Debating Materialism: Cavendish, Hobbes, and More

History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (4):391-409 (2012)
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Abstract

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 divided materialists from their opponents. Seemingly straightforward disagreements about whether incorporeal substances exist turn out to be more complex ones in which the nature of those things is disputed at the same time as their existence.

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Stewart Duncan
University of Florida

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