Mary Astell on Neighborly Love

Religions 13 (6) (2022)
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In discussing the obligation to love everyone, Mary Astell (1666–1731) recognizes and responds to what I call the theocentric challenge: if humans are required to love God entirely, then they cannot fulfill the second requirement to love their neighbor. In exploring how Astell responds to this challenge, I argue that Astell is an astute metaphysician who does not endorse the metaphysical views she praises. This viewpoint helps us to understand the complicated relationship between her views and those of Descartes, Malebranche, Henry More, and John Norris, as well as her sophisticated approach to biblical interpretation and theology. Attending to theocentrism opens up new avenues of research in the study of early modern philosophy. It also helps us to see connections between Astell and other theocentric philosophers such as Spinoza and Anne Conway.

Author's Profile

Timothy Yenter
University of Mississippi


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