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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

(p.55) 3 Intimations of an Environmental Ethic in the Writings of Jonathan Edwards
Making Nature Sacred

John Gatta (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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