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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the debate over the vita activa versus the vita contemplativa in England across the late medieval and early modern periods. After considering the inversion of the traditional hierarchy of contemplative life over active life as the defining paradigm shift of modernity, it explains how contemplation and the contemplative enterprise offered a vocabulary and a conceptual framework for Francis Bacon’s sense of his own project. It also analyzes Margaret Cavendish’s appropriation of intellectual stances and methods associated with the contemplative life.

Keywords: Middle Ages, contemplative life, active life, early modern period, modernity, contemplation, Francis Bacon, Margaret Cavendish, England

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