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The Well-Ordered Universe – The Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Well-Ordered Universe: The Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish

Deborah Boyle


The prolific Margaret Cavendish (1623–1673) published books on natural philosophy as well as stories, plays, poems, orations, allegories, and letters. Her mature philosophical system offered a unique vitalist materialist theory of Nature as composed of a continuous, non-atomistic, perceiving, knowing matter. In contrast to the dominant philosophical thinking of her day, Cavendish argued that all matter has free will and can choose whether or not to follow Nature’s rules. The Well-Ordered Universe explores the development of Cavendish’s natural philosophy from the atomism of her 1653 Poems, and ... More

Keywords: Cavendish, vitalist materialism, Nature, atomism, natural philosophy, social philosophy, political philosophy, medical theory, free will, social hierarchy

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780190234805
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190234805.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Deborah Boyle, author
Professor of Philosophy, College of Charleston