The Silence of Descartes and Bacon

Reading (again) (this time in Daly) about how during the Renaissance it was so inconceivable that women were knowledgeable, especially with regard to the human body, that when they cured various ailments, they were not lauded as competent physicians but accused of consorting with the devil; such ‘witches’ were tortured with eye-gougers, branding irons, spine-rollers, forehead tourniquets, thumbscrews, racks, strappados, iron boots, and heating chairs. (A bit over-the-top, one can’t help but note.)

And as both a feminist and a philosopher, I am ashamed to say that it never occurred to me to wonder why Descartes and Bacon didn’t object; nowhere in all their voluminous writing do they address this being-‘punished’-for-knowing-something. So they approved? How could they?

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