Cambridge Platonists (586 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

  • Marion Spies (Bergische Universität-GHS Wuppertal)


The Cambridge Platonists were a group of seventeenth-century English philosophers and theologians attached to various Cambridge colleges. It was Benjamin Whichcote (1609-1683) who - in 1636 - first publicly uttered the tenets characteristic of Cambridge Platonism. Equally important were Henry More (1614-1687), Ralph Cudworth (1617-1689), and John Smith (1618-1662); somewhat less influential were Peter Sterry (1613-1672) and Nathaniel Culverwell (1619-1651). Most of the group’s writings were published posthumously.

The Cambridge Platonists greatly esteemed Plato, as well as the neo-platonic philosopher Plotin and the early Christian Origen. With a strong desire to reform organized religion, they reacted against the …

Spies, Marion. "Cambridge Platonists". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 May 2004
[, accessed 24 October 2016.]