Full text Read free See used
Anne Conway, , . Selections from the Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy
1994, in Margaret Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett Publishing Company. [originally written 1677]
Expand entry
Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by:

After the SEP: Anne Conway’s treatise is a work of Platonist metaphysics in which she derives her system of philosophy from the existence and attributes of God. The framework of Conway’s system is a tripartite ontological hierarchy of ‘species’, the highest of which is God, the source of all being. Christ, or ‘middle nature’, links God and the third species, called ‘Creature’. […] Anne Conway denies the existence of material body as such, arguing that inert corporeal substance would contradict the nature of God, who is life itself. Incorporeal created substance is, however, differentiated from the divine, principally on account of its mutability and multiplicity even so, the infinite number and constant mutability of created monads constitute an obverse reflection of the unity, infinity, eternity and unchangeableness of God. The continuum between God and creatures is made possible through ‘middle nature’, an intermediary being, through which God communicates life, action, goodness and justice. […] The spiritual perfectionism of Anne Conway’s system has dual aspect: metaphysical and moral. On the one hand all things are capable of becoming more spirit-like, that is, more refined qua spiritual substance. At the same time, all things are capable of increased goodness. She explains evil as a falling away from the perfection of God, and understands suffering as part of a longer term process of spiritual recovery. She denies the eternity of hell, since for God to punish finite wrong-doing with infinite and eternal hell punishment would be manifestly unjust and therefore a contradiction of the divine nature. Instead she explains pain and suffering as purgative, with the ultimate aim of restoring creatures to moral and metaphysical perfection. Anne Conway’s system is thus not just an ontology and but a theodicy.

Comment: This chapter could be used in a history of philosophy course as one week’s reading. The author has a metaphysics that is often seen to anticipate that of Leibniz so one could, e.g., include a week on Conway in advance of a week or two (or three) on Leibniz.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Arendt, Hannah, , . Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy
1982, University of Chicago Press.
Expand entry
Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Hannah Arendt’s last philosophical work was an intended three-part project entitled The Life of the Mind. Unfortunately, Arendt lived to complete only the first two parts, Thinking and Willing. Of the third, Judging, only the title page, with epigraphs from Cato and Goethe, was found after her death. As the titles suggest, Arendt conceived of her work as roughly parallel to the three Critiques of Immanuel Kant. In fact, while she began work on The Life of the Mind, Arendt lectured on “Kant’s Political Philosophy,” using the Critique of Judgment as her main text. The present volume brings Arendt’s notes for these lectures together with other of her texts on the topic of judging and provides important clues to the likely direction of Arendt’s thinking in this area.

Comment: This book provides a good overview of Arendt’s perspective on Kant’s political philosophy. Previous knowledge on Kant is needed.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Astell, Mary, , . A Serious Proposal to the Ladies: Parts I and II
2002, Broadview Press
Expand entry
Added by: Francesca Bruno, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Mary Astell’s A Serious Proposal to the Ladies is one of the most important and neglected works advocating the establishment of women’s academies. Its reception was so controversial that Astell responded with a lengthy sequel, also in this volume. The cause of great notoriety, Astell’s Proposal was imitated by Defoe in his “An Academy for Women,” parodied in the Tatler, satirized on the stage, plagiarized by Bishop Berkeley, and later mocked by Gilbert and Sullivan in Princess Ida.

Comment: This new edition by Patricia Springborg of Mary Astell’s A Serious Proposal to the Ladies: Parts I and II includes helpful introductory material and explanatory annotations to Astell’s text. Springborg’s introduction places Astell’s work in the context of the woman question and the debate over empirical rationalism in the eighteenth-century. This is a good text to use in an early modern course.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Baron, Marcia, , . Kantian Ethics Almost Without Apology
1995, Cornell University Press.
Expand entry
Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Nomy Arpaly

Publisher’s Note: The emphasis on duly in Kant’s ethics is widely held to constitute a defect. Marcia W. Baron develops and assesses the criticism, which she sees as comprising two objections: that duty plays too large a role, leaving no room for the supererogatory, and that Kant places too much value on acting from duty. Clearly written and cogently argued, Kantian Ethics Almost without Apology takes on the most philosophically intriguing objections to Kant’s ethics and subjects them to a rigorous yet sympathetic assessment.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Beebee, Helen, , . Hume on Causation
2006, Routledge.
Expand entry
Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Hume on Causation is the first major work dedicated to Hume’s views on causation in over fifteen years, and it argues that Hume does not subscribe to any of the three views he is traditionally credited with. The first view is the ‘regularity view of causation’. The second is the view that the world appears to us as a world of unconnected events, and the third is inductive scepticism: the view that the ‘problem of induction’, the problem of providing a justification for inference from observed to unobserved regularities, is insoluble.It places Hume’s interest in causation within the context of his theory of the mind and his theory of causal reasoning, arguing that Hume’s conception of causation derives from his conception of the nature of the inference from causes to effects.

Comment: This book serves as an introduction to the topic of causation. Beebee covers all the major issues and debates in the topic. The books offers an overview that can help undergraduates to learn about the problem of causation and necessity connection. It could be useful as well for postgraduates who want to research Hume’s views.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Berges, Sandrine, , . On the Outskirts of the Canon: The Myth of the Lone Female Philosopher, and What to Do about It
2015, Metaphilosophy, 46(3), pp.380-397.
Expand entry
Added by: Benny Goldberg, Contributed by:

Abstract: Women philosophers of the past, because they tended not to engage with each other much, are often perceived as isolated from ongoing philosophical dialogues. This has led – directly and indirectly – to their exclusion from courses in the history of philosophy. This article explores three ways in which we could solve this problem. The first is to create a course in early modern philosophy that focuses solely or mostly on female philosophers, using conceptual and thematic ties such as a concern for education and a focus on ethics and politics. The second is to introduce women authors as dialoguing with the usual canonical suspects: Cavendish with Hobbes, Elisabeth of Bohemia with Descartes, Masham and Astell with Locke, Conway with Leibniz, and so on. The article argues that both methods have significant shortcomings, and it suggests a third, consisting in widening the traditional approach to structuring courses in early modern philosophy.

Comment: A good paper for any classes on how to teach philosophy, on early modern philosophy, the philosophy of history, or feminism.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Broad, Jacqueline, , Karen Green. A History of Women’s Political Thought in Europe, 1400–1700
2009, Cambridge University Press
Expand entry
Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Karen Green

Publisher’s Note: This ground-breaking book surveys the history of women’s political thought in Europe from the late medieval period to the early modern era. The authors examine women’s ideas about topics such as the basis of political authority, the best form of political organisation, justifications of obedience and resistance, and concepts of liberty, toleration, sociability, equality, and self-preservation. Women’s ideas concerning relations between the sexes are discussed in tandem with their broader political outlooks; and the authors demonstrate that the development of a distinctively sexual politics is reflected in women’s critiques of marriage, the double standard, and women’s exclusion from government. Women writers are also shown to be indebted to the ancient idea of political virtue, and to be acutely aware of being part of a long tradition of female political commentary. This work will be of tremendous interest to political philosophers, historians of ideas, and feminist scholars alike.

Comment: Offers an overview of women’s works advocating for the spiritual and political equality of women and men from Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies to Mary Astell’s Serious Proposal to the Ladies. Embeds these works within the wider traditions of political philosophy and in particular debates about virtue, liberty, religious toleration, equality, and good government.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Broad, Jacqueline, , . Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century
2002, Cambridge University Press.
Expand entry
Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by: Karen Green

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.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Cavendish, Margaret, , . Observations upon Experimental Philosophy (1666)
2011, Cambridge University Press
Expand entry
Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Benjamin Goldberg

Publisher’s Note: Margaret Cavendish’s 1668 edition of Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, presented here in its first modern edition, holds a unique position in early modern philosophy. Cavendish rejects the Aristotelianism which was taught in the universities in the seventeenth century, and the picture of nature as a grand machine which was propounded by Hobbes, Descartes and members of the Royal Society of London, such as Boyle. She also rejects the views of nature which make reference to immaterial spirits. Instead she develops an original system of organicist materialism, and draws on the doctrines of ancient Stoicism to attack the tenets of seventeenth-century mechanical philosophy. Her treatise is a document of major importance in the history of women’s contributions to philosophy and science.

Comment: Needed in courses on early modern matter theory and experimental philosophy, as it is a useful counter to the one sided enthusiasm of traditional subjects of early modern courses such as Boyle and Descartes.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Cavendish, Margaret, , . Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world / written by the thrice noble, illustrious, and excellent princesse, the Duchess of Newcastle.
2001, Edited by E. O’Neill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy).
Expand entry
Added by: Benjamin Goldberg, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Margaret Cavendish’s 1668 edition of Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, presented here in its first modern edition, holds a unique position in early modern philosophy. Cavendish rejects the Aristotelianism which was taught in the universities in the seventeenth century, and the picture of nature as a grand machine which was propounded by Hobbes, Descartes and members of the Royal Society of London, such as Boyle. She also rejects the views of nature which make reference to immaterial spirits. Instead she develops an original system of organicist materialism, and draws on the doctrines of ancient Stoicism to attack the tenets of seventeenth-century mechanical philosophy. Her treatise is a document of major importance in the history of women’s contributions to philosophy and science.

Comment: In this work, Cavendish argues against the experimental paradigm of the emerging Royal Society, contrasting their conception of passive, dead matter, with her own conception of vital materialism. This text will prove useful in conjunction with discussions of experiment and epistemology in early modern philosophy. Usefully paired with other philosophers like Boyle, Descartes, and Henry More, as well as scientists like William Harvey.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Cockburn, Catharine Trotter, , . Selections from A Defence of Mr Locke’s Essay of Human Understanding
1994, in Margaret Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett Publishing Company. [originally written 1702]
Expand entry
Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Diversifying Syllabi: Catharine Trotter Cockburn argues that Burnet’s critiques of Locke are mistaken. In particular, she argues (a) that Burnet has misunderstood Locke, (b) that Burnet’s conclusions aren’t supported by his arguments, and (c) that, even if they were, they would not constitute criticisms of Locke. Primarily, Cockburn is eager to show that Locke’s view is consistent with a view of the mind/soul as immaterial and immortal.

Comment: This chapter could be used in a history of philosophy course as one week’s reading. It could follow a section on Locke as Cockburn defends Locke, specifically against the charge that his empiricist epistemology cannot account for moral ideas, but in doing so develops her own account of conscience.

Complimentary Texts/Resources:

Jane Duran, “Early English Empiricism and the Work of Catharine Trotter Cockburn”

Martha Brandt Bolton, “Some Aspects of the Philosophical Work of Catharine Trotter”

Patricia Sheridan, “Reflection, Nature and Moral Law: The Extent of Catharine Cockburn’s Lockeanism in her Defence of Mr. Locke’s Essay”

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Cohon, Rachel, , . Hume’s Moral Philosophy
2010, E. N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]
Expand entry
Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Introduction: Hume’s position in ethics, which is based on his empiricist theory of the mind, is best known for asserting four theses: (1) Reason alone cannot be a motive to the will, but rather is the “slave of the passions” (see Section 3) (2) Moral distinctions are not derived from reason (see Section 4). (3) Moral distinctions are derived from the moral sentiments: feelings of approval (esteem, praise) and disapproval (blame) felt by spectators who contemplate a character trait or action (see Section 7). (4) While some virtues and vices are natural (see Section 13), others, including justice, are artificial (see Section 9). There is heated debate about what Hume intends by each of these theses and how he argues for them. He articulates and defends them within the broader context of his metaethics and his ethic of virtue and vice.

Hume’s main ethical writings are Book 3 of his Treatise of Human Nature, “Of Morals” (which builds on Book 2, “Of the Passions”), his Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, and some of his Essays. In part the moral Enquiry simply recasts central ideas from the moral part of the Treatise in a more accessible style; but there are important differences. The ethical positions and arguments of the Treatise are set out below, noting where the moral Enquiry agrees; differences between the Enquiry and the Treatise are discussed afterwards.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Deligiorgi, Katerina, , . Hegel’s Moral Philosophy
2017, In Dean Moyar (ed.), Oxford Handbook to Hegel’s Philosophy. Oxford University Press
Expand entry
Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by:

Abstract: Hegel’s criticism of morality, or Moralität, has had a decisive influence in the reception of his thought. By general acknowledgment, while his writings support a broadly neo-Aristotelian ethics of self-actualization, his views on moral philosophy are exhausted by his criticisms of Kant, whom he treats as paradigmatic exponent of the standpoint of morality. The aim of this chapter is to correct this received view and show that Hegel offers a positive conception of moral willing. The main argument is presented in two parts: (a) an interpretation of the ‘Morality’ section of the Philosophy of Right that shows Hegel defending a guise of the good version of willing; and (b) an examination of problems raised by this view of willing, some of which are anticipated by Hegel in in his treatment of the ‘Idea of the Good’ in the Logic, and of the interpretative options available to deal with these problems.

Comment: A useful account of Hegel’s position in moral philosophy focusing on his relation to Kant. Could be used on an ethics course when covering Hegel, either as supplementary to a reading from Hegel or as primary reading introducing a further reading by Hegel the following week.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Detlefsen, Karen, , . Custom Freedom and Equality: Mary Astell on marriage and women’s education
2016, In Penny Weiss & Alice Sowaal (eds.), Feminist Interpretations of Mary Astell. Pennsylvania State University Press, 74-92.
Expand entry
Added by: Benjamin Goldberg, Contributed by:

Abstract: Whatever may be said about contemporary feminists’ evaluation of Descartes’ role in the history of feminism, Mary Astell herself believed that Descartes’ philosophy held tremendous promise for women. His urging all people to eschew the tyranny of custom and authority in order to uncover the knowledge that could be found in each one of our unsexed souls potentially offered women a great deal of intellectual and personal freedom and power. Certainly Astell often read Descartes in this way, and Astell herself has been interpreted as a feminist – indeed, as the first English feminist. But a close look at Astell’s and Descartes’ theories of reason, and the role of authority in knowledge formation as well as in their philosophies of education, show that there are subtle yet crucial divergences in their thought – divergences which force us to temper our evaluation of Astell as a feminist. My first task is to evaluate Astell’s views on custom and authority in knowledge formation and education by comparing her ideas with those of Descartes. While it is true that Astell seems to share Descartes’ wariness of custom and authority, a careful reading of her work shows that the wariness extends only as far as the tyranny of custom over individual intellectual development. It does not extend to a wariness about social and institutional customs and authority (including, perhaps most crucially, the institution of marriage as we see in her Reflection on Marriage). The reason for this is that Astell’s driving goal is to help women to come to know God’s plan for women – both in their roles as human and in their roles as women. According to Astell, while it is true that, as individuals, women must develop their rational capacities to the fullest in order to honor God and his plan for women as human, as members of social institutions, including the institution of marriage, women must subordinate themselves to men, including their husbands, in this case so as to honor God and his plan for women as women. Once we understand the theological underpinnings of her equivocal reaction to authority and custom, we can see that Astell may be considered a feminist in a very tempered way. My second task is to use these initial conclusions to re-read her proposal for single-sexed education that we find in A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. It is true that Astell encourages women to join single-sexed educational institutions for the unique and empowering friendships that women can develop in such institutions. Still, my argument continues, the development of such friendships is not entirely an end in itself. Rather, Astell encourages women to develop such friendships such that they can re-enter the broader world armed with the tools that will help them endure burdensome features of the lives that await them in the world, including their lives as subordinated wives – burdens that Astell does not, in principle, challenge.

Comment: This is a useful paper for understanding how an early modern woman (Astell) understood the implications of Descartes’ work for women, on the subject of marriage. It would be very useful in undergraduate courses that explore the social implications of early modern philosophy, as well as more advanced courses on early modern philosophy more generally.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Detlefsen, Karen, , . Reason and Freedom: Margaret Cavendish on the order and disorder of nature
2007, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89(2): 157-191.
Expand entry
Added by: Benjamin Goldberg, Contributed by:

Abstract: According to Margaret Cavendish the entire natural world is essentially rational such that everything thinks in some way or another. In this paper, I examine why Cavendish would believe that the natural world is ubiquitously rational, arguing against the usual account, which holds that she does so in order to account for the orderly production of very complex phenomena (e.g. living beings) given the limits of the mechanical philosophy. Rather, I argue, she attributes ubiquitous rationality to the natural world in order to ground a theory of the ubiquitous freedom of nature, which in turn accounts for both the world’s orderly and disorderly behavior.

Comment: This article examines Cavendish’s concept of order and disorder in nature, and will prove a useful complement to advanced courses in early modern thought. Usefully paired with Cavendish’s works, but also those of Descartes, Malebranche, etc.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options