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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Dr Emily Thomas

Thomas, Emily (2020). Anne Conway as a Priority Monist: A Reply to Gordon-Roth. Journal of the American Philosophical Association

Author(s) from Durham


For early modern metaphysician Anne Conway, the world comprises creatures. In some sense, Conway is a monist about creatures: all creatures are one. Yet, as Jessica Gordon-Roth (2018) has astutely pointed out, that monism can be understood in very different ways. One might read Conway as an ‘existence pluralist’: creatures are all composed of the same type of substance, but many substances exist. Alternatively, one might read Conway as an ‘existence monist’: there is only one created substance. Gordon-Roth has done the scholarship a great favor by illuminating these issues in Conway. However, this article takes issue with Gordon-Roth's further view that Conway ‘oscillates’ between the extremes of existence pluralism and monism. In its place, I argue we should read Conway as a priority monist: the whole of creation is ontologically prior to its parts.