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In the first chapter of her seminal work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Mary Wollstonecraft suggests that there are two types of thinking in a human being--thinking what you are told to think, and thinking for yourself. The first type of thinking often develops when individuals are taught "blind submission" to forms of belief, either at college or in societies. They are told what to think and they learn to "obsequiously respect the opinion" of people in power (Wollstonecraft 102). That, Wollstonecraft says, is not the way for reason to develop. Societies that insist on people believing what they are told are "idle and vicious" (Wollstonecraft 99). Wollstonecraft argues that individuals should be allowed to develop independently--not only employing their reason, but by using their passions, so that, by struggling with them, they might attain a degree of knowledge denied to other living beings. Yet this is no easy task: Wollstonecraft admits that "the mind must be strong that resolutely forms its own principles; for a kind of intellectual cowardice prevails which makes many men shrink from the task, or only do it by halves" (96). However, this is the only way in which individuals can maintain their freedom and resist the "splendid slavery" of absolute rule. (96). Such ideas were not only important at the time when A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was first published (only three years after the French Revolution), but they also exerted a particular significance during the middle of the twentieth century, at a time when many European states were being transformed into dictatorships. In his essay "Propaganda in a Democratic Society" (1958), Aldous Huxley suggests that many individuals have become so seduced by the words of their rulers that they appear to have sacrificed their capacity to think:

Professionali e tecnici
22 marzo
Departments of English Language and Literature and American Culture and Literature, Ege University

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