Glanvill, Joseph

Glanvill or Glanvil, Joseph

(glăn`vĭl), 1636–80, English clergyman and philosopher. He was chaplain in ordinary to Charles II and prebendary of Worcester Cathedral. An exponent of occasionalismoccasionalism,
metaphysical doctrine that denies that finite things have any active power and asserts that God is the only cause, whereas physical events and mental states are only occasions for God's action. Muslim theologians in the 8th cent.
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 and precursor to Hume, Glanvill sought to prove the inefficacy of all secondary causes, which he regarded as merely the occasion of the activity of the first cause, God. This idea was presented in The Vanity of Dogmatizing (1661), recast as Scepsis scientifica (1665). Although in later life Glanvill attested to a belief in witchcraft, his appreciation of the scientific method is evidenced by Plus Ultra; or, The Progress and Advancement of Knowledge since the Days of Aristotle (1668).


See biographies by F. Greenslet (1900) and M. E. Price (1932).

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