Grounds of Natural Philosophy
  • Publication Date: January 27, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554813872 / 1554813875
  • 264 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Grounds of Natural Philosophy

  • Publication Date: January 27, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554813872 / 1554813875
  • 264 pages; 5½" x 8½"

This edition aims to make Margaret Cavendish’s most mature philosophical work more accessible to students and scholars of the period. Grounds of Natural Philosophy is important not only because it is Cavendish’s final articulation of her metaphysics but also because it succinctly outlines her fundamental views on “the nature of nature”—or the base substance and mechanics of all natural matter—and vividly demonstrates her probabilistic approach to philosophical enquiry. Moreover, Grounds spends considerable time discussing the human body, including the functions of the mind, a topic of growing interest to both historians of philosophy and literary scholars. This Broadview Edition opens to modern readers a vibrant, unique, and provocative voice of the past that challenges our standard view of seventeenth-century English philosophy.


“This modern edition of Cavendish’s mature natural philosophy—Grounds of Natural Philosophy—is a welcomed addition to the growing body of her works receiving contemporary treatment. Professor Thell’s superb introduction will provide the necessary context for the novice reader to appreciate Cavendish’s complex and innovative thought, and it is a delight to read for the seasoned Cavendish scholar as well. Especially impressive is Professor Thell’s drawing on literary theory, history of science, and philosophy to best elucidate the nuances and richness of Cavendish’s work.” — Karen Detlefsen, University of Pennsylvania

“This superbly edited volume presents Cavendish’s most mature philosophical work in all its glorious detail. Scholarly, historical, and deeply informative, Anne M. Thell’s edition promises to enrich Cavendish studies for many years to come. It will attract both old and new readers alike and enhance their appreciation of this wonderfully unique contribution to seventeenth-century philosophy.” — Jacqueline Broad, Monash University

“Any scholar or student of early modern philosophy would benefit from Thell’s rich introduction to Cavendish’s work and, of course, from reading Cavendish’s Grounds itself—a sophisticated, intricate study that could indeed achieve the ‘everlasting Life’ its author sought in its preface…” — Cassandra Gorman, Ambix

“As a scholarly edition pitched both to Cavendish scholars of several disciplines and to students, Thell’s edition of Grounds of Natural Philosophy offers an incredibly useful and contextualized version of Cavendish’s mature natural philosophy, one that will make Cavendish easier to teach and read…” — Liza Blake, in Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Margaret Cavendish: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

Grounds of Natural Philosophy

Appendix A: Cavendish Correspondence

  • 1. Joseph Glanvill to Cavendish (13 October 1667)
  • 2. Correspondence between Cavendish and Constantijn Huygens (1657–58)

Appendix B: Selection from Book I, Chapter XXXV of Observations upon Experimental Philosophy

  • 1. From Book I, Chapter XXXV: Of Knowledg and Perception in general

Appendix C: Selections from Contemporary Philosophers

  • 1. From Henry More, A Collection Of Several Philosophical Writings of Dr. Henry More (1662)
  • 2. From Jan Baptist van Helmont, Oriatrike (1662)

Works Cited and Select Bibliography

Anne M. Thell is Associate Professor of English at National University of Singapore.