Douglas Hedley - Reason and Beauty in Cambridge Platonism
A webinar lecture with Douglas Hedley (University of Cambridge, originally delivered August 4, 2020. Part of our summer webinar series on "Reason and Beauty in Renaissance Christian Thought and Culture," presented in collaboration with the American Cusanus Society. The Cambridge Platonists are the first modern Platonists. They are a group of English philosophers around the University of Cambridge in the seventeenth-century, in the context of reformed theology and the English Civil War. Yet while accepting the New Science of Copernicus and Galileo, they offer a fierce protest against mechanism and naturalism. Their notion of aesthetics and beauty--as historian Ernst Cassirer correctly saw--was one of the sources of the later Romantic movement. Their aesthetics has a theological foundation. As one of the Cambridge Platonists, Benjamin Whichcote (d. 1683) wrote: “There is that in God that is more beautiful than power, than will and Sovereignty, viz. His righteousness, His good-will, His justice, wisdom and the like’. In this webinar, Professor Douglas Hedley will discuss the Cambridge Platonists' thought on beauty and its theological dimension that is tied to a distinctly Platonic theory of enthusiasm or inspiration and that came to be a shaping force in 18th century thought.