In the present state of society, it appears necessary to go back to first principles in search of the most simple truths, and to dispute with some prevailing prejudice every inch of ground. To clear my way, I must be allowed to ask some plain questions, and the answers will probably appear as unequivocal as the axioms on which reasoning is built; though, when entangled with various motives of action, they are formally contradicted, either by the words or conduct of men.
In what does man's pre-eminence over the brute creation consist?
The answer is as clear as that a half is less than the whole; in Reason.
What acquirement exalts one being above another? Virtue; we spontaneously reply.
For what purpose were the passions implanted? That man by struggling with them might attain a degree of knowledge denied to the brutes: whispers Experience.
Consequently the perfection of our nature and capability of happiness, must be estimated by the degree of reason, virtue, and knowledge, that distinguish the individual, and direct the laws which bind society: and that from the exercise of reason, knowledge and virtue naturally flow, is equally undeniable, if mankind be viewed collectively. The rights and duties of man thus simplified, it seems almost impertinent to attempt to illustrate truths that appear so incontrovertible: yet such deeply rooted prejudices have clouded reason, and such spurious qualities have assumed the name of virtues, that it is necessary to pursue the course of reason as it has been perplexed and involved in error, by various adventitious circumstances, comparing the simple axiom with casual deviations.
CHAPTER 1. THE RIGHTS AND INVOLVED DUTIES OF MANKIND CONSIDERED
CHAPTER 2. THE PREVAILING OPINION OF A SEXUAL CHARACTER DISCUSSED
CHAPTER 3. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED
CHAPTER 4. OBSERVATIONS ON THE STATE OF DEGRADATION TO WHICH WOMAN IS REDUCED BY VARIOUS CAUSES
CHAPTER 5. ANIMADVERSIONS ON SOME OF THE WRITERS WHO HAVE RENDERED WOMEN OBJECTS OF PITY, BORDERING ON CONTEMPT
CHAPTER 6. THE EFFECT WHICH AN EARLY ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS HAS UPON THE CHARACTER
CHAPTER 7. MODESTY. COMPREHENSIVELY CONSIDERED, AND NOT AS A SEXUAL VIRTUE
CHAPTER 8. MORALITY UNDERMINED BY SEXUAL NOTIONS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD REPUTATION
CHAPTER 9. OF THE PERNICIOUS EFFECTS WHICH ARISE FROM THE UNNATURAL DISTINCTIONS ESTABLISHED IN SOCIETY
CHAPTER 10. PARENTAL AFFECTION
CHAPTER 11. DUTY TO PARENTS
CHAPTER 12. ON NATIONAL EDUCATION
CHAPTER 13. SOME INSTANCES OF THE FOLLY WHICH THE IGNORANCE OF WOMEN GENERATES; WITH CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS ON THE MORAL IMPROVEMENT THAT A REVOLUTION IN FEMALE MANNERS MAY NATURALLY BE EXPECTED TO PRODUCE
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Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 - 97) was an educationalist and feminist writer. Part of the radical set that included Blake and Fuseli, her relationship with William Godwin and the birth of their child - Mary Shelley - outside of marriage caused great scandal after her death.
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