Kantian Journal

2019 Vol. 38. №3

Logic Manuals for Women in the Late Enlightenment Era


In the focus of my attention there are six German-language textbooks in logic published in the second half of the eighteenth century. What distinguishes these books is that they were all written specially for women. While such works were fairly common in France and Italy during this period, they had something of an exotic character in the German-speaking world. Today these works and their authors are generally seen as secondary and marginal. Nevertheless, they may be of substantial interest in the study of the history of the formation of logic, a fundamental and still relevant discipline in university education. What is the status of logic for women? Is it a kind of publishing by-product paraphrasing classical logic textbooks under a new and unusual title or do they represent a new independent branch? To answer these questions I analyse the chosen works on logic and the reviews which they prompted. I demonstrate that logic manuals for women published in Germany in the second half of the eighteenth century constitute one of the numerous varieties of the popular philosophy genre. Simple language, dialogic or epistolary form, practical orientation and eclecticism — all this brings logic within the intellectual reach of any civilised person, providing him/her with an instrument of performing their own mission, i. e. the employment of their reason. The very fact that the content of logic for women is practically no different from the content of classical compendiums was a revolutionary development, a practical implementation of the postulate that logic is universal and can be understood by everyone, a principle formulated earlier in the works of C. Thomasius and C. Wolff.

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