“Christian Science and the Rhetoric of Argumentative Synthesis”
Chapel, Gage. “Christian Science and the Rhetoric of Argumentative Synthesis.” PhD Dissertation, University of Southern California, 1972.
Chapel makes a strong case detailing how Mary Baker Eddy successfully employed ‘argumentative synthesis,’ which is the ability to “unite ideas which appear to be in opposition into a coherent whole.” (2) It is sometimes called the ‘synoptic view’ that subsumes the opposing sides (2). Eddy’s argumentative synthesis reconciled both socially and theologically opposing views: a) science and Christianity, where Eddy’s theology saw Jesus as the “master scientist” (265) and the laws of the universe as knowable and not supernatural; b) the orthodox Calvinist view of sinning humanity—Eddy’s mortal man—and the more liberal view of humanity as essentially good—Eddy’s spiritual child of God; and c) traditional Victorian morality and the feminine view of women as spiritually intuitive and mothering, and the emerging radical movement arguing that women could also naturally be more masculine: tough, rational and intellectual—i.e., Eddy’s Father-Mother God, Creator of generic man as both masculine and feminine. Eddy’s synthesis of ideas opened channels for persuasion and worked to dampen hostility because opposing ideas were shown to be dependent on each other. Her synthesis reflected a larger religious debate at the turn of the 20th century—the reconciliation of which, found in Eddy’s theology and in her life, was an important part of the appeal of Christian Science.