Margaret Cavendish Archives



More Generally: Historical Thinkers (313)

February 18, 2021

Cavendish, Hooke, and the Fall of Man

But I perceive Man has a great spleen against self-moving corporeal Nature, although himself is part of her, and the reason is his Ambition; for he would fain be supreme, and above all other Creatures, as more towards a divine nature; he would be a God, if arguments could make him such, at least God-like, as is evident by his fall, which came merely from an ambitious mind of being like God. Margaret Cavendish, Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, 2nd ed. (1668), ch. 2.7, p. 280 One of Cavendish's key theses is that a human being is merely an ordinary...
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February 17, 2021

Cavendish and Plato on Parts of the Mind

some rational Parts, may in one composed figure, have opposite actions; As for example, the Mind of man may be divided, so as to hate one person, and love another: nay, hate and love one and the same person, for several things, at the same time: as also, rejoice and grieve at the same time. For example; A Man has two Sons, one is kill'd in the Warrs, and the other comes home with victory and honour; the Father grieves for the slain Son, and rejoices for the victorious Son: for, the Mind being material, is dividable as well as...
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October 8, 2017

Two Observations upon Observations upon Experimental Philosophy

I am currently re-reading Margaret Cavendish's Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, as I will be teaching it in the near future. There are two features of the text that have struck me this time through, to which I was perhaps less attuned on my last read: I am struck by the extent to which Cavendish's reasons for panpsychism match the reasons given in more recent discussions (e.g., Nagel, Chalmers). The basic line of argument seems to be: human beings are made of ordinary matter, just like everything else. But human beings have sensitive/rational capacities that can't be explained mechanically. So there...
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April 23, 2016

Quote of the Day: Materialist Poetry

as for my opinion of Atoms, their figures and motions, (if any such things there be) I will refer you to my Book of Poems, out of which give me leave to repeat these following lines, containing the ground of my opinion of Atomes: All Creatures, howsoe're they may be nam'd Are of long, square, flat, or sharp Atomes fram'd Thus several figures several tempers make, But what is mixt, doth of the four partake. The onely cause, why things do live and die, 'S according as the mixed Atomes lie. Thus life, and death, and young, and old, Are...
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April 9, 2016

Quote of the Day: Cavendish on Philosophical Disagreement

I have not contradicted those Authors [modern philosophers] in any thing, but what concerns and is opposite to my opinions; neither do I any thing, but what they have done themselves, as being common amongst them to contradict each other: which may as well be allowable, as for Lawyers to plead at the Barr in opposite Causes. For as Lawyers are not Enemies to each other, but great Friends, all agreeing from the Barr, although not at the Barr: so it is with Philosophers who make their Opinions as their Clients, not for Wealth, but for Fame, and therefore have...
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September 27, 2013

Quote of the Day: Margaret Cavendish on Rational Animals

That all other animals, besides man, want reason, [Descartes] endeavours to prove in his discourse on method, where his chief argument is, that other animals cannot express their mind, thoughts or conceptions, either by speech or any other signs, as man can do: For, says he, it is not for want of organs belonging to the framing of words, as we may observe in parrots and 'pies, which are apt enough to express words they are taught, but understand nothing of them. My answer is, that one man expressing his mind by speech or words to another, doth not declare...
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