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The Philosophy of Mary AstellAn Early Modern Theory of Virtue$
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Jacqueline Broad

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716815

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716815.001.0001

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(p.26) 2 Knowledge
The Philosophy of Mary Astell

Jacqueline Broad

Oxford University Press

Mary Astell’s theory of knowledge is designed to give women those necessary habits of mind, or the mental dispositions, to attain virtue and happiness. This chapter explains that theory. It provides an insight into her Cartesian method of thinking, her recommendations for attaining ‘purity’ of mind—that is, withdrawal from the senses, the regulation of the passions, and disengagement from the love of material things—and her stance on the Malebranchean doctrine of ‘vision in God’. In sum, this chapter shows that a blend of Cartesian, Neoplatonist, and Malebranchean–Augustinian principles shape and inform the epistemological foundations of Astell’s moral theory.

Keywords:   Mary Astell, Cartesian method, purity, theory of knowledge, vision in God

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