Ralph Cudworth’s moral philosophy seems to switch between two contradictory positions about morality. In his early Sermons, he seems to ground morality in the passionate love that arises in any heart inflamed by the Holy Spirit. But in his later Treatise, he seems to insist that moral truths can only be accessed through dry, a priori abstraction. I argue that closer attention to Cudworth’s wider project resolves the apparent contradiction: Cudworth’s consistent view is that moral truths are apprehended through a special kind of cognition that combines the universality and objectivity of reason with the benevolent passion of moral sentiments.

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