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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.
About 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.