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Since time in memorial, women have been seen as the weak gender. In most traditional societies, women’s place is in the kitchen. Women and girls should be at home cooking, fetching water, cleaning, and baby seating and doing other home chores. In fact, their space is private as compared to that of men that is public. Women were supposed to take care 9of the home, including their children and husband. The society burdens the females with roles of knowing what the family will eat, wear and how the animals are sleeping among other roles. On the other hand, men are the kings in the society. Their say is final, and they should not be questioned. Men have the right to make decisions and do what they feel is right. They do not have to ask for permission to do what they believe is correct. As a result of the roles that are attached to men and women, women in the society fall victim of discrimination and oppression. This explains why there were no many female philosophers as there were males. However, some women are exceptional. They rise beyond the odds, do what men do and become like men, or even better than men. This paper explores the life of Hypatia of Alexandria, her philosophical approach, her works and her contribution to the modern society.
Deakin argues that Hypatia is one of the renowned female philosophers who surpass all women who lived during her time. Being a daughter of a famous mathematician made Hypatia desire learning during times that women were not taken to school. Since she was a little girl, Hypatia wanted to go to school and learn with boys. Her dreams came true because her father valued education, and he took her to school. Unlike girls of her age who believed that education belonged to men, Hypatia was determined to be a scholar. With her father as a role model, she worked extremely hard and managed to be a female philosopher among many men. However, Hypatia refused to be religious during a time that people were embracing religion to solve their problems. She was not part of any religion as she believed that things happen the way they do because they were destined to do so. According to some scholars, Hypatia sometimes believed in magic. In fact, she was killed by Christians who opposed her ideology.
Hypatia schooled in Athens. She studied philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy. After school, she became a lecturer and headed the Platonist school that was located in Alexandria. Hypatia had studied the works of Aristotle and Plato deeply. Therefore, it was easy for her to teach their philosophies to her students. Her students included Christians, Pagans, and foreigners. She did not discriminate students by their religious grounds as she did not take any side of religion. Hypatia was a confident woman who frequently went public and confronted men, especially magistrates and politicians. In fact, Hypatia was not afraid to visit the national assembly that consisted only of men during her time. Most people admired Hypatia because of her virtue and dignity. In fact, some Christians believed that her death as a symbol of virtue.
According to Whitfield, Hypatia was determined and ready to uphold the Greek astronomical and mathematical heritage. The times were so tough that many women could not dare. However, she was ready to take philosophy to the next generation. Hypatia was neo-platonic. For this reason, many saw her as a pagan in an era that people were fighting for religion. She was so dedicated to her philosophy to an extent that she embraced virginity as a dedication. She taught the neo-platonic philosophy and her students came up with the Trinity doctrine.
As a mathematician, Hypatia wanted to make learning easy for her students. In her contribution to the Conics of Apollonius of Perga, Hypatia used a plane to divide cones. Consequently, her students found it easy to understand all numerical works related to cones. In fact, her division is used even in the modern world to understand cones. Many parents took their girls to school after seeing what Hypatia did to the society. The girls gained courage and believed that they could make it in education. Thus, they were ready to struggle with men in class to make philosophers like Hypatia. Consequently, there started emerging other philosophers after Hypatia, who took her as their role model.
Currently, there are no books or other scholarly materials that Hypatia wrote. In case she wrote a book on her own, it must have been destroyed after her death. Scholars argue that she had not completed the book she was writing. Those who hated her went to her home and destroyed her work because they were unhappy with her. However, most of the work that has her direct contribution are found in works that she did with her father. The two did several collaborations as they had studies similar areas. According to some philosophers, Hypatia did not have the required authority to write a book on her own. She was among the first female philosophers, and could not trust herself to the extent of writing a book on her own. She also contributed to works of other authors where she put her great ideas. Some of the works that have Hypatia’s direct contribution are: Diophantus’ Arithmetic and Apollonius’ Conics. Hypatia also edited some the work that her father had contributed such as Euclid’s Elements. She is also the mind behind the existing edited version of Almagest by Ptolemy.
According to Deakin, Hypatia’s philosophy agreed with Plat’s philosophy. She believed that people should be happy in this world. Hypatia was of the idea that, human beings do everything they can to achieve happiness in this world. In her opinion, happiness could only be achieved in this world. The idea of eternal happiness or happiness after death was wrong. No one knows where the soul goes after death. Therefore, she argued that it is not logic to claim that there would be happiness after death. Like Plato, Hypatia believed in the existence of the soul. She claimed that there is one being in human life that is not physical. The being is supernatural and complicated to understand. However, she argued that it would not be possible to satisfy the soul without the existence of the body. It is only when there is the body that the soul can be comfortable. Without the body, the soul will exist, but it will be powerless.
In conclusion, Hypatia was the daughter of Alexandricus Theon, who was a mathematician. She was taken to school by her father who already understood the importance of learning. Hypatia became a great philosopher of her times, who is recognized up to date. She contributed to many books and writings of other scholars. Hypatia encouraged women to go to school and fight for their rights. She had the Neo-Platonism philosophical idea that made her a pagan. Even after her death that was caused by angry Christians who believed that she caused religious conflict, some of the Christians still believe that Hypatia is a symbol of virtue.