CFP: Vitalism in Early Modern Philosophy

Vitalism in Early Modern Philosophy

March 29, 2019 – March 30, 2019

Emmanuel college, Cambridge University

For Call for Papers see here.

Early modern philosophy is often viewed as characterized by a crucial transition from the vitalist natural philosophy of the Renaissance to the new mechanistic natural philosophy of the seventeenth century. However, vitalism in fact continued to thrive in the early modern period, particularly in the writings of a group of philosophers associated with Cambridge Platonism. Thinkers such as Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Ralph Cudworth, and Henry More each developed their own distinctive form of vitalism, and collectively provided a powerful counterpoint to Cartesian mechanism.

But while all these philosophers were united in their deep commitment to the irreducibility and universality of life, the details of their respective views vary considerably. Whereas Cavendish and Conway, for instance, proposed monist frameworks to ground their vitalism, Cudworth and More remained wedded to a dualist metaphysics. Moreover, while early modern vitalism is perhaps most prominent in the writings of the Cambridge Platonists, it also left its mark on numerous other philosophers of the period such as Leibniz and Spinoza.

This conference proposes to examine vitalism as a philosophical movement in the early modern period, as well as the various metaphysical, moral, and theological considerations underlying it.

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Mercer on “Knowledge and Suffering in Early Modern Philosophy: G.W. Leibniz and Anne Conway”

Mercer, Christia. “Knowledge and Suffering in Early Modern Philosophy: G.W. Leibniz and Anne Conway.” In Sabrina Ebbersmeyer, ed., Emotional Minds. De Gruyter, 2012.

PDF available here: http://philpapers.org/archive/MERKAS.pdf

Mercer on “Platonism in Early Modern Natural Philosophy: The Case of Leibniz and Conway”

Mercer, Christia. “Platonism in Early Modern Natural Philosophy: The Case of Leibniz and Conway.” In Christoph Horn James Wilberding (ed.), Neoplatonic Natural Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2012.

PDF available at http://philpapers.org/archive/MERPIE.pdf.