The Oxford University Press has recently published a translation and study Korean Women Philosophers and the Ideal of a Female Sage: Essential Writings of Im Yungjidang and Gang Jeongildang, edited by Philip J. Ivanhoe and Hwa Yeong Wang. This work introduces the lives and ideas of two female Korean Confucian philosophers from the Joseon Dynasty. This edited edition provides translation and analysis of the writings of these philosophers. The editors also add in compared and contrast the philosophers’ thoughts with that of western thinkers.
I am not a feminist. Nor do I defame of denigrate women or their attributes. Part of the above title line bothers me though. Within its’ context, please tell me what is meant by the ‘ideal of a female’. This rings condescending for my eyes and thinking, contrariwise to the stated intent herein. I know that women are regarded differently in different cultures; different parts of the world—have been for centuries. Just wondering if words speak louder than actions.
This looks to be an historical study. An ideal of a female would have been a characterization of the perfection standards up to which it was thought a woman should live and aspire. Whether that is condescending or otherwise offensive doesn’t seem inherent in supposing such ideals existed; it would depend on what the actual standards were that a philosopher held to be ideal and the context, historical or not, against which they are judged offensive.
Because of an editing error, the full title of the book was mistaken in the original post: it is Korean Women Philosophers and the Ideal of a Female Sage: Essential Writings of Im Yungjidang and Gang Jeongildang. I apologize for the error!