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More, Locke and the Issue of Liberty

  • G. A. J. Rogers
Chapter
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas/Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 127)

Abstract

At first sight it would appear that Henry More and John Locke are unlikely to share interesting intellectual positions. More was the Cambridge man from the Puritan east of the country. He was a Platonist and a poet. He lived all his adult life, apart from some visits to Ragley Hall to see his beloved Ann Conway, within his college, a college hardly renowned for its worldliness in an unwordly city. He refused all preferment in the college or within the Anglican church in favour of the quiet scholarly life devoted to his writing. More was, by general agreement, the most mystical of the Cambridge school. By contrast, Locke was an Oxford man from the west of England, a man who soon left his far from unwordly college to move to Restoration London where, through his position as Shaftesbury’s assistant, he became deeply involved in the tempestuous politics of the Cabal, not to mention his practical work as a physician with Sydenham and his research science with Robert Boyle. For the remainder of his life he was never far away from the great political events of his day. Even after Shaftesbury’s death in 1683 he remained not just deeply committed to, but an active participator in, the revolutionary cause that was to lead to the displacement of James by William and Mary. His greatest work, the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, was, amongst other things, an assault on platonism, and not least as he had seen it flower in Cambridge in his life-time.

Keywords

Human Nature Moral Virtue Moral Concept Proper Nature Cambridge School 
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Reference

  1. 1a.
    Locke’s intellectual bibiography is still under active review. Maurice Cranston’s John Locke. A Biography (London: Longman’s, 1957) remains indispensible.Google Scholar
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    More’s relationship to Descartes is well told in Alan Gabbey’s ‘Philosophia cartesiana tri-umphata.’ Locke’s relationship with Descartes is still a matter of debate. But there can be no doubt that Cartesianism, and Descartes himself, was a powerful force in his intellectual life. For some preliminary remarks see G. A. J. Rogers, ‘Descartes and the English.’Google Scholar
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    Locke, Two Treatises, 324.Google Scholar
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    Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration in Mario Montuori, John Locke on Toleration and the Unity of God (Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1983), 81.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. A. J. Rogers

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