The work of women philosophers in the early modern period has traditionally been overlooked, yet their writing on topics such as reality, time, mind and matter holds valuable lessons for our understanding of metaphysics and its history. This volume of new essays explores the work of nine key female figures: Bathsua Makin, Anna Maria van Schurman, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Damaris Cudworth Masham, Mary Astell, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, and Emilie Du Chatelet. Investigating issues from eternity to free will and from body to natural laws, the essays uncover long-neglected perspectives and demonstrate their importance for philosophical debates, both then and now. Combining careful philosophical analysis with discussion of the intellectual and historical context of each thinker, they will set the agenda for future enquiry and will appeal to scholars and students of the history of metaphysics, science, religion and feminism.
Introduction: reworking early modern metaphysics Emily Thomas; Part I. Meta-metaphysics: 1. 'Heads cast in metaphysical moulds': Damaris Masham on the method and nature of metaphysics Marcy Lascano; Part II. Metaphysics of Science: 2. 'Hermaphroditical mixtures': Margaret Cavendish on nature and art Susan James; 3. Emilie Du Chatelet: physics, metaphysics and the case of gravity Andrew Janiak; 4. Margaret Cavendish on laws and order Karen Detlefsen; Part III. Ontology: 5. Bathsua Makin and Anna Maria van Schurman: education and the metaphysics of being a woman Sara L. Uckelman; 6. Margaret Cavendish on the eternity of created matter Deborah Boyle; 7. Anne Conway on the identity of creatures over time Emily Thomas; 8. Emilie Du Chatelet and the problem of bodies Katherine Brading; Part IV. Metaphysics of Minds and Selves: 9. Elisabeth of Bohemia as a naturalistic dualist Frederique Janssen-Lauret; 10. Margaret Cavendish on the metaphysics of imagination and the dramatic force of the imaginary world David Cunning; 11. Mary Astell's malebranchean concept of the self Jacqueline Broad; Part V. Metaphysics of Morality: 12. Goodness in Anne Conway's metaphysics Sarah Hutton; 13. On Catharine Trotter Cockburn's metaphysics of morality Patricia Sheridan.