By Frederick Charles Copleston
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Additional resources for A History of Philosophy [Vol V]
S. 4: JIl. p. 44 0 • Ibid. • (Euvres de Descartes. • v. pp. 249 f . THE CAMBRIDGE PLATONISTS 61 What has been said about Cudworth's theory of the idea of the perfect as being prior to the idea of imperfection indicates clearly enough his opposition to empiricism. Indeed, he does not hesitate to declare that the statement that the human mind is originally 'a mere blank or white sheet of paper that hath nothing at all in it, but what was scribbled upon it by the objects of sense' ,I implies that the human soul is generated from matter or that it is 'nothing but a higher modification of matter'.
2 Here we have a psychological inquiry. This inquiry into our ideas covers the first and second books of the Essay. In the first book Locke argues against the theory of innate ideas, while in the second he gives his own theories about our ideas, their origin and nature. But, as one might expect when an idea is defined as whatever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks, discussion of ideas is sometimes discussion of our ideas of things and sometimes of the things of which we have ideas.
With regard to dogmatic differences they thus tended to adopt a tolerant and 'broad' outlook and were known as 'Latitudinarians'. This is not to say that they rejected the idea of revealed truth or that they refused to admit 'mysteries'. They were not rationalists in the modem sense. But they strongly objected to insistence on obscure doctrines, the relevance of which to the moral life was not clear. indeed of all religion, they found in the moral life. Doctrinal disputes and disputes about ecclesiastical government and institution they regarded as being of secondary importance in 54 55 A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY-V THE CAMBRIDGE PLATONISTS comparison with a sincerely moral and Christian life.