The rejection of scholasticism -- Bacon and the rehabilitation of nature -- Sir Thomas Browne -- On scriptural interpretation -- The philosophical quest for truth-Descartes -- The philosophical quest for truth-Hobbes -- Rational theology -- Rational theology: the Cambridge Platonists -- Joseph Glanvill -- The heroic poem in a scientific age -- John Locke -- Postscript: on Wordsworth and the Locke tradition.
Cambridge Professor Basil Willey wrote this volume as a companion to his preceding work on the Seventeenth Century Background. Whereas the 17th C. key word was "Truth," he maintains the 18th C key word was "Nature." Organized in 12 chapters including "The Wisdom of God in the Creation, Cosmic Toryism, Natural Morality--Shaftesbury, Nature in Satire, Jos. Priestley and the Socinian Moonlight, and Nature in Wordsworth.