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Margaret Cavendish's Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1663 edition)

Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) wrote numerous works of philosophy, plays, and poetry, as well as a science fiction work, an autobiography and a biography of her husband. While many of her works are available online, her 1663 edition of Philosophical and Physical Opinions has not yet had an open access and easily searchable edition until now.


This open access, searchable version of Margaret Cavendish’s 1663 edition of Philosophical and Physical Opinions is the first version of this text to be hand transcribed and available to the public. The text was transcribed by 70+ participants in a transcribe-a-thon in the Fall of 2019. The final product was proofread and edited by Marcy Lascano and is available here:

https://cavendish-ppo.ku.edu/

Research Projects P

The Metaphysics of Margaret Cavendish and Anne Conway:

Monism, Vitalism, and Self-Motion

Forthcoming Oxford University Press


This book is an examination of the metaphysical systems of Margaret Cavendish and Anne Conway, who share many superficial similarities. By providing a detailed analysis of their views on substance, monism, self-motion, individuation and identity over time, as well as causation, perception, and freedom, it demonstrates the interesting ways in which their accounts differ. Seeing their systems in tandem highlights the originality of each philosopher. In addition to providing the details of their metaphysical views, the book also shows how they put these views to use: for Cavendish in grounding her natural philosophy and for Conway in developing her theodicy. The account of Cavendish is more naturalistic than current interpretations. It argues that God plays no substantive role in Cavendish's philosophy. The book provides an account of Cavendish's matter and her biological holism. It shows how sensitive and rational matter are expressed differently in different natural kinds. It provides the first account of Cavendish's views on individuation and identity over time and a detailed account of her views on causation arguing that nature is the only principal cause. The book also provides an account of Conway's spiritual substance, arguing that it is a unique type of substance. It discusses Conway's two types of motions and causation. In addition, a detailed account of her view of motion as a mode of body, and how it is transferred is provided. Finally, it concludes that for Conway's metaphysics and morality are inseparable and that she holds a type of perfectionism.