The Cambridge Platonism Project at Cambridge University has completed the first comprehensive collection of texts from Conway, Cudworth, More, Smith, and Whichcote; the Cambridge Platonism Sourcebook.
The digital Cambridge Platonism Sourcebook consists of over 1,100,000 words of texts selected from across the oeuvre of the core group of Cambridge Platonists Anne Conway (1631-1679), Ralph Cudworth (1617-1688), Henry More (1614-1687), John Smith (1618-1652) and Benjamin Whichcote (1609-1683), making available both important printed and manuscript sources illustrating the range of their thinking. It also makes available a significant quantity of recondite texts and manuscript material never seen outside the British Library. It constitutes a groundbreaking collection of texts, several of which are translated from Latin with extensive explanatory notes and made easily available for the first time.
As well as containing sizable excerpts from the printed works of Cudworth and More, the Sourcebook contains the full text of Conway’s Principia (1690) and its 1692 English translation, as well as extensive excerpts from the British Library Cudworth manuscripts, including a draft version of the introduction to the unpublished second part of Cudworth’s True Intellectual System of the Universe (a draft probably written c. 1671). It contains the Latin texts and first complete English translation of Henry More’s letter correspondence with Descartes, together with other important but previously untranslated works by More, including More’s critique of Jacob Boehme in his Philosophiae Teutonicae censura (1679). The Sourcebook also contains John Smith’s complete Select Discourses (1660) and the complete text of an influential set of letters between Whichcote and Antony Tuckney (written 1651; published 1753).
The texts are accompanied by extensive critical introductory materials and network diagrams which situate them in their historical and intellectual contexts. The texts are fully browsable and searchable. The site also contains a full bibliography of Cambridge Platonism, as well as a blog which carries updates on developments in Cambridge Platonism scholarship and offers a forum for scholars to contribute their input and ideas.
I noted in an earlier post that the historian of philosophy Johann Jacob Brucker, writing in the 1730s and 1740s, distinguishes More’s ‘Platonico-Cabbalism’ from Cudworth, Gale, and Burnet’s ‘Alexandrian’ form of Platonism in his characterisation of their position. This must certainly reflect the fact that More had gained an early reputation in continental Europe for his engagement with the Cabbala. It is noteworthy that one of the first publications of note addressing More’s work on the continent, the Herborn Lutheran professor Samuel Andreae’s Examen Generale Cabbalae Philosophicae D. Henrici More (Herborn, 1670) is a critique of More’s Conjectura Cabbalistica (London, 1653), with which he was familiar in the English. More responded to Andreae’s critique in the scholia to his Opera Omnia (London, 1679), which in turn attracted a response from Andreae (then at Marburg) in his Epistola apologetica, ad virum eruditissimum & celeberrimum Henricum Morum (Marburg, 1684). Johannes Franciscus Buddeus, in a 23 page section of his Introductio ad historiam philosophiae Ebraeorum (Halle, 1702) discusses More’s Conjectura Cabbalistica before passing to a consideration of his later Cabbalistic writings.
For full text of this post see here.
Vitalism in Early Modern Philosophy
March 29, 2019 – March 30, 2019
Emmanuel college, Cambridge University
For Call for Papers see here.
Early modern philosophy is often viewed as characterized by a crucial transition from the vitalist natural philosophy of the Renaissance to the new mechanistic natural philosophy of the seventeenth century. However, vitalism in fact continued to thrive in the early modern period, particularly in the writings of a group of philosophers associated with Cambridge Platonism. Thinkers such as Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Ralph Cudworth, and Henry More each developed their own distinctive form of vitalism, and collectively provided a powerful counterpoint to Cartesian mechanism.
But while all these philosophers were united in their deep commitment to the irreducibility and universality of life, the details of their respective views vary considerably. Whereas Cavendish and Conway, for instance, proposed monist frameworks to ground their vitalism, Cudworth and More remained wedded to a dualist metaphysics. Moreover, while early modern vitalism is perhaps most prominent in the writings of the Cambridge Platonists, it also left its mark on numerous other philosophers of the period such as Leibniz and Spinoza.
This conference proposes to examine vitalism as a philosophical movement in the early modern period, as well as the various metaphysical, moral, and theological considerations underlying it.