Female logicians and the purpose of philosophy

anscombeHere is one of my favourite stories about Elizabeth Anscombe:

[O]nce, entering a smart restaurant in Boston, she was told that ladies were not admitted in trousers. She proceeded to take them off.

A story with the same moral was told by Christine Ladd-Franklin. Here it is recounted by Susan Stebbing in Thinking to Some Purpose (p.23):

Mrs. Ladd Franklin tells the story of a little girl, aged four, whose nurse objected to her table manners. ‘Emily,’ said the nurse, ‘nobody eats soup with a fork.’ ‘But,’ replied Emily, ‘I do, and I am somebody.’

Female logicians were troublesome in a society that aimed to control women.

More generally, people who think are difficult to control.

That’s the point of philosophy.


3 thoughts on “Female logicians and the purpose of philosophy

  1. Adam

    Elizabeth Anscombe’s son was mortally ill. Elizabeth prayed for his cure and vowed that if he lived she would give up smoking. She was a heavy and addicted cigarette smoker. Her son was cured and she gave up cigarettes but took to smoking cigars and manikins, since she decided that she had made her vow under one description and was acting under another. This was a second hand account but I believed it when I was told it 40 years ago. And I think it may well be true and not to her discredit.

  2. Hanoch

    Just to remove a possible misunderstanding: she did not enter the ‘smart restaurant in Boston’ in sexy knickers. She used to wear a petticoat under her trousers, so it did look as if she had some sort of skirt.

    1. axdouglas Post author

      That’s an interesting detail. I certainly hadn’t imagined that Anscombe was wearing sexy knickers!

      Hopefully her actions nevertheless upset some sexist and officious people.


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