In (2012)

Anne Conway, née Finch, is arguably one of the most important British philosophers of the seventeenth century. Her main work, published posthumously, in 1690, "Principia Philosophiae Antiquissimae et Recentissimae", translated two years later into English as "The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy: Concerning God, Christ, and the Creature; that is, concerning Spirit and Matter in General", engages critically with most relevant thinkers of her time, in particular Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, and her friend and mentor Henry More. As the sub-title of the English translation suggests, the "Principia" are also influenced by Christian, and especially early Christian - Patristic, teaching. The chapter studies the "Principia" with a view to the way in which they use or engage with these teachings. Anne Conway was not a specialist historical theologian or Patristic scholar and no specific sources are explicitely referenced in her work. However, the way in which she approaches her main themes suggests that she was influenced by very specific early Christian thinkers, in particular Origen, whom she may have known through George Rust's "Letter of Resolution", which Henry More recommended to her in a letter in 1660. At the same time she also developed elements of early Christian thought independently, creatively, pursuing her very own agenda. Studying the "Principia" with a view to their exposure to early Christian thought reveals Anne Conway once more as a fascinating early modern philosopher who indeed combines very ancient with very recent thinking.
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