Cambridge Platonists at AAR 2018

James Bryson, Cambridge University, “Platonic Love in Henry More’s Ethics”

While modern scholars familiar with their thought agree that the Cambridge Platonists represent a watershed moment in western moral philosophy, there is little in the way of consensus about how to categorize their ethical thought. Some categorize them as proto-Kantian rationalists, while others regard them as Lockean empiricists. This paper will focus on the moral philosophy of the Cambridge Platonist Henry More (1614-1687), and argue that his ethical philosophy must be understood within the context of Neoplatonic tradition that he inherits, a tradition that emphasizes reason as well what modern philosophers might call experience, but ultimately is best seen as a tradition which emphasizes love – eros, agape, amor – as the way into the good life. Central to More’s moral psychology is the Platonic concept of participation and deiformity.


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