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A Woman Who Defends All the Persons of Her Sex

Selected Philosophical and Moral Writings

Edited and Translated by Domna C. Stanton and Rebecca M. Wilkin

During the oppressive reign of Louis XIV, Gabrielle Suchon (1632–1703) was the most forceful female voice in France, advocating women’s freedom and self-determination, access to knowledge, and assertion of authority. This volume collects Suchon’s writing from two works—Treatise on Ethics and Politics (1693) and On the Celibate Life Freely Chosen; or, Life without Commitments (1700)—and demonstrates her to be an original philosophical and moral thinker and writer.

Suchon argues that both women and men have inherently similar intellectual, corporeal, and spiritual capacities, which entitle them equally to essentially human prerogatives, and she displays her breadth of knowledge as she harnesses evidence from biblical, classical, patristic, and contemporary secular sources to bolster her claim. Forgotten over the centuries, these writings have been gaining increasing attention from feminist historians, students of philosophy, and scholars of seventeenth-century French literature and culture. This translation, from Domna C. Stanton and Rebecca M. Wilkin, marks the first time these works will appear in English.

448 pages | 6 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2010

The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe

History: European History

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Women's Studies

Table of Contents


Series Editors’ Introduction

Volume Editors’ Introduction

Volume Editors’ Bibliography

I Treatise on Ethics and Politics, Divided into Three Parts:

Freedom, Knowledge, and Authority

Editors’ Introduction

Preface to the Treatise

From Part I, On Freedom, Where It Is Proven That Persons of the Sex Can Possess Freedom Even Though Deprived of It

From Part II, On Knowledge: Although Deprived of Knowledge, Persons of the Sex Do Not Lack the Necessary Qualities to Gain Knowledge

From Part III, On Authority: Women Can Share Authority without Deviating from the Submission They Owe to the First Sex


II On the Celibate Life Freely Chosen, or Life without Commitments

Editors’ Introduction


From Book I, Defi nition of Celibacy, Its Differences, Properties, and Titles

From Book II, Excellency and Privileges of Celibacy and Its Parallels with the Other Two Conditions

From Book III, The Schedule, Occupations, and Virtues Most Necessary to Persons Who Live without Commitments

Appendix: Complete Tables of Contents of the Entire Treatise on Ethics and Politics and On the Celibate Life Freely Chosen


Series Editor’s Bibliography



Society for the Study of Early Modern Women: EMW-Translation and Teaching Edition Award

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