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By Carol Hegarty

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R ather, I shall suggest that the form of the ‘settlement’ was one in which women (as active participants in intellectual life) were given a place, but excluded, in both the sense of exclusion as particular human beings and exclusion Can Women Be Intellectuals? 31 as ‘the female/feminine’, from the dominant traditions. It is the second issue rather than the first with which I am chiefly concerned here, and my thesis is that in the debates of the period 1780–1820, the terms were set for the patterns of gender and knowledge for the next two hundred years.

33 question here that the ‘canon’ is as much defined by women as it is by men. But if we look at the internal dynamic of the works by women, what we see – with few exceptions – is either a defence by women of a female ethic and a female world, or a claim by women to alteration in the world of men. If we consider fiction by men, what we do not see is the mirror image of this. T hus, that what I propose here is that the E nlightenment ‘settlement’ (as I have described it) was one which gave to women (as female human beings) and to the female (as a form of subjectivity) a place in the development of the ‘interiority’ of the public mind, but that that place was one in which the female and the feminine was essentially a position of defence and/or replication.

It is a matter of performing as if one were all these things. B eing a public intellectual is symbolic action, a matter of becoming what E merson called a ‘representative man’. T o become exemplary in this manner is to dramatically embody the myth of universalism, the binary code of public versus private, and the narrative of progressive triumph. We know, of course, that this is not how Plato wished to understand S ocrates, and certainly it does not accord with the S ocratic myth. A ccording to Plato, S ocrates hated ‘rhetoric’.

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