A feminist physiology: B. J. Feijoo (1676–1764) and his advice for those in love

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Abstract

This essay analyzes how the Benedictine monk Benito Jerónimo Feijoo (1676–1764), one of the most popular Spanish natural philosophers in Europe and America, discussed amorous attraction. In an attempt to reconcile Catholic dogma with empirical knowledge, Feijoo explained the origin of love as the result of wave-like interactions between sensual stimulus, imagination, nerve fibers, and the heart. His physiological model considered men and women to be equal in their internal constituents, which had important consequences for a possible science of matching. First, a possible match could only be known by a physical encounter; second, love bonds could be controlled by training the imagination; third, a harmonious society with happy marriages required accepting the intellectual equality of the sexes. The essay suggests how our knowledge about the nature of emotions influences the way we imagine an ideal society, as it is ultimately about the forces that attract and separate people, as well as the mechanisms to control them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776 - 785
Number of pages10
JournalIsis
Volume112
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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