Platonism in Seventeenth-Century Cambridge
The Cambridge Platonists invoked reason as the ultimate arbiter in religious disagreements that bedevilled their age. In the writings of Plato and his followers they found a linguistic currency that afforded both intellectual authority and the means to achieve their goal of a rational religion. Although Smith’s Queens’ bequest lacks the writings of Plato (perhaps because the College already had them) it includes the works of many Plato followers. Authors displayed here (Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Proclus) are representative of a school of ancient thinkers now known as neo-platonists. Their interest in the spiritual and cosmological aspects of Platonic thought synthesized with the philosophies of Egyptian and Jewish thinkers. These latter traditions are also well reflected in Smith’s collection.
Image from title page of Galileo’s Il saggiatore, [D. 20. 15.] Please see below.