Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Hobbes and Contemporary Philosophy > Robert Greville, lord Brooke
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

XII. Hobbes and Contemporary Philosophy.

§ 3. Robert Greville, lord Brooke.

Much more important is the work of lord Brooke, in whom the puritan temper was combined with the mystic. Robert Greville, cousin and adopted son of Fulke Greville, first lord Brooke, was born in 1608, and entered parliament in 1628. In the civil war, he acted as a general of the parliamentary army, gained the victory of Kineton in 1642, took Stratfordon-Avon in February, 1643, and was killed at the attack on Lichfield a few weeks later. He was an ardent puritan, and, in 1641, wrote A Discourse opening the nature of that Episcopacie which is exercised in England, aimed at the political power of the bishops. In the same year was published his philosophical work The Nature of Truth. In this work, he refuses to distinguish between philosophy and theology. “What is true philosophy but divinity?” he asks, “and if it be not true, it is not philosophy.” He appeals to reason and reflection alone for an answer to his question; but his method differs from that of Herbert of Cherbury in dealing with the same subject: it is less logical and thorough, and more mystical. He had “dived deep,” his editor says, “into prophetic mysteries.” He was also well read in speculative, especially Neoplatonic, writings. The revival of Platonism had already affected English literature; its influence may be seen in the works of Sir Thomas More, and in Davies’s Nosce Teipsum, and it had coloured the Aristotelianism of Everard Digby; but Brooke was the first Englishman to present in an original treatise the fundamental ideas which, later in the same century, bore riper fruit in the works of the Cambridge Platonists. The two doctrines of the unity of reality and the emanation of all things from God rule his thought; and he thinks that difficulties about truth are solved when we see that the understanding, the soul, light and truth are all one: “all being is but one emanation from above, diversified only in our apprehension.” Faith and reason differ in degree only, not in nature; knowledge and affection are but several shapes under which truth is present to our view: “what good we know, we are; our act of understanding being an act of union.” The author goes on to explain that all the diversities of things—even space and time themselves—are without reality and are only appearances to our apprehension. The whole physical world, accordingly, is merely phenomenal; in it, there is no true being, nor are there any true causes, though it is allowable, “when you see some things precede others,” to “call the one a cause the other an effect.” In these expressions have been found anticipations of the idealism of Berkeley and of Hume’s theory of causation. In presenting his doctrine, Brooke wrote like a seer, rather than as a logician who has tested its consistency and adequacy. But he had the seer’s vision, and the vision gave him courage, “for if we knew this truth,” he says,
that all things are one, how cheerfully, with what modest courage, should we undertake any action, reincounter any occurrence, knowing that that distinction of misery and happiness, which now so perplexeth us, has no being except in the brain.

  Religious philosophy Culverwel  

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