Quaker Studies

Anne Conway and George Keith on the ‘Christ Within’

Quaker Studies (2018), 23, (2), 161–177.

Abstract

This paper explores the influence of early Quaker theology on the philosophy of Anne Conway, as presented in her The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy (1690). We begin by exploring Conway’s rejection of the remnants of Cartesianism in the Neoplatonic philosophy of her mentor, Henry More, leading her to posit a monistic ontology of spirit. Following this, I argue that Conway’s Christology and religious epistemology can be understood as inspired by George Keith’s account of the ‘Christ Within’ and the manner in which the historical Christ is construed as a manifestation of a metaphysical principle, ‘Christ’. We can understand Conway’s notion of ‘adoption’ by Christ as becoming qualitatively identical with Him as part of the process towards moral perfection, in which we come to embody the ‘Christ Within’.

Anne Conway and George Keith on the ‘Christ Within’

Abstract

This paper explores the influence of early Quaker theology on the philosophy of Anne Conway, as presented in her The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy (1690). We begin by exploring Conway’s rejection of the remnants of Cartesianism in the Neoplatonic philosophy of her mentor, Henry More, leading her to posit a monistic ontology of spirit. Following this, I argue that Conway’s Christology and religious epistemology can be understood as inspired by George Keith’s account of the ‘Christ Within’ and the manner in which the historical Christ is construed as a manifestation of a metaphysical principle, ‘Christ’. We can understand Conway’s notion of ‘adoption’ by Christ as becoming qualitatively identical with Him as part of the process towards moral perfection, in which we come to embody the ‘Christ Within’.

Secondary Sources

Cody, E. J., ‘The Price of Perfection: the irony of George Keith’, Pennsylvania History: a journal of Mid-Atlantic studies 39/1 (1972), pp. 1–19. ‘The Price of Perfection: the irony of George Keith’ Pennsylvania History: a journal of Mid-Atlantic studies 39/1 1 19 Google Scholar

Duran, J., ‘Anne Viscountess Conway: A Seventeenth Century Rationalist’, Hypatia 4/1 (1989), pp. 69–77. ‘Anne Viscountess Conway: A Seventeenth Century Rationalist’ Hypatia 4/1 69 77 Google Scholar

Gabbey, A., ‘Henry More and the Limits of Mechanism’, in Hutton, S. (ed.), Henry More (1614–1687): tercentenary studies, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990, pp. 19–36. ‘Henry More and the Limits of Mechanism’ Henry More (1614–1687): tercentenary studies 19 36 Google Scholar

Head, J., ‘Recovering the Philosophy of Anne Conway: 17th Century Rationalist’, Under Construction: Keele University humanities postgraduate journal 1/1 (2015), pp. 19–27. ‘Recovering the Philosophy of Anne Conway: 17th Century Rationalist’ Under Construction: Keele University humanities postgraduate journal 1/1 19 27 Google Scholar

Head, J., ‘Anne Conway on Time, the Trinity, and Eschatology’, Philosophy and Theology 29/2 (2017), pp. 277–95. ‘Anne Conway on Time, the Trinity, and Eschatology’ Philosophy and Theology 29/2 277 95 Google Scholar

Henry, J., ‘Henry More versus Robert Boyle: the spirit of nature and the nature of providence’, in Hutton, S. (ed.), Henry More (1614–1687): tercentenary studies, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990, pp. 55–76. ‘Henry More versus Robert Boyle: the spirit of nature and the nature of providence’ Henry More (1614–1687): tercentenary studies 55 76 Google Scholar

Hutton, S., Anne Conway: a woman philosopher, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Anne Conway: a woman philosopher Google Scholar

Kirby, E. W., George Keith (1638–1716), New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1942. George Keith (1638–1716) Google Scholar

Loptson, P. (ed.), ‘Introduction’, in Conway, A., The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, The Hague; Boston: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982, pp. 1–59. ‘Introduction’ The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy 1 59 Google Scholar

Moore, R., The Light in their Consciences: early Quakers in Britain 1646–1666, University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000. The Light in their Consciences: early Quakers in Britain 1646–1666 Google Scholar

Tollefsen, D., ‘Princess Elizabeth and the Problem of Mind–Body Interaction’, Hypatia 14/3 (1999), pp. 59–77. ‘Princess Elizabeth and the Problem of Mind–Body Interaction’ Hypatia 14/3 59 77 Google Scholar

White, C. W., The Legacy of Anne Conway 1631–1679: reverberations from a mystical naturalism, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2008. The Legacy of Anne Conway 1631–1679: reverberations from a mystical naturalism Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

Cody, E. J., ‘The Price of Perfection: the irony of George Keith’, Pennsylvania History: a journal of Mid-Atlantic studies 39/1 (1972), pp. 1–19. ‘The Price of Perfection: the irony of George Keith’ Pennsylvania History: a journal of Mid-Atlantic studies 39/1 1 19 Google Scholar

Duran, J., ‘Anne Viscountess Conway: A Seventeenth Century Rationalist’, Hypatia 4/1 (1989), pp. 69–77. ‘Anne Viscountess Conway: A Seventeenth Century Rationalist’ Hypatia 4/1 69 77 Google Scholar

Gabbey, A., ‘Henry More and the Limits of Mechanism’, in Hutton, S. (ed.), Henry More (1614–1687): tercentenary studies, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990, pp. 19–36. ‘Henry More and the Limits of Mechanism’ Henry More (1614–1687): tercentenary studies 19 36 Google Scholar

Head, J., ‘Recovering the Philosophy of Anne Conway: 17th Century Rationalist’, Under Construction: Keele University humanities postgraduate journal 1/1 (2015), pp. 19–27. ‘Recovering the Philosophy of Anne Conway: 17th Century Rationalist’ Under Construction: Keele University humanities postgraduate journal 1/1 19 27 Google Scholar

Head, J., ‘Anne Conway on Time, the Trinity, and Eschatology’, Philosophy and Theology 29/2 (2017), pp. 277–95. ‘Anne Conway on Time, the Trinity, and Eschatology’ Philosophy and Theology 29/2 277 95 Google Scholar

Henry, J., ‘Henry More versus Robert Boyle: the spirit of nature and the nature of providence’, in Hutton, S. (ed.), Henry More (1614–1687): tercentenary studies, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990, pp. 55–76. ‘Henry More versus Robert Boyle: the spirit of nature and the nature of providence’ Henry More (1614–1687): tercentenary studies 55 76 Google Scholar

Hutton, S., Anne Conway: a woman philosopher, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Anne Conway: a woman philosopher Google Scholar

Kirby, E. W., George Keith (1638–1716), New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1942. George Keith (1638–1716) Google Scholar

Loptson, P. (ed.), ‘Introduction’, in Conway, A., The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, The Hague; Boston: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982, pp. 1–59. ‘Introduction’ The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy 1 59 Google Scholar

Moore, R., The Light in their Consciences: early Quakers in Britain 1646–1666, University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000. The Light in their Consciences: early Quakers in Britain 1646–1666 Google Scholar

Tollefsen, D., ‘Princess Elizabeth and the Problem of Mind–Body Interaction’, Hypatia 14/3 (1999), pp. 59–77. ‘Princess Elizabeth and the Problem of Mind–Body Interaction’ Hypatia 14/3 59 77 Google Scholar

White, C. W., The Legacy of Anne Conway 1631–1679: reverberations from a mystical naturalism, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2008. The Legacy of Anne Conway 1631–1679: reverberations from a mystical naturalism Google Scholar


Details

Author details

Head, Jonathan