This book deals with a question that currently has a great deal of resonance among historians, feminists, and literary scholars: How was the nature of women redefined and debated during the French Enlightenment? Instead of treating the Enlightenment in the usual manner, as a challenge to orthodox ideas and social conventions, Lieselotte SteinbrA1/4gge interprets it as a deviation from a position staked out in the seventeenth century, namely, "the mind has no sex." In breaking with that view, the philosophes shifted the debate to categories like morality and sensitivity and took up economic issues as well. They inadvertently backed women into the corner of domesticity, where middle-class women remained for some time to come.
"[T]akes us elegantly and intelligently through the now familiar eighteenth-century guerelle des femmes....Her sparkling analyses focus on the question of morality and the place of compassion in a competitive society."--American Historical Review
"This short but dense book requires and deserves careful reading..."--The Historian
"This should be required reading for anyone taking a history of modern philosophy course or a women's study course."--Susan Martinelli-Fernandez, Western Illinois University