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Philosophy - Philosophical Traditions | The Metaphysics of Henry More

The Metaphysics of Henry More

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  • A fully systematic and sustained examination of More's own highly systematic metaphysics, which one could not get from a multitude of discrete, self-contained articles
  • Several new insights into More's philosophy that have thus far been missed altogether in the existing secondary literature
  • Considerable light is also shed on the ideas of other , better-known figures, such as Descartes or Newton

From his correspondence with Descartes in the 1640s to his discussions with Isaac Newton in the 1680s, Henry More (1614–1687) was a central figure in seventeenth-century philosophy. Notwithstanding his occasional portrayal as a rather eccentric anachronism, excessively wedded to the Neoplatonism of the past, the fact is that he was involved in some of the most cutting-edge debates of the day, and engaged with most of the giants of that great age of geniuses. The present work takes More seriously as a subtle and systematic early-modern metaphysician. It explores his ideas in relation to those of his contemporaries, both friends and foes, while also taking care not to neglect his Neoplatonic heritage; but it also reveals just how original a thinker he was in his own right. Topics include More’s evolving conception of Hyle (or first matter); his account of the physical world, a world of atoms without void; his theory of immaterial extension, and the divine real space that underlay this world; his attitude to mechanical explanations in physics, and his preferred theory of the Spirit of Nature; his developing attitude to the notion of living matter; and his views on the life of the human soul, before as well as after its union with the human body.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Atomist plenum - Cambridge Platonism - Cambridge Platonists - Early English reception of Descartes - Early modern atomism - Early modern neoplatonism - Enchiridion metaphysicum - Henry More - Holenmerianism - Immaterial extension - Incorporeal extension - Indiscerpibility - Newtonian absolute space - Nullibism - Pre-existence of the soul - Seventeenth-century metaphysics - Spissitude - immortality of the soul

Related subjects » History of Science - Philosophical Traditions - Religious Studies

Table of contents 

1. Introduction.- 1.1. The Place of Henry More in Seventeenth-Century Thought.- 1.2. More’s Goals, Targets and Influences.- 1.3. Epistemology and Rhetoric.- 2. Atoms and Void.- 2.1. Background.- 2.2. Henry More on Atoms.- 2.3. The Void.- 2.4. The Extension of the Universe, and Extramundane Void.- 2.5. Impenetrability.- 2.6. Atomic Shape. 3. Hyle, Atoms and Space.- 3.1. Background.- 3.2. Hyle, Atoms and Space in More’s Philosophical Poems.- 3.3. More’s Equivocation on the Nature of Hyle, 1653–1662.- 3.4. More’s Mature Conception of Hyle.- 4. Real Space.- 4.1. Background.- 4.2. The Immobility of the Parts of Space I: More’s Cylinder.- 4.3. The Immobility of the Parts of Space II: The Reciprocity of Motion.- 4.4. What Space Could Not Be.- 4.5. The Reception of More’s Theories of Space.- 5. Spiritual Presence.- 5.1. Background: Holenmerianism and Nullibism.- 5.2. More’s Refutation of Nullibism.- 5.3. More and Holenmerianism.- 5.4. Time and Eternity.- 6. Spiritual Extension.- 6.1. Introduction.- 6.2. Indiscerpibility.- 6.3. Penetrability.- 6.4. Self-penetration, Essential Spissitude, and Hylopathia.- 6.5. Divine Real Space.- 6.6. Divine Space before and after Henry More.- 7. Living Matter.- 7.1. Life and Soul.- 7.2. Gradual Monism in More’s Philosophical Poems.- 7.3. Life and Causation in the More-Descartes Correspondence.- 7.4. More’s Subsequent Reversal: the Case of Francis Glisson.- 7.5. Anne Conway and Francis Mercury van Helmont.- 7.6. The Eagle-Boy-Bee.- 7.7. More–Conway–van Helmont–Leibniz.- 8. Mechanism and its Limits.- 8.1. Introduction.- 8.2. Mechanism in More’s Early Works.- 8.3. The Limits of Mechanism: Some Case Studies.- 8.4. ‘Mixed Mechanics’.- 8.5. The Fate of the Mechanical Philosophy: Boyle, Newton and beyond.- 9. The Spirit of Nature.- 9.1. Background.- 9.2. Psyche, Physis, the Mundane Spright, and the Spirit of the World.- 9.3. The Spirit of Nature, and Particular Spirits.- 9.4. Occasionalism and Bungles.- 9.5. The Fate of the Spirit of Nature.- 10. The Life of the Soul.- 10.1. The Pre-Existence of the Soul.- 10.2. The Immortality of the Soul, and Aerial and Aethereal Vehicles.- 10.3. The Animal and Divine Lives.- 10.4. The Fall and Rise of the Soul.- Editions Cited.

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