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By Frederick Charles Copleston

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S. 4: JIl. p. 44 0 • Ibid. • (Euvres de Descartes. • v. pp. 249 f . THE CAMBRIDGE PLATONISTS 61 What has been said about Cudworth's theory of the idea of the perfect as being prior to the idea of imperfection indicates clearly enough his opposition to empiricism. Indeed, he does not hesitate to declare that the statement that the human mind is originally 'a mere blank or white sheet of paper that hath nothing at all in it, but what was scribbled upon it by the objects of sense' ,I implies that the human soul is generated from matter or that it is 'nothing but a higher modification of matter'.

I do not mean by this that he postulated an evolutionary continuity between inanimate matter, plants, sensitive life and rational life. On the contrary, he denied that life can proceed from inanimate matter, and he denounced Hobbes's account of consciousness and thought in materialist terms. 'There is nothing in body or matter, 1 The Tnu Intellectual System of the Universe, 3. 37; I. p. 21 7. , 5. I; II, p. 616. • 5. 4; III, p. 'l Moreover the rational soul of man is naturally immortal, whereas the sensitive souls of brutes are not.

Locke was, of course, convinced that the origin of all our ideas can easily be explained without postulating innate ideas. And for this reason alone he was prepared to exclude the theory.

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A History of Philosophy [Vol V] by Frederick Charles Copleston


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