The Project

Planet and Moon
New Narratives in Philosophy

We are creating a map of a world where 17th century philosophy is conceived of differently than it is in our own world. In this new world, which we call The Blazing World, we begin the narrative of 17th century history of philosophy, not with Descartes, but with Margaret Cavendish. 

Creating a new narrative implies that we are rejecting an old one. The narrative that we seek to replace is one that begins with Descartes and ends with Kant and only considers male philosophers in between. This narrative focuses on epistemology and metaphysics to the exclusion of other important subjects and figures of the time. 

In the Blazing World, we take Cavendish's subjects and influences as of primary importance and trace a new way of exploring the rich depths of early modern philosophy. In the Blazing World, women philosophers are given primacy and we will see that subjects like medicine, education, and vitalism will come to the forefront. In addition to new subjects, little studied figures will become more important as well. 

This is a work in progress, and we hope that you will enjoy visiting the Blazing World. 

"By this Poetical Description, you may perceive, that my ambition is not only to be Empress, but Authoress of a whole World; and that the Worlds I have made, both the Blazing- and the other Philosophical World, mentioned in the first part of this Description, are framed and composed of the most pure, that is, the rational parts of Matter, which are the parts of my Mind…and if any should like the World I have made, and be willing to be my Subjects, they may imagine themselves as such, and they are such; I mean, in their Minds, Fancies or Imaginations; but if they cannot endure to be subjects, they may create Worlds of their own, and Govern themselves as they please…" - Cavendish, Blazing World "The Epilogue to the Reader. 

The New World

The Blazing World is composed of four main components:

The Library

This includes links to online texts by Cavendish and the other inhabitants of the Blazing World. 

The Cavendish Circle

This is a catalogue of the figures that Cavendish engages with philosophically. Each figure will include a list of the places where their views are discussed in Cavendish's texts and a list of the subjects that are concerned in these discussions. 

The Circle will eventually expand to show how other philosophers relate to Cavendish by topic.

Mapping of Topics and Figures

This component will provide a visual mapping of the figures and topics included on the site. 

Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1663)

The full searchable text available for the first time (Spring 2020)

Project Team
More to Come

This project was made possible by the generous support of the KU Philosophy Department and KU Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities. 

Project Lead: Marcy Lascano

Project Research Assistant: Rachel Henderson

Digital Humanities Support: Brian Rosenblum