and the title smashed its pre-order target in just 28 days, with sales to international publishers in five different languages. Moving from Mary Wollstonecraft and Simone de Beauvoir to Ban Zhao, the renowned Chinese historian, and Angela Davis, the political activist, it is intended to highlight for the general public “the ways the history of philosophy has not done women justice”. According to Buxton, many people have an “entirely skewed” understanding of the history of philosophy. “In order to properly understand the past, we need to pay attention to who has been forgotten,” she said. “These women also had incredibly valuable ideas that still impact the way that we think about the world today. For example, there has never been a better time to read Angela Davis’s Women, Race and Class. Her book tells us so much about our current moment and deserves far more attention.”

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    These essays highlight the fact that for too long philosophy has been viewed as a Male domain, and that philosophical thinking has been seen through the lens of a male perspective. This has lead to a narrowing of views, of perceptions and focus. This collection debunks the myth that intelligent free thinking women are a modern construct. While it is true that opportunities for women have grown in recent decades, it is ridiculous to believe that intelligent women haven’t lived and thought through These essays highlight the fact that for too long philosophy has been viewed as a Male domain, and that philosophical thinking has been seen through the lens of a male perspective. This has lead to a narrowing of views, of perceptions and focus. This collection debunks the myth that intelligent free thinking women are a modern construct. While it is true that opportunities for women have grown in recent decades, it is ridiculous to believe that intelligent women haven’t lived and thought throughout history. Rather like colourising a sepia photograph, these essays bring our focus into sharp relief and turn the spotlight on brilliant women too long over looked. I have never studied philosophy in it’s own right, and before I read this book I was thinking of it’s content in terms of challenge. However having studied Sociology, Pyschology, English Literature, not to mention any number of pedagogies associated with teaching, I am familiar with the names and basic premises of many male philosophers such as Kant and Rosseau, Plato and Socrates. Yet when I challenged myself to think of female philosophers, I drew a complete blank. I was expecting to encounter women I had never heard of before. And yet while many of the women explored in these page are unknown to me, many are not. Iris Murdoch, George Eliot, Simone De Beauvoir and Mary Wollstonecraft, for example are well known names but no one, in any context or course of study, has ever framed their work as philosophy to me and I, foolishly perhaps, have never made that leap. This book provided me with fresh eyes through which to view old friends, to seek new inspiration and explore new ideas. Within this collection the reader will find philosophers from across the decades and from a wide range of cultural and societal backgrounds. I have no intention of listing all the women written about here; it is enough to know that we begin in Ancient China, travel through Ancient Egypt and leave within the realms of Modern Islamic thinking. There is something for everyone within this book and every reader’s responses will be unique. I, for example, was fascinated by the quartet of Oxford Wartime Philosophers; Murdoch, Midgley, Anscombe and Foot. Working together through out the Second World War and beyond, challenging each other and taking advantage of the unique academic opportunity afforded to them by an absence of men. And perhaps given my day job, it is not surprising that Mary Warnock grabbed my attention. Her work on the ethics surrounding the issue of surrogacy, and her role in championing the educational and social rights of children with Special Educational Needs through the Warnock Review have changed the course of many lives. As such Mary Warnock’s work highlights the tangible importance and impact of philosophical thinking on society today. And if we only value male philosophical perspectives then that impact is hopelessly one sided and skewed. However you choose to read this book, whether cover to cover like myself, pausing between each essay to digest and reflect; or dipping in and out, over a period of days, weeks or months, this is book to educate and challenge. And I already have this one marked up as a Christmas present for some budding philosophical female thinkers in my life!!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.