The Great Gender Debate (1451)

in Complete Writings

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226590073
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226590097 | DOI:
The Great Gender Debate (1451)

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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Isotta Nogarola, an Italian-born French author and Ludovico Foscarini, a Venetian governor, debated the question in 1451 of whether Adam or Eve had committed the greater sin when they ate of the Tree of Knowledge and were expelled from Paradise. Quoting Aristotle, Foscarini argues first that ignorance is no excuse and second that pride was the cause of Eve's sin. Nogarola argues throughout that the female is by nature more fragile, more inconstant, and more ignorant than the male and that therefore she is not responsible for her actions. Two arguments point to Nogarola's final authorship. The first rests on an analysis of the arguments presented—Nogarola is the driving force, it is she who repeatedly raises new perspectives to challenge very old perceptions. The second rests on Foscarini's words to invite Nogarola to compose a polished literary work based on the views the two had exchanged.

Keywords: Ludovico Foscarini; Tree of Knowledge; Adam and Eve

Chapter.  9917 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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