Conway and Charleton on the Intimate Presence of Souls in Bodies

Journal of the History of Ideas 79 (4):571-591 (2018)
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Little is known about the shaping and development of Anne Conway’s thought in relation to her early modern contemporaries. In one part of her only surviving treatise, The Principles, Conway criticises “those doctors” who uphold a dualist theory of soul and body, a mechanist conception of body (as dead and inert), and the view that the soul is “intimate present” in the body. In this paper, I argue that here she targets Walter Charleton, a well-known defender of Epicurean atomism in mid-seventeenth-century England. My intention is to highlight the sophistication of Conway’s theory of soul-body relations vis-a-vis that of Charleton.
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