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  1. Mapping the boundaries of conscious life in Margaret Cavendish’s philosophy.Oberto Marrama - forthcoming - Revue Philosophique De Louvain.
    In this paper I investigate where the boundaries of conscious mental life lie in Cavendish’s theory, and why. Cavendish argues for a wholly material yet wholly thinking universe. She claims that all matter is capable of “self-knowledge” and “perception” (OEP, p. 138), so that every part of nature “must have its own knowledge and perception, according to its own particular nature” (OEP, p. 141). It is unclear, however, whether the universal capacity of matter to know and perceive also implies the (...)
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  • ‘Exploding’ immaterial substances: Margaret Cavendish’s vitalist-materialist critique of spirits.Emma Wilkins - 2016 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (5):858-877.
    ABSTRACTIn this paper, I explore Margaret Cavendish’s engagement with mid-seventeenth-century debates on spirits and spiritual activity in the world, especially the problems of incorporeal substance and magnetism. I argue that between 1664 and 1668, Cavendish developed an increasingly robust form of materialism in response to the deficiencies which she identified in alternative philosophical systems – principally mechanical philosophy and vitalism. This was an intriguing direction of travel, given the intensification in attacks on the supposedly atheistic materialism of Hobbes. While some (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • The Life of the Thrice Sensitive, Rational and Wise Animate Matter: Cavendish’s Animism.Jonathan L. Shaheen - 2021 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 11 (2):621-641.
    This paper explores Cavendish’s argument for what she calls “animate matter.” Her commitment to the ubiquity of animate matter, styled “Cavendish’s animism,” is presented as the conclusion of an inference to the best explanation of nature’s order. The reconstruction of Cavendish’s argument begins with an examination of the relationship between God’s creation of our world and the order produced through nature’s wise governance of her parts. Cavendish’s materialism and anti-atomism are presented as ingredients in her final account of God’s ordering (...)
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  • Part of nature and division in Margaret Cavendish’s materialism.Jonathan L. Shaheen - 2019 - Synthese 196 (9):3551-3575.
    This paper pursues a question about the spatial relations between the three types of matter posited in Margaret Cavendish’s metaphysics. It examines the doctrine of complete blending and a distinctive argument against atomism, looking for grounds on which Cavendish can reject the existence of spatial regions composed of only one or two types of matter. It establishes, through that examination, that Cavendish operates with a causal conception of parts of nature and a dynamic notion of division. While the possibility of (...)
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  • A Vitalist Shoal in the Mechanist Tide: Art, Nature, and 17th-Century Science.Jonathan Shaheen - 2022 - Philosophies 7 (5):111.
    This paper reconstructs Margaret Cavendish’s theory of the metaphysics of artifacts. It situates her anti-mechanist account of artifactual production and the art-nature distinction against a background of Aristotelian, Scholastic, and mechanist theories. Within this broad context, it considers what Cavendish thinks artisans can actually do, grounding her terminological stipulation that there is no genuine generation in nature in a commitment to natural and artistic production as the mere rearrangement of bodies. Bodies themselves are identified, in a conceptually Ockhamist manner, with (...)
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  • Margaret Cavendish on the Order and Infinitude of Nature.Michael Bennett McNulty - 2018 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (3):219-239.
    In this paper, I develop a new interpretation of the order of nature, its function, and its implications in Margaret Cavendish’s philosophy. According to the infinite balance account, the order of nature consists in a balance among the infinite varieties of nature. That is, for Cavendish, nature contains an infinity of different types of matter: infinite species, shapes, and motions. The potential tumult implicated by such a variety, however, is tempered by the counterbalancing of the different kinds and motions of (...)
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  • Mixing Bodily Fluids: Hobbes’s Stoic God.Geoffrey Gorham - 2014 - Sophia 53 (1):33-49.
    The pantheon of seventeenth-century European philosophy includes some remarkably heterodox deities, perhaps most famously Spinoza’s deus-sive-natura. As in ethics and natural philosophy, early modern philosophical theology drew inspiration from classical sources outside the mainstream of Christianized Aristotelianism, such as the highly immanentist, naturalistic theology of Greek and Roman Stoicism. While the Stoic background to Spinoza’s pantheist God has been more thoroughly explored, I maintain that Hobbes’s corporeal God is the true modern heir to the Stoic theology. The Stoic and Hobbesian (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Color in a Material World: Margaret Cavendish against the Early Modern Mechanists.Colin Chamberlain - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (3):293-336.
    Consider the distinctive qualitative property grass visually appears to have when it visually appears to be green. This property is an example of what I call sensuous color. Whereas early modern mechanists typically argue that bodies are not sensuously colored, Margaret Cavendish (1623–73) disagrees. In cases of veridical perception, she holds that grass is green in precisely the way it visually appears to be. In defense of her realist approach to sensuous colors, Cavendish argues that (i) it is impossible to (...)
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  • Margaret Cavendish on Gender, Nature, and Freedom.Deborah Boyle - 2013 - Hypatia 28 (3):516-532.
    Some scholars have argued that Margaret Cavendish was ambivalent about women's roles and capabilities, for she seems sometimes to hold that women are naturally inferior to men, but sometimes that this inferiority is due to inferior education. I argue that attention to Cavendish's natural philosophy can illuminate her views on gender. In section II I consider the implications of Cavendish's natural philosophy for her views on male and female nature, arguing that Cavendish thought that such natures were not fixed. However, (...)
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  • Margaret Cavendish on Perception, Self‐Knowledge, and Probable Opinion.Deborah Boyle - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (7):438-450.
    Scholarly interest in Margaret Cavendish's philosophical views has steadily increased over the past decade, but her epistemology has received little attention, and no consensus has emerged; Cavendish has been characterized as a skeptic, as a rationalist, as presenting an alternative epistemology to both rationalism and empiricism, and even as presenting no clear theory of knowledge at all. This paper concludes that Cavendish was only a modest skeptic, for she believed that humans can achieve knowledge through sensitive and rational perception as (...)
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  • Continental Rationalism.Shannon Dea, Julie Walsh & Thomas M. Lennon - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The expression “continental rationalism” refers to a set of views more or less shared by a number of philosophers active on the European continent during the latter two thirds of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth. Rationalism is most often characterized as an epistemological position. On this view, to be a rationalist requires at least one of the following: (1) a privileging of reason and intuition over sensation and experience, (2) regarding all or most ideas as innate (...)
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  • 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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  • Self-knowledge, Perception, and Margaret Cavendish's Metaphysics of the Individual.Laura Georgescu - 2021 - Early Science and Medicine 25 (6):618-639.
    For Margaret Cavendish, every single part of matter has self-knowledge, and almost every part has perceptive knowledge. This paper asks what is at stake for Cavendish in ascribing self-knowing and perceptive properties to matter. Whereas many commentators take perception and self-knowledge to be guides to Cavendish’s epistemology, this paper takes them to be guides to her metaphysics, in that it shows that these categories account for individual specificity and for relationality. A part of matter is a unique individual insofar as (...)
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  • Margaret Lucas Cavendish.David Cunning - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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