The Philosophy of Jonathan Edwards: A Study in Divine Semiotics

Synopsis

The identification of the dichotomy between the Renaissance and Modernist modes of logic and the detailed working out of that dichotomy in Edwards's writings constitute a new foundation for the study of Edwards's thought and rhetoric. Wilson H. Kimnach Though he is well known in literary, historical, and religious circles, Jonathan Edwards is a puzzle to philosophers, and attempts to portray him in terms of the classical modern dispute between empiricism and rationalism are inevitably frustrated by his blend of philosophy, rhetoric, history, and religious doctrine. Stephen H. Daniel reveals how Edwards's philosophy appeals to the tradition of Stoic logic and ontology thematized in the Renaissance by Paracelsus and Peter Ramus. Drawing on the semiotic work of Peirce, Foucault, and Kristeva, the book shows how the Renaissance theory of signatures provides Edwards and his contemporaries with a powerful alternative to the ideas of Descartes and Locke. Presenting the Stoic-Renaissance treatment of signs as an alternative to the modern dismissal of the language of nature, Daniel shows how this earlier model illumines Edwards's treatment of theological themes such as creation, trinity, original sin, freedom, moral agency, and the knowledge of beauty.

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