La vision de la vieillesse chez Madame de Lambert

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Roshansobh, Rebecca
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This thesis studies woman and aging by analyzing 'Le Traite de la vieillesse' (1748) of the late seventeenth century French philosopher and writer Madame de Lambert (1647-733). The study is carried out by examining the writings of theorists that may have influenced Madame de Lambert: first, Greeks and Romans among whom Plato, Aristotle, Seneca and Cicero can be named. The interpretation of old age from each philosopher's point of view is presented. Aging in women was entirely ignored in the classical period. The study continues with analysis of French writings by Montaigne, Pascal, La Bruyere, Saint-Evremond, and La Rochefoucauld. They unanimously stereotyped old age by deficiency and decrepitude, and strongly encouraged old people to step aside from their social status. Only La Bruyere considered aging in women. Madame de Lambert is original in her approach since she is dealing mainly with women's issues in relation to aging. She encourages women to ignore social prejudice, to achieve fulfillment through education, and to break free from gender servitude. Madame de Lambert was a traditional thinker as well as a modern philosopher. While previous thinkers had substantial influence on her work, she managed to keep her originality and also influenced other works such as 'L'Encyclopedie ' of Diderot.