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Mon, 23 Jan


Room 234

Colin Chamberlain (UCL) The Duchess of Disunity: Margaret Cavendish on the Materiality of the Mind

Time & Location

23 Jan 2023, 16:00 – 17:30

Room 234, Senate House, London WC1B, UK


Sometimes we feel love and hate towards the same thing at the same time. Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673)—the maverick early modern materialist—appeals to this kind of psychic conflict to argue that the mind has parts and, therefore, is material. This paper reconstructs her argument and shows that it is at least somewhat defensible. More specifically, I argue that Cavendish can defend her argument against three objections. The first objection is that passions like love and hate are not rational and so do not belong to the mind. The second is that love and hate are not genuine contraries. The third objection is that Cavendish equivocates on the relevant notion of part. Finally, this paper explains how Cavendish can account for the mind’s unity once she has divided it into parts.

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