Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Hobbes and Contemporary Philosophy > The critics of Hobbes
  Filmer Joseph Glanvill  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

XII. Hobbes and Contemporary Philosophy.

§ 14. The critics of Hobbes.

John Bramhall, bishop of Derry, and, afterwards, archbishop of Armagh, was one of the most vigorous and persistent of Hobbes’s critics. His first work was in defence of the royal power (1643). Afterwards he engaged in a discussion of the question of free-will with Hobbes when they were both in France. When the controversy was renewed and became public, he wrote A Defence of the True Liberty of Human Actions from Antecedent and Extrinsicall Necessity (1655). Hobbes replied, and Bramhall followed, in 1658, with Castigations of Mr. Hobbes, to which there was an appendix called “The Catching of Leviathan the Great Whale.” In this appendix, more famous than the rest of the treatise, he attacked the whole religious and political theory of Hobbes, and gave rise to the complaint of the latter that the bishop.
hath put together diverse sentences picked out of my Leviathan, which stand there plainly and firmly proved, and sets them down without their proofs, and without the order of their dependance one upon another; and calls them atheism, blasphemy, impiety, subversion of religion, and by other names of that kind.
  Two younger polemical writers may be mentioned along with Bramhall. Thomas Tenison, a future archbishop of Canterbury, was one of the young churchmen militant who must needs try their arms “in thundering upon Hobbes’s steel-cap.” In The Creed of Mr. Hobbes examined (1670), he selected a number of Hobbes’s confident assertions and set them together so as to show their mutual inconsistencies. In two dialogues, published in 1672 and 1673, John Eachard, afterwards master of St. Catharine’s hall, Cambridge, adopted a similar method, and showed no little wit and learning in his criticism.   41
  These writers are the most notable of a number of early critics of Hobbes who made no independent contributions of their own to philosophy. And their criticism dealt with results rather than with principles. A satisfactory criticism of Hobbes has to penetrate to the principles of the mechanical philosophy which he adopted, and to the view of human nature which he set forth in conformity with those principles. Criticism of this more fundamental kind was attempted by certain of the Cambridge Platonists,  5  especially by Cudworth and More;and they were fitted for the task by their sympathetic study of the spiritual philosophy of Plato in the ancient world and of Descartes in their own day—two thinkers for whom Hobbes had no appreciation.   42

Note 5. A chapter on the Cambridge Platonists will appear in the next volume of this work. [ back ]

  Filmer Joseph Glanvill  

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.