A Woman's Influence? John Locke and Damaris Masham on Moral Accountability

Journal of the History of Ideas 67 (3):489-510 (2006)
Jacqueline Broad
Monash University
Some scholars suggest that John Locke’s revisions to the chapter “Of Power” for the 1694 second edition of his Essay concerning Human Understanding may be indebted to the Cambridge Platonist, Ralph Cudworth. Their claims rest on evidence that Locke may have had access to Cudworth’s unpublished manuscript treatises on free will. In this paper, I examine an alternative suggestion – the claim that Cudworth’s daughter, Damaris Cudworth Masham, and not Cudworth himself, may have exerted an influence on Locke’s revisions. I discuss the plausibility of this claim in light of the relevant historical and textual evidence.
Keywords Damaris Masham  John Locke  Ralph Cudworth
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DOI 10.1353/jhi.2006.0022
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