Cavendish’s Orderly Philosophy


Deborah Boyle, The Well-Ordered Universe: The Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish (Oxford:

Oxford University Press, 2017), ISBN: 9780190234805, 288pp.

Maaike Korpershoek

Seventeenth-century philosopher Margaret Cavendish managed to treat various interesting topics in her books, poems, plays and letters. In The Well-Ordered Universe: The Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish, Deborah Boyle deals with the majority of these topics. According to Boyle, Cavendish’s philosophy can be best understood by focusing on her underlying concern with order in nature. Order is, so claims Cavendish, the ‘One Law’ of nature. This means that in an orderly universe parts of nature behave in designated ways that are prescribed by nature. According to Boyle, multiple facets of Cavendish’s philosophy – like gender roles, treatment of animals, sickness and health – can be united by a common concern with order and regularity in nature.

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