Science, Factions, and the Persistent Specter of War: Margaret Cavendish's Blazing World


  • William White Student


Margaret Cavendish, Blazing World, Royal Society, Robert Hooke, anti-instrumentalist, English civil war


The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World (1666) is an early work of science fiction by Margaret Cavendish.  It tells the story of a young lady who travels to a world full of anthropomorphic animals.  Cavendish draws heavily on her experiences with the English Civil War and criticizes the experimental natural philosophy of the Royal Society.  While both Cavendish and the Royal Society seek a natural philosophy that would not foment further civil war, Cavendish's natural philosophy is incompatible with that of the Royal Society's.  This shows that their political and social perspectives influence the natural philosophies of both the Royal Society and Cavendish rather than by experiments and facts alone.

Author Biography

William White, Student

I am an undergraduate who will graduate in the Fall of 2009 with a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a B.A. in History.  I am currently pursuing my M.A. in History at Stanford.






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