Thinking Matter: Materialism in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Thinking Matter was first published in 1984. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
This book, a reevaluation of a major issue in modern philosophy, explores the controversy that grew out of John Locke's suggestion, in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), that God could give to matter the power of thought. The concept of "thinking matter," as Locke's notion came to be described, offered a threat to those who held orthodox beliefs, especially to their views on the nature and immortality of the soul.
In Thinking Matter,John Yolton traces this controversy from theologian Ralph Cudworth's 1678 manifesto, The True Intellectual System of the Universe: Wherein, All the Reason and Philosophy of Atheism is Confuted; and Its Impossibility Demonstrated — an attack on ancient versions of naturalism—down to the philosophical and scientific studies of Joseph Priestley in the late eighteenth century.