Geneva: John N. Bogert, 1840. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding stamped in gilt and blind. Rubbing to corners, and extremities of spine; small tear to cloth at rear joint. Scattered foxing throughout, as is common of imprints of this era. Collates [vi], , 408: complete, with errata slip tipped in at rear. The first comprehensive philosophy of mind textbook written by a woman for women, Ricord's work is scarce both institutionally and in trade.
"In May 1829, the Geneva Female Seminary opened for its first school year...It continued to grown and develop under the leadership of Elizabeth Ricord, the founder and principal of the school...Ricord designed her courses to teach students how to think and reason. The school offered basic courses including spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, history, botany, philosophy, chemistry, algebra, geometry, rhetoric, and political economy. There was even a course specifically designed for preparing students for the 'duties of society' called Practical Knowledge...These female academies played a significant role in pushing women into the public sphere and helped them become active members in the developing civil society. Many of the graduates of these academies went on to become reformers working to abolish slavery, petition for women's suffrage, and help feed the poor" (Hobart). Like so many of her peers, Ricord quickly discovered that the majority of advanced textbooks were written by men and geared toward male readership -- an issue she opts to correct in publishing Elements of the Philosophy of Mind. Indeed, philosophy and political economics were lead courses in Ricord's curriculum, and it was critical for her to provide her students with material that was rigorous, accurate and relevant. To that end, she enters "the branch of philosophy that studies the ontology, nature, and relationship of the mind to the body" (Kim). And she does so with attention to women's experiences. "As a teacher, the Author felt the necessity of a work on this important branch, adapted to the instruction of her own sex, and sought to draw from her own resources as well as from the records of History and Biography, such illustrations as might assist in the practical application of the leading facts of Mental Philosophy." The opening walks students through the basic definitions of Philosophy, Metaphysics, Intelligence, and Impressions. From here, Ricord draws on leading thinkers including Leibniz, Augustine, Bacon, Newton and Locke as well as women educators like Hannah More to consider how Consciousness, Sensation, Memory, Reason, and Abstraction can be applied to other philosophical fields, including ethics. These, she points out, are useful across the spectrum of women's experiences, whether a students, reformers, or wives and mothers. A groundbreaking moment in the history of women's education. (Item #2954)