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Philosophy and Religion in Enlightenment BritainNew Case Studies$
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Ruth Savage

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199227044

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199227044.001.0001

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Toland and the moral teaching of the gospel

Toland and the moral teaching of the gospel

Chapter:
(p.77) 4 Toland and the moral teaching of the gospel
Source:
Philosophy and Religion in Enlightenment Britain
Author(s):

Laurent Jaffro

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199227044.003.0005

According to John Toland, the only intelligible content of the Gospel is the commendation of mutual love as a social virtue. The chapter situates this claim in the context of Toland’s rhetorical use of the primitive Church as an authority for a pluralistic account of society, and tries to determine his stance on the question of the foundation of morality. In spite of his constant recourse to the vocabulary of natural law, there is little doubt that Toland does not share Shaftesbury’s Stoic views and that he locates the foundation of morality, not in the providential organization of the universe and its acceptance by a self-cultivating individual, but in the interest of society. The moral teaching of the Gospel is somewhere between Epicureanism, the doctrine of utility, and the nineteenth-century idea of a religion of mankind.

Keywords:   John Toland, Earl of Shaftesbury, Gospel, morality, Epicureanism, natural law, utility, love

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