Abstract

This essay discusses historiographical issues relevant to restoring female philosophers of the past to philosophical view today. I argue that women philosophers have not been well served by Anglo-American conceptions of philosophical history which are wholly presentist in orientation and overly focused on canonical thinkers. Addressing some of the issues raised by Bernard Williams in his essay, “Descartes and the Historiography of Philosophy,” I argue that retrieving women philosophers from oblivion and obscurity requires an historical approach that does not separate the ‘history of philosophy’ from the ‘history of ideas’, but which is more historical and more inclusive. One way forward is to treat the history of philosophy as a conversation between philosophers across time.

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