Epigenesis and the rationality of nature in William Harvey and Margaret Cavendish


Authors
Benjamin Goldberg
University of Pittsburgh
Abstract
The generation of animals was a difficult phenomenon to explain in the seventeenth century, having long been a problem in natural philosophy, theology, and medicine. In this paper, I explore how generation, understood as epigenesis, was directly related to an idea of rational nature. I examine epigenesis—the idea that the embryo was constructed part-by-part, over time—in the work of two seemingly dissimilar English philosophers: William Harvey, an eclectic Aristotelian, and Margaret Cavendish, a radical materialist. I chart the ways that they understood and explained epigenesis, given their differences in philosophy and ontology. I argue for the importance of ideas of harmony and order in structuring their accounts of generation as a rational process. I link their experiences during the English Civil war to how they see nature as a possible source for the rationality and concord sorely missing in human affairs.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s40656-017-0134-5
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,914
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life.Steven Shapin & Simon Schaffer - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (3):403-410.
The Philosophical Innovations of Margaret Cavendish.Susan James - 1999 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 7 (2):219 – 244.

View all 20 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Margaret Cavendish on the Order and Infinitude of Nature.Michael Bennett McNulty - 2018 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (3):219-239.
Introduction: sketches of a conceptual history of epigenesis.Antonine Nicoglou & Charles T. Wolfe - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (4):64.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Reason and Freedom: Margaret Cavendish on the Order and Disorder of Nature.Karen Detlefsen - 2007 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2):157-191.
Cavendish, Margaret.Eugene Marshall - 2014 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Margaret Cavendish and Thomas Hobbes on Freedom, Education, and Women.Karen Detlefsen - 2012 - In Nancy J. Hirschmann & Joanne H. Wright (eds.), Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes. The Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 149-168.
Debating Materialism: Cavendish, Hobbes, and More.Stewart Duncan - 2012 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (4):391-409.
Margaret Cavendish's Epistemology.Kourken Michaelian1 - 2009 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (1):31 – 53.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2017-12-05

Total views
13 ( #614,094 of 2,266,270 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
9 ( #117,156 of 2,266,270 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature