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(p.255) Introduction
Three Cartesian Feminist Treatises
Marcelle Maistre WelchVivien Bosley
University of Chicago Press

On the Equality of the Two Sexes (1673) did not generate a critical conversation as François Poullain de la Barre had hoped and anticipated. He therefore decided to fill that lacuna himself. The result was On the Excellence of Men Against the Equality of the Sexes (1675). Poullain's aim was the same as that in his earlier two treatises: to defend the equality in mental capacity of men and women, which he did in a long Preface at the beginning and briefer Remarks at the end, sandwiched between a tract On the Excellence of Men, in which he put forth a compilation of misogynistic arguments advanced to support the cause of tradition. However, in Excellence, he recognizes the power of tradition and attempts to defuse it by offering an alternative interpretation of Scripture and the church fathers.

Keywords:   equality, conversation, François Poullain, tradition, Scripture, church fathers, Two Sexes

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