John Selden, English humanist polymath

John Selden, English humanist polymath

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Caption: John Selden (1584-1654), English polymath. Selden was born at Worthing, Sussex, and was educated at Chichester and at Hart Hall, Oxford. In 1603 he was admitted to Clifford's Inn, then a year later to Inner Temple and in 1612 he was called to the bar. He was a prolific writer on English history and law, one of his early books was banned provoking Selden to stand for parliament. He catalogued the Arundel Marbles, ancient Greek carvings that establish important dates and depict a system of measurement based on the human body. Selden believed in free will and that the state was supreme in church matters. He proposed a philosophy in which moral motivation was entirely egoistic and that civil law arises from social contract. He served in parliament in the years leading up to the English Civil War, siding with the commons against King Charles I.

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Keywords: 1600s, 17th, archaeology, archeology, arundel, barrister, century, classicist, erastian, greek, historian, history, humanist, john, jurist, law, lawyer, marbles, member, parliament, philosopher, politician, polymath, portrait, selden, vertical, writer

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