Introduction: The Fourth Ground of Certainty

  • John Hoyles
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas/ Archives internationales d’histoire des ideés book series (ARCH, volume 39)


Henry More went to Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1631, the year before Milton left.1 It is tempting to see in this fact a symbol of the watershed between Renaissance and modern. Neither man is transitional in the way Sir Thomas Browne is, for neither was content to accept the Metaphysical luxury of divided and distinguished worlds. Both forged their own worlds with an energy common to humanists in all ages. But where Milton stands at the end of a long line of Renaissance humanists, More’s links are with those sources of the English Enlightenment which, as early as the 1640s, were converging into some sort of purposeful homogeneity. There are many intimations in More’s work of the far-reaching changes which the Enlightenment would bring in literature, philosophy and religion. And while the English Enlightenment proved to be conservative, More’s radical modernity reveals the associated origins of romanticism, idealism and pietism.


Religious Experience Religious Toleration Distinguished World Philosophical Scepticism Divine Life 
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  1. 1.
    See Marjorie Hope Nicolton, “The Spirit World of Milton and More,” Studied in Philology, XXII (1925). 434.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Richard Ward. The Lift of the learned and Pioui Dr Henry More ( London: J. Downing, 1710 ), p. 6.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Letter to Lady Conway. 17 October 1664. Marjorie Hope Nicolson (ed.), The Conway Letters: The Correspondence of Anne,Viscountess Conway, Henry More, and their friends, 1642–1684 (London: Oxford Univenity Press New Haven: Yale Univenity Press, 1930 ), p. 231.Google Scholar
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    Henry More, The Theological Works (London: J. Dwning, 1708), p. i.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Letter to Dr J. Sharp, 16 August 1680. Conway Letters, p. 479. More and Newton were educated at the same school in Grantham. For a description of their affinities, see Edwin Arthur Burtt. The Metaphyseal Foundations of Modern Sciene (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, 1925 ), pp. 256–263, 279.Google Scholar
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    John Hall, An Humble Motion to the Parliament of England Concerning the Advancement of Learning and Reformation of the Universities, ed. A. K. Croston (“Liverpool Reprints,” No. 7; Liverpool: University Press, 1953 ), p. 39.Google Scholar
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  8. 9.
    Henry More. Complete Poems, ed. A. B. Grosart (“Chertsey Worthies Library”; Edinburgh: privately printed. 1878). p. 7. More’s poems. “Psychozoia,” “Psychathanasia,” “Antepsychapannychia” and “Antimonopsychia,” were first published as Psychodia Platonica in 1642. They appeared in a 2nd revised edition as Philosophical Poems in 1647.Google Scholar
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  12. 15.
    John Norm’s phrase, from his “To Dr More. An Ode,” A Collection of Miscellanies ( 3rd ed.; London: S. Mamhip. 1699 ), p. 73.Google Scholar

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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1971

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  • John Hoyles

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