Philosophy as a feminist spirituality and critical practice for Mary Astell
(2020) Metaphilosophy, 51 (2-3), pp. 280-302.
The question of how gender might inflect and affect philosophy as a way of life has been somewhat neglected, as has the role of philosophical modes of living for historical female philosophers. This essay draws on Michel Foucault’s multifaceted, Hadot-inspired conception of philosophy to show how transformative philosophical practices of the self function as feminist praxis in the work of the early modern feminist philosopher Mary Astell. Philosophy in Astell’s texts, the essay argues, is a spiritual practice of the self that at the same time functions as a feminist critique both of sexist social structures and of the self that undertakes the practice. It facilitates women in achieving internal freedom. Finally, the essay discusses potential feminist concerns about Astell’s proposed philosophical way of living, before suggesting that it may have value for women today. © 2020 Metaphilosophy LLC and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
critique; early modern; feminism; Mary Astell; Michel Foucault; philosophy as a way of life; practices of the self; spirituality