Early Modern Philosophy

Gender and Early Modern Women Philosophers

Why were the great seventeenth century philosophers and scientists bachelors?

They were either relatively poor (Descartes, Spinoza, Locke), or prohibited from marrying because they were priests (Fathers Marin Mersenne [1588–1648] and Pierre Gassendi [1592–1655]), or it was a tradition for men of learning not to have their own families. For example, Oxford dons were not allowed to marry at that time and the seven fellows of Gresham College (founded in 1558) were all bachelors. Another reason might have been the prevailing beliefs about the nature of women. Women were not allowed to be scholars, and wives and family life was not only considered a distraction for men of learning, but sexual relations were believed to be intellectually weakening for scholars.


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