Four texts about the sky by Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), English aristocrat, writer, philosopher and scientist whose salon was home to Descartes, Hobbes and Gassendi, precursor of feminism
and author of one of the first works of science fiction
Margaret is well known for having written the proto-science fiction novel The Blazing World, in which she imagines one of the first—if not the first—physically reachable extraterrestrial world (through the North Pole). However, she extensively wrote on nature, science and philosophy, a body of work lesser known and left untranslated.
If we sometimes need to get over the convoluted argumentations of her writings, the selected short texts are sufficient to seize a significant part of Margaret’s thinking and sensitivity.
Chosen among Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, these four texts, digging into her perception of the sky and its constituents, disclose her anti-Aristotelian standpoint. Moreover, her sensitivity, which has its similarities with a kind of materialism, actualizes an acute and thoughtful inclusion of humanity among other species—and the species of the world among humanity—, as she never forgets to mention other animals and creatures when speaking of humans in her repeated and warming phrasing “Man, and such other Creatures”. But her concerns and generosity surpass a special attention for the living, and embrace the elements and bodies of the world, collectively evolving among the sparkling “self-moving” nature she envisions. And through her writing, science and philosophy cohabit with intimacy and intuition.