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La satire des sciences dans Observations upon Experimental Philosophy et The Blazing World (1666) de Margaret Cavendish





Ignoring the satire of learned women, a topos of classical drama at the end of the 17th century, Magaret Cavendish published several treatises of natural philosophy between 1653 and 1668. This article aims at reversing the topos to show how a woman could use the linguistic strategies of satire. Focusing on two complementary treatises of 1666, The Blazing World and Observations upon Experimental Philosophy I try to show that the scientific theories of the duchess of Newcastle are built against renascent mechanism but also against more traditional doctrines. Cavendish’s satire first targets the hybris of conceited contemporary philosophers who intend to become « as masters and possessors of nature ». Cavendish’s criticism of philosophy as a whole stems from her political conservatism – the division of knowledge might lead to factions in the civil society – and from her mitigated scepticism which maintains that man can grasp only a probable truth about nature. Finally, not only does Cavendish make the most of the techniques of satire in her scientific and social criticism, but the concept of satura itself seems to be the very basis of her writing which may be defined by disorder and miscellany, while her natural philosophy is informed by the method of 17th century eclecticism.

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