The present collection of essays is devoted to the Christian philosophy of the most prolific and most speculatively ambitious of the Cambridge Origenists, Henry More. Not only did More revere Origen, whom he extolled as a “holy sage” and “that miracle of the Christian world”, but he also developed a philosophical system which hinged upon the Origenian notions of universal divine goodness and libertarian human freedom. Throughout his life, More subscribed to the ancient theology of the pre-existence of souls and took issue with the early modern philosophies of Thomas Hobbes, René Descartes and Baruch de Spinoza. His vision of God’s goodness, experienced in his early school years at Eton, became the cornerstone of an Origenist rationalism which envisaged an extended world animated by divine thought and inhabited by self-moving rational agents. More’s philosophy is the crowning attainment of the early modern rediscovery of Origen as well as a neglected major rationalist system in its own right which went on to exert decisive influence upon all subsequent western metaphysics.
The essays collected in the first part provide a detailed introduction to More’s voluminous writings. After a comprehensive general overview of his metaphysical and ethical system, the essays expound More’s historical context and his philosophical development from his early poetry in the 1640s to his mature philosophical and theological prose works of the 50s, 60s and 70s. In addition, the reception of More and Origen in the later Cambridge Origenists and in Isaac Newton is outlined. The second part contains several excerpts from More’s influential Latin works first translated into English by the editor.
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