Early Modern Philosophy

The Cambridge Platonists

Who was Anne Conway?

Anne Conway (1630–1679) was best known in philosophy for her The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy (1690). This work was meant to overthrow both René Descartes’ (1596–1650) dualism and that of Henry More (1614–1687). She posited an infinite number of ordered monads—each one of which was a “congealed spirit”—as the ultimate components of reality. She was influenced by Flemish alchemist Franciscus Mercurius van Helmont, who showed her work to Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716). Leibniz himself acknowledged her influence, and some think he got the term “monad” from her.


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