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Early Modern Philosophy

Gender and Early Modern Women Philosophers

How did Mary Astell’s life affect her written work?

Astell was unmarried and spent much of her adult life in a community of women with similar backgrounds in London. She is famous for having said, “The whole World is a single Lady’s family.” But she never openly condemned the subordination of women in marriage because she herself believed in charitable service and the unselfish roles of women in family life. Her main objection to the nature of marriage at her time was that men chose wives mainly for material gain or temporary sexual passion; she wanted husbands and wives to have a bond of friendship.



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