Measuring the Distance between Locke and Toland, Jonathan S. Marko
Jonathan S. Marko

Measuring the Distance between Locke and Toland

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Ever since Bishop Stillingfleet accused John Locke of having unwittingly paved the way with his Essay for the alleged heresy promulgated in John Toland's Christianity Not Mysterious, the latter two thinkers and works have been consistently joined in histories of philosophy covering the rise of natural religion in England. While scholars have generally thought that Locke got the better of the good bishop in their subsequent written exchanges initiated by the charge, they appear merely to assume that Stillingfleet correctly read Toland and that Locke accepts that reading. Perhaps the most obvious piece of evidence favoring that stance is that while Locke clearly admits “above reason” doctrines, Toland dismisses them: Christianity is not mysterious! It is curious, however, that Toland scholars readily point out many concepts that Toland used as being the same as or different from Lockean notions about which many Locke scholars are admittedly perplexed. Through patient exposition of relevant texts and letters, deconstruction of scholarly works, and careful reasoning, this book shows that Toland's deviations from Locke regarding reason and faith are far more minor than anyone has concluded. Stillingfleet was correct to connect them, but was incorrect in the way that he did it.
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360 printed pages
Original publication



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