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The Ethics of Imagination in Cavendish's Orations of Diver Sorts

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Cavenshish Classic artwork

Margaret Cavendish understood imagination to hold potential therapeutic qualities for those who have experienced violence and destruction. The productive use of imagination is central not only to Cavendish’s natural philosophy and literary works, but also to her presentation of the varied ethical responses to the tragedies of war in Part III of Orations of Diver Sorts. In this text, Cavendish’s advice to individuals “ruined by war” is to rid their mind of fears, grief, and terrors and inspire hope by entertaining themselves with “pleasing imaginations.” Cavendish recommends the power of imagination to inspire the hope of the populace and catalyze the rebuilding of a city or a commonwealth after war, either in the capacity of electing new magistrates, building statues, or staging theatrical performances. Ultimately, drawing on these examples and Cavendish’s other works, I argue that Cavendish demonstrates an ethical dimension of imagination that is essential to human flourishment after the experience of tragedy.

Aminah Hasan-Birdwell is a Visiting Assistant Professor and Associate Research Scholar in the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University and is the Alva and Beatrice Bradley Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Furman University. Her research is primarily invested in the history of philosophy, history of political philosophy, twentieth-century philosophy, and philosophy of race and gender. Specifically, Dr. Hasan-Birdwell attends to marginalized figures in early modern philosophy and their contributions to philosophical issues of ontology, political thought, and ethics, as well as their relevance to combating the presence of racism and misogyny in the philosophical canon.

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Fees: This event is free and open to the public.
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