The concept of enthusiasm in Cambridge Platonism
The aim of the present essay is to analyse the thought of Cambridge Platonists concerning religious enthusiasm, and their concept of fanaticism. In seventeenth century England the problem of religious enthusiasm was perceived as a real danger, both social and religious. The ever increasing number of sects that claimed they were able to receive individually divine revelations through private inspiration, actually resulted in generally discrediting authentic divine revelations from the Holy Scriptures. In their effort to fight against these rampant trends, Cambridge Platonists reappraised the role of “reason” and “temperance”, which they adopted as a standard to assess the several religious impostures that marked their time. Their theological “rationalism”, though far from deistic rationalism, all the same guided their purpose, shared by numerous thinkers (even of later times), to outline the role of man’s rational powers as related to God’s.