All three chapters in this section examine changing attitudes to gendered subjectivity in the age of Enlightenment, and all take as their starting point a fundamental contradiction. Vivien Jones explores the contradictory inheritance in Mary Wollstonecraft’s writings between a rationalist-Enlightenment feminism and a more essentialist view of femininity. Robin Howells writes of the tension between Rousseau’s theoretical stance and the urges driving his personal life: Rousseau himself described the resulting conflict as being ‘perpetually in contradiction with [him]self’. Philip Carter’s opening contradiction is already indicated in his title, ‘Tears and the Man’: can an Enlightenment man be both tearful and manly? All three authors then go on to show how these apparent opposites are reconcilable within a more complex framework moving beyond simple gender binaries.
KeywordsComplex Framework Willed Ignorance Apparent Opposite Essentialist View Sustained Preference
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