The Waning of the Renaissance 1640-1740. Studies in the Thought and Poetry of Henry More, John Norris and Isaac Watts (review)
- Journal of the History of Philosophy
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 10, Number 3, July 1972
- pp. 361-363
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- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS 361 contact (action and passion) and this results in "accidents." In his later works, Hobbes rejects much of this "vain philosophy," especially the Cartesian hypothesis of incorporeal species that act on the mind rather than on the body. Hobbes continued to assert that sense experience belongs to natural science of bodies in motion. The rational mind of man makes order out of sense experience by "geometrical generation" of forms and figures and mathematical laws. Legal science (including both natural and civil laws) is the "reckoning" of motions by a proper use of symbols and speech. All this suggests, though Gargani does not insist on it, that Hobbes's early concerns were with a two-fold understanding of human laws and conduct (de homine): on the one hand de corpore, and on the other, de cive. Hobbes gradually developed by a series of revisions both kinds of science (of body and of order) especially as they relate to man. He gradually realized the ontological significance of "bodies politic." But "spiritual bodies" there are none on earth; their place is in "heaven." On earth, there are, in addition to physical bodies, the two legal orders: minds and commonwealths. These are moral, not spiritual bodies. Gargani is concerned primarily with the persistent attempts of Hobbes to be a natural scientist of natural laws of bodies in motion, without departing from his ideal of "mathematical" science. He learned by more or less bitter experience that the natural scientists of his day, though they were using mathematical instruments and "conventional" methods, had to make "hypotheses" and rely on the probabilities of experimental evidence. Hobbes was primarily concerned with rational laws (not "common " laws) and did not share Francis Bacon's love of experiment, though he shared his ideal of philosophy. Following practically all interpreters of Hobbes, Gargani describes Hobbes's analysis of bodies in motion as "material" and "mechanistic." These terms are not used by Hobbes. For him, "corporeal beings" or substances were not necessarily "material" and "necessary" relations were not "mechanical." It is especially anachronistic to claim that Hobbes treated "agents" and "patients" mechanically, and it is false to regard him as an "atomist." HERBERTW. SCHNEIDER Claremont, California The Waning o/ the Renaissance 1640-1740. Studies in the Thought and Poetry of Henry More, John Norris and Isaac Watts. By John Hoyles. International Archives of the History of Ideas. No. 39. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971. Pp. xvii+265) The cart is clearly placed before the horse in this attempt to consider the work of a single author as representative of an intellectual-literary movement and then to draw conclusions applying to the whole movement from the analysis of this one author. Usually it is individual authors who are appraised in the light of the characteristics attributed to intellectual movements. The three authors selected for analysis, moreover, have more relationship to a literary genre, that of Christian poetry, than to either of the three movements in question, the Renaissance, the Metaphysical tradition, and the Enlightenment. For the Renaissance, a better example than More would be Bacon; for the seventeenth century, Hobbes rather than Norris; and for the Enlightenment, Shaftesbury rather than Watts. It is not until the second half of Mr. Hoyles's book that he reveals the reason for his particular choices, that the focus of his inquiry is 362 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY "religious lyricism" (p. 143). The reader is justified in asking whether this genre has anything at all to do with such concepts as Renaissance and Enlightenment. The assumption on which this book is written is that a correlation exists between literary style and intellectual movements, but this premise is certainly not demonstrated in the work of the three minor religious poets selected for analysis. The author's most sustained effort consists in uncovering an alleged parallel between Cartesian dualism and the fondness for antithesis in Augustan poetry (p. 233). This particular connection between style and subject matter cannot be demonstrated to be anything but purely gratuitous. To complicate matters, Mr. Hoyles's great interest is "the eventual rise of Romanticism," and much of his argument is devoted to disparagement of the literary traditions between Renaissance and Romanticism, particularly...