IRF Calder - John Dee Studied as an English Neo Platonist Thesis 1953 Edition Vol I Text (32.8 MB)

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Category 1:  Mystic and Occultism
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Author:      IRF Calder
Format:      eBook
The purpose of the present study is to explore the thought of John Dee, his general theories and particular achievements, in so far as these can be reconstructed from all available evidence, and to examine these in their contemporary intellectual setting, in relation to the current controversies of his day, and the standards of knowledge then prevailing. The justification for so detailed an autopsy is, briefly, the plea that Dee may properly be considered a typical, though outstanding, example and exponent of sixteenth century English scientific neo-Platonism -- a movement which made a significant, if somewhat neglected, contribution to later and more generally appreciated development in science and philosophy.

The present work is the first reasonably complete and large-scale survey of the speculations and achievements of the most eminent man of science of Elizabethan England. It is based on a study of all Dee's traceable printed works and surviving manuscripts. Though biography has been throughout only a secondary consideration, new materials discovered during the investigation -- information hitherto unknown, neglected, or generally inaccessible -- has usually been fairly fully incorporated, while an attempt has been made, for the first time, to provide full and detailed reference and documentation for the sources of all establishable facts concerning Dee cited here, and the bibliographies contain what it is believed is a fairly comprehensive catalogue of such works as make any significant mention of him. The general theme and purpose is to locate Dee within a sixteenth century current of scientifically orientated "neo-Platonism," the distinguishing characteristics of which are discussed in an introductory chapter (and which, it is argued, made important contributions to the development of scientific theory and practice), to exhibit him as a thoroughly representative though outstanding champion of such mathematical idealism in this age, and to reveal a unity in outlook, aims and methods informing the apparent wide variety of his multifarious endeavours, by tracing their organic connections with his central philosophical position.

I.R.F. Calder, Ph.D., University of London