Cambridge Platonism on


There is an ever growing bibliography of philosophical papers and monographs on the Cambridge Platonists available at

Cambridge Platonism [Text, BibTeX, EndNote]   

If you have bibliographies to add to this project you can do so directly on or send them to the category editor, Derek Michaud (Boston University & University of Southern Maine).

Clare Jackson, “Latitudinarianism, secular theology and Sir Thomas Browne’s influence in George Mackenzie’s Religio Stoici (1663)”


Latitudinarianism, secular theology and Sir Thomas Browne’s influence in George Mackenzie’s Religio Stoici (1663)Clare Jackson, “Latitudinarianism, secular theology and Sir Thomas Browne’s influence in George Mackenzie’s Religio Stoici (1663)” The Seventeenth Century 29:1 (2014), 73-94. DOI:10.1080/0268117X.2013.877848


This article revisits George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh’s Religio Stoici (1663) which is often acclaimed as the first in a venerable series of imitations of Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici (1642) as well as a possible influence for John Dryden’s Religio Laici (1682). By contrast, this articles returns to the charged contemporary atmosphere that prevailed in Scotland in 1663, following the controversial re-establishment of Episcopalianism the previous year. Combining an instinctive epistemological scepticism with an audacious and polemical anticlericalism, Mackenzie’s tract attacked dogmatic intolerance and denominational exclusivity and instead advanced a courageous, solitary and very public plea for peaceful religious practice.

Mercer on “Knowledge and Suffering in Early Modern Philosophy: G.W. Leibniz and Anne Conway”


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Mercer, Christia. “Knowledge and Suffering in Early Modern Philosophy: G.W. Leibniz and Anne Conway.” In Sabrina Ebbersmeyer, ed., Emotional Minds. De Gruyter, 2012.

PDF available here:

Review of Mary Astell, The Christian Religion


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Mary Astell, The Christian Religion, as Professed by a Daughter of the Church of England, Jacqueline Broad (ed.), Iter and the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2013, 344pp., $32.00 (pbk), ISBN 9780772721426.

Reviewed by Nancy Kendrick, Wheaton College (MA) for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (

This first complete modern edition of Mary Astell’s “most profound and significant scholarly achievement” (p. 20) is a much needed and welcome addition to Astell studies, and more generally, to the study of early modern philosophy. Jacqueline Broad’s text follows Astell’s revised second edition of The Christian Religion, as Professed by a Daughter of the Church of England, published in 1717. The first edition had appeared in 1705.

See here for complete review.

Mercer on “Platonism in Early Modern Natural Philosophy: The Case of Leibniz and Conway”


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Mercer, Christia. “Platonism in Early Modern Natural Philosophy: The Case of Leibniz and Conway.” In Christoph Horn James Wilberding (ed.), Neoplatonic Natural Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2012.

PDF available at

Sarah Hutton on Henry More and Newton


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Sarah Hutton will speak on ‘Henry More and the Cartesian context of Newton’s Early Cambridge Years’ at the conference ‘A great variety of admirable discoverys’: Newton’s Principia in the Age of Enlightenment’ at the Royal Society, London, 11–13 December 2013.

For details visit

Henry More and Newton.

The Hammer of the Cartesians (Peeters, 2013)

David Leech, The Hammer of the Cartesians: Henry More’s Philosophy of Spirit and the Origins of Modern Atheism (Peeters, 2013). 

Henry More (1614-1687) was probably the most important English philosopher between Hobbes and Locke. Described as the ‘hammer’ of the Cartesians, More attacked Descartes’ conception of spirit as undermining its very intelligibility. This work, which analyses an episode in the evolution of the concept of spiritual substance in early modernity, looks at More’s rational theology within the context of the great seventeenth century Cartesian controversies over spirit, soul-body interaction, and divine omnipresence. This work argues that More’s new, univocal spirit conception, highly influential upon Newton and Clarke, contributed unwittingly to a slow secularisation process internal to theistic culture. It thus fills a lacuna in scholarship by examining how conceptual changes in early modern metaphysics, as opposed to better researched transformations in moral philosophy, were an additional ingredient in the origins of modern speculative atheism. It also suggests that these controversies are by no means merely of historical interest but represent a resource for contemporary philosophical reflection. 

‘Cambridge Platonism Revisited’ at the AAR


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On Monday 25th of November at 4.00 pm-6.30pm there was a session of the American Academy of Religion at Baltimore on ‘Cambridge Platonism Revisited’.

Speakers included:

Eric Parker (McGill)

The Chaldean Triad: Erôs, Alêtheia, Pistis, and the Relationship between Faith and Reason in the Works of Peter Sterry

Proclus posits Love (erôs), Truth (alêthia) and Faith (pistis), terms he discovers in the Chaldean Oracles, as the sympathetic (sympatheia) and uplifting powers (anagôgoi) that cause the union of the One and the “one in the soul.” For Proclus, rational faith should be differentiated from the irrational faith in Plato’s “divided line” analogy because it initiates one into union with the Good through an intuitive resting within the common notions (koinai ennoiai) of the intellect. The Cambridge Platonist, Peter Sterry uses the Chaldean Triad, translated as knowledge/understanding, faith, and love in his treatise on free will and in his sermons on Matthew. Sterry’s concept of the unity of the intellect and will in the soul is dependent on Proclus’s idea that “all things are in the soul.” This Unity is the Word who dwells naturally within the soul. For Sterry, however, a supernatural knowledge, faith, and love are necessary in order to reach perfect inward unity. In his sermons on Matthew, Sterry says that faith is the third link of the divine chain by which God draws up human souls to himself. Faith causes Truth to come into sympathetic harmony with truth in the soul. Faith is the human counterpart of divine Love within the Godhead, which ignites the flame of love in the hearts of believers. Though some have labeled Sterry’s opinion concerning the weakness of the post-lapsarian will as “Calvinistic” a more balanced perspective will not fail to mention the influence of Proclean Neoplatonism on Sterry’s concept of rational faith and its philosophical underpinnings.

Heather C. Ohaneson (Columbia)

Ralph Cudworth, Menasseh ben Israel, and the Readmission of Jews to England: The Political Circumstances of a Seventeenth-Century Theological-Philosophical Encounter

This paper concerns the intersection of philosophy, theology, and politics with respect to the question of the readmission of Jews to England in 1655-1656. By examining the theological interests and philosophical commitments of the Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth–and, at the same time, by acknowledging the sources and range of his political access–it is possible to see the tensions underlying his recommendation of religious tolerance. Attention to several of the positions espoused by Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel, whom Cudworth met in London on the occasion of the Whitehall Conference, will show a similarly complicated coincidence of political and theological views. As Cudworth sought to read Plato through the lens of Moses, and as Menasseh attempted to approach Kabbalah by way of Neoplatonism, we may look to make sense of Cudworth and Menasseh’s philosophies politically.

Alex Hampton (Cambridge)

Romantic Spinozism and Cambridge Platonism: Herder’s Cudworth-Inspired Revision of Spinoza

This paper explores the hidden role of Cudworth in shaping the Frühromantik reception of Spinoza through the intermediary of Herder. Herder was the most important source of Romantic Spinozism. His influential Gott Einige Gespräche über Spinoza’s System, ostensibly a defence of Spinoza, was in fact a revision of Spinoza along largely Cudworthian lines. After establishing the general relationship between Herder and Cudworth, this examination will outline three areas where Cudworth played a formative role for Herder. Finally, it will place Herder in the context of the Pantheism Controversy, which was so influential upon the Frühromantik.

Douglas Hedley (Cambridge) presided.


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