Time for a statue of Lady Mary Shepherd, first Scottish female philosopher – Please sign the petition!
On Tuesday (24th April 2018) I attended the unveiling of the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square (London, UK). It was an historic moment because it is the first statue of a woman to be placed in Parliament Square. It is also the first time a statue in this square has been created by a woman artist, Gillian Wearing, a conceptual BritArtist (YBA). For more on this day and photos see:
This would not have been possible without the campaigning and petitioning of Caroline Criado Perez (feminist writer/activist). So, as I watched the unveiling of the statue to the suffragist Millicent Fawcett I thought what about women philosophers? There’s already a petition for a statue of Mary Wollstonecraft in London which I have signed and it would be great to have more signatures, so do add to the numbers by signing the petition at:
But London shouldn’t be the only place to celebrate women philosophers. Indeed, Scotland is debating and campaigning to start placing the first statues of women in the city of Edinburgh and listing possible candidates of famous influential historical woman. For more, see:
So, why not Scotland’s first woman philosopher, Lady Mary Shepherd? I find her fascinating to research because she was such an incredible thinker and writer who led a very interesting life yet barely receives a mention within philosophical circles never mind wider society. It’s time her achievements were recognized!
Therefore, I started this petition today to honour Lady Shepherd’s contribution to philosophy and hope you’ll sign the petition to make her the first statue of a woman in Edinburgh:
My petition reads:
There are no statues in honour of women philosophers in Edinburgh. There are statues honouring Scottish male philosophers such as Hume, whom Shepherd analyses in her treaties, but none of her. Despite being well-known and influential in her day, the male philosophers of her era, including those not highly regarded during their lifetime, have since become canonical in philosophy, but not her. Yet Shepherd (1777-1847) was a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment.
Shepherd is considered the first Scottish female philosopher and hosted salons attended by a diverse group of great thinkers. She wrote two long treatises and was a major influence on the Edinburgh School so shaping the future of philosophy. William Whewell (1794-1866) used a Treatise she wrote as a textbook at Cambridge University. Yet in 2018, she is still not part of the philosophical canon.
It’s 240 years since her birth so it is an apt time to begin petitioning for a statue of her in Edinburgh. The statue will serve to inspire girls to pursue philosophy, a discipline in which women are still woefully underrepresented. Shepherd shows that philosophy is for girls and that women philosophers have written major philosophical works for centuries. More locally, the statue will hopefully inspire Scottish women to engage in philosophy and not see philosophy as being predominantly a male pursuit through a lack of visibility of Scottish women philosophers in history.
Please sign this petition to remember and celebrate Lady Mary Shepherd.
I’ll give updates on here about how the petition is progressing.