Since More is a figure who belongs to the Renaissance tradition of unified sapientia he is not easily compartmentalised in the categories of modern disciplines. Inevitably discussion of any one aspect of his thought involves other aspects. In assembling the present collection, my aim has been to reflect recent developments in More scholarship in order to give a broader perspective on Henry More, rather than to provide a systematic and comprehensive survey of all aspects of his work.
For this reason there are aspects of More's thought and writings which are not covered. Of the better known sides of More, the poet and Platonist are not as conspicuous as might be expected from his latter day reputation although aspects of both are in fact treated by Robert Crocker in his paper on enthusiasm. There are also areas where much work remains to be done, for example, More's prophetic writings, discussed here briefly by Richard Popkin.
On the other hand, prominence is given to More's relationship to the scientific thought of the seventeenth century, to the mechanical philosophy and experimental science, to his metaphysics, his scepticism and his intellectual relations. And there is some acknowledgement that More's intellectual interests combined with a deep personal spirituality and attraction to mysticism. All these diverse aspects of More's thought are drawn together in Robert Crocker's biographical essay which serves both to set More's writings in context and as an introduction for newcomers to More.
His crusade against religious enthusiasm is in many ways the other side of the coin of his critique of atheistical philosophies. The interchange of his philosophical and religious concerns is reflected throughout More's writings, from his private correspondence such as that with Limborch to public controversy such as that with Robert Boyle. This disagreement with Robert Boyle is a recurrent motif in those papers which deal most directly with More and seventeenth-century science particularly in those by Alan Gabbey, Rupert Hall and John Henry, but also that by Allison Coudert , pointing to the metaphysician's unease with empirical experimentalism.
On the one hand he was in very much a man of the Renaissance, yet on the other hand he actively engaged with the intellectual developments of the post-Renaissance.
In these respects he was not untypical of his age. But, as Allison Coudert points out, the mental world of More was very different from our own. Rooted in the teleological and spirit-filled nature philosophy of the Renaissance, it is vulnerable to being misunderstood when viewed from the perspective of the intellectual framework which replaced it.
More's belief in witchcraft the subject of Allison Coudert's paper was not unusual even among the intelligensia of his own time. And his belief in a prisca sapientia is thoroughly in accordance with Renaissance Neoplatonic thought.
The depth of More's commitment to this idea can be measured by his attempt to read writings of the mystical theosophist, Jacob Boehme as belonging to the tradition of the prisci discussed here in my article , although, as David Katz shows, More was mistaken in his view of the cabalism he conceived as integral to the prisca sapientia. Such views are not inconsistent with a knowledge of contemporary science and philosophy, with which More was well- acquainted.
As Richard Popkin argues. More's spiritualistic cosmology, like that of his philosopher-friend, Anne Conway, was intellectually viable in its rejection of seventeenth-century materialism. More's critique of mechanism, in Alan Gabbey's account, was perceptive in recognising its shortcomings, proposing instead a 'mixed mechanical philosophy' consistent with his philosophical and religious outlook. The mental world of More was also the background of Newton, Locke and Leibniz. Several of the papers included here explore the subject of More's intellectual legacy which is a matter still very much open to debate, particularly the relationship between More's thought and that of Newton, discussed here by Rupert Hall.
The majority of the papers in this collection were presented at the conference organised under the auspices of the British Society for the History of Philosophy to mark the tercentenary of More's death. I would like to thank those members of the college who helped to ensure the success of the conference, in particular Dr. Courtney and Mrs. Michelle Courtney for the splendid exhibition of Moreiana which they mounted in the library, and also Mr. Henry Button for conducting a lively and informative tour of the college.
I would also like to thank Dr. Maarten Ultee for his helpful comments and advice during the preparation of this volume. Finally, I am most grateful to the British Academy and the British Council, whose financial assistance made it possible for a number of overseas speakers to attend the conference. Sarah Hutton 1. Ward, Life , 75, and Adami, 'Henry More' An example of criticism in this kind is Gladys Wade who detects in More 'aberrations of mysticism,' concluding that his life 'presents a picture of gradual decay and of weakening allegiance to that power of pure reason he had professed and indeed proved in his earlier works.
Costello, who describes More as 'a metaphysician gone beserkes' on account of his belief in witchcraft, in The Scholastic Curriculum at Early Seventeenth Century Cambridge Cambridge, Mass. After revealing something of his intellectual abilities there, at fourteen his education was taken in hand by a learned uncle, Gabriel More, sometime Fellow of Christ's College in Cambridge, and sent to Eton 'to perfect his Latin'. More began to study the 'Platonists and mystical divines', and read in them an approach to the problem of the soul much more attuned, he considered, to the doctrines of the Church.
More was particularly inspired, he tells us, by the Theologia Germanica, with its practical emphasis on 'extinguishing the human will' in order to live only by and through the divine. This freed him, he declares, from the 'insatiable Desire and Thirst Hutton ed. For it is assumed even in his earliest poems that the soul has the innate ability divine Grace assisting to turn away from the source of its own ignorance and suffering, and that divine illumination results from an inner principle only temporarily obscured by the Fall. This 'seed' - an important concept in Christian mysticism - was present in all, and only obscured or corrupted by the principle of self-will.
So by 'extinguishing' self- will, any believer might experience this 'divine seed' and its operation, and through it attain a state of spiritual perfection, or 'deification'. This, he declares, attempted to express the main features of his experiences, and the process of purification through which his 'ineffable' state of mind had been achieved. This final poem returned More in triumph to a consideration of the problem of individuation which, according to his own admission, had troubled him so much before his 'conversion' to Christian Platonism. More had also become a Master of Arts and a deacon of the Church both in , in preparation to his eventual ordination in - in which year he also took up Gell's vacated Fellowship, and began taking students.
His passage into his place in the College was certainly not as smooth as he made it sound later in his General Preface. For he considered leaving Cambridge for a pastoral life in , his uncle Gabriel having acquired the living of Ingoldsby for him at considerable cost in that year. It was only on being given Gell's Fellowship with Gell's recommendation that More became accepted in the College as a convivial man, and another 'merry Greek'.
Rarely does he allow the events of the outside world, even when they directly concern him, to intrude upon this story. It is the story of the publication in successive works - often in direct opposition to the 'Atheism', 'Enthusiasm' and 'Superstition' of his age - of what More conceived to be an ancient and sacred philosophy, or 'Cabbala'.
More hoped for not only the cessation of all religious warfare and by implication the fall of Rome , but the imminent fulfilment of scriptural prophecy, in a millenium of peace and spiritual and intellectual increase, which he believed his own age was already in part witness to.
Henry More (1614-1687) Tercentenary Studies: with a biography and bibliography by Robert Crocker
In their quest to realise this vision, they were also eager to sweep aside the cobwebs of traditional scholastic learning, and to search for new, more emphatically 'Christian' ways of gaining and classifying knowledge. Although as a literary soldier against atheism, enthusiasm, Roman Catholicism and scholasticism, More could be appreciated by these pious advocates of experimentalism and reform, his consistent distrust of empiricism without a metaphysical foundation naturally alienated them.
His early rejection of scholasticism did not end in a rejection of metaphysical thinking itself, as it had in Boyle,37 but in a reassessment of metaphysics and its relationship with theology and natural philosophy. Experiments, or proofs from Nature, were for More always subsidary 'signa' of rational metaphysical arguments. To pretend that experiments could tell their own philosophical story unaided by human reason, and the innate ideas on which the processes of rational thought were founded, was for More a dangerous illusion, leading almost inevitably to atheism or enthusiasm.
Experiments belonged to a lower level of endeavour than metaphysics, and only gained value when placed within a rational, philosophical and theological context. Because of this preoccupation with intellectual context, many of More's writings are hierarchic in structure, the argument moving from mystical theology to rational metaphysics, to examples from nature or experience.
His Poems therefore entailed the first formulation of a synthesis of Neoplatonism with his own theological concerns, and with the new philosophy - a 'Cabbala' or complete system of knowledge which incorporated the mystical theology he had recently embraced. The two editions of his Psychodia Platonica, or Platonical Song of the Soul and ,40 outlined the devotional and intellectual process and goal he sought through his philosophical theology, and also sketched in the various opponents he believed undermined this 'Cabbala'.
The title of a long supplement to these poems, Democritus Platonissans , is suggestive of the essential harmony he already perceived to exist between the experimental, mechanical philosophy, as it was expounded by Descartes, and the mystical, intellectual dualism of his own Neoplatonic adoptions. In his first public controversy, with the hermeticist and Platonist, Thomas Vaughan ,47 More was forced to articulate what he believed was wrong with Vaughan's alchemical interpretations of classical Neoplatonism.
- Elite Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives: v. 38 (ASA Monographs).
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- Hester Pulter (c. —). A Woman Poet and the New Astronomy.
More significantly here, he was also led to defend the new Cartesian philosophy which Vaughan had publicly denigrated, and to explain to his 'brother' Platonist and their educated audience how the mechanical Cartesian philosophy could be subsumed into a Neoplatonic metaphysic. In this work and the three which followed it, the Conjectura cabbalistica , Enthusiasmus triumphatus , and The Immortality of the Soul ,50 More explored in prose some of the major aspects of the philosophical system he had outlined in the poems of the s.
Controversial and topical in intention, these books gained him a much wider audience both as a 'Platonist' and as an exponent of natural theology. Although self-consciously 'rational' in design, they are nevertheless also 'Platonic' or 'Cabbalistic' according to More's use of these terms in structure and content.
with a biography and bibliography by Robert Crocker
This can be seen particularly in the three- part structure of the Antidote, the Conjectura and the Immortality of the Soul and the way the argument is presented in a clearly heirarchic fashion. In the Conjectura a similarly heirarchic three-part structure is apparent, but this time reversed, with the argument ascending from the grosser level of sensualism the 'Literal Cabbala' or literal interpretation of Genesis, through the rational the 'Philo- sophick Cabbala', the approach of natural philosophy and metaphysics to the intellectual or spiritual the 'Moral Cabbala', the Platonist's mystical and allegorical understanding of the text.
More revised and republished these works in together with his correspondence with Descartes in A Collection of Philosophical Writings.
That he published these works together suggests that even at this time he conceived them to represent the outline of a complete philosophical system. This is borne out by the fact that the only other work that addressed topics of natural philosophy and metaphysics as intensely as these did, the Enchiridion metaphysicum , was supposed to be the first part of a greater metaphysical work, but that this projected work was eventually replaced, apparently to More's satisfaction, by a further, expanded and annotated Latin version of the Collection, which appeared as the second of the three volumes of his Opera omnia in This intensely 'philosophical' period ended in when More turned his attention to theology itself, and published one of his best known and most controversial works, An Explanation of the Grand Mystery of Godliness.
As the title suggests, More wished amongst other things in this work to persuade the 'godly' - particularly those influenced by the anti-episcopal parties of the Interregnum - to accept a minimum number of essential doctrines, and in this way to remain loyal to the Anglican Church. However, because he had applied the metaphysical ideas he had worked out in his natural theology directly to this Christian apology, More was attacked as a 'heretic' by Joseph Beaumont, one of the leading figures in the new loyalist divinity school in Cambridge.
Henry More (–) Tercentenary Studies: with a biography and - Google книги
He was no longer writing only to convince his Interregnum audience of the spiritual value of his 'Platonic' philosophy and mystical theology, but was now also fighting a rearguard action against the newly reinstated theological conservatives in Cambridge. In keeping with this apologetic and irenical aim, in More issued a slim, overtly irenical, and extremely popular ethical manual, the Enchiridion ethicum, and in the following year a rather charming two volume pseudonymous summary in dialogue form of both his philosophical and theological ideas, the Divine Dialogues.
More was committed to a Christian Platonic definition of God as preeminently good and wise, and also powerful, but only within the natural boundaries set by his goodness and wisdom. An essential part of More's rationalistic, optimistic portrayal of divine providence was the doctrine of the preexistence of the soul. For only this theory appeared to adequately answer the many difficulties thrown upon such a reliance on the absolute goodness of God by the apparently unequal extremes of human suffering. Many moderate Anglicans like Boyle and Samuel Parker and Isaac Newton, for that matter , were committed to a 'voluntarist' portrayal of God.
More viewed reason or intellect as the first mover in philosophical enquiry, with experiments playing a useful supporting role to rational arguments. Boyle, on the other hand, considered that experiments revealed to the patient virtuoso an underlying structure in the creation that was rationally coherent in its lineaments. But this could not be interpreted to mean that mankind could understand God and his purposes. For this reason divine omnipotence should be exalted above God's other attributes. To put intellectual reflection before observation in the process of gaining knowledge was to build the house of philosophy once more on the sand of the 'imaginary' knowledge of the Scholastics.
The mind was too corrupt and too weak to come to useful knowledge outside the bounds set by religion and nature, the two 'books' of God's revelation. The doctrine of Preexistence was another dangerous invention. More's 'hypothesis' of a Spirit of Nature seemed an unacceptable reification to Boyle, especially when imposed upon the results of his own experiments.
Rather the controversy, like More's earlier controversy with Petty, begins with a disagreement over the role of metaphysics in the process of gaining knowledge. Although these later works have been largely neglected by modern scholarship, their millenarian theme is clearly in harmony with the 'Cabbala' or sacred wisdom More had always considered it was his duty to expound to the world. More's overriding preoccupation with completing this exposition of the grand story of the human spirit, as expressed in the prophetic writings, can be seen in his apparent failure to complete a devotional manual, which he had begun and had frequently promised to complete over the last ten years of his life.