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Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science Presents

Benjamin Goldberg (U South Florida) Margaret Cavendish’s Medical Recipes

10/26/18, 3:35 PM

About this event

Margaret Cavendish’s Medical Recipes: Medicine, Experience, and Natural Philosophy in Early Modern England 

Benjamin Goldberg

Humanities and Cultural Studies, University of South Florida

In collaboration with Justin Begley (Helsinki), I am working on a transcript of Margaret Cavendish’s family book of medical recipes. This previously unpublished manuscript is a fascinating and rare document, written by a number of hands, and which provides some unique insights into Cavendish’s thought.

I aim to place the MS in its proper context, namely, recent historiography on food, medicine, and cooking in early modern England. I focus on how this work differs from most other recipe collections in, e.g., its exclusive medical focus and its inclusion of doctor’s reports. I then discuss how to interpret this work within the larger context of Cavendish’s natural philosophy, noting that we must be careful in how we interpret it, since it is not exclusively her writing, though there is evidence she compiled and organized it. With this proviso, I argue that this MS places some pressure on the received view of Cavendish’s conception of experience and experiment, seemingly undermining her anti-experimentalism and penchant for speculation. Taken together with recent historiography on non-traditional aspects of the Scientific Revolution, this work can help us define some of the novel ways that experience was thought about in these various alternative contexts.

I conclude with some thoughts on our historical accounts of experience by scholars such as Steven Shapin and Peter Dear. I argue that these accounts, while not untrue, also do not exhaust the ways in which these ideas were understood in early modern England.

This public lecture is free, no registration is required.
Contact: Janet McKernan mcps@umn.edu 612-625-6635

Event Location
  • 275 Nicholson Hall
  • Minneapolis MN
  • USA - United States