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Making Nature SacredLiterature, Religion, and the Environment in America from the Puritans to the Present$
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John Gatta

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195165050

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195165055.001.0001

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Intimations of an Environmental Ethic in the Writings of Jonathan Edwards

Intimations of an Environmental Ethic in the Writings of Jonathan Edwards

Chapter:
(p.55) 3 Intimations of an Environmental Ethic in the Writings of Jonathan Edwards
Source:
Making Nature Sacred
Author(s):

John Gatta (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195165055.003.0004

Although the renowned Calvinist divine Jonathan Edwards scarcely fits the conventional image of a nature writer, his work embodies a theology of Creation that has important implications for environmental ethics. As such, his ethical philosophy anticipates--in several surprising but instructive ways—the twentieth-century “land ethic” set forth by Aldo Leopold in his Sand County Almanac. Edwards’s notion of “benevolence to Being in general,” as articulated in The Nature of True Virtue, is a theocentric ideal that resists the anthropocentric assumption that nature exists solely to fulfill human needs and desires. Edwards’s vision of Creation as an all-encompassing and sacred beauty thus anticipates the modern sense of “ecology” that likewise affirms the interactive unity of all living and nonliving things.

Keywords:   Jonathan Edwards, Creation, Aldo Leopold, land ethic, environmental, virtue, religion, benevolence, beauty, ecology

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