Anne Conway's Ontology of Creation: A Pluralist Interpretation

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 10 (2):333-348 (2024)
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Abstract

Does Anne Conway (1631–79) hold that the created world consists of a single underlying substance? Some have argued that she does; others have argued that she is a priority monist and so holds that there are many created substances, but the whole created world is ontologically prior to each particular creature. Against both of these proposals, this article makes the case for a substance pluralist interpretation of Conway: individual creatures are distinct substances, and the whole created world is not ontologically prior to the individual creatures that compose it. The basic argument for such a view draws on Conway's claims about the freedom and moral responsibility of individual creatures. The pluralist reading is straightforwardly compatible with these claims, while the monistic readings are not.

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John R. T. Grey
Michigan State University

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