Cambridge Platonism at the ISNS

There are a number of papers on the Cambridge Platonists due to be presented at the 15th annual ISNS conference, Olomouc, Czech Republic, 14-17 June 2017, at Palacký University Olomouc.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Early Modern Platonism (Organizers: Anna Corrias, Douglas Hedley, and Valery Rees)

  • David Leech, Bristol University and Cambridge Platonist Research Group, University of Cambridge, “Cudworth on Superintellectual Instinct as a Species of Orphic – Pythagorean Love”


Ancient Theology and the Cambridge Platonists (Organizers: Douglas Hedley and Natalia Strok)

  • Natalia Strok, UBA- CONICET-UNLP, “Arianism and Platonism: traces of Eusebius’ Praeparatio Evangelica in Cudworth’s The True Intellectual System”
  • Derek Michaud, University of Maine, “John Smith’s Plotinian Rational Theology”
  • Douglas Hedley, University of Cambridge, “Ralph Cudworth and Ancient Theology”



Full program available here.

New Online Edition of Smith’s Select Discourses

Roger Howard has made his edition of John Smith’s Select Discourses available online here. He describes the work as follows:

John Smith’s Select Discourses are the only surviving literary resmithmains of an important member of the group of Cambridge theologians now known collectively as the Cambridge Platonists. The Select Discourses were first published in 1660, with a second edition in 1673. Since then, the text has been printed in a number of increasingly unsatisfactory editions, in which intrusive editors have progressively moved further away from the original. Here, I present what I believe to be an accurate text, with the annotations needed for a modern reader. A few gaps remain to be filled in providing translations of some rabbinical quotations, which I may try to remedy at some point. A description of  the contents of John Smith’s Commonplace Book is also to be added.

We are all in debt to Howard for this fine contribution to Cambridge Platonist scholarship!

Reason Turned into Sense: John Smith on Spiritual Sensation

Derek Michaud

Studies in Philosophical Theology, 62 (Peeters, 2017), ISBN: 978-90-429-3482-5

John Smith (1618-1652), long known for the elegance of his prose and the breadth of his erudition, has been underappreciated as a philosophical theologian. This book redresses this by showing how the spiritual senses became an essential tool for responding to early modern developments in philosophy, science, and religion for Smith. Through a close reading of the Select Discourses (1660) it is shown how Smith’s theories of theological knowledge, method, and prophecy as well as his prescriptive account of Christian piety rely on his spiritual aesthetics. Smith offers a coherent system with intellectual intuition informing natural theology and revelation supplemented by spiritual perception via the imagination too. The central uniting feature of Smith’s philosophical theology is thus ‘spiritual sensation’ broadly construed. The book closes with proposals for research on Smith’s influence on the accounts of the spiritual senses developed by significant later figures including Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and John Wesley (1703-1791).