Bodies of Thought: Science, Religion, and the Soul in the Early Enlightenment
Examining the development of a secular, purely material conception of human beings in the early Enlightenment, Bodies of Thought provides a fresh perspective on the intellectual culture of this period, and challenges certain influential interpretations of irreligious thought and the 'Radical Enlightenment'. Beginning with the debate on the soul in England, in which political and religious concerns were intertwined, and ending with the eruption of materialism onto the public stage in mid-eighteenth-century France, Ann Thomson looks at attempts to explain how the material brain thinks without the need for an immaterial and immortal soul. She shows how this current of thinking fed into the later eighteenth-century 'Natural History of Man', the earlier roots of which have been overlooked by many scholars. Although much attention has been paid to the atheistic French materialists, their link to the preceding period has been studied only partially, and the current interest in what is called the 'Radical Enlightenment' has served to obscure rather than enlighten this history. By bringing out the importance of both Protestant theological debates and medical thinking in England, and by following the different debates on the soul in Holland and France, this book shows that attempts to find a single coherent strand of radical irreligious thought running through the early Enlightenment, coming to fruition in the second half of the eighteenth century, ignore the multiple channels which composed Enlightenment thinking.
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accused animal spirits arguments atheistic attack Bayle belief body Boerhaave Boerhaave’s Boyle lectures brain Buffon Cartesian century Christian Church claims clandestine Clerc conception concerning Coward criticism Cudworth Cuenz defended deism deists demonstrate deny despite developed Diderot discussion doctrine Dodwell Dodwell’s eighteenth eighteenth-century Encyclopédie England Epicurean existence explain France freethinkers French Glisson God’s Helvétius Henry Herman Boerhaave heterodox Hobbes humans ideas immaterial soul immortal soul influence insists intellectual irreligion irreligious John Toland l’âme La Mettrie latitudinarian Layton Leibniz Letters to Serena linked Locke Locke’s Maizeaux materialism materialistic matter mechanical mechanical philosophy Mettrie Mettrie’s moral mortalist motion nature ofthe opinion organization pantheism particular philosophy physiology Pierre Bayle Pierre Des Maizeaux political principle published Radical Enlightenment reason refers religion religious reply resurrection Saint-Hyacinthe Scriptures Second Thoughts seen sensation seventeenth-century Socinianism soul’s immortality Spinoza theological theory thinking Toland Willis Willis’s