Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Conway, Anne

Born: 1631
Died: 1679
  • Alvin SniderEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_476-1


Anne Conway (1631–1679) is best remembered as the author of a single book published posthumously, The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy. Conway worked out a metaphysics to account for the relationship between matter and spirit and found models for her writing in the philosophical and theological disputes of the day. Her treatise owes a particular debt to Jewish Cabbalism and English Quakerism. Conway based her philosophy on a spiritual monism that has affinities with vitalism while running counter to the mechanistic theories that shaped seventeenth-century scientific thought. Her book offers an eclectic mix that combines a monistic theory of substance with Neoplatonist doctrines on the spirit of nature and sets forth a philosophy that remained in the shadows until its rediscovery in the twentieth century.


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Primary Literature

  1. Conway, Anne. 1692. The principles of the most ancient and modern philosophy concerning God, Christ, and the creatures... translated out of the English into Latin. .. and now again made English (trans: J. C.) London.Google Scholar
  2. Conway, Anne. 1996. The principles of the most ancient and modern philosophy (trans: Allison P. Coudert and Taylor Corse). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. More, Henry. 1655. An antidote against Atheism: Or, an appeal to the natural faculties of the mind of man, whether there be not a God, 2nd ed. London: William Morden.Google Scholar
  4. Nicolson, Marjorie Hope, and Sara Hutton, eds. 1992. The Conway letters: The correspondence of Anne, Viscountess Conway, Henry More, and their friends, 1642–1684. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Broad, Jacqueline. 2002. Woman philosophers of the seventeenth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, Stuart. 1990. Leibniz and More’s cabbalistic circle. In Henry More (1614–1687): Tercentenary studies, ed. Sara Hutton. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  3. Byrne, David. 2007. Anne Conway, early Quaker thought, and the new science. Quaker History 96: 24–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Duran, Jane. 2006. Eight women philosophers: Theory, politics and feminism. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  5. Hutton, Sarah. 2004a. Anne Conway: A woman philosopher. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hutton, Sarah. 2004b. Conway, Anne, Viscountess Conway and Killultagh (1631–1679). In Oxford dictionary of national biography, online ed., Sept. 2010,  10.1093/ref:odnb/6119.
  7. Hutton, Sarah. 2008. Lady Anne Conway. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/conway/
  8. White, Carol Wayne. 2008. The legacy of Anne Conway (1631–1679): Reverberations from a mystical naturalism. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marco Sgarbi
    • 1
  1. 1.University Ca' Foscari VeniceVeniceItaly