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Women Philosophers in Antiquity and the Reshaping of Philosophy
This paper is a response to and discussion of Maddalena Bonelli’s “Women philosophers in antiquity: Open questions and some results.” It also aims to advance the general discussion of the issues Bonelli raises. In it I contextualise Bonelli’s discussion, and take up three of her questions: What is the status of the work of restoring ancient women to the philosophical canon? What criteria ought we to use to decide who counts as a philosopher? What sort of philosophy did women practice in antiquity, and in what ways might the restoration of ancient women thinkers to the canon change the way we conceive of ancient philosophy itself? I consider the way in which Bonelli’s paper advances the discussion of each question, raise some worries about the discussions, and provide suggestions for how we might think about these issues further. I maintain that the reshaping of the philosophical canon that takes place when we integrate ancient women involves a reshaping of the discipline, and of our methods for accessing it. This is a result I argue we ought to embrace rather than resist. I conclude with a summary of the main contributions of Bonelli’s paper.