Advertisement

The Other-Worldly Philosophers and the Real World: the Cambridge Platonists, Theology and Politics

  • 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 150)

Abstract

Ralph Cudworth was just thirty years old when, in March 1647/48, he travelled down from Cambridge to London to preach before the House of Commons. At first sight this would seem to be a case of a young and unworldly academic entering into the arena of this-worldly politics at a time of great political and religious turmoil. Was it a case of the innocent venturing where others more experienced in the ways of the world would have feared to tread? Or was it that he, and perhaps others of the Cambridge school, knew, if not fully well, at least well enough, what they were about?

Keywords

Seventeenth Century Political Dimension Materialist Philosophy Cambridge School Eternal Object 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    In the Introduction to Moral and Religious Aphorisms of Benjamin Whichcot. (London, 1930), pp. iii & iv.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cf. The Life of the Learned and Pious Dr Henry More…by Richard Ward….171., edited with an Introduction and Notes by M. F. Howard (London, 1911), pp. 33–34.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
    The Platonic Renaissance in Englan. (London, 1953), pp. 49–50. This is a translation of the original 1932 German edition.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    A. Rupert Hall: Henry More: Magic, Religion and Experimen. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990) p. 88.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cf. Frederick Powicke: “Whichcote and his fellows certainly read Plato, but they read Plotinus far more”, The Cambridge Platonist. (London, 1926, p. 18). Coleridge said of them that they were “Plotinists rather than Platonists” (cf. John H. Muirhead: The Platonic Tradition in Anglo-Saxon Philosoph. (London, 1931, p. 27).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ward’s Life, op. cit., p. 64.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See especially More’s Enchiridion Ethicum. The point is one I briefly discuss in “Hobbes’s hidden Influence” in G. A. J. Rogers and Alan Ryan: Perspectives on Thomas Hobbe. (Oxford, 1988) pp. 189–205, esp. pp. 200–202.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    T.I.S. U., with the Notes and Dissertations of Dr J. L. Mosheim, in 3 vols. (London, 1845), Vol. 1, pp. 94–5.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid., p. 95.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Benjamin Whichcote: Moral and Religious Aphorisms Collected from the Manuscript Papers…published… with very large Additions by Samuel Salte. (London, 1753) Aphorism no. 460.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., Aphorisms nos. 886, 889.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid., Aphorism No. 457.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    More’s family in Grantham was one that suffered badly in the war. Cudworth was apparently in financial difficulties, almost certainly as a result of the war, for some time. Worthington was another who was subject to considerable personal distress as a result of the war.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Cf. Ward’s Lif., p. 86.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    See especially John W. Yolton’s Thinking Matter. Materialism in Eighteenth-Century Britai. (Oxford and Minneapolis, 1983) and Locke and French Materialis. (Oxford, 1991).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Richard Ashcraft: “Latitudinarianism and Toleration” in Philosophy, Science, and Religion in England, 1640–170., edited by Richard Kroll, Richard Ashcraft and Perez Zagorin (Cambridge, 1992) p. 163.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ashcraft, op. cit., p. 162.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
  20. 20.
    Op. cit., p. 113.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    For an account of Cambridge in the Civil War see J. B. Mullinger: The University of Cambridg., Vol. 3 (Cambridge, 1911), Ch. 3.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Alan Gabbey, “Cudworth, More, and Mechanical Analogy”, in Richard Kroll, Richard Ashcraft and Perez Zagorin (eds), op. cit., p. 115.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    For the background see Gabbey and the references cited there.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    A Sermon Preached before the House of Commons March 31 164., pp. 13–14.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ibid., p. 14.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ibid., p. 15.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    On this see John Spurr: The Restoration Church of England, 1646–168. (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1991), especially Chapter 6, and Spurr’s judgement on Richard Allestree’s (if he was indeed the author) The Whole Duty of Ma. (1658) that it “epitomized the commonsensical, noncontroversial, brand of theology on offer in the Restoration Church of England. It was typical of a certain practical ethos which had emerged in reaction to the speculative and ‘experimental’ religion of the Interregnum” (pp. 283–84).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Cf. Mullinger, op. cit., pp. 213–15.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ibid., p. 214, fn. 2.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    See especially Thomas Birch, “An Account of the Life and Writings of Ralph Cudworth” in T.I.S.U., ed. cit., Vol. 1, pp. x—xii.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    The whole episode is well covered in Marjorie Nicolson’s classic paper “Christ’s College and the Latitude-Men”, Modern Philolog., 27, Part 1 (1929) pp. 35–53.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    For Newton and Cudworth see especially Danton B. Sailor: “Newton’s Debt to Cudworth”, Journal of the History of Idea., 49, no. 3, 1988, pp. 511–538;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 32a.
    Richard Popkin: “The Crisis of Polytheism and the Answers of Vossius, Cudworth, and Newton”, in James E. Force and Richard Popkin: Essays on theContext, Nature, and Influence of Isaac Newton’s Theolog. (Dordrecht, 1990) pp. 9–25; andGoogle Scholar
  34. 32b.
    Richard Popkin: The Third Force in Seventeenth Century Though. (Leiden, 1992), ch. XXI.Google Scholar
  35. 33.
    Bishop Burnet’s History of His Own Tim. (London, 1850), p. 128.Google Scholar
  36. 34.
    Ibid., p. 128.Google Scholar
  37. 35.
    T. E.I.M., p. 82.Google Scholar
  38. 36.
    Ibid., pp. 86 and 87.Google Scholar
  39. 37.
    Ibid., p. 287.Google Scholar
  40. 38.
    T.F., ((London, 1838) reprinted, together with W. R. Scott: An Introduction to Cudworth’s Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable Moralit. (London, 1891) Routledge/Thoemmes Press, London, 1992).Google Scholar
  41. 39.
    Ibid., p. 3.Google Scholar
  42. 40.
    Cf. The Conway Letter., edited by Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Revised Edition with an Introduction and New Material by Sarah Hutton (Oxford, 1992) pp. 298–99, 414, 415, 419, 423. The Deanery of Christ Church is given as a position offered to More in the article in the Dictionary of National Biography. know of no independent evidence for its truth.Google Scholar
  43. 41.
    Cf. Nicolson: “Christ’s College and the Latitude-men” p. 38, and More’s Preface to Tetractys AntiAstrologi. (1681) p. iii: “My nearest relations were deep sufferers for the King, and myself exposed (by constantly denying the Covenant) to the loss of that little preferment I had before those times, as I never received any employment or preferment in them” (cited by Nicolson).Google Scholar
  44. 42.
    Alan Gabbey quotes the relevant letter from More to Hartlib of December 30 (o.s.) 1649 in which More says that the book Hartlib has just sent him “came to my handes just immediately after I had taken the engagement”. Cf. Gabbey: “Cudworth, More, and Mechanical Analogy”, p. 113.Google Scholar
  45. 43.
    On this see Quentin Skinner: “Conquest and Consent: Thomas Hobbes and the Engagement Controversy”, The Interregnu., edited by G. E. Aylmer (London, 1972) pp. 79–98, esp. p. 80.Google Scholar
  46. 44.
    Gabbey, op. cit., p. 114.Google Scholar
  47. 45.
    The Apology of Dr Henry More… (London, 1664) p. 514.Google Scholar
  48. 46.
    Op. cit., p. 516.Google Scholar
  49. 47.
    For More’s account of this see Ward, op. cit., pp. 58–60.Google Scholar
  50. 48.
    Apology, p. 516.Google Scholar
  51. 49.
    “More, Locke and the Issue of Liberty” in Henry More (1614–1687). Tercentenary Studie., edited by Sarah Hutton (Dordrecht, 1990), p. 195.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. A. J. Rogers

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations