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  1. Move Your Body! Margaret Cavendish on Self-Motion.Colin Chamberlain - manuscript
    Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) argues that when someone throws a ball, their hand does not cause the ball to move. Instead, the ball moves itself. In this chapter, I reconstruct Cavendish’s argument that material things—like the ball—are self-moving. Cavendish argues that body-body interaction is unintelligible. We cannot make sense of interaction in terms of the transfer of motion nor the more basic idea that one body acts in another body. Assuming something moves bodies around, Cavendish concludes that bodies move themselves. Still, (...)
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  2. Margaret Cavendish, Environmental Ethics, and Panpsychism.Stewart Duncan - manuscript
    Margaret Cavendish (1623-73) held a number of surprising philosophical views. These included a materialist panpsychism, and some views in what we might call environmental ethics. Panpsychism, though certainly not unheard of, is still often a surprising view. Views in environmental ethics - even just views that involve a measure of environmental concern - are unusual to find in early modern European philosophy. Cavendish held both of these surprising views. One might suspect that panpsychism provides some reasons for environmental concern. I (...)
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  3. The Duchess of Disunity: Margaret Cavendish on the Materiality of the Mind.Colin Chamberlain - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
    Sometimes we love and hate the same thing at the same time. Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673)—the maverick early modern materialist—appeals to this type of passionate conflict to argue that the mind is a material thing. When our passions conflict, the mind or reason conflicts with itself. From this Cavendish infers that the mind has parts and, therefore, is material. Cavendish says this argument is among the best proofs of the mind’s materiality. And yet, the existing scholarship on Cavendish lacks the kind (...)
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  4. Women, Liberty, and Forms of Feminism.Karen Detlefsen - forthcoming - In Jacqueline Broad & Karen Detlefsen (eds.), Women and Liberty, 1600-1800: Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter shows how Mary Astell and Margaret Cavendish can reasonably be understood as early feminists in three senses of the term. First, they are committed to the natural equality of men and women, and related, they are committed to equal opportunity of education for men and women. Second, they are committed to social structures that help women develop authentic selves and thus autonomy understood in one sense of the word. Third, they acknowledge the power of production relationships, especially friendships (...)
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  5. The Depth of Margaret Cavendish's Ecology.Peter West & Manuel Fasko - forthcoming - Ergo.
    This paper examines Margaret Cavendish’s ecological views and argues that, in the Appendix to her final published work, Grounds of Natural Philosophy (1668), Cavendish is defending a normative account of the way that humans ought to interact with their environment. On this basis, we argue that Cavendish is committed to a form of what, for the purposes of this paper, we will call ‘deep ecology,’ where that is understood as the view that humans ought to treat the rest of nature (...)
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  6. Is Margaret Cavendish a Naïve Realist?Daniel Whiting - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    Perception plays a central and wide-ranging role in the philosophy of Margaret Cavendish. In this paper, I argue that Cavendish holds a naïve realist theory of perception. The case draws on what Cavendish has to say about perceptual presentation, the role of sympathy in experience, the natures of hallucination and of illusion, and the individuation of kinds. While Cavendish takes perception to have representational content, I explain how this is consistent with naïve realism. In closing, I address challenges to the (...)
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  7. Materialism from Hobbes to Locke: by Stewart Duncan, New York, Oxford University Press, 2022, pp. 240, £ 56.00 (hb), ISBN 9780197613009. [REVIEW]Ruth Boeker - 2024 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 32 (1):231-237.
    Stewart Duncan’s excellent book Materialism from Hobbes to Locke offers an insightful study of the debates concerning materialism during the seventeenth century. When we hear the expression ‘materialism’, we often associate with it the question of whether the human mind is an entirely material entity. Although the question of whether the human mind is material plays an important role throughout the seventeenth-century debates examined in this book, Duncan offers a broader understanding of materialism that is not restricted to the human (...)
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  8. Cavendish’s Aesthetic Realism.Daniel Whiting - 2023 - Philosophers' Imprint 23 (15):1-17.
    In this paper, I offer a new interpretation of Margaret Cavendish’s remarks on beauty. According to it, Cavendish takes beauty to be a real, response-independent quality of objects. In this sense, Cavendish is an aesthetic realist. This position, which remains constant throughout her philosophical writings, contrasts with the non-realist views that were soon after to dominate philosophical reflections on matters of taste in the early modern period. It also, I argue, contrasts with the realism of Cavendish’s contemporary, Henry More. While (...)
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  9. What Is It Like To Be a Material Thing? Henry More and Margaret Cavendish on the Unity of the Mind.Colin Chamberlain - 2022 - In Donald Rutherford (ed.), Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume XI. Oxford University Press. pp. 97-136.
    Henry More argues that materialism cannot account for cases where a single subject or perceiver has multiple perceptions simultaneously. Since we clearly do have multiple perceptions at the same time--for example, when we see, hear, and smell simultaneously--More concludes that we are not wholly material. In response to More's argument, Margaret Cavendish adopts a two-fold strategy. First, she argues that there is no general obstacle to mental unification in her version of materialism. Second, Cavendish appeals to the mind or rational (...)
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  10. Margaret Cavendish on Human Beings.Marcy Lascano & Eric Schliesser - 2022 - In Karolina Hübner (ed.), Human: A History (Oxford Philosophical Concepts). Oxford University Press. pp. 168-194.
    Margaret Cavendish is a vitalist, materialist, and monist. She holds that human beings and other natural kinds are parts of the one material entity she calls “nature.” While she thinks that human beings may not be superior to other animals in many ways, she does argue that human beings have a type of knowledge and perception that is unique to their kind, that they strive for the continuance of their being, and that they join together into societies in order to (...)
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  11. 'I Wish My Speech Were Like a Loadstone’: Cavendish on Love and Self-Love.Julia Borcherding - 2021 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 121 (3):381-409.
    This paper examines the surprisingly central role of sympathetic love within Margaret Cavendish’s philosophy. It shows that such love fulfils a range of metaphysical functions, and highlight an important shift in Cavendish’s account vis-a-vis earlier conceptions: sympathetic love is no longer given an emanative or mechanistic explanation, but is naturalized as an active emotion. It furthers investigate to what extent Cavendish’s account reveals a rift between the realm of nature and the realm of human sociability, and whether this rift really (...)
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  12. “The Power of Self-Motion in Cavendish’s Nature”.Marcy P. Lascano - 2021 - In Powers: A History. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 169-188.
    Nature, according to Cavendish, has “an Infinite Natural power, that is, a power to produce infinite effects in her own self, by infinite changes of Motions.” While Cavendish mentions powers with respect to human beings, medicines, occasional causes, and other entities, these powers are really just the power of self-moving matter to cause changes in the world. This chapter examines why Cavendish attributes the power of self-motion to matter, what this power is, how it arose, how it is enacted, and (...)
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  13. Cartas filosóficas o reflexiones modestas sobre algunas opiniones en filosofía natural de Margaret Lucas Cavendish, duquesa de New Castle [cartas 30-33 y 35-37].John Anderson P. Duarte & Juliana Ocampo - 2021 - Humanitas Hoide 3 (1):1-15.
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  14. Margaret Cavendish on conceivability, possibility, and the case of colours.Peter West - 2021 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 30 (3):456-476.
    Throughout her philosophical writing, Margaret Cavendish is clear in stating that colours are real; they are not mere mind-dependent qualities that exist only in the mind of perceivers. This puts her at odds with other seventeenthcentury thinkers such as Galileo and Descartes who endorsed what would come to be known as the ‘primary-secondary quality distinction’. Cavendish’s argument for this view is premised on two claims. First, that colourless objects are inconceivable. Second, that if an object is inconceivable then it could (...)
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  15. Review of the Well-Ordered Universe. [REVIEW]Colin Chamberlain - 2019 - Hypatia Reviews Online.
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  16. The Well-Ordered Universe: The Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish by Deborah A. Boyle. [REVIEW]Stewart Duncan - 2019 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (2):349-350.
    Deborah Boyle's book is a splendid addition to the literature on the philosophy of Margaret Cavendish. It provides an overview of Cavendish's philosophical work, from her panpsychist materialism, through her views about human motivation and general political philosophy, to views about gender, health, and humans' relation to the rest of the natural world. Boyle emphasizes themes of order and regularity, but does not argue that there is a strong systematic connection between Cavendish's views. Indeed, she makes a point of noting (...)
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  17. Review of Margaret Cavendish, Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, edited by Eugene Marshall. [REVIEW]Stewart Duncan - 2018 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (3):617-9.
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  18. Visual Perception as Patterning: Cavendish against Hobbes on Sensation.Marcus P. Adams - 2016 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 33 (3):193-214.
    Many of Margaret Cavendish’s criticisms of Thomas Hobbes in the Philosophical Letters (1664) relate to the disorder and damage that she holds would result if Hobbesian pressure were the cause of visual perception. In this paper, I argue that her “two men” thought experiment in Letter IV is aimed at a different goal: to show the explanatory potency of her account. First, I connect Cavendish’s view of visual perception as “patterning” to the “two men” thought experiment in Letter IV. Second, (...)
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  19. Cavendish, Margaret.Andrea Strazzoni - 2016 - In Marco Sgarbi (ed.), Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy. Cham: Springer. pp. 663-665.
    Margaret Cavendish was a philosopher and writer active in mid-seventeenth century England. She is important not just as one of the first women active in philosophy in early modern age but as the expounder of an original scientific theory based on vitalism and materialism, by which she rejected the mechanical philosophy of Descartes and Hobbes and the experimental philosophy of Boyle and Hooke. Also, while not developing a theory of gender equality, she envisaged a form of emancipation of women based (...)
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  20. Margaret Cavendish and Thomas Hobbes on Freedom, Education, and Women.Karen Detlefsen - 2012 - In Nancy J. Hirschmann & Joanne Harriet Wright (eds.), Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes. The Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 149-168.
    In this paper, I argue that Margaret Cavendish’s account of freedom, and the role of education in freedom, is better able to account for the specifics of women’s lives than are Thomas Hobbes’ accounts of these topics. The differences between the two is grounded in their differing conceptions of the metaphysics of human nature, though the full richness of Cavendish’s approach to women, their minds and their freedom can be appreciated only if we take account of her plays, accepting them (...)
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  21. Debating Materialism: Cavendish, Hobbes, and More.Stewart Duncan - 2012 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (4):391-409.
    This paper discusses the materialist views of Margaret Cavendish, focusing on the relationships between her views and those of two of her contemporaries, Thomas Hobbes and Henry More. It argues for two main claims. First, Cavendish's views sit, often rather neatly, between those of Hobbes and More. She agreed with Hobbes on some issues and More on others, while carving out a distinctive alternative view. Secondly, the exchange between Hobbes, More, and Cavendish illustrates a more general puzzle about just what (...)
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  22. Cavendish, van Helmont, and the mad raging womb.Jacqueline Broad - 2011 - In Judy A. Hayden (ed.), The New Science and Women’s Literary Discourse: Prefiguring Frankenstein. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 47-63.
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  23. Is Margaret Cavendish worthy of study today?Jacqueline Broad - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (3):457-461.
    Before her death in 1673, Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, expressed a wish that her philosophical work would experience a ‘glorious resurrection’ in future ages. During her lifetime, and for almost three centuries afterwards, her writings were destined to ‘lye still in the soft and easie Bed of Oblivion’. But more recently, Cavendish has received a measure of the fame she so desired. She is celebrated by feminists, literary theorists, and historians. There are regular conferences organised by the International (...)
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  24. Margaret Cavendish on the relation between God and world.Karen Detlefsen - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (3):421-438.
    It has often been noted that Margaret Cavendish discusses God in her writings on natural philosophy far more than one might think she ought to given her explicit claim that a study of God belongs to theology which is to be kept strictly separate from studies in natural philosophy. In this article, I examine one way in which God enters substantially into her natural philosophy, namely the role he plays in her particular version of teleology. I conclude that, while Cavendish (...)
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  25. Margaret Cavendish's Epistemology.Kourken Michaelian - 2009 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (1):31 – 53.
    This paper provides a systematic reconstruction of Cavendish's general epistemology and a characterization of the fundamental role of that theory in her natural philosophy. After reviewing the outlines of her natural philosophy, I describe her treatment of 'exterior knowledge', i.e. of perception in general and of sense perception in particular. I then describe her treatment of 'interior knowledge', i.e. of self-knowledge and 'conception'. I conclude by drawing out some implications of this reconstruction for our developing understanding of Cavendish's natural philosophy.
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  26. Margaret Cavendish and Joseph Glanvill: science, religion, and witchcraft.Jacqueline Broad - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (3):493-505.
    Many scholars point to the close association between early modern science and the rise of rational arguments in favour of the existence of witches. For some commentators, it is a poor reflection on science that its methods so easily lent themselves to the unjust persecution of innocent men and women. In this paper, I examine a debate about witches between a woman philosopher, Margaret Cavendish , and a fellow of the Royal Society, Joseph Glanvill . I argue that Cavendish is (...)
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  27. Reason and Freedom: Margaret Cavendish on the order and disorder of nature.Karen Detlefsen - 2007 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2):157-191.
    According to Margaret Cavendish the entire natural world is essentially rational such that everything thinks in some way or another. In this paper, I examine why Cavendish would believe that the natural world is ubiquitously rational, arguing against the usual account, which holds that she does so in order to account for the orderly production of very complex phenomena (e.g. living beings) given the limits of the mechanical philosophy. Rather, I argue, she attributes ubiquitous rationality to the natural world in (...)
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  28. Atomism, Monism, and Causation in the Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish.Karen Detlefsen - 2006 - Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 3:199-240.
    Between 1653 and 1655 Margaret Cavendish makes a radical transition in her theory of matter, rejecting her earlier atomism in favour of an infinitely-extended and infinitely-divisible material plenum, with matter being ubiquitously self-moving, sensing, and rational. It is unclear, however, if Cavendish can actually dispense of atomism. One of her arguments against atomism, for example, depends upon the created world being harmonious and orderly, a premise Cavendish herself repeatedly undermines by noting nature’s many disorders. I argue that her supposed difficulties (...)
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  29. Minds Everywhere: Margaret Cavendish's Anti-Mechanist Materialism.Stewart Duncan - manuscript
    This paper considers Margaret Cavendish's distinctive anti-mechanist materialism, focusing on her 1664 Philosophical Letters, in which she discusses the views of Hobbes, Descartes, and More, among others. The paper examines Cavendish's views about natural, material souls: the soul of nature, the souls of finite individuals, and the relation between them. After briefly digressing to look at Cavendish's views about divine, supernatural souls, the paper then turns to the reasons for Cavendish's disagreement with mechanist accounts. There are disagreements over the explanation (...)
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