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women in philosophy


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Are recorded in antiquity, though extant writings are few, and there is controversy over dating and authorship of texts. Most of the women whom ancient sources identify as philosophers are associated with schools or societies that admitted women, or are related to philosophers who made education available to them. Women are reported as writing philosophical and mathematical works, and teaching in positions of authority in established schools.

Pythagoreanism seems to have been hospitable to women from the start. Pythagoras taught women as well as men, and many are associated with the society. In other schools, Axiothea (who dressed like a man) and Lastheneia are cited as students of Plato and Speusippus; Epicurus admitted women to the Garden; Hipparchia, who married Crates, is noted for her cynic way of life. Arētē, daughter of Aristippus, is cited among the Cyrenaics. The Roman empress Iulia Domna attracted a lively circle of philosophers and sophists (see second sophistic). Philostratus calls her ‘the philosopher Iulia’.

The best‐known woman in ancient philosophy lived in late antiquity. Hypatia became head of the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria. A contemporary account of her hideous death at the hands of Christians in ad 415 is given by the ecclesiastical historian Socrates Scholasticus.

Subjects: Classical Studies — Philosophy.


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