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Cambridge Platonists

Cambridge Platonists, group of English philosophers, centered at Cambridge in the latter half of the 17th cent. In reaction to the mechanical philosophy of Thomas Hobbes this school revived certain Platonic and Neoplatonic ideas. Chief among these was a mystical conception of the soul's relation to God and the belief that moral ideas are innate in man. Although tending toward mysticism, the school also stressed the importance of reason, maintaining that faith and reason differ only in degree. The assertion of the founder of the school, Benjamin Whichcote, that "the spirit in man is the cradle of the Lord" became the motto for the entire movement. Other leading members were Ralph Cudworth, Henry More, and John Smith.

See G. R. Cragg, ed., The Cambridge Platonists (1968); E. Cassirer, The Platonic Renaissance in England (tr. 1953, repr. 1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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