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During the early twentieth century, British novelist and philosopher May Sinclair published two book-length defenses of idealism. Although Sinclair is well known to literary scholars, she is little known to the history of philosophy. This paper provides the first substantial scholarship on Sinclair's philosophical views, focusing on her mature idealism. Although Sinclair is working within the larger British idealist tradition, her argument for Absolute idealism is unique, founded on Samuel Alexander's new realist beliefs about the reality of time. Her metaphysics takes idealism and pantheism in new directions and provides fresh insight into 1920s debates between British idealisms and realisms.
In Le Bonheur Primitif (1789), Olympe de Gouges takes on Rousseau's account of the evolution of human society in his first two Discourses, and she argues that primitive human beings were not only happy, but also capable of virtue. I argue that in that text, Gouges offers a contribution to the eighteenth-century debate on human progress that is distinct from Rousseau's in that it takes seriously the contribution of women and families to human happiness and progress. I show how the concept of emulation plays an important role in Gouges's analysis, both in her account of primitive societies and of the theater, and argue that she uses it to bridge the gap between primitive happiness and future progress.
One of the most basic questions an ontology can address is: How many things, or substances, are there? A monist will say, ‘just one’. But there are different stripes of monism, and where the borders between these different views lie rests on the question, ‘To what does this “oneness” apply?’ Some monists apply ‘oneness’ to existence. Others apply ‘oneness’ to types. Determining whether a philosopher is a monist and deciphering what this is supposed to mean is no easy task, especially when it comes to those writing in the early modern period because many philosophers of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries include God in their ontologies. In The Principles, Anne Finch Conway offers an ontology that is often described as being both ‘vitalist’ and ‘monist’. I take this to mean that, for Conway, all that exists is in some way alive and that if asked ‘How many things, or substances, are there?’ Conway would say, ‘Just one’. But to what does this ‘oneness’ apply? And where does the point of disagreement between Conway and her interlocutors, Hobbes, Spinoza, More, and Descartes lie? In this paper, I argue that determining the answer to this first question turns out to be quite difficult. Nevertheless, we can still make sense of the second.