Thinker: Mary Wollstonecraft

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THINKER: MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT The Enlightenment and its implications have been heavily debated for centuries. The ideas of thinkers such as Moses Mendelssohn and Immanuel Kant, who have each attempted to discuss and define the Enlightenment, each give insight into what it truly is. Mendelssohn concluded that Enlightenment is a process of reason and Kant believed that it was “man’s release from his self incurred immaturity” and boldly proclaimed that it is to “have the courage to know”. Mary Wollstonecraft, another Enlightenment thinker and debater, had some key ideas regarding her understanding of the Enlightenment and how it could rapture the past and change the future for the better. Wollstonecraft was an advocate for women’s rights and through this we can see that “modern feminism in the English-speaking world begins with Mary Wollstonecraft’s bold appeals for women’s inclusion in public life overwhelmingly dominated by men”. She challenged views on the roles of males and females at a particular radical time in late eighteenth century England, and argued that the reason for women's inferiority in society was due to their lack of access to proper education. It was fundamental to her beliefs that women would hold a greater place in society through educational opportunities which was in direct contradiction to that of the historical and contemporary opinions held by men about women and women about themselves. This radical perception of Wollstonecraft’s had radical implications across society in relation to the woman’s status in the home, at work and in political circumstances. The perception that Mary Wollstonecraft presented to the late eighteenth century England was a radical notion which debated past ideas about women and their place in society. She stated in her writing ‘A vindication of the Rights of Women’ that a woman’s “strength of body and mind are

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