By Marcellus T. Mitsos
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Extra info for An Inscription from Mycenae
But in Grounds she takes a new approach, and instead of formulating her philosophy in opposition to the Royal Society and its epistemology, she lays out clearly her own natural philosophical opinions and reasons. This final treatise is also where she brings the discussion of grounds most explicitly into conversation with issues relevant to people trying to think about interdisciplinarity today, because she uses the concept of grounds to think about the question of reductionism. One of the structuring concerns of the treatise is to determine a way of thinking about the relationship between, on the one hand, knowledge as infinitely various, and on the other, knowledge as absolute or totalizable in one way.
1057/978-1-137-46361-6_1 3 4 L. BLAKE maps these lines onto the (female) body, imagining, perhaps, Cavendish’s lines as Cavendish herself. Fane’s lines also play on, and play into, the divisions between ‘Philosophers and Poets’ on which members of the scientific Royal Society—Francis Bacon’s inheritors and agents of the scientific revolution—so stridently insisted in the seventeenth century. 5 Fane’s poem, then, keys into contemporary debates about the relationship between poetry and philosophy, poetry and science, while inverting the typical approach.
The assertion that lurks behind this section is that nature itself—Nature herself—ought to serve as the grounds of knowledge. 45 Further, even as she announces at the end of the passage that she has settled on unity and the epistemological consequences associated therewith, however, Cavendish troubles that unity by adding another axis: that of time. It is not coincidental, surely, that Cavendish announces her ideas about United Knowledge following a declaration of her past idea that knowledge cannot be united, presenting an idea of unity alongside its potential opposite infinity, or infinite variety (or, we might say today, multiplicity).
An Inscription from Mycenae by Marcellus T. Mitsos