Dmaris Masham and Molyneux’s Question: What Response would Masham have given?

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Book Chapter

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This chapter discusses two aspects of Masham's philosophy as they relate to Molyneux's question. First, why didn't Masham discuss Molyneux's question in her writing? The author's answer reflects two aspects of Masham's life: (1) her practical duties constrained her philosophical interests to primarily religious and moral questions, and (2) as someone who experienced her own vision impairment, she may have disliked something about Molyneux's question and thus duly ignored it. Second, given her philosophical commitments, what might Masham's response to Molyneux have been? While Masham didn't write a treatise on sensation or lay the foundation for an understanding of the human mind, her interests did draw her into debates about the nature and importance of sensory experience, particularly in her engagement with occasionalism, the notion that God is the direct cause of all physical events and consequently sensory experience. Exploring Masham's writings within the context of Molyneux's question provides a unique insight into Masham's philosophy of mind, her views of perception, and the roles of reason and experience in our understanding of the world.


Book chapter in Molyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy, Gabriele Ferretti, Brian Glenney (Eds.)

ISBN: 9780367030926