Salving the phenomena of mind: energy, hegemonikon, and sympathy in Cudworth

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (3):465-486 (2017)
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Ralph Cudworth’s theory of mind was the most fully developed philosophical psychology among the Cambridge Platonists. Like his seventeenth-century contemporaries, Cudworth discussed mental powers in terms of soul rather than mind and considered the function of the soul to be not merely intellectual, but vital and moral. Cudworth conceived the soul as a single self-determining unit which combined many powers. He developed this against a philosophical agenda set by Descartes and Hobbes. But he turned to ancient philosophy, especially the philosophy of Plotinus, to develop a psychology which is distinguished by the attention he gives to both conscious and unconscious states, and to the powers which enable it to reflect on itself, to co-ordinate its activities and direct them to good ends. I argue that in so doing, Cudworth sought to elaborate a theory of mind which accounted for observable experience of mental operations. My paper outlines the complexities of Cudworth’s taxonomy of mental powers, focusing on three key powers which Cudworth developed through his reading of Plotinus: energy, self-power, and sympathy.



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Citations of this work

Cudworth on Freewill.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2021 - Philosophers' Imprint 21 (1):1-25.
The Inner Work of Liberty: Cudworth on Desire and Attention.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2019 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (5):649-667.
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References found in this work

On the Soul. Aristotle - 2004 - In Jonathan Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. Princeton University Press. pp. 641-692.
Seventeenth-century theories of consciousness.Larry M. Jorgensen - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Cudworth on Types of Consciousness.Vili Lähteenmäki - 2010 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (1):9-34.

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