Female logicians and the purpose of philosophy

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Here is one of my favourite stories about Elizabeth Anscombe:

[O]nce, entering a smart restaurant in Boston, she was told that ladies were not admitted in trousers. She proceeded to take them off.

A story with the same moral was told by the logician and mathematician Christine Ladd-Franklin. Here it is recounted by Susan Stebbing in Thinking to Some Purpose (p.23):

Mrs. Ladd Franklin tells the story of a little girl, aged four, whose nurse objected to her table manners. ‘Emily,’ said the nurse, ‘nobody eats soup with a fork.’ ‘But,’ replied Emily, ‘I do, and I am somebody.’

The moral: Female logicians were troublesome in a society that aimed to control women.

More generally, people who think are difficult to control.

That, to me, is the point of philosophy.

Written by

Lecturer in Philosophy, University of St. Andrews — personal website: https://axdouglas.com/

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