Anne Conway


Painting by Unkown


Anne Conway, née Finch

*December 14, 1631 (London, United Kingdom)
†February 23, 1679 (Ragley Hall, United Kingdom)

Spouse: Edward Conway 

Anne Finch Conway: >Monadic< Rationalism

Margaret Cavendish and Anne Conway are both contemporaries, but their philosophical work could not be more contradictory. While Margaret Cavendish derives her approach from the atomic-materialistic view of the world, Anne Conway wants to prove that spirit is the cause of all that exists. In 1650 Anne Conway began a correspondence with Henry More, a Cambridge teacher; these letters are now part of the >Conway Letters<. Attempting to reduce her to More’s Platonism however, does not fulfill her philosophical contribution. Today their influence on Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is undisputable. In her work >Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy< Anne Conway introduces the concept of >Monade< – a key concept of Leibniz’s work. It is therefore no aperçu of history that Leibniz was inspired by Anne Conway in the conceptual and systematic conception of his monad philosophy. A letter from Leibniz to Thomas Burnett in 1697 confirms her influence on his philosophical convictions. The text edition of the >Principles< probably concerned Mercurius van Helmont, to whom the authorship is still attributed in some encyclopaedias. It was probably also him who had familiarised Leibniz with the thoughts of Anne Conway in the seventies of the 17th century.

Hagengruber, Ruth (1998). Klassische philosophische Texte von Frauen. München: Dtv.
Hagengruber, Ruth (2004). Vom Besonderen zum Allgemeinen – zu einer Neuorientierung im Verhältnis von Philosophie, Wissenschaft und Feminismus. In Doetsch, Brigitte, Philosophinnen im 3. Jahrtausend (17-28).




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