Is God a mindless vegetable? Cudworth on Stoic theology
Sellars, J. (2011) Is God a mindless vegetable? Cudworth on Stoic theology. Intellectual History Review, 21 (2). pp. 121-133. ISSN 1749-6977
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17496977.2011.574339
In the sixteenth century the Stoics were deemed friends of humanist Christians, but by the eighteenth century they were attacked as atheists. What happened in the intervening period? In the middle of this period falls Ralph Cudworth’s True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678), which contains a sustained analysis of Stoic theology. In Cudworth’s complex taxonomy Stoicism appears twice, both as a form of atheism and an example of imperfect theism. Whether the Stoics are theists or atheists hinges on whether their God is conscious and intelligent, or alive but unconscious like a plant or vegetable. Is God sentient or is he a mindless vegetable?