[SydPhil] Notification: James Lancaster @ Wed 21 Mar 2018 13:00 - 14:30 (AEDT) (Seminars)

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Tue Mar 20 12:59:49 AEDT 2018

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Title: James Lancaster
 From Matters of Faith to Matters of Fact: The Problem of Priestcraft  
in Early Modern EnglandThis paper details philosophical responses to the  
problem posed by the existence, whether real or perceived, of  
“priestcraft”, a problem that boiled down to a fear that, if the custodians  
of God’s tabernacle were corrupt, so too were the contents of the  
tabernacle. It first explores the attempts of Edward Herbert and Thomas  
Hobbes to guarantee the truth of revealed matters of faith in response to  
their perception of widespread priestcraft, arguing that while each sought  
to undermine sacerdotal authority, they ultimately exempted matters of  
faith from the litmus test of reason. This resulted in a  
less-than-satisfactory solution to the problem. It turns next to  
Locke’s Essay (1690) and Reasonableness of  
Christianity (1695), exploring how empirical notions of evidence,  
fact, and probability, as framed in these works, enabled a radical  
re-evaluation of the grounds of Christian faith, which subsequently  
influenced the writings of John Toland, Anthony Collins, and Peter Annet  
between the 1690s and 1740s. These “Lockean free-thinkers”, I argue, were  
in fact closer to the position of  
the Essay and Reasonableness than to the deism of  
Edward Herbert in their efforts to tackle priestcraft. Concluding, I  
propose that the problem of priestcraft served as a catalyst for early  
modern philosophers to increasingly narrow the grounds of faith, until  
faith was deemed legitimate only when grounded upon fact.
When: Wed 21 Mar 2018 13:00 – 14:30 Eastern Time - Melbourne, Sydney
Calendar: Seminars
     * Sam Shpall- creator

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