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Mary Shepherd’s Essays on the Perception of an External Universe (2020)

2020 | ISBN: 0190854278, 019085426X | English | 248 Pages | PDF | 14 MB

This is the first modern edition of the works of Lady Mary Shepherd, one of the most important women philosophers of the early modern period. Shepherd has been widely neglected in the history of philosophy, but her work engaged with the dominant philosophers of the time – among them Hume, Berkeley, and Reid. In particular, her 1827 volume Essays on the Perception of an External Universe outlines a theory of causation, perception, and knowledge which Shepherd presents as an alternative to what she sees as the mistaken views of Berkeley and Hume. What she ultimately presents is an original and systematic metaphysics and epistemology.

Shepherd’s Essays consists of two parts. The first is a theory of perception and knowledge of the external world, which is designed to rebut idealism and skepticism about the external world and show that our ordinary beliefs are based on reason. The second is a collection of essays on topics in metaphysics and epistemology, including the immateriality and eternity of the mind, the relationship between mind and body, the possibility of miracles, the association of ideas, the relationship between physical and mathematical reasoning, and the epistemology of testimony.

Antonia LoLordo’s edition of Shepherd’s Essays includes scholarly notes throughout the text that provide historical and philosophical context and expand on the major concepts of Shepherd’s system. Her extensive introduction to Shepherd’s life and works surveys some of the major points of Shepherd’s system, points out directions for future research, and offers guidance for readers planning to teach her work in their courses. This volume is an invaluable primary resource for scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates interested in metaphysics, epistemology, and early modern philosophy.