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Philosopher of The Month: William Godwin [timeline] | OUPblog

Panumas King, marketing executive for philosophy at Oxford University Press summarizes, This October, the OUP Philosophy team honours William Godwin (1756–1836) as their Philosopher of the Month.

Photo: Caspar David Friedrich, Mondaufgang am Meer, Moonrise over the Sea, 1822. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Godwin was a moral and political philosopher and a prolific writer, best-known for his political treatise ‘An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice’ and ‘Things as they were or Caleb Williams’, a political allegorical novel.

Born in East Anglia in 1756, Godwin came from the family of Religious Dissenting tradition and was trained to be a minister, following in his father’s footsteps. He had a change of heart and embarked on a literary career, espousing Enlightenment ideas. In 1796 he married Mary Wollstonecraft, the first major feminist philosopher and the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and their daughter Mary Shelley, the famous writer of the gothic novel, Frankenstein, was born the following year.

Godwin was a key figure in the British radical republican milieu. An Enquiry concerning Political Justice, published in 1793, established him as a proponent of philosophical anarchism. It was written during the British crisis in the 1790s when liberty and the questions about the sacred, natural rights of man were on everyone’s mind. Godwin argues that governments should be abolished since they oppress and infringe liberty. 

Source: OUPblog (blog)  


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