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  1. Epigenesis and the Rationality of Nature in William Harvey and Margaret Cavendish.Benjamin Goldberg - 2017 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 39 (2).
    The generation of animals was a difficult phenomenon to explain in the seventeenth century, having long been a problem in natural philosophy, theology, and medicine. In this paper, I explore how generation, understood as epigenesis, was directly related to an idea of rational nature. I examine epigenesis—the idea that the embryo was constructed part-by-part, over time—in the work of two seemingly dissimilar English philosophers: William Harvey, an eclectic Aristotelian, and Margaret Cavendish, a radical materialist. I chart the ways that they (...)
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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 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 it is impossible to conceive of (...)
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  • XII—Fighting for My Mind: Feminist Logic at the Edge of Enlightenment.Hannah Dawson - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (3):275-306.
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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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 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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  • 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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