Collins, Anthony

Collins, Anthony,

1676–1729, English theologian; a friend of John Locke. He set forth the position of the deists and defended the cause of rational theology. His Discourse of Free Thinking (1713) was answered by many clergymen and was satirized by Jonathan Swift. His Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty (1715) is an excellent presentation of the determinist position, the theory that all events are determined by prior causes.


See study by J. O'Higgins (1970).

Collins, Anthony


Born June 21, 1676, in Heston, Middlesex; died Dec. 13, 1729, in London. English deist and student and friend of J. Locke.

Collins’ deism had a certain materialist tendency. In his Letter to Mr. Dodwell (1707), he stated that the soul may be material and raised doubts concerning its immortality. He defended determinism in a polemic against the doctrine of free will. Although he retained his faith in god, he considered himself a member of the “sect of freethinkers.” In his main work, A Discourse of Freethinking (1713), and other writings Collins sought to free thought from church dogma. His works were published anonymously and came under sharp attack from the clergy.


A Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion, new ed. London, 1741.
A Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty, new ed. Birmingham, 1790.
In Russian translation:
Angliiskie materialisty 18 v., vol. 2. Moscow, 1967.
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THE LIST OF WRITERS included in The Pushcart Prize XXVI may be more impressive than ever: fiction by Madison Smartt Bell, Russell Banks, and Ann Beattie (her first Pushcart appearance); poetry by Wole Soyinka, Donald Hall, Billy Collins, Anthony Hecht, and Daniel Hoffman; essays by Burton Raffel, David Plante, Andre Aciman, and Gary Amdahl.
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