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The Hidden GodPragmatism and Posthumanism in American Thought$
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Ryan White

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231171007

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231171007.001.0001

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On True Virtue

On True Virtue

Jonathan Edwards and the Ethics of Self-Reference

Chapter:
(p.93) 3 On True Virtue
Source:
The Hidden God
Author(s):

Ryan White

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231171007.003.0004

Contemporary interpretations of the Puritan theology of Jonathan Edwards are often hindered by the implicit assumption of a modern framework that imports either romanticist subjectivity into his thought or a strict theological dualism. This chapter argues that the concept of self-reference, a formal condition with a strong precedent in medieval theology, is the key for unlocking this difficulty and showing that the difficult concept of “true virtue” as presented by Edwards is paradoxically achievable only as unachievable. Much like Peirce’s pragmatism and its relationship to reality, Edwards demonstrates that only through self-limitation is an ethical program capable of presenting the possibility for a “true” ethics.

Keywords:   Jonathan Edwards, Perry Miller, Niklas Luhmann, Self-reference, Puritanism, Calvinism

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