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BOOK REVIEWS 343 Descartes was or strived to be a direct realist. It is in fact most instructive that this question remains open, for it accentuates the value of examining historical texts from limited but explicit viewpoints. By considering a plausible hypothesis that in itself may be neither confirmable nor disconfirmable, O'Neil provides a model for analytic work in the history of philosophy. RICHARDA. WATSON Washington University The Newtonians and the English Revolution. By Margaret C. Jacob. (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1976. Pp. 288. $14.50) That scientific ideas have been adapted to serve many masters need hardly create any more wonder than the fact that science itself has a history. Only slightly less controversial is the author's claim that the "success" of a particular scientific orientation may well be connected to the facility with which it can be invested with polemical relevance. Conditioned as we are to the proliferation of at least rhetorical references to entropy, particle-wave duality, and uncertainty in contexts where their application is curious if not baffling, we accept placidly Jacob's discovery that similar things were also perpetrated on Newton's science. Those who follow the swelling currents of Newton scholarship would not attempt to exonerate the master from having done very much the same thing himself. Indeed, it is almost platitudinous to observe, after all that has been written, that Newton shared the transient concerns that motivated his propagandists and lieutenants. But Professor Jacob's book is not primarily about Newton. Nor is it about what most students have traditionally meant by "Newtonianism." Rather, her intention is to focus on its "social meaning." She virtually identifies this new dimension with the social and political program of latitudinarian or low church Anglicanism, formulated at least partially in response to its understanding of the revolution settlement of 1688-1689. Provided that we remember that "no single definition can or should be given for latitudinarians" (p. 29), this "form of English Protestantism" may be identified with a program to Christianize the market economy that prevailed after 1689 (p. 68). By utilizing "science and natural philosophy" as "indispensable catalysts," this transformation was to be effected not only in society but in Christianity itself. Jacob explains that "if nature could appear to operate according to certain mechanical principles directly controlled by a providential deity and discernible to man, then human desires for power and the acquisition of fortune could be allowed free expression" (p. 70). These latitudinarian or moderate churchmen who, after 1689, came to dominate the Ecclesia Anglicana, repudiated the worst excesses of that rapacious egoism they associated with Hobbes, and also the equally disruptive threat to order contained in sectarianism. Their ideal of a via media espoused restrained self-interest and quiet respect for what Burke called the "decent drapery of life"--in short, business as usual. The latitudinarians, Jacob argues, were able "to synthesize the operations of market society and the workings of nature in such a way as to render the market society natural" (p. 51). No doubt other readers will be able to divine the significance of this declaration; I confess, I do not. "Possessive individualism" was anathematized, not only because it was socially disruptive, but also because it jeopardized the hegemony of the church. Of course, high and dry Anglicans controlling the Lower House of Convocation, in spite of a latitudinarian plurality on the Episcopal Bench, had other ideas concerning the genuine threat to the viability of their Establishment. Convocation, parenthetically, instituted proceedings against Dr. Samuel Clarke for heterodoxy, and William Whiston was excluded from his university post for what he called his "Eusebianism." Newton's own anti-Trinitarianismwas suspected and deplored. The moderates, in any case, were in a hurry to come to terms with the revolution settlement and to recommend the "Whole Duty of Man" (in Tillotson's words) to sensible Arminian 344 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY Protestants. According to their critics, the latitudinarian notion of what was "essential" for salvation was Deism in all but name. Jacob is apparently of another mind. More central to the author's purpose than the doctrinal position of progressive churchmen is the "linkage" of their social gospel with Newton's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 343-345
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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