Anne Conway: A Woman Philosopher

Cambridge University Press
Free sample

This 2004 book was the first intellectual biography of one of the very first English women philosophers. At a time when very few women received more than basic education, Lady Anne Conway wrote an original treatise of philosophy, her Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, which challenged the major philosophers of her day - Descartes, Hobbes and Spinoza. Sarah Hutton's study places Anne Conway in her historical and philosophical context, by reconstructing her social and intellectual milieu. She traces her intellectual development in relation to friends and associates such as Henry More, Sir John Finch, F. M. van Helmont, Robert Boyle and George Keith. And she documents Conway's debt to Cambridge Platonism and her interest in religion - an interest which extended beyond Christian orthodoxy to Quakerism, Judaism and Islam. Her book offers an insight into both the personal life of a very private woman, and the richness of seventeenth-century intellectual culture.
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About the author

Sarah Hutton is Reader in Renaissance and Seventeenth-Century Studies at the School of Arts, Middlesex University. Her publications include The Conway Letters: the Correspondence of Anne, Viscountess Conway, Henry More and their Friends, 1642–1684 (1992, a revised edition of a collection originally edited by Marjorie Nicolson in 1930), Ralph Cudworth: A Treatise Concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality (Cambridge, 1996), Henry More (1614-1687): Tercentenary Studies (1990), and Platonism and the English Imagination (with Anna Baldwin, Cambridge, 1994).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
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Published on
Oct 7, 2004
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Pages
281
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ISBN
9781139456050
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Renaissance
Philosophy / History & Surveys / General
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Modern
Religion / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Sarah Hutton presents a rich historical study of one of the most fertile periods in modern philosophy. It was in the seventeenth century that Britain's first philosophers of international stature and lasting influence emerged. Its most famous names, Hobbes and Locke, rank alongside the greatest names in the European philosophical canon. Bacon too belongs with this constellation of great thinkers, although his status as a philosopher tends to be obscured by his status as father of modern science. The seventeenth century is normally regarded as the dawn of modernity following the breakdown of the Aristotelian synthesis which had dominated intellectual life since the middle ages. In this period of transformational change, Bacon, Hobbes, Locke are acknowledged to have contributed significantly to the shape of European philosophy from their own time to the present day. But these figures did not work in isolation. Sarah Hutton places them in their intellectual context, including the social, political and religious conditions in which philosophy was practised. She treats seventeenth-century philosophy as an ongoing conversation: like all conversations, some voices will dominate, some will be more persuasive than others and there will be enormous variations in tone from the polite to polemical, matter-of-fact, intemperate. The conversation model allows voices to be heard which would otherwise be discounted. Hutton shows the importance of figures normally regarded as 'minor' players in philosophy (e.g. Herbert of Cherbury, Cudworth, More, Burthogge, Norris, Toland) as well as others who have been completely overlooked, notably female philosophers. Crucially, instead of emphasizing the break between seventeenth-century philosophy and its past, the conversation model makes it possible to trace continuities between the Renaissance and seventeenth century, across the seventeenth century and into the eighteenth century, while at the same time acknowledging the major changes which occurred.
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