1st Edition

An Anthology of the Cambridge Platonists Sources and Commentary

Edited By Douglas Hedley, Christian Hengstermann Copyright 2024
    362 Pages
    by Routledge

    362 Pages
    by Routledge

    Notwithstanding their neglect in many histories of ideas in the West, the Cambridge Platonists constitute the most significant and influential group of thinkers in the Platonic tradition between the Florentine Renaissance and the Romantic Age. This anthology offers readers a unique, thematically structured compendium of their key texts, along with an extensive introduction and a detailed account of their legacy. The volume draws upon a resurgence of interest in thinkers such as Benjamin Whichcote, 1609–1683; Ralph Cudworth, 1618–1688; Henry More, 1614–1687; John Smith, 1618–1652, and Anne Conway 1631–1679, and includes hitherto neglected extracts and some works of less familiar authors within the group, like George Rust 1627?–1670; Joseph Glanvill, 1636–1680, and John Norris 1657–1712. It also highlights the Cambridge Platonists’ important role in the history of philosophy and theology, influencing luminaries such as Shaftesbury, Berkeley, Leibniz, Joseph de Maistre, S.T. Coleridge, and W.R. Emerson. An Anthology of the Cambridge Platonists is an indispensable guide to the serious study of a pivotal group of Western metaphysicians and is of great value for both students and scholars of philosophy, literature, history, and theology.

    Key Features

    • The only systematic anthology to the Cambridge Platonists available, facilitating quick comprehension of key themes and ideas
    • Uses new translations of the Latin works, vastly improving upon faulty and misleading earlier translations
    • Offers a wide range of new perspective on the Cambridge Platonists, showing the extent of their influence in early modern philosophy and beyond.


    Part I: Cambridge Platonism at the Origins of the Enlightenment
    1. Cambridge Platonism: A Philosophical Introduction
    2. The Cambridge Platonists: A Very Brief History  - Marilyn A. Lewis
    3. From the Latitude Men to the Cambridge Enlightenment: Anthologizing the Cambridge Platonists
    4. From Campagnac to Taliaferro and Teply: Cambridge Platonist Anthologies Old and New

    Part II: Historical Context and Philosophical Programme
    5. Conversion and Original Insight
    6. Political Platonism and Early Sermons on Rational Theology

    6*. The New Sect of Latitude Men: Religious Toleration and Moderation in Revolutionary and Restoration England
    7. True Theism and the Philosophy of Religion

    Part III: Cambridge Platonism in Early Modern Thought
    8. The Critique of John Calvin: Divine Fate Immoral
    9. The Critique of Thomas Hobbes: Mechanistic Fate
    10. The Critique of René Descartes: Infinity and Nullibism
    11. The Critique of Jacob Böhme: The Critiques of Enthusiasm and Alchemistic Pantheism
    12. The Critique of Baruch de Spinoza: Atheism and Hylozoism

    Part IV: Ontology and Metaphysics
    13. The Character of Metaphysics
    14. The Existence and Nature of God
    15. Space
    16. Nature
    17. Body and Spirit

    Part V: Epistemology and Ethics
    18. Intuitive Vision and the First Principle of Divine Goodness
    19. Libertarian Freedom
    20. Theoretical Reason and Knowledge
    21. Practical Reason and Virtue
    22. The Sources of Political Power

    Part VI: Rational Theology
    23. Faith and Reason
    24. The Fall of the Soul and the Resurrection of the Body
    25. Soul-Making Theodicy
    26. Christ’s Sacrifice
    27. The Conflagration and Restitution of All Things

    Part VII: Epilogue
    28. The Reception History of the Cambridge Platonists


    Douglas Hedley is Professor of the Philosophy of Religion in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Clare College. He is the author of Coleridge, Philosophy and Religion (2000) and a trilogy on the Religious Imagination, and has edited various volumes including Revisioning Cambridge Platonism (2019). He was the Principal Investigator of an AHRC grant, "The Cambridge Platonists at the Origins of Enlightenment, 2016–2019."

    Christian Hengstermann is Associate Lecturer in Classics at Wuppertal University in Germany and Member of the Cambridge Centre of the Study of Platonism. He is the author of Origenes und der Ursprung der Freiheitsmetaphysik (2016) and has edited various volumes, including "That Miracle of the Christian World": Origenism and Christian Platonism in Henry More (2020) and The History of the Religious Imagination in Christian Platonism (2021).