Publisher’s Note: In this rich and detailed study of early modern women’s thought, Jacqueline Broad explores the complexity of women’s responses to Cartesian philosophy and its intellectual legacy in England and Europe. She examines the work of thinkers such as Mary Astell, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway and Damaris Masham, who were active participants in the intellectual life of their time and were also the respected colleagues of philosophers such as Descartes, Leibniz and Locke. She also illuminates the continuities between early modern women’s thought and the anti-dualism of more recent feminist thinkers. The result is a more gender-balanced account of early modern thought than has hitherto been available. Broad’s clear and accessible exploration of this still-unfamiliar area will have a strong appeal to both students and scholars in the history of philosophy, women’s studies and the history of ideas.
Comment: The book is organised around six authors: Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Mary Astell, Damaris Masham and Catherine Trotter Cockburn. The book focuses on their relations to Cartesianism and this means the book can be readily used on a history of modern philosophy course. It can be treated as introducing the ideas of all the women philosophers just mentioned and, e.g., a chapter could be further reading each week accompanying primary texts by the women philosophers in question.