A few of the Philosophical Letters

After putting together a small set of extracts from Margaret Cavendish’s Philosophical Letters for a class, I figured that others might find it interesting or useful, so I posted it online: Some of the Philosophical Letters.

That page presents five of the letters in part 1 of Cavendish’s book: letter 1 (which is introductory), letter 4 (the first letter on Hobbes, on the views about perception in ch.1 of Leviathan), letter 30 (the first letter on Descartes, on body and motion), letter 35 (on the alleged real distinction between mind and body), and letter 36 (on reason and non-human animals, discussing Descartes’s arguments in Discourse part 5). Together, they give examples of Cavendish’s criticisms of Descartes and Hobbes, while also introducing important aspects of her own views.

Some more textual details below the fold (as well as on the page itself):

The text is based on a copy of Cavendish’s book held by the University of Toronto library, using a scanned version available at https://archive.org/details/philosophicallet00newc.

The text has been modernized in its spelling (although preserving the spelling of people’s names), use of capital letters (although preserving capital letters used after colons), and use of italics. Few changes have been made to Cavendish’s punctuation, the main one being to add apostrophes indicating possession. Other changes to punctuation are marked with square brackets in the text.

Cavendish gives references to other authors using marginal notes. These have been moved into the text as parenthetical references, with the formatting standardized, and placed after the quoted passages where that is appropriate.

Published by Stewart Duncan

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Florida