Announcement | John Toland (1670-1722) Centenaries Web Project

Announcement | John Toland (1670-1722) Centenaries Web Project

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John Toland (1670-1722)

– Irish-born rationalist philosopher and freethinker –

John Toland (1670-1722)

A new website dedicated to the life and work of the philosopher, John Toland (b. 1670), was launched last Sunday, 11 March (the anniversary of his death in 1722).

John Toland was an Irish-born rationalist philosopher and freethinker of the early Enlightenment period. He made important contributions to the various fields of philosophy – in what today would be regarded as both the natural and social sciences. “If you would know more of him, search his writings,” he wrote in a self-penned epitaph that appeared following his death.

The purpose of of this web-based project is to serve as a free, online resource and repository of knowledge pertaining to Toland, his writings, the times in which he lived and to the social movement that he, along with others, spearheaded and represented, with particular reference to the enduring legacy and effect.

There is a lot that has been said about John Toland and probably a lot more that could be said. This web-based project will serve the purpose of ensuring that nothing that should be said will go unsaid. This is also why we are making the material posted to this website freely available and open to anyone who may wish to contribute. Furthermore, we invite those who may wish to contribute to get in touch with us.

from the website of the John Toland centenaries web project

The unveiling of the website on the anniversary of Toland’s death is not coincidental. In fact, the date has been deliberately chosen, with an eye to the impending 350th anniversary of Toland’s birth, which will be observed on 30 November 2020 and the 300th anniversary of his death that follows less than two years later, in 2022.

John Toland commemoration in his birthplace of Ardagh on the Inishowen peninsula in Co. Donegal

We particularly encourage anyone who has an interest in these anniversaries to get in touch with us, to ensure that they are properly observed and accorded the respect that they are due. We will do our best (without fear or favour) to publicise events that are taking place, using networks and channels of communication within our reach.

John Toland (1670-1722) website is owned and managed by The Manuscript Publisher, an Irish-based publishing services provider who have published, or otherwise made available, several works by or relating to John Toland, including J.N. Duggan’s short biography and critical appraisal, Ireland’s Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar … and Heretic (2010).

This, however, is presented simply as a ‘by-the-way’ and not intended as an advertisement or an endorsement. Furthermore, we welcome correspondence from all authors, publishers, educationalists, historical societies, groups and individuals who might see some aspect of their own interest or remit reflected in this initiative.

People interested in this web project are invited to keep in touch. If you would know more, visit the website. You can also follow on Facebook and on Twitter.

Books by or about …

Physic without Physicians by John Toland

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For the last four years of his life, John Toland lived in Putney, then a parish outside London, where he took lodgings with a carpenter, Edward Hinton. It is here that he wrote a number of his important works, including Pantheisticon. When he died, on 11 March 1722, he left a legacy said to consist of not much more than "150 manuscripts piled high upon two stools."

Following his death, A Collection of Several Pieces of Mr. John Toland, in two volumes, appeared in 1726. The collection is described as "first published from his original manuscripts with some memoirs of his life and writings."

These memoirs were written by Pierre des Maizeaux, an exiled French Huguenot living in London, who describes the last years of Toland’s life in the following terms:

Mr Toland had for above four years past liv’d at Putney, from whence he cou’d conveniently go to London and come back the same day; but he used to spend most part of the winter in London. Being in town about the middle of December, he found himself very ill; having been lingering for some time before. His appetite and strength fail’d him: and a certain Doctor, who was call’d to him made him a great deal worse, by bringing a continual vomiting and looseness upon him. However, he made a shift to return to Putney, where he grew better, and had some hopes of recovery. In this interval, he writ a Dissertation* to shew the uncertainty of Physic, and the danger of trusting our life to those who practise it: while by our own care and experience we might easily provide such medicines as are proper and necessary for us.

*That Dissertation, intitled Physic without Physicians is printed in this Collection, Vol. II. pag. 273

The arguments presented in Physic without Physicians invoke the ancient writings of Pliny the Elder and Hippocrates (of the latter, he says, “we may as successfully batter Quackery by his authority, as we do superstition by that of the Bible.”) as well as some contemporaries, such as Herman Boerhaave and Richard Mead. Taken as a whole, it could be considered, not so much as a reflection upon medical knowledge in itself (“which is the gift of God and Nature”) but rather, the limitation of its practitioners and counsels that ultimately, people should take responsibility for their own health.


Physic without Physicians by John Toland (1670-1722)
Non-fiction, essay, 18th century, medical history
48 printed pages with black & white facsimile illustrations, paperback
First published in London, England in 1726. This edition published in Ireland, in 2020, by The Manuscript Publisher.
ISBN: 978-1-911442-23-3


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