Anne Conway

(1631—1679) philosopher

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Anne Finch was the daughter of Sir Henry Finch, Speaker of the House of Commons. She studied Descartes at an early age, and through her brother, a student at Cambridge, became acquainted with Henry More. She taught herself mathematics, astronomy, and geometry, continuing her studies after her marriage in 1650 to Edward, Viscount Killulagh, later 1st Earl of Conway. She became interested in the kabbala and developed a theory of nature as an integrated mental and material order, in which individual monads developed from lower to higher forms. She joined the Quakers in 1670. From 1671 to 1675 she put her vitalist philosophy into notebooks, which were published in Latin and in English in 1692 as The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, Concerning God, Christ, and the Creation, that is, concerning Concerning Spirit, and Matter in General. She was an acknowledged influence on Leibniz, who may have adopted the term monad from her.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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