A discussion of Wollstonecraft on God and Nature

It’s good when the history of women philosophers gets an airing on general philosophy blogs! Go read Eric Schliesser’s excellent post on NewApps: Wollstonecraft’s Spinozism, and join in the debate!

Upon re-reading the Vindication in preparation for a class discussion, the second epigraph to this post, which we may loosely translate as Natura sive Deus, startled me. Could Wollstonecraft, who so often sounds like a Deist, be a kind of Spinozist? For, Wollstonecraft is quite clear that “propriety” is just “another word for convenience.” (106) So, the substitution of “Nature” by “God” is really an act of social expedience. Yet, could this really be so? For, so much of Wollstonecraft’s argument seems to rely on commitments that require commitment to immortal souls and, presumably, a judging God (and one can find other Deist commitments).

Eric’s posted about Wollstonecraft on NewApps before: go see his post on Wollstonecraft and Adam Smith.

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