Cavendishian Trialism

01 October 2017 → 31 December 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
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Cavendishian Trialism
Project description

Margaret Cavendish was the first woman to develop her philosophy through a series of treatises.

Her innovative rethinking of received notions of substance, accident, matter, body, and soul

allowed her to elaborate, in several major works published between 1653 and 1668, a novel

account of the material world. She developed original accounts of theoretical notions like

causation and divisibility, and boldly idiosyncratic accounts of properties like color and heat. I

propose to investigate, contextualize, and explain several signal features of her metaphysics. A

recent renaissance in Cavendish studies has made it possible, for the first time, to begin to fully

appreciate her insights, and in this project I will give a full-dress account of her metaphysical

theorizing that reveals not only its deep relationship with and advantages over Cartesianism, but

also the sometimes puzzling appropriations and reinterpretations of Scholastic thought that

resulted in a centuries-long failure to appreciate Cavendish's philosophy, which is only now being

remedied. In a series of papers and a book project, I propose to show how, in Cavendishian

trialism, animate matter, inanimate matter, and their contingently blended unity, the material

world as a whole, together provide a solution to the mind-body problem that does not founder

where Cartesian dualism does, but that actually has the resources to make the Cavendishian

analogue of what is known to scholars as Cartesian trialism work.