Draft version of essay. ABSTRACT: Benjamin Whichcote developed a distinctive account of human nature centered on our moral psychology. He believed that this view of human nature, which forms the foundation of “CambridgePlatonism,” showed that the demands of reason and faith are not merely compatible but dynamically supportive of one another. I develop an interpretation of this oft-neglected and widely misunderstood account of human nature and defend its viability against a key objection.
The Cambridge Platonists were a group of religious thinkers who attended and taught at Cambridge from the 1640s until the 1660s. The four most important of them were Benjamin Whichcote, John Smith, Ralph Cudworth, and Henry More. The most prominent sentimentalist moral philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment – Hutcheson, Hume, and Adam Smith – knew of the works of the Cambridge Platonists. But the Scottish sentimentalists typically referred to the Cambridge Platonists only briefly and in passing. (...) The surface of Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith's texts can give the impression that the Cambridge Platonists were fairly distant intellectual relatives of the Scottish sentimentalists – great great-uncles, perhaps, and uncles of a decidedly foreign ilk. But this surface appearance is deceiving. There were deeply significant philosophical connections between the Cambridge Platonists and the Scottish sentimentalists, even if the Scottish sentimentalists themselves did not always make it perfectly explicit. (shrink)
This volume contains the selected discourses of four seventeenth-century philosophers, carefully chosen to illustrate the tenets characteristic of the influential movement known as CambridgePlatonism. Fundamental to their beliefs is the statement most clearly voiced by Benjamin Whichcote, their leader by common consent, that the spiritual is not opposed to the rational, nor Grace to nature. Religion is based on reason, even in the presence of 'mystery'. Free will and Grace are not mutually exclusive. The editor's comprehensive introduction (...) delineates the main principles of the Cambridge Platonists, in the light of their heritage. It compares their attitude to contemporary thought, stressing their mistrust both of institutionalised religion and of the rising tide of materialism. The sermons are reprinted from the original texts and fully annotated with comparisons and references to a wide range of works. The editor also includes a useful list for further reading, biographical notes and a comprehensive index. (shrink)
Traditionalist and radical orthodox critiques of the Enlightenment assert that the modern discourse on moral self-government constitutes a radical break with the theocentric model of morality which preceded it. Against this view, this paper argues that the conceptions of autonomy emerged from the effort to reconcile commitments within the Christian tradition. Through an analysis of the moral thought of the Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth, this paper contends that distinctively Christian theological concerns concerning moral accountability to God and the character (...) of divine-human moral relationships produced a theory of moral autonomy which anticipates that of Kant. This paper highlights the role of anti-voluntarism in the creation of this moral standpoint, and argues that the resultant moral view is an “internalization” of the voluntarist model of sovereignty. (shrink)
Draft. Berkeley denied the existence of abstract ideas and any faculty of abstraction. At the same time, however, he embraced innate ideas and a faculty of pure intellect. This paper attempts to reconcile the tension between these commitments by offering an interpretation of Berkeley's Platonism.
Some characteristics of the Cambridge Platonists -- Benjamin Whichcote (1609-1683) -- John Smith (1616-1652) -- Ralph Cudworth (1617-1685) -- Nathaniel Culverwel (1618?-1651) -- Henry More (1614-1687) -- Peter Sterry (d. 1672).
Prologue.--Some characteristics of the Cambridge Platonists.--Benjamin Whichcote (1609-1683)--John Smith (1616-1652)--Ralph Cudworth (1617-1685)--Nathaniel Culverwel (1618?-1651)--Henry More (1614-1687)--Peter Sterry (d. 1672)--Epilogue.
The cambridge platonists exemplify the fear that newtonian natural philosophy subverts the status of traditional moral and religious beliefs, Which are strongly supported by the innate idea doctrine since it justifies them independently of the senses and the material universe. Isaac barrow, Friend and teacher of newton, Also employs the doctrine approbatively to support his metaphysics as a science of basic principles that constitute the foundation of natural science. Locke's rejection of the doctrine is analyzed and it is suggested (...) that the platonist's treatment of the active role of the mind in sensation could have been developed in eighteenth century britain if locke's polemic had not been so successful. (shrink)
This article reflects upon the relationship between philosophy and theology. It further considers the persisting relevance of the specifically Hellenic inheritance of philosophy as contemplation and the Delphic exhortation, “Know thyself!” It concludes with reflections upon the role of imagination in relation to the philosophical idea of God as the supreme and transcendent causal principle of the physical cosmos.
Seventeenth-century Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth, writing just at the time when the concept of sympathy was moving from the realm of magic to that of ethics, argued that God must be understood as having a vital sympathy with suffering human beings. Yet while Cudworth invoked sympathy in an attempt to capture God's intimate relation with creation, in fact, it served as a principle of mediation that tended either to collapse God into the world or to distance God from the (...) world. The broader implications of this problematic conception of divine transcendence can be seen in the secularizing tendencies within sentimentalist ethics and in the work of the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Anglican theologians, who were the first to affirm divine passibility. (shrink)
Matthew arnold maintains in the nineteenth century the renaissance school of the cambridge platonists. for them, reason and religion are by no means at odds: reason is in fact "the candle of the lord." for matthew arnold in "literature and dogma", christianity will prevail only by being shorn of its supernaturalist elements and set on its true rational ground. ernst cassirer has shown how the cambridge platonists bridge the gap between the italian renaissance and the german humanists of (...) the "goethezeit", chiefly through shaftesbury. arnold accordingly finds in herder and goethe the corroboration of his revered countrymen glanvill, whichcote, more and smith. (shrink)
In his account of Plato’s ideas in the first book of the “Transcendental Dialectic”, “On the concepts of pure reason”, Kant, in describing how for Plato ideas were “archetypes of things themselves”, adds that these ideas “flowed from the highest reason, through which human reason partakes in them”.1 Later, in the section of the Transcendental Dialectic treating the “ideals of pure reason”, he again attributes to Plato the notion of a “divine mind” within which the “ideas” exist. An “ideal”, Kant (...) says, “was to Plato, an idea in the divine understanding”.2 But as the editors of the Cambridge University Press translation of the Critique of Pure Reason point out, the idea of a divine mind as container of the ideas was not Plato’s and did not originate until the “syncretistic Platonism from the period of the Middle Academy”. From there it “was later adopted by Platonists as diverse as Philo of Alexandria, Plotinus and St Augustine, and became fundamental to later Christian interpretations of Platonism”. (shrink)
This collection of essays looks at the distinctively English intellectual, social and political phenomenon of Latitudinarianism, which emerged during the Civil War and Interregnum and came into its own after the Restoration, becoming a virtual orthodoxy after 1688. Dividing into two parts, it first examines the importance of the Cambridge Platonists, who sought to embrace the newest philosophical and scientific movements within Church of England orthodoxy, and then moves into the later seventeenth century, from the Restoration onwards, culminating in (...) essays on the philosopher John Locke. These new contributions establish a firmly interdisciplinary basis for the subject, while collectively gravitating towards the importance of discourse and language as the medium for cultural exchange. The variety of approaches serves to illuminate the cultural indeterminacy of the period, in which inherited models and vocabularies were forced to undergo revisions, coinciding with the formation of many cultural institutions still governing English society. (shrink)
Modal Platonism utilizes "weak" logical possibility, such that it is logically possible there are abstract entities, and logically possible there are none. Modal Platonism also utilizes a non-indexical actuality operator. Modal Platonism is the EASY WAY, neither reductionist nor eliminativist, but embracing the Platonistic language of abstract entities while eliminating ontological commitment to them. Statement of Modal Platonism. Any consistent statement B ontologically committed to abstract entities may be replaced by an empirically equivalent modalization, MOD(B), not (...) so ontologically committed. This equivalence is provable using Modal/Actuality Logic S5@. Let MAX be a strong set theory with individuals. Then the following Schematic Bombshell Result (SBR) can be shown: MAX logically yields [T is true if and only if MOD(T) is true], for scientific theories T. The proof utilizes Stephen Neale's clever model-theoretic interpretation of Quantified Lewis S5, which I extend to S5@. (shrink)
Platonism about mathematics (or mathematical platonism) is the metaphysical view that there are abstract mathematical objects whose existence is independent of us and our language, thought, and practices. In this survey article, the view is clarified and distinguished from some related views, and arguments for and against the view are discussed.
A response is given here to Benacerraf's 1973 argument that mathematical platonism is incompatible with a naturalistic epistemology. Unlike almost all previous platonist responses to Benacerraf, the response given here is positive rather than negative; that is, rather than trying to find a problem with Benacerraf's argument, I accept his challenge and meet it head on by constructing an epistemology of abstract (i.e., aspatial and atemporal) mathematical objects. Thus, I show that spatio-temporal creatures like ourselves can attain knowledge about (...) mathematical objects by simply explaininghow they can do this. My argument is based upon the adoption of a particular version of platonism — full-blooded platonism — which asserts that any mathematical object which possiblycould exist actuallydoes exist. (shrink)
This paper considers two strategies for undermining indispensability arguments for mathematical Platonism. We defend one strategy (the Trivial Strategy) against a criticism by Joseph Melia. In particular, we argue that the key example Melia uses against the Trivial Strategy fails. We then criticize Melia’s chosen strategy (the Weaseling Strategy.) The Weaseling Strategy attempts to show that it is not always inconsistent or irrational knowingly to assert p and deny an implication of p . We argue that Melia’s case for (...) this strategy fails. (shrink)
This paper investigates Newton’s ontology of space in order to determine its commitment, if any, to both Cambridge neo-Platonism, which posits an incorporeal basis for space, and substantivalism, which regards space as a form of substance or entity. A non-substantivalist interpretation of Newton’s theory has been famously championed by Howard Stein and Robert DiSalle, among others, while both Stein and the early work of J. E. McGuire have downplayed the influence of Cambridge neo-Platonism on various aspects (...) of Newton’s own spatial hypotheses. Both of these assertions will be shown to be problematic on various grounds, with special emphasis placed on Stein’s influential case for a non-substantivalist reading. Our analysis will strive, nonetheless, to reveal the unique or forward-looking aspects of Newton’s approach, most notably, his critical assessment of substance ontologies, that help to distinguish his theory of space from his neo-Platonic contemporaries and predecessors. (shrink)
Quine rejects intensional Platonism and, with it, also rejects attributes (properties) as designations of predicates. He pragmatically accepts extensional Platonism, but conceives of classes as merely auxiliary entities needed to express some laws of set theory. At the elementary logical level, Quine develops an “ontologically innocent” logic of predicates. What in standard quantification theory is the work of variables is in the logic of predicates the work of a few functors that operate on predicates themselves: variables are eliminated. (...) This “predicate functor logic” may be conceived as a peculiar sort of Platonism - ontologically neutral, reduced to schematized linguistic forms. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against Divers and Miller's 'Lightness of Being' objection to Hale and Wright's neo-Fregean Platonism. According to the 'Lightness of Being' objection, the neo-Fregean Platonist makes existence too cheap: the same principles which allow her to argue that numbers exist also allow her to claim that fictional objects exist. I claim that this is no objection at all" the neo-Fregean Platonist should think that fictional characters exist. However, the pluralist approach to truth developed by WQright (...) in 'Truth and Objectivity' allows us to salvage our intuitions about the metaphysicial lightweightness of fictional characters: truth for discourse about fictional characters fails to exert 'Cognityive Command', whereas truth about arithmetic does. (shrink)
Logic and Computation is concerned with techniques for formal theorem-proving, with particular reference to Cambridge LCF (Logic for Computable Functions). Cambridge LCF is a computer program for reasoning about computation. It combines methods of mathematical logic with domain theory, the basis of the denotational approach to specifying the meaning of statements in a programming language. This book consists of two parts. Part I outlines the mathematical preliminaries: elementary logic and domain theory. They are explained at an intuitive level, (...) giving references to more advanced reading. Part II provides enough detail to serve as a reference manual for Cambridge LCF. It will also be a useful guide for implementors of other programs based on the LCF approach. (shrink)
This paper is divided into two main sections. In the first, I attempt to show that the characterization of Frege as a redundancy theorist is not accurate. Using one of Wolfgang Carl's recent works as a foil, I argue that Frege countenances a realm of abstract objects including truth, and that Frege's Platonist commitments inform his epistemology and embolden his antipsychologistic project. In the second section, contrasting Frege's Platonism with pragmatism, I show that even though Frege's metaphysical position concerning (...) truth has been criticized as reproachable, I argue that it may be useful for people to think like Platonists while conducting their scientific and philosophical inquiries. (shrink)
In his book 'Wittgenstein on the foundations of Mathematics', Crispin Wright notes that remarkably little has been done to provide an unpictorial, substantial account of what mathematical platoninism comes to. Wright proposes to investigate whether there is not some more substantial doctrine than the familiar images underpinning the platonist view. He begins with the suggestion that the essential element in the platonist claim is that mathematical truth is objective. Although he does not demarcate them as such, Wright proposes several different (...) tests for objectivity. The paper finds problems with each of these tests. (shrink)
During the 1870s animal morphologists and embryologists at Cambridge University came to dominate British zoology, quickly establishing an international reputation. Earlier accounts of the Cambridge school have portrayed this success as short-lived, and attributed the school's failure to a more general movement within the life sciences away from museum-based description, towards laboratory-based experiment. More recent work has shown that the shift in the life sciences to experimental work was locally contingent and highly varied, often drawing on and incorporating (...) aspects of museum work. Thus in order to understand the more general changes, studies of particular sites are needed. Here I examine the organisation of teaching at Cambridge, both in terms of the spaces in which it was taught and the ways in which teaching and examining were organised, to bring out the complexities of the 'revolt from morphology' and to show in more detail the institutional aspects that intertwined with intellectual change. Francis Maitland Balfour, as head of the Cambridge school, was able to make use of family connections and his own personal wealth to promote morphology. His successor lacked these resources, and one competition within the natural sciences at Cambridge intensified, morphology was unable to compete properly. (shrink)