Feminist Critique Of Western Philosophical Tradition

Feminism criticized much of the Western Philosophical Tradition, which has been the bedrock for advancement in science and technology in recent centuries. Feminist criticism centers around the opinion of many great philosophers of the past, as well as the exclusion of women from such fields until very recent times.

Historical Figures

Feminists have criticized many historical figures in philosophy, for what they claim is rampant misogyny and sexism. Feminists have criticized Aristotle for his overtly sexist statements, which all assign bad connotations to women, and make them out to be inferior to men. A statement of Aristotle’s that has gained criticism is his claim that the courage of a man lies in commanding and that a woman’s lies in obeying. Many feminists have criticized this statement as Aristotle commanding women to be subservient to men, and establish a hierarchy where men are above women.


Many feminists claim that the values and foundations, on which philosophy is built, such as reason and objectivity, are gendered notions, and that the core concepts are gendered male. This, feminists believe, tarnishes philosophy’s core tenant of being universal and objective, since it is inherently biased towards one gender. They claim this because philosophers throughout time have associated reason and objectivity as masculine and something innately male, which feminists claim presents a bias against women.

Exclusion of Women

Feminists have also criticized the relative unimportance that female philosophers have been casted in throughout history, in favour of men, possibly being seen in a negative light due to philosophy being seen as a male preserve. In A History of Women Philosophers Mary Ellen Waithe documented at least 64 women philosophers, but their importance is not taught in philosophy and history of philosophy curriculums.

A response to this has been that some of the female philosophers have not contributed anything significant to the field, in comparison to some of their male peers, such as Aristotle and Plato, who have laid down the foundation for important subjects like science.

Feminists have tried to influence philosophical candidates to focus on significant female philosophers of the past, and in part, they have succeeded in accomplishing this and bringing more awareness to the role women played in philosophy. In The Encyclopedia of Philosophy published in 1967, there was no entry on a female philosopher out of 900, however there were entries for many important female philosophers by 1998.

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