Jonathan Edwards's Moral Thought and Its British Context

Overview

The problems of moral philosophy were a central preoccupation of literate people in eighteenth-century America and Britain. It is not surprising, then, that Jonathan Edwards was drawn into a colloquy with some of the major ethicists of the age. Moral philosophy in this era was so all-encompassing in its claims that it encroached seriously on traditional religion. In response, Edwards presented a detailed analysis and criticism of secular moral philosophy in order to demonstrate its inadequacy, and he formulated a...
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Overview

The problems of moral philosophy were a central preoccupation of literate people in eighteenth-century America and Britain. It is not surprising, then, that Jonathan Edwards was drawn into a colloquy with some of the major ethicists of the age. Moral philosophy in this era was so all-encompassing in its claims that it encroached seriously on traditional religion. In response, Edwards presented a detailed analysis and criticism of secular moral philosophy in order to demonstrate its inadequacy, and he formulated a system that he believed was demonstrably superior to the existing secular systems. In this comprehensive study, Norman Fiering skillfully integrates Edwards's work on ethics into seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British and Continental philosophy and isolates Edwards's particular contributions to the ethical thought of his time. In addition, Fiering traces the chronological development of Edwards's thought, showing the relationship between his wide reading and his writing.

The Jonathan Edwards Classic Studies Series consists of the finest monographs on the life and thought of Jonathan Edwards that have up to now had limited availability. With the publication of this series, the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University hopes to afford Edwards scholars everywhere the opportunity to readily engage these masterful studies at a reasonable price.

About the Author:
Norman Fiering is Director and Librarian Emeritus of the John Carter Brown Library

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Norman Fiering is Director and Librarian Emeritus of the John Carter Brown Library. His scholarly research has centered on the early intellectual history of New England and on related factors in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain and France. He is the author of two books, Moral Philosophy at Seventeenth-Century Harvard: A Discipline in Transition and Jonathan Edwards's Moral Thought and Its British Context, both initially published in 1981 by the University of North Carolina Press. The two books together were awarded the Merle Curti Prize for Intellectual History by the Organization of American Historians.

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Table of Contents


Preface     vii
Introduction     3
An Intellectual Context     13
The Republic of Letters     14
The American Setting     23
A Yale Education?     28
Locke and Arnauld     33
Malebranche     40
Other Reading     45
The Moral Achievements of "Natural Understanding"     48
Edwards's Method     49
Common Grace     61
Synteresis     62
God's Retribution     67
Conscience and Symmetry     70
Beauty     80
The Trinity     82
The Morality of Nature     84
Clarke     87
The Depersonalization of Providence     93
Final Thoughts on "Natural Understanding"     105
Secondary Beauty and Conscience     110
Spiritual Sense     123
Wollaston, Hutcheson, and the Moral Sense     129
Conscience and Sympathy     138
Sentiment versus Reason     145
The Permutations of Self-Love     150
The Definition of Self-Love     151
The Legitimacy of Self-Love     167
The Inroads of Self-Love     174
The Meaning of Gratitude     184
Natural Affection     192
Hell and the Humanitarians     200
The Doctrine of Hell in the Early Eighteenth Century     203
Edwards's Personal Involvement     207
The Finer Points of the Doctrine     213
The Opposition     225
Edwards's Reply to Whiston and Others     238
The Problem of Pity     247
Morality and Determinism     261
The New England Background     262
Hobbes     272
The Clarke-Collins Debate     277
Edwards's Early Notions     283
The Libertarians (or Arminians)     292
Motives     305
Habits and Moral Necessity     308
Merit and Psychological Necessity     313
Action and Passion     316
Moral Theology     322
The Corollaries of True Virtue     328
Edwards and Malebranche     341
Edwards and Utilitarian Ethics     346
True and Counterfeit Virtue     356
Appendix     363
Bibliographical Note     371
Index     381
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