Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 March 2021
The conflicts between concepts in the third phase of the first Modern metaparadigm were between the traditional manner of understanding human existence and the new positions insofar as final cause, formal cause, material cause and efficient cause. The prominence of the Divine still resisted the separation of powers, as it were, between the human and the Divine. The stations of aristocracy, propertied commoner and commoner persisted. Every side of the debates sought to distinguish their thinking with helpmeets from tradition, yet also taking, when necessary, insights of the new modernism. Nonetheless, this time was characterized in all the disciplines as the “conflict between the ancients and the moderns.” Writing on this of England in this period, Joseph M. Levine states in a book that takes up this controversy, which was in every nation of Europe in this time:
In the following pages I have tried to characterize the high culture of Restoration England by concentrating on the broad and sometimes boisterous argument that broke out between the ancients and the moderns and that seemed for a time to have engaged and divided nearly everyone … Undoubtedly, there is something paradoxical in suggesting that it is through an argument that one may hope to characterize a culture … Unfortunately, the history of argument has not, I think, always had its proper place in the telling of intellectual, much less of cultural history.
The leading minds who addressed this controversy in a way that created new modern insights in historical thought, literature and science knew the ancient, but challenged many of their precepts with their own new insights, drawn from empirical study. Below, an introduction to the new ideas:
Slavery is so vile and miserable an Estate of Man, and so directly opposite to the generous Temper and Courage of our Nation; that ‘tis hardly to be conceived, that an Englishman, much less a Gentleman, should plead for’t. And truly, I should have taken Sr. Rt. Filmer's Patriarcha as any other Treatise, which would perswade all Men, that they are Slaves … had not the Gravity of the Title and Epistle, the Picture on the Front of the Book, and the Applause that followed it, required me to believe, that the Author and Publisher were both in earnest.