Paley's teleological argument for the existence of God is rooted in (the) complexity he states is caused by an intelligent designer and not mere(ly by) chance. Palely objects to the atheistic view that the complexity of an object may be a random occurrence. He argues that nature exhibits a level of complexity in its design, which could not have occurred without an intelligent designer. One argument to Paley(of Paley's arguments) is that if objects in nature, take Paley's example of the (such as the example of the) eye, were to have some form "it might as well be its present form as any other" (citation...author, page number). That is that(to say that) the form that the eye takes may simply have occurred as one of many possibilities. Also, Paley outlines three points of complexity for the eye,(:) anatomical location, optical function and communication. Paley states that the eyes are the only black membranes on the body and yet they function "to receive the image formed by pencils of light transmitted through them...at the concourse of the refracted rays" (page number). Adding to the complexity of the eye is that(its ability to facilitate) the communication between the(its) membranes of the eye and the brain (in order to) allow the eye(organ) to produce an image of what it is seen(sees) (page number). Paley insists that the combination of the eye's location and function require an intelligent designer because the likeliness of a random occurrence working to function so efficiently is not high. Paley concedes that had the eye just appeared in one species, it could have been brushed off as a rare phenomenon in nature (page number). But the fact that not one species "but by far the greatest number of all that exist" share this trait necessitates an intelligent designer (page number).
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While the campaign for the amendment of gender inequality failed to come to fruition before the 1900s, the eighteenth century witnessed a steady influx in the contestation of the patriarchal conventions of marriage (Astell, 2285). Through the employment of various mediums, including literature, individuals of both sexes communicated their personal convictions about the traditional social institution. Among the contingent of writers involved in the literary evaluation of marriage, English writer Daniel Defoe put forth a compelling analysis in his novel, Roxana. As the text pre-dates the concept that contemporary society recognizes as feminism, Defoe's piece can be acknowledged as an example of proto-feminist literature, due to his utilization of the central character, Roxana, as a woman devoted to the preservation of her sovereignty. The author's characterization of Roxana functions as a subtle criticism of female victimization, despite the character's apparent moral ambiguity. Moreover, the protagonist is able to defend her proto-feminist sensibility through her rational exploration of the impediments that marriage inflicts upon women, thus sustaining the position of Defoe's novel as a successful presentation of eighteenth century women's concerns about the social institution.
As Defoe attempts to replicate the conditions within his own era, he illustrates the role of women in society as commodities for the consumption of their male counterpart. It is evident that his protagonist, Roxana, recognizes this societal truth in her lamentation that "divesting [herself] of [her] estate" to her husband would be the customary transaction associated with matrimony (Defoe, 2290). However, as she is intent on maintaining her fortune, Roxana willingly uses her body as capital and thus as a method for the preservation of her sovereignty. Her propensity to favour the treatment of her body in this manner is apparent in the recounting of her numerous romantic liaisons on page 2289, whereby it is revealed that prior to her relationship with the Dutch merchant, Roxana had been lover to both a jeweller and a French prince (2289). In this way, by aligning herself with wealthy lovers, Roxana's sexual liberation contributes to her prosperity. On the surface, Roxana's promiscuity stifles the entirety of her proto-feminism, yet she is able to justify her actions through the comparison of herself to the "commercial enterprises" of men. She remarks that "if she had a mind to gratify herself as to sexes, she might entertain a man as a man does a mistress (2291)." Thus, Roxana's familiarization with, and imitation of, the exploits of men allows her to figuratively situate herself upon the same level of the opposite sex, which serves to advance her status as a woman and articulate Defoe's depiction of his character's proto-feminist independence.
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In contrast to Defoe's use of a fictional protagonist, the content of writer Mary Astell's work chronicles her own estimations of matrimony without the inclusion of a character to channel her beliefs. The classification of Astell as a "feminist" prompts the consideration of a complex network of political matters implicit in the application of the term. Instead, with the classification of proto-feminist, the writer responds to the original framing of the social conventions of her era through her writing, particularly in her piece, Some Reflections upon Marriage, which discusses the disempowering effects of marriage. While one may perceive there to be a disparity between Roxana and her "wanton" affairs, including the commoditization of her body, and Astell's exploration of the domestic concerns of eighteenth century women, their respective grievances with regards to marriage are in agreement with one another. Astell proposes the idea that marriage is equal to the diminution of female autonomy, particularly the governing of a woman's financial affairs. She maintains that a man searching for a prospective wife considers monetary fortune as a significant criterion (Astell, 2285). In this way, Astell isolates one concern that troubled the eighteenth century woman. In comparison, Defoe's depiction of Roxana operates as a rebellion against the "qualifications" that men "look after in a spouse (2285)," according to Astell, considering that Roxana herself upholds the same measure for the men she decides to romantically pursue. In this manner, Roxana's proto-feminist status is solidified by the way in which her treatment of men parallels the eighteenth century male's treatment of women. Thus, her actions serve to produce a role-reversal, which enables women to assert authority of men.
In the midst of Astell's comprehensive assessment of marriage, she identifies the failures of women to exercise the limited rights they are entitled to, and proposes the question "are men the only in fault (2286)?" As Astell proceeds to outline the choices that women are presented, which are inclusive of her ability "to refuse or accept what is offered," the writer implies that the eighteenth century woman habitually chooses not to take advantage of this right (2286). Conversely, Defoe's Roxana is content to refuse the Dutch merchant's marriage proposal, an act that further establishes the protagonist as a literary proto-feminist icon. She happily makes the declaration that "I told him I had, perhaps, different notions of matrimony from what the received custom had given us of it; that I thought a woman was a free agent as well as a man...that a woman gave herself entirely away from herself, in marriage, and capitulated only to be, at best, but an upper servant (Defoe, 2291)." With this, Roxana can be distinguished as an eighteenth century woman dedicated to the maintenance of her autonomy.
Within the framework of eighteenth century literature, the exploration of proto-feminist themes actively confronted established social conventions. The contestation of patriarchal institutions, such as marriage, were topics that were pursued by an abundance of writers, including English novelist Daniel Defoe, whose piece, Roxana, echoed the grievances of proponents of proto-feminism. Despite his impersonation of a female voice, Defoe's credibility as a critic of the gender inequalities of marriage is upheld by the depiction of his protagonist, Roxana, whose obstinate persona and proto-feminist logic pronounces the author's successful illustration of the matrimonial concerns of eighteenth century women.