Posted by on Jun 16, 2008 in

Before she went to Scandinavia Mary attempted suicide; she tried again on her return.

The Adoration or Perversity of Childhood in Balthus’s Paintings.

Letters from Sweden was admired by William Godwin, the political writer and novelist, whom Mary had met when she first entered the circle of Joseph Johnson. Then he had found her and The Rights of Woman strident and unprepossessing. Now, in 1796, he was impressed with her grief-induced mellowness. They became close friends and, soon, lovers. It was a fulfilling, less fraught and romantic relationship than the one with Imlay; it resulted quickly in a second pregnancy.

During the few months of their life together Mary worked on a final book...

ohhhh that’S good thank for this

Though I am forced to differ from him in those apprehensions he has expressed in the latter end of his preface, concerning what I had said about virtue and vice; yet we are better agreed than he thinks, in what he says in his third chapter, p. 78, concerning natural inscription and innate notions. I shall not deny him the privilege he claims, p. 52, to state the question as he pleases, especially when he states it so, as to leave nothing in it contrary to what I have said: for, according to him, innate notions being conditional things, depending upon the concurrence of several other circumstances, in order to the soul’s exerting them; all that he says for innate, imprinted, impressed notions (for of innate ideas he says nothing at all) amounts at last only to this; that there are certain propositions, which though the soul from the beginning, or when a man is born, does not know, yet by assistance from the outward senses, and the help of some previous cultivation, it may afterwards come certainly to know the truth of; which is no more than what I have affirmed in my first book. For I suppose by the soul’s exerting them, he means its beginning to know them, or else the soul’s exerting of notions will be to me a very unintelligible expression; and I think at best is a very unfit one in this case, it misleading men’s thoughts by an insinuation, as if these notions were in the mind before the soul exerts them, i. e. before they are known: whereas truly before they are known, there is nothing of them in the mind, but a capacity to know them, when the concurrence of those circumstances, which this ingenious author thinks necessary in order to the soul’s exerting them, brings them into our knowledge.

Before she went to Scandinavia Mary attempted suicide; she tried again on her return.

The bookseller will not forgive me, if I say nothing of this second edition, which he has promised, by the correctness of it, shall make amends for the many faults committed in the former. He desires too, that it should be known, that it has one whole new chapter concerning identity, and many additions and amendments in other places. These I must inform my reader are not all new matter, but most of them either farther confirmations of what I had said, or explications, to prevent others being mistaken in the sense of what was formerly printed, and not any variation in me from it; I must only except the alterations I have made in Book II. Chap. 21.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (Penguin, 1994)


[1] Invented during the early Italian Renaissance.

§ 12. The next thing therefore to be considered, is, what kind of signification it is, that general words have. For as it is evident, that they do not signify barely one particular thing; for then they would not be general terms, but proper names; so on the other side it is as evident, they do not signify a plurality; for man and men would then signify the same, and the distinction of numbers (as the grammarians call them) would be superfluous and useless. That then which general words signify is a sort of things; and each of them does that, by being a sign of an abstract idea in the mind, to which idea, as things existing are found to agree, so they come to be ranked under that name; or, which is all one, be of that sort. Whereby it is evident, that the essences of the sorts, or (if the Latin word pleases better) species of things, are nothing else but these abstract ideas. For the having the essence of any species, being that which makes any thing to be of that species, and the conformity to the idea to which the name is annexed, being that which gives a right to that name; the having the essence, and the having that conformity, must needs be the same thing: since to be of any species, and to have a right to the name of that species, is all one. As for example, to be a man, or of the species man, and to have a right to the name man, is the same thing. Again, to be a man, or of the species man, and have the essence of a man, is the same thing. Now since nothing can be a man, or have a right to the name man, but what has a conformity to the abstract idea the name man stands for; nor any thing be a man, or have a right to the species man, but what has the essence of that species; it follows, that the abstract idea for which the name stands, and the essence of the species, is one and the same. From whence it is easy to observe, that the essences of the sorts of things, and consequently the sorting of this, is the workmanship of the understanding, that abstracts and makes those general ideas.

[2] Short-listed for Nobel Prize.

§ 11. To return to general words, it is plain by what has been said, that general and universal belong not to the real existence of things; but are the inventions and creatures of the understanding, made by it for its own use, and concern only signs, whether words or ideas. Words are general, as has been said, when used for signs of general ideas, and so are applicable indifferently to many particular things: and ideas are general, when they are set up as the representatives of many particular things: but universality belongs not to things themselves, which are all of them particular in their existence; even those words and ideas, which in their signification are general. When therefore we quit particulars, the generals that rest are only creatures of our own making; their general nature being nothing but the capacity they are put into by the understanding, of signifying or representing many particulars. For the signification they have is nothing but a relation, that by the mind of man is added to them.