Masham-Astell Debate on the Love of God: A Historiographical Conjecture? The purpose of this article is chiefly to challenge the cornrnon view that Lady Masham's Discourse Concerning the Love of God (1696) was composed in response to the Letters Concerning the Love of God (1695) by Mary Astell and John Norris of Bemerton. An unbiased analysis of Masham's work shows that she did not consider Astell as an adversary when she wrote her Discourse, which was instead an attack on Norris's view on the love of God. Furthermore, although Astell believed herself to be the target of Masham's criticisms and, accordingly, replied to them in The Christian Religion (1705), she misattributed Masham's Discourse Concerning the Love of God to John Locke. The Author thus argues that, rigorously speaking, there was never a Masham-Astell controversy on the love of God and despite b oth leamed ladies making significant contributions to this topic, such a debate was just a historiographical hypothesis grounded on conjecture.
DE TOMMASO, Emilio Maria
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