Martin Clifford and his <i>Treatise of humane reason</i> (1674)

Giovanni Tarantino

in Philosophy and Religion in Enlightenment Britain

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199227044
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739309 | DOI:
Martin Clifford and his Treatise of humane reason (1674)

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In 1674, Martin Clifford, a secretly atheist headmaster entrusted with the task of moulding the future governing class among young men in London, anonymously published a treatise calling for a critical confutation of constituted authority, faith in one’s own rational convictions, and tolerance towards other people’s opinions and beliefs. Clifford’s book circulated widely in erudite circles in Europe, in the form of a French translation by the Unitarian William Popple, adding fresh impetus to the long-running debate on toleration between Jurieu, Saurin, and Bayle. Clifford’s (and Locke’s) translator, Popple, had direct experience of what it was like to be a member of a minority both in post-Revocation France — he was a Protestant exile there — and in England, as a Unitarian rationalist excluded from the benefits of the Toleration Act. Jurieu claimed that Bayle drew on the ‘libertine theology’ expressed in the Traité de la raison humaine, the watered-down French version of the Treatise.

Keywords: Pierre Bayle; Martin Clifford; deism; Pierre Jurieu; John Locke; William Popple; reason; toleration; Unitarianism

Chapter.  10969 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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