In the early 1690s Roger North was preparing to remove from London to Rougham, Norfolk, where he planned to continue his search for truth, which for him meant knowledge of nature, including human nature. But this search was interrupted by three events. First, between c.1704 and the early part of 1706, he read Newton’s book on rational (quantitative) mechanics and, afterwards, his book on optics in Clarke’s Latin translation. Second, towards the latter part of 1706, he and Clarke, a Norfolk clergyman, corresponded about matters relating to Newton’s two books, after which Clarke removed to London and the correspondence ceased. Third, in 1712 North received a letter from Clarke, requesting him to read and respond to his new publication on the philosophy of the Godhead. As Kassler details, each of these events presented a number of challenges to North’s values, as well as the way of philosophising he had learned as a student and practitioner of the common law. Because he never made public his responses to the challenges, her book also includes editions of North's notes on reading Newton’s books, as well as what now remains of the 1706 and later correspondence with Clarke. In addition, she presents analyses of some of North’s ’second thoughts’ about the issues raised in the notes and 1706 correspondence and, from an examination of Clarke’s main writings, provides a context for understanding the correspondence relating to the 1712 book.
Jamie C. Kassler was elected as a fellow (1991) of the Australian Academy of the Humanities for contributions to musicological theory and was a recipient of the Centenary Medal (2003) for service to Australian society and the humanities in the study of philosophy. A collection of her articles was published as Music, Science, Philosophy: Models in the Universe of Thought (Ashgate 2001). She is also the author of The Beginnings of the Modern Philosophy of Music (Ashgate, 2004) and The Honourable Roger North, 1681-1734 (Ashgate, 2009).
'Seeking Truth not only adds significantly to our understanding of Roger North’s mindset and work, but it offers a unique perspective on the manner in which an intelligent provincial intellectual, who prided himself on being a discerning critic, attempted to come to terms with the content of Newtonian natural philosophy as well as with its perceived ramifications for theology and moral philosophy.' Mordechai Feingold, California Institute of Technology, USA
‘Seeking Truth will be of interest to scholars of North, Clarke, Augustan theological disputes, or the diffusion of Newtonianism in the early eighteenth century’. The Sixteenth Century Journal
'Kassler provides the reader with extremely valuable manuscript materials, accompanied by her insightful analysis of the development of North’s natural-philosophical and religious ideas.' Cornelis J. Schilt, The British Journal for the History of Science