Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-fnprw Total loading time: 0.5 Render date: 2022-08-17T01:43:37.215Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Chapter Two - Margaret Cavendish Thinks about Sex

from Part I - History of Science

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2022

Lisa Walters
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
Brandie R. Siegfried
Affiliation:
Brigham Young University, Utah
Get access

Summary

Margaret Cavendish thought of her work as her “childe,” perhaps compensating for her own lack of biological children with her conceptions of nature. In her early works, she claimed that she was too modest to examine the nature of procreation, but later investigates the ideas of both ancients and moderns about the physical and metaphysical aspects of generation. She criticized William Harvey’s biology and understood the possible sexual implications of Robert Boyle’s experimentation with the air-pump. Her developed natural philosophy, that everything was composed of matter in motion, allowed her to advance a non-sexed and non-gendered account of generation. The unitary asexual substratum of matter could allow a man to become a woman, or a woman a man; such gender fluidity was possible because of the diversity of matter and its capacity to change due to particular circumstances. Consequently, Cavendish could be both sexes and none, constructing natural philosophy and generating imaginary worlds. We are left with the question of whether Cavendish thought that gender and even sex are social and cultural constructs, thus anticipating the modern examination of these categories.

Type
Chapter
Information
Margaret Cavendish
An Interdisciplinary Perspective
, pp. 33 - 50
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×