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Mary Astell on moderation : the case of occasional conformity

Geertje Bol (UGent)
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Abstract
In 1704, Mary Astell, known by many scholars as the "first English feminist," published Moderation Truly Stated, her contribution to the national debate over "occasional conformity." This was the practice of periodic participation in the sacraments of the Church of England-above all, taking communion-in order to become eligible for public office. This practice was defended as an exercise of the virtue of "moderation," viewed as the opposite of zeal and associated with politeness and reasonableness. In this article I recover Astell's critique on this new notion of moderation, as well as her own alternative conception of the virtue of moderation as scripture moderation, which she envisioned as zeal and indifference towards the right ends. My aim is threefold. First, to explore the dangers of conceiving of moderation as an "antidote to zeal," which Astell argued would be detrimental to truth, salvation, and moral progress. Second, to demonstrate that her own conception of moderation as zeal and indifference towards the right ends was a radical subversion of the discourse on moderation at the time. Third, to shed light on the role of the Occasional Conformity debate in the transformation of moderation from a Christian virtue of temperance and control into a "modern" virtue construed as politeness and opposed to zeal, which was to become dominant in eighteenth-century England.
Keywords
Philosophy, History, Cultural Studies, Mary Astell, Occasional Conformity debate, moderation, zeal, feminist political thought

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MLA
Bol, Geertje. “Mary Astell on Moderation : The Case of Occasional Conformity.” EUROPEAN LEGACY-TOWARD NEW PARADIGMS, vol. 28, no. 3–4, 2023, pp. 294–312, doi:10.1080/10848770.2023.2178725.
APA
Bol, G. (2023). Mary Astell on moderation : the case of occasional conformity. EUROPEAN LEGACY-TOWARD NEW PARADIGMS, 28(3–4), 294–312. https://doi.org/10.1080/10848770.2023.2178725
Chicago author-date
Bol, Geertje. 2023. “Mary Astell on Moderation : The Case of Occasional Conformity.” EUROPEAN LEGACY-TOWARD NEW PARADIGMS 28 (3–4): 294–312. https://doi.org/10.1080/10848770.2023.2178725.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Bol, Geertje. 2023. “Mary Astell on Moderation : The Case of Occasional Conformity.” EUROPEAN LEGACY-TOWARD NEW PARADIGMS 28 (3–4): 294–312. doi:10.1080/10848770.2023.2178725.
Vancouver
1.
Bol G. Mary Astell on moderation : the case of occasional conformity. EUROPEAN LEGACY-TOWARD NEW PARADIGMS. 2023;28(3–4):294–312.
IEEE
[1]
G. Bol, “Mary Astell on moderation : the case of occasional conformity,” EUROPEAN LEGACY-TOWARD NEW PARADIGMS, vol. 28, no. 3–4, pp. 294–312, 2023.
@article{01GSZ0VFX6SJJR2PBA4RSHYQXJ,
  abstract     = {{In 1704, Mary Astell, known by many scholars as the "first English feminist," published Moderation Truly Stated, her contribution to the national debate over "occasional conformity." This was the practice of periodic participation in the sacraments of the Church of England-above all, taking communion-in order to become eligible for public office. This practice was defended as an exercise of the virtue of "moderation," viewed as the opposite of zeal and associated with politeness and reasonableness. In this article I recover Astell's critique on this new notion of moderation, as well as her own alternative conception of the virtue of moderation as scripture moderation, which she envisioned as zeal and indifference towards the right ends. My aim is threefold. First, to explore the dangers of conceiving of moderation as an "antidote to zeal," which Astell argued would be detrimental to truth, salvation, and moral progress. Second, to demonstrate that her own conception of moderation as zeal and indifference towards the right ends was a radical subversion of the discourse on moderation at the time. Third, to shed light on the role of the Occasional Conformity debate in the transformation of moderation from a Christian virtue of temperance and control into a "modern" virtue construed as politeness and opposed to zeal, which was to become dominant in eighteenth-century England.}},
  author       = {{Bol, Geertje}},
  issn         = {{1084-8770}},
  journal      = {{EUROPEAN LEGACY-TOWARD NEW PARADIGMS}},
  keywords     = {{Philosophy,History,Cultural Studies,Mary Astell,Occasional Conformity debate,moderation,zeal,feminist political thought}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{3-4}},
  pages        = {{294--312}},
  title        = {{Mary Astell on moderation : the case of occasional conformity}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1080/10848770.2023.2178725}},
  volume       = {{28}},
  year         = {{2023}},
}

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