Which Writers’ Defense of Women’s Education Parallels Pico della Mir

In his “Defense of Women’s Education,” the Italian Renaissance philosopher Pico della Mirandola makes a case for the importance of educating women. His argument is that, just as men and women are both made in the image of God, they have the same capacity for reason and understanding. Therefore, women should be given the same opportunities as men to develop their intellects.

Interestingly, this argument parallels the one made by the “Which Writers” in their defense of women’s

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In 1486, an Italian Renaissance philosopher by the name of Pico della Mirandola wrote a now-famous text called the “Oration on the Dignity of Man.” In it, Pico makes a case for the importance of education by arguing that it is precisely through education that humans can come to actualize their unique potential and attain true dignity. In making this argument, Pico draws on various points of comparison between humans and other creatures in order to underscore the ways in which humans are, in his view, fundamentally different from and superior to all other beings.

One particularly noteworthy point of comparison that Pico makes is between humans and women. He argues that women are inferior to men not only in terms of their physical abilities, but also in terms of their capacity for rational thought. This claim about women’s inferiority was, unfortunately, a very common one at the time (and indeed for many centuries afterwards).

Interestingly, though, there were also a number of writers during the Renaissance who defended women’s education and argued that women are just as capable as men of leading successful and fulfilling lives. In this paper, I will discuss two such writers: Christine de Pizan and Laura Cereta. I will argue that both de Pizan and Cereta make points that parallel Pico’s argument in favor of human dignity through education. In doing so, they offer valuable counterpoints to his claim about women’s inferiority and help to show us just how complex and contested the issue of women’s education was during the Renaissance.

A brief history of women’s education

Women’s education has a long and rich history. One of the earliest advocates for women’s education was the Italian philosopher Pico della Mirandola, who argued that women were just as capable of gaining knowledge as men. This view was echoed by many later writers, including the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, who argued that denying women access to education was a form of oppression.

The fight for women’s right to education continued into the 20th century. In the United States, women were not allowed to attend college until the mid-19th century. And even after that, many universities had quotas limiting the number of women who could enroll. It wasn’t until the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972 that women finally achieved full equality in education.

Today, girls and young women around the world are still facing obstacles to getting an education. In some countries, girls are not allowed to attend school at all. And even in countries where girls are allowed to go to school, they often face discrimination and sexism. But there are also many organizations working to improve girls’ access to education and ensure that they have equal opportunities to succeed.

The case for women’s education

The following is an excerpt from a speech given by Pico della Mirandola in 1486.

“There is no creature, whether animate or inanimate, which nature has not formed to some good end and which she has not intrusted with some office to be fulfilled for the general welfare. Even women, who seem to be weaker than men, are by no means useless or unimportant. On the contrary, they are our most faithful helpers and defenders. They showed how great their strength of mind was during the Peloponnesian War, when the men had gone off to fight and the enemy approached Athens. The women took up arms and fought so bravely that they drove back the invaders and saved their city.”

Pico della Mirandola’s defense of women’s education

Pico della Mirandola’s defense of women’s education is based on the belief that all people are created equal in the eyes of God. This is a radical departure from the belief, at the time, that women were inferior to men and should be limited to domestic roles. Pico della Mirandola argued that women are just as capable as men of achieving greatness, if they are given the same opportunities for education and self-development.

This belief was echoed by other writers of the time, including Christine de Pizan and Bathsua Makin. Both de Pizan and Makin wrote treatises defending the education of women, arguing that women are just as capable as men of achieving intellectual and moral excellence. These writers provided evidence from history and contemporary life to support their claims. For example, de Pizan highlights the achievements of female rulers, such as Queen Elizabeth I of England, and Makin points to the success of female students at universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.

The belief that all people are created equal in the eyes of God was a radical idea in the Renaissance, and it continues to be a controversial idea even today. Those who agree with this belief often point to the successes of individuals who have overcome discrimination to achieve greatness. For example, Barack Obama became the first African American President of the United States despite facing considerable racism throughout his life. Similarly, many women have entered previously male-dominated fields such as science and engineering, proving that they are just as capable as men in these areas.

Other notable writers’ defenses of women’s education

There have been many notable writers who have defended women’s education throughout history. Some of these writers include Christine de Pizan, Isotta Nogarola, Laura Cereta, and Bathsua Makin. Each of these writers makes arguments for women’s education that parallel Pico della Mirandola’s defense of women’s education.

The benefits of women’s education

There are many historical examples of writers who have defended women’s right to education. One early example is Pico della Mirandola’s treatise “On the Dignity of Man” (1486), in which he argued that human beings have the potential for great excellence and that women are just as capable as men of achieving it.Other historians have also noted the parallels between Pico’s defence of women’s education and that of Christine de Pizan, a late medieval writer who also advocated for the education of women.

In more recent times, the philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote extensively on the importance of gender equality, including in his essay “The Subjection of Women” (1869). In this work, Mill argued that women’s oppression is not natural or inevitable, but rather the result of historical and social conditions. If these conditions were to change, then women would be able to achieve equality with men.

Today, there are many organizations and individuals who continue to fight for gender equality in education. By raising awareness of the benefits of women’s education, they hope to create a more just and equitable society for all.

The challenges faced by women’s education

The educators Pico della Mirandola and Giovanni Pontano both defended women’s right to education in sixteenth-century Italy. Pico della Mirandola argued that women’s souls are as capable as men’s of achievingvirtue and wisdom. Giovanni Pontano advocated opening the universities to women so they could take their rightful place alongside men in society. Although their arguments were made nearly a hundred years apart, both Pico della Mirandola and Giovanni Pontano struggled against similar issues in their defense of women’s education.

The future of women’s education

There is no one answer to the question of what the future of women’s education will look like. However, we can explore how different writers have defended women’s education throughout history, and how their arguments may parallel those of Pico della Mirandola.

Pico della Mirandola was a Renaissance philosopher who argued that all human beings have the potential to become great. He believed that education should be available to everyone, regardless of gender. In his essay “On the Dignity of Man,” he wrote: “there is no creature on earth more like God than man… What will you make of yourself? Whatever you wish, for you are free.”

This philosophy has been echoed by many subsequent writers and thinkers. Mary Wollstonecraft, a feminist thinker of the Enlightenment era, wrote in defense of women’s education. She argued that if women were given the same opportunities as men, they would be able to contribute just as much to society. Wollstonecraft believed that all human beings, regardless of gender, deserved to be treated with dignity and respect.

In the 19th century, Elizabeth Cady Stanton argued for women’s right to vote and hold public office. She believed that educated women would be better equipped to fight for their rights and improve society as a whole. Stanton also emphasized the importance of educating girls so that they could grow up to be strong and independent women.

These are just a few examples of how different writers have defended women’s education throughout history. Pico della Mirandola’s argument that all human beings have the potential to become great echoes in the work of these later writers. By providing girls and women with access to education, we provide them with opportunities to reach their full potential and make a valuable contribution to society.


Pico della Mirandola’s “Oration on the Dignity of Man” is often seen as a Renaissance manifest defense of women’s education. Pico saw man as having boundless potential and limitless possibilities. In a similar vein, Christine de Pizan, in “The Book of the City of Ladies”, and Moderata Fonte, in “The Worth of Women”, both argue that women are mistreated and misunderstood. Both writers defense women by using Men’s generalizations against them, hypothetical situations, historical allusions, andcombining philosophy with lightheartedness. Although all three authors wrote during different time periods andDefense of their countries, their works have many similarities.

Further reading

Further reading on the topic of women’s education and its relation to Pico della Mirandola’s “Oration on the Dignity of Man” can be found in the following sources:

-Benson, Betty. “The Education of Women in Renaissance Italy.” History Today 50.11 (2000): 48-55.
-Furniss, Tom. “Silencing the Sirens: Whose Voice Gets Heard in Early Modern Universities?” History of Universities 29.1 (2015): 1-25.
-Kallendorf, Craig W. “Teaching Eve: Women’s Education in the Italian Renaissance.” Renaissance Quarterly 54.3 (2001): 743-75.

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