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This volume collects the private letters and published epistles of English women philosophers of the early modern period (c. 1650-1700). It includes the correspondences of Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Damaris Cudworth Masham, and Elizabeth Berkeley Burnet. These women were the interlocutors of some of the best-known intellectuals of their era, including Constantijn Huygens, Walter Charleton, Henry More, Joseph Glanvill, John Locke, Jean Le Clerc, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Their epistolary exchanges range over a wide variety of philosophical subjects, from religion, moral theology, and ethics to epistemology, metaphysics, and natural philosophy. For the first time in one collection, the philosophical correspondences of these women have been brought together to be appreciated as a whole. Women Philosophers of Seventeenth-Century England is an invaluable primary resource for students and scholars of these neglected women thinkers. It includes original introductory essays for each woman philosopher, demonstrating how her correspondences contributed to the formation of her own views as well as those of her better-known contemporaries. It also provides detailed scholarly annotations to the letters and epistles, explaining unfamiliar philosophical ideas and defining obscure terminology to help make the texts accessible and comprehensible to the modern reader. This collection and its companion volume, Women Philosophers of Eighteenth-Century England (forthcoming), provide valuable historical evidence that women made substantial contributions to the formation and development of early modern thought and reflect the intensely collaborative and gender-inclusive nature of philosophical discussion in the early modern period.
There have been many different historical-intellectual accounts of the shaping and development of concepts of liberty in pre-Enlightenment Europe. This volume is unique for addressing the subject of liberty principally as it is discussed in the writings of women philosophers, and as it is theorized with respect to women and their lives, during this period. The volume covers ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious notions of liberty, with some chapters discussing women's ideas about the metaphysics of free will, and others examining the topic of women's freedom (or lack thereof) in their moral and personal lives as well as in the public socio-political domain. In some cases, these topics are situated in relation to the emergence of the concept of autonomy in the late eighteenth century, and in others, with respect to recent feminist theorizing about relational autonomy and internalized oppression. Many of the chapters draw upon a wide range of genres, including polemical texts, poetry, plays, and other forms of fiction, as well as standard philosophical treatises. Taken as a whole, this volume shows how crucial it is to recover the too-long forgotten views of female and women-friendly male philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the process of recovering these voices, our understanding of philosophy in the early modern period is not only expanded, but also significantly enhanced, toward a more accurate and gender-inclusive history of our discipline.
Mary Astell (1666-1731) is best known today as one of the earliest English feminists. She is also known as a Tory political pamphleteer, an Anglican apologist, an eloquent rhetorician, and an educational theorist. In this book, Jacqueline Broad interprets Astell first and foremost as a moral philosopher, or as someone committed to providing guidance on how best to live and how to attain happiness. The central claim of this work is that all the different strands of Astell's thought—her theory of knowledge, her metaphysics, her philosophy of the passions, her feminist vision, and her conservative political views—are best understood in light of her ethical objectives. To demonstrate this, Broad examines Astell's major writings and traces her programme to bring about a moral transformation of character in her fellow women. This programme draws on several key aspects of seventeenth-century philosophy, including Cartesian and Neoplatonist epistemologies, proofs for the existence of God, arguments for the immaterial soul, and theories about how to regulate the passions in accordance with reason. At the heart of Astell's philosophy, it is argued, lies a theory of virtue and guidelines on how to cultivate generosity of character, a benevolent disposition toward other people, and the virtue of moderation. This book will help readers to see Astell's feminist, political, and religious views in the context of her wider philosophical vision. It provides a rich and illuminating account of a unique female-centred contribution to the philosophy of the early modern period. It will appeal to students and scholars in philosophy, history of ideas, and gender studies.
This volume collects the private letters and published epistles of English women philosophers of the early modern period (c. 1650-1700). It includes the correspondences of Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Damaris Cudworth Masham, and Elizabeth Berkeley Burnet. These women were the interlocutors of some of the best-known intellectuals of their era, including Constantijn Huygens, Walter Charleton, Henry More, Joseph Glanvill, John Locke, Jean Le Clerc, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Their epistolary exchanges range over a wide variety of philosophical subjects, from religion, moral theology, and ethics to epistemology, metaphysics, and natural philosophy. For the first time in one collection, the philosophical correspondences of these women have been brought together to be appreciated as a whole. Women Philosophers of Seventeenth-Century England is an invaluable primary resource for students and scholars of these neglected women thinkers. It includes original introductory essays for each woman philosopher, demonstrating how her correspondences contributed to the formation of her own views as well as those of her better-known contemporaries. It also provides detailed scholarly annotations to the letters and epistles, explaining unfamiliar philosophical ideas and defining obscure terminology to help make the texts accessible and comprehensible to the modern reader. This collection and its companion volume, Women Philosophers of Eighteenth-Century England (forthcoming), provide valuable historical evidence that women made substantial contributions to the formation and development of early modern thought and reflect the intensely collaborative and gender-inclusive nature of philosophical discussion in the early modern period.
There have been many different historical-intellectual accounts of the shaping and development of concepts of liberty in pre-Enlightenment Europe. This volume is unique for addressing the subject of liberty principally as it is discussed in the writings of women philosophers, and as it is theorized with respect to women and their lives, during this period. The volume covers ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious notions of liberty, with some chapters discussing women's ideas about the metaphysics of free will, and others examining the topic of women's freedom (or lack thereof) in their moral and personal lives as well as in the public socio-political domain. In some cases, these topics are situated in relation to the emergence of the concept of autonomy in the late eighteenth century, and in others, with respect to recent feminist theorizing about relational autonomy and internalized oppression. Many of the chapters draw upon a wide range of genres, including polemical texts, poetry, plays, and other forms of fiction, as well as standard philosophical treatises. Taken as a whole, this volume shows how crucial it is to recover the too-long forgotten views of female and women-friendly male philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the process of recovering these voices, our understanding of philosophy in the early modern period is not only expanded, but also significantly enhanced, toward a more accurate and gender-inclusive history of our discipline.
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