Women and Stoic ethics in early modern England

Jacqueline Broad, Diana Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper provides an overview of women's engagement with Stoic ethics in early modern England (c. 1600–1700). It builds on recent literature in the field by demonstrating that there is a positive gender-inclusive narrative to be told about Stoic philosophy in this time—one that incorporates women's specific concerns and responds to women's lived experiences. To support this claim, we take an interdisciplinary approach and examine several different genres of women's writing in the period, including letters, poems, plays, educational texts, and moral essays. In these writings, we argue, a distinctive conception of Stoic therapy emerges. Women embrace well-known aspects of the Stoic philosophy—such as living in agreement with nature, the importance of self-government, and the ideal of freedom from the passions—but they also allow room for the cultivation of eupatheiai or life-affirmative feelings, such as feelings of respect, affection, and good will toward other people.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12933
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophy Compass
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Cite this