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The Future is Schurman

Anna Maria van Schurman deserves a spot on any syllabus, as she embodies a true genius who has excelled in all of her fields. A talented artist, a genius philosopher, a dedicated theologian, and a well-rounded linguist who spoke 14 different languages, Anna Maria really has it all. She is the hallmark example of the potential of women when they are educated– which is exactly the cause she championed. While many philosophers face critiques for being “out of touch with reality” or “idealistic,” Schurman’s philosophy is grounded in reality and her material conditions. She writes of the current status of women in The Learned Maid, as well as their material, domestic, and temporal limitations. This is likely due to the fact that she was a master of many trades, and therefore had loads of real-world philosophical experience from her training in many different disciplines. Most philosophy is certainly valuable, but van Schurman’s is especially so, because it is a moral philosophy that directly challenges real world problems. Anna Maria van Schurman is exactly the shining, brilliant, outstanding-in-every-way type of woman that often gets shut out of history books just because of her gender, in favor of mediocre men who have already dominated philosophy for all of history.

If Anna Maria van Schurman had to stand in place of any philosopher on the syllabus, she would likely be an apt replacement for Robert Boyle. Her arguments in The Learned Maid are enough to show that her moral philosophy and advocacy for women’s rights were incredibly fresh and crucial to make during her time period. In addition to the fact that any syllabus could use more women’s voices in place of men’s, van Schurman had education in the same field that Boyle did! She too studied science, and like Boyle, incorporated the intersection of science and religion into her works. She also dealt with the scientific and religious aspects of the process of death in one of her other works, which is just insanely cool. Many of Boyle’s philosophical ideas, too, are already closely adjacent to those of Descartes, who has a massive spot on the syllabus. Boyle should probably be studied more in-depth in chemistry classes than in philosophy, since that is where his law is already known. In philosophy, it makes more sense to study a fabulous woman-of-all-trades, who studied similar things to Boyle, and much much more!