Hypatia of Alexandria, Hildegard von Bingen, Simone de Beauvoir, and Ayn Rand all enjoy comparative rock star status when it comes to women in the traditionally male-dominated philosophy sphere. But they definitely aren’t the only names when it comes to eking out a place for ladyfolk amongst practitioners. While the following female philosophers boast varying levels of popularity in the classroom, they still offer some amazing ideologies to contemplate, either for class or during personal inquiry. Use them as a starter kit to exploring even more women philosophers who deserve recognition.
One of Delphi’s priestesses earned historical cred as the alleged mentor of no less than Pythagoras himself! The Suda even claims she may have been his sister as well, though no evidence exists either supporting or disproving the statement. Little is known about Themistoclea, though the first mention as the seminal mathematician and philosopher’s educator comes from Diogenes Laertius’ Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. He talks of her as the one responsible for inspiring Pythagoras’ “moral doctrines,” though he doesn’t comment further on the priestess’ life. In this instance, students would peer more into Themistoclea’s overarching influence through time rather than the woman herself.
Historians and philosophers debate over whether Arete of Cyrene’s father or son established the Cyrenaic school, though it’s entirely possible she herself may have done so and cultural mores pushed for a more patriarchal tale. This philosophy espoused hedonistic pleasures and the pursuit of the positive and avoidance of the negative. Legend has it the influential Arete of Cyrene spent 35 years as an educator and wrote more than 40 books, focusing largely on morals and earning the acclaim of her contemporaries.read more »