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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: March 2008

14 - The religious background of seventeenth-century philosophy

from III - God
The philosophy of the seventeenth century has often been seen as connected with a gradual march from religious orthodoxy and oppression towards pre-Enlightenment deism, agnosticism, atheism, and toleration. This chapter begins by looking at some aspects of the religious background that appear to parallel or support similar developments in the philosophy of the period. These include certain sceptical and probabilistic strains in seventeenth-century religious thought, the millenarian movement, and some strains of mystical thought. The interpretation of prophecy was most important in seventeenth-century interpretations of what was going on in the natural and human world. Then, the chapter deals with some very different features of seventeenth-century religious thought, features that led more and more to the rejection of orthodoxy. These include the increasing interest in Judaism and in other non-Christian religions, as well as direct challenges to the authority of the Bible, developments that made possible the growth of the secular philosophy of the Enlightenment.
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The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055451
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