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Ralph Cudworth

Ralph Cudworth

Aller 1617 - Cambridge 1688

Philosopher and English theologian, Cudworth studied at Cambridge. A professor of Hebrew (1645), in 1654 he was elected master of Christ’s College. Despite his connections to the Commonwealth government, Cudworth suffered no retaliations after the restoration of the monarchy and he was granted prebendary of Gloucester in 1678. He was one of the protagonists of the rebirth of Platonism in 17th century English philosophy, in open contrast with Hobbes’ mechanistic tendencies and with deistic inclinations.

Main works: A Discourse concerning the True Notion of the Lord’s Supper (1642); The Union of Christ and the Church, in a Shadow (1642); The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678); Treatise on Eternal and Immutable Morality (1731); Treatise on Free Will (1838); The True Intellectual System of the Universe: the first part, wherein all the Reason and Philosophy of Atheism is confuted and its impossibility demonstrated (1678); A Treatise concerning eternal and immutable Morality (1731); A Treatise of Freewill (1838).

Bibliography: L. Gysi, Platonism and Cartesianism in the Philosophy of Ralph Cudworth, Bern, Lang 1962; D.P. Walker, Il concetto di spirito o anima in Henry More e Ralph Cudworth, Napoli, Bibliopolis 1986; G. Musca, «Omne genus animalium». Antichità e Medioevo in una biblioteca privata inglese del Seicento, «Quaderni medievali», XXV, 1988, pp. 25-76; J.A. Passmore, Ralph Cudworth: An Interpretation, Bristol, Thoemmes 1990 (1951); B. Lotti, Ralph Cudworth e l’idea di natura plastica, Udine, Campanotto 2000; A. Gatti, Et in Britannia Plato. Studi sull’estetica del platonismo inglese, Bologna, CLUEB 2001; The Cambridge Platonists, S. Hutton (ed.), in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy; L. Simonutti, Biblioteche anglicane del Sei-Settecento e filosofia d’Oltremanica, in Biblioteche filosofiche private in età moderna e contemporanea, Atti del Convegno di Cagliari, 21-23 aprile 2009, a cura di F.M. Crasta, Firenze, Le Lettere 2011, pp. 109-124.

Bibliotheca Cudworthiana, sive Catalogus variorum librorum plurimis facultatibus. Insignium Bibliothecæ instructissimæ Rev. Doct. Dr. Cudworth ... Quorum auctio habenda est Londini ... secundo die Februarii, 1690/1. Per Edvardum Millingtonum. [London,]: Mr. Mortlock, etc., 1690/1. 46 p., in 4º.

The catalogue of Cudworth’s library is divided into six categories: theological books (487, plus 67 ‘omissi’), miscellaneous books (historical, geographical, literary, poetical, dictionaries, etc, 664), mathematical, medical and philosophical books (392), ‘Divinity, History’ (206 volumes primarily concerning religious questions after the Reformation and English history), French, Belgian, Italian and Spanish books (72), treatises (39 descriptions, mostly miscellaneous volumes or collections of works and brochures, prevalently in Latin and about religion, but also about history, medicine, etc); the categories are further subdivided according to format.
On the back of the title page, in the notice to the reader, the trustee indicates that the section of rabbinical texts is not present in the catalogue, having been bequeathed elsewhere in Cudworth’s will (G. Musca, «Omne genus animalium», cited in the bibliography, notes that there is no indication of a similar bequest in Cudworth’s will). Cudworth’s works in manuscript form were instead left to his son John and then passed on to his daughter Damaris and are now at the British Museum.
The copy used has an addition and a modification on the back of the title page (presumably a proofreading correction) and, alongside each volume the final sales price and name of purchaser is indicated, or there is written ‘not sold’ or ‘not found’.

British Library, London 
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
John Rylands University Library of Manchester

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Olivia Catanorchi (Pisa)
last modify: 2023-12-04 19:29:07