Early Modern Philosophy

The Cambridge Platonists

Who were the Cambridge Neoplatonists?

The founder of the group was understood to be Benjamin Whichcote (1609–1683). Whichcote called reason “the candle of the Lord.” Henry More (1614–1687), Ralph Cudworth (1617–1688), and John Smith (1616–1652) were three further distinguished Cambridge Platonists. (Cudworth was the father of John Locke’s lifelong friend and lady of the household in which he spent his last years, Damaris Cudworth.) Additional Cambridge Platonists of note were: Nathaniel Culverwell (1619–1651), Peter Sterry (1613–1672), George Rust (d. 1670), John Worthington (1618–1671), and Simon Patrick (1626–1707). Whichcote, More, Cudworth, and Smith were associated with Emmanuel College. Calvinism was the leading doctrine there and they all rebelled against it. Henry More was the most intellectually active member of the group.


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