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Baroque Fire (A Note On Early-Modern Angelology)

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Chapter Summary

This essay considers three closely-connected authors who flourished in an anglophone environment prone to vandalizing angelic images and largely antagonistic to scholasticism. One elegant and economical approach, adopted by Sir Kenelm Digby and Thomas White, was to argue that elements convert into one another. Finally, like Thomas White and like Sancta Clara, but armed this time with Descartes's clear and distinct theory of free agency, Antoine Legrand interprets angelic activity on the model of voluntary service, not blind obedience. He cites Descartes's Meditation IV to argue that angels love God infallibly but freely, the essence of freedom consisting not in indifference, but in self-determination. First, since angels are immaterial substances with intellect and free will, knowing that they exist saves us from the mistake of deriving our idea of God's power and wisdom from the unworthy evidence of inanimate things, which are ruled deterministically by laws.

Keywords: Angels; Antoine Legrand; God; Kenelm Digby; Sancta Clara; Thomas White



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