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Thomas Traherne in Tradition: An Analysis of Platonist Cognition through the Writings of Plotinus, Ficino, Traherne, and Hobbes

GUERTIN, FRANK,JOHN (2017) Thomas Traherne in Tradition: An Analysis of Platonist Cognition through the Writings of Plotinus, Ficino, Traherne, and Hobbes. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Since the initial discovery of Traherne at the turn of the twentieth century, studies of his work have often neglected theological and philosophical analyses. Early caricatures of Traherne as a proto-Romantic have also colored his reception as a serious theologian. By placing the critical emphasis on the literary dynamics within the corpus, the intellectual history influencing Traherne and the construction of his ideas has subsequently been lightly addressed in scholarship over the years.

This dissertation presents Traherne as a sophisticated thinker who draws on the resources of Christian Platonism in an effort to create a philosophy for life. The argument puts him in dialogue with three other writers he knew well: Plotinus, Marsilio Ficino, and Thomas Hobbes. Plotinus and Ficino help locate the Platonist philosophical stream Traherne participates in. Thomas Hobbes helps illuminate the nascent empiricism indicative of the early modern period, a mechanical philosophy Traherne critiques in various ways.

With all four voices engaged, the topics of evil, soul, sense, and memory are investigated in order to reveal the textures of a Trahernian anthropology. A portrait then emerges where Traherne opens up, for the reader, possibilities of transformation arising from ordinary experience. The argument ultimately provides a re-interpretation of innocence in view of Traherne’s Christian Platonism, showing how the concept of innocence works as a Platonic call to transformation and originary wholeness.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Traherne, Ficino, Hobbes, Plotinus, Christian Platonism, history of ideas, early modern philosophy, cognition, Plotinian metaphysics
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Aug 2017 11:27

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