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Ucla Ge Clust21 B Midterm Essay

1743 words - 7 pages

An active advocate for women. A fearless advocate for equality. A progressive advocate for social reform. Mary Wollstonecraft was a trailblazer of her time, bringing forth ideas that very few women chose to express. Her contributions towards gender equality are unparalleled and distinguished. With her bold statements and focused perspective, Wollstonecraft was not one to be overlooked by her male counterparts and likewise, she was not one to overlook their viewpoints. Her interaction with the works of Adam Smith and David Hume, specifically, is intriguing as she concurs with certain aspects of each of their works while firmly rebutting others. While she stood by Smith’s concept of the division of labor, she went in opposition to his theory of propriety. While she was content with Hume’s view on the importance of knowledge, passions and morals, she refuted him as he turned reason into the slave of passion. This unique mixing of viewpoints allowed Wollstonecraft to mold her place as one of the most influential philosophers of her time as well as in the study of modern thought. With her strong willed words, with her fresh prospect, with her distinctive critiques on Smith and Hume’s ideas, Wollstonecraft paved the path towards equality.
Being the wife of philosopher William Godwin, Wollstonecraft was no stranger to philosophical reasoning. And living during the age of Enlightenment and Revolution really helped shape her ideas and views. She considered both sides of the spectrum: the enlightenment as well as the revolutionary in order to craft her viewpoint. In the Enlightenment region, Wollstonecraft came to accord with the thoughts that education could be the key to finally equality between the two genders. If men can receive education and accomplish a certain goal, so can women. However, in order to support that statement, women would need to receive education. It is only after receiving education that “if women do not grow wiser in the same ratio it [would] be clear that they have weaker understandings” (Wollstonecraft 174). Wollstonecraft also furthered the point that if women “cannot attain the same degree of strength of mind, perseverance and fortitude, let their virtues be the same in kind, though they may vainly struggle for the same degree” (Wollstonecraft 188). She furthered the concept that everyone was equal regardless of their degree or experience as everyone may be better at something that others may not be, hence why women would “obtain a character as a human being, regardless of the distinction of sex” (Wollstonecraft 172).
Adam Smith, the father of modern economics and capitalism, was favorable towards the idea of the division of labor. If implemented, it would be “the greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed or applied” (“Wealth of Nations” 3). If providing multiple people specific tasks to perform towards a common...

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